Category Archives: Essays

The Most Important Policy

Clare McCullough
A public policy issue that is extremely important is environmental regulation. This issue has what might be the largest impacts out of any other facing us today, and it will start truly affecting us around as soon as 2050; within my lifetime. A recent policy that has tried to tackle the issue of pollution and the warming climate is the Clean Power Plan, which aims to combat climate change by putting caps on CO2 emissions. Another big environmental step forward under Obama’s administration was The Paris Climate Agreements which occurred Winter of 2015. In the past policies, have tried to reduce carbon emissions and maintain environmental health through incentive and disincentive programs.
Conservation policies are important because its shown that if we continue living and consuming the way that we have; it will lead to extreme weather patterns. There will be long droughts in some places and flooding in others. Often, I believe, we forget how dependent we are on our natural resources. The necessity for a sustainable future is paramount, if we are going to raise quality of life as a planet. The point of progress is to grow and be happy, and if we cannot achieve at least the basic rights of clean air and water then what was the point? In the end, all we have is our health and our environment in which we live in.
Tackling climate change will require international action. The time for action was yesterday and we can’t afford to ignore the impacts of the fact of global warming. The unsustainable use of dirty energy will create a dramatic transformation that we are already seeing the beginning of the impacts. 2014 was the hottest year until 2015 was the hottest year. As the oceans rise, small island countries will start to disappear as well as low lying cities such as Dakka and Shanghai and will create thousands of millions of refugees, pushing the rapidly growing populations elsewhere and compounding food crises which are already fragile in a lot of countries. Crops will not grow the same in different climates, so there will be less food to put on the table, over the long-term food production will decrease and the poorest among us will be the most vulnerable to that, increasing the need for aid. Not to mention the loss of biodiversity caused by unsustainable development and use of energy. The coral reefs are already bleaching and bees are going extinct. Biodiversity is crucial for any ecological system to function properly.
But, I believe in a different future. We can move together to solve for the inherent problems that are facing us with climate change. First, we need to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, as well as decrease the use of dirty energy and increase investment in clean energy possibilities. For the energy challenge to be overcome, we need to have an inexpensive and reliable energy source, an energy that emits optimally no greenhouse gasses, and an energy source that doesn’t create local environmental and health problems. With the booming world population, it will be difficult to achieve all those goals, especially since coal and dirty energies are admittedly very cheap. However, fossil fuels create pollution that shortens lives and are causing climate change and the consequences that follow as I explained above are very complicated and severe. The Paris agreements are expected to help a little in this realm. The three key solutions to solve the energy problem, beside international cooperation, is that we need to start evaluating energy sources at their full social costs and not just looking at energy as an issue that stands apart. We need to invest in research and development in innovation to make sustainable energy cheaper and cleaner. By identifying effective policy tools to combat specific problems we can solve a lot of the issues, we can put the real price on energy emssions to foster innovation and research into alternative energy sources as well as putting caps on CO2 emissions.
According to The National Geographic, if we cut our emissions by two thirds by 2050, only then we can limit the rise of climate change to 2 percent. By switching where we get our energy from and investing in energies such as solar, nuclear, and wind among others we can achieve this goal. But to do that we need to educate people on the issue of climate change especially since there are so many climate change deniers out there and that’s the largest issue facing sustainable policy makers today. Because with this specific issue, it is up to the governments to move us into the right direction. By investing in cleaner transportation, agriculture, maintaining building codes, and better management of forests we can help combat the magnitude that is the problem of climate change
We must act together and we must act now. We need to survive with our planet and I want any future children of mine to know that I was looking out for them from the very beginning and that I did everything in my power to ensure that they will get to enjoy the same beautiful and natural world that I grew up knowing.

Critiques on the Wages of Whiteness

Clare McCullough

I believe that Roediger’s argument that the Irish “became white” is minimizing the advantages that they held in the mid-1800s. The Irish were always more accepted than free Black people because they were still white and got the benefit of the doubt. They got to choose how they acted and most importantly, they could vote and participate in society on a level that was absolutely inaccessible to African Americans. The Irish-Americans were hated because the influx of their immigration drove down the values of wages during this time, they were seen as violent, sexually promiscuous, and heavy drinkers; all qualities that were frowned upon in America at this time.
They viewed African Americans as competitors for jobs even though they were “a small part of the urban labor force.” (147) the fact is that African Americans were easy targets to exercise their frustration of being considered second class citizens. The Irish were discriminated against and often compared to the African American slaves, hence their being called “white niggers” quite frequently and were “used as substitutes for slaves within the South” (146) they cost less than slaves because if a “Paddy” was hurt on the job they wouldn’t have to pay for their bills. They had their own obstacles especially since they were poor and so did not have the opportunities afforded to other whites and in that regard they were like the African Americans. They came off the boat from farmland and were introduced to a completely different world filled with foreign machines and drudgery.
While, Irish folks were heavily discriminated against, denied jobs, respect, and opportunities that were afforded to their white peers, they were still seen as people. Irish people owned themselves. They would not be taken from their homes and sold as slaves or dragged from their houses and lynched. The Irish were on the same position socially and economically however, politically they had as much as a voice as any other white person in this time. They in fact were strong supporters of the Democratic Party in antebellum America. They embraced their whiteness and did everything they could to align themselves with the Anglo-Saxon “race” and to some extent, they were accepted. If you compare the Black experience to the White Irish, you’ll see that you’d delegitimize the real struggles that the African American population suffered through.

