Friday, April 9, 2010

UNFAIR and UNFREE Economic Systems, Policies, and Pimps: WESTERN WHITE CAPITALISTS, such as the WTO and the IMF are seeking to "help" HAITI'S economy, society, present, and future--but "help" means control and destroy

 [image of the Haiti's national flag is from here]

I just HATE the picture below chosen to represent Marc Bazin. HATE it. (Scroll down a bit if you can't wait to see it.) To me, it replicates a racist meme of the wide-eyed, silly-looking Black man. (The image doesn't convey "dignity" to me; does it to you?) But this is a not a post on how memes find their way into media photographs of whites and people of color. That's something blogs such as Sociological Images and Racialicious take on very well and often.

This post is primarily about one form of capitalism that is seeking to maintain and strengthen white het male supremacist control of the nation of Haiti. Below you will read about the ways in which U.S. corporate, pro-unfair trade, pro-exploitation, pro-pimp, pro-wage slavery, pro-white het men and women are seeking to further dominate a poor country which has suffered greatly due to economic, man-made disasters impacting housing, environment, and economics, such that when the earthquake struck, hundreds of thousands died. And the death toll isn't over.

To hear the Clintons talk about it, you'd think the U.S. is like an angel on Earth, generously offering millions of aid, without noting the "price": it will be followed by capitalist investments and intrusive political influence. What the U.S. doesn't tell you is this: the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund are devils in the details. And what U.S. media won't tell you is this (which is a portion of what follows):
"The international community has a tremendous debt with Haiti where, after three centuries of colonialism, the first social revolution on the American continent took place, an act of boldness that the colonial powers punished with close to 200 years of military dictatorships and plunder. Its noble and hardworking people are now the poorest in the Western hemisphere.

[...] The program for the reconstruction and strengthening of the Haitian national healthcare system, drawn up by the Haitian government and Cuban governments, with the cooperation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other countries and humanitarian organizations, will guarantee wide health coverage for the population, in particular the low-income sector.

[...] From almost immediately after the earthquake, Cuban specialists have been dedicating their attention to the population affected. To date they have seen 260,000 patients, performed more than 7,000 operations, delivered close to 1,400 babies, and administered close to 100,000 vaccinations. More than 50,000 patients have undergone rehabilitation therapy and more than 75,000 children have received psychosocial therapy, in the presence of some of Cuba’s most eminent professionals.

A total of 783 Cuban and 481 Haitian doctors, plus 278 health professionals from 28 countries – all of them graduated in Cuba – are working on this program.

[...] During the 11 years of work prior to the earthquake, the Cuban medical brigade, which has a presence in 127 of the 137 Haitian communes, saved 223,442 lives, treated 14 million people, performed 225,000 operations and delivered 109,000 babies. Via the Operation Miracle program, 46,000 Haitians have had their sight restored or improved. During the same period, 165,000 Haitians have become literate in Creole.

If we evaluate the medical services provided in these 11 years and the training of medical personnel in Cuba, it would represent $400 million throughout the period.

In case it isn't clear, the U.S. has NEVER valued other nations being sovereign and self-governing. It has often worked, from its beginnings as a collection of white het male supremacist colonises, to become a power that works oppressively both overtly and covertly to influence and impact election outcomes, to make sure "U.S. interests" are centralised in other countries' foreign and domestic policies, and to generally bully as much of the world as it can, to achieve global dominance. If all else fails, there's always despicably illegal and equally despicably legal declarations of war. This was quite overtly "The Bush Plan" and is well-known due to the website spelling out long-term WHM Conservative Republican efforts to globalise the United Rapes of Amerikkka, which can be found here. I wish President Obama was shifting our course dramatically toward respect for sovereign nationhood and support for genuine empowerment of the Third World. But the continuing invasions, blasting of bombs, support of misogynist-racist colonising regimes, and passing along of munitions to further destablise countries we've worked for decades to make unstable, doesn't seem to me to be all that different than what the WHM supremacist Repubs would be doing. This demonstrates how the race and gender of our president doesn't matter, nor, really, do her or his own most deeply held values. The President of the U.S. is limited in power, and corporations own the office, buy policy, and control public opinion through its media.

What follows is an U.S.-critical, anti-corporate report on what the television show Frontline tried to get away with in their program, "The Quake". One point: the Clintons are as dangerous to Haitian Social Sustainability and Economic Independence as the Bushes. With thanks to thezenhaitian @ the blog, The Haitian Blogger, *here*, for naming the CRAP they were trying to get promote as Good for Haiti's Future.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"The Quake"– Haiti Through The Distorted Lenses of PBS' Frontline


Marc Bazin: former Haitian Prime Minister
and U.S. candidate for Haitian Presidency in 1990.
If Americans watched the PBS/Frontline documentary "The Quake" last Tuesday, they would have learned that nearly half of all Americans contributed to the Haiti relief effort in the wake of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12, 2010. According to Hilary Clinton, the amount donated was over $700 million dollars. So, with such a potentially vast American audience, it would have been great if the writers and producers of "The Quake" had offered a documentary that was not only representative of the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquake, but was also an accurate historical, political, and economic perspective on what has made Haiti so desperately poor and vulnerable to this "natural" disaster. Instead, Fronline chose to spotlight among others, former World Bank executive, Marc Bazin. Bazin was Washington's candidate in the December 1990 Haiti presidential elections. Bazin was trounced by Jean-Betrand Aristide, who won an easy victory with two-thirds of the vote. Marc Bazin came in a distant second with 14%.


Neoliberal Economist Paul Collier on his UN
role of finding "strategies that gov'ts
would find helpful" in Haiti.
Speaking of elections, perhaps the producers were unaware that Haiti has a popular political party with representatives that they could have tapped to speak on the political issues that this "documentary" attempts to tackle. It is at the very least symbolic that Fanmi Lavalas was also barred from the April 2009 elections and again from this year's rescheduled February elections.

In this regard, Frontline is in line with the U.S. government, which learned a lesson from the 1990 elections. The lesson was that allowing a free election may result in the election of a populous, liberation theology Priest who may advocate for modestly higher sweatshop wages, for building the country's infrastructure and institutions (Aristide founded Haiti's first medical school) and who would want vital services like electricity, mill and cement factories and telephone companies to remain nationalized, not privatized, in order to benefit the local economy and people.

Raymond Joseph, is Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. He was
appointed by U.S. backed interim puppet gov't of Gerard LaTorture.
Joseph, who is the uncle of rapper Wyclef Jean, spoke of Haiti's
"proud" and "opulent" heritage during the period of slavery – when
Napoleon Bonaparte's sister had her palace in Port-au-Prince.

If Aristide and Lavalas' plans for Haiti had gone forward, who knows, perhaps the scope of the earthquake disaster would have been lessened. But, rather than include Lavalas's voice as a counter balance to the colonial and "entrenched" narrative, Frontline chose to provide a bully pulpit for Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki Moon, Edmond Mulet, Raymond Joseph, Jean-Max Bellerive and to trumpet the "economic opportunities" and "very low income area" that is Haiti –– by such luminaries as neoliberal Oxford economist Paul Collier. In Collier's view Haiti is a land of opportunities, no, of course he doesn't mean in the same sense as America is known as "the land of opportunity;" as in people will be flocking to Haiti for a better life, where they will succeed in their chosen field, where they can raise and educate their children to have a promising future. Be for real! What Collier, Bill Clinton and his "twenty" heads of companies and CEOs see is opportunity for the multinational corporations in "agriculture, tourism and especially in manufacturing." The privatization of Téléco (the telephone Co.) it turns out, isn't working out too well and labor organizers say that managers "mismanaged the company in order to justify its break-up." As for the plans for Haiti by the "international community," they are just more of the same.
"In a March 2009 New York Times op-ed, Ban Ki-moon outlined his development plan for Haiti, involving lower port fees, “dramatically expanding the country’s export zones,” and emphasizing “the garment industry and agriculture.” Ban’s neoliberal plan was drawn up [by] Oxford University economist Paul Collier. (Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff admitted, in promoting Collier’s plan, that those garment factories are "sweatshops.")

