Interessante tekster av andre

Din overskrift

Address by Dr.Visier Sanyü Meyasetsu

ACAUT Public Platfrom : Nagas Opinion on Peacful Settlement

President, Overseas Naga Association

 

I have returned home from Australia after nearly 20 years. I have been away for a long time and I may not fully understand the current situation in Nagaland.

 

Today some people will raise questions: What authority has ACAUT to interfere in our   political affairs? What is their legal status and what mandate do they have?  These are legitimate questions and we must listen to all the views but I also would   like to quote Victor Hugo, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The time has come to rise up and fight against the evils of corruption and extortion; the two biggest evils in our society today. This is where ACAUT will have the moral authority to fight against the evils of our time. ACAUT will have only that authority and mandate, but if ACAUT becomes corrupt, you will lead our people down and people will hate you for that. We have all succumbed to our greed, power and status and that is why we have lost our moral authority to handle difficult crises.

 

Now coming to the Framework Agreement, I am not qualified to talk about the peace accord. I am not a politician and not a member of any Naga Political Group. But I would like to share a few comments on this hot topic.

 

All the Naga Political Groups, the NGOs, the public and our society must contribute their best wisdom so that this Agreement can lead to a solution. As the group that has brought this agreement, NSCN-IM must be honest, inclusive and follow the democratic process, inviting the different groups share their vision.  This should be said for their own sake and for the sake of the Naga people. The people must be frank with IM and tell them where they have done right, tell them to be honest and change their wrong ways as General Atem boldly asked for at the 8th Naga People’s Consultative Meeting on 25 August 2015 in Dimapur, so that they can work together with others for a common future, with one voice for one nation. This is where our values and struggle are at stake. Gandhi once said to a group of British,“ I don’t like you Christians but I like your Christ, you are so unlike your Christ.’ Will anyone say the same thing about us Naga Christians?

 

 I had the honour of meeting uncle Muivah and uncle Isak at the United Nations in Geneva some years ago. It was like meeting legends, they are heroes. I was deeply impressed by their commitment and dedication for the Nagas but I cannot accept their doctrine of politics and revolution, which has justified the killings that we all know about. I am fully conscious that all the different national groups have done their own shares of killings of innocent Nagas. The only difference being that justification for killings was absent. I have a real problem with the killings of some close and dear friends and my villagers, which have damaged NSCN-IM’s position as much as it has deeply shocked and outraged us. I do not know how we Nagas are going to heal the terrible wounds we have inflicted on one another. As far as I am concern, healing these wounds is one of the tasks I am committed to.

 

One point I want to emphasize is about integration. Make no mistake; there is no greater Nagaland or smaller Nagaland but one Nagaland. We must make it clear that we will not take an inch of Assamese land, we will not take an inch of Meitei land, not even a piece of stone, no blade of grass. But Naga ancestral land belongs to the Nagas   and   to no one else. We have the right to live together with our own laws and our own culture. We have the right to own our ancestral land.  The solution has to be worked out through dialogue with our neighbours because it cannot be imposed on us by Delhi.

 

Another point I want to mention is the name of our country. Nagalim is given by one faction. In other to legitimise the name, all the other groups must approve. If they cannot agree, we must go for a referendum. I am not against Nagalim but the right democratic process must take place. We cannot change the name of the country by force. Naga National Council chose Nagaland when there was only one national party.

 

History of many nations has shown us that the future can be shaped by a leadership who are flexible and open to grasping new opportunities when they emerge. History has also demonstrated that such opportunities can be lost due to a leadership locked in the thinking and hatreds of the past. The experience of Nationalist movements around the world should make us cautious about embracing the aim of a unified Naga state. Most such visionaries finish up doing more harm than good. The leadership of both ISIS and the Al Qaeda movements would appear willing to drag their followers into wars that lead to the total destruction of cities, communities and families. The “true believers” hold that this is all for their good, and the good of their New World Order, the caliphate as they call it! Such movements need not be religious. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, for example, brought death and destruction upon their people in the pursuit of a glorious vision.President Mugabe has done the same for the people of Zimbabwe, reducing many of his people to starvation with many more fleeing to neighboring countries. Yet still he promotes himself as the great liberator.How delusional can you be! Sounds just like Hitler and Stalin; blind and in denial to the very end!

‘Nationhood’ does not have to be all or nothing. There are many constitutional arrangements where high autonomy has allowed a nation to pursue many of its national goals, while remaining part of a larger sovereign state. Scotland in UK is one good example of a people who have a strong sense of National identity, and enjoy a large measure of political independence while remaining part of Britain.

Many difficult conflict situations have been solved by the goodwill and determination of the people. The human desire to live in peace is so great that given the right opportunities and leaders with vision, communities that have in the past fought and struggled have put aside their differences and worked out a peaceful way forward. With realism, the right attitude, and the growth of trust between leaders, seemingly impossible conflicts are worked out peacefully, such as the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the successful peace process in Northern Ireland.

A successful negotiation between the Nagas and the Indian Government should not be viewed as the end of the Naga journey toward nationhood, but as the beginning of a new, peaceful political and cultural process. A new Naga mind-set can assist this process. The Naga leadership in India and in Burma can pursue a goal of greater autonomy using peaceful means; although divided geo-politically, we can be united culturally and politically in the broader realities of civic life. This united Naga culture and mind-set will develop as Naga in India, in Burma, and in the Naga diaspora and work together to assist each other. In this changing world, we can all look beyond old colonial boundaries and draw strength from an emerging vision of Naga National identity that is rooted in our traditional homelands but has spread to encompass Nagas across the world.

Let me end here with a quote from Edmund Burke, “It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for the evil to triumph”


Written by Professor Visier Sanyü:

 

Rethinking the Naga Future with Nagas in Burma and the Naga Diaspora: Challenges and Hope

x

 

 

 

Paper presented by

Dr Visier Sanyü Meyasetsu,

Melbourne, Australia

Email: <nokpao@gmail.com>

 

 

 

 International Conference

on

‘Rethinking the Nagas in the Contemporary’

Organised by

Naga Scholars’ Association (NSA) and The Hao Research Initiative (THRI)

on

20 th and 21 st March, 2015

at

Convention Centre Auditorium, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

 


 

Rethinking the Naga Future with Nagas in Burma and Naga Diaspora: Challenges and Hope

 

Abstract

 

The Nagas declared independence in 1947, a day before India got its independence. Since that date the Naga have fought unsuccessfully to defeat the occupying Indian army. Today, despite a ceasefire between the Naga army and Indian army, the Naga nationalist leadership has failed to negotiate a peace settlement. In my paper I look at this conflict from the perspective of a member of the Naga diaspora and argue that we can learn from the experience of indigenous people in other nations. I argue that political and economic decolonization must be accompanied by a decolonization of the Naga mind. Past attempts to decolonize the Naga mind have trapped Naga nationalists in a false glorification of Naga nationalist leaders and a war that brought untold suffering upon the Naga people. By rethinking the Naga future in collaboration with Naga of Burma and the Naga diaspora, we can look beyond the identities shaped by old colonial divisions and post-colonial conflicts. The role of National identity within the world diaspora of Naga has demonstrated that Nationhood does not necessitate national Sovereignty in the current state. In this age of modern information and communication technology a powerful sense of national identity can unite people across sovereign borders. I conclude that with a new mind-set that the Naga in India can work with the Indian Government towards a strong autonomy for Nagaland that will benefit all Naga.

 

Introduction

 

In the global context, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples opened up a whole new chapter for indigenous people including the Naga. The attempt by modern states and the UN to come to terms with indigenous peoples rights of self-determination is a unique landmark in modern history. In this paper I want to reflect on this international legal framework in the context of the Naga struggle for an independent state. I want to reflect upon how a new collaboration between the Nagas in India, Nagas in Burma and the world Naga diaspora could become the basis for achieving a new and more positive Naga mind-set; a mind-set that brings hope to the Naga people.

 

The case of Australia

 

As a Naga living in Australia, I have witnessed the indigenous people of Australia struggle to gain legal recognition for their ownership of the land on which they have lived. For two hundred years, the Aboriginal people of Australia had no legal claim to their own land. British settlement in Australia was established on the basis of terra nullius ("land belonging to nothing, no one"). This meant that the entire continent was considered ‘Crown Land’, owned by the government and able to be allocated to settlers or sold.

This situation was changed when Eddie Mabo and five others from the indigenous Mer iam people on Murray Island in Torres Strait - to the northeast of Australia - challenged this legal fiction in a contest that took them through the courts of Australia for ten years. Finally the High Court ruled on 3 June 1992 that ‘native title’ of their traditional lands had never been extinguished by British settlement. This ruling means that indigenous groups in Australia who can demonstrate a continuing connection with their ancestral lands have a legal right to continue to hunt , fish and live on their lands.

From Land Rights to Cultural Rights

Mabo’s success in using the Courts of Australia to protect indigenous rights is only a small step in the struggle by indigenous groups around the world to deal with the consequences of colonization and oppression. In another interesting development in the United States, the Native American National Council decided to give amnesty to the estimated 240 million illegal white immigrants living in the United States. “At a meeting on Friday in Taos, New Mexico, Native American leaders weighed a handful of proposals about the future of the United State’s large, illegal European population. After a long debate, NANC decided to extend a road to citizenship for those without criminal records or contagious diseases.”[1] 

Such proclamations, though an amusing way to express a bitter truth, can also reflect a deeper lack of realism among indigenous activists. Another U.S. group called True Americans wanted to deport the Europeans from America. “They all need to be deported back to Europe,” John Dakota from True Americans said. “They came here illegally and took a giant crap on our land. They brought disease and alcoholism, stole everything we have because they were too lazy to improve and develop their own countries.”

