WGBH Journal; The Longest Walk
Good afternoon. And welcome to GBH Journal. This is Bill kept us. On today's journal over here about the Longest Walk organized by Native Americans in support of legislation before Congress. And we will hear from a Boston College professor who discusses the issue of worker ownership and a profile of a Cambridge based group of science for the people. And a close we'll have commentary on that he was from the alliance.
Indians and those who support them marched across the United States in the longest walk. They're now heading back to their tribes in this country and in Canada. Among them Maynard Stanley activist from the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine and lawyer Lugo it's a long time advocate of Indian rights. Stanley stopped off in the WGBH studios this morning to discuss the longest walk with reporter Amy sands. They said the walk was prompted in part by a bill proposed in Congress known as the Native Americans Equal Opportunity Act. It is here explained by Lugo it's.
There would be no more reservations. Indian people would be individuals who own their own piece of land subject to state taxation federal taxation. All right they would no longer be treated as a tribe. No one would have to deal with them as a group of people. They would be dealt with as individuals by the state canned by the feds.
Now it's clear to understand on the very basis of this there's been a series of attempts at Genesis a genocide in the sense of destroying the cultural and value system that these people live with. Now this is just the latest in a series of attacks the Indian Reorganization Act was one the Indian citizenship act was another the violation of all the treaties were others. Now these series of acts which would say that we treat Indian people just like everybody else.
Would that mean that reservation land would be divided up as a series of pieces of property would be allotted by the government.
It would be allotted and that's how most of the Indian land that was stolen in this country was stolen in Oklahoma in Massachusetts in Maine. A lot of other places many people together that only it was divided then they were taxed. They couldn't pay the taxes the state moved in and took their land because they couldn't pay taxes on land that they had only historically. They took the only and sold it to to private companies.
Indians are presently taxed for the reservation with a little know what do you think prompted the introduction of that act right now. What's going on. Is there other economic reasons and for instance the state of Washington.
40 percent 60 percent of the uranium left in the United States is left on Indian land 35 40 percent of the coal left in the United States is on Indian land. All kinds of natural resources trees all of the trees the Menominee as have all the trees of the Passamaquoddy isn't an obstacle to have. If you go to Wisconsin and you drive on to the Menominee reservation it's barren no trees for miles up to hit the reservation and there's nothing but trees to get to the other side of the reservation and there's no trees anymore. So the only place there are trees left in that area with the Menominee reservation is. That's true all across the country that the natural resources have been kept and protected by Indian people as it always has been. Now what these people seek to do is to get control of those resources get their land away from the Indian people get their development companies in there and start getting the ore out or whatever it is that they want the fish the trees the birds whatever.
It was not the Earth we have we don't have we don't have the natural.
We won't be surrounded by our natural home land but they're not asking you to sell it right there on that asking you to try to I mean it seems like it would destroy your culture.
Well if you're out of here you have to pay taxes on land and unite able to somebody is going to come by in an auction and buy it you know and then you've got to move to Boston and we're not going to set up a sweat lodge in the Commons. You know everybody will get drunk and say wow you know my diet you know so well like for instance where I live out we have some natural spring water we must grab wheat proper as we are and all of that would be taken away from me and I'd have to go back in there as a sports fisherman and I'm not I druther die on two feet and live on one knee.
One of the problems that we seem to be having not that it's any real problem but one of the difficulties between your questions and our answers is that I think you're united stepping that is a totally different value system at work here. So that it's not just a question of having the land allocated and the possibility of losing the land even if they didn't lose the land by the allocation the mere allocation of the land destroys a way of life. One of the things that would be one of the messages and trying maybe you guys remember who said it but there was this thing in the Bureau of Indian Affairs papers that we came across when that building was taken over 1972 and it was a memorandum from the executive to the executive from the Commission on Indian Affairs saying we've got to make Indian people stop thinking in terms of us and start thinking in terms of meat. Think about that. That's what Americans are taught to think in terms of me. Numeral uno right take care number one for all the stuff I do life. We all get it right. That's not the way it is in the Indian community.
