We Oppose the continuing U.S.-led War Against Iraq:
A Statement from Native University and Tribal College Professors
We the undersigned Native professors, from many different tribal nations, educational institutions, and academic disciplines, unequivocally oppose the continuing U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. As Indigenous academics, we believe that one of our major responsibilities is to contribute to the intellectual conscience of our tribal nations, and the world community, by providing honest and intelligent assessments of what is truthful and just, and what is not.
We find no plausible moral or political justifications for this U.S.-led war and join millions of people of conscience worldwide who stand with courage in opposition to this illegal, unprovoked, and inhumane attack upon a sovereign nation. There are many reasons for our position:
• We oppose this war because U.S. policies such as “pre-emptive strike,” are unjust, threaten stability and security throughout the world, and have set a dangerous global precedent. For instance, on April 11, 2003, India’s Defense Minister George Fernandes stated that Pakistan, a major adversary, was a prime candidate for a pre-emptive strike and that India had a much better case than the United States had in Iraq. India and Pakistan are two nations with nuclear capability, which if used, could affect the well being of our entire planet.
• We oppose this war because large numbers of innocent Iraqi people are being killed, maimed, and severely traumatized and many more will die and suffer long after the war has ended. This war has destroyed hospitals, major water, communication, and electric power systems critical to the health of the people.
• We oppose this war because Iraqi people have suffered long enough. Since the Gulf War of 1991, U.S.-led attacks and sanctions against Iraq have been directly responsible for the death of one-half million Iraqi toddlers and approximately 1.5 million older children and adults who have died from starvation, lack of medicine, trauma, and drinking contaminated water.
• We oppose this war because, although the United States’ military claims that it has overthrown Saddam Hussein’s regime, its actions have now thrust Iraq into chaos. Anarchy and mayhem are widespread causing more death and destruction. Critical humanitarian efforts have been obstructed by the instability and additional violence.
• We oppose this war because the Bush Administration has carried out a massive campaign of deception and disinformation to mislead the public into supporting this illegal act of war. Mainstream media institutions have assisted this campaign of disinformation through uncritical coverage and the exclusion of diverse and dissenting views.
• We oppose this war because the Bush Administration did not use civilized diplomacy when the world community counseled more peaceful solutions. Instead, it resorted to threats, intimidation, bribery, and brutality.
• We oppose this war because the U.S. uses weapons of mass destruction, including missiles containing depleted uranium, which will have immediate and long-lasting, devastating effects on the health of the Iraqi people, humanitarian aid workers, and American soldiers.
• We oppose this war because of its numerous contradictions: its claim to being fought by a "coalition" of countries, when the war itself is an American-led invasion conducted in violation of the UN charter; its stated purpose to depose a dictator, when Saddam Hussein was supplied with weapons by the U.S. when it served American interests; and its overall inconsistency, since the U.S. has supported and participated in overthrowing democratically elected governments in various countries and currently supports many repressive regimes, dictators, and countries with known arsenals of weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, we find many parallels between the current U.S.-led war on Iraq and past actions of the United States against Tribal peoples in America:
• We, too, remember being the objects of "pre-emptive strikes." For instance, in 1811 William Henry Harrison marched an army of 1,000 troops to Prophetstown, Indiana to start a war with Tecumseh in order to prevent his unification of the tribes and burned Prophetstown to the ground.
• We, too, remember the slaughter of our civilians in the name of "Homeland Security," for instance, the massacres of Horse Shoe Bend, Washita, Mystic River, Bad Axe, the Trail of Tears, Bear River, Marias, Sand Creek, and Wounded Knee;
• We, too, remember the American use of genocidal polices promoting the mass slaughter of bison herds designed to starve Plains nations into submission and the use of biological warfare in the form of smallpox-infected blankets to create terror and widespread death in our communities;
• We, too, know what it is like to have the United States exercise "trusteeship" over our lands and governing bodies in the aftermath of military aggression. We have lost many millions of acres of land and countless natural resources and even today are compelled to take judicial action against the United States government because of its theft and mismanagement of billions of dollars of our trust funds.
• We, too, remember being the objects of dehumanizing, racist stereotypes created to instill in the American public an automatic fear or sense of superiority over of our peoples, and we continue to live with such stereotypes.