Bitter sloganizing is a poor substitute for effective action. Yet slogans are often all that remain for people that have been colonized physically and mentally; people who have lost not only their land but also their cultural vision. Colonization is a cultural as well as a geographical process; it can be especially difficult to create a positive indigenous mind-set when you have become enmeshed in the negative mind-set of the colonizers. The problems faced by indigenous people in affluent countries such as Australia and the United States demonstrate the complex nature of this problem.

In Australia many indigenous nations have gained legal rights of ownership of their traditional lands. By 2011, some 1,228,373 km2 (or approximately 16 per cent) of the landmass of Australia had been legally returned to some 160 indigenous group claimants.[2] This is an area 74 times the size of Nagaland. Today, according to the Northern Land Council, the peak representative body of indigenous people in the Northern Territory, m ore than 80 percent of the value of minerals extracted in the Northern Territory comes from mining on Aboriginal-owned land, amounting to more than $1 billion a year. Approximately 30 percent of Aboriginal land is under exploration or currently under negotiation for exploration. [3] Many indigenous nations have been able to negotiate lucrative contracts with mining companies, and all have received increased levels of Government assistance.[4] Yet despite these changes, Australia’s indigenous communities are still seriously disadvantaged compared to the average non-indigenous Australian.

Political self-management and land-rights have not helped improve indigenous health, education, employment, and levels of community violence.[5] For example, an indigenous woman is 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman.[6] Despite increased public and Government support, many communities are destroying themselves from within, with dysfunctional behavior, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual violence and suicide leaving young people trapped in a downward spiral of self-abuse and elders feeling helpless. [7]

The experience in Australia demonstrates that it is not enough for indigenous people to gain land rights, money and political representation; indigenous people have also to decolonize their minds, and regain their self-respect and confidence.

Decolonisation  of the Naga mind

The Naga nation and Naga nationalism is an established historical fact but nations are different from states and whereas some states are also nations not all nations are states. For example, the Kulin Nation in Australia is a nation comprising of five tribes but it is not a state and they have no political control over their land.[8] The Naga ethno-cultural domain is a powerful nation but our dream of sovereign state has not materialized as we had envisioned and our national awakening has been both heroic and cruel.[9]

The polemic on Decolonisation of the Mind has been going on for more than half a century. Colonialism is not just politics and economics, it also includes consciousness. Karl Marx long ago observed that the working class did not understand what was in their own best interests, as their minds had been "colonized" by the values of the ruling class. Critical theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire drew upon Marx’s philosophy and pointed out that the minds of indigenous people in Africa and Latin America had also been “colonized” by European ideas and values.[10]

 

African novelists and intellectuals played a leading role in popularizing these ideas. In his speech to the 1960 Pan-African Congress, Patrice Lumumba, the indigenous leader of the Republic of the Congo, called for mental decolonization saying we have to:

"rediscover our most intimate selves and rid ourselves of mental attitudes and complexes and habits that colonization… trapped us in for centuries. [11]

 

Some political activists focused on the issue of language and argued that simply by using African languages they will be liberated from a colonial mentality. Others have argued that using a colonial language could be a positive asset for communication. [12]  

 

I will not use the term ‘decolonising the mind’, in the political sense advanced by Marxists, or in the narrow linguistic sense of promoting a Naga national language to replace a colonial language. Rather, I will use the concept to think about the emerging historical and ideological understanding what it means to be Naga.

 

 

 

 

Re-inventing a new Naga mind-set

 

I want to focus on two neglected factors in our thinking about the future of the Naga; these two neglected factors concern the potential role of the Burma Naga, and the role of the Naga Diaspora. I want to show how these two factors can have a profound influence on our Naga mind-set, and suggest that this new mind-set can have a positive influence on any political arrangements for the future.

 

I want to begin with a real life example of re-inventing a new  Naga mindset; I will draw from my own experience to illustrate my argument. Mao and Angami were the same tribe. The Angami migrated to the present homeland from Mao country not too long ago. They have the same dress, the same religion, and spoke basically the same language but Mao became part of Manipur kingdom during the colonial rule. Let us see what happened.

 

Anthony, a Mao was brought up in Kohima. His father got a job in Kohima in 1958 when Kohima was in Naga Hills. His father’s name is in the first electoral roll when Nagaland became a state. Anthony was just a town chokra[13] in Kohima town with his Angami friends and neighbours but he could not get a tribal certificate from Nagaland government or a government scholarship. He could not get a job, he could not even get a building permit to build his house because Mao  manu tu  local nohoe[14]. Anthony was furious and left Nagaland. Many years later I met Anthony in Australia. He blurted out his frustration and anger to me, “Mao are treated worse than the Bangladeshis.” He told me about a Mao boy born and brought up in Kohima who became a table tennis champion but was refused to represent Nagaland because he is from Manipur. There are numerous stories of this kind.

 

It took many years for both of us to understand that some of these problems have colonial roots and it is only by decolonising our minds that we can begin to seek solutions.

 

 

Burma Naga

 

Nagas were divided into India and Burma by the colonial rule and this has caused immeasurable hardships for many families. The Nagas of Burma are one of the poorest and most neglected ethnic groups in Burma. Nagas have suffered untold miseries in the past under the military junta. Some villages are split between Burma and India and some villages have their rice fields in India but their houses inside Burma. Their cattle and mithun graze on the Indian side while their houses are on the Burmese side. This has given the corrupt military from both the nation states excuse to harass the Nagas. Very often Nagas visiting their families are arrested, put in prison and tortured.

 

Naga land in Burma is more than twice the size of Nagaland state in India. The ancestral territory of the Nagas in Myanmar reaches Kalaywa on the far south, Taung Thut Hills on the east and Hawkong valley in present Kachin state in the north. After the independence of Burma, Hawkong valley was included in Kachin state. The Nagas however did not approve or accept it. U Nu included Homalin, Khamti and other three townships, Layshi, Lahe and Namyung as Naga Hills District. In General Ne Win's 1974 constitution, the Naga Hills District was divided into five Townships: (dissolving the Districts) Homalin, Khamti, Layshi, Lahe and Namyung under the Sagaing Division. The Five Townships were known as “Naga Hills territory” (Naga Taungtan). In the 2008 Constitution, two important Naga Townships of Homalin and Khamti were included into Sagaing Division. Today only three hill Townships of Layshi, Lahe and Namyung are marked as Naga territory by the name ‘Naga Self-Administered Zone’. A pragmatic solution for the future of the Nagas will have to be worked out by all states concerned, so justice and dignity of the Nagas can be restored.

My encounter with Nagas in Burma has given me new insights for rethinking our future. When I was growing up in Nagaland, Burma was just another foreign country like Thailand or Vietnam. I knew some Nagas lived across the border in Burma, but it was not until some Nagas from Burma came and lived in my home as Mini[15] that I became interested in them. They told me horrific stories of atrocities so I decided to go and explore Burma.

 

I took my young friend Asti Dolie and we went on a long journey. We walked from village to village for a month. We were received like royals, villagers often dancing for us throughout the night. To my surprise some villages were in the same condition as our villages on the western side of Nagaland a hundred years ago. When I returned to Nagaland I was informed that a top bureaucrat had told one of my friends that I had done something illegal. This drew my curiosity as we met hundreds of Burmese Naga going and coming from Burma every day and no questions were raised, but when a University teacher crossed the border it became “illegal”. I went again after 12 years and was adopted by the Chief of Thangnokniu village.[16] In accordance with our tradition, I killed a mithun and performed the feast of Liamke.[17] There was much fanfare and celebration and I was made Nokpao, “Chief”. We dragged up a huge log drum and brought it back to the village. Some years earlier all the drums had been burnt when the people became Christians. I am now truly a citizen of Burma by our customary law.[18]

 

In Australia I worked closely with Burmese, mainly from the Karen and Chin ethnic groups. I was also one of the founders of Ethnic Nationalities Organization of Burma in Australia. As a Naga I have represented many Burmese organizations. They all know I am a Naga and welcome me into their organizations.

 

There are two incidents that changed the way I perceive Burma. The first occurred when I was working in refugee camps in Thailand and Malaysia. Word spread that a Naga was around in the refugee camps. One day I met a Burmese monk who was the Abbot of a Buddhist temple in Malaysia. He was interested in the Nagas, as he had never met one. After some conversation he suddenly asked me, “Are you Indian Naga or Burmese Naga? I asked him, “Are you Thai Burmese or Chinese Burmese?” He said, “I am a Burmese from Burma.” And I told him, “I am Naga from Nagaland.” He got my message and we both had a good laugh.

 

The second incident concerns the experience of a friend, Neichu Angami. Niechu was working in Burma and one day a Burmese Naga lady, on hearing there was another Naga in the town, came to meet her. This Naga lady spoke to Neichu in Burmese. Neichu told her through an interpreter that she does not speak Burmese. The lady looked surprised and asked her if she was from Noklak. Neichu said, “No, but not far from Noklak.” To which the Naga lady turned to the Burmese interpreter and said, “These young girls go to foreign countries and have even forgotten our own language.” Like some of us on the Indian side of the border, she had no idea that there are Nagas living on the Indian side. I have had similar experiences. Burmese are usually surprised when I tell them that I am Naga brought up across the border. “I did not know there are Nagas in India” is often their comment.