It's there a village there a tribe everyone is related to everyone everyone you see in the course of your trip through Mashpee. If you're with an Indian everyone you see that's my cousin here that's my uncle that's my ad that's my niece this one's related on that side that was related on this side there is a different value system at work here.
What do you think you got out of the book.
Practically speaking in terms of legislation official recognition in Washington those kinds of things primarily what it did was it brought the attention and the energy of Indian people together in Washington at one time as has been told by the Indian prophecies that indeed people from around the country would come together there that they would be joined by sisters and brothers from across the waters and that even to the extent of the orange robes that's been described as flowing Buddhist robes that these people wore as they walked down the road.
And all of that energy.
Spirituality came together in Washington in such a way that it impressed Congress Congress doesn't react in a direct way about anything. I mean they're not going to stand up and say Well you've convinced me that this bill shouldn't be pushed any further when they're trying to reintroduce those bills next year we're not going to have to start from scratch we're going to be able to point back to the energy that was directed here to the information that was gathered here and show them why those bills should not be reintroduced and why they can't be passed which is always the big danger you know they put a bill in one year you defeat it and then the next year when you're not looking they slip one unit that accomplishes the same thing but isn't nearly as fun and buoyant.
Forgive me for dividing things up but would you talk a little bit about some of the spiritual effects you think well can you.
And on the people that that you met along the line of the walk you know it brought people together from cities and reservation.
And they got along so perfect. I didn't you can't tell what's the difference. You know as much as they've been trying to simulate a new swath this country a lot of them were students there was a lot of them just live in the city and work every day or they just hang out in the city are unemployed what have you. Every facet of the society was represented there and the people. And they got along as one of them couldn't speak Indian but they they communicated. So it was a United Nations meeting.
Join us for a scenario some warning you may find out that the company you work for is being phased out because the profit margin is too low. As a result of the threat of closure your community is faced with the possibility of rampant unemployment. Such a crisis situation often causes workers to consider the possibility of worker ownership and control of business. Reporter Maureen Kelleher discussed this option with Dr. Severn Brennan professor of sociology at Boston College and author of the social economy people transforming modern business.
Most people in this country would argue that a normal government is not a good thing that is when the bureaucracy gets so huge. People begin to lose the amount of freedom that they've got so my interest in putting together the materials in this book was in part to try to determine how you reduce the amount of government that is developing in this country. One of the reasons why the government has been expanding the extent to which it has has been due to the fact that business has not been operating in the Public Interest Of course it operates in its own private interest and by. By virtue of that it tends perhaps unintentionally to lead to more government agencies more regulatory commissions. So one of the things that I've been looking at really has been the way in which business can organize itself so that it doesn't constantly destroy the environment it doesn't exploit the consumer doesn't cause vast unemployment and that sort of thing is a worker cooperated a step in that kind of direction. It's one of the things that helps solve this problem. And we've been working actually with Worker Cooperatives through Boston College in various ways. The worker cooperative can be organized in such a way that it reduces the necessity for a firm to well to shut down. We found that in the big conglomerate system of corporations that we've got at the present time that there's a tendency to shut down a plant even if it's making a profit. The more that we see that corporations move from one location to another and shut down plants or move out of the country too. Taiwan or some developing country where the wages are low. The more we lose because the workers have to go on welfare and unemployment compensation.
There are a couple of programs that are being started locally. One in Roxbury and one in Jamaica Plain. What what is exactly going on there.
We are in the process of consulting with two with people in those two communities to organize a pellet factory in Roxbury. We have some interest already demonstrated from for buying these these palettes corporations in the in the local area. So we're going to. We're in the process now of bringing together a company composed of workers who do not have a job at the present time and who will then compose that factory and will make those pallets and sell them. Those workers will own the company and manage the company. We are only in a position of helping to facilitate that process. And in Jamaica Plain also a retrofit company that is. We are going to begin there we have begun already to look at the mortgage market situation because there's a great need in this case for insulation. This is what the word really means house insulation. So you need skilled carpenters. And a number of people are going to start in that company. The problem that we're now working out is whether or not people can afford it. You say there's a lot of need for insulating houses but in Jamaica Plain a lot of the families can't afford it. And so you have to calculate that whole question of whether the company can begin profitably.