Collier is blunt, writing (PDF), “Due to its poverty and relatively unregulated labor market, Haiti has labor costs that are fully competitive with China." His scheme calls for agricultural exports, such as mangoes, that involve pushing farmers off the land so they can be employed in garment manufacturing in export processing zones. To facilitate these zones Collier calls on Haiti and donors to provide them with private ports and electricity, “clear and rapid rights to land," outsourced customs, “roads, water and sewage," and the involvement of the Clinton Global Initiative to bring in garment manufacturers.
Revealing the connection between neoliberalism and military occupation in Haiti, Collier credits the Brazilian-led United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) with establishing “credible security,” but laments that its remaining mandate is “too short for investor confidence.”


Dr. Mitchell Shuster works on the foot of Enis Turneau ValBrun,
a sixteen year old who lost his foot when he fell into a hole
while attempting to rescue his sister. Tragically, Enis' sister died.
By the way, that medical school that Aristide founded in 2003 was shut down by the U.S. after the coup they orchestrated against Aristide. The shutting of the school undermined Haitian healthcare and "set the stage for the disaster." The existence of a medical school and trained Haitian doctors would have mitigated the misery and death toll from the disaster. The Haitian medical students who were left stranded by the closure were accepted by Havana’s Latin American Medical School (ELAM). These former students came back and reportedly worked "tirelessly" during the earthquake emergency. The Cubans were the first to set up triages and medical camps to care for the victims of the earthquake. Cuba has a tri-lateral agreement with the governments of Haiti and Venezuela to train medical students. The students are pledged to work in areas where they are most needed in their respective countries.

This Frontline "documentary" relied on the same old colonial narratives. Accordingly, they represented that the "corrupt" Haitians "resisted change," whereas the "reformist," as seen by Frontline, were those bent on instituting harsh structural adjustment and neoliberal policies in Haiti. If you believe Frontlines' rethoric, this heroic "reformist" bunch, have tried unsuccessfully time and again to bring Haiti kicking and screaming into the light of civilization to no avail. Frontline's premise begs the conclusion that Haitians are unable to govern themselves without the benevolent aid and support of the "international community." Half-way through the "documentary," the audience is presented with old footage of the brutal U.S. occupation of Haiti that lasted 19 years. From the old black and white footage, one is left with the impression that the pictures are supposed to represent old and abandoned interventionist U.S. policies, but realistically, was there ever a period in Haiti-U.S. history when Haiti was left to make decisions without the intervention of the U.S. government, its representatives or its allies in the international community?

It is Frontline's version of the political situation in Haiti that some will take the most issue with. In the "documentary" they address the future of Haiti only in terms of what the international community will do for Haiti, but neglect to explore the fact that Haitians are quite capable of determining their own course and finding the path to healing and recovery themselves. This paternalistic attitude is characteristic of the colonial narrative.

If Fanmi Lavalas is barred from any more elections, there will be another boycott and consequently political tension will escalate. Since the earthquake, there have been more than 50 protests. Most have been to protest the inadequate response to the crisis, but many have called for the return of president Aristide. The people want Aristide restored. They want Fanmi Lavalas to take part in any free and fair election. When Fanmi Lavalas was barred last April, the polls were pitifully empty of voters. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) could avoid tensions by reversing their course and allowing real elections to take place.

Frontline may have avoided mention of Fanmi Lavalas, but the program did not sidestep political discourse regarding Haiti. Minutes into the narrative, Frontline explains: "There have been a lot of promises made about Haiti in recent weeks, but Haiti has a history of frustrating reformers, absorbing aid and resisting change" Who are these heroic reformers, you may well ask? Some will assume they are those who had just intoned dutifully supportive remarks on behalf of Haiti.
Obama: "To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction: you will not be forsaken; You will not be forgotten."
Ban Ki Moon: "We are with you. We will help you to recover and rebuild."
Hillary Clinton: "We will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead."

These international figures speak a good game, but can they walk the talk? Why are Haitians today not rejoicing and enjoying in the bounty of opportunities, the raised standards of living, safe infrastructure and functional institutions that one would expect is the agenda of "reformers?" Could it be that this was not the goal of neoliberal policies that the U.S. forced the Haitian government to accept? Ironically, Frontline time and again brought up how weak the Haitian government is, but the core purpose or result of neoliberalism is to weaken a government which is subjected to its policies. A weak government will not put up any trade barriers or restrictions to protect its industries. A weak government will be forced to allow the multinationals to flood their markets with imports that destroy the local economy and industry. A weak government will allow the privatizing of local services, even such vital services as safe water, electricity and communications. Did the structural adjustment programs of the IMF, World Bank, IDB and World Trade Organization intend to "reform" Haiti? Yes, but not for the benefit of Haiti, it's government, economy, infrastructure, industries or people. Bill Clinton recently apologized for supporting trade policies which destroyed rice farming in Haiti. The policy led to the loss of an estimated 830,000 rural jobs according to Oxfam. Read more about U.S. trade policy and rice farmers in Haiti at "Harvest of Hunger."
"Shocking though they may appear, the latest round of impoverishing policies are part of a historical continuum in Haiti. Indeed, the presence of U.S. troops in Haiti is not new. In 1915 President Woodrow Wilson sent the Marines into what turned out to be a nineteen year occupation. Both the 1915 and the 1994 U.S. invasions were ostensibly about restoring democracy and stability. But both were in typical U.S. fashion very much about U.S. geopolitical and economic interests. The interests of Haiti's poor majority have consistently been damaged by U.S. military intervention and by U.S.aid programs."
"This and the decimation of the invaluable Creole pig (because of fears of an outbreak of African swine fever), led to displacement of the peasantry into urban areas, along with the promise of urban jobs, fueled rural migration into flimsy shantytowns. It’s hard not to conclude that these development schemes played a major role in the horrific death toll in Port-au-Prince."
Neoliberalism benefited the Robber Barons, not the Haitian people. Once they buy up a national industry, prices doubled, tripled, and quadrupled. Instead of investing in the local economy, these leeches take their profits and go home. What they leave behind are higher costs of living, and worse conditions for people who were living in desperate poverty to begin with. The one notable exception being Digicel, which employs a lot of Haitians and provides dependable cell service in Haiti. So with rare exceptions, these were the detrimental "reforms" that the U.S. wanted Aristide to institute, and when he didn't do it fast enough, the U.S. slapped an aid embargo against a country that their State Department routinely describes as the "poorest in the Western Hemisphere." Heroic wasn't it, to deprive the Haitian people of infrastructure, clean water, and basic social services! After Aristide's government was weakened, the U.S. concluded their orchestrated dismantling of Haiti's democracy by forcing him and his family onto a U.S. plane in the dead of night. They brought him half-way around the world to the Central African Republic, a former colony of France against his will. Later when Aristide was to receive asylum from Jamaica, in direct violation of international law, the U.S. warned him to stay out of the Western Hemisphere or risk "violence."

Watching the section where Paul Farmer briefly spoke about the consequences and misery brought on by a series of unprecedented hurricanes in 2008 in Haiti, particularly in Gonaive, one wonders what he would have said if he was asked to explain as he did in his book "The Uses of Haiti," the U.S. role in Haiti's bitter fate. Unfortunately, Dr. Farmer seems to have lost his voice since he was made Bill Clinton's U.N. Aide. The fact is punctuated when you see the images of Bill Clinton with his arm around Dr. Farmer's shoulders. Clinton's gesture seems to say, see this is my boy now! Dr. Farmer probably couldn't tell you "Who removed Aristide," even if he wanted to.


Was this the same Paul Farmer who wrote:
"[…] the Haitian poor know from long experience that they are not supposed to care about democracy. Perhaps post-coup Haiti's symbolic utility is chiefly as a warning to those who dare to care what democracy is. The coup is a warning to those who think that a country's wealth ought to be equitably shared among the people who live there.

