Partial Transcript: Emmett Hoctor (EH): The following interview was conducted with Mr. Tom LaBlanc, a Sioux Indian, who originates from Sisseton South Dakota.
Segment Synopsis: Emmett Hoctor introduces his interviewee Tom LaBlanc, and LaBlanc speaks a little about himself.
Keywords: AIM; AIM Survivor School; American Indian Movement; Sioux
Partial Transcript: EH: Would you tell us a little about the survivor school?
Segment Synopsis: LaBlanc speaks about his various involvements with the Indian community, including teaching at the AIM survivor school and involvement as ambassador for Sioux Nation. He also speaks about the importance of his culture and heritage.
Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; Sioux Nation; Survivor School
Partial Transcript: EH: One subject that continues to be an area of controversy is the BIA.
Segment Synopsis: LaBlanc speaks about his opinions on federal policy regarding Indians, saying that should be considered their own nation. He also talks about recent events on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, AIM's involvement in them, and the goals of AIM.
Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; BIA; Bureau of India Affairs; Pine Ridge Reservation; Rosebud Reservation
Partial Transcript: EH: I'd like to ask you a question. Generally, could you discuss your opinion on the education of the Native Americans?
Segment Synopsis: LaBlanc speaks about his opinions on the current state of Native American education. He also touches the activism tactics of American Indians and what they should be, and he talks about the way upcoming bicentennial in 1976.
Keywords: American Indian Movement; Education; University of Minnesota
Partial Transcript: TL: Oh, all life here has been wronged,
Segment Synopsis: LaBlac covers many subjects quickly in this section. He talks about American's treatment of the Earth, the application of our constitutional laws, personal opinions on some federal policy, and tells about his personal experiences in the Vietnam War and with education as an Indian.
Keywords: American Indian Movement; Boarding School; Sioux Nation; The Constitution
Partial Transcript: EH: On the Trail of Broken Treaties, maybe you could give a little bit of the history for some people who aren't familiar with it?
Segment Synopsis: La Blanc speaks about his experiences on the Trail of Broken Treaties and the eventual occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) building. At the end, he briefly talks about Indian policy in relation to Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, two U.S. presidents.
Keywords: BIA; Bureau of Indian Affairs; Dennis Banks; Gerald Ford; Richard Nixon; Russell Means; Trail of Broken Treaties
Emmett Hoctor (EH): The following interview was conducted with Mr. Tom LaBlanc,a Sioux Indian, who originates from Sisseton South Dakota. The interview took place at the Sioux Indian Center in Omaha Nebraska on the 12th of January, 1976. Mr. LaBlanc has participated in the movement for Indian rights, a number of different avenues. For several years, he has been an active member of the American Indian Movement. As an active member of AIM, Mr. LaBlanc took part in the Trail of Broken Treaties, which culminated in the occupation of the BIA building in the nation's capital.
EH: Mr. Lablanc, I understand that you have been involved with the AmericanIndian Movement (AIM) quite extensively, perhaps you could explain how you first came into contact with AIM.
Tom Lablanc (TL): Originally, I'm from Sisseton, South Dakota, and when I cameback from the Marine Corps, which was in 1970, most of their relations had moved 00:01:00to Minneapolis. When I started working there at an organization called Upper Midwestern Indiann Center, which was a conservative Indian center, similar to the one here in Omaha Indian Center. As I started working, I found that most of the things involved with AIM (inaudible) was closer to where I was in, so I go involved with the director and became the assistant director of the Minneapolis chapter, and my job then was to, because there was major complaints that AIM was just causing trouble and not doing anything constructive, so my job was to begin developing proposals, and constructive types of things. So that's, really my involvement with AIM. I worked there for a year, and then I went onto the AIM 00:02:00Survival School in Minneapolis and worked there as a year as a teacher.
EH: Would you tell us a little about the survivor school?
TL: Survivor School started because in Minneapolis the kids were being pushedout of school. They were just not attending. They had something like a 80% drop out rate. They were having like two or three high school graduates a year, so there was a need for an alternative school, so we began one. That's basically about it- just an alternative school for Indian kids.
EH: Are you familiar with the paper that was submitted to the school board, Iguess, that gave alternatives and gave suggestions on a possible different type of school system for Native Americans?
TL: Well, I was involved with writing proposals for part of the Survival School.00:03:00In fact, they receive their funs in a mark by Congress, Senator Kennedy has a demonstration on that project, and I think they received 100-some thousand dollars grant for this year, which they'll utilize to help out Rapid City's Survivor School. (inaudible). With working at AIM, I started working with an organization from that of a younger of Siouxn's. We call ourselves Sioux United Nation. We say that we are the first colony of the great Sioux Nation, and my title, whatever that is, is regional ambassador (inaudible). We are here stating 00:04:00that we feel that everything after 1870, after the treaty made the (inaudible) illegal... We made a proposal that gave us our sovereignty, that we would deal with the United States on the basis of association, not as dependency as we are now. We are the equivalent of a subdivision of this government by the fact that we were here before, that the contracts with the treaties gives us equal status, and we say, let's say gives us an equality with the state, that we should be dealt with, the tribes should be dealt with on that basis.
