Listen: Dennis Banks, Dennis, Leech Lake Indian discussed on American Scandal
"Twenty years before this moment at wounded knee a sixteen year old Dennis Banks Lugs a five gallon bucket of thick sap fresh from a maple apple tree back to his grandfather's camp. It's late March nineteen fifty four and the temperature on the Leech Lake Indian reservation in northern Minnesota's just above freezing but Dennis feels warmth inside his muscles as he works. He's doing his best to participate in ritual. That's only vaguely familiar to him. More a reminder of what he's lost than a steadying marker of the passing seasons he's among family in the Maple Grove where his clan has held at sugar camp for generations but he feels like an outsider as he enters the clearing where the women boil the sap and giant cauldrons he sees government agents standing among them familiar sight with their badges and clipboards and green uniforms asking his grandfather how many trees tapping how many gallons of syrup those trees will produce what the tax bill might be tapping their trees anger burns and Dennis banks just when he was a child at this sugar camp. Dennis was wholly a part of this family standing around the boiling pots begging for a drop of Syrup on a piece of Birchbark walk he could cool in the snow and puffiness mouth. He knew who he was then what at the age of five another government agent with a badge and a clipboard came and took him loaded him onto a bus as the grandparents who had raised him watched helplessly in tears they took took him to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding School where they separated him from his older siblings shaved off his long hair and put them in a classroom with portraits of white presidents and generals they taught him history books with illustrations of savage Indian scouting little blond girls girls beat him for speaking his Nishi Inaba language beat him again the first time he tried to run away toward home in each of the eight times he tried again he grew older and stronger and faster each time but still was not fast enough until his final escape. That was just a few months ago now here. He is back at the maple grove trying to reconnect with a family. He hasn't seen in more than a decade when he was taken from the reservation. His name was now comic. Make now are combing had a home here. Dennis banks does not Dennis wait for the agents with their clipboards to move on to harass the next camp then brings his bucket of sap to the fire. His grandfather looks at bitterly Dan a new regulations for every season taxes on trees hunting and fishing license like I'm some Goddamn white tourist one of the Fed's forget to take the state comes in for the leftovers what's next GRANDPA Khalid the sat here goddamn reservation. There's nothing left of it. No way to eat no way to live. We make our maple sugar and wash it down with powdered milk from the government warehouse. Now they want haircut the sugar to next year. We won't even be able to sell our own wild rice. They've invented genetically modified wild rice now. Does that even work here. Thanks grandfather takes a pinch of tobacco from a pouch and hands it to Dennis with this on the fire. Dennis does as he's told."