We’re the Dark Force

There is no secret occult, invisible evil, or supernatural Dark Force spinning a web of entrapment and sexual slavery.

It’s us. Solid human beings that actively choose to create harm; some in what they weigh as ‘small’ ways, like creating a ‘friendship’ online that leads to a meeting in person and drinks with a drug in it.

It’s the mother whose son hears, “That girl! Look, she’s nothing but a tramp, she’s worthless!” It’s the girl who hears that–maybe from her own mother, who may or may not know that her father has been raping her since she began to toddle.

It’s the human need for connection and the capacity of other’s to exploit that, as well as economic poverty and other forms of lack.

It’s the collective agreement that the election of a mayor, tribal council person, school board, preacher or President who ‘grabs ’em by the pussy’ or ‘just takes what he/I wants’ is okay.

It’s the sexualization of children without teaching them about sex and all that it really is; it’s about hiding our own sexuality and need for intimacy behind porn and paywalls to substitute for connection. It’s about turning a blind eye to those who look, speak or behave differently than us because they are ‘other’.

For many of us, it’s the unwillingness to acknowledge our own privilege, the damage our forefathers wrought and our shared responsibility in fixing their fuck-ups. And, boy howdy, did they ever fuck some things up.

It’s the persistence of cynicism and sarcasm, taking the easy way out. It’s the unwillingness to challenge ourselves to do things differently–to see *others* differently, to move into active loving.

Love isn’t everything. It’s a magnificent foundation but requires effort.

Love also requires the effort (and it does take work) to understand that the phenomena of sexual slavery and that of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is not easily divided into black and white, good and bad, righteous and evil. It requires understanding that even those who cause great harm mow the neighbors yard without asking, feed strangers, love their children, do good works for their communities.  They exist together in the same way we each do; masked and visible selves that need to be heard, seen and healed.

 

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The Real Conspiracy Here

The greatest conspiracy here is complacency.

If the amount of energy being used (and consumed) by folks perpetuating the “obviousness” of Epstein’s “suicide” were actually being put into talking about the tens of thousands of young people who are impacted by sexual slavery, or engaging with organizations that work for and with them, we’d have less of a problem.

If the energies put toward the ‘conspiracy’ of your neighbors, preachers, parents, teachers, mayors, medicine men, dentists, doctors, plumbers, cashiers, bartenders, board members, casinos, hotels were to match the current ‘trend’, we’d have less of a problem.

If folks would stop trying to ‘raise other people’s vibration’ and actually engage in the work of active loving, we’d begin solving the problem.

If we’d stop bitching about those in power and call them on their shit productively (and vote, there’s that), we’d begin solving the problem.

If we’d stop isolating and hiding real sex and celebrating the not-so-real, we’d start solving the problem

If we’d include other human beings in our ‘defense of the sacred’, we’d start solving the problem.

If we’d stop saying things like “just a whore” or “someone should beat some sense into her” or “she’s going to be just like whateverthederogatorytrend of the day is”, if we’d stop making fun of people who think and dress differently, we’d begin changing the problem.

If we would start losing our own language of violence, we’d begin to solve the problem. If we’d begin to value brown skinned people as if they, too, walked with the holiest of the holies, we’d begin to solve the problem If women would begin accepting responsibility about how we’ve taught me that this is okay—especially by our silence–then we’d begin to solve the problem

And, to state the obvious, If we’d stop fucking children–in every way, there would be no problem.

I’m using WE here purposefully. There is a collective responsibility shared here. Jeffery Epstein? His pocket of the slave trade is a mere drop in the bucket.

The same way it’s ‘trending’ to talk about those in power subverting justice in his case, it should be trending to talk about how we each do the same thing in our day to day life, whether it’s our language, who we vote or give money to, who and what we ignore because it’s someone else’s business, how we choose to find sexual release, empower our children–including their sexuality, or disempower our other women-because of their sexuality, look out for our neighbor, or say nothing rather than something.

