Part Five – Sweet Freedom
Chapter 25 – Insights on Activism: Connecting The Dots
By Ghost Dancer
As you have been reading to this point, I’d say most likely you have wondered why this Ghost person seems to be dragged from one bizarre situation to another. Why would government authorities single out this one individual? It’s not as though he is someone important or anything! Bear with me and I’ll try to explain so everyone can understand why I’ve been labeled as a violent criminal, a terrorist even, literally wearing a target on my back all these years.
Connecting The Dots
Now if you have been following this story of my life, think about these important points from the chapters:
1. Who influenced me as I grew up. (Ch. 2, 3, 12)
2. My education and how I learned (Ch. 6)
3. My religious beliefs and practices and the significance of these traditions to all Native Peoples. (Ch. 6)
4. Who mentored me in standing up for all our rights.(Ch. 12, 15, 17)
5. When did the abuses start? (Ch. 14)
From my earliest years I grew up knowing who and what I was.
Throughout my school years I truly did not fit into the standard learning structure. Rather I was given materials from many fields and disciplines to study. Most important for my life’s work, I studied business law, civil law, and international law.
As a youth, I was drawn to and mentored by those who started the American Indian Movement. My teachers were all prominent highly recognized spiritual leaders and I was inspired by all these amazing people to stand up for our human rights. (Ch. 12, 13)
Government agents saw me and photographed me with all these leaders I was learning from during the times I spent at Pine Ridge Reservation. I also witnessed the atrocities committed by government agents and their hired mercenary cronies on the innocent Native Peoples and I had visited the rez and seen the deplorable living conditions. This made a huge impression on me as a teenager. (Ch. 12, 13)
I came to fully understand how Native Peoples were the only group in America whose sacred traditions, languages, and ways of life had literally been made illegal to practice by the federal government. Why? Because it was always the goal of government to force Native People to assimilate by destroying their entire culture. Finally, in 1977 we won these rights in federal court from inside of prison and the Native American Religious Freedom Act was passed into federal law on Aug 11, 1978. (Ch. 15)
Once the government agents had identified me as the youth photographed with the spiritual elders at Pine Ridge they would be intent on getting me to answer their questions about everything I knew. From the time I was first arrested, I was beaten, tortured, drugged and convicted of crimes for refusing to give up information on A.I.M. members. This only made my commitment to stand up for my people stronger. The more they did to me, the more I would speak out. (Ch. 14, 15, 16, 17)
A.I.M. was considered a threat by the government and corporations that exploited and used Native lands for their own profit. Why? Because the goal of A.I.M. was to bring back the strength and values of Native heritage and teaching all who listened to the truth about standing up for what is written in the laws and treaties, and what changes we must fight for to get made into law to protect our traditions and our natural rights. (Ch. 13)
Understand this: A person who knows what their rights are, who knows the laws and how to use and invoke them, becomes a danger to all who live by suppressing your knowledge, rights, and everything you are entitled to.
Being drugged and beaten and sent to mental hospitals and jails only made me that much more determined to speak out. Yeah it made me mad, willing and ready to do whatever it took it get things changed. Our ancestors died fighting to protect our ways of life, traditions, languages, religious practices and history. It was only fitting that the younger generations stand up to fight for these things too.
A.I.M. was the catalyst that brought back these values to all of us and inspired us to wake up. It was a great spiritual awakening to our sacred circle being formed and healed once again. I will always be so thankful for all those who were the founders, leaders and spiritual teachers of A.I.M. who brought us all back to life and awakened us and shared their knowledge with us and inspired us to use what knowledge, skills and experience we had learned in life already. So even though it was hard for my family and loved ones to understand, the more they did to me made me that much more determined to win and speak out. (Ch. 13)
When in prison I taught these rights, laws, and how to use them to all who wished to hear and learn. Not only did we change the laws on Native Americans rights, but for prisoner rights as well. I was always active in pushing for changes in how prisoners are treated and even became a writer for prisoners’ religious rights, medical rights, living conditions and all.