Roediger, David R. “The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class.” The Haymarket Series, 1991,

A Critical Review of Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Superior US Grand Strategy”

Clare McCullough

In “The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior US Grand Strategy” by John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. Their main focus of the article is to convince their audience that Offshore balancing would be more effective than liberal hegemony to achieve the long-term goals of the United States. The Status Quo as it exists, is a liberal hegemony in which the United States deals with domestic problems and leads the world in trade, humanitarian rights, and is the major player in international institutions all the while promoting and sometimes enforcing democratic ideals with military force (71)

In the international political world, the number one power at the moment is indisputably the United States, but with the changing economy, there has been growth in formerly poor countries throwing off the political balance. However, maintaining our current liberal hegemony strategy, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, might not be the most sustainable course of action if the United States wants to keep its dominance. Instead, offshore balancing is preferred to preserve US dominance; our current policy of liberally using interventionist military policies should be abandoned. The United States should aid local governments and encourage self-governance in all different regions, intervening only when absolutely necessary for US security and prosperity(71)

China is an example of exceptional growth of a formerly underdeveloped country beginning to rise after the modern economic reforms to the Maoist totalitarian government. The liberalized economy has utilized the large Chinese population and has turned the country into a contender for the seat of the “Grand Hegemon”. Russia is also a major player in the region. Having strong players in close geopolitical proximity should make it easy to attain what should be the primary goal of the United States. The United States’ goal in the East should be to set the power players against each other, Moscow will check Beijing and thus the US maintains dominance. The larger countries in the middle east, such as Iran, are in position to play a part in the changing political landscape since China will most likely want a foothold in the Middle East, disturbing US oil security.

Walt and Mearshimer both maintain that international institutions don’t play a large role, both in the world of the liberal hegemony and a US dominated Offshore balancing strategy. If they do at all, the international institutions reflect only the interests of the most powerful player, ie the US. Institutions such as NATO also play a large role in stability in the region. Alliances are better for everyone and interactions that are facilitated through Institutions. Institutions are effective because they lend a hand to facilitate Iteration, which is a repeated interaction with the same partner usually leading to more peaceful interactions. By setting up a linkage throughout the talks we can ensure that people won’t try to cheat through collective bargaining problems. Collective bargaining problems are obstacles to cooperation that happen when actors have incentives to collaborate, but each acts like everyone will bear the burden equally.

The theoretical perspectives that both Walt and Mearsheimer embrace is realism. Offshore balancing, at its core, is Realist. It advocates intervention only when the US knows it can win and only when it benefits the United States in a significant way. “The Case for Offshore Balancing” proposes that the United States’ “principal aim should be to maintain the regional balance so that the power players of the East, Russia and China, do not extend their reach into the western hemisphere” (73) Maintaining power in these regions is very important, although as a realist strategy, the aim isn’t to produce peace, it’s to fight wars that we know without a doubt we can win and profit from. Realism maintains that states seek security and power above all else. Bargaining is the primary interactions since States usually don’t have shared interests, but coercion is always a possibility.

Offshore balancing would require the United States to stay out of other countries for as long as possible. The United States could respond accordingly to rising hegemon and possibly not have to intervene at all since the regional countries nearby would be able to check the rising power in a more sustainable and effective way than the United States would ever be able to achieve. It would reduce the risk of terrorism since intervention is inherently disruptive of the region in question, resulting in nationalistic resentment of the peoples living there and weakening the local governments since their sovereignty is being undermined.(75) Staying out of other countries and utilizing offshore balancing would enable the United States to increase the resources it could use for domestic needs.

The arguments against offshore balancing are many and varied. The first of which is that only strong US leadership would be able to keep order around the globe, however the article points out that this only benefits the United States and that the local government should be able to deal with these issues without US intervention (77). The second argument is that US leadership is necessary in order to overcome the collective-action problem of local actors failing to balance a rising hegemon. However, the article points out that offshoring solves this problem because it permits interference. Another argument to reject offshore balancing is because it is the US’s moral and strategic imperative to promote freedom and human rights whenever it can, however spreading democratic ideals “by the point of a gun” isn’t a sustainable way to ensure that that democracy is lasting, by an outsider changing the regimes of a country there will be powerful oppositions toward the intervening military.