EH: Would you want the government to honor the Treaty of 1868?
EH: They would stick to those agreements there and you'd be satisfied?
TL: There should be no new treaties established to regulate what goes on. If you00:05:00sit down and see what has happened after 1870, you'll see congressional acts, most of these are illegal because neither side was too clear on what was going on. The intent was basically illegal- to steal. We're saying we want fair and just treatment and all that, so if we establish treaty-making again, we could (inaudible) each and every area and what they want.
EH: As a person who has been a part of both, you might say liberal and moreradical Indian groups, what's the difference? What, basically, is the difference between the two, who are supposedly working for the same name? What makes a person go towards AIM and another person stay back towards more of the conservative groups?
TL: Well, that's a personal prerogative. As I see it, we are really reflective00:06:00of the overall American community now. We've been affected by western civilization. We have representatives from the whole spectrum of life, from left to right to radical to conservative, and one of our major doctrines in almost any Indian culture is to be good to your own brother, to allow him his own vision, and we're saying that there is one half of the side now. There is what is presented as the western side or the "white" side. We can be Indian to a certain extent. All we're saying is that the traditional Indian has to hide away and scrape by underneath the ground to survive 'till today, and that they should be treated as an equal. They should be allowed to exist. That opportunity should 00:07:00be allowed to be there. An Indian person is born. He should be able to be born Indian, live Indian, and die Indian at all times. He should be able to practice his religion, which has just recently been able to openly express. He should be allowed to speak his language as a first language. He should be allowed to all the rights that are inherent to any citizen in this country. But if you sit down and think, here is your bicentennial, we've just been allowed as citizens of this country for 50 years, and nobody asked us if we wanted to be citizens. Nobody asked me if I wanted to be a citizen. I don't want to be a citizen (inaudible), not as it stands now. I want to be a citizen of my country, my nation. I honor those laws, and I believe we can coexist. 00:08:00
EH: Native American's have been forced to take on, you say, the "white man's"culture. Some people call it forced acculturation. What have been some of the detrimental effects of that?
TL: Well, that I can speak of, from my aspect, I was, in my mind, taken from mypeople. My mother was a minor when I was born. My mother was sterilized, which, in effect, caused her death about 10 years afterwards. She started drinking. It took me until I was an adult to find my people again. I knew who I was, but not exactly what that was, so I basically lived in my childhood from one institution to another, and I sit down and I realize that the forced part of it is the 00:09:00adapting. In this society they're demanding that you conform. We as an Indian, as a generalized group have differences, and these differences have been tried to have been suppressed, and when you try to suppress something, it distorts something. Say such things as alcoholism and illnesses now that we've acquired that we never had before. There's a disunity that we have. It's all from a lack of... taken from our lives (inaudible). What should have been done to begin with, when Indians and Whites first contacted, they should have maintained that equality when they entered into treaties. They still should have been maintained as the period went on. They should have sat down and tried to work out a way 00:10:00where an Indian could be himself and still coexist, and rather than demanding our conformity, rather than trying to coerce us into proper behavior, enticing us to come up to the level of efficiency that is demanded in this society because you are dealing with an organized, ridged, bureaucratic system, capitalism and democracy, whereas we (inaudible) organized in the point that we are protected for ourselves, and with the meeting of the two it appears that the western civilization is the dominant civiliazation. But, as I've been told and I believe, things go in a circle. There is a period where the Indian has been beaten or is vanishing, whatever that's a falsity by our rejection of the 00:11:00system. We looked at is as an intelligent, viable, choice. We said it's not worth participating in the end product, career, profession, or material gains. The material that you get out of it is not worth it, so we ignored it, but today we can see it coming. The traditional people are getting stronger, and the Indian people are getting back to their ways.
EH: This sterilization, was it at a reservation?
TL: No, this was done Iowa state. This was done in, by a state, but that'shappening in South Dakota now, sterilization as a method of birth control.
EH: And, you probably don't have any, you weren't raised on a reservation?
TL: I was raised in a foster home, and orphanages, boarding schools, etc.00:12:00
EH: And, you had to find your way back to your culture. I suppose you could sayyou were isolated between both of them, until that time, because of the white man. Do you feel that tribalism might be an alternative to the Native American development, not back but...TL: The past is our future. I don't see any difference. Tribalism is our form of our government, and I think it's a positive alternative for democracy. It was the original form of government. It has helped us. We have adapted and maintained. It's our only alternative. I firmly believe in tribalism. Somebody asks me my political affiliation, I tell them tribalism, not communism, not socialism, not democrat, or anything like that. 00:13:00
EH: Have you done this in the spirit of religion, as in the Native American church?
