Brief Reflections about Standing Rock – Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Carol A. Hand

Today a young woman is in critical condition due to escalating police violence, all so corporations can pollute and profit: Her only “crime” was standing in peaceful solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors to prevent corporations from creating yet more environmental devastation.

Photo: Huffington Post - Thanksgiving Message to Indigenous People from the Invading Forces
Photo: Huffington Post – Thanksgiving Message to Indigenous People from the Invading Forces

(Link to Huffington Post photo and article:

The list of the militarized police forces arrayed against Standing Rock Water Protectors is daunting:

I’m not entirely sure why, but this situation reminds me of Wounded Knee and the Ghost Dance:

Wounded Knee Massacre - December 29, 1890
Wounded Knee Massacre – December 29, 1890

(Photo Source: Wikipedia)

The circumstances feel eerily similar. Two vastly different cultures collide, one with fear and lethal weapons, and one with hope, ceremony, and prayers. One to exploit the earth for short-term individual profits, and one to protect the earth for all our relations, now and in the future.

Despite all of the tragic lessons of past history, I still hope that love and peaceful solidarity will finally triumph over brutality, oppression and fear. I humbly ask all who read this to please do what you can to let governments, police, and corporations know that the world is watching. Please do all you can to let the Water Protectors know you support them and stand with them in spirit.

Chi Miigwetch. (Ojibwe for “thank you very much.”)


Travels through Trump Territory

Carol A. Hand

On Sunday, I traveled north and west with my family to sparsely populated north-central Minnesota.

We passed through vistas of lakes and forests


and wide open wetlands along a sometimes desolate highway


past a few widely dispersed small towns




and homesteads that have may have seen better times.


The most notable feature was often the yard signs for President, hoping for a better life in places that are on the margins.

The vista sometimes showed the hopefulness of transitions.








We will know soon enough what changes may be in store for us.

It’s up to all of us to continue to work toward the best we can imagine for the future in any case, and to remember to take time to find beauty and hope everywhere we travel.


All photos were taken my my daughter, Jnana Hand, as we continued traveling northwest.


A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors

Carol A. Hand

My heart is heavy with the news coming from Standing Rock, ND today. It’s led me to do something I rarely do. I’m posting a request for the help of all of those who follow this blog. For the sake of the health of our earth and future generations, I ask you to consider voicing your concerns about the situation in Standing Rock, ND.

The voice of the Protectors:

Standing Rock Update and Indigenous Call to Action – Bioneers 2016


An example of the mainstream media portrayals:

Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff Lapses Into Violence (Huffington Post)

Consider contacting the White House today at 202-456-1111 or sending a message to Ask President Obama to support the peaceful Water Protectors and act on behalf of the 17 million Americans who depend on the Missouri River for their clean water. Ask him to honor treaties and do what is right to protect people and the environment, not the profit of corporations. Please let him know that people are concerned across the US and the world. And please feel free to add your ideas in comments about how to raise worldwide attention and support for this and other pressing social justice issues.

From the Official Presidential Contact site

Call the President

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitor’s Office: 202-456-2121

Write a letter to the President

Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure your message gets to the White House as quickly as possible.

1. If possible, email us! This is the fastest way to get your message to President Obama.

2. If you write a letter, please consider typing it on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. If you hand-write your letter, please consider using pen and writing as neatly as possible.

3. Please include your return address on your letter as well as your envelope. If you have an email address, please consider including that as well.

4. And finally, be sure to include the full address of the White House to make sure your message gets to us as quickly and directly as possible:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

This issue affects us all no matter where we’re located in the world. I hope you will consider contacting President Obama. We need to stand in unity on issues that affect all of us and the earth we all call home.

A Different Kind of Kindergarten Lesson

Carol A. Hand

“White people call us ‘dirty Indians
“But you got these bugs from one of the white children in your class
“Now you have to take baths with this special soap everyday
“I have to boil your clothes and bedding
“Don’t’ get too close to them, they’re not like us
“They think we’re dirty Indians
“You have to show them that we’re not
“You have to be better than them in everything you do
“You have to show them we’re worthy of respect.”

me 2

Overcoming the legacies of oppression and prejudice is not an easy task.