Such was the plan of the Aristide government. From the perspective of the Haitian poor, The Aristide presidency, and not the coup, was a rupture with the past. Throughout his adult life, Aristide has made it clear that he thought the uses of Haiti should be altered in radical ways. Inspired by the idea of "an option for the poor. Aristide wanted, at a minimum, to provide a "decent poverty" for the majority of Haitians. This would require, he felt, greater popular input into decision making: it would require an end to the most flagrant injustices and the redistribution of some of Haiti's wealth. The Council of Hemispheric Affairs, noted that Aristide's victory "represented more than a decade of civic engagement and education on his part," heralded lavalas as "a text-book example of participatory, 'bottom-up' and democratic political development."

Constrained by a new world order that was more concerned about making an option for the rich, and constrained too, by his cabinet of moderates, Aristide's government was less about socialism or anti-imperialism than it was about a modest, reformist nationalism. His eight months in office saw significant reforms against tremendous odds. But, as Noam Chomsky has noted, it is precisely such dangerous notions as reform that are most likely to bring down the wrath of the international elite."
-- "The Uses of Haiti" p.195 by Paul Farmer
From Dr. Farmer's take on the situation back in the 90s, to the tea parties, and cries of "you lie," at Obama's first Senate address, to accusations of socialism and even Nazi symbols that purport to describe the current American President, there are a lot of parallels between the claims being made against the Obama administration and similar baseless accusations that were made against President Aristide. Ironically, both men are not extremist, instead they advocate for modest reforms to a corrupt system. Also, similar to Obama, Aristide angered and ignored his base. For Aristide, it was to lead to his downfall. Time will tell with President Obama whether his pandering to the Republicans and right-wing elements will truncate his time in the American presidency.


There were some good moments in the documentary. The rescuers and medical personnel were authentic and real. Their actions were heroic and they often went beyond the call of duty and showed real leadership and heart. Witlet Maceno, a Haitian-American nurse volunteer was tenacious, gutsy and energetic in seeking out life giving blood for a pregnant woman in distress. Maceno is symbolic of the heros and heroins who volunteered in Haiti and who performed to the best of their abilities with the limited resources they had. Maceno finally found the blood he needed at the Haitian Red Cross in Port-au-Prince. Which is significant, since that particular resource is in-country, and came through for Maceno when others like the Red Cross, and the UN did not.

In fact the UN in the aftermath of the quake failed Haitians miserably. The heroes were those who worked tirelessly on the ground to help the victims, Haitians helping Haitians and those countries which responded quickly, like Cuba, Israel and individuals and international aid agencies from around the world.

Most striking were the statements made by the UN Head of Mission Edmond Mulet. Mulet in effect said that the UN threw up it's hands and "deliberately decided not to coordinate aid. "How can you coordinate, I mean… the border was open with the Dominican Republic. Thousands of volunteers coming in. Airplanes landing. Imagine if the government of the UN or any other organization tried to coordinate that. We would have bureaucratized the process. And I think it would not have been effective. Martin said (perhaps incredulously?), "It would have prevented aid from getting through? Is that what you're saying?' Mulet acknowledges; "We didn't have the capacity to really organize the whole thing. Such good will and generosity from everywhere and I think it would not have been effective."

Mr. Mulet, how effective was the alternative?


It was instructive to see a photo op in the documentary where the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was with President Preval. The faces on both individuals showed the stress and tension each felt towards each other. Frontline's Martin Smith asked Mrs. Clinton about the relationship.

"Is Preval a reliable partner?" asked Smith.

"He is a reliable partner, but he is a partner with very serious challenges when it comes to capacity."

Smith: "What do you mean by capacity?"

Clinton: "Well, that the government has a political structure, and a social structure which is very entrenched in the way it does business."

No kidding. This is coming from a woman who went up against the Washington lobbyists for the health care industry and blinked.

The interview cuts off at this point. I guess the rest is "off the record" as they say? The disembodied Narrator takes his cue from Clinton's remarks:

"What Clinton is talking about is Haiti's entrenched elite. A handful of families who control everything. From the local economy to many key ministries. And while Preval is not considered corrupt himself. He is weak. And many think unlikely to survive Haiti's fall elections."

Good summary Narrator, but not exactly a surprise since Preval has already announced that he would not be seeking another term as president of Haiti.

Since Clinton knows from experience about battling entrenched power structures, why isn't there more cooperation and empathy between President Preval and Secretary Clinton? Probably because "entrenched" power structures isn't the real issue.

What was a surprise was the admission by Frontline, that Preval is not corrupt--deviating from an oft-stated mantra throughout the presentation. They conclude that it is an "entrenched" system, (which is not unlike the system which exists in the U.S. and worldwide when you think about it) where a few well connected families control most of the wealth, industry and power.


During the presentation, Frontline made a point of noting the negative graffiti that abounds in Port-au-Prince about Preval. A popular one reads: "Preval = K K" – meaning Preval equals excrement. What Frontline cameras did catch, but predictably ignored, underscoring the problem with this skewed "documentary," was the graffiti off to the side. The one that read, "Aristide Wa [King]."

The Quake can be viewed online at the PBS Frontline website.

UPDATE 04.06.2010: The transcript of the Frontline interview with Hillary Clinton is on the State Department website.

UPDATE 04.06.2010 8:02pm:
Haitian Prime-Minister Bellerive revealed this week that Haiti has oil. Contracts have been signed and investments have been made by the World Bank and IMF. "For a project worth billions of dollars."
"Bellerive and a consortium of well-known Haitian figures such as Reginald Boulos, worked on a document concerning the economic future of Haiti. The text does not explore the amazing opportunities offered by the exploitation of Haiti’s mining and oil resources, nor does it mentioned any of the serious studies done on the subject. Instead it presents agriculture as the main alternative to resolve’s Haiti’s problems. By ignoring the question of Haiti’s natural resources, it is as if the message was: there will be looting, pillage but we will give you a little piece of bread. Even more deceiving is that they managed to get the help of left wing Michel Chancy, to caution this masquerade. The paysans may only receive little leftovers from the NGOs but at least they will eat bread…. One bag of rice against one bag of Gold."

UPDATE 04.06.2010 9:16pm:
Statement of Cuban Foreign Minister. H.E. Bruno Rodríguez Parilla,
Minister of Foreign Affairs | Republic of Cuba at UN Donors Meeting on Haiti | UN Headquarters, NY, March 31, 2010
"The international community has a tremendous debt with Haiti where, after three centuries of colonialism, the first social revolution on the American continent took place, an act of boldness that the colonial powers punished with close to 200 years of military dictatorships and plunder. Its noble and hardworking people are now the poorest in the Western hemisphere.

[...] The program for the reconstruction and strengthening of the Haitian national healthcare system, drawn up by the Haitian government and Cuban governments, with the cooperation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other countries and humanitarian organizations, will guarantee wide health coverage for the population, in particular the low-income sector.

[...] From almost immediately after the earthquake, Cuban specialists have been dedicating their attention to the population affected. To date they have seen 260,000 patients, performed more than 7,000 operations, delivered close to 1,400 babies, and administered close to 100,000 vaccinations. More than 50,000 patients have undergone rehabilitation therapy and more than 75,000 children have received psychosocial therapy, in the presence of some of Cuba’s most eminent professionals.

A total of 783 Cuban and 481 Haitian doctors, plus 278 health professionals from 28 countries – all of them graduated in Cuba – are working on this program.

[...] During the 11 years of work prior to the earthquake, the Cuban medical brigade, which has a presence in 127 of the 137 Haitian communes, saved 223,442 lives, treated 14 million people, performed 225,000 operations and delivered 109,000 babies. Via the Operation Miracle program, 46,000 Haitians have had their sight restored or improved. During the same period, 165,000 Haitians have become literate in Creole.

If we evaluate the medical services provided in these 11 years and the training of medical personnel in Cuba, it would represent $400 million throughout the period.