TL: I remember the traditional Sioux religion, which is the (inaudible) thetraditional way.
EH: One subject that continues to be an area of controversy is the BIA.Everybody seems to have an opinion on it, and I wonder if you can give me some general thoughts you have on the BIA? Is it possible to...TL: Well, it's negative. I believe it's in direct contrast of where it's established, of where it's set up. Officially it was a Department of War. It has moved to the Department of Interior, which is in charge of natural resources. We are the only human commodity, when you are talking about state parks and mountains and rivers 00:14:00and minerals. When you are sitting down and thinking of the reservations that we are allotted (inaudible), somehow over the past few hundred years, we've developed into ecological gems whereas two hundred-some years ago there were spots of land because we have a great mother of the Earth. Harvesting, and through the corruption of the federal government... I sit down and I think of the BIA as an extension of the federal government. It hasn't been in the hands of Indians. It's a significant organization, but it is causing a lot of difficulties. There has to be a better system than that. There should be an embassy, a Native American embassy, in Washington, rather than the Bureau of 00:15:00Indian Affairs. It's abled by the federal government's wishes, not the Indian peoples' wishes.
EH: You don't, who would you say should have ultimate control: Native Americans,the state, the federal government, or perhaps, as you say, an independent?
TL: There should be, the authorities should be invested in the soverginity ofthe people. It should be with those people, with their elected people, which in whatever way they chose. In my nation, my tribe, the closest to the proper would be like on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the traditional head men and medicine men (inaudible) - that's my leader. That's what I would want. I think it would have to be dealt with in the Secretary of State, in the state department, and they 00:16:00should be treated as domestic nations, treated that way, rather than dependent and authoritarian.
EH: Have you been out to the Pine Ridge Reservation lately?
EH: And, would you happen to put your finger on the pulse for us? Like whatexactly is going... If you can capsulize what exactly is going on out there, the violence, and the mistrust, and the killings?
TL: Well I can relate that. I was there during the killing of the two FBI guysin July, and at this time, the FBI is looking for me for questioning. If I don't submit to their questioning, they will submit a federal warrant for my arrest. I 00:17:00say the problems that are going there are going all over the country. They problems are always getting back to that oppression and cultural genocide. Suppressing somebody's individuality, his inherent rights, eventually it is going to come out. Eventually it gets to the point where you can stand there and ignore the problems, and finally you just have to say "hey, I want to be myself." There's a problem. You can get in more detail, what they are specifically. I use analogy a lot of times. America is like a home, like a (inaudible). All the sudden, you invited some people in, and they came in, moved 00:18:00into the living room, take out some people and put them in the basement. Take out some other people and put them in the kitchen, but pretty soon as you look around, your whole house is being occupied by someone else, and in your ways you were taught that we welcome people. You found out that we were delegated and given the closet. You find out that all these people are stuck in the closet. These people are coming to you, now, they say, "Our refrigerator is empty. Why don't you help us fill it?" And that's the situation where it's come today. It's we are sitting down at a point of frustration after all these years, and the devaluing of our rights and ourselves, and we just can't allow it anymore. It's the difference... it's the effect that the power was given to certain people to maintain that oppression. It's coming out, and some people are saying "oh, no way." 00:19:00
EH: The reservation system today isn't, of course, by any means the best, buthow would you compare that as an alternative to shipping Native American's off to the big city and saying, "you are on your own?"
TL: I completely against the urbanization of Indians. I believe that as many ofus should return, I believe that there should be a permanent Indian land base, that utilize the reservations and some excess federal lands, maybe some excess federal lands that just aren't properly being used, some state part or some. It should be appropriated to Indian square. We have adequate land base that we should maintain ourselves. We should be given that. I don't think it should be 00:20:00called reservation. I think it should be called what they are, as a nation. We are developing nations, or redeveloping nations. We are like we have been suffocating in the stomach of a big fat pig. Nobody sees... They talk about developing countries in Africa, in Asia. They don't speak of them here. They don't speak of a nation that was fully developed, and was devoured, and has to appear again now, that is appearing again now. I believe that if you are, this country, were to do that, a lot of these problems and difficulties would be heading out.
EH: After Pine Ridge, does it appear to you that AIM has the majority of thepeoples' support?
TL: As I see it, it is about 50/50.
EH: There is Dick Wilson faction. The city's where have compromised, and those00:21:00that have white blood, and then there's the rural Native American on the other side. Is that how you see it?
TL: No, I don't think it's broken down into that way. It's broken down into moreof a philosophy type of thing. It's not so much of a... I think a those who have white blood or those who have this blood or that blood... the degrees or quantities. Indian isn't a color. It's a way of life. It's a philosophy. It's everything intertwined. We can't be one or the other, and that's the difficulties. The problems is similar to the fact if you put a seed in a concrete floor, like this one here, it's not gonna grow. It's in an alien 00:22:00environment, a not suitable environment. It won't grow, but if you take that seed and plant it in a proper enviornment, you put the right ingredients and its natural habitat, it'll grow, and flourish. And that's the problem that I see. I see a lot of our people who have been living in the wrong enviornment. The way of life has been taken to where we don't have the control over ourslves. We don't, can't be ourselves. And once we can be ourselves, and once we honor ourselves, then we will function properly.
