NOT Annett-Craven

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Tue Sep 4 12:06:37 MDT 2001


Joan Cameron wrote:

I don't have time to read every post from marxmail every day; so, I have
been deleting most of the posts in this discussion. Everyone has a delete
button; I suggest they use it.

Response (Jim C): I think this is wise advice. I for one summarily delete
without reading many messages based on the content and/or writer (I'm sure
others do the same when they see my name and/or topics they don't feel they
have time or interest to read). All of us have time and/or interest
constraints. But I also recognize that whatever people wrote and took the
time to write, is important to them and therefore I would be not inclined to
ask for certain topics to be off limits for discussion. True, some
discussions have the potential for causing a list implosion (Stalin v
Trotsky stuff etc) and it is Louis' right to shut such discussions off based
on his own past experience. Further, for some what might be considered
"single-issue" stuff may be seen as a concentrated expression or microcosm
of a wider totality or macrocosm of capitalism; that is certainly the case
with many Indigenous issues including the Residential/Boarding School
issues.

Joan wrote:

I have a question for Jim. Do you think this is a deliberate attempt by
the United Church to define the nature of the discussion, or is this guy
out on his own for personal reasons?

Joan Cameron

In many ways this issue has been mislabelled. Although Annett would like to
make it Annett vs Craven (or Mac would like to make it Mac vs Craven) this
is not about personalities at all. Annett, represents a metaphor for all
those non-Indians who intrude on Indian issues and misery, practice
divide-and-rule and use the misery of victims for their own
self-engrandizement and to leverage or attain credibility they simply don't
have. I am often struck by the looks and responses I get when I routinely
ask someone who has been doing "case studies" of victims (oppressed workers,
women, students, third-world people, Indians etc) and publishing books and
articles, "Where are those victims now; how are they doing, where are they?"
So often causes and victims are used by academics and "activists" as
"commodities" or things to be used for the advancement or standing of a
particular academic or "activist" then to be summarily disgarded without any
regard to the stuff that will be coming down on those victims or just how
those victims are doing.

About a year ago I was approached on the phone by a Toronto PR firm
representing the United Church and a woman named Mary Beth called to tell me
that they were pleased with my writings on Annett. I told them to take no
comfort as I do not believe in the opportunistic concept of "the enemy of my
enemy is my friend." and that I was far more dedicated to exposing the role
of the UC and other churches--and the U.S. and Canadian Governments--in
genocide, cover-up, continuing abuse of Residential School victims than
Annett could ever hope to be; I told them that actually it was Annett doing
their bidding in that when anyone makes reckless and unsubstantiated
charges, employs sloppy evidence or engages in opportunistic
self-serving/self-impeaching behavior, the Cause itself gets tarnished along
with the messenger and in this sense Annett is doing their work not me; I
told them that my charges are and always would be substantial and fully
substantiated. Now I could commit the same kind of Libel Annett does and
claim that Annett is an "agent" of the United Church, but the truth is that
the UC does indeed hate him and is indeed attacking him despite the fact
that in reality and objectively he is doing their work by making it easier
to impeach the Cause via a throughly reckless, opportunistic,
self-impeaching and self-appointed/annointed messenger or "advocate."

Some may see the Residential/Boarding school issues or Indigenous issues in
general as "single-issue" or "ethnic politics" etc. I assure you these
issues are a microcosm and integral part of a totality or macrocosm of
capitalism itself. We all work on different fronts with different weapons in
accordance with where we think we will be most effective. Not only were the
Boarding/Residential Schools key instruments in the "primitive accumulation"
of capitalism in North America, they were/are instruments of ongoing
genocide, theft of resources, de-Indianization and neo-liberal
globalization. Because so much is at stake (e.g. 25% of known low-sulphur
oil, 25% of known coal, 65% of known uranium reserves are on Indian
reservations) and because the whole historical experience of Indigenous
Peoples under capitalism represents an indictment of capitalism itself, as
well as an indictment of the pious hypocrisy of the governments of the U.S.
and Canada who dare to lecture others about "human rights", Indigenous
peoples and activists are under very special surveillance,harassment and
even attempted/completed murder in ways that few can imagine. It is
literally life-and-death in Indian Country not only from the conditions and
misery that kill so many before they have gotten old, but also Indigenous
Peoples are subject to over 5000 laws and regulations that non-Indigenous
peoples are not subject to and further subject to denials of basic civil
rights that simply would not occur with many non_Indigenous
peoples--activists or non-activists.