Reflections – Sunday, July 31, 2016

Carol A. Hand

I try to avoid main stream media news (MSM), especially during campaign times. Lies and vituperative ad hominem attacks are just a total energy drain and waste of time. Yet this repeating mantra about “Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee computers” is ridiculous and inane. It’s also incredibly dangerous.

Why should we care that someone, anyone, assured that the public had hard evidence to support what they already knew, and of course, should know? “The whole system is corrupt.” When the MSM promote a dominant narrative about an external enemy meddling in our “democracy” to promote fear in order to make one candidate more appealing than another, it’s time to question. It’s time to speak out.

Recently, anti-Russia and anti-China narratives have been a frequent theme in the news, so it’s not surprising to see the not-so-cold-war with Russia once again looming. A perfect setting for the two lead presidential contenders. Neither of them is championing a path to peace.

Of course, this isn’t new. It’s now just so blatantly obvious. Sadly, after decades of public education that teaches students to memorize discrete (meaningless) facts so they can pass standardized tests, too many may not remember enough history to detect the propaganda.

I remember other times when the voices of poets and singers once rang so clear. Here’s one I listened to last night: “With God on Our Side,” by Bob Dylan.



I know this is not an upbeat post, but for the sake of all we hold dear, we need to pay attention and act in whatever ways we can to promote sanity, compassion and peace.



How Dare the Media Reframe History?

Carol A. Hand

The first thoughts that came to mind when I read the headline “The Deadliest Mass Shooting In U.S. History” (Huffington Post) were about the Wounded Knee Massacre in the winter of 1890 (Wikipedia). To be sure, the senseless murders of people in Orlando, Florida, because they are somehow “different,” are tragic. We should grieve the loss. But this tragedy happened in an historical context, just like Wounded Knee.


Photo: Mass grave for the dead Lakota after the conflict at Wounded Knee Creek (Wikipedia)

Fear and hatred of people because of sexual orientation have been deliberately manipulated in the current divide and conquer approach to deflect attention away from growing rampant corporate oppression. Just as fear and hatred against indigenous peoples helped unify a nation after a divisive civil war and give an idle military somewhere else to use their guns.

In Orlando, we are told that we can blame a lone Afghani-American gunman. How convenient in an era of growing angst and violence against Muslims. We forget the past and shift our gaze from the role of the US in millions of senseless deaths here and around the globe that continue year after year.

As we grieve, let us do so remembering history and vowing to do what ever we can to create a different future. It’s the reason I felt compelled to write and share this post today.


Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections about Loss

Carol A. Hand

What happens to a culture, to people,
When unknown diseases sweep their lands
Killing so many indiscriminately
The children, the wisdom keepers,
The mothers, the hunters
When their medicines fail to heal
And prayers to the gods and ancestors
Remain unanswered
When those who survive
Are driven from their homes
By hunger and unrelenting war


Photo: Eight Crow prisoners under guard at Crow agency, Montana, 1887 

Separated from the land that has housed and fed them
And their ancestors for generations
When the few who survive are rounded up
Confined on reservations or in institutions
Treated with scorn and cruelty,
Their children stolen and abused
Generation after generation


Photo: Carlisle Indian Industrial School

How can this magnitude of harm ever be healed?
Injury added to injury
To witness other peoples suffer all around the world we share
The same fate year after year
To feed the rapacious appetite of empire –
A hunger for ever more power
That can never be satisfied

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reflections about Saturday’s News

Carol A. Hand

I don’t do this often, but sometimes I just need to share what’s on my mind. I read an elegantly-argued post today on Race Reflections about Charlie Hebdo’s most recent humor, “Charlie Hebdo on Aylan Kurdi: The Ultimate Act of White Entitlement?

The Daily Mail ran a story about this today.

Charlie Hebdo was today facing legal action after publishing a series of allegedly racist and hateful cartoons mocking the death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi.
The drowned three-year-old toddler has become the symbol of the refugee crisis after haunting pictures appeared showing his body being carried off a Turkish beach last week.

