Introducing Burt Kempner...
Burt Kempner has been a friend of mine for close to 20 years. Our friendship started over some emails and phone calls, before we teamed up on a trip to visit Dennis Banks, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement. We were both there to document the first annual Great Anishinabe Canoe Race (Yamamoto Cup), an event that was designed to "instill pride, to revive the active use of the canoe and canoe racing, to encourage Native American youth to participate in cultural activities, and to defeat the high incidence of alcohol and drug use. The youth experience traditions of their culture that they may otherwise never have the chance to experience."
We both left with some incredible stories and experiences, and we vowed to stay in touch over the years. We've done so, and recently I reached out to Burt to tell him about The BridgeKeepers Project. I wanted to see if he wanted to be a part in some way. We've got some ideas slowly burning, but I wanted to introduce you to him now. Aside from future content contributions, Burt has a dazzling array of wonderful stories he has put down in the form of some award winning children's books. Please take a minute to read his introduction below and visit his page here, to further explore his books! You'll be glad you did...
Hi, I'm Burt Kempner.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Philadelphia when I was four years old. I was not consulted in the matter. I knew from childhood that I wanted to be a writer. I love playing with words, coming up with new combinations and puzzles.
My first job was as a news reporter at a rock and roll radio station. I then learned television production and expanded into films. For 45 years I was a scriptwriter and sometimes producer. I specialized in documentary, environmental and non-profit programming, and my work appeared on PBS, Discovery, History, CNBC, European and Asian TV. I also co-wrote two produced feature films and four short films.
In 2014, I suddenly got the urge to write children’s books. It was because I wasn’t seeing the books I had wanted to read as a kid. In my books, you won’t be a bit surprised to see an elephant bounce off a trampoline or a sleepy blue whale nearly be the cause of war. That’s just the way things are in a Mild Wild Media book. I had composed quite a few for my son when he was small, and he delighted in them. My first published book was
Learn more about Burt Kempner and his books...
Told from the perspective of contemporary Lakota people, the film explores the life of Crazy Horse (Tasunke Witko). Viewers see the natural world of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana that Crazy Horse knew. His spiritual nature is discussed, as are his unique qualities as a leader. The final portion of the film examines his role at the Battle of Little Bighorn, his resistance against reservation life, and his violent death at Fort Robinson in 1877. Lakota people share what Crazy Horse means in their world today.
The film features original music created for this story. Sharing their insights are Lakota historians Jace DeCory, Donovin Sprague, Wilmer Mesteth and Whitney Recountre.
View the full film on IMDb at www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi2348194841/
A 2011 SD Film Festival Jury Award for South Dakota Significance, Tasunke Witko film was produced by TIE Media. Visit TIE Media at www.tiemedia.net
All music in the film was composed and recorded by Scott Simpson at Dancin’ Moon Studio in Spearfish, SD.
All Rights Reserved Soundtrack available at:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/scottsimpson14 or https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tas...
Find more music by Scott Simpson at www.scottsimpsonmusic.org
StoneTree Productions produced this remarkable production in 2017
"Following the birth of a White Buffalo Calf in 1994, the 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota & Nakota Nations— Chief Arvol Looking Horse, was directed to honor the Four Directions with ceremony on Summer Solstice/June 21st. According to Lakota prophecy, the birth of “Miracle,” a female white buffalo, signaled a time of Earth changes and the coming of The Mending of the Hoop of all Nations. The Summer Solstice is said to be a powerful time to pray for peace and harmony among all Living Beings. Chief Looking Horse believes that this day of collective prayer will create an energy shift to heal the earth and achieve a universal consciousness toward obtaining peace. He believes that it is time all people understand Mother Earth is the Source of life, not a resource. WPPD has been held in the US, Costa Rica, Ireland, S Africa, Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Brazil. June 21st, 2017 will mark the 22nd year of World Peace and Prayer Day / Honoring Sacred Sites Day and will be held in the Hawaiian Islands and sacred sites around the world."
For more info: http://worldpeaceandprayerday.com/
World Peace and Prayer Day / Honoring Sacred Sites Day “All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer”
Genocide in China
Earlier today, one of my friends sent me a handful of links pertaining to the ongoing genocidal practices of the Chinese Government against the Uighurs, a mostly secular Muslim ethnic minority, in Xinjiang, China. The systematic sterilization of Uighur women is beyond atrocious. I have copied the article for you to read below. I urge you to share this information, and learn more about what is happening there. There are countless other atrocities that are being carried out daily all around the world, and we must all use our voices to speak out against them. If you see something, say something.
