Samuel Hayim Brody
We settled. One banner said "BUSH-NORTON DESTROY WHAT LEWIS-CLARK EXPLORED." The other one said "STOP TRASHING PUBLIC LAND / STOP TRAMPLING NATIVE RIGHTS." There were going to be a lot of Native American tribal representatives at this event, we had heard, and we wanted to show solidarity with them against Norton's evil (she supports gold mining on land some tribes consider sacred, she supports oil drilling at site of ancient native pictographs, she supports commercial exploitation of burial grounds, etc., etc., etc.). We woke up at dawn on the morning of January 18th, and made the trek up to Monticello, two of us carrying banners under their clothes and the rest carrying the spiffy and official-looking flyers we had made, which on the front said simply "A Primer on the Career of Secretary Norton" on top of a Department of Interior insignia (figuring that people would be more likely to take those than something that said "Stop Capitalist Evil" or somesuch).
Then came the big surprise: I really enjoyed the event. Even the Lewis & Clark Fife and Drum Corps, from St. Charles, Missouri. Dayton Duncan, the master of ceremonies, was kind of funny and made lots of interesting observations throughout the show about how Lewis and Clark didn't "discover" anything, since it was all already there and heavily populated. Karenne Wood, a poet from the Monacan Nation of Virginia, read a stirring poem composed for the occasion called "Homeland." An author named Ron Craig delivered an inspiring lecture about York, the slave of William Clark who was treated like a subhuman in America, an equal on the expedition, and a special and magical spirit by the Natives he encountered. Daniel Redelk Gear, also a Monacan, sang an "Honor Song," during which all the Natives in the crowd stood in solidarity. Kenneth W. Branham, Chief of the Monacan Nation, even made a plea for federal recognition straight from the podium, with Gale Norton sitting right behind him. Throughout the event, environmentalism and the changes that followed Lewis and Clark's journey were kept in the minds of the audience.
Which, of course, only added to the disgrace of Gale Norton's presence. When she finally spoke, delivering her "Greetings from the President of the United States," my delegation, split into two groups far apart from each other, stood apart and held up our banners. I don't know how many people at the event saw them; we were fairly close to the front. But I know Gale Norton did. Still, she barely missed a beat, and kept going with her innocuous "The President loves you all" speech. The C-SPAN and other cameras swiveled in our direction, but I couldn't see them because the banner was right in front of my face (I saw them swivel back to the stage after we put it down, occasionally swinging back to see, I suppose, if we were still there or would do anything crazy). Cops and Secret Service swarmed to the edge of the aisle we had cleverly situated ourselves right in the middle of. They seemed to be unsure of whether to come in and take our banner away, haul us out, or what. When Gale Norton seemed to be wrapping up, we folded up our banner and sat back down. The security people stood there for a while, then left us alone. Maybe they left a guy to keep an eye on us. I couldn't tell.
Reactions were mixed. On one hand, a woman in the fur coat sitting in the row in front of us said, "Why would you want to ruin a nice event like this?" One guy came up to me and handed back the flyer I'd given him, saying "You need to get a life." Someone who had been holding the 'native rights' banner told me that a Native American man had walked casually up and snatched the banner away. (A friend of mine overheard one tribal representative saying, "They were right to do it. But they're not well informed.") A military guy glared.
And yet, on the other hand, couple standing on the sidelines grinned wildly and gave me a big thumbs-up when I looked in their direction. AA few people came and sat near us and asked for flyers. And I know Gale Norton saw our banners. Maybe she even read our flyers. Maybe the Administration knows that some people won't put up with any bullshit they can dish out.
the other rally
what the world is &
what to do about it
what is charlie kaufman doing?
josh visits the