Why is it so difficult to convince people that work on business is a good idea.
Well I think there's a lot of misconceptions about worker ownership and management. We know now a lot more about that. This is one of the reasons why I put this book together there are a lot of factories and plants in this country that are organized under employee ownership and employee management. And some of them are rather large. There's the American cast iron pipe company in Mobile Alabama and they've got 3000 workers there's the Milwaukee Journal and they have a television station also which totally involves I guess fifteen hundred workers. And this of course goes across the board to all types of industry. It's a new phenomena really and we've got to learn a little bit more about it. We have in our program begun to learn enough to consult with workers to help them do it right. What about kids now Speaker gassin off bakery was shut down now over a year ago we went to work with them and the workers were employees were very pleased we had the manager was with us and what happened in that particular case was that it took a little bit longer to convince some people the state and some banks that employee ownership was OK. And in that time then the owner of Kasson Office found that he could not hold on to that subsidiary any longer and shut it down. So in place of Kasson us we have no nothing except a lot of people on welfare and into unemployment compensation. But now after this period of time I think that the state and banks and the Small Business Administration are all recognizing that this is a legitimate form of change and that the employees can under good guidance can take over and do it properly there is a coarse need for training. There is it's an educational process. It's not something it's done easily but it can be done. And we think that it ought to be done because it's one way in which we reduce the amount of of government through the welfare system.
Politically active community organizations and publications are a plentiful reminder of how much is really going on. There are many groups which are known to a small and loyal constituency. Cambridge a center of science and this country is also the home of an organization called science for the people which is profiled in this report.
Science for the people is a nationwide organization which re-evaluate the traditional roles of science and scientists in our society. This re-evaluation is done by pointing out the direct relation between scientific experiments and their political consequences. Members come from a wide range of interested people from dissident scientists to lab technicians to factory workers. Scott Schneider a staff member recalls how it all began.
I think it began in 1968. There was a meeting at the American Physics Society and at that meeting there were a group of scientists who were very concerned about what was going on in terms of the war effort. But health businesses in particular had supported the why for it and. And they decided to to write down a pledge which essentially said well we as physicists do not support the war effort and will refuse to do Department of Defense Research and this pledge was circulated in and sort of spread in a lot of people from that decided to form an organization called scientists for social political action. And they start publishing a bi monthly newsletter called science for the people. And the name their position changed to become science for the people which is how are generally known now. What is the basic philosophy behind which people and scientists are supposedly as so myth has it sort of going out and pursuing the truth looking for the facts and then you know politicians or the public will determine what gets done with it. But that's not really what the case. In reality scientists are you know have to get funding and and they have to tailor their research projects to where they can get money for them. And most of the scientific research right now comes from industry and from the Department of Defense. So scientists really are not free to choose which projects to do or to pursue the truth as they see it. So our first premise I think is that science is not a political scientist by the very kind of research they do and decide to do or decide not to do or making political choices and those choices have political consequences that people have to be aware of. And scientists have to be more cognizant of when they're doing the research.
This philosophy of constant awareness and criticism is reflected in the activities of science for the people there. Bi monthly magazine of the same name acts as a forum for ideas discussions and debates nationally stands for the people has worked closely with the in-fact coalition to boycott Nestle's products and the mobilization for survival to protest nuclear power plants. The Boston chapter located in Cambridge sponsors study groups in social biology food and nutrition genetics screening and computers. Other chapters around the country are similarly active.
The end Arbitron chapter for instance put on a symposium attacking biological determinism and put out a book from that called biology as a social weapon. That chapter in San Francisco in Berkeley produced half hour radio shows about different activities in different topics in science with which they air over KPFA a dozen people just went to China to study agriculture in China. A lot of people are involved in different chapters in Boston and in Ann Arbor for instance writing curricula for high school teachers to use to talk about science teaching in science in high schools. So there's a big diversity of activities.
These activities all emphasize the need for change in our social system as it exists today despite the overtones of social radicalism. Science for the people claims to be a nonsectarian and tries to maintain a broad political base is the range of political attitudes in the organization.