 

The point of sharing these stories of complex cross -border relations is that we Nagas can draw strength from each other. Nagas from India and Burma can help each other develop our unique Naga identity. Naga land in India and Burma has been our homeland for thousands of years. Nagas in India and Burma can help each other in our struggle for recognition and rights for our homelands. We have the right to and ought to inherit that land. Nagas from India and the Nagas from Burma can make a stronger case if we work together.

 

Naga Diaspora

 

Vichazelhu Iralu went to USA in 1949 to study medicine. He eventually switched from medicine to the field of public health, and became the first Naga to earn a PhD. He worked at several institutions in United States doing research on tropical parasites such Trypanosma curzi and fungi such as Cryptococcus neoformans. He became the Chairman of Microbiology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before he died in 1984. He supported A.Z Phizo, the father of the Naga national movement throughout his life. His son Vilasier Iralu went to Yale University and later became the first Naga to earn an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, Boston in 1987.[19]

 

The role of Vichazelhu Iralu in supporting A.Z. Phizo is an early example of the role of the Naga diaspora in supporting the Naga nationalist movement. Today the overseas Nagas are everywhere, holding many prestigious positions around the world. Among the Naga diaspora are scientists, diplomats, theologians, professors, doctors, businessmen/women, artists, fashion designers, models, musicians and so on. In rethinking the future, this diaspora group will no doubt have a very significant role to play.

Some thoughts on an Alternative Arrangement for Settlement

 

As pointed out above, the traditional geographical homeland of the Naga people has been divided between India and Burma and many Nagas have left their traditional homelands and become part of the worldwide Naga diaspora. As is often the case with people whose homeland has been divided by colonization, there are dreams of reunification and independence. The diaspora can have an important role in such political struggles.

 

There are numerous examples of the important role played by Diasporas in mobilizing support for independence movements. For example, the East Timorese people, with key support coming from the Timorese diaspora (many operating out of Australia), succeeded in gaining international support for a UN supervised referendum, and became a sovereign state – the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste – in 2002. While each situation is unique, there are common elements. Political activists have frequently been forced to flee their homelands and continue their struggle from abroad. Using overseas countries as a base, they have drawn support from their diaspora of refugees and migrants living overseas, both as a recruiting ground for people with talent to serve that vision and also to collect funds. This has been the model for many modern political-cultural movements.

 

In the last decade this model of political and cultural activism has been further enhanced by the use of social media on the World Wide Web.

 

Nationalist movements, such as the recent Scottish attempt to gain independence from the UK, have also made effective use of social media to recruit support from their Diasporas. The combinations of a Naga diaspora, and people’s access to social media through the World Wide Web have created new opportunities for Naga activists.

 

Many civil society groups and national movements have found an effective voice through social media. The 'Arab Spring' revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya were largely driven by young people who communicated by Facebook and Twitter.[20] Many consider the Egyptian revolution began with the Facebook page created by Wael Ghonim on June 8, 2010 called “We Are All Khaled Said”. Said was a young man who was beaten to death by the Egyptian police. Within two minutes of starting his Facebook page, 300 people had joined it. This grew to more than 250,000 followers in three months! From the Facebook followers began the massive protests in Tahrir Square that led to the resignation of the military dictator President Mubarak. New York social researcher Stowe Boyd writes :

Ideas spread more rapidly in densely connected social networks. So tools that increase the density of social connection are instrumental to the changes that spread. […] And, more importantly, increased density of information flow (the number of times that people hear things) and of the emotional density (as individuals experience others’ perceptions about events, or ‘social contextualization’) leads to an increased likelihood of radicalization: when people decide to join the revolution instead of watching it” [21]  

 

National movements who effectively use social media include the Kurds and West Papuans .The Free West Papua page has over 145,000 likes.

 

Undoubtedly the most dramatic example of the power of social media in recent years has been Wikileaks, founded in 2006 by the Australian online activist Julian Assange. Wikileaks claims to have obtained access to 1.2 million secret government and business documents. It has released documents in stages, revealing corruption, spying techniques, military mistakes, and illegal activities by government agencies, including USA government bodies such as the CIA. The release of documents has had far-reaching effects, including – according to some commentators – leading to the downfall of the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, to serious diplomatic embarrassment between USA Government and its European allies, offense to a number of South American countries including Brazil and caused difficulties between Australia and Indonesia.[22]

 

The experience of Nationalist movements around the world should make us cautious about embracing the aim of a unified Naga state. Most such visionaries finish up doing more harm than good. The leadership of both ISIS and the Al Qaeda movements would appear willing to drag their followers into wars that lead to the total destruction of cities, communities and families. The “true believers” hold that this is all for their good, and the good of their fantasy New World Order (caliphate of whatever)! Such movements need not be religious.

 

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, for example, caused brought death and destruction upon their people in the pursuit of glorious vision.[23] President Mugabe has done the same for the people of Zimbabwe, reducing many of his people to starvation with many more fleeing to neighbouring countries. Yet still he promotes himself as the great liberator.[24] How delusional can you be! Sounds just like Hitler and Stalin; blind and in denial to the very end!

 

What lessons can be learned from these movements? The current globalization of culture, politics and the economy, and the parallel growth in identity-based groups, promoting their political, cultural and economic autonomy has generated mountains of academic papers. Some left-wing intellectuals portray globalization as a conflict between the Capitalist economic system and the People’s struggles for their own identity. This is too simplistic. As the communist regimes in China and Russia have demonstrated, the “people’s representatives” are just as much caught up in struggles over power, wealth and the status, prestige and benefits that go with it as their capitalist opponents. Bill Gates and his fellow capitalists are not necessarily any worse than the “people’s liberation” leaders’ national movements in Africa and elsewhere.

 

Our own experience in becoming followers of our leaders should have taught us that we are just as weak and susceptible to delusions as those who put their trust in Mao, or Mugabe.Of course not all movement leaders need to be delusional and destructive. For example, it would seem that the Tibetan community, under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, has not caused too much harm and destruction. Yet the negative example of leaders, whether African, Asian, or European, should encourage us to be cautious in believing that gaining Naga Nationhood is the solution to all our problems and hopes. All too often, when visionaries have gained power, it has only made the situation worse for their people.

 

How do we develop the quality of leadership and the type of organization that can genuinely serve the people, and not become yet another vehicle for leaders to grandstand and promote their own careers and grandiose visions? How do we create organizations that don’t succumb to heroic fantasies, and draw people into wars that have no chance of success-wars, that even if they did succeed in redrawing geographical boundaries, do nothing to give the people better life.

 

How do we resist the temptation of becoming “yes-men” seeking our leader’s approval, and sharing their blindness and fantasy? For example, Chairman Mao was surrounded by yes-men telling him that his “cultural revolution” was a great success. Victorious “heroes” of liberation struggles have all too often turned into despots; they become so deluded and surrounded by the groupthink yes-men, that they lose touch with reality, and are unable to see that the grief and suffering that they bring upon their people is far worse than any that the so-called “oppressors” ever inflicted. If we are to create a useful national organization, we have to address human nature at both a collective and individual level.

 

Blindness about human nature and the dynamics of organizations and leadership, underpin much of the wasted energy in politics. Leader’s dress up their ambition in different clothes, provide different moral justifications for their actions, but the bottom line for narcissistic leaders is their overconfident belief in their own great mission. Narcissistic leaders tend to breed bitter division and internal conflict.[25] As Jerrold M. Post, Professor of Psychiatry, Political Psychology and International Affair at George Washington University has argued,

"Narcissists place overly high value on their own judgments and tend to overestimate the probability of success for their plans. Indeed, the narcissistic tendency to be overly optimistic may contribute to the group appraisals described by Janis (1972) under the rubric of 'groupthink'." (109-110)

Where narcissistic leaders can attract loyal followers, who share their leaders vision and belief in the moral urgency and importance of their task, groupthink often follows.

 

The Merriam­Webster dictionary defines groupthink as “a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics”. Groupthink is a problem for organizational cultures because it inhibits realistic decision-making. The social psychologist, Irving Janis, pioneered the technical use of the term groupthink in his analysis of spectacular policy failures in elite circles of the US government.[26] When groupthink takes hold the inside circle become incapable of dealing objectively with their situation. Supporters become ruthless in dealing with anyone who challenges their leader’s absolute supremacy; a wall of fantasy and denial builds up around the leader. All too often followers enter into a state of denial over their leader’s failures. Realistic decision making becomes impossible, and critical voices are driven into exile.

 

 

Overly narcissistic leaders and groupthink followers are endemic problems in politics. Leaders fail to appreciate the extent to which their own ambition and vanity blinds them into believing that they are special; they fail to see that their desire for positive recognition has seduced them into surrounding themselves with sycophants. Likewise, followers fail to see that their need to be part of an important “inner circle” of a strong and visionary leader can seduce them into becoming “yes-men” who conform to the groupthink that has developed around the leader. Narcissistic leaders and groupthink followers form a ‘circle of charm’; in which exaggerated groupthink evidence of their importance and success becomes gospel. They become deluded into thinking that “their people” or movement depends on them, and that those that oppose them are putting at risk the future of their “movement” and their “people”.

 

 

For sixty years our Naga leaders have repeated their false promises. They could not admit that they were promoting false solutions; they could not acknowledge that they had surrounded themselves with yes-men and become caught in promoting a false history of exaggerated glory. We need leaders who are not captive of personal ambitions and grand visions. We can make use of the talent and resources of the Naga diaspora, and seek a new spirit of collaboration and unity with the Burma Naga. If our leaders have the courage to seek realistic, achievable goals, we may be able to use our collective strength to build a more realistic Naga mind-set, capable of making a realistic assessment of our current situation.

 

What made our his history unique?

