Jed Morey’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Iroquois

Iroquois Lacrosse Team Takes Flight

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Percy Abrams from Iroquois Nationals Shows His Passport

Twenty-three men waited five days. For five days they stood ready to do battle on a field for their nation, but were at risk of being denied the right to do so. They are warriors who engage in a time-honored tradition of championship lacrosse, a game that was invented by their ancestors. Ironically they were being stonewalled by the two nations who conspired four centuries ago to beat their people into submission. Just how high and how far did the debate reach? It took Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to wave her magic wand and allow this team to board an airplane with the guarantee they would be allowed to return.

The 23 men comprise a team known as the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, an internationally renowned unit led by octogenarian Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation and himself one of the greatest leaders and orators of the last century. Their attempt to board a plane for England was rebuffed by both British and American officials who initially refused to acknowledge the Haudenosaunee-issued passports residents of the Six Nations Confederacy—Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora, Seneca, Mohawk and Cayuga—have been using for years.

The American solution was, as always, simple. When the British Consulate refused to accept the Iroquois passports without a guarantee the U.S. would let the team actually return after the tournament, the U.S. State Department rushed to their aid and offered U.S. passports to the team members and crew. As usual this is where the breakdown in communication occurs in U.S. and Indian relations. First off, the Iroquois Confederacy is within the geographic territories of both the United States and Canada. Moreover, each tribe within the confederacy is a sovereign nation. Consider them uber-states within America for comparison purposes.

To date the confederacy has been able to cope with the issue of international travel because most countries outside of the U.S. recognize the sovereign status of Indian nations and the informal U.S. policy has thus far been to let sleeping dogs lie. But homeland security and big brother have made the issue of the Haudenosaunee passport more opaque and left U.S. officials with a conundrum.

On the surface it didn’t appear to be such a big deal. But in Indian country, everything comes at a price. If the team had capitulated and agreed to accept U.S. passports to travel abroad they would have established yet another dangerous precedent in U.S./Indian relations. Acquiescing to this solution would essentially have ceded the issue of sovereign recognition on a very significant level. And while it may seem innocuous, I can assure you it is not. Every step closer to acknowledging that tribal lands are nothing more than bizarre extensions of U.S. territory is a step closer to losing the fundamental rights of indigenous nations. This is more than a lacrosse tournament.

For Indians, the State Department’s American passport solution was yet another extreme example of hubris and ignorance.

The tournament itself touts participating nations from around the globe, including the Iroquois Nation. Imagine how insulting it must be to be denied passage on an airplane because some bureaucrat at the airport check-in counter fell asleep in history class and wound up creating an international incident. The Obama administration has paid generous sums of lip service to tribes in the United States yet has proven to be callous and ill-informed in practice. True students of democracy would know that the Haudenosaunee compact that binds the six nations of the Iroquois together was so thoughtful and long-ranging in its conception that it was used as inspiration by our own founding fathers who framed the Constitution.

Of course, none of that matters to the 23 men who will be airborne as these words are being printed on the page. Throughout 400 years of poverty, humiliation and genocide, they have played this game that is as important to their nations as baseball is to America and soccer is to every other country on the planet.

 On the field these warriors are one with their ancestors. Off the field they live in a cold, expendable reality. By the time this paper hits the stands they will have emerged from their international excursion and presented themselves on the field of battle, jetlagged and weary, without the benefit of practice. For today, Indian country can be thankful Mrs. Clinton granted them this one ceremonial leaf of dignity to cover the wound that has remained open and bleeding for too long.


Written by jmorey

July 14, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Home Gardening: Solving the Omnivore’s Dilemma

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farmerMy friend Johnny Gallo is pretty old school. He composts and has a vegetable garden. He can also fix just about anything. Weekends together with our families often prove embarrassing for me as I possess none of these skills. John is a soft-spoken and deliberate man with an easy temperament that belies a very quick wit. And given my propensity to shun earthly work such as gardening I have found myself on the receiving end of several well-deserved and good-natured wise cracks.

 Perhaps one of John’s best qualities is his unabashed curiosity. Our families have spent many evenings discussing the benefits of natural food and the shift toward green living in our country. Both of our households have altered our diets due to sensitivities our children exhibited early on and our awareness of the natural food movement has matured as we watch them grow. In our joint family gatherings John might have been the guy who brought vegetables from his own garden, but I was the guy who brought steak to the barbeque—as the proud owner of the first all-natural steakhouse in the country my knowledge of natural and organic food was far greater than my ability to prepare it.

 When my restaurant closed down at the end of the year I was not only heart broken but I no longer brought anything to the table – literally.

 But the closing has given me time to explore organic food outside the confines of four walls—to get in touch with the oldest and most basic of human nature. The Iroquois have long believed that there will come a time when only those who know how to grow their own food will survive. That mankind will have degraded the earth and become so detached from the hunting and gathering instinct that it will no longer be able to flourish as a species.

Perhaps the seminal work on the subject of our food supply is Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It is an eye opening guide that shows just how much the American industrial food complex has ruined the global food chain. It brilliantly illustrates how far food has to travel to get to our plates and painstakingly describes what it goes through to get there. Learning this and witnessing several signs that the Iroquois prophecy is fast approaching reality has led me to the conclusion that the time has come to get my hands dirty and to learn to grow my own food.  Either that or suffer through an entire summer of ribbing from John Gallo.

 The rainy weekend afforded me the opportunity to begin sketching and planning our family garden. A basin for rainwater. Fresh flowers on one side of the yard, vegetables in rows on the other side. Fruit trees lining the back. An area for compost. Any avid gardener or proficient farmer would know that I’m already in over my head and doing too much at once. That’s okay. Every addition made to the sketch brought a flood of memories long forgotten to the front of my consciousness because I had sketched my Grandpa Charlie Morey’s yard in Canada.

 I wish I could show him because he would be quite amused. Charlie was a soft-spoken and deliberate man with an easy temperament that belied a very quick wit. I wish I could talk to him again and introduce him to my friend John.  Charlie would have liked him.

Written by jmorey

May 6, 2009 at 9:33 pm

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