The arguments for offshore balancing are many according to Mearsheimer and Walt. Intervention is not as cheap as advocates say and the United States can ensure the longevity of our international dominance by refocusing our interests on domestic issues such as infrastructure, education, and research and development (78) Promoters of liberal hegemony of the United States believe that the US military must garrison to keep the peace and ensure an open economy but they fail to realize that regional conflicts are going to happen even if the US is involved (78) Unfortunately, no strategy is going to be successful in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but military intervention would only delay the inevitable. The United States’ constant presence abroad might also embolden our allies to seek conflict more, readily knowing that they had the US-backing them in their backyard.(80)

There are many strengths to viewing International Politics in a Classical realist perspective. Offshore balancing and liberal hegemony both embrace many of the assumptions that the realists assert. “Might makes Right” or at least “Might creates Legitimacy” seems to be a common Hobbesian assumption that Realists maintain, and to a certain extent, they would be right. In order to positively ensure survival you must be the most powerful child in the sandbox, but, they seem to look over the fact that there is more than just the sandbox and the other players, since there will always be other institutions and actors looking to exert their power. Viewing the world through an anarchical lens will take you far enough to survive and expand from the state of nature.

However, the different interactions that are available don’t have to be constrained to a “Self-help” conduit. Realism is often a self-fulfilling prophesy. There are many opportunities for cooperation in order to attain one’s interest in an easier way. We can achieve power through wealth and thus ensure our security. Approaching offshore balancing through a liberal lens would ensure that no single interest dominates. If the long-term goal is prosperity and stability for the United States, we must operate not on our conflicting interests but on our shared interests.

Embracing International Institutions and pursuing what Kant calls a “Perpetual Peace” should be the United State’s goal so we can reap the benefits of our current “agenda setting power” and use the benefits of our liberal hegemony in a way that the Offshore balancing strategy is not mutually exclusive. All in all, besides certain weaknesses that realist philosophies often fall prey to; offshore balancing strategies seem to have the potential to be more sustainable in regards to maintaining the United State’s dominance than our current Status Quo.