EH: I think it was Robert Fernet who said something like the Wilson faction hasa, more acculturation, more white blood, that Wilson himself is that way. It was, when Wounded Knee broke out, it was the more rural ones who, the more ones who had their "Indian-ness" left, who were in the thick of the battle, and the other ones joined them after a while, after it had came down two hours. (inaudible) 00:23:00
TL: I don't really know if it's, say it in that terms. Wilson believes in theBureau of Indian Affairs, and the present system of tribal government that we have, the IRA that passed in the 30's, the Indian Reconstruction Act. I don't believe in that. There's a difference. I think some of the fraction of the people believe more in the traditional way. They believe that there should be a traditional way of government, rather than reservations that are dependent. We should be treated as nations, and dealt on our own, that we can maintain on our own. We don't need somebody to give us commodities and plants and...
EH: Do you think it's possible to go back to the old warrior societies, youknow, for instance, and have just the way it was, or would it be a mixture of the two?
TL: It would be a mixture of the two. There's no way that it would be a pure as00:24:00the past. It has to be a development, but the essence has to be there. It has to be a point where we... we are now acculturated enough to the fact that we can maintain our existence with any civilization. We are people of proper intelligence (inaudible) maintain anything. We have people that have been training in that area of life. We keep them going, we send them to areas that have...
EH: Have you been up to the Rose Bud Reservation?
TL: I was there this past summer.
EH: How would you assess it in comparison to Pine Ridge? Politically, or anyother way.
TL: I'll say that they were very progressive. I think that they tried to do it00:25:00legally through the system of maintaining their self-sufficiency, and making their own money, and self-sustaining. I believe through (name), that it was illegal in the last election. That any Indian in South Dakota, as I see it, that tries to stand up for Indian rights and further the Indian was destroyed somehow, like (inaudible). I have no proof of that but I believe (name) was behind it. We know for... know that after the election that their 48 margin, that they didn't even... The BIA police came in and confiscated the ballot boxes before they even validated it the first time.
EH: This was at the Rose Bud?00:26:00
TL: The Rose Bud.
EH: It was kind of a controversy at Pine Ridge I understand, with that lastelection as well?
TL: Still going on, The Civil Rights commission that Russel registered camethrough the same thing, that it was an illegal and the improper elections, and how they should be held again.
EH: Is it true that he is going to run against Wilson, the next time again?
TL: I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Last time I heard, he's going to be in Europe
EH: I wonder if you would mind answering some general questions I have. Whatexactly was AIM trying to accomplish at Wounded Knee?
TL: I think it was the final step. I think they were just forced to that. Theytried every traditional maneuver, and they were asked in by the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and they came in and demanded the rights of the people 00:27:00and the same things that are happening down here. We are going through a similar situation. The federal government has given power to certain people through the different ways that it has established a system that has bias to one side. The traditional grassroots Indian has no authority on his own land. That's a problem.
EH: I'd like to ask you a question. Generally, could you discuss your opinion onthe education of the Native Americans?
TL: I believe that you sit down and... I went through this dilemma because Iwent to college myself. If you decide that it's a drop-off because I feel that education has really been detrimental to a lot of our people. I feel that, if we had the control over the education of our children and ourselves, that the final 00:28:00product would be different. (inaudible) It wasn't the knowledge that you were taught. It was the finished product that mattered. If you came out somehow resembled a lawyer, or you had the right proper thought to be a doctor, then you would get an "A." It wasn't really that much of the knowledge that you were taught. And then, another area that I see is that, no way was there any valid respect given to a whole another aspect of life, the India way of life. Because I worked at the University of Minnesota in the Indian Centers department there. We saw where our language, people who were instructors at the university, teaching their mother, native tongues were discriminated against and not give the same salaries as someone who was teaching a dead language like ancient 00:29:00Chinese or Latin, because it hadn't been an accepted subject in all secondary schools, essentially, and I saw when the music department gave people degrees, knowing about Beethoven and Bach, being able to perform a flute, harp, and different instruments you had to learn. In my religion, in my ways the Indian people could sing traditionally up to three, four days for everything. (inaudible) There was no degree for that. There was no equality there. I see where the law students...(inaudible)... receive no instruction, in fact no law students receive any instruction in Indian law, which is a wide open field. You're dealing with the treaties. You're dealing with the agreements and the 00:30:00contracts that have come between the federal government and the Indian tribes. There was no preparation for them or anyone who wanted to go into that. Repeating over this, I see who it was all geared for, for a white person, for a person who would want to go on and adapt to that system. There was nothing for the person that had a different type of knowledge. They said at the University of Minnesota that they had every denomination covered, and yet they didn't have anything allotted for spiritual people, traditional Indian religions, and we brought that up, so they allotted somebody for that. This kind of a discrimination, this type of inadequacy in education is where I have my disagreements. I believe in, that it should be taught in institutions, brought 00:31:00away, and that we should be allotted that. We should be taught methods of the other system to, to be able to come up and make his decisions the way he wants, instead of just being taught one way. (inaudible)
EH: It goes back to the same thing, it's your degree of whiteness, how much youcompromise, if you go into the system and say you'll act like a white, then they will accept you. I guess your saying?