I'm not sure how something like this can come to an end, but it must, immediately.
PS - please also watch the video "One Prayer" of Chief Arvol Looking Horse - it relates to what you will read below.
"The World’s Most Technologically Sophisticated Genocide Is Happening in Xinjiang"
Two recent disturbing events may finally awaken the world to the scale and horror of the atrocities being committed against the Uighurs, a mostly secular Muslim ethnic minority, in Xinjiang, China. One is an authoritative report documenting the systematic sterilization of Uighur women. The other was the seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of 13 tons of products made from human hair suspected of being forcibly removed from Uighurs imprisoned in concentration camps. Both events evoke chilling parallels to past atrocities elsewhere, forced sterilization of minorities, disabled, and Indigenous people, and the image of the glass display of mountains of hair preserved at Auschwitz.
The Genocide Convention, to which China is a signatory, defines genocide as specific acts against members of a group with the intent to destroy that group in whole or in part. These acts include (a) killing; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm; (c) deliberately inflicting conditions of life to bring about the group’s physical destruction; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Any one of these categories constitutes genocide. The overwhelming evidence of the Chinese government’s deliberate and systematic campaign to destroy the Uighur people clearly meets each of these categories.
Over a million Turkic Uighurs are detained in concentration camps, prisons, and forced labor factories in China. Detainees are subject to military-style discipline, thought transformation, and forced confessions. They are abused, tortured, raped, and even killed. Survivors report being subjected to electrocution, waterboarding, repeated beatings, stress positions, and injections of unknown substances. These mass detention camps are designed to cause serious physical, psychological harm and mentally break the Uighur people. The repeated government orders to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins”; “round up everyone who should be rounded up”; and systematically prevent Uighur births demonstrate a clear intent to eradicate the Uighur people as a whole.
Ekpar Asat (brother of one of the present authors) is an emblematic example of how Uighurs are targeted regardless of their recognition as model Chinese citizens by the Communist Party. Asat was praised by the government for his community leadership as a “bridge builder” and “positive force” between ethnic minorities and the Xinjiang local government. But Asat still suffered the same fate as over a million other Uighurs and disappeared into the shadows of the concentration camps in 2016. He is held incommunicado and is reported to be serving a 15-year sentence on the trumped-up charge of “inciting ethnic hatred.” Not a single court document is available about his case.
In 2017, Xinjiang waged a brutal “Special Campaign to Control Birth Control Violations,” along with specific local directives. By 2019, the government planned to subject over 80 percent of women of childbearing age in southern Xinjiang to forced intrauterine devices (IUDs) and sterilization. The goal is to achieve “zero birth control violation incidents.” Government documents reveal a campaign of mass female sterilization supported by state funding to carry out hundreds of thousands of sterilizations in 2019 and 2020. This goes far beyond the scale, per capita, of forced sterilization inflicted on women throughout China under the past one-child policy.
To implement these policies, the Xinjiang government employed “dragnet-style” investigations to hunt down women of childbearing age.
Once apprehended, these women have no choice but to undergo forced sterilization to avoid being sent to an internment camp. Once detained, women face forced injections, abortions, and unknown drugs.
And statistics show that the government is meeting its birth prevention goals.
Between 2015 and 2018, population growth rates in the Uighur heartland plummeted by 84 percent. Conversely, official documents show that sterilization rates skyrocketed in Xinjiang while plunging throughout the rest of China, and the funding for these programs is only increasing. Between 2017 and 2018, in one district, the percentage of women who were infertile or widowed increased by 124 percent and 117 percent, respectively. In 2018, 80 percent of all IUD placements in China were performed in Xinjiang despite accounting for a mere 1.8 percent of China’s population. These IUDs can be removed only by state-approved surgery—or else prison terms will follow. In Kashgar, only about 3 percent of married women of childbearing age gave birth in 2019. The latest annual reports from some of these regions have begun omitting birth rate information altogether to conceal the scale of destruction. The government has shut down its entire online platform after these revelations. The scale and scope of these measures are clearly designed to halt Uighur births.
