TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:
I am Steve Bruner, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation. I have previously served on our National Council as speaker and second speaker. I am a retired Tulsa Police K-9 officer who was wounded while serving a search warrant. I dutifully served in the U.S. Army and am a Vietnam-era veteran. But most importantly, I am a father and a grandfather.
American Indians have served our country at a higher percentage than any other race of people, and my family has a long and proud history of wearing our nation’s uniforms. My father was in the Army Air Corps in World War II and Korea. My only brother fought in Vietnam, and my son proudly did his duty in Desert Storm I.
I do not tweet, call in to talk shows, or normally write editorial comments. However, I cannot in good conscience stay silent about the “Baby Veronica” situation.
My parents, both attended Chilocco Indian Boarding School. Last month, I visited Alcatraz Island and read a small placard, as merely a footnote to the Island’s history, which provided cryptic details of another dark time in our nation’s history involving Indian men trying to protect their children. I suspect very few people know the U.S. government imprisoned 19 Hopi men at Alcatraz for refusing to send their children to government boarding schools.
It’s sad to realize that not enough has changed since those 19 Hopi men were imprisoned for trying to keep their children with them. What does the future hold for Veronica? What does it hold for her father?
... While Indians still suffer many misconceptions created by Hollywood stereotypes and sports mascots, which dehumanize Indians, I close with this quote from an 1879 case in which a federal judge ruled “an Indian is a person.” At the conclusion of the trial, Ponca Chief Standing Bear raised his right hand said, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”
Let’s all hope that one of our nation’s warrior’s children is not ripped from his arms. Let’s all hope that everyone does the right thing “for the sake of the child.”
And let’s all hope that those of us who normally do not express our feelings and outrage at the wrongs that sometimes occur in our free society don’t stand by and allow another wrong to be perpetrated.
I have heard that “we preserve history so it does not repeat itself,” so I hope that is true. God Bless America.
Bim “Steve” Bruner