[Updated 2010.10.05 to correct Karmelita Plains Bull's name—I apologize for the confusion!]
Listen to this podcast from Indigenous Rights Movement Radio. The organizers of the Tatanka Oyate Tea Party on Pine Ridge says some surprising things about the Tea "Party" movement.
Host "wanbli" expresses surprise, as did many of the chat room participants during the broadcast, that the local folks would invite Tea "Party" folks onto traditional lands.
Karmelita Plains Bull (she also has two married names, Martin and Rowland; Rowland is the name she shares with her current husband, Garry) says her group is in the middle, bipartisan, a watchdog group that is autonomous from the national Tea Party. When a listener asks why organizers would call it a Tea Party if its autonomous, Plains Bull explodes with a lot of treaty talk but fails to answer the question. Host wanbli asks about the failures of the Republican administration that ran the Bureau of Indian Affairs for eight years, and Plains Bull goes off on Al Franken coming to the Oglala Lakota Nation Pow Wow, again utterly failing to answer the question posed.
Plains Bull also says Theresa Two Bulls is an illegitimate leader of the tribe, elected by only 2000 out of 5000 registered voters. By that philosophy, there isn't a single legitimate elected leader on any city council in America.
Host wanbli points out that Plains Bull has announced a speaker from the national Tea Party is coming to speak to the group and asks what the national Tea party's position is on returning the Black Hills to the Lakota. Plains Bull again utterly dodges the question with a discussion of the government creating a culture of welfare dependence. She says the national Tea Party wants to empower Indians... ah, and she finally says the national Tea Party has "no qualms about returning the Black Hills." Really? I think I heard tea-flavored Pastor Steve Hickey suggest giving back the Black Hills is the right thing to do, but is there any evidence that giving the Black Hills back to the Lakota is a major plank of any tea-flavored organization?
wanbli forges ahead, trying nobly to get answers to specific questions that concern Native people. He asks about the Tea party position on pardoning Leonard Peltier. Plains Bull goes off about Obama on Guantanamo and terrorism (this river is chock full of red herrings). Plains Bull says Leonard Peltier should be freed... but she fails to enunciate whether the national movement takes that position. wanbli notes that President Bush denied Peltier's application for clemency on the last day of his presidency, which meant Peltier couldn't apply for clemency for another 18 months.
wanbli tells an interesting story about George W. Bush campaigning on Pine Ridge and being asked about sovereignty for Indian nations. Bush thought about the question for a long time, then said the question should be left up to the people of India.
What does the national Tea Party think about true sovereignty for Indians? Plains Bull rolls out the empowerment/dependency tropes again. She speaks of breaking the Bureau of Indian Affairs control over Indian country, says Reagan rebuilt a Berlin wall of communism and socialism on the reservation (really, she says this). wanbli tries to point out that Reagan was a right-wing conservative.
Plains Bull complains about the lack of funding for Indian Health Service... which I assume means she wants more federal funding for IHS. But before she can complete that thought, she returns to complaining about President Obama appointing "comedian" Al Franken as specialist on Indian issues. Funny—I thought Senator Franken was appointed by the voters of Minnesota.
I must admit, this podcast is a hard listen, because, to be honest, Karmelita Plains Bull sounds like a screaming propagandist with little ability or desire to sit and have a direct conversation. She's all talking points and slogans and little logic. No wonder she likes the Tea Party. Now if she could just make clear whether her group is part of the Tea Party.
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