TL: I think the improper thing is that we have been lying, our reservationcompromising. There has been no... just you have this alternative or this opportunity. Nobody, as everybody says, "look at all these opportunities in the communities," and "How can we capitalize on that?" I was told by a traditional person that it wasn't that I couldn't, it's that I didn't, I didn't want to. I think that's the most important aspect of it. Who cares if, you can't force 00:32:00anybody, you can't bribe them into doing something they don't want to. As I see this education as I...(inaudible)...I see how I was in institutions and was in day after day of being home and how it affected me, and...(inaudible)... my children. My children will be allowed to be Indian, and...
EH: Are you heartened at all in the recent trend in scholarly books, and somepeople on the local level, whites, are really trying to reverse this now? It's just beginning, but...
TL: I believe that's where it's at. I believe that the Indian's are patient.We've been waiting for 500-some years now, waiting for the white man, and that the point has come. The white man has always looked to somebody else to help 00:33:00him. He's looked at the black man to help him with that problem or black equality since emancipation. He's looking at the Indian now to help him to find solutions to the problem, but that isn't where he should look. He has to look at himself. The white man has to correct his corruption and better his system. That is not for the community to take care of. The white man has to take care of himself too.
EH: Some people have said that the native American must adopt the tactics of theblacks to achieve their aims. How do you feel about that?
TL: I disagree with that. There might be similarities in that we might both beethnic groups that have racial differences, and look different. The tactics I don't know about. The tactics, I think we have our own knowledge ways of life 00:34:00that are different than any other ethnic group. We come up with these on our own, really, follow our own ways, but there are similarities. I think the major problem is that in America, the white man has to solve them. He's the one who's being Americanized. He doesn't realize that he looks at me and says, "Oh, you're dressed in blue jeans and a shirt, cowboy boots that you are assimilated into." America is a western civilization. It doesn't realize the affects that it has on (inaudible)... It sees where racial pluralism is Indian. I mean, we allow for that. We allow for the differences. We allow for these opportunities (inaudible). I believe that spiritually, we are closest in contact here, in this present spot in America, that we will always be well taken care of here. 00:35:00
EH: It's been rumored in some circles that around the Pine Ridge Reservationthere might be hostilities in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial. Others have said that, they look at the flag as representing the blood of the Indian, and they feel like, to them it would be like celebrating Hitler's birthday. I want to have your thoughts on the bicentennial: what it means to you, and any comments you might have?
TL: (inaudible). As I look at it, it's... As I look at America celebrating its200th birthday, it's to me like a two year old child in comparison to somebody 00:36:00around 50. This last year, the past few months, they discovered a body that someone in San Diego over, carbon-dated it to over 48,000 years. I've been told that we've been here as long as life as been here, that we will be here as long as there is life. I have heard... (inaudible)... and I believe that you sit down and you celebrate. You celebrate what you have planned: 13 states. You celebrate the freedom that you are allowed to live the way that you want, that these European indoctrines that were only allowed in the middle would be able to turn into a physical reality today, and we have this thing called America. As I look at it, we have been told this is our mother, this whole Earth, and she's making 00:37:00everybody fat. She's making everybody healthy. People are growing. The white man has finally got away from his castles and feudalism and disease and his oppression of Europe and came here. The African has gotten away from desolate area, and been able to come here and flourish. The Asian has come to a place of such abundance, and we are overwhelmed. We are all here together for some reason, and whatever that reason is, I don't know. Out of that whole exchange, the different colors, the only one who has really been given the wrong deal is the one who was the original occupant. And as they sit down and celebrate, celebrate what, I can't go along with it. I sit down and as you look at America 00:38:00today, they say hip America doesn't... what about 200 years from... because in my mind I feel that I am the same as an Indian 250 years before me, just the situation is different, and that 250 years from today will be the same because that situation is different. I believe in the circle. I believe that, if you believe as an American way or western civilization, on the one way road of progress and technology will lead you straight up. There's a hokey philosophy. They are probably better than all of the traditionals at maintaining a lot of traditions spiritually. And they say, when the white man puts a house on the 00:39:00moon, it will be the fall of society. They did it, this is even before there was planes, a couple of years ago. And as I sit here today, I see this progress, technology has been able to answer everything. You see today, things happening, should show every person, regardless of their color. Things that happen through nature. Nature today looks like spring, and it's January. You might say well that's good, but that's wrong because each has its designated thing. There should be snow. There should be cold. There should be a time for rest. There's something wrong. These natural disasters. I see that Omaha had a tornado run through its city. The prophecies say that bad times have come, and people should 00:40:00hear this, the people-that balance has been taken. If you pump things out of something and don't put it back, then it's larger back. When you include something, and when you repeatedly abuse something, It's gonna come back. It's going to come back, and it is happening. As America today, they are celebrating their birthday- 200 years, insignificant. Pompous, egotistical, selfish thing. They sat down and look where we are at now, like that (name) commercial. What if my friends could see me now? As they say to the world that they are at the top of the pedestal. I believe in the circle. I believe that they are actually at the bottom. That has to change. If America wants to continue with itself. We 00:41:00have adapted, and we have lived in harmony with this land for as long as there has been life here, and if the white man, the American, and whatever it is called look at that. Why, what is the essence of that- harmony and respect? That's the delima of the white man in America today. That has to change. That's what they should be thinking: how can we preserve this? How can we make up for the wrongs that we did?