The medical program that we are proposing, in its entirety, will benefit 75% of the poorest population of the country at a minimum expense.

We invite all governments, without exception, to contribute to this noble effort. For that reason, we attribute particular importance to this conference, and aspire to its success.

Thank you very much."

On the Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Andrea Dworkin: I am remembering what she meant to so many, including to me

 [image is from here]

Andrea Dworkin
26 September 1946 - 9 April 2005

I have posted often about the work of Andrea Dworkin, how misunderstood that work has been, especially by men who willfully seek to dismiss her insights, analysis, and vision. It is always easier to kill the messenger. But with the messenger gone, for half a decade now, we are left with her work, her words, her wisdom.

She had a great impact on Western society, due to her uncompromising determination to expose the harms of racist patriarchy as such; not sugar-coating the difficult and horrific news; not making gross exploitation seem like it could be fun; not accepting pornography as just an idea or a purely subjective interpretation but rather revealing it to be what it was an is: a multi-billion dollar a year industry pumping pro-rape misogyny and racism into the minds and bodies of citizens of countries who are far less free for it existing; not taking the symbols of dispossession and oppression and pretending they are badges of empowerment and liberation; not accepting white male supremacy as either natural or inevitable. 

For all this and more, she was and is vilified. For me, this vilification has always been the surest sign she was speaking radical feminist truth to entrenched patriarchal power. And the boys were not and are not happy about it one bit. Because for them to hold onto their privileges and entitlements, their abusive forms of power and dominance, the systems, institutions, dynamics, and ideologies that underlie and comprise them, must be rendered invisible, or be called something moral, good, and necessary. Patriarchal atrocities, abuses, and avarice, are global and totalitarian. To willfully and systematically oppose such force is to be a freedom fighter. 

There are hundreds of remembrances, reflections, commemorations, declarations of homage, statements of great respect and great remorse, and heartfelt indications of love and loss, all held on the Andrea Dworkin Memorial Website, very lovingly created by Nikki Craft, with support and help from me. Working on this site got me through the most intense period of my grief. But the grief remains, as does the will to never let her intentions and directives be lost or forgotten.

Here are a few of those tributes that came flooding in over the next days and weeks:

April 11, 2005


Andrea Dworkin matters because what happens to women - the fact that we do not truly own our own bodies and minds, the fact that we are always to some extent public property, commodities, products - she matters because all that shit pissed her off.

She wasn't polite about it, she wasn't quiet or diplomatic. I want someone to be angry about it. I needed that. Being angry, being outraged proves that someone, somewhere does not think that the way women are used and discarded is natural or acceptable.

Yeah, it's great that people get sad over it, theorize about it, write papers. But really, what I need is for someone to get pissed. And the fact that she could write like mad and hit you in the gut, that made it all the more satisfying. Someone was outraged about what happened to me. Thank God for Andrea Dworkin.
September 15, 1963, four little girls were killed in a racially motivated church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. The whole country got outraged, finally, thankfully. Something turned.

Right now in the world, each year 2 million women and children are trafficked into the sex trade, generating more profit for their traffickers worldwide than the drug trade. In case you think this is a third world problem, 45,000 to 50,000 of those women and children are trafficked into the United States every year. In countries where trafficking is tolerated, or prostitution is allowed, there are more brothels than schools.

And by the way, trafficking is the polite term. What we are talking about here is more accurately called sexual slavery.

Where is the outrage for these women and little girls? Where is their movement?

If that is too abstract and huge to actually hurt you, think about this: In my neighborhood, statistically speaking, there are more than just four little girls who have experienced rape already. Before they can even vote, drive or graduate high school.

In yours, too. Everywhere.

Andrea Dworkin was outraged, I am outraged. She taught me that the only natural emotion for women experiencing violence - whether culture-wide or interpersonal - is rage. Anyone who asks that we feel something more 'civilized' (read quiet, polite, ineffective) hasn't actually confronted the reality of what it means to be born a woman.

Posted by: M. Zorah at April 11, 2005 08:35 PM

I first heard of Andrea Dworkin in the early 1980's. During my child care course, a lecturer distributed 2 opposing articles on fairy tales, one by Dworkin. You could guess which side she was on, but it was electrifying to read a dissenting voice such as hers. I remember it was so sharp, intellectually rigourous and exciting. Her ideas, along with Steinem's and Greer's, still push me to question society's norms and fight for women's rights everywhere.

I guess a fitting tribute for Andrea is how hated she was by conservatives and anti-feminists. She should wear it as a badge of honour.

Posted by: Ron Holmes at April 11, 2005 08:44 PM

Andrea Dworkin, feminist theorist and shit-starter
died this weekend. There has been no media coverage of her death, partially because her family has been mourning and dealing with the specifics of her death.

I know that not evey feminist I know agreed with
Andrea. I know that there are tons of places where I don't agree with her, places in her theory where she is incomplete or just plain wrong.

But she was the first person who taught me to be angry. She was the first theorist that I read who talked about the rage that we feel when we've been hurt, when we've been raped, when we've been because we are wymyn.

She was the first to draw attention to rape as a gendered crime. She was the first person to name "domestic violence" and say that it was something that happened to us because we were wymyn. She was one of the first people to ever say that we had a right to be angry at the hand that we have been dealt.

I will be lighting a candle for Andrea Dworkin tonight because I mourn the end of that validation. I will miss it.
I will miss HER.

Posted by: Krista Benson at April 11, 2005 08:54 PM

I have lost a friend. Women have lost a champion. And the world seems more unsafe.

Posted by: Sally Owen at April 11, 2005 09:03 PM

The death of Andrea Dworkin is devastating. We have lost a sage. Andrea's courage and integrity inspired women to acts of resistance that we didn't know we were capable of. Her generosity and support of women who constantly spoke with her about the brutal sexism in our lives was legendary. In debates, her sardonic humor cut to the bone. Andrea was a humanitarian who always considered the viewpoint of those who were marginalized - most recently, the viewpoint of those marginalized because of disability. I am certain that Andrea Dworkin's life and her work will be appreciated in the years to come in new ways and by new generations of people.

Posted by: Melissa Farley at April 11, 2005 09:24 PM

I'm so saddened to learn of this loss. I cried all afternoon. Somehow, knowing she was always out there speaking "truth to power" with that unflinching, relentless honesty about women's experience under male dominance, was a comfort to me, one that I realize I took for granted in the years since I traded in my activism for raising two strong daughters. For years, I would pull her _Letters from a War Zone_ off the shelf (which she autographed for me at Southern Sisters in 1991, and she was so much warmer than I had expected!), and it would give me so much courage to name and inhabit my own experience, however briefly.

Even now, on one my favorite left-wing listservs, a few of us are mourning her and the rest are vilifying her, reminding me of the male dominance on the left that I'd prefer to ignore in the context of America's incipient fascism. If we have a 22nd century (indeed, if the Earth isn't destroyed in the 21st), she will be known as one of the greatest, and most unappreciated, political thinkers of our day. If any of her family and friends are reading this, I thank you for sustaining her through good times and bad, and extend my deepest sympathy for your personal loss. She has given so much more to human race than most of its members, unfortunately, can presently comprehend.

Posted by: Lydia Tolar at April 11, 2005 09:28 PM

Although I don't always agree with Andrea and locate women's oppression in a different place,I am saddened that we have lost such inspiring radical feminist, activist, and thinker. My heart goes out to her family and friends and to all of the feminist communities who have lost a scholar worth arguing with. Please accept my deepest condolences.

Amanda Luke
Miami University of Ohio
Posted by: Amanda Luke at April 11, 2005 09:32 PM

Andrea Dworkin spoke for me. She spoke for my rage, my pain, and my hope for women. She wrote with beauty, honesty and courage. My eternal thanks to her.

Posted by: Beth at April 11, 2005 09:59 PM

I read _Pornography_ many years ago in researching my thesis, and I was struck by Dworkin's fierce eloquence and strength of conviction on such a polarizing subject. I believe she was, above all, one who held us to be our better selves in defense of others, and not just when we felt like it. The resistance she faced speaks volumes about how precious, how guarded, and how fraught our most private moments are.