Comparison of the Public Policy of Sweden and Germany

Sweden’s social democracy and Germany’s social market economy have many similarities in policymaking and differences in their value structures. Whereas Sweden allows for direct influence from the worker on its bureaucratic structure, Germany has more of an emphasis on self-regulation and decentralization of power. Their different histories are indispensable in understanding the core values of these democracies.
Sweden’s basic principles of social democracy can be encapsulated in a quote from Sweden’s former Prime Minister, Tage Erlander, “it is a mistake to believe that people’s freedom is diminished because they decide to carry out collectively what they are incapable of doing individually.” (Tilton, 1990) Sweden has long been a pioneer in the promoter of social justice through the use of a strong corporate market and socialized distributive policies. In fact, their emphasis on collective bargaining as a means to reinforce the general welfare of its workers is illustrated by the fact that around 70% of people in Sweden are in a union (Lecture notes 9/18). According to Tilton, The Swedish commitment to the working class’s full participation in society is indicative of their framework of viewing everything through its social utility. Maximum social utility, in the eyes of the Swede, is best created with an equalized background conditions; they see the public sector as expanding their freedom of choice instead of a limiting factor. (Tilton, 1990)
Germany is made up of different, more conservative values; it is classified as a social market economy. A core principle of its federal system is that decision-making processes should be made through the most local level possible. This concept called subsidiarity, is prevalent in many Christian democracies. Rather than direct social justice, Germany’s ethical society traditionally bases a lot of emphasis on their welfare state, social partnership with interest groups, and fair competition. (The German Polity) Germany relies on the private market a lot more than top-down public distribution system than Sweden. This is indicative of their goal to avoid any major concentration of power. They value compassionate conservatism; its welfare state is very strong and is seen as a 3rd way between socialism and laissez-faire economic liberalism. (Lecture notes 9/27)
The way both countries see equality and democracy can be shown through the welfare states, economic thought and electoral systems. Sweden defines equality as an equality of consideration. This egalitarian principle makes sure that they do not see economic efficiency as a zero-sum situation in regards to social policies. They have a framing with which they allow for “expenditures on their education and health should be seen not as burdens upon production, but as investments in human capital” (Tilton, 1990). This economic equality is heavily based on Keynesian thought towards equitable distribution of wealth and government distribution through progressive tax policies. They are both a political democracy as well as an industrial one. Democracy is carried out through committees, consultation, and underneath a magnifying glass held by the people themselves. (Heclo & Madsen) According to the Economist, “Sweden gives everyone access to official records” this fact shows the conditions of democracy. Absolute transparency of Sweden’s government makes the people’s home more democratic.
Germany has a different view of equality than Sweden but a similar approach toward democracy. They do not put as much emphasis on government intervention so much as showing a preference for subsidiarity and self-regulation. Welfare is one of the most important issues for the German citizen, they see the welfare state bringing them social peace and prosperity. Their equal prosperity is achieved with a bargaining approach (139 The German Polity) In fact, their multiparty system ensures that there are many views being represented through coalition governments although sometimes there is not a clear winner. There is an emphasis on democracy in the workplace as seen in the works councils. The German Polity describes Interest groups as a “a vital factor in the policy making process” (166) Parties also play a huge role in institutions due to the split ballot and multiparty system. They have a strong committee system, in which Business interests and other interest groups have a large say in decision-making since the government is required to consult them if they are relevant through the Remiss system just like Sweden. But Germany takes a step further in allowing interest groups sometimes implement policy. This is the notion of social partnership coming into play, but negotiation and compromise is no stranger to Germany.
Individualism being a zero-sum game in contest with the collective good does not necessary ring true for these countries. Their view of the proper role of government and the individual is unique to each of them however. Sweden’s famous reference to its government as the people’s home has continued to dominate the role of the government. Sweden has a strongly centralized state where they center on full employment with a comprehensive welfare state. The public sphere controls a lot of property but industry can be a mixture of both public and private, the gradual socialization is indicative of their social democracy. Sweden is a venture capitalist country with a large regulatory structure. Most of the jobs in Sweden are in the public sector. There has been a gradual socialization of property rights. Property rights are seen as a bundle, the gradual socialization of property parallels the idea that the expansion of the public sector extends their freedom of choice. (Tilton, 1990) They see taxes not as a public overreach but an opportunity to pay for public services. The logic of Sweden is seen like this, If private capital resists public welfare and equal democratic organization of economic life, then government intervention maximizes prosperity and democracy.
The German Federal system is specifically geared to prevent centralized power which is why Germany gives a lot of power to the Lander regions allowing them extensive autonomy including a veto power. This distributed sovereignty is in place so that their future would be different from their fascist/communist past. Multiparty coalitions mirror the German value of solidarity. The individual gets two votes to pick their representation, both a party and a person to represent them. The market economy of Germany is also regulated for social ends, but not to the extent of Sweden. Germany’s generous welfare state is supported by social partnership programs instead of the government. Companies are social institution’s stakeholders since that is where the worker spends most of their time. Although its Federal system checks the National government the Chancellor is the center of executive authority (Lecture notes 9/25). Like Sweden, they believe that market mechanisms should not distribute gains, but instead of the government they use social partnership.
There are policies that mirror the core values of each country; the electoral system and how they treat their workers seem to be the most deterministic. Consultation with special interests hold a special weight in both these systems. Sweden’s emphasis on collectivism has created the nickname of the people’s home for its unitary system in which egalitarianism and full employment are their central goals. Equity does not exclude efficiency is their motto. A solidaristic wage policy is available thanks to the strong union presence in the country. Their social policy is universal, meaning that everyone has equal consideration. Economic system is undoubtedly Keynesian with government pressure to drive and organize the economy for more equal distribution. This social democracy’s market is largely subsidized by public welfare, for example, Sweden has an extensive paternity and maternity privileges. Government intervention is meant to maximize prosperity and expand options for its people. In making policy, the Swedish Rigstag has something called the Remiss system, this system is also present in Germany. Their integrative democracies allow for the voices of experts, interest groups, workers, and the employers to all be heard equally. Their unusually concentrated industrial structure emerges as a result of these policies.
In fact, Germany’s interest groups sometimes implement policy (Lecture notes 9/25) But the government lays down the goals of the social partnership. According to the German Polity, “60 percent of bills are modified through the Bundestag’s committees” (222) Consultation with committees hold a lot of weight although that said they only have the ability to propose amendments not modify the documents themselves. The works council is an important policy that enforces equality and democracy in the workplace. Workers are able to sit down with their employers and have a say in how they are treated. Policies are generally pro-business but it is a “Compassionate Conservatism”
All in all, in comparing the two ideologies of social democracy in Sweden and Germany’s social market economy we can see similarities in policy-making procedure but not in execution. They both have extensive welfare states and hold economic equality in the same regard as political equality.
Conradt, D. P., & Langenbacher, E. (2013). The German Polity. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.
Heclo, H., & Madsen, H. (n.d.). Policy and Politics in Sweden Principled Pragmatism. Chapter 1.
Tilton. (1990). The Political Theory of Swedish Social Democracy. 257-269; 276-280.

Forgotten AIMs

By Clare McCullough

Wounded knee was the site the massacre of 150 Sioux, half of which were women and children. 1890 marked the end of organized American Indian resistance to white rule. (NYT). Although the United States prided itself on its new independence, with many “triumphant” stories of its creation. Truth was, we were colonizing an already inhabited continent with many different nations. The United States, with such high albeit hypocritical, its ideals were bound to catch up with itself, and with a flux of the cold war winds; the 1960s and 70s were a time characterized by protest and national unrest.

The sovereign rights of Native Americans as a colonized people have been seldom guaranteed. After being subject to the Trail of Tears and other events that resulted in the countless attempts to assimilate the remaining tribal reservations; Native people were granted U.S citizenship in 1924. The Wheeler-Howard Act (Indian New Deal) was passed during the Great Depression. It granted a greater deal of tribal autonomy and self-government, however as the war began the government reverted to its policy of assimilation. (Koltowski) Assimilation has been the precedent for Indian-American Relations since the beginning, but unlike African American civil rights groups in the late 20th century that was not the Native’s goal. Most Native American tribes wanted to keep the reservations and their tribal land even though they were getting assistance from the government.

