paging Karen Hughes!

Native Americans Criticize Bush's Silence
25 March 2005, Ceci Connolly, Washington Post

MINNEAPOLIS, March 24 -- Native Americans across the country-- including tribal leaders, academics and rank-and-file tribe members-- voiced anger and frustration Thursday that President Bush has responded to the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history with silence.

Three days after 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed nine members of his Red Lake tribe before taking his own life, grief-stricken American Indians complained that the White House has offered little in the way of sympathy for the tribe situated in the uppermost region of Minnesota.

"From all over the world we are getting letters of condolence, the Red Cross has come, but the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing," said Clyde Bellecourt, a Chippewa Indian who is the founder and national director of the American Indian Movement here. "When people's children are murdered and others are in the hospital hanging on to life, he should be the first one to offer his condolences. . . . If this was a white community, I don't think he'd have any problem doing that."

Weise's victims included his grandfather and five teenagers; seven other students were wounded, and two of them remain in serious condition in a hospital in Fargo, N.D.

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The reaction to Bush's silence was particularly bitter given his high-profile, late-night intervention on behalf of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman caught in a legal battle over whether her feeding tube should be reinserted.


"The fact that Bush preempted his vacation to say something about Ms. Schiavo and here you have 10 native people gunned down and he can't take time to speak is very telling," said David Wilkins, interim chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the North Carolina-based Lumbee tribe.

"He has not been real visible in Indian country," said former senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.). "He's got a lot of irons in the fire, but this is important."

Even more alarming than Bush's silence, he said, is the president's proposal to cut $100 million from several Indian programs next year.

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