In our last Tribunal, we were subject to slanders, attacks and covert
manipulations before our Tribunal ever commenced. The "official Indians"
took scarce Tribal funds to set-up alternative events, with lots of food
designed to draw-in poor Indians away from testifying, along with threats of
taking horses and cattle, foreclosures, threats of loss of Tribal employment
of relatives of activists and threats of loss of welfare monies--for people
living on $239.00 Canadian per month. Before the Tribunal commenced, we gave
an open invitation to non-Blackfoot supporters to come but with the caveat
that they contact one of our Chiefs and Elders Sikapii with notice of intent
to come; the reason for this was not only to plan the logistics, but also to
screen-out some people since we are well aware that someone could be on a
progressive e-mail list and be anything but progressive. I was specifically
tasked by our Elders to screen-out applicants and in fact we did screen-out
one woman who works with Annett who tried to cover her associations and come
to the Tribunal under another banner (she had taken and misused the
testimonies of other victims from the Vancouver Tribunal). There were
sensitive testimonies to be given, many of the victims had pending
litigation against the churches and governments of the U.S. and Canada, and
we simply had to protect those testimonies and victims from being exploited
and from their cases being sabotaged as happened at the Tribunal in
Vancouver and as has happened elsewhere.

I will say right now, and my intent is not self-promotion, that I have
interviewed and prepped for litigation literally hundreds of victims of
Residential and Boarding School horrors. If I wanted to write some articles
or whole books with lots of "salacious details" that sell big, I could. But
I will never "write a book" about the Residential/Boarding school horrors
that would in any way betray or use the confidences of those victims and I
will never reveal to outsiders any specifics or names that could compromise
those victims or cases. This is a sacred trust I take very seriously
especially since my own mother was one of those victims and her suicide
could be traced partly and directly back to the abuses she suffered at Fort
Hall under the Mormons.

Now, in response to the gutless and non-public letter written by Mac
Stainsby who now employs the same kinds of tactics as Annett and therefore I
add my response to him here as well.

Mac Stainsby gave my name to a fellow "activist" who wrote me claiming
"Peigan" blood and wanting to become involved in the Tribunal. Mac also
noted that this person had been previously involved with anarchists--later,
in a matter of a few weeks switched to Maoism according to that person.  I
forwarded his request to our Elders who were disturbed about the manner and
content of his approach to us (not knowing even the basics about Blackfoot,
trying to assert purported blood-quantum as a "credential" for activism--we
have "full-bloods" who are traitors--and no specificity as to how he might
be useful) and this caused a red flag to go up. I gave my opinion that in my
experience, over many years of activism, I have found many, if not most
anarchists to be wreckers, infantile, lacking any real base, enamoured with
their own rhetoric and theatrics, indifferent to the effects of their
actions on others, narcissistic, looking for instant results and
gratification, not subject to keeping confidences, embelishers of their own
records and effects of their own actions etc. That was and is my opinion and
I was asked to give it by our Elders; we simply have too much at stake to
become an instrument for the credential-leveraging or need to belong of some
purported/looking-to-become "activists".

Our Elders were well aware of Louis' work as he had been in Blackfoot
Country before but they had no idea who Mac was/is and why he wanted to
come. I spoke up for him eventhough I had started to develop some
reservations after he had inserted himself into our problem with his friend
purporting to have "Peigan blood." The people at the Tribunal were/are
desperately poor. They do not have the resources to pick-up and give tours
to hitchhiking tourists. I did resent and do still resent outsiders putting
financial and other burdens on those unable to meet such burdens; they don't
have "Mommy" paying their rent and subsidizing their self-indulgence or
self-annointed "activism" and even writing e-mail lists to protect/defend
them without knowing various sides of a dispute. Further I did resent, and
made it clear that I resented, some kid coming in, sitting around while
Elders were out in the sun doing hard labor putting up Tipis etc, spouting
Chairman Mao or quote-mongering, not listening to or taking an interest in
learning about things Blackfoot etc. On one occasion, in a discussion with
John Chief Moon and Floyd Many Fingers I had to ask both Louis and Mac to
leave (truth be known, they had only asked that Mac not be present for some
sensitive discussions as he was sitting/slouching like some kind of royalty
and they did not know him, appreciate his demeanor or want him present).

I was asked not to respond to the private letter by Mac but since his
infantile and divisive machinations, and unwillingness to look at himself
and his own behavior so strongly parallel the same proclivities of Annett, I
thought I would combine both responses. I knew about his "private
conversation" with Dwayne (private conversations and private letters come
from those unwilling/unable to debate openly and honestly and present their
views openly and honestly--in the context of Blackfoot struggles, they also
represent attempted wrecking). Our struggles are for life-and-death and if
we make mistakes, so be it; we desire and need allies, and our Cause goes
far beyond Blackfoot issues, but we do not need more missionaries, saviors,
Indian wannabes or indeed activist wannabes looking for instant credentials
and "legends" along with instant gratification and results.

Despite my reservations, which I shared repeatedly with Louis, I gave Mac a
chance to learn and grow-up a bit. Sadly he has learned nothing, and like
Annett, attacks the messenger because the message is too painful and
truthful. All of my actions in Blackfoot Country were/are carried out in
consultation with and at the direction of the leadership of the Blackfoot
Nation. Allies are welcome and desperately needed; self-indulgent punks,
wreckers, pampered/protected mommies boys, users, narcissists etc are not.

Jim Craven



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