 

1 A memorandum submitted to the Simon Commission in 1929 pleaded that after the British left India, the Nagas be left as in ancient times. It stated that India never conquered Nagaland and Nagas were never subject to the rule of the neighboring kingdoms.

 

2 Nagas declared independence from Britain on 14 of August 1947, a day before India got independence.

 

3 The plebiscite conducted by the Naga National Council on May 16, 1951 where 99% of the population voted for independence, was the most unique stand of solidarity that the Nagas had ever demonstrated.

 

More than any agreements or treaty, the above records set the Naga position apart from any other indigenous group in the region.

 

Recent Scenario

 

The Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, NSCN-IM signed a ceasefire agreement on July 25, 1997 and the Myanmar Government and National Socialist Council of Nagalim, NSCN-K signed a ceasefire agreement on April 19, 2012.[27]

 

 For 18 years the Government of India and NSCN –IM had held peace talks for a final settlement that has so far resulted in nothing but except that the ceasefire continues. The fratricides and factional wars, which started in 1980s, continue till today though in a smaller scale.

 

A. Government of India

 

Faced by a disunited Naga, aging Naga leadership, and the disintegration of the Naga army, the Government of India is applying delaying tactics.

Ø  First, the Naga Leadership is old, and there are no clear successors, so by waiting until the present leadership dies, the Indian Government will face a far weaker movement.

Ø  Second, the Naga army is no longer an army. Unemployed youth are recruited. They are untrained, poorly motivated and poorly paid. Rather than fight the Indian Army they become extortionists and have thus lost the support of the people. As the Naga army disintegrates into unpopular gangs, support for the army will be dissolve and if there is no armed struggle there is nothing to negotiate.

Ø  Third, and most importantly, the Nagas are geographically divided into two nation states; the Nagas of India and Burma. Though recognised by international law, the Naga national movement is badly divided in India and weak in Burma. Such a disunited force cannot function effectively politically or militarily, but it remains a potentially powerful base for a nationalist movement.

 

B. Naga Nationalists

 

Ø  Since the independence struggle began over sixty years ago the situation has changed; armed struggle has failed. Yet the nationalist leaders are determined to maintain the fight for independence even though they have no realistic strategy to achieve their goal.

Ø  Naga leaders know that they are not negotiating for a sovereign state but they keep talking to the Naga people about achieving a fully independent nation. They are locked in their factional groupthink bubbles of political falsehoods. They are afraid to tell the truth.

Ø  The current negotiations with the Indian Government are a political charade; the Naga nationalist movement is no longer a military threat and the Indian Government does not feel any urgency in reaching a new political accommodation.

Ø  Naga national leaders of all the factions have given a false hope to the Naga people of taking them to a Promised Land; a goal that, with their present strategies and mindset, they have no real hope of achieving.

 

C. The Naga People and the State of Nagaland

 

Ø  The Naga people and Naga civil societies from all the Naga homelands are getting tired of this long process of peace talks and want to see an alternative arrangement for a final settlement. They want to see a path to a better future but instead they are left in the dark.

 

Ø  Nagaland state, the beneficiary of the whole negotiation movement, is in a hurry to sign a final settlement, as civil development cannot progress in a conflict zone. Yet a settlement cannot be reached with the Indian Government that empowers the Nagaland state, if the Naga political leadership continue to promote unrealistic goals, and fail to talk to either the Naga people or the Indian Government in good faith.

 

D. Hope – the unquenchable spirit of the Naga people

 

Ø  The Naga determination and spirit has surprised the Indians, Burmese and Naga observers around the world. Despite the setbacks and disappointments, Nagas in India, Burma and the world diaspora retain a strong sense of their Naga identity.

 

Ø  As the process of globalization improves communications, more Naga have awakened to a vision of their Naga identity and a determination to continue to fight for the reunification of their homeland. This Naga national spirit will grow stronger.

 

 

Ø  The Government of India and the Indian thinkers have realised that the Naga desire to preserve their identity cannot be defeated by conventional warfare and military power. There is something in the human spirit that is far more powerful than the barrel of a gun. Therefore, they are willing to talk and find a solution.

 

 

Where to from here?

 

The hopes that motivated the heroic struggles of the Naga people in the past have been disappointed. Yet there the scenario I have described, if faced realistically, does provide grounds for hope.

 

To begin with, it is clear from similar struggles around the world, that a people, no matter how geographically fragmented, can develop a united identity and voice. Although the Naga leadership is currently fragmented, there is no reason why old factional enmities and allegiances should not be put aside for the sake of a realistic future goal.

 

Secondly, there are many good Indians and thinkers out there who are willing to work out a settlement, willing to be friends to the Nagas and walk alongside us in our quest to find a political solution. Likewise there are many Burmese leaders and thinkers who are willing to include the Nagas in the nation building of Burma. They are our allies. The development of Naga nationhood and unity can occur alongside the framework of Indian and Burmese sovereignty in the current situation. Naga on both sides of the Indian-Burmese border, and across the world, can help build a united political identity, even though in physical and geographical terms we respect the sovereignty of the states within which we now exist. This vision of Naga unity achieved peacefully in a ‘virtual world’, and implemented separately in two states is a starting point for rethinking a new vision of Naga nationhood.

 

‘Nationhood’ does not have to be all or nothing. There are many constitutional arrangements where high autonomy has allowed a nation to pursue many of its national goals, while remaining part of a larger sovereign state. Scotland in UK is one good example of a people who have a strong sense of National identity, and enjoy a large measure of political independence while remaining part of the Britain. In the recent referendum over Scottish independence, most Scots preferred limited autonomy and continued links with Britain. They realize that Scottish national pride and identity, does not necessitate national sovereignty. Scottish pride and identity can flourish alongside economic and political links with Britain. In an uncertain world, the Scottish people voted against a romantic return to the past, and took less dramatic, but more practical steps toward building their future. 

 

For sixty years the Naga leadership has pursued Naga nationalist goals through armed struggle. The cost to the Naga people in suffering and lost opportunities has been immeasurable. Today the Naga sense of identity remains strong but we have lost faith in the old leadership. In this article I have been suggesting that we must look toward new possibilities. I have suggested some, but in our rapidly changing world, there are others that we cannot know. For the example the youth of today are far more educated than my generation. The Naga Blog, TNB, Naga Spear and other online communities will have   far-reaching consequences for re-inventing a new mindset.

 

 It may be that these unknown opportunities shape our future; the history of many nations has shown us that leadership who are flexible and are open to grasping new opportunities when they emerge can shape the future. History has also demonstrated that such opportunities can be lost due to a leadership locked in the thinking and hatreds of the past.

 

Many difficult conflict situations have been solved by the goodwill and determination of the people. The human desire to live in peace is so great that given the right opportunities and leaders with vision, communities that have in the past fought and struggled have put aside their differences and worked out a peaceful way forward. With realism, the right attitude, and the growth of trust between leaders, seemingly impossible conflicts are worked out peacefully, such as the ending of apartheid in South Africa, and the successful peace process in Northern Ireland.

 

A successful negotiation between the Naga and the Indian Government should not be viewed as the end of the Naga journey toward nationhood, but as the beginning of a new, peaceful political and cultural process. A new Naga mind-set can assist this process. The Naga leadership in India and Burma can pursue a goal of stronger autonomy using peaceful means; although divided geo-politically we can be united in a broader cultural sense. This united Naga culture and mind-set will develop as Naga in India, in Burma, and in the Naga diaspora work together to assist each other. In this changing world, we can all look beyond old colonial boundaries and draw strength from an emerging vision of Naga National identity that is rooted in our traditional homelands but has spread to encompass Nagas across the world. 

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[2] Statistics from National Native Title Tribunal, Annual Report 2010-2011, quoted in “Native Title in Australia”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_title_in_Australia#cite_note-4  

 

[3] See Northern Land Council information available at: http://www.nlc.org.au/articles/info/the-mining-industry-and-the-nlc/  

 

[4] For example, a 2012 Government report noted twice as much was being spent on the average indigenous person as on the average Australian citizen. The reports states that: “Public spending on indigenous Australia jumped to $25.4 billion in just two years amid a growing debate over whether the cash is improving education, health and employment for 575,000 people. A surge in school funding tops the spending increases revealed in a federal government analysis that shows total outlays have risen to $44,128 for every indigenous person.” http://nacchocommunique.com/2012/09/04/naccho-newsindigenous-spend-topping-25-billionplus-q-a-about-the-report/  

[5] See the Australian Government’s 2015 “Closing the Gap Report”, available at http://www.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/Closing_the_Gap_2015_Report.pdf

[6] For further references see Jens Korff 2015 “Domestic and family violence”, Creative Spirits, http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/domestic-and-family-violence

[7] For further references see Jens Korff 2015 “ Aboriginal communities are breaking down”, Creative Spirits, http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/aboriginal-communities-are-breaking-down

[8] The Kulin nation is an alliance of five Indigenous Australian nations in Central Victoria, Australia. Unlike Mabo, and other indigenous people in Australia, the Kulin people have been unsuccessful in their land claims. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kulin

 

[9] For the context of these early Naga struggles see:

 Nirmal Nibedon, (1978).  Nagaland, the night of the guerrillas. New Delhi: Lancers Publishers.

Sanjoy Hazarika, (1994) Strangers of the Mist. New Delhi, Penguin Books

Bertil Lintner (2012) Great Games East. New Delhi, HaperCollins Publishers

 

For an Indian military perspective, see Sinha, S. P.  (2007).  Lost opportunities: 50 years of insurgency in the North-east and India's response.  New Delhi:  Lancer Publishers & Distributors.