I was active in getting people on the outside involved in writing letters to senators, congress people, even the United Nations, and others in foreign countries to support and rally for us. So the more people I got to raise their voices the more changes that would come into being. Naturally this challenge to the status quo singled me out to all the prison authorities and even to those in government, politics, and corporations. Just because they had me locked up did not silence my voice. (Ch. 24)
Look back to the beginning of this book and see what you read in Chapter 1 when I was speaking to the court at my sentencing about not silencing my voice. At that time I had many contacts, not only in the U.S. but in every country in the world speaking out and pushing for changes. Family members, loved ones and friends were contacting senators, congress people, directors and yes, even the courts.
If you checked the federal court records in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, you would find so many cases that I filed. Every single prison I was ever locked up at, I filed against them to make changes. In the records of the Justice Department you will find records that I have filed complaint after complaint for all types of issues.
That determination did not change when I got out of prison. Every time I was free I never stopped teaching others to stand up and speak out for their rights, and how to learn the laws and their rights. Every time I saw or heard about an injustice I would begin standing up and organizing others to do the same thing.
During our fifteen months of sweet freedom, every time we traveled to reservations or to psychic shows or local festivals, flea markets, powwows, even schools, I would speak to others about their rights and how to invoke them. Cat and I were always searching, investigating, and looking for truth and justice in all our communities.
For instance we were concerned about the polluted waters caused by Monsanto Corporation illegally dumping into the waters of the gulf, rivers and creeks so we took water and soil samples to college professors for testing. Another incident involved a Native sister who had been illegally arrested and by invoking the Native American Free Exercise Act, we were able to get the charges against her dropped. We even took on Walmart directly for violations against the Indian Arts and Crafts Law of 1990. Once they became aware of the law, they immediately complied without a fight.
Another incident occurred at Florida Town State Park that highlights the over reach of government authority. We were there to meet with a college professor to give him soil and water samples and discuss issues of historically sacred sites being violated by corporations and federal, state, county and city governments. Cat was with the wolves while I was speaking with the college professor. Sheriff’s deputies and animal control personnel came and caused a scene trying to take the wolves into custody and charging Cat with violations. Cat hollered for me to come and I stood up to the deputies telling them they had no authority to act and neither did their animal control officers.
We had to go to court in Milton behind this. At first the court refused to allow me in the court room but Cat refused to proceed with the hearing unless I was allowed to be there and present the case. Sheriff’s deputies had me surrounded outside blocking me. Finally the Judge gave in and allowed me to come into the court room. Speaking to the court, I invoked our rights and even the rights of the wolves by presenting the laws that applied to us and to the wolves.
The county prosecutor had a fit but I simply handed him and the judge copies of the laws. First, the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act of 1993 as it pertains to ceremonials and what is specified as being a spiritual leader doing sacred ceremonies. This established my authority to speak and give my point of view as a Native American. I also used the Florida State law pertaining to wild animals in state parks. A wolf is a wild animal therefore it cannot be considered a domesticated animal that would fall under the leash laws of the state. We argued that our wolves were not owned by anybody; they were not pets they were people who chose to stay with us. Since we did not own them and they were made by the Creator, then the wolves had access rights to the park just as the squirrels and birds and every other wild animal in the park.
Now picture this in your mind: the court room is packed with other people waiting for their cases to be heard and here is a man and woman who clearly are not lawyers and not dressed as any of them, fighting their case in court against the system and standing up for what is right. And we won! The judge had no choice but to rule in our favor and dismiss all charges and complaints against Cat and the wolves as well.
Now one thing these kinds of people don’t like is someone who is not intimidated or afraid of them. They use their positions of authority and think they have the right to treat you any which way. If you do not comply to their every whim they use threats of violence with their numbers and weapons. The very worst thing anyone can do to get me riled up is the act of trying to threaten me or someone I love or care about.