I am sad to hear of Andrea's passing, and I send my deepest condolences to those who loved her. I wondered many times if we would have had her voice if she had had more peace in her life. I thank her for her unwavering commitment to women's sexual safety and expression and hope that she has peace now. I will revisit some of her writings now to remember why I sought her out in the first place.

Posted by: ae at April 11, 2005 10:02 PM

While her writings kept me up at night (hard to sleep when you're angry), I appreciate her voice and the way it kept me (and probably many women) from feeling pressured to "go with the flow," especially as regards pornography.

Thank you, Andrea, for helping us think in new ways!

Posted by: Abby at April 11, 2005 10:19 PM

When I was not much older than twenty, as an undergraduate, I took a "student directed seminar" in feminist issues. One of the assigned readings was Andrea Dworkin's book Woman Hating. I remember devouring that book in what seems (in retrospect) one long mesmerised, horrified sitting. To say it hit me hard would be understatement; it demolished my worldview. I was raised by parents who believed that girls could do anything boys can do. I was raised in a middle-class home without pornography; my parents's conflicts may have been at times angry, but they were not resolved by violence. I managed to make it through high school without being assaulted. I was, in other words, completely clueless about my political position as a female, about the ugly realities of "woman's place" and the mechanisms men have devised to keep her -- us! -- in it. Andrea Dworkin's book gave me a clue. It also broke my heart.

It seems odd perhaps to feel, over 25 years later, such gratitude for this devastating (at the time) experience. To an extent I can honestly say, "Andrea Dworkin made me a radical feminist" -- obviously there were other influences, but that first kick in the pants seems, in my memory, where it all started: sitting crosslegged on my rumpled bed, reading Woman Hating, and weeping, and not being able to stop reading because it all made sense. My life might have been more calm and pleasant if I had remained in illusion or denial. It might also have remained "an unexamined life."

Every commitment to social justice I have ever made, every analysis of power and abuse, of corruption and malfeasance, harks back to that first basic understanding of the injustices done to women in a culture still (to this day) pretty much run by and for men. Like the seed crystal that launches a runaway reaction in a saturated solution, Andrea's book dropped into my life and set, irrevocably, the direction of my moral philosophy. I read all her other books as well, over the years, and all were valuable. I disagreed with her here, cheered her there, marvelled at her ability to sustain such passion, such incandescent rage, and yet remain alive. I cancelled my sub to The Nation because of the gratuitous and vile insult offered to Andrea by one of their guest writers. And always her writing -- particularly her writing for public speaking -- set a high standard which I aspired to but never matched; her emotional and physical courage set a standard even harder to emulate. We never met in person, yet she was always a presence -- intellectual, moral, literary -- in my life. So I feel not so much as if a close friend had died, as a teacher, a role model -- a personal hero.


Those of us who have been fortunate enough to enjoy the marginal advantage of safety, of partial immunity, that comes with race and class privilege (not to mention plain old random luck) -- those of us who (so far) have not been prostituted, not battered, not raped -- we owe an unique debt to the mentor who first opened our eyes to the injustice that was right in front of us all along, who set a lifelong challenge before us, who made us look upon the face of suffering and let it break our hearts, who made us know in our guts that the prostituted woman, the battered woman, the raped woman, the murdered woman, is not Other, but us, and our cause is hers. That debt I owe to Andrea Dworkin -- an untamed spirit.

Posted by: DeAnander at April 11, 2005 10:23 PM

I don't know what to say really but I'd not feel right saying nothing. I know a lot of people will post how Andrea got them started, how she helped form their opinions... and I suppose I'm no different... but I don't want to talk about that really. I just want to say that... I know I've never met her, never spoken to her... but I love her, I do. She will be missed. She will really... really be missed.

Posted by: Tahereh at April 11, 2005 10:36 PM

Andrea Dworkin was the first woman I encountered who was angrier than I, but in her reasoned rage, she gave me vent and voice. I am simply and sadly stunned that she is gone.

Posted by: Leigh Ann at April 11, 2005 11:03 PM

Wow, I just realized what she meant to me. She was there, in the background of my life, ready to be called if I needed her. I always felt a sense of security as a woman, knowing she was "on the case". Now I feel more alone. It's amazing that someone I didn't know personally, had never even met, could have been such an integral part of my personal life. That's the thing....I feel like I did know her. I feel like she was a little bit of me. Who can ever fill her shoes? I hope someone...

Posted by: Leslie Thaw at April 11, 2005 11:18 PM

I am so sorry - Andrea was part of my young adulthood and a big part of my political, social and sexual consciousness. A lot of my awareness and lessons came from her writings. She was an example to us all - she was used as a threat to us, held up as a bad example, but was actually our vanguard. Be who you are. Be as much as you can be. Don't let anyone else (male or female) define you. Good grief, we are still arguing about body hair. Still told it is our duty to stay looking young and sexualised. Still ourselves both consumer and a commodity.

Bless you Andrea - for changing the way we looked at the world, for really making a difference. After so much suffering, and so much vilification - now you are home at last.

And my condolences to those close to her and supported her. After the sadness of her passing and her loss, we will always celebrate her life and work.

Posted by: Helen at April 11, 2005 11:36 PM

i don't really have words. but she did.
my god, she did.

her words on violence towards women, raging out against porn, her own painful accounts of rape, her passion and her rage are still relatively new to me. still, struck a chord in me that will continue to hum with what she's given until i'm old and grey.

she reminds me that it's not just "okay"- it's fucking necessary to be angry -to feel rage- for all the atrocities and violations that have happened to my women-friends, to all the women in the world.

she's helped me better understand my girlfriend.

in helping me accept my rage as necessary, as vital and good, she's helped me love myself more.
such a gift. severely missed, never forgotten.

Posted by: jen at April 12, 2005 12:19 AM

It's so interesting to me that Andrea passed somewhere between the pope's funeral and a royal wedding, and that hour after hour of papal coverage and news about Charles and Camilla subsumed the story of the passing of one of our great civil rights leaders.

We expect so much from our women leaders, yet she always chose to carry the burden of that expectation.
Rereading her autobiography, I love how she thought to use her strong, clear voice, her work, as a 'weapon of war' (in response to the war against women). She wanted her work to act as a 'landmine' that would 'explode the status quo'.

The idea of using one's work to literally blow up the status quo, to realize the power that a writer, an artist, can have to transform injustice, is yet another of her brillant ideas: sharp, fierce, and clear.
It's this clarity, and her fierceness, that I most appreciate.

It was a requirement in one of my women's studies courses to read 'Woman Hating.' I could just barely get through the chapter on foot binding---and I had to put the book aside. I wasn't able to finish it for several years.

Reading that book (that documentation) made me feel as if I had been slammed against a brick wall, but that reaction came from the depth of the truth and authenticity in it.

The world still needs this documentation about our shared history as women. It's a history that keeps repeating itself, a history too many women choose to distance themselves from, thinking (wrongly) that it will protect them---or that this story isn't connected to *them*.

She bore witness tirelessly. She was on the receiving end of so much hate----and somehow, she took that hate, turn it into a mirror on paper, and held it up to the haters so they would be forced to see their image reflected back at them. And all of us, in the course of reading her work, would be forced to bear witness, too.
She forced us all to *know*---we couldn't go around pretending we didn't know about this or that injustice---she made sure of that.

I 'm grateful for her blinding courage, intelligence, and commitment. The only way to repay such devotion is to pick up the mantle and contribute our own words, our time, our activism, and continue pushing the species to evolve.