Maloy Krishna Dhar, (2010) Open Secrets : India Intelligence Unveiled. New Delhi:Manas Publications

[10] See Peter d'Errico 2012 “What Is a Colonized Mind?”, available at

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/12/12/what-colonized-mind  

[11] op cit

[12] Ngugi wa Thiongo, Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Ojijo Pascal  and others

[13] “town chokra” Nagamese   for a local boy

[14] “Mao  manu tu  local nohoe” means “Mao are not indigenous”

[15] Mini” house helpers and babysitters

[16] Known as Thangpakoi to the Burmese

[17]   Liamke is feast of making friendship treaty between two clans

[18] A film was about this ceremony by the French anthropologist, Patrick Bernard  called The Return of the Sacred Drum

[19] From Memories of My Father, unpublished note by Jonathan Vilasier Iralu, M.D 2009

 

[23] The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a movement based in northern Sri Lanka, that was founded in 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran. He waged a secessionist nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil people. Prabhakaran was finally killed by government forces in 2009 after having brought destruction and devastation upon his people.

[24] See Anderson, J. L. "The Destroyer: Robert Mugabe and the destruction of Zimbabwe", The New Yorker, 27 October, 2008. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/10/27/the-destroyer

[25] J. M. Post (2004) Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior, Ithaca: Cornell University Press,

[26] Janis, I. L. 1972 Victims of groupthink; a psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascos, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin.

 

[27]   IM stands for Isak and Muivah and K stands for Khaplang



Written 13.003.2013 by Kaka D. Iralu, Naga activist and author:

An Analysis of the AFSPA 1958 From Its Historical Backgound of Nagaland in the 1950’s


:: By Kaka D. Iralu


The Armed Forces profession is one of the noblest professions in the world. In this profession, every soldier swears an oath of allegiance to the nation that they would risk even their own lives towards safeguarding and defending the citizens of the nation and its territories from any external aggression.

 

In short, an army is instituted by a government to defend its citizens and the country from external aggression. But in the case of The Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958, the Indian government has instituted an act which shields its armed forces in such a manner where they can wage war against their own countryman with total immunity and impunity. This is a case where both the Indian government and its armed forces are guilty of doing just the opposite of what they are elected and appointed to do. On the Indian government side, instead of promulgating laws for the protection of its citizens, the government has sanctioned the army to shoot its own citizens even on mere suspicion. On the other hand, instead of defending the country’s citizens from external aggression, the army is on the contrary, internally empowered to kill even their own citizens under the protection of the AFSPA.

 

The AFSPA therefore, nullifies the very dignity and honor of the military profession by transforming the army into a killing machine that can kill even on mere suspicion. Such a machine could be a very useful tool in the hands of politicians intent on imposing their national identity on others as has been done to the Nagas for all these 62 years.

 

With that short personal opinion about the infamous AFSPA, let us now go to the historical background which brought AFSPA into existence in the 1950’ in the killing fields of Nagaland. In the first place AFSPA was not promulgated for the protection of the armed forces in the face of an invading enemy attack like the Chinese aggression of 1962. On the contrary, AFSPA was created to protect the Indian Army when they invaded Nagaland in the early 1950’s. It was created in the context of an invasion situation where all able bodied Nagas- both males as well as some females- were compelled to take up arms to defend their declared independence which had been declared on August 14, 1947.

 

At this stage of the war, the Nagas still did not have a uniformed army with conventional weapons which could differentiate them from the civilian population. As such, the Naga army, then, called The Naga Home Guards had the advantage of disappearing into civilian populations after encounters with the invading forces. On the other hand, the Indian army had the disadvantage of seeing every Naga face as that of one similar face which could not be differentiated from the others. Because of such difficulties in identifying Naga soldiers from the civilian population, the sanction to shoot to death even on mere suspicion was granted to the Indian army.

 

As for the Act, section 3 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 stipulates that for the AFSPA to become operative, an area has to be first declared as “a disturbed area” based on the sole opinion of the Governor of the state.

 

Now, the question that must be asked is: Was Nagaland really a disturbed area in the early 1950’s so much so that the Indian government had to promulgate the Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act 1953 followed by the Assam Disturbed Areas Act 1955 and eventually the AFSPA in 1958?

 

Now, as far as the historical facts and records show, the situation in Nagaland was still peaceful up to the end of March 1953. It was only after Nehru and U Nu’s visit on March 30, 1953 and the boycotting of the function by the Naga public because they were not allowed to present a memorandum to the two visiting Prime Ministers that trouble started. Right after they left, arrest warrants were issued against the NNC leaders. From that time on, one thing led to another until open hostilities broke out after the promulgation of the Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act in 1953. Subsequently, the Indian army moved into Nagaland in October 1955. To quote B.N. Mullick, the then Director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau, he had written: “Troops moved into Tuensang by October 1955 and the war with the Nagas started from then.”(B.N. Mullick: My years with Nehru, p.308) Note the word “troops moved into Tuensang.” It was not Naga troops moving into Assam or India, but Indian troops moving into Tuensang, Nagaland which caused the Indo Naga war and brought the AFSPA into existence. As for the number of troops deployed, Mullick admits that it was two Divisions of regular army and 35 battalions of Assam Rifles and paramilitary forces.(ibid p 312) In later stages of the war, far greater numbers of troops were deployed in Nagaland.

 

In this invasion issue, as far as the Nagas were concerned, ever since the declaration of their independence on 14th August, 1947, the Nagas had been defending their declared independence through non-violent means. Therefore, the Naga forces that rose up to defend its territories against this external aggression from India in October 1955 were not even a regular army, but as stated earlier-a rag tag defense force called The Home Guards with hardly any weapons.

 

To date, many Indian politicians have repeatedly tried to portray the Nagas as rebels and insurgents who are bent on seceding from India. However, the opposite is true in that Nagas peacefully hoisted their national flag on 14th August 1947, and have ever since been desperately holding on to the defense of that declared independence.

 

Now, both the Assam Disturbed Area Act of 1955, as well as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 states that these Acts were promulgated for the maintenance of “public order” in a “disturbed” area. Therefore, the next question that must be asked is:

WHO DISTURBED WHO?

 

Here again, as far as the factual historical records go, it is an undeniable historical fact that Nagas never went to Assam or India and disturbed Assamese or Indian peace in the 1950’s. It is however an indisputable fact that hundreds of thousands of Nagas died from Assam Armed police and Indian military atrocities in the 1950’s when 654 Naga villages were burnt to ashes by these invading forces. (Clearly recorded statistics are still available if anyone wishes to examine them.)

 

As for the justification reason stated in the AFSPA that the Act was necessitated for destroying “arms dumps” or “fortified positions” of Naga rebels, let the Indian government or its army furnish even one single picture of any one such destroyed ammunition dump or fortified position, used by the Naga army. These justification reasons are but imagined and exaggerated pictures created by the Indian government to justify the promulgation of the AFSPA. As a matter of fact, no such grave dangers from fortified positions or ammunition dumps have ever existed in the long drawn fifty nine year Indo- Naga conflict. On the contrary, in this conflict, Naga soldiers had to again and again undertake long tracks to Pakistan and China to refurbish exhausted ammunition as well as arms because they did not have ammunition dumps or fortified positions. The long drawn war has all along been one of a guerrilla war of running and fighting. As for fortified positions, the only fortified positions that the Naga army ever had were just temporary camps which were hastily abandoned when it came under heavy artillery as well as mortar attacks accompanied by thousands of ground troops.

Today many citizens of many other Indian states are also tasting and experiencing the many horrors that Naga s have experienced for the past five decades under AFSPA. It seems to me that what some Indian leaders had cleverly devised yesterday to deny the Nagas even their very right to life is today backfiring on Indian faces too.


Written by my late good friend Rudolph Johnson  (*07.03.1916-† 12.01.2007)  (see obituary below/se minneord etter artikkelen):

 A Sami View of Norwegian American Ethnicity

         by Rudolph Johnson

 

This paper was originally presented at an international conference in 1975, and later published in the proceedings Norwegian Influence on the Upper Midwest, edited by Harold Næss (Duluth, University of Minnesota, Continuing Education and Extension Division, 1976).  Rudolph was later largely responsible for the term Sami being accepted as normal English usage.

 

What does it mean to be an ethnic?  Aren't we all Americans, and why should some of us consider ourselves Norwegian at a time when our immigrant subcultures have dissolved in the great melting pot?  Not too long ago Harry Golden told us that we are all homogenized, and now we are reviving our interest in our particular ethnic heritage. Is ethnicity mere nostalgia, or does it have some value for our troubled days? And might there be something in our Norwegian immigrant heritage that can have meaning for the future?  I have been puzzled to account for my personal interest in a Norwegian identity.  We have been led to think that ethnicity established a type of bias. Michael Novak in his book The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnic (New York: Macmillan, 1972) tells us that Americanization has meant a kind of WASPization. We believed that we had to assimilate, and that this meant that we had to become like the Anglo-American.  There is nothing wrong with being an Anglo-American, except that we now realize that the Anglo-American is just another ethnic, and that his historic memory is not ours.  And we know that Americanization can have a broader meaning.  For Indian people, and Vine Deloria calls them American Americans, it means just being themselves, and for immigrant Americans there are various cultural backgrounds.  Bogardus, in his book Immigration and Race Attitudes, published in 1928, told us something about the immigrant, that he is ". . . more than clothes and a bundle on his back and a satchel in his hand  he is a culture medium, and a part of all human life that preceded him.1 Our family came through Ellis Island as Norwegian immigrants in 1917 when I was yet an infant.  I recall years later, when riding street cars in Duluth, that my mother would admonish me to "speak English, people will think we are foreigners."  The Norwegian American is now fully acculturated and no longer represents a small foreign enclave.  He actually knows little about modem Norway, which is quite a different country than the land which his forefathers left some generations past. Yet he tends to think of himself as Norwegian.