TL: Oh, all life here has been wronged, and that we just... It's easier becausewe are standing in... It's the easiest of all if you are an outsider and you are looking at something and criticize. If you are a part of something, and it's all that you were given, and you have no alternative, it's hard to see. I can see. I 00:42:00can look at America and have an opinion on it. I'm not saying that I am totally right, but in my essence, I can see the wrong thigs. When somebody is there and is there relative, or somebody is saying to them, well it's hard. It's hard to distinguish saying that's good or that's bad because there's this intermingling of good and bad and everything. It has to happen. I am the same as any other young man with a family. I want to provide for my own. I want to give them things, whether it be a white man, a black man, a yellow man, or a combination. I want to give them the same things. I want to give them a good life. As I see it, America is too lopsided. There's only some that get some, and the others, they don't get nothing, and in my way of life everybody was taken care of, and 00:43:00we (inaudible). This way of life is the opposite. All we do is get, and that's why everybody wants to lead. The followers get nothing. That's not supposed to exist on this land. Even in the original constitution, that wasn't established. Everybody was supposed to have this equality. Until that is right, until it is written and follows its guidelines, his word, his law. It's gotten to a point where his laws are not even bound anymore. They don't, they are not applicable to the people that they are supposed to be for. It's more for the sake of organization than for the opinions of the people that live on that land.
EH: Do you think that the constitutional, oh type of laws we've had, arepossibly, they've been there all these years, but do you think people are 00:44:00finally at the point where they are maturing, so that they might just do what the law says? That, maybe, this country started out as very idealistic, that the people weren't really going to put those things into affect, but maybe now they'll start?
TL: I think it would be good if they do. If you sit down and start talking aboutbicentennial 200 years. Let's move back a hundred years. The problems that existed at that time, exist today. It was emancipation of the blacks. We had just seen that. There was woman suffrage, women trying to get equal rights. There was Indian wars. There was an impeachment of President Grant. There was immoral government practices with Indians, where there was the illegal sales and trades and ect. This domination was in existence at that time. The economy was 00:45:00in a bad state from after the Civil War, the situation as today, after the Vietnam War. As I see it, that this system is not prepared to solve problems but just to create other ones and illusions and just maintain itself, and that's all the problems, and in my way of life, you met your problems, you solved your problems, and you dealt with the next thing. This is where the difficulty is. This is prominent, keeps on maintaining the same problems. I would want to get rid of them. The problem that we have today is being with the white man, and we can't teach him anything unless he's willing to learn himself, until he has the wisdom in him to understand. He has a good understanding of how to solve a problem, and he looks up to us and says, (inaudible), and we can't. We can't 00:46:00take care of our own. This is where I see it. I look at it and I see... You guys better wake up. It's been too long coming, and that until white people are good, evil must be in dominance because evil seems to be the overpowering and the ruling force of this country, and I don't want to be a part of the evil. I try, and I went through the whole game. I went to the Vietnam War. I fought on this side. I stood up, and I voted. I did all of these kind of things, and as I see it now, I can't change that into something good, but I can maintain something that is good. My ways and my nation has been good, and I will be back at it.
EH: What branch of the service were you in?
TL: I was in the Marine Corps.
EH: Did you notice discrimination there?
TL: In the Marine Corps?
TL: Well, they said everybody was green. I knew to them I wasn't green. I seediscrimination everywhere. I went to Vietnam, and I looked around at my company. There as about five or six Indians and we were all points. We were all the scouts because we had...
EH: Special sense like a dog or something? That you should know...