Kim McCarten
Posted by: Kim McCarten at April 12, 2005 12:19 AM


I'm 25, and Andrea Dworkin saved my life. I was born the year "Pornography:Men Possessing Women" was published, but she still managed to save me. She saved me from the pornography I grew up with, with my father, and gave me a voice, one that said, pornography hurts, and women have a right to say how much.
It's always strange to me whenever I hear somone attack Dworkin as being 'anti-sex.' I can honestly say, before I read 'Intercourse,' I thought sex would be impossible for me. I thought sex was what I'd seen in pornography, inherently humiliating for women, invasive, and then I read what she wrote, with her wit: "his penis is buried inside another human being; and his penis is surrounded by strong muscles that contract like a fist shutting tight and release with a force that pushes hard on the tender thing, always so vulnerable no matter how hard . . . his penis is gone--disappeared inside someone else, enveloped, smothered, in the muscled lining of flesh that he never sees . . . she has engulfed it inside her, and it is small compared with the vagina around it, pulling it in and pushing it out: clenching it, choking it . . . afterward, shrunk into oblivion . . . he finally surrenders, beat, defeated in endurance and strength both."

I remember how I felt when I read that. I cried, and smiled. I laughed. I had my dignity back.

Posted by: stephanie at April 12, 2005 12:23 AM


Andrea spoke at Mills College during the student strike after trustees voted to admit men. She was the only national figure that I recall being there. She was an enormous inspiration and part of what kept the students strong and helped overturn the decision.

Whether you agreed with everything she said, most of what she said or none of it, there can be no denying that a strong, eloquent and vital voice for woman AND men is no longer with us. Her writing, however, is still available for future generations -- and I'm quite sure that the truth of what she wrote will be much more evident in years to come. She was truly ahead of her time.

Posted by: Cheryl Reid-Simons at April 12, 2005 12:52 AM


Andrea Dworkin: She saw reality for what it was. She was brilliant. She fought the good fight.
Posted by: Laurent A. Beauregard at April 12, 2005 01:04 AM


For the rest, please visit *here*. If you read through these powerful and moving tributes, you will understand what she meant to so many, why she was despised by woman-haters, and loved by women (and many caring men also).

Honoring and Remembering the Life, Words, and Accomplishments of Wilma Mankiller (November 18, 1945 - April 6, 2010 ECD), former two-term Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, community activist, author, and tribal legislator

With sadness, comes this news.

The following note may also be seen on the blog of Joy Harjo, posted April 6, 2010 ECD, which is linked to here:

A note from the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation:
Dear Friends,

Our personal and national hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness with the passing this morning of Wilma Mankiller, our former Principal Chief. We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us. We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations. Years ago, she and her husband Charlie Soap showed the world what Cherokee people can do when given the chance, when they organized the self-help water line in the Bell community She said Cherokees in that community learned that it was their choice, their lives, their community and their future. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide. We can carry on that Cherokee legacy by teaching our children that lesson. Please keep Charlie, Gina and Felicia in your prayers. Wilma asked that any gifts in her honor be made as donations to One Fire Development Corporation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Native American communities though economic development, and to valuing the wisdom that exists within each of the diverse tribal communities around the world. Tax deductible donations can be made at as well as The mailing address for One Fire Development Corporation is 1220 Southmore Houston, TX 77004. Details of her memorial service will be forthcoming.

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[this image is from here]

On the shorter list of people I wish I had met and known well, Chief Wilma Mankiller is among them. I did communicate to her, but not with her. As soon as I'd heard her health was failing, I sent her a note of my wishes for an easy passing. She received that note. It was written on 3 March 2010 ECD and is copied here:
Dear Wilma Mankiller,

Thank you for all the many years of work you have done and may continue yet to do. I hope you have all the love and support around you at this particular time of dealing with forces that are not as external as some you have fought. And I hear that you are prepared for whatever journey awaits you.

I have followed your work for many years, and you have been an inspiration to me.

I wanted to let you know, as I'm sure most of the people whose lives you touch you do not hear from.

I am wishing you happy days and wondrous spiritual travels.

Love, Julian Real

What follows are many discussions of her life and work. Quotations by her, audio of an interview with her from 1993, remembrances and obituaries, photographs, and links to more about her. I hope this serves as a small measure of my respect and admiration for her, a Great Woman and a Great Leader of the Proud and Resilient Cherokee Nation. 

Here is the Wilma ManKiller Website:, where there are speeches, photos, and biographical information.

*         *          *          *

 [this photograph is from here]

Selected Quotes by Chief Wilma Mankiller
[sources for these quotes are here, here, and here]

“I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.”
“I think the most important issue we have as a people is what we started, and that is to begin to trust our own thinking again and believe in ourselves enough to think that we can articulate our own vision of the future and then work to make sure that that vision becomes a reality.”

“Individually and collectively, Cherokee people possess an extraordinary ability to face down adversity and continue moving forward.”

“The secret of our success is that we never, never give up.” 
“My name is Mankiller, and in the old Cherokee Nation, when we lived here in the Southeast, we lived in semi-autonomous villages, and there was someone who watched over the village, who had the title of mankiller. And I'm not sure what you could equate that to, but it was sort of like a soldier or someone who was responsible for the security of the village, and so anyway this one fellow liked the title mankiller so well that he kept it as his name, and that's who we trace our ancestry back to.”

“One of the things my parents taught me, and I'll always be grateful as a gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me; that for me to define myself . . . and I think that helped me a lot in assuming a leadership position.”

"There were a significant number of people in this country that were still questioning whether Indians were human.
"I've run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian."

 “Prior to my election, young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief.”

“A lot of young girls have looked to their career paths and have said they'd like to be a chief. There's been a change in the limits people see.”  

*          *          *          *

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
In this Sept. 19, 1996 file photo, Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee Nation chief, spoke during a news conference in Tulsa, Okla. Mankiller, one of the few women ever to lead a major American Indian tribe, died Tuesday April 6 after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 64.

The photograph, its caption, and what follows immediately is all from Indian Country Today, found *here* and cross posted below. Other articles and links follow this story.

Wilma Mankiller, beloved leader and friend, passes on

By Rob Capriccioso

Click here to hear an exclusive interview with Rob Capriccioso on NPR about the passing of Wilma Mankiller.

WASHINGTON – With a last name like hers, some say Wilma Mankiller was destined for the history books.

But many friends and admirers nationwide aren’t waiting for those historical tomes to be written. Thousands of newspaper articles, Internet messages, and other tributes and remembrances have already surfaced in honor of the first woman elected to lead the Cherokee Nation, who passed away at age 64 on April 6 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

The outpouring of adulation, which has included praise-filled statements from President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton – who awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 – and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is not surprising to those who knew her best.

“She had the uncanny ability to make people in Native America and beyond feel like she was talking right to them,” said Tom Holm, a longtime friend and noted Native American scholar.

“She was one of the great American Indian thinkers. We have lost a voice that can’t easily be replaced.”

It was through her tribal roots that Mankiller became a nationally known figure after her service as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, which began in 1985. She served with great popularity in that position for 10 years, and was deputy principal chief for two years before that.

“Wilma exemplified a Native woman’s leadership, both in her manner and in her consistent and unfailing devotion to her family, her people, the land, and the ways in which we are connected to past and future generations.”

-Rebecca Tsosie, an Indian law professor at Arizona State University
Her legacy at the Cherokee Nation, which opened its enrollment during her leadership to ultimately become the second largest tribe in the United States, is firmly entrenched. It was under her tenure that multiple educational, health and economic development initiatives took hold.

Among Mankiller’s many successes, she oversaw the substantial revitalization of the tribe, including several new free-standing health clinics, an $11 million Job Corps Center, and greatly expanded services for children and youth. She also led the team that developed the core of what’s now known as Cherokee Nation Enterprises.

Chad Smith, current Cherokee Nation principal chief, said after her passing that his tribe is a “stronger tribal nation because of her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness.”

Mankiller’s legacy extended far beyond the borders of her tribe. A heroine of the women’s rights movement, she spent countless hours devoted to philanthropic work after her time as chief, serving on numerous minority and women-focused boards, including those of the Ford Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Seventh Generation Fund, Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations and the Freedom Forum.

She also wrote two books about her life and heritage, and taught numerous Native American studies courses at learning institutions throughout the nation.