I don't feel that the new ethnic interest is a revival of nationalism. Many of us have had quite enough of the modem nation/state with its endless wars, its racism and its aggressive violence. I look upon the present Norwegian monarchy as a rather quaint anachronism, and I don't find Norway's parliamentary democracy to be a perfect model. A recent trip to Norway convinced me that politics in Norway can be as absurd as anywhere.  And I vividly recall some of the long conversations heard during my childhood in which our immigrant neighbors over coffee and lefse would complain about things in the old country, especially about the herrefolk, and a recent book by that title suggests there might still be such attitudes surviving in modem Norway.2  My background is North Norwegian (nordnorsk) and Sami (Lapp) and in Norway we were considered to be a minority people, some kind of primitive naturfolk, l attended the International Summer School in Oslo in 1949 and my landlord was a member of the Board of Directors of the Norwegian Folk Museum.  When I asked him why there were no Lapp exhibits in the Norwegian Folk Museum he told me, "but they are not Norwegians!"  Happily Norway now considers the Sami to be Norwegian and the Sami materials have been transferred from the Ethnographic Museum to the Norwegian Folk Museum. From a Sami viewpoint my interest in things Norwegian is ancient, goes back beyond the national period, and I feel that the foundations of the new ethnicity are also prenational, older than the nation/state.

I must admit to being somewhat embarrassed by the Vikings.  This very remarkable civilization had some great achievements, but their martial exploits and piracy seem less than admirable.  When the Nazi occupation forces came to Norway during World War II they expressed unbounded admiration for the Vikings, not only because of their alleged racial purity, but also because of their fiery, war-like qualities: All this makes good reading for the adolescent hero-worshiper, but what does it offer us today?  Yes, Norway may have a great past and an inspiring history, but this was not part of my Minnesota school curriculum, and my ethnic interest does not rest upon this foundation.


Nor is my ethnic interest tied to the Norwegian State Church.  Lutheran Christianity started in Germany and now belongs to many people around the world and it is not uniquely Norwegian.  We ought also to recall that some immigrants left the old country for religious freedom, to escape from the thought-control of a doctrinaire religious establishment.  We are reminded of this in the Swedish film The Emigrants and in the books by Wilhelm Moberg.  A person can be a Norwegian without being a Lutheran, and it is well to recall that the Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota also founded Unitarian churches, one in Hanska and another in Minneapolis.  Ole Rølvaag in his book Omkring Faedrearven måkes note that Lutheranism itself is not part of the Norwegian heritage.3  Ethnicity is not tied to a commonality of religious views, and Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines ethnic as "heathen, pagan" and "relating to the Gentiles or nations not yet converted to Christianity."  It may be that our religio-ethnic heritage pre-dates not only Martin Luther but Christianity itself.

I'm certainly not Norwegian because of blue eyes and blond hair.  The racial myth is a biological vanity that we can ill afford, even if we foolishly desire to believe it.  I am also related to the Sami, and no one knows exactiv where they came from.  The Sami are the ancient inhabitants of Fennoscandia, and my birthplace, Finnmark, has been the home of the Same since the last lce Age.  Some of us in North Norway sought to emigrate in order to escape from racial discrimination.  I don't see racial exclusiveness as the cement of ethnicity.  We can be ethnic without being ethnocentric.

Language can be considered an ethnic tie, something that binds a people together, but we can no longer claim that the Norwegian language ties Norwegian Americans together, because many of us, certainly our sons and daughters, no longer speak Norwegian. I am not trying to give a comprehensive definition of ethnic, but if "ethnic" is thought to describe a group of people with a common language, race and religion, then it becomes a rather meaningless characterization of the Norwegian Americans of today.  I like the definition of an ethnic group given by Michael Novak, "... a group with historical memory, real or imaginary.  One belongs to an ethnic group in part involuntarily, in part by choice.  Given a grandparent or two, one chooses to shape one's consciousness by one history rather than another.  Ethnic memory is not a set of events remembered, but rather a set of instincts, feelings, intimacies, expectations, patterns of emotion and behavior, a sense of reality; a set of stories for individualsand for the people as a wholeto live out."4

What is it we seek when we probe our ethnic  background?  Yes, it means looking backward because we feel that somehow we may have gotten on the wrong road, that technological society is in trouble, and we want to go back far enough to find the place where we may have taken a wrong turn. It is not that we want to revert to a previous stage of culture, something which is quite unrealistic, but we want to recall some of the older values that helped people to survive for so many centuries.  Technological man himself is a cultural orphan, conceived by a computer and punched out by a machine, identical and replacable. We are not products of a machine but bearers of an ancient and honorable history.  "Ethnic" from the Greek ethnos means tribal, and the new ethnicity is best thought of as a form of neotribalism.

It is interesting to note what an earlier generation of immigrants considered to be the Norwegian American heritage.  Ole Rølvaag in 1922, in a book entitled Omkring Faedrearven, notes various things he considered to be the immigrant heritage. You will observe the heritage he talks about is also very old.  As a people we existed in a tribal stage of culture for a much longer period than we have existed as a nation/state.  Now Rølvaag does not identify our heritage as tribal, but he begins with the eventyr.  He tells us that we received in our cradle a gift of Norwegian consciousness beginning with the folk tale. We learned at an early age the Askeladden philosophy that we can indeed accomplish the impossible.5  He points out that we are heir to a profound respect for nature, which has become part of our folk character.6  (The footnotes will quote Rølvaag in the original Norwegian, and I am supplying a free translation.)  This respect for nature is an old peasant and tribal value, something we share with other peasant and tribal cultures, especially with the American Indian.  To be ethnic is to probe our racial memory and find deep in our consciousness lifestyles and attitudes that can help us to survive as inhabitants of planet earth, values that proved their survival potential through centuries of folk experience. Respect for nature is one such value, and along with it Rølvaag mentions love of home, love of one's valley, district, and community.7  If we find roots in the land we will respect it and hopefully act to preserve it.  In this way our ethnic heritage can have meaning for our lives and our future.

Along with respect for nature and love of home and community Rølvaag mentions the strong feeling for democracy that runs through the Norwegian peasantry.8  To illustrate this he tells the folk tale of Mora Ting and the farmers who were not afraid to speak to their king.  He quotes them as saying, "Now we farmers want the King to do what is right in the eyes of reasonable people.  Our forefathers cast seven kings into that swamp by Mora Ting because they wouldn't listen to what reasonable people had to say." It is part of the Norwegian folk character to feel equal to any and all, and little progress can be expected of people who have learned to feel themselves inferior or unworthy.  Norwegians have in their heart a respect for democratic procedures and fairness and offer stout resistance to tyranny.


According to Rølvaag, Norwegian hospitality is also part of this heritage.  He speaks of the festive holiday rituals held in the Norwegian home, the open hospitality.9  How can one properly translate hygge or kose seg med en kopp kaffe?  These are things we share with our broderfolk, the Swedes, Danes, Finns and Icelanders.  Again, I feel that this type of hospitality is tribal, something lacking in our isolated, urban society and in our nuclear families.  Whatever our ethnic background may be, we need to go back to peasant or tribal society to find a real celebration of community.  Rølvaag doesn't mention ethnic food, which brings to mind lutefisk.  Coming from an immigrant childhood I still feel a bit awkward when people mention lutefisk, somehow akin to how black people feel when they hear the word "watermelon.  There is also sild og potet, and we could go on to mention lefse med gjetost, reinstek. rype, laks, får i kål, lapskaus, multebær, akevitt med øl, torsk med lever og rogn, and rømmegrøt.  This listing might help us to appreciate what ethnic means, not an attempt to prove to ourselves or to anyone else how great we are, but rather a celebration of life!

Norwegians are a law-abiding folk with a genuine respect for the law of the land, according to Rølvaag, and he tells us that this also goes back to the distant past, before the introduction of Christianity.10  Along with respect for law, he tells us that we are heir to a tradition of respect for parents.  These things are tribal, and sound a bit odd in our day, and we need to examine the rationale for this claim.  Rølvaag tells us that our parents lived on the land which their ancestors occupied for many generations, but this hardly holds true for us today.

He says that through our father and mother we are introduced to the Norwegian home, with its distinctive spirit, and through our parents we can reach back to the Saga times and beyond and know that this also belonged to us.11  Although these sentiments, respect for law and lineage, seem to have little force today, they could add meaning to our lives.

Rølvaag includes as part of the ethnic heritage an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a strong feeling for the arts, and he sees this in the saga literature, which also pre-dates the national period.12  The Viking voyages were not only for plunder and trade, Rølvaag tells us, but these journeys were also undertaken for the purpose of gathering information.  He suggests that the initial voyage undertaken by the young Viking was something like going away to college!  He sees in the lines of the

Viking ship evidence of an expression and understanding of art, and this can also be seen in architecture of the stavkirke and in the rosemaling of the peasantry.  There is poetry in the skalds and sagas and literature in the folk tale, and Rølvaag identifies Ibsen as the greatest writer of the nineteenth century.  This type of heritage is worth  cultivating, and I feel that Rølvaag himself is a prime example of the influence the immigrant heritage has had and can continue to have upon our country.