With Uighur men detained and women sterilized, the government has laid the groundwork for the physical destruction of the Uighur people. At least half a million of the remaining Uighur children have been separated from their families and are being raised by the state at so-called “children shelters.”
What makes this genocide so uniquely dangerous is its technological sophistication, allowing for efficiency in its destruction and concealment from global attention. The Uighurs have been suffering under the most advanced police state, with extensive controls and restrictions on every aspect of life—religious, familial, cultural, and social. To facilitate surveillance, Xinjiang operates under a grid management system. Cities and villages are split into squares of about 500 people. Each square has a police station that closely monitors inhabitants by regularly scanning their identification cards, faces, DNA samples, fingerprints, and cell phones. These methods are supplemented by a machine-operated system known as the Integrated Joint Operations Platform. The system uses machine learning to collect personal data from video surveillance, smartphones, and other private records to generate lists for detention. Over a million Han Chinese watchers have been installed in Uighur households, rendering even intimate spaces subject to the government’s eye.
The Chinese government operates the most intrusive mass surveillance system in the world and repeatedly denies the international community meaningful access to it. It is therefore incumbent on us to appreciate the nature, depth, and speed of the genocide and act now before it’s too late.
Recognizing or refusing to name this a genocide will be a matter of life or death. In 1994, by the time U.S. officials were done debating the applicability of the term to the situation in Rwanda, nearly a million Tutsis had already been slaughtered. A document dated May 1, 1994, at the height of the genocide, by an official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated: “Genocide finding could commit [the U.S. government] to actually ‘do something.’” Four years later, President Bill Clinton stood before Rwandan survivors and reflected on his administration’s historic failure and vowed: “Never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence.”
With the passing of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, the U.S. government has begun to take steps in the right direction to avoid another human catastrophe. Seventy-eight members of Congress have followed up with a call for the administration to impose Magnitsky sanctions on the responsible Chinese officials and issue a formal declaration of the atrocity crimes, including genocide. So far, the administration has officially imposed Magnitsky sanctions on four Chinese officials and an entity in charge of the Orwellian surveillance system and responsible for the expansion of the internment camps in Xinjiang. The U.S. government must now make an official determination of genocide. This will not be difficult, as U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus has already asserted that “what has happened to the Uighur people … is potentially the worst crime that we have seen since the Holocaust.”
A formal declaration of genocide is not simply symbolic. It will catalyze other countries to join in a concerted effort to end the ongoing genocide in Xinjiang. It will also prompt consumers to reject the over 80 international brands that profit off genocide. Furthermore, the determination will strengthen legal remedies for sanctioning companies that profit from modern slavery in their supply chains sourced in China and compel business entities to refrain from profiting from genocide and commit to ethical sourcing.
In our interconnected world, we are not only bystanders if we fail to recognize the genocide as we see it. We are complicit.
Rayhan Asat is a lawyer, the president of the American Turkic International Lawyers Association, and sister of Ekpar Asat.
Yonah Diamond is legal counsel at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
Article originally posted on: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/15/uighur-genocide-xinjiang-china-surveillance-sterilization/ (BY RAYHAN ASAT, YONAH DIAMOND | JULY 15, 2020, 3:38 PM)
Let Us Work Together
“If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time.
But if you’ve come here because your liberation
is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
~Australian Aboriginal Elder Lilla:
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.”
~ Mother Teresa
Become the Leader You Are...
“Maybe you alone can’t save the world…
but it certainly won’t be saved without you.”
The above picture of the Earth was taken by NASA in 2015, 5 years ago, today. I came across it the other night when I was looking for the first full picture of Earth, from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. I was thinking about an observation many astronauts described when they looked back at Earth for the first time. They shared the impact of personally witnessing the visual of a borderless world. From space, Our Earth is just land, water and atmosphere, united in a giant marble, floating around with a bunch of other marbles. But our Earth is very unique and provides life for all humans, and billions of species of other life forms. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the shelter we make - it all comes from within that giant blue marble.
The Human Race is obviously the most advanced of any species on our planet. But I feel that collectively, we are not respecting the sacredness of the lives of ALL human beings, and we are treating our planet as an unending resource, instead of The Source. There are many things out of balance in the world right now. That is evident in some many ways. It's weird that the biggest thing to unite us has come in the form of a global pandemic. Yet, it secludes us all at the same time.