But the latest edition of the satirical French magazine depicts the dead Aylan lying face down in the sand under the caption ‘So Close to Goal’.
Above him is an advertisement for McDonald’s reading: ‘Two children’s menus for the price of one’.

(

Suddenly the pieces fell into place and I felt compelled to respond to the post.

This is such a thoughtful and crucial analysis of white privilege (and entitlement) and the unquestioned right of media to publish dehumanizing views of those with little power – the scapegoats that deflect public attention away from the real causes of people’s increasing misery. As you rightly point out, France’s history in this regard bears careful scrutiny.

As I read your eloquent arguments, I remembered a time when cartoonists were held accountable: In one famous case, a cartoonist was found guilty of helping to create an environment in which atrocities like the holocaust could occur. Perhaps it’s time for Charlie Hebdo and their apologists to learn a little history?

It’s no mystery why the mainstream media is filled with Trump’s hate speech and remains silent about Sander’s critique of social inequality. In this, the media, from my perspective, are complicit in setting the stage for hate crimes. And I’m reminded of a time not all that long ago when Julius Streicher played a similar role. Media have spread Trump’s hate-speech far and wide, catalyzing hate groups to attack and murder those they are led to believe are responsible for economic conditions orchestrated by the wealthy elite. Yet unlike many other other nations, the US doesn’t have specific laws that deal with hate speech.

For what it’s worth, it’s time for me to share my concerns here and with my legislators and local (conservative) newspaper.

first they came


It’s time to remember Pastor Martin Niemöller’s insights about the cost of silence.


Tapping into the Power of Myths

Carol A. Hand

The day before Thanksgiving, I watched a movie that left me bereft of hope and shattered my belief that change is possible. The documentary, Silenced, describes the devastating experiences of three whistle-blowers – Thomas Drake (NSA), Jesselyn Radack (DOJ), and John Kiriakou (CIA). Their attempts to raise public awareness about post-9/11 policy shifts made them targets of unrelenting government attacks.

It’s always hard for me to accept the fact that some people deliberately choose to destroy others. But this movie reminded me that it does happen. It’s happened to me on much smaller scales. For periods of time the likelihood of reprisal did silence my voice temporarily. After watching this movie, I honestly wondered if anything I write or do makes any difference at all.

I awoke on Thanksgiving morning still feeling that hope was futile. And then, a funny thing happened. Well, not really funny at the time. I’m still living with the consequences. My computer wouldn’t turn on without a security password. The problem was that I had shut off my computer after loading Windows 10 before visiting the old email address I had used as a contact. The locked screen made it clear. There was no way I would be able to unlock the computer without the password they emailed to that address after my computer was off.


Photo: My old “sacred” writing space

Luckily, I had finished and verified the 50K words for NaNoWriMo earlier that day, and all my book chapters were backed-up on a flashdrive. But I had no access to email or the internet. My PC was my only connection. And I don’t remember my old password, anyway. I didn’t need to. It’s saved on my PC. So what could I do?

I went out on my back porch and sipped my morning coffee. Instead of feeling distraught, a sense of peace came over me. I realized that one way or another, I would solve this problem. And then a thought flashed through my mind – something I learned during the study I have been writing about in the first chapters of my book.

I remembered the answer that flashed through my mind when I faced five faculty members to defend one of the questions I wanted to explore in my research study. “What is the best you can imagine for the children, families, and tribal community in the future?”

How can you possibly find that out,” one faculty member asked. I already had heard the answer although I didn’t realize it until that question was asked. Whenever Ojibwe community members had shared their stories, they always mentioned memories of the good old days with elders before they were removed from their homes. Their voices took on a softer tone and their eyes were focused on long-past days. It was the past they romanticized and a future they longed to see manifested again.

Then, it struck me. The myth of America is similar in many ways to the romantic memories of the Ojibwe people who shared their stories with me. A day of thanksgiving, a place of equality, freedom, and brother(sister)hood. The strength of this myth for mobilizing people can be seen in the popular response to Bernie Sanders. He touches that place in people and ignites their hope.