Regardless, an effort was made by the government to depopulate reservations and assimilate Native Americans into the United States. One-way bus fare and a promise of assistance in finding work and housing in cities were promised to reservation Indians who participated in the Relocation program of 1952. By 1980 more than half lived in urban areas. (Langston)

The 1953 Termination Act (House concurrent Resolution 108) was passed, which promulgated under a Congress that saw Native Americans as wards of the state. They were not granted the freedom of movement, contrary to the traditional visitation from tribe to tribe. Tribes were divided into categories of immediate or eventual termination. (Langston) They would lose all privileges related to treaties with the federal government, meaning that their tribal lands would be open for sale. (Koltowski) The Paiute tribe of Utah were terminated in ’54 and were not restored until 1980. Tribes were refused permits for hospitals and schools” because it would make the reservation more tenable for living. (Langston) Reservations suffer not only the highest poverty rates but also the highest unemployment and disease rates.

The Native American civil rights group NCAI was founded in 1944 (Langston). They focused mostly on issues affecting Reservations and campaigned for American Indian suffrage in states that prohibited the Indian vote. (Langston) The NCAI worked toward the 1965 Indian Self-Determination and Education act, the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act, the 1972 Indian Education Act, the 1975 Indian Education Assistance and Self-Determination act, the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, and the 1978 Religious Freedom Act.

Two mainstream thoughts emerged. Some wanted to free Indians from reservations and the BIA’s special benefits, while the other despised the BIA as a symbol of Anglo-wardship. (Koltowski) There were the rise of both civil rights groups and power groups. According to Langston, Civil rights groups like the NCAI are different than power groups because “civil rights groups most often focused on lobbying, education, and creating legal change.” But, “Power groups responded to the limits of civil rights groups with more radical rhetoric and actions.” The American Indian Movement or AIM was a red power group started with an inspiration from the Black Panther party. They both began as a force meant to protect against violence in their areas. (NYT) AIM, in the same vein, would wear red jackets to patrol the twin cities and monitor police harassment (Langston)

The American Indian Movement’s start in July 1968 was right after the passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act and the start of self-determination policies by LBJ. It was a crucial part of the Red Power Movement in the 60s and 70s.  The group was co-founded by Mary Jane Wilson (Anishinabe) Clyde Bellecourt (Anishinabe) and Dennis Banks (Anisinabe) in Minneapolis. The mostly Anishinabe AIM had different goals than most other minority groups in America.

For the American Indian Movement, “self-determination meant using direct action to promote cultural awareness for all Indians, not new legislation to enhance tribal authority.” (Langston) AIM encouraged independence from white values and reeducation of the tribe of its traditional culture, not integration.  Nixon was quoted in 1960s after disavowing the termination policy, “the overriding aim, as I see it, should not be to separate the Indians from the richness of their past or force them into some preconceived mold of human behavior.” (Koltowski)

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was no friend to the Native American according to AIM. They participated in the 1972 “Trail of Broken Treaties” which was a caravan of eight groups of Native Americans to Washington to present a list of twenty grievances. Madonna Gilbert/Thunderhawk and Russel Means “collected documents from BIA files and left the occupation with 1.5 tons of documents that would reveal wide-spread practice of sterilization abuse among others.” (Langston) But after a week of protesting for housing, review of treaties, religious freedom, restoration of Indian lands, and increased funds for education and health care, they were paid 66,000 dollars for transport back home. (Koltowski) But before this civil disobedience, there were many other attempts at gaining attention from the mainstream media to bring Indigenous rights to the forefront of conversation.

Alcatraz has long been a symbol of impenetrability. It’s a small island in San Francisco Bay California. It came under US control in 1850 and was soon turned into a prison and housed the most notorious criminals. (Columbia) From 1969 to 1971 AIM along with other Indigenous groups occupied the island. At the end of the occupation, Federal marshals removed the 15 people who were left from the more than 100 people who had made their temporary home on the island. (Kotlowski) It became a national recreation area a year later. (Columbia)

Alcatraz galvanized Indian pride and consciousness and heralded a new era in American Indian activism. Nov 1969-june 1971. Belca Cottier (1964) was the first occupation of four hours. Group offered 47 cents an acre for the total of 9.40 for the island and drove claim stakes into the ground to mimic Lewis and Clark. Fort Laramie Treaty ((  gave Indians the right to claim abandoned federal property, but it has proven to be an unsuccessful strategy in court. (Langston)

Alcatraz was success in that there was more attention brought to indigenous peoples in the United States. The currents of justice seemed to be flowing in the right direction. Tao Pueblo’s claim to Blue Lake in New Mexico was recognized and Alaskan Natives Claims Settlement Act of 1971 transferred 40 million acres and a billion dollars to Alaskan Aboriginals (Kotlowski) However, success stories after Alcatraz were wrought with conflicts.