Susan Masten, founder and co-president of WEWIN, said Mankiller’s tireless advocacy on behalf of Native American females was but one spoke in her wheel of influence.

“She really did so much to improve the lives of so many,” said Masten, who invited Mankiller to serve as a founding board member of WEWIN in 2004. “Yes, women’s issues are a huge part of her legacy, but she was a pioneer in so many ways.”

When Mankiller decided to retire from the tribe in 1995, still as popular as ever, she hinted at her journeys yet to come, citing the biblical verse, “To everything there is a season. My season here is coming to an end.”

The New York Times documented that farewell scene, reporting that many tribal employees were in tears at the prospect of losing their beloved leader.

But Mankiller did not dwell on the sadness. She kept her speech short, hugged her friends, and told the Times that she was ready to begin a new chapter. “You don’t have to have a title or a position to be effective,” she said then.

And she was true to those words. Soon after retirement, she returned with conviction to make waves on the national scene, accepting a fellowship at Dartmouth College to teach students and faculty members a smattering of her lifelong messages.

But she wasn’t one to go easy on her new friends in academia simply because they had invited her. Instead, she was quick to note the lack of diversity sometimes found in segments of that world.

“The people [who] don’t have a lot of interaction with minority people or with women in leadership roles or with Native Americans, they are the ones we ought to be talking to,” Mankiller told local New Hampshire press.

Many of Mankiller’s truisms in the years after her two terms as principal chief hit on the importance of sharing Native American realities and wisdom with non-Indians, especially those who have tended to be ignorant.

During a 2008 appearance on National Public Radio, she hinted that much work was left to be done on that matter, discussing the many wrong notions she had encountered about Native America throughout her travels.

“I think that in virtually every sector of society, Native people, whether they’re in tribal government or whether they’re in the private sector or an artist, they encounter people every day who have such enormously stupid, ridiculous stereotypes about Native people and have so little accurate information about either the history of Native people or their contemporary lives,” she told host Michel Martin.

Mankiller saw herself as a conduit for information, Holm recalled, saying that’s part of why she was such a popular Vine Deloria Jr. Scholar at the University of Arizona in 2009.

“The students, the professors, everyone was in awe of her,” said Holm, himself a longtime scholar at the institution.

“I think a lot of them were surprised I knew her, that I could get such a big name to show up,” he said with a laugh, noting that they had been friends for many years.

Mankiller’s time at Dartmouth and Arizona were just two of her many teaching adventures after her days of tribal leadership. In addition to co-writing two books, “Mankiller: A Chief and Her People” and “Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women,” she would go on mini-tours of campuses, staying for a few days to share some passages or a speech, and to meet her followers.

Rebecca Tsosie, an Indian law professor at Arizona State University, is one of many fans who fondly remember meeting Mankiller after one of her public inspirational speeches.

“There are some people who have this rare quality, I guess ‘luminous’ is the best word. That is how I will always remember her. She was powerful, but in a way that was so kind, so compassionate.

“As amazing as she was, however, she also had a way of just sitting down with you, like an old friend, chatting and laughing about some small thing that struck her as amusing,” Tsosie said.

“To me, she exemplified a Native woman’s leadership, both in her manner and in her consistent and unfailing devotion to her family, her people, the land, and the ways in which we are connected to past and future generations. She knew these things, practiced them, and had such a determination to make sure that this would be protected into the future.”

Ron Karten, a writer with the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, was in the audience during one of Mankiller’s famous public conversations, one she shared with former American Indian Movement leader John Trudell at the University of Oregon in 2005.

Like so many who saw her in such venues, Karten was impressed that despite her health obstacles – she carried a cane at that outing – she was “incredibly knowledgeable” and even a little bit “feisty.”

Mankiller showed some of her spirited energy during that talk with Trudell, lamenting of non-Indians, “After hundreds of years of living together, they know so little about us.”

And she discussed feminism in contemporary times, saying that “every woman figures out her own way to deal with sexism.” In her case, she said she made her mark among the men at the table by pulling her own seat up, and getting down to business.

“I never thought about being a woman,” she remarked. “Nobody told me I couldn’t do anything.”

She also said it was important not to let society define what it is to be a woman.

“Girls and women have to have their own identity, not from their boyfriends or husbands. Define it for yourself in your own way,” she said.

Sara Gould, Ms. Foundation president, was quite familiar with the tribal leader’s role in the women’s rights movement, having worked with her for several years when Mankiller served on the board of that organization.

“I turned to Wilma many times for ideas on bringing women together, to help us move our shared endeavors forward.”

Gould said Mankiller’s contributions made Native American women much more visible to people who would have had no understanding of them otherwise.

“Most Americans haven’t visited a reservation; they really have little clue about Native Americans. Wilma really was able to speak about her experience, and get other women thinking about it.”

Elouise Cobell, no stranger to being a celebrated Indian leader, said she and many Native American women viewed Mankiller as a role model and a pioneer.

“She showed that women could aspire to – and achieve – major leadership positions in our Native communities,” the Blackfeet citizen said.

Through Mankiller’s personal health struggles, including the ramifications of a horrific car accident in 1979, two kidney transplants, lymphoma and breast cancer, she also became an advocate for Indian health issues.

Raining Deer Harjo, an author and motivational speaker, quoted Mankiller in one of her writings focused on surviving breast cancer. She said that it was the courage of people like the former Cherokee chief who helped her make it through her own ordeal.

“I still lean on her words.”

Larger than any of her commitments to various issues, foundations, books and public appearances, Masten said Mankiller’s greatest source of satisfaction was her family.

“She had a strong Cherokee husband, Charlie Soap, who supported her, went with her everywhere, loved her so much – it was a beautiful thing.

“And her daughters, Felicia and Gina, were always traveling with her, or helping her in her endeavors. It was through her family that Wilma found the strength to be the courageous woman she was to so many people.”

Mankiller’s extended family, including good friend Gloria Steinem, one of the top leaders of the contemporary women’s movement, was also a substantial source of strength, Masten said.

Even after the Cherokee heroine knew she would succumb to pancreatic cancer, she opened herself to the world, sharing her personal e-mail address in her last statement to the public, issued in early March.

“I learned a long time ago that I can’t control the challenges the Creator sends my way, but I can control the way I think about them and deal with them,” Mankiller wrote in her final message.

“On balance, I have been blessed with an extraordinarily rich and wonderful life, filled with incredible experiences. And I am grateful to have a support team composed of loving family and friends.”

She continued her advocacy work, striving to get a Native American studies department established at Northeastern State University, at which she was a scholar.

Even in death, Mankiller managed to keep her strong spirit alive, asking that any gifts in her honor be made as donations to One Fire Development Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the economic development of Native American communities.

“She definitely wasn’t one to rest on her laurels,” Holm said. “She kept on going until the last day. Now, the next generations have to keep up her pace.” 

*          *          *          * 

What follows next is from NPR, *here*.

Remembering First Female Chief Of Cherokee Nation

April 7, 2010
    Wilma Mankiller
    Enlarge APDuring her tenure as leader of the Cherokee Nation, Mankiller tripled the tribe's enrollment and built new health care facilities.
    April 7, 2010
    Wilma Mankiller, whose life encapsulated some of the traditions and the changes that are part of contemporary Native American culture, died on Tuesday. She was 64.

    In 1985, Mankiller became the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, a position she held for a decade. As chief, she headed the Tribal Council, the ruling body of the 72,000-member Cherokee Nation, and was principal guardian of Cherokee customs and traditions.

    During her tenure, membership in the Cherokee Nation tripled and its budget grew to $150 million a year. Mankiller put much of that money back into health care and educational resources for the tribe.