There is a Lakota phrase, "Mitakuye Oyasin," which implies an interconnectedness of all our lives, in relation to all people, and also our connections with our planet, Mother Earth. Translated, it means "We Are All Related." It doesn't matter what color skin you have, what religion you believe in, whose hand you want to hold, or where you are from - we are all related. I don't just mean in an ancestral lineage sort of way. This world's spiritual and ancestral roots run deep, and the threads of our lives are intertwined more than we know, or maybe care to admit. But one thing we all share is that we are part of the Human Race. And we are ALL here now because an infinitely large list of people kept each of our family trees growing. We are all here on this Earth at this exact time, together. That's impressive to think about. And right now, it seems, more than ever, we need to recognize that We ALL Matter, and we must do something about that.
There are systems that need repair and there are systems that need complete overhaul. But we must each take part in actively making sure that whatever we do, we strive to give everyone equal rights, everyone a voice to be truly heard. Some people's voices have been silenced. We need to use our voice to help theirs be heard. Someday we might need that show of solidarity, ourselves. We must come together to help each other rise up. We can build strength by building strength in others. We need to listen to our Original Instructions.
Some prophecies I've heard from various spiritual leaders across the globe talk about us being at what Chief Arvol Looking Horse has described as a Crossroads. He explains that we will:
"either be faced with global disasters, earth changes, climate changes, different sicknesses causing tears from our relatives eyes - or we can unite spiritually, globally - All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer."
(Read Arvol's full World Peace And Prayer Day statement)
Many Indigenous Elders speak of NOW being a critical time for Humanity and the Mother Earth. We need to be less destructive to each other and our planet, we need to work together, and we need to seek the changes that will leave this world better for our future generations. I've spoken with many Native American Indians that talk about making decisions that will enhance the lives of the 7th generation down the line. We need to adopt that kind of philosophy.
Please take a look at the image of Our Earth, again...
We There are no lines to divide us. We are ALL Connected. We Are ALL Related.
We are all brothers and sisters of the Human Race. We all share a sacred life on this beautiful planet. Let's look for ways to leave it better for future generations to enjoy. And let's share the beauty and sacredness of all our lives, and try to find ways to build bridges of Understanding, Peace, Harmony, Respect, and Love.
George Bowe Blitch
On June 26th, 1975 there was a tragic shootout on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that ultimately left two FBI agents and one Native American Indian man dead. I spent years learning about the events leading up the shootout, including the horrific Reign of Terror, the trials, and ultimately the highly questionable and what most consider the wrongful imprisonment of Leonard Peltier for the death of the two FBI agent. Since his imprisonment, millions and millions of people has supported that Peltier is innocent of the murders, did not get a fair trial, and became the scapegoat for the FBI. Many may be aware of the events from watching the documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford, Incident At Oglala, or through the Rage Against The Machine video for "Freedom", that featured footage from the documentary, while telling a shorter version of the events.
Incident at Oglala
click here to watch "WARRIOR" for free!
Rage Against The Machine - Freedom
(unedited version...so there's a small bit of language not suitable for young ears)
Peltier Video premiere at 1PM (central) on June 26th!
The annual Oglala Commemoration that takes place on June 26th, 2020 in the Pine Ridge Reservation was forced to cancel due to Covid-19. However, there is a group in Germany that is hosting a video premiere on YouTube, showing some highlights of last years Oglala Commemoration Days. During the premiere you can take the chance to participate on a live chats as well. This event is a dedication in solidarity with Leonard Peltier, his relatives and friends, and all the freedom fighters all around the world - fighting for his freedom and indigenous rights.
The premiere starts at 12 high noon South Dakota time, in Germany and Paris that's 8pm, in London 7pm, in Chicago 1pm, in NY 2 pm and in San Francisco 11 am. The video will be about 13 minutes, followed by the live chat. There will be a link to join a video conference from Germany as well. Here is the link to the event:
Millions of people still believe Peltier is Innocent!
Here is a small list of people who have publicly worked towards bringing awareness of Leonard's plight and his ongoing fight for Justice.