In 1972, AIM responded to the murder of Raymond Yellow Thunder (Lakota) because murders and sexual assaults of Indians in border towns when committed by whites were seldom prosecuted. His family was unable to get tribal attorneys or the BIA to investigate his death. AIM demanded another autopsy which found that the cause of death was not exposure but a brain hemorrhage from being beaten to death (Langston) They were unsuccessful in giving the Yellow Thunder family closure along with another case brought to them by Sarah Bad Heart Bull (Lakota) when her son was fatally stabbed by a white man who was released with no charges. For this case 100 AIM members went to the courthouse in Custer, South Dakota. But as Bad Heart attempted to get past the crowd and into the courthouse police officers pushed her down the steps, using a nightstick on her throat. Seeing an elder mistreated in this manner incited a riot. Officers threw tear gas and the radical members of AIM set fire to the courthouse and the chamber of commerce. Dennis Banks and Russell Means were brought up on riot charges, though they were inside when the incident occurred. Bad heart got 3-5 year sentence and served 5 months. Her son’s murderer however got two-month probation and served no time.

“Let’s make our stand at Wounded Knee, because that place has meaning for us, because so many of our people were massacred there” Gladys Bisonette proclaimed, beginning The Second Battle at Wounded Knee.

South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation had a murder rate 700 times that of Detroit. (Langston)  The newly installed tribal chair Dick Wilson was seen as corrupt because of an action that allowed him to unilaterally sign away a large, mineral-rich tract of reservation land in exchange for being allowed to set up a feudal barony (Anonymous) The existing government of Pine Ridge was disliked by AIM since its laws were promulgated under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. (Koltlowski) The tribal government motioned for an impeachment, however the BIA put Wilson in charge of his own impeachment. (Anynoymous)

Wilson had a police force which was named Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs). (Anonymous) A notably corrupt organization, Half of BIA police moonlighted as GOONs and banned AIM activities. The atmosphere prior to the 71-day siege reflected the commonly committed arsons, beatings, and murders. AIM leaders were backed by traditional Sioux leaders such as Gladys Bissonette. (Kotlowski) Federal forces were used without required presidential proclamation and executive order. Of the 350 occupiers, less than 100 were men. During the occupation of wounded knee, Special Operations group of US marshals were posted on the reservation to support Wilson. (Anonymous) Nearly every AIM member was arrested after wounded knee and 185 Federal indictments were issued.

The siege of Wounded Knee ended on May 7th 1973 when federal officials agreed to conduct a full-scale investigation of the Wilson regime. (Anonymous) “Paul Chaat Smith, an American Indian writer and associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, ”when exhausted, hungry rebels signed an agreement that ended the Wounded Knee occupation. There were other actions and protests, but none came close to capturing the imagination of the Indian world or challenging American power.” (New York Times)

As a Result of the Wounded knee demonstration, Violations of the Fort Laramie Treaty were examined and AIM began the International Indian Treaty Council. (Anonymous) However, there were fatal consequences for their resistance. Between 1973-1976, over 350 AIM members suffered serious physical assaults on or near Pine Ridge, 69 of which were fatal. “The FBI declined to investigate the murders and assaults because it was short of manpower” (American Indian Movement siege of Wounded Knee. The last national officer, John Trudell, resigned in 1979 after his entire family was mysteriously murdered on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada.

Gladys Bissonette, an Oglala Lakota elder and one of the leaders of the violent turmoil, lost her son, Pedro Bissonette who was the president of the Oglala Sioux civil rights organization when BIA police engaged in a fatal encounter for him in 1973. Gladys’s daughter Jeanette Bissonette was shot dead on the way home from Pedro’s funeral. No indictments ever occurred against the GOONs. (Langston)

Since the swell of the Red power movement in the 70s, Pine Ridge and other reservations have not escaped the plagues of poverty and alcohol, where government neglect remains. (NYT) In the end, Legal battles have bankrupted the movement and the lack of unity in leadership allowed for certain weaknesses to be exploited. (Langston) Today civil rights such as sovereignty, hunting and fishing, and voting are still issues facing Native people today. Standing Rock has been an outstanding example of Indigenous resistance.






Works Cited

American Indian Women’s Activism in the 1960s and 1970s Author(s): Donna Hightower Langston Source: Hypatia, Vol. 18, No. 2, Indigenous Women in the Americas (Spring, 2003), pp. 114132 Published by: Wiley on behalf of Hypatia, Inc. Stable URL: Accessed: 25-05-2017 18:51 UTC

“PRIMARY SOURCE: American Indian Movement Siege of Wounded Knee: A roadblock on the road to Wounded…” Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006. Biography in Context, Accessed 19 May 2017.

“Alcatraz.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition, Mar. 2017, p. 1. EBSCOhost,

Kotlowski, Dean J. “Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, and Beyond: The Nixon and Ford Administrations Respond to Native American Protest.” Pacific Historical Review, vol. 72, no. 2, May 2003, p. 201. EBSCOhost, 0-search.ebscoh

Anonymous. “American Indian Movement Siege of Wounded Knee.” Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 276-278. Biography in Context, Accessed 18 May 2017.