Of course, the system can’t be changed by any one man or woman who is merely a figurehead of a monstrous bureaucracy that has had centuries to indoctrinate those who work there. But it’s the hope that the myth ignites in thousands of people that makes change a possibility.

It’s something energizing to think about, anyway. Today, it gives me hope. And maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to have my old password reset by a technician and sent to me at a newer email address. It’s one I can access now from the old PC I figured out how to connect to the internet today.


Photo: My new writing space

It may be a while before my system is functional, so please be patient. Until then, I send my greetings and my promise that I will keep working toward the best future I can imagine for all of us. I know you will all keep doing so, too.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Remembering a Time in World History

Carol A. Hand

Word by word, the story I’m writing about the past is emerging. I’m sharing an excerpt written on November 7, 2015 in honor of Veteran’s Day. As a nation, tragic events a little more than fourteen years ago forced the nation and world to make a decision that would profoundly affect future generations. A nation and world in shock and mourning faced momentous and difficult choices. Would thoughtful reasoning or quick revenge prevail? That question had not yet been answered at this point in my story…


Chapter 5 – Tuesday, September 11, 2001

When I awoke it was still dark. The stories I had heard yesterday and last week were still swirling in my mind. It was too soon to begin making sense of it all. That would take time. But I wished I could take time today to just think and organize my notes. I had typed up the story Raymond had shared even though it was late when I got home, but there were so many other pressures I needed to address.

I decided to take a little time to deal with the most pressing issues for my new job. It was, after all, what was both making my research possible and constraining me by imposing what seemed like an impossible timeline. It really is strange how life works out some time.
A year ago, I had returned to the university where I had begun my doctoral studies. Ten years ago I had been forced to withdraw in order to support my daughter in college and my partner who had lost his job.

Since then, I had mostly worked as an instructor at the university I attended and as a grant writer, program developer, and an evaluator for tribal programs and health education initiatives. I returned to the university as a Ph. D. student when I finally had a topic that I wanted to study passionately enough to sustain me through yet more classes and a year of research and writing – Indian child welfare. I had written two of the required preliminary exams and was working on a third when I got a surprise call from the chair of a social work department at another university.

“Hi Agnes. I’m Dr. Tim Smith, at Prairie University. I’m calling to offer you a job. I’ve heard about you from friends at your university. It’s my alma mater, too. I’m trying to build a diverse faculty here and think you’d be a perfect addition.”

“I really appreciate your kind offer, Dr. Smith,” I replied. “But I’m not looking for a job right now. I’m still completing my preliminary exams and my research proposal.”

“I have a proposition for you,” he responded, undaunted. “I’m willing to create a special position for you to support you while you finish your work. I want you to come for a visit so you can check us out. If you’re interested in the offer, we can talk about the details when you’re here.”

To make a long story short, I did visit and accept the position. It began at the end of August, 2001. My salary would support the costs of my research, a decision I made to protect identities. Dr. Smith had offered to reimburse me, but it would mean revealing the names of places and people. That would break my promise of anonymity for those who shared their lives and stories. In exchange for drawing a salary for the next two years to do research and writing during the fall of 2001 and 2002, I would need to teach a double course load in the spring. It also meant I had to meet deadlines for finishing my work if I wanted to join as a tenure track faculty member in 2003.

This morning, tired as I was with so many stories to think about, I felt I needed to check in with the university. I arose early and fired-up the gasoline-powered generator so I would have electricity to shower, pack, and get ready to hit the road. I decided to check my university email before I set out for the tribal community. The events I learned about in university messages would have a chilling affect not only on the Ojibwe community I was studying, but also on the world. I recorded my thoughts in my research journal…



Image: World Peace

I wish we had made different decisions in the aftermath of that fateful day. For the sake of those who will be on the front lines in the future, and the innocent families and children in harm’s way, I hope we take time to reconsider the wisdom of following the path of yet more war. It’s how we can best honor those who fought to keep their families safe. Working toward peace and reconciliation offers the wisest choice.

[Please note: The names of people have all been changed in the preceding account to protect identity. The names of organizations have been altered as well.]

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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