The Dalai Lama
Sen. Daniel Inouye
Rev. Jesse Jackson
The Late Coretta Scott King
Martin Luther King III
The Late Mother Teresa
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Congress of American Indians
National Council of Churches
Rage Against The Machine
The Oglala Lakota Nation
Sister Helen Prejean
Below is a copy of the Oglala Commemoration Newsletter from MAY 14, 2020
I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. COVID-19 is taking its toll on many. As you may already know, the Pine Ridge Reservation is taking precautions to include Stay-at-Home orders, Curfews, and border closures. Perhaps if other counties and states did the same, putting people over profits, they could have contained the spread of the pandemic a little better. This virus does not discriminate and knows no boundaries. We urge you all to follow the advice of the medical experts; PLEASE wash your hands, social distance, and wear your mask when in public places. The virus doesn't care if the mask is uncomfortable to wear, but it is important to do so to protect not only yourself, but your love ones and your community.
The Oglala Commemoration is in its 21st year, an event that involves not only community but worldwide supporters. After much discussion, the Committee has decided to cancel this year's events. Considering the health needs of community members and the already strained healthcare system on the reservation, we decided it was more prudent to cancel this year's event rather than potentially risking increased infections by bringing people on to the reservation.
In Lieu of this year's events and on Leonard's behalf, the Oglala Commemoration Committee would like to announce the 2020 Leonard Peltier Protecting the People initiative. In consideration of the additional strain on healthcare systems and dire need for PPE and supplies on our reservations, we felt that in keeping with Leonard's vision of empowering and supporting our tribal communities we ask friends to consider joining us in supporting this initiative.
As I write this, the Navajo Nation is experiencing the most deadliest 48 hours. The number of positive cases is over 3000, with a 103 deaths in a population of just 175,000. Curfews and travel restrictions in place are vital to reducing the spread. Further, the tribes in South Dakota are as well being affected. In efforts to proactively reduce the number of cases, many of the tribes have closed the borders to their communities, limiting entrance to tribal members only. The tribes have set up blockades manned by tribal members, which lack masks, gloves and the ability to clean their hands. Tribal sovereignty as well as the health and safety of tribal members are as well at risk due to the governor's shortsighted ultimatum to reopen the roads. The Governor threatens to undermine the Tribal Sovereignty and put the fragile reservation populations at great risk.
We are asking on behalf of Leonard, to protect our elders, family and sick ones, If you would like to help, please order masks from our preferred vendor:
Attn: Edward Moore
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
Phone Number - 1 (888) GLIDE-911 , 1(888)454-3391
Mr. Moore has been extremely generous in extending a group discount to support this endeavor. Keep in mind there is up to a 15 day window from order to delivery. Please show your support and patronage.
You may direct Intelliglide to ship to any of the following individuals or organizations: Please choose one of these address for your order.
NAVAJO & HOPI COMMUNITY DONATIONS:
1) Carl A. Begay
2225 E. Lockett Rd.
Flagstaff, AZ. 86004
Accepting: Mask and other donations
Make checks payable to Karen Begay or Paypal
"We're using any collected funds for gas money. I am taking supplies and PPE to the Navajo and
2) Klagetoh Veterans Nonprofit Organization
Attn: Mateo Shẽnalẽ
Unit 3 HC 58 Box 90
Granado, AZ. 86505
OGLALA LAKOTA COMMUNITY DONATIONS
1) Cedar Face Foundation
Gail Cedar face
PO Box 6031
Pine Ridge, SD. 57770
2) Oglala Sioux Tribe
Attn: Karin M. Eagle
107 West Main Street
PO Box 2070
Pine Ridge, SD. 57770
Note: Material and elastic are also being accepted at the tribal office.
Otherwise, the Committee has purchased over 3000 mask, if you would like to donate to purchase more,
you may contact the committee at:
Oglala Commemoration Committee
1939 Wentzville, Pkwy - Ste. 191
Wentzville, Mo. 63385
Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org ------>
This list may change, more may be added and some removed due to the command of the areas being hit the hardest in the weeks to come. Please copy and paste the address to include in your order.
If you sew or have a sewing group, homemade ones are just as good.
We thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you in 2021.
Be safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones..
The Oglala Commemoration Committee
the 21st Annual
Leonard Peltier Day
June 26, 2020
Has been CANCELLED for this year
Due to COVID-19
Originally Posted May 14, 2020 at: http://www.oglalacommemoration.com/newsletter.html
Keep checking back on this page as we will be adding new stories, events, and important updates about The BridgeKeepers Project and related info. Thank You!