The Norwegian is also seen by Rølvaag as heir to a long-standing devotion to freedom, and to self-government.13  Our Norwegian ancestors seemed to need the largest possible amount of individual freedom, consistent with law and the rights of others.  He also sees as part of this inheritance a strong inclination to religion, and this also dates far back into heathen times.14  Rølvaag tells us that this strong religious feeling actually made people psychic, and that they felt things so strongly that they could actually see such creatures as trolls, huldre and the draug.15

I am impressed with Rølvaag's insight into folk character, and with the way he traces it back into the tribal past.  I find reinforcement here for my thesis that ethnicity is tribal.  I find further reinforcement from Edward Shils, as quoted by Andrew Greely. Greely speaks of the "ethnic collectivity" as "an attempt to keep some of the values, some of the informality, some of the support, some of the intimacy of the communal life in the midst of an impersonal, formalistic, rationalized urban industrial society. . . . Edward Shils has called these ties primordial and suggests that, rooted as they are with a sense of 'blood and land,' they are the result of a pre-rational intuition.16

I am trying to establish that our Norwegian ethnic interest has little relationship to contemporary Norway and that it in no way conflicts with our American nationality.  The ethnicity that we seek to preserve is pre-national, and we are very much American nationals, although of a Norwegian immigrant ancestry.  We no longer constitute an ethnic voting block in American politics and we do not operate ethnically as an economic pressure group.  As a people we have been sufficiently assimilated into American political and economic life that we do not need to think ofourselves as ethnic in the political or economic arenas.  There are a number of ethnic groups in the United States who feel themselves disadvantaged in American society, who are segregated and discriminated against in various ways, and it is legitimate for such groups to establish ethnic pressure groups to right such wrongs.  Our ethnic group is not politically or economically separate from American life, but this does not mean that we need to also abandon our unique cultural identity.  America does not expect us to deny our  mothers and fathers and lose our soul.  It has been argued that the abolition of ethnic identity better suits the needs of modem technological society, but such a society has no need for us either as Americans or as Norwegians. 


If we feel alienated and rootless in our technological society, many people in modem Norway feel the same way.  Although people in Norway do not think of themselves as etnisk in their own country, they may also be looking nostalgically to the past for peasant and tribal values missing in contemporary life. To be ethnic is to seek out those values from the cultural heritage which may have relevance today.  We seem to need an ethnic identity, something we would lose in a science fiction future. Within a cultural tradition lies a strength that can help us to survive wars, depressions, or natural and ecological disasters.  We need some bond of community, a tribal relationship, in order to survive.

Just as our race is genetically determined before birth, much of our ethnicity is impressed upon us during infancy and childhood. In these early years, before we start school and before we learn to read, culture is communicated to us orally by parents, relatives and neighbors, and some of it is actually nonverbal.  It is interesting to note that tribal culture is also preliterate, and we can speculate that our childhood recapitulates the tribal period of our race.  This is not to suggest that we can or ought to re-tribalise as Norwegian Americans.  There is such a movement afoot among Indian people in the United States, and among the Sami in Norway.  I am certain that we can't reconstitute the tribe as a political or economic unit among the Norwegian Americans.  However, neotribalism as a social and cultural phenomenon does exist. We find strength in the cultural collectivity which has helped us survive as a people since the lce Age.  We need to draw upon this kind of primordial strength, upon our ethnic and tribal traditions, in order to secure our future. 

This viewpoint is Sami in that it does not focus on the relatively short-lived national period of our culture but upon the much longer prenational period, a time when we lived closer to nature and in closer harmony with the ecosvstems that sustain life.

 

1. Emorv S. Bogardus, Immigration and Race Attitudes (Boston: Heath, 1928).

2. Knut Evensen, Det Norske Herrefolket (Oslo: Gyldendal, 1971).

3. "Hvad er det nu i f æ drearven de vil bevare? ... Jeg har h ø rt nogen av dem n æ vne den lutherske tro, men slikt er jo bare snak; for lutherdom er ikke norsk f æ drearv. Saapas vet vi da alle." Ole Edvart R ø lvaag, Omkring F æ drearven (Northfield, Minn.: St. Olaf College Press, 1922), p. 65.

4. Michael Novak. The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics (New York, Macmillan, 1972), pp. 47-48.

5. "Ja, den Askeladden! Altid gjør han det umulige; han vil det og han gjør det." Rølvaag, p. 12.

6. "Et ideelt syn paa naturen har altid s æ rpr æ get norsk folkekarakter." R ø lvaag. p. 24.

7. "Og dette om den ideelle naturbetragtning leder direkte til en anden gren av arven: Kj æ rligheten til heimen; for ogsaa den er en del of norsk f æ drearv." R ø lvaag, p. 26.

8. "Og her staar vi foran et andet tr æ k i norsk f æ drearv: den demokratisk-aristokratiske f ø lelse som gjennomstr ø mmer den bedste av Norges bondebefolkning." R ø lvaag, p. 33.

9. "Med hjemf ø lelsen og det demokratisk-aristokratiske syn paa æ t og heim, gaar gjestfriheten og gode s æ der. Norsk gjestfrihet er kjendt verden over." R ø lvaag. p. 37.

10. "Lovlydigheten, ærbødighet for landets lov. . . . Lovtinget er en fast institution blandt folk endog før Harald Haarfagres tid;  Lovsigemandsembedet er betydelig ældre end kristendommen." Rølvaag. p. 40.

11. Med denne æ rb ø dighet for lovens hellighet fulgte ogsaa noget andet-ett for et folkesamfund stort gode-:lydighet mot far og mor, og æ rb ø dighet for æ ldre folk. . . . Gjennem far og mor kom vi saaledes med i det store f ø lge som hadde gaat forut. Ved dem f ø rtes vi ind i et norsk hjems aand og tone. Vi blev ved dem ett med folket; landets historie blev vor sandelige arv og eie. Vi kunde str æ kke os helt tilbake til den daadstore sagatid og kjende at den var vor." R ø lvaag. pp. 42-43.

12. "Her finde. jeg et par andre arveklenodier. som uomtvistelig har været i slegtens eie fra umindelige tider av: - kundskapstrangen og kunstsansen." Rølvaag. p. 44.

13. "Frihetstrangen, individets st ø rst mulige rettigheter under en f æ lles lov, og s å a en anden tot som hos norske folk altid gaar sammen med denne: evnen til selvstyre." R ø lvaag, p. 85.

14. "Et folk hos hvem f ø lelseslivet gaar s å a sterkt, maa v æ re religi ø st anlagt. Og det norske folk et det. Det religi ø se drag er en anden av hovedlottene i slegten vor.-Gaa tilbake til asatroens tid, og du finder karaktertr æ kket. De gamle nordm æ nd var trofaste asadyrkere." R ø lvaag. p. 94.

15. "Det norske folk har altid levd et sterkt og dypt f ø lelsesliv. S å a sterkt gik f ø lelsen hos somme at den gjorde folk synsk. Folk f ø lte til de s å a. Saan er der blit slike v æ sener som hulder og nisse, n ø k og draug, o. fl." R ø lvaag, pp. 93-94.

16.Andrew M. Greeley, Why Cant They Be Like Us? (New York: Institute of Human Relations Press, 1969), pp. 18, 21.

Din overskrift

RUDOLPH JOHNSON IN MEMORIAM

A few days ago we got the sad message that Rudy (Rudolph) Johnson had left us, on Friday January 12 2007. He was born in Kirkenes in North-eastern Norway of parents with Norwegian and Sámi ancestry. His grandfather was of the reindeer herder Porsanger clan of Kárasjohka and he also had relations to reindeer people of Guovdageaidnu. He became a member of the Oslo Sámi Association in 1957 that served as a national meeting place for Sámit since 1951. Apart from being a war veteran after the second world war, he became professor he has always been closer to his Sámi origin.

First time I met Rudy was in December 1976 when in Minneapolis en route to Duluth where he lived with his family. During my stay I was interested in meeting Indigenous peoples, and this was the first Indigenous Immigrant I had met so far, some friends had ,mentioned that there was a librarian in Duluth who had introduced coloured and native American books and programs at that University. As we went northwards by bus, because he had never owned a car, he told me enthusiastically about the increasing contact he had with Lapp people and institutions in his original homeland. He told me he subscribed to periodicals, and newspapers like Sagat, «and now they even got a map with only Lapp place names, I will show it to you when we get home.» It was a pleasure to inform him who had made it.  It was my habit since I came abroad, to correct the Lapp term for Sámi, and I suggested that he follow up on that, which he gladly did. In fact some time later he told me that he had got the Library of Congress in Washington DC to correct it as well, and the term «Lapp» is almost vanished from the English language now, at least in updated circles.  It was new to me that so many Sámi Americans even  existed. Of course I knew about the project of Reindeer herders from Sápmi in Alaska. So eventually I learned that among the many immigrants from Scandinavia a long time ago there were also many Sámi. He told me of one lady from the north that during the voyage across the Atlantic found it comfortable only of she could stay in the freezing room!  She must have been a Sámi woman, or perhaps a Nenets, in any case an Arctic person, and they were many migrating to North America.