We believe that the United States has engaged in an illegal and brutal war against innocent Iraqi
Peoples. Iraq has done nothing to the United States and this is a war of choice not necessity. It is an unprovoked attack that is causing untold suffering. Many throughout the world, and here at home, continue to strongly condemn the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Feelings of mistrust, hatred, and fear of the United States continue to rise as the U.S. has claimed the right to “preemptively strike” at anyone who is suspected of being a threat to American security or interests. Moreover there are strong concerns about the possibility of U.S. pre-emptive aggressions toward Syria, Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
As the children of Indigenous Peoples who survived, and continue to face, the oppressive policies of the United States, we have much to teach this nation about the horrors of war, racism, hatred, and inhumanity. We are courageous peoples who have provided proportionally more military service to this nation than any other group. We are also are peaceful peoples whose ancestors created some of the most sophisticated and effective forms of peace-making and peace-keeping the world has ever known. We have much to teach this nation and the world about peace, acceptance of differences, and justice.
As people of conscience, and people who have been on the receiving end of American imperialism, we call for the end of the U.S.-led aggression and occupation of Iraq, along with immediate humanitarian and rebuilding efforts. We ask our tribal nations to join us in condemning and resisting all future unjust, illegal wars and aggressions and instead use the wisdom of our tribal traditions to promote policies of peace and diplomacy throughout the world.
Dr. Michael Yellow Bird (Sahnish-Hidatsa), Arizona State University
Dr. Angela Cavender Wilson (Dakota), Arizona State University
Dr. Cornel Pewewardy (Commanche-Kiowa) University of Kansas
Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa (Dakota), Southwest State - Veteran
Professor David Anthony Tyeeme Clark (Cherokee), University of Kansas
Dr. Scott Richard Lyons (Leech Lake Ojibwe), Syracuse University
Dr. Carol Miller, University of Minnesota
Professor Pam Creasy, University of Washington
Dr. James Riding In (Pawnee), Arizona State University – Veteran
Dr. Jane Hafen (Taos Pueblo), University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Dr. Kate Shanley, University of Montana
Professor Priscilla Settee, University of Saskatchewan
Professor James Treat (Creek), University of Oklahoma
Professor LeAnne Howe, (Choctaw), Hollins University
Dr. Susan Miller (Seminole), Arizona State University
Professor Jeanette Bushell (Pembina Chippewa), University of Washington
Dr. Judith Vergun, Oregon State University
Dr. Michelene E. Pesantubee, University of Colorado
Dr. Jeff Corntassel, University of Victoria
Dr. Myla Vincenti Carpio (Jicarilla Apache Nation), Arizona State University
Professor Mishuana Goeman (Seneca) Stanford University
Professor Michael Horn (Cherokee), California State University, Fullerton
Dr. Joseph P. Gone (Gros Ventre), University of Michigan
Dr. Anne Calhoon (Cherokee), University of New Mexico
Professor Michael Two Horses (Sicangu Lakota), University of Arizona
Professor Corrine Mount Pleasant-Jette, Concordia University
Professor Carol Minugh, Evergreen College
Professor G. Leis (Tahltan Nation), University of Victoria
Dr. Jennifer Nez Denetdal, University of New Mexico
Dr. Jeanette Haynes Writer (Cherokee), New Mexico State University
Dr. Raymond Pierotti (Comanche), University of Kansas
Dr. David Kekanlike Sing (Native Hawaiian), University of Hawaii at Hilo
Professor Nelrene Yellow Bird (Sahnish-Hidatsa), Minot State University
Professor Alyce Spotted Bear (Mandan), Cornell University
Professor Narciscol Aleman (Mexica), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Professor Kim Roppolo, Baylor University
Dr. Franci Taylor (Choctaw) Montana State University
Professor Randy Lund, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College
Professor Andrea Smith, University of Michigan
Dr. Selene Phillips (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe), Purdue University
Dr. Inez Hernandez-Avila, University of California-Davis
Dr. Cynthia L. Marshall (Seneca), Community College of Beaver County
Dr. Anne Waters (Seminole, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee), SUNY, Binghamton
Dr. Ronald G. Lewis (Cherokee), Eastern Michigan University
Dr. Malea Powell, Michigan State University
Dr. Joyous Bethel, University of Southern Mississippi
Dr. Apanaki Buckley, Heritage College
Dr. Joely De La Torre (Luiseno), San Francisco State University
This statement was written in April 2003 by Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, Arizona State University. It was published in the newspaper Indian Country Today. Special thanks to Dr. Scott Richard Lyons for his comments and suggestions.