More than Epstein

Forty-eight weeks ago, after I’d received no help from the FBI, the US Attorney’s office, tribal legislators, or multiple local law enforcement jurisdictions, I faxed letters to a select group of Senators who’d publicly expressed interest in addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Then-Senators Flake and Heitkamp, Murkowski, and Tester each received a two page letter outlining information I had and requesting a conversation or intervention with federal law enforcement.
Although none of the Senators engaged, that one communication began a cavalcade of connections across the globe. What I imagine was quite the panicked phone call from a Washington DC office, has led to a year’s worth of “who the hell is this woman and what does she really know”. There may be those who doubt but they aren’t the ones trying to defame me across Indian Country. They know that their Ancestors know, that I know, and that their gig is nearly up.
I’ve watched how the Epstein case has unfolded and, now that he’s killed himself, watched the requisite conspiracy theories pop up like mushrooms after a summer rain. How I wish that same energy would be funneled into bringing to light the real conspiracy of The Fuckery that does, no surprise, intersect with the Epstein case.

Arresting Immigrants but not Sex Traffickers?

I wonder what impact there would be if 600 people connected to the sexual trafficking of Native Americans were arrested in one day? If federal law enforcement waltzed into where they work (some wouldn’t have to walk all that far) and arrested them just like ICE did the immigrants yesterday?

Think about it for a hot second. Parade them out of their courtrooms, casinos, boardrooms, the bedrooms, schools, plumbing vans, tribal offices, just.like.that.

We have the capacity to do so. Why haven’t we?

There’s no mystery in the answer.

While You Were Paddling

Say Something

While you were paddling, making your way to the Lummi Nation, what was going through your mind?  What were your prayers?  To whom did you sing? What did you hear beyond the sound of your own heart beating?

How much of your thoughts were centered on”ohshitohshitohshit. Oh. Shit! Now what do I do?” When your conscience has been calling?  When you’ve watched those you call relatives enslaved in the place you work? When you’ve judged them for being ‘just whores’ or thought something more like ‘well, everybody’s got to work’ and not thought more about it? How often have you covered up the signs when you’ve cleaned the room or served the drinks? How often have you seen the makeup run and know she’s not 18 or 21, but maybe 16? How often have you seen a madam talking up security, laughing as if it’s business as usual and business is good?

When you first read what I wrote about this, did you think “that’s not happening where I work” or did you already know and just keep you mouth shut? How often has ‘see something, say something’ slipped through your mind without a thought getting attached? How often have you actually detached because ‘it’s not of my business’?

What happened when you showed others the post?  When you thought someone else would say something? Were you surprised at the shrugged shoulders? Did the one who gave the vibe that he was part of it frighten you?

When will you say something? When will you do something?

It’s not enough to put on a red dress or paint across your face and say you’re an advocate.

Say something.

Reach out.

 

Government Cheese and Truth

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” 

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ― Audre Lorde

In My Secret is Safe with Your Secret, I wrote this:

We cannot talk about the disappearances of indigenous children and women without honestly addressing these incredibly painful things. For those  unaware of the legacies wrought by the plundering of the continent’s first peoples, these things may seem like the distant past, far removed from any modern view or experience of the world. They are not. They are right here, right now and must be faced because the intentional disappearing of indigenous women and children are inextricably entwined within these layers.

Here, ‘these incredibly painful things’ is about our own individual sexual abuse. I left it at that because it seemed enough in the moment to let it sit there alone for a bit. Even more, after the swift blowback from Indian Country when The Mystery of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was published, I was afraid to continue speaking aloud.  However, after reading Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, I feel emboldened again. Her powerful voice and courage has shored and renewed both of mine.

Not only is keeping ‘my secret safe with your secret’ something we need to address as individuals, internally and aloud, it must happen at the community level and it must occur in the ways that allow people to be heard and for responsibilities to be acknowledged.

It requires, within indigenous communities, acknowledging a shared responsibility for effectively addressing the sexual abuse of children, leadership’s role in the trafficking of young people, the current effects of historical trauma; not in a few decades, maybe figuring it out as we go along, but now. We can’t wait another generation and hope that things return to something resembling balance without purposeful and direct intervention. And that intervention must happen within the communities themselves, not be clouded or coerced by individual or institutionalized power structures that have historically preyed upon these same communities and currently continue to do so.