Pulling a weapon on me or you is not legal. Understand your rights: No one, especially law officers, has any legal authority to threaten you with violence! Read your Constitutional rights. We were not under arrest, we had not committed any act of violence nor were we threatening them or anyone else, so they did not have the right to threaten us with anything. Now here I was at this sacred Native site making a big incident there in the park. People gathered around listening to what I was saying and Cat was saying and then the college professor. This got the crowd all involved and they knew the truth when they heard it.
This incidence shows how important it is to make sure people understand how the Native point of view can come in conflict with conventional ideas but still they must be honored and taken into account in every situation. People must understand how we think, especially how I think because I have always used the law. I learned to use the law because this is what was stressed by my mentors; we had to work within the laws and if there wasn’t a law for it then we must push to get a law passed that would give us the protections we need.
Native people have learned through history that we could not win by force or standing up and fighting physically. But there are many ways to fight so I took all that I was taught and all that I was shown and guided to do and that’s what it has come down to; this is my way of fighting now. My spirit totems are the Eagle and the Wolf. Both live inside of me and are so much a part of me. They live by these laws and so do I.
Here is where the legal knowledge I learned in my youth came into play. Having learned and studied the laws that protect us all under the constitution and how to use it, teaching others how to apply these laws to secure our rights became and still is a high priority. Throughout my times of freedom and when imprisoned, I have never stopped pushing for my own and all of our human rights. My voice will never be silenced no matter what they do to me. JUSTICE MUST BE JUST AND DEMANDED EQUALLY FOR ALL.
Now with all this in mind please stop and think. If you could do something that would make real changes to help your people and yourself would you do it? Even if you knew that you would suffer? Even if it meant that your family, loved ones and all your friends would suffer too? What if Spirit spoke to you and showed you terrible things that would be done to you if you went down this path, would you do it? And if Spirit told you that this is your path but you must chose to walk it or not? Well, I did choose to follow this path. I never thought it would be such nonstop suffering but it was worth it. Why? Because the actions I took DID change the way all Native Peoples were being denied basic human rights and their inherited traditional ways of life and it made things better for all peoples and all life.
I never did any of this alone. Many, so very many, others chose this path too. Our ancestors walked with us and inspired us and we always walked with Spirit. The more people choose to learn their rights and gain knowledge of how to use the laws and stand up for their rights, the easier it becomes. It is easy to silence a single voice; it is lot harder to silence many, and more and more. I am only as a small grain in an avalanche; a mountain of sand, all the people who stood up and pushed for changes and still do.
I’m nobody special, just a person who was guided by my heart and Spirit to stand up and do what needed to be done. All credit should be given to Spirit and the leaders that Spirit inspired, all the spiritual leaders. A.I.M. leaders and all those voices lifted up together to demand changes. We were taught in life that knowledge shared is always best. I learned real quick that most folks have no clue about what their real true rights even are and if people don’t know what they are entitled to, they wouldn’t complain or want anything more. Even now after all I have been thru here I am sharing with all who will read the story of my life, still sharing the truth of the criminal justice system, about all the lies, corruption, deceit and illegal acts that are a part of the way they get rid of people like me to silence them.
“But Ghost,” some say, “Aren’t you afraid speaking up will get you in trouble again?” Yes I’m risking my freedom, my life once again just in exposing all of this to you. But I refuse to live in fear and most surely I’m still compelled to follow my heart and follow the path that Spirit has given me to live. I only want the truth out there and to help you all learn your rights as well as the true history, ways of life, religious practices, and culture of all Native Peoples, especially those of Southeastern Native heritage.
Observation and Challenge…
Even in today’s society the majority of the people have no clue about what their rights really are much less how to use the law to secure them. For example, most folks do not know the true meaning of freedom. How does the dictionary even define the word? Now read your First Amendment thru Fourteenth Amendment rights. Once you know the full meaning of these rights stop and ask if this applies to you and empowers you. It should! You should stop and think of ways to show how it effects and applies to you in every way of everyday of your life.