We came to their beautiful home in uptown Duluth with a good view of Lake Superior. It was snow and sun, like a beautiful winter day at home. His wife Solveig (Sally) is a painter, with a similar artistic background as myself. They have two sons and a daughter, one of their sons Kai had already studied Sámi language in Karasjohka, and spoke it well. Rudys mother was also there sitting in her rolling chair with her handwork knitting. She asked if I knew Árdni was, a large island (Arnøy in Norwegian) in Romsa/Troms county used by her relatives for summer pasture of their reindeer herd. She spoke a little Sámi, but would rather speak Norwegian, a child of the time of harsh assimilation policy. She told Rudy as a child in Duluth:«Speak English, people will think we are foreigners». Rudy was pleased to learn that racism against Sámi had weakened in Norway since he and his family left, among other things for just such reasons. But if they thought they could escape racism by leaving Northern Norway for USA, they were wrong. But Rudy did  whatever he could to correct it, and as professor of the University of Minnesota in Duluth, he organised book collections and reading rooms for both coloured and native American students. I treasure the time  shared with Rudy and his family, it means a lot to me. I see him as a hero and the main reason for the now strong Sámerican conscience. Rudy was also a prolific writer, and his article «A Sami View of Norwegian American Ethnicity» is a must for anyone interested in ethnicity, and who wouldn’t be? I was privileged to know this family and to be able to  invite them to the Nana/Indigenous Days  festival in 1998, when Sally had her art exhibition at the Arctic Gallery here in Romsa/Tromsø. The loss the family must feel, especially Rudys wife, fills my heart with many prayers and wishes for them. It is a comfort that Arden Johnson, their eldest son, is taking up and continuing the work making Sámi American culture known for the treasure it on both sides of the Atlantic. Elle-Hánsa/Keviselie/Hans Ragnar Mathisen

 

 

 

RUDOLPH JOHNSON (*07.03.1916-† 12.01.2007) IN MEMORIAM

Nylig kom budskapet om at Rudolph Johnson var gått bort, i nærvær av sin kone Solveig (Sally) etter lang tids sykdom. Med det har et viktig ledd i den å verdensomspennende samisk-amerikanske kontaktflate blitt borte. Født i Kirkenes og med røtter til Karasjok, Guovdageaidnu, har han alltid vært stolt av sine nordnorske og samiske røtter. Familien flyttet til USA da han var meget ung.

Rudolph var fem år gammel da faren døde. Han har derfor få minner om ham. Han husker imidlertid femårsdagen sin den 7. mars 1921, for da tok Ivar sønnen sin med på skolen for å hilse på læreren. Dengang begynte man på skolen så snart man var fylt fem år selv om det ble midt i skoleåret. Rudolph var selvsagt meget stolt over å bli med faren for å begynne på skolen. Da det ble sommer lekte Rudolph en dag med en nabogutt som het Waino Hill. Da lagde faren ei slynge som en kunne kaste piler med. Pilene hadde et hakk slik at de kunne festes til slynga. De stod i bakdøra, og Ivar viste hvordan en kastet. Han kastet ei pil så høyt at den forsvant av syne, og Waino og Rudolph lurte ofte på hvor langt den gikk, og om den kanskje svevde der oppe ennå. Han har sett en liknende slynge bare en gang siden, nemlig i den samiske avdelingen i Nordiska Museet i Stockholm.Første gang jeg traff Rudy, som den amerikanske versjonen av fornavnet hans ble, var i desember 1976 på vei fra Minneapolis til Duluth der han bodde. Opprinnelig kommer han fra Sør-Varanger med røtter også til Guovdageaidnu og flere steder og slekter i Finnmark. Hans far var fra Brennelv ved Lakselv -- i Porsanger bydebok som skal komme ut snart står det at hans besetefar hadde 44 rein. Rudolph kunne stolt vise fram bestefarens utflyttyingsattest  som flyttet fra Karasjok til Lakselv, han var dessuten også bestefar til Solveig, sin kone. Han fortalte meg om sin stadig økende kontaktflate med slektninger og miljø i sitt opprinnelsesland. Ved siden av å være amerikaner var han så avgjort også finnmarking! For ham som for de fleste, skulle jeg tro, var det viktig å ha så mye kontakt med røttene sine som mulig. I bilturen nordover passerte vi Universitetet der han var prosessor i biblioteksvidenskap og biblioteksdirektør.Han underviste ikke, men som direktør var han repåresentert i Universitetets styre. Jeg fikk se kontoret hans på Universitetet, og på min oppfordring tok han kontakt med ett av verdens viktigste bibliotek, Library of Congress i Washington DC, og fikk forandret termen «Lapp» til «Sami». Han fortalte hvor gledelig han syntes det var at den antisamiske holdning nå var på retur i hjemlandet, og at en samisk revitaliseringsprosess for alvor var kommet i gang. «And they have even made a map with Sámi place-names» fortalte han meg« I'll show it to you when we get home!» Det var bra å kunne oppdatere hverandre. For meg var det en stor og gledelig overraskelse at det fantes et miljø av samiskættede i Nord-Amerika. Jeg visste jo selvsagt at samer var blitt sendt dit for å drive reindrift for lenge siden, og traff faktisk noen etterkommere av dem på denne turen, et søskenpar med samisk/inuit bakgrunn. Jeg visste ikke da at en av sønnene hans Kai, allerede hadde vært i gamlelandet for å lære seg samisk, som han fortsatt mestret. Jeg traff kona Solveig som hadde omtrent samme kunstutdanning som meg, og malte, deres to sønner og datter traff jeg også. Og hans gamle mor som spurte om jeg visste hvor Ártni/Arnøya var, hun snakket faktisk litt samisk. Men helst ville hun snakke norsk med meg, et barn av de harde tider. Jeg må gjengi en typisk historie som han ofte fotalte om da han først kom til Arnøy (omtrent følgende) Da han spurte om ikke hans morfar var same, var svaret “Neiida.” «Men jeg hørte at han brukte pesk.» -“Det har ikke noe å si – i gamle dager alle brukte pesk.”«Men jeg hørte at han brukte kommaga og skaller.» -“Det har ikke noe å si – i gamle dager alle brukte kumaga og skaller.” «Men jeg forstår at han snakket samisk til daglig.»-“Det har ikke noe å si, i gamle dager alle snakket samisk.”Familien bodde i en vakker tre-villa i høydedragene med god utsikt over Lake Superior og havnebyen Duluth, det var vinter og bitende kalt. Men varmen hos denne familien gjorde godt. Et sted langs bredden av verdens største ferskavnnsinnsjø, hadde Rudolph sin personlige sieidi, en figurlignende klippe i utkanten av fjæra, som ble en øy når det var flomtid, – fin symbolikk!Jeg har truffet flere av familien igjen ved senere anledninger, under noen av deres opphold i Sápmi. Det var i februar 1982 at jeg fikk besøk av Rudolph mens jeg var aktiv i Sámi Dáiddajoavku/Samisk Kunstnergruppe i Máze/Masi. Han hadde ekstra fri fra jobben, og fant på å dra hit. Siden han bodde på mitt atelier ble det anledning til å bli bedre kjent. Han fortalte mye interessant, om hvordan han som ung var blitt tatt inn til forhør for angivelige kommunistiske sympatier, det var jo dén tiden, og hvordan man i USA får inntrykk av at de har det beste i verden av alt. «Men de har ikke spark, og de dørhåndtakene dere har her , er mye bedre enn i Sambandsstatene (US of A), For ikke å snakke om kvaliteten på TV-bildene!» Han fortalte at etter en reise til Chile med familien hadde han blitt forhørt igjen av myndighetene. Han svarte ikke og unnskyldte seg med at han ikke kunne spansk. Likevel ble han beskyldt for å være spion. Han var ganske kritisk til mye i sitt nye hjemland. Han deltok ofte på PowWow- indianernes fester, og de æret ham da også som den krigsveteran fra annen verdenskrig han var. Dette ble det også gjort opptak av og sendt på samisk TV.  De hilste ham med ordene om at «Rudy er også en kriger mot rasisme» og jeg vet hvor mye dette betød for ham, som immigrant, å bli hedret slik av Amerikas urfolk. Foruten å være aktivt mot Vietnamkrigen, var han også aktiv i NAACP (National Association fort the Advancement of Coloureed People) og lignende organisasjoner. Som ung tok han «proletarutdannelse» som «hobo» omflakkende arbeider, deriblant cowboy i Montana. Disse erfaringene preget ham resten av livet. Han var miljøbevisst og hadde aldri egen bil. Men fikk reist en god del likevel. De som vil vite mer om denne samiskamerikanske helten og hans familie kan gå til disse internettsidene: Rudolph Johnson, Pioneer for Sámi Identity av Mel Olsen: http://home.earthlink.net/%7Earran2/archive/rudolph_johnson.htm ; Om slekta hans kan du se mer her: http://home.online.no/%7Earneng/sami/nindex.htm#Rudolph%20JohnsonHan giftet seg i 1949 med Solveig Johnsen også fra Kirkenes, som han traff på Universitetets sommerskole i Oslo. Han var stolt av sine samiske røtter. Vi besøkte og traff mange på hans korte besøk i Indre Finnmark, og da han var dratt etterlyste han en ring han hadde mistet. Den ble funnet igjen hos familien Aikio i Ohcejohka/Utsjoki, og han fikk den tilbake. Nå var viktige bånd knyttet mellom de to miljøer. For meg personlig har det vært en berikelse å bli kjent med ham og hans familie, og det er med stolthet og glede jeg kan fastslå at dette var begynnelsen på noe større. Etter hvert ble det samisk/amerikanske nettverk utvidet, og aktivister som Mel Olsen, Faith Fjeld og Rudys eldste sønn Arden, som velvilligst har bidratt med informasjon, tok initiativ til organisert virksomhet og videreførte et nystartet nyhetsbrev,. Dette er nå blitt til to publikasjoner Báiki og Árran, som fortsatt kommer ut jevnlig med interessant stoff fra begge sider av den Atlantiske ring. Rudolph Johnson ble en del av den åndelige ryggrad for dette. Det er derfor så gledelig at arbeidet fortsettes av hans egne i samme ånd. Fred over ditt minne! Hans Ragnar Mathisen


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