“On Wounded Knee.” New York Times, 24 Oct. 2012, p. A24(L). Biography in Context, Accessed 18 May 2017.

Importance of Principles

Clare McCullough

The first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, once said “Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles.” The leader of this new democracy knew the importance of keeping to our principles. A principle is a set of standards that determine the actions a person choses. Operating on principles hold you to a higher level of morality and integrity. Principles generally allow for more structure in life and thereby allow for your mind to ground itself and be used in a more efficient and appropriate way. They make up the fundamental basis of democracy, ethics, and all rules governing behavior.

For a morally right principle to become institutionalized as a norm it must become a standard of behavior. Norms are relative to culture, family, country, etc. and are often subject to change. Norms are the actions that countries are excepted to take based on the preferences of a substantial proportion of any population. Principles are an important part of government as well as pertinent to the integrity of our legacy as a human person. Unfortunately, some principles are purely symbolic and are ignored in practice. Principles are essential to uphold justice and provide the foundation of a functional society because if we agree on a set of standards it would be easier to apply the principles fairly and equally. We can assign basic rights to people and protect appropriately.

Moral actions are justified by the principle that the person acted upon. A person needs to accept universal application, or the norm, of whatever basic truth one acts upon. Principles guide order. A logical chain of reasoning is necessary for a principle to create foundations. There are Primary principles that are universal and secondary principles that apply in cases of exception. According to Aquinas, Natural law states that the basic ethical principle is as follows, “Good is to be done and pursued and evil is to be avoided.” If Principles provide a foundation for being a good person then, they are the single most important thing in your life.


The Roles in Guam’s Future Political Status

Johnathan Borja

Håfa Adai!

Last week (3/12-3/18), I read an article by Dylan Kioshi where he responded to an article written by Rebekah Garrison. After reading both articles, I thought hard about the questions they both posed. From my understanding, Miss Garrison supports the idea of Guam becoming an independent nation. The other two options for Guam are to become a State or for Guam to get cozy with free association. I will try my bestI’m going to try and do my best to get my thoughts in order.

First off, I’m going to address Miss Garrison’s article and her suggestion that settlers learn about the land they walk on. Miss Garrison brought up Haunani-Kay Trask. This woman is fierce. She is the epitome of what it means to be an indigenous person angry about colonization. Her words are moving, true and everything I would love to be. He words inspire me to fight for the island that, as Miss Garrison mentioned, is constantly written out of American History textbooks. When I tell people at Marquette I’m from Guam, they think we’re located near Barbados or Cuba. They always have a bewildered look on their face. Maybe a year ago, I would have let it slide, but I really shouldn’t. There is no reason why they shouldn’t know Guam. They know Puerto Rico, French Polynesia, Samoa, etc. Guam is a victim in American History and what do we get in a history textbook? Nothing. I recall in my history class the part of the book where Guam should be mentioned. Guam was stated to be a U.S. Territory and that’s all.

Let’s forget the fact that after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the Japanese attacked us on one of our most holy days. You read that right. Holy. We are Catholic, thanks to colonization. Let’s not forget the Chamorro men that lost their lives fighting in hopes that the Americans would show up. Let’s not forget the women that were raped and killed. Let’s not forget the people that were piled into caves and shot. Or the people that were lined up along ditches and shot. Let’s not forget my grandma who told me stories of how her family walked for miles and miles to camps (hey, America, the Japanese did to us what you did to them in the mainland). Let’s not forget my grandma telling me how her aunt shed tears at how skinny my grandma was getting from lack of nutrition and all the walking.

We have a history. A long, arduous, amazing history. But we are not valued for it. Instead, our cultures were pushed aside. Our heritage was deemed second-rate. My blood was labeled as the Other. The U.S. took away our language by banning it from being spoken in schools. The result? I’m not fluent in it. I’m slowly learning and actively trying to do my best to absorb more of my culture. I have no pride in the fact that I was born American. Being American isn’t something to be proud of in my eyes, as if the current situation our nation is in isn’t proof enough. I have pride in the fact that I was born Chamorro. My people—God bless them—they are my strength. They are the reason I’ve traveled thousands of miles to be where I am right now. Truthfully, Marquette is not the ideal college for an island boy. In fact, I’d suggest that anyone from Guam looking for higher education choose somewhere on either coast. Both have much more accepting people as well as Guamanians and Chamorros.

In short, I agree that it is the duty of people not of Chamorro descent to educate themselves about my culture. You’re living on land that Chamorro families may have claims to. We, the natives, have to learn American History and American values like individualism and capitalism. I feel it’s only right that if you stay on Guam you learn about Puntan and Fu’una, Sirena, Inafa’maolek, Respetu, etc.Ms. Garrison wrote, “…I support an independent Guåhan even without the “right” to vote for Guåhan’s self-determination for many reasons, but especially, because I believe none of us, growing up on the continent or Guåhan, have ever received an elementary or high school education that values indigenous histories and possibilities for decolonization.”I could not agree more. This quote encompasses what I wish for Guam. Finally, as a Chamorro, I’d like to thank all the settlers—no—my Guamanian brothers and sisters who are actively vouching for my people and decolonization. I’m not entirely sold on any of the directions Guam could go as of now, but independence sounds pretty darn good to me.