    Web Extras

    [Julian's note:
    Listen to Wilma Mankiller, in a 1993 interview on NPR's Fresh Air, below, explaining the history of her name; the Cherokee Nation's relationship to the U.S. Nation; about her being the first woman elected as principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and support from the older members of the tribe; her early life being relocated from an isolated rural farm in Oklahoma with no electricity; her family's struggles to keep them together; their move to "the tenderloin" section of San Francisco when she was eleven; contending with the unusual sound of sirens; the San Francisco Indian Center; the U.S. government's genocidal efforts to break up Indian families, to "solve the Indian Problem"; Alcatraz-related activism; her father's death and funeral; her return to Oklahoma in 1977 to her grandparents' land; recovery from the emotional and physical trauma of a 1979 car accident while in graduate school; her maturing into the Cherokee approach to life: being able to continually move forward with a good mind, with focus on the positive aspects of life; the amazement of her closeness to universal love following the automobile crash; making a decision to live in part for her two daughters; a medicine man's dream of a woman rising to lead the Cherokee Nation (he told her she looked like the woman in his vision), and her subsequent leadership of the Cherokee Nation based on the strength of all she'd lived through with positive focus; most of her siblings' return, coming full circle to her family home in Oklahoma.]

    In a 1993 interview on Fresh Air, Mankiller described how a 1979 car accident that nearly killed her completely changed the way she viewed her own life. She says that accident helped her adopt the Cherokee approach to life.

    "I think the Cherokee approach to life is being able to continually move forward with kind of a good mind and not focus on the negative things in your life and the negative things you see around you, but focus on the positive things and try to look at the larger picture and keep moving forward," Mankiller explained. "[It] also taught me to look at the larger things in life rather than focusing on small things, and it's also awfully, awfully hard to rattle me after having faced my own mortality ... so the things I learned from those experiences actually enabled me to lead. Without those experiences, I don't think I would have been able to lead. I think I would have gotten caught up in a lot of nonsensical things."

    Five years after the car accident, Mankiller first ran for office in the Cherokee Nation tribe. She says that during that election, which she lost, her gender played a large role.

    "The only issue in the first election was my being female," she said. "That was a total — a total issue in the entire election. There was incredible opposition because of that. But the people who stayed with me in the '83 election and who stayed with me through today, 10 years later, have been the older people in the tribe and the more traditional elements of the tribe. I've always found that fascinating. My husband and I have talked about it and I think we've come to the conclusion that maybe older people have a greater sense of history and understand that there was a time when women played a more significant role in the tribe and there was more balance and harmony between men and women in the Cherokee Nation."

    Mankiller served as the chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1985 to 1995. In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

    In addition to her husband, Charlie Soap, Mankiller is survived by her mother, two daughters, several brothers and sisters and four grandchildren. Her memoir is titled Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. She was also the author of Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women.

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    U.S. Congress to Honor Chief Wilma Mankiller, WKTUL news story *here* and cross posted just below.
    Congress To Honor Mankiller
    posted 04/08/10 1:31 pm   producer: Kevin King
    NewsChannel 8 - Congress To Honor Mankiller

    Washington, DC -
    Click here to read the full resolution.
    Oklahoma's Congressional delegation will introduce a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives honoring the life of former Cherokee Nation Prinicpal Chief Wilma Mankiller, who died earlier this week from pancreatic cancer.

    The resolution is being introduced by Congressman Dan Boren and will be introduced on Tuesday, when the House of Representatives next convenes for official business.

    "Chief Wilma Mankiller was in inspiration to Native American women both within her tribe and across the nation," said Boren. "Her service to her tribe and her dedication to advancing the role of women within it set a strong example for young Native American women everywhere to follow. She is a legendary figure in the cultural fabric of Oklahoma.  It is my honor to introduce this resolution to acknowledge her."

    "Chief Mankiller was a national icon and role model for women and Native Americans everywhere," added Congressman Tom Cole. "Her strong, visionary and principled leadership set a standard seldom equaled and never to be surpassed. No one more fiercely defended the concept of tribal sovereignty, yet no one was more willing to partner with others of different backgrounds and points of view than Wilma Mankiller."

    "Oklahoma has lost a legend," said Congresswoman Mary Fallin. "Chief Mankiller was a true trailblazer in our state's history, as well as an esteemed and revered leader of her tribe. Her leadership is an inspiration to us all, reminding us to challenge the status quo and overcome barriers for the betterment of our neighbors, our communities and our nation as a whole. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and many, many friends."

    "Chief Wilma Mankiller led an extraordinary life," Congressman Frank Lucas said. "As the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, she set a powerful example for the women in her tribe. Her many contributions to the Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma will not soon be forgotten."

    "I am pleased to join my Oklahoma colleagues in honoring Chief Wilma Mankiller, a woman who dedicated her life the people of our state," Congressman John Sullivan said. "As we remember her contributions and the legacy she leaves behind, my thoughts and prayers remain with her family, friends and the many lives she touched before her passing."

    Mankiller was born in 1945 in Tahlequah and lived near Rocky Mountain until her family relocated to California when she was 11. When she returned to Oklahoma in 1977, she began an entry-level job at the Cherokee Nation.

    Six years later, Mankiller was elected deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation and in 1985, became the first-ever female chief when Ross Swimmer resigned to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    She was elected to the office in 1987 and re-elected in 1991, but chose not to run again in 1995 due to health problems.

    During her time as principal chief, she founded the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department which built housing and water projects in low-income Cherokee communities.

    Mankiller also oversaw new development, including several new free-standing health clinics, an $11 million Job Corps Center, and greatly expanded services for children and youth.

    Mankiller is also known as an author and lecturer, and has recently served on philanthropic boards and committees that aim to promote the First Amendment.

    In 1998, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- by then-President Bill Clinton.

    A memorial service is planned for Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah.   
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    The story that follows is from *here* from NewsOK.

    Gloria Steinem reflects on friendship with Wilma Mankiller


    Published: April 8, 2010

    TAHLEQUAH — The friendship of the first woman to be named Cherokee Nation Principal Chief and a 1960s and 1970s feminist icon was not only a political alliance, but a friendship of mutual trust and respect.

    Left: Angela Davis, Wilma Mankiller and Gloria Steinem in 1998
    "We were a chosen family,” said Gloria Steinem, who is staying at Wilma Mankiller’s home in rural Adair County.

    For two weeks Steinem kept a bedside vigil, watching as pancreatic cancer slowly claimed the life of her friend. Steinem will be one of the featured speakers at Mankiller’s memorial service set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah.

    The women’s friendship spanned a quarter of a century, she said.

    In addition to being political allies, the women spent vacations together and shared life’s ups and downs, including sicknesses and the death of Steinem’s husband in 2003.

    The two women met when Mankiller joined the board for the Ms. Foundation for Women, a nonprofit organization, co-founded by Steinem in 1973.

    "A year or so after I met her, she was becoming ill and needed her first (kidney) transplant,” Steinem said. "We bonded over transplant surgery that happened to another friend.”

    Mankiller was diagnosed with colon cancer and lymphoma in 1996. She also received two kidney transplants, the first in 1990 and the second in 1998.

    "In a just country, she (Wilma) would have been president,” Steinem said.

    The two women fought side by side on many issues, including American Indian and women’s rights.

    "She was always inclusive and she personified the balance between men and women,” Steinem said. "She saw people as equal.”

    Mankiller’s biggest contribution was that she could show political and social causes were connected and many issues were one in the same, she said.

    "Her gift was to create independence, not dependence,” Steinem said.

    Wilma paved a way for all young women, not just Cherokee women, she said.

    At age 66, Steinem reached out to her friend regarding an equal marriage. Steinem saw Wilma’s marriage to Charlie Soap as an equal marriage and that was the only kind of marriage she would allow for herself.

    "I asked her if I should get married at my age,” Steinem said. "I was happily unmarried for many years.”

    Mankiller told Steinem she was going to go out into the yard, sit under the stars and think about it.
    "I was to call her the next morning,” Steinem said.

    Steinem married David Bale, a human rights activist, [...] at dawn at the home of Mankiller and Soap in September 2000. Soap performed the ceremony, followed by a female judge who performed a civil ceremony.

    Steinem said everyone then sat down to a huge wedding breakfast and went back to bed.

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