Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma

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Chief Akeem and Mike Ghouse – pictures in album link below

March 14, 2012 – We went to see George Akeem and his family in El-Reno, Oklahoma. George is the Native American Chief for the Cheyenne Tribe.

I will be revisiting them in May to include their story in the documentary, “Americans Together”. It is about creating cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. Every American will have a space and a voice in the film. It’s been my dream.

Visiting the Cheyenne-Arapaho nation was an eye opener. We have come to believe in the myths propagated, that the Native Americans are endowed with benefits galore and are on welfare programs. It is not quite true, they live on their own like everyone else.
Among the many issues the tribes face; High school drop out is the biggest one with 72% drop outs, doubled by drug and alcohol abuse. The crime rate is however low. Everyone seems to be a lot safer in the tribal nations than the other parts of the state.
They have their own administrators, governors and government.  The funding comes from the land and what is grown or comes out of that land, goes to the tribes. American Government is not doing as much as it is doing with her other citizens.  They have weak representatives, and in many a cases law suites against the federal government are pending. They were talking about one large piece of land that was given on a ten year lease to the fed, which expired some 40 years ago… and the land is still not retuned back to the tribes.

You have got to love the spirit of service. Jennen, the daughter of Eleanor and George Akeem received her degree in social services and health sciences, and chose to serve the tribe. She could have doubled her income serving in other communities, but taking care of her tribe was a driving reason for her to work for a low pay. I salute her spirit to serve her community. 

I am still recovering from the thought that this land once belonged to the Native Americans; they had a mighty civilization… if you just visit the Toltec temples and the precision blue prints it amazes you.

Years ago, I encountered a pathetic situation with the Maya’s, the chief priest told us that their own temples were closed out to them. The Mexican Government was not allowing them to worship in the places of their ancestors, what shame it was. However, we were able to goad them and go up to the upper platform of the temple and worship with them. By the way, I was moved by their prayers and shared a Hindu and a Jain prayer (Prayers are simply good wishes) in Sanskrit and Hindi with them besides the Islamic prayers. We wanted to make it a multi-faith prayer for them to let them know that we are are all in this together. I have been known to fill in for whoever is missing including Zarthushti’s, Sikhs, Bahai and Jews. A few of us really climbed to the top of the pyramid, it is amazing.  They said that, it was done for the first time in nearly 40 years. 

Colonialism (not to blame anyone) was a shameless part of our history, where the arrogant ruthless men did not value the uniqueness of other people… the sheer bully power reduced the other people to drifters… it took away their dignity for centuries to heal.
Attitude is the main difference between any two people on the earth; the colonialist had the slinkiest attitudes and robbed the people of their self worth and dignity. It is not just here with the Native Americans, it was the case with all colonies.  
It’s amazing how bullies of the world make the oppressed look like criminals and make them feel worthless on top of that… there is a lot of healing in order.  In a review of the movie Avatar, I wrote this, “There is another critical dialogue in the movie, where the commander in charge of the corporation is bent on destroying the native people by seizing their land and literally bulldozing them and saying, we are going to teach “these terrorists” and orders his men to destroy them with shock and awe. As the audience, we sense the ridiculousness of it, “the man had gone to their lands, to rob them and when they resist, he calls them terrorists.”
I hope to go back in May this year and spend a few days with the tribes and present their point of view in how to build a cohesive America. Indeed, we are a part of an interconnected and interdependent web of the world.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, and cohesive societies.

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