Now, Mr. Kioshi had questions for the indigenous people of Guam. I will now proceed to answer them myself.

What are native Chamorros responsibilities to the land and people?

What are my responsibilities? To me, my responsibilities are to educate my school on the fact that they’re not the only ones in this world. Americans rejoice in their freedom, by oppressing others. People travel to Pacific Islands to partake in the warm climates, the culture and then they return without a second glance at what they experienced. They always look at the surface level of things. Don’t bother asking the man’åmko (elders) about their lives as POWs. No, instead, enjoy food, dancing and a rich culture that has gone through hell to remain on this earth. My responsibility to the land is to make sure people know what’s going on in the first place. It’s to ensure that people not from Guam understand that when they decide to settle on our island and choose to turn a blind eye from the problems we face, that they are also a part of that exact problem.

What are my responsibilities to the people? I honestly have no idea and I don’t know what I’m doing. At my age, kids are still trying to figure themselves out and I am no exception. However, one thing that remains constant since I’ve left Guam is, everything I’ve done and will do has always been done with Guam on my mind. I constantly think, “But if I do this, will it help Grandma? Will it make my ancestors proud? Will it make an easier life for my family?” My responsibility to the people of Guam is to shape myself in my own image in a way that could best serve the Chamorros and Guamanians. Maybe as a lawyer, I can represent the island and challenge everything the U.S. has done. It might be a stupid thing to do, but I’d rather do something stupid than nothing at all. I have the duty of being a catalyst for younger generations to push back against the U.S. and the colonialism that comes with them.

But again, I have no idea what I’m doing and how I’m going to ever bring about change for my island. I can run for governor or I can be an activist, but what will that do? I can be a Speech Language Pathologist and provide my services to everyone on Guam. I could be a teacher and instil a fire in my students so that they will not be apathetic when things go awry for our island. Minorities are always at odds with the world. We can only do so much and it gets so tiring combatting all the injustices like colonization. This past election has revealed a lot about people. It’s allowed people intolerant of others to come forward and criticize or verbally assault those who are different because the President does it too. Sometimes, it makes me weak and I can’t help but feel like there really is no point to anything I do. Which brings me to Mr. Kioshi’s other questions.

“Who are we to each other? What does that mean for each of us in the future of Guam?”

Who are we to each other? If you’re not of native blood, but you call Guam home, then you’re my brother or sister. Che’lu. That’s what you are. You look out for me, my island, my people and I’ll make sure that you’re well taken care of. Guamanian or Chamorro, you’ve decided to settle on my island and if you’ve chosen to learn my culture and learn more about who I am, then you are an ally. I’m not some Chamorro that boasts pure-blood, because no one really is. Rather, I’m a Chamorro that does what the U.S. is failing to do: accept people. The world may be against us, but as long as there are people of all walks of life that stand together, anything can be done.

What does this mean for the future of Guam? It’s my ancestors land and now you have a part of it. For the future of Guam, I hope it means that people will stop settling in complacency. I hope people will be aggressive and intent on letting the U.S. know that we are tired of being labeled as unimportant. We’ve lost just as much, if not more than we have gained from being under American colonial rule. You gave us an American education, so maybe it’s time we introduce the Americans to the Chamorro lesson plan of respetu (respect). Just respect the land, the people, the culture and everything. Having no culture does not give one permission to buff out a culture that has already been established. I’m tired of feeling like I have no control over what happens on my island and if any non-native people of Guam are willing to help me, then I think we can move forward with a new political status.

We have been historically underestimated and constantly told that we’re not much and that island life is where it’s at. The Guam Congress can be used as an example. People thought we had power with the Guam Congress, but really it was to satiate the desire for our people to govern ourselves. The Guam Congress had no power. It was a joke. It was the U.S. saying, “Hey, we don’t think you need rights right now, so let’s give you this fake body to make it seem like you could govern yourselves. But really we’ll continue to place naval governors as your governors, because you don’t understand anything that’s outside of your little island and your coconut heads cannot comprehend it.” I used to always pray to God for patience and strength, but now that I no longer have a religious affiliation (blasphemy, I know Guam, but not everyone enjoys Catholicism), I rely on myself for those two things. However, I think it’s about damn time I don’t ask for patience, because we’ve waited for over a hundred years to be free from colonization and I’ll be damned if I don’t see Guam free of the U.S. before I die.

So what does this mean for us? For my family, for their families and for anyone that calls Guam home, I hope it means we can work in tandem to see to a culturally enriched Guam. My island isn’t for those who would disrespect it and the culture. I hope it means any non-natives will gladly saddle up their carabaos (water buffalo) with me and we’ll ride into a better Guam.

This article was originally published at The Odyssey Online.