TL: I guess we could see and we could hear a little bit better. Discrimination,I don't know. I mean... the military was just totally a bureaucratic system, and tries to cheat everybody as a basis. I don't know, that's not all... (inaudible)
EH: Recently, it has been in the news about Wounded Knee number one, that theyare trying to give money back to the descendants of those who were massacred, 00:48:00and the army has come out and said that there was no massacre, you know, the Indians had tried to destroy us, and we were just defending ourselves. Do you have any insights, or your own opinions, or your relatives, or anything else?
TL: That's a full out lie. That's a massacre. There's no other way you can stateit or say it. That's reflective of typical America. You have... I went somewhere one time and somebody said... You know what they said? The truth is all we have, and that's are warrior. America is basically running on lies. What you lie, is a progression, it changes, and that the truth remains the same. As you look at it, and you see America's progress, it started off with a little lie and progressed 00:49:00into an absurdity, a state of ridiculousness, and we've just been a very silent, stoic, essence of truth, and just maintained. It appears that when it was rapidly shooting out at the top at the other, the other was down here (inaudible). People are beginning to realize now-a-days that the dumb, drunk, lazy Indian wasn't so dumb, drunk, and lazy at all, and that's the situation that's going on.
EH: You know as the value systems as I see it work, corrupted, and now you arebetween, but did your grandmother tell you about how they forced education on 00:50:00her? Maybe you could offer some insights there?
TL: Well she, I can first of all (inaudible) from speaking on my own, when Icame back from Washington, D.C., after returning from overseas, I said to my cousin in Iowa, I said how come you went to Washington? We were scared to talk back to the white, scared to joke and speak out language, cut our hair, and (inaudible), and she explained these things. My cousin and I said, well we are scared too. What we have to say, we have to politely say, "hey, how come you did these things?" And this finally got to the point in my life where I said there's 00:51:00no sense talking to the white man. We will just have to do it ourselves, and as we do it, he's going to come to us and ask us "what are you doing?" We will say being ourselves. We are saying what you should be, what you want to be. This was paradise at one time, and it can be paradise again.
EH: Did she mention about going to any enforced schools like, well they hadcertain ones set up by General Pratt? Was she shipped out from here own people and sent there?
TL: She was sent to boarding school.
EH: On a reservation?
TL: My great-great grandmother was explaining to me that they terminated thelanguage. When they started going to school, they were taught in English, but they spoke Sioux at home. They would go, the kids would go, my parents... They 00:52:00would be speaking half English and half Sioux, and they would do it in (inaudible), so they terminated Sioux and taught English. She said, "Maybe we should have just taught them Sioux." And as I sit down today, I have that choice, and as a man speaking English, I am going to work at us speaking Sioux and then English, rather than English and then Sioux.
EH: Do you have anything to do with the Sioux Center's bilingual program thatthey are beginning here, that they teach the young children here?
EH: I see, I understand whites are welcome too?
TL: Sure, anywhere someone wants to go.00:53:00
EH: On the Trail of Broken Treaties, maybe you could give a little bit of thehistory for some people who aren't familiar with it?
TL: Well, when I first joined, I joined with my cousins. We jumped on inIndianapolis, and we went to St. Paul and (inaudible), and as I see it, that was the best piece of articles written in Indian Affairs. This country would have hated that and tried to go along with (inaudible), and a lot of the problems that have developed since then would've been a murder, and the responses that we got from the federal government were negative, and as we went there and the treatment we got, we were so overwhelmed at the poor treatment. And I at that 00:54:00time was fresh out of the Marines, and working at a Indian center and trying to find solutions for our (inaudible) situation, and as I sat and listened to, for the first day of my life, seeing traditional people from all over this country, from all different tribes, I was overwhelmed. I observed, I watched, I watched how the federal government reacted. I listened as people spoke their truth, and stated their problems, and the solutions that they came up with, and knew that was the answer for me. The ladies, and the white people, and know best for our own destiny... (inaudible)... We didn't need the BIA, or the federal government, 00:55:00or white people, or anybody else to tell us how to live. We should be telling them how to live.
EH: When you got to Washington, is it true that they wanted to house you in theslums or some sort of thing like that?
TL: I remember we went to a church, and I remember clearly going into thatchurch with in a similar village to this, in fact. There was a condemned building, and we went in there, and I remember that the first thing that I went through... We parked off, and we came in, and there was three rats right out in the street, that I thought was the size of a good kitten, a small-sized cat. When we went inside and were going to eat, there was people sleeping in pews and sleeping all over. We could just hear the rats scratching and crawling. We had babies and older people. People brought their wives. We were just overwhelmed. 00:56:00We thought "Oh, this is a riot." So when we got to the BIA building, and it was the BIA building, they just, in an instant, they came in, and we were a mass out there, and riot control and stuff like that. It just happened all spontaneously. In fact, I didn't even know what happened to them after it happened. I saw people jumping out of second story windows and (inaudible). What were they so scared of?
EH: (inaudible) of the massacre I guess, again...
TL: I believe.
EH: Totally irrationally.