We need to speak our personal truths that include our own victimizations and, in addition, to dig deeper into how the silence around how that, over time, has contributed to the harm of others.  How many times has our own silence and our own shame led to the judgment of others as ‘whore’ or suggestion that ‘she had it coming’? How many times have men and boys heard that come from a woman’s mouth and bought it as truth?  How many times have we as individuals and a collective not believed our daughters, sons, nieces, or brothers, about teachers, preachers, neighbors, fathers and uncles?  How often have we seen the signs but chosen to ignore them? How often have we claimed ‘he’s just a man’, ‘that’s how they are’, or called a man by another name if he wasn’t ‘manly’ enough, hadn’t exhibited traits associated with violence?  How have these things contributed to young people making the active choice in walking away from family? How does the culture that accompanies fear, silence and unacknowledged betrayal, that we perpetuate, combine with lack of inner and external resources contribute to the ease of predators distorting hope for the future into pimp-slave relationships?

Personal story-telling isn’t isolated to Self, it’s bound up in immediate and extended family as well as the larger community. Community, in this discussion, means more than the more obvious. It means that of the ‘near-culture’, a chapter or neighborhood on a reservation for instance, and the larger dominant culture and power-structures within both. The truth-telling is a process that is important in and of itself but there is a shared responsibility in story-telling–one that also requires active listening and a willingness to hear that which (I hope) is hard on the heart.  After hearing and responding to the stories, there must be action and it must come from a collective sense of responsibility, justice and deep compassion.

The telling and the hearing does not bring healing in and of itself. It is merely the start. It’s one of the reasons I scoffed at Senator Tester’s self-congratulatory email after I’d reached out for the sixth time about the Fuckery.

That is why I introduced the Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act (S. 336).  This bipartisan bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a full investigation of how federal agencies respond to reports of missing and murdered Native Americans and recommend solutions based on their findings.  It also directs the GAO to make recommendations on how to address economic, social, and other underlying factors that are fueling this crisis.

I wanted to shout “Bully for you! Want a gold star?!” in his ear and follow it with this:  “Are you and your colleagues actually ready to hear, really hear, the truths that need to be spoken, and accept the responsibilities that come with it?”  I wanted to say it in the Jack Nicholson tone that says, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth?”

The truth is that while there are individual responsibilities to be owned, they are enmeshed within local and federal government and religious policies that continue to perpetuate ‘out of sight out of mind’, ‘take what we want (treaties or ethics be damned)’,  ‘kill the Indian but save the man (or his soul)’ and fuel the need for young people to seek escape from inner turmoil and communities that cannot provide options for therapeutic intervention, basic health and human services appropriate for those communities.

The federal government must be willing to be an active participant in learning how the past is directly influencing the present, how the violence begat in this country’s formation was a catalyst for the violence being suffered by indigenous women now, and be willing to help heal it in a meaningful way–government cheese isn’t healing (hell, it’s not even cheese) but the government can–and, in my opinion should–play a significant role in the healing of Nations.  The truth requires current government actors, with their inherited greed, bias and privilege, not just acknowledge but apologize formally with words, funds for deep healing, and legislated (read enforceable) respect for physical, spatial and spiritual relationships with lands unceded and those agreed upon under duress and threat of death.

All of these things are so entwined together that no single thread can be separated. However, it’s not as difficult as our bureaucratized brains would like to think. Education, openness, honesty, compassion, righteous and safely expressed anger and grief, and apologies–those things of love– begin the process. In our individual homes and hearts, within local communities and the institutions that we’re each tied to.

Borrowing a phrase here, leaning into this, requires a broad scope that most American’s don’t yet seem to have the intellectual bandwidth or the curiosity enough to wholly engage in the process; it requires more than just data, it requires basic understandings of power structures, sociology, trauma, institutionalized violence and systemic oppression, resilience, restoration, medicine ways, love, and more. An expanded education on these things may not be necessary but a mind opened enough to trust that those things exist and are part of the world we share is.

If the, in any, government decides to get actively involved in eradicating sexual slavery that is knotted up in a historic past such as ours, it’s a long slow slog through bureaucracy.  It will result in a report that may or may not provide the whole truth and may, may not provide resolution and may or may not be read.

However, while governments may try to chug along, other key players have the capacity to engage, even semi-heartedly, in a way that can create immediate and lasting change; to hear, to heal, to eliminate a scourge on humanity.

I have hope, though. I have hope.