Knowledge is power. The majority of the government, politicians, corporations, and those in power because of their fortunes and positions of influence all have one great fear. That fear is for you to know your rights and how to stand up for them. And when you go out and teach others this and speak on these things you now become a terrible threat to them, their power, control and corruption over you and others.
What almost everyone, especially those in law enforcement, justice system, politics, and government forget is this that they work for you! They are there to protect you, your property, your rights and the laws. They are employed by you and serve you. They do not have the right to threaten, disrespect, intimidate, or violate any of your rights or break any laws, policies, code of ethics, behavior or anything. And even though it seems the majority of society has forgotten, this is still true and the same laws and rights protect you now.
Remember this, the Constitution First Amendment forbids and clearly states that no law or policy can be made which would violate your rights. So no authority can be given to anyone, law enforcement personnel, politician, judge, court, or anyone that takes these rights from you. Yet each and every day these individuals all violate the laws and no one is standing up and demanding they stop doing these criminal acts of violating every citizen’s rights. There is no “interpretation” of the constitution or it’s amendments. That is only a farce to misled you from the truth of your rights and they can only do it if you let them.
What I’m saying about knowing your rights and invoking them really applies to everybody. The majority of the population doesn’t understand exactly what their rights are. Most folks don’t even care that their rights are being violated and they are not getting all they are entitled to. Why? Because they don’t want any trouble and they don’t want to have to do anything. They are too busy just trying to survive.
People walk around blindly ignoring oppression happening to others as well. They just don’t want to get involved or they are too scared of what would happen to them. I will go so far as to give my opinion that today, in this present time, people live here in the U.S. under the same mentality and behaviors that were the norm during the Dark Ages and the Inquisition when people were living in fear of their lords, aristocrats, emperors or kings. Today people live in ignorance and blind obedience to whatever is fed to them by those in authority that they must live by.
I say you are a human being. You were born free and you have rights to live in freedom. You have the right to believe however you want. You have the right to choose what you want to do in life so long as you do not infringe on the rights of others. And you have the right not to be dictated to by anyone else, especially the government or politicians or corporations or such.
In today’s society people have allowed themselves to be manipulated for too long and have gotten used to subtle changes being made by courts, judges, law enforcement, politicians and government. No one has spoken up so it has become common place for ever more protections within the constitution and amendments to be broken and rights given away without a fight. This is done slowly and too often intentionally by those you have entrusted to protect these rights for you!
Words of humility and love…
Remember, you must know who you are, what you are, and what are you to become before you can truly find your power and worth. We are all created by the same Creator no matter what name you use to identify our Creator. We are all related and connected no matter if you realize or understand this concept or not. The Laws of our Creator are very simple and very easy to live by if you truly choose to do so. Yes we are all tested by our faiths, commitments, discipline and even by our own minds, hearts, and things around us. It is these very tests that make us or breaks us.
I would never want to stand before our Creator and have to explain why I failed to act, speak up or use my knowledge and gifts to stand up for what is right, what is just, what is the truth to help all my relations (all of life) and follow where Spirit has led me.
This makes me think back in history to all those who have gone thru the same persecutions, inquisitions, torments, sufferings, imprisonments, and yes, even deaths for speaking up for what is right, yet the majority of society has learned nothing from history. Too many still live in darkness, blinded by their own ignorance. As I learned a long time ago, all pain and suffering comes from ignorance.
Every single person who has believed in me and what I have done, who has helped me and others, who have been there for us in any way, all have been persecuted in some way, not only by those of their own families and friends, but by society. I wish to thank each and every one who has stood by us, loved us, befriended us, helped us. I know you all have suffered because of following your hearts and listening to Spirit that has guided you also. Is anyone of us perfect? No! We all make mistakes and even wish we could do most things over again. Don’t worry you’ll get that chance in another life. So be careful what you wish for.
I pray these insights into the struggles of Native American political activism and my personal reflections help to connect the dots and explain why Special Agent Tierney felt compelled to say in 1995: “Well, Ghost you do know that I’m sick of putting you away and they keep letting you back out. So you know what? This time I will make sure you never ever get free again.”