EH: Volume 2, side 1: continuation of the interview with Tom LaBlanc, conducted00:57:00on January 12th, 1976. While you were at the BIA building in Washington, did you notice a lot of police harassment?
TL: Yeah, I was wondering how they got there so fast because it only happenedwhen we went in there. They just decided to stay there. We were kind of wondering how in about a minute's time they got a 150 people or so police outside all in riot equipment and ready. We found out later on that they had them stashed out in the basement of the Department of Interior building on the other side of the BIA building, and since that time a lot of people have come up 00:58:00to me and said, "how come you're militant?" and "how come you're violent, doing violent things?" and things like that. As I see it, I don't feel that I am a violent man. My teachings are such that I am a peaceful man. I respected the point. I feel more and more patriotic because if you stand up and defend your people, defend your rights as entitled to any individual in any place in the world, the same as the revolutionaries did to form this country, or as they call 00:59:00it, revolution. They caused a war. They had the same rights that we have. When we defended, stood up, and said "Hey, we have been peaceful. We have lived according to the treaties that we signed. We haven't fought to the point that we are now in a reactionary point of starting to react, being fed up with the frustration. It's getting to the point now of days, that the world, as they look at the Indian, here in America, the problems that we have. We have the same problems that the Irish are having with England.
EH: I cam sympathize there; I'm Irish.01:00:00
TL: The same problems that they are having in Angola, in the Middle East, thatthey had in Vietnam. It's over the land. All over how the people, there was the original people and those that came afterwards, and those one dominating the other. Whatever terms that you want to call it, they, same ingredients fits the recipe here, and that Indians, if we wanted to, could become the equivalent of any terrorists throughout the world, any type of thing like that. We are not that type of people. We are gradually being forced into that type of situation, and that I would say right today that we could amass an army of people dedicated, and I think Wounded Knee was the beginning of that. I'm telling you, and the BIA building showed you that we are serious people, that we are 01:01:00dedicated to our rights, that we will die for that right to live, our way, and that this is coming above, and that America should hear it.
EH: What I'm intrigued with is the allegations of the government that you peoplewho occupied the building destroyed everything, and were out looting. It seems like I've read somewhere that your side contends that you didn't do all of the violence, but after you left somebody did, to kind of make you out in a bad light, you know?
TL: Well I know that when we looked outside the window, when we seen thosepolice assembled out there, we started barricading the doors. Everybody seen that all of those police had riot sticks, so we began pulling chairs, chair 01:02:00legs, and table legs. We got in here and began to look into some of the offices, and we found dossiers and people, people that were there. Active dossiers that were confidential, top-secret things from another agency. The people were overwhelmed. They were frustrated...(inaudible)...their economic status, their sexual persuasions, and they, private, private matters. I should have been in there. We went through there and we seen computers where every Indian in the country was just a number, a statistic, and overwhelmed us. We freaked out, and it was such a... We had to live in that building for a week, and we seen all 01:03:00these atrocities. We seen where they had paintings, and artifacts, pipes, and pipe bags, and things from people, you know, where they had reservations, and we said "Hey." It accumulated I think from over 100 years of suppression, and finally we were head on, and faced all this stuff. We'd seen it right here in their temple, as Christ did when he seen all those people making money in the temple who were crazy. That's what I think. I look at it and I see, we went there and seen all (inaudible)
EH: Do you believe that somebody could have came in, like the FBI or the CIA andmade it look a little worse than it was?
TL: I believe they are capable of anything. I don't know, I don't know.
EH: That's what Robert Burnette's book "The Road to Wounded Knee" said. There01:04:00have been some talk of Dennis Banks and Russell Means getting fifty thousand dollars or some about after that?
TL: Yeah, there was sixty-six thousand I believe, given for travel. I figuredthere was four, five thousand people there. People that they paid to get back home, gas money and stuff like that.
EH: Some whites have alleged that they absconded with the money and used it fortheir own purposes, to your knowledge, is this true?
TL: (inaudible) Like, it was, the majority of it was spent to get people back home.
EH: Nixon kind of surprised the Native Americans by coming out and saying theold Indian policy didn't work, and let's try a new one, but he really wasn't too easy to gain access to at that time was he?
TL: It was more easy to me than Ford, for Indians. Ford met with the treaty01:05:00delegation from the Sioux Nation for four minutes. You can barely say hello and goodbye for four minutes. Nixon at least met with Indians. Nixon was more orientated to foreign affairs, like let's say with China, and if you think along those lines and see the essence of that you can do with Indians. Cuz they say like, governmental affairs, you look at how they are treating Indians and see how, around the world we would be because we are basically on that same balance. We are treated the same as a foreign country, but with no rights. Nixon, he thought he was a political kind of being, a diplomat. Ford is more of a, plain 01:06:00ol' Ford. He doesn't understand what's going on. He's going to be devoured by what's going to happen, unless he can (inaudible).