Is is just is very wide. There are people in the organization that are that are sort of progressive liberals and people that are that are that are anarchists. But I think in general the organization is politically left and does try to present a radical perspective on science. You know something alternative to what what the scientific establishment is giving us. And what's being taught. You know in schools. But I think most people do believe. I think that there's going to have to be some sort of social change you know order for science to better serve all the people in in the in the country as opposed to only you know the status quo only only the government only industry rather than having science be used to make more profits for a particular company. To have it to have it turned around such that that the purpose of doing science is specifically to benefit people.
Scott Snyder staff member of science for the people for GBH Journal.
To complete today's TV external commentary on the news with Alliance while Ilocos focused on disputes between Tip O'Neill and Senator Kennedy it was President Carter 19 nonaligned nations concluded a summit conference aimed at keeping their own conflicts local and presenting a common front against dominance by the great powers. The Belgrade conference ended in divisions and compromises according to the American reports. But to Amos found full agreement. Wanted to keep nonaligned from a Cold War this was the aim that created the organization of non-alignment 17 years ago and the other a demand for a better break in the economic relations with the industrial nations in which these third world countries feel exploited. But in seeking to insulate the world from the East West conflict that direction is shifted basically according to The New York Times correspondent Farlow as she reports that the nonaligned are now largely turned in the opposite direction from their original aim. Now leaning against the Soviet Union as more aggressive than the West. But even in those divisions where to shop for agreement on a united policy against big power interventions such as Tito just you know opening their meeting the Cubans found enough acceptance of their activity in Africa to block a proposed boycott of the next non-alignment meeting scheduled for have an out. But the economic issue demand for better terms and world markets turn criticism largely against the United States as leader of the Western industrial world. Their conclusions are expressed in the weasel worded compromises familiar in summit conferences of the West for instance. To quote a New York Times Dispatch Cambodia urged condemnation of expansionism which is it a code word for Vietnamese military actions. Vietnam agreed because expansionism is it's time for Chinese activities. China's supporters agreed because expansionism is China's code word for Soviet foreign ambitions. If the politics of non-alignment is hard for the West to understand they blame our reporting and the dominance of Western news agencies in the world. One thing on which the nonaligned countries agreed was the neglect or hostility of the big question. News agencies there is what is called a council for the coordination of information in the nonaligned countries. Its chairman in a statement that The New York Times publishes today charges a blatant lack of interest by the big news agencies in the problems of the Third World. He claims this is demonstrated by the location of the five largest news agencies correspondents 34 percent in the United States 28 percent in Europe only 17 percent in Asia and Australia 11 percent in Latin America 6 percent in the Middle East 4 percent in Africa. Of course there are partial reasons for this. Journalism in our sense is part of the culture of Europe and the United States where it has common roots. Foreign reporting is restricted in many countries of Africa and Asia. The current difficulties of American correspondents in Moscow are in point. In some countries as of Africa any organization of communication facilities is lacking in others any tradition of reporting as distinct from propaganda. You know there's the problems of visas of free movement of familia. But this nonaligned study charges quote There are obvious abuses in the reporting particularly the tendentious reporting or interpretating of international conferences as well as the silence that greets any event that testifies to our desire to emerge from under development and quote. Such missions are sometimes due to negligence but more often deliberate policy charges result in not being portrayed by caricature. And sometimes ridicule quote continuing at present. There is nothing we can do as a news consumer countries to protect ourselves from abuse. But this council is anxious to create a pool of nonaligned news agencies to supplement the international agency coverage to Western suspicion of this. He asserts the concept of a new of a new world information or does not imply that the state will take over the developing countries news media. On the contrary it entails fostering the developing of those countries news media so they can participate in a more well balanced flow of news from all parts of the world. And quote so Utopian outlook is doubtless an exaggerated claim to a nonaligned philosophy but it presents the other side of the coin. Thirty years ago Cristobal Rand one of the most conscientious of off our foreign correspondents described the problem of a correspondent subject of American bias. His term the cure he wrote is for a reporter to be as detached as he can he must learn to float free and almost at the National eyes himself. He need only open his senses and that impressions come in unhindered. But Rand realized this too was a utopian aim. A reporter who reached that stage would be in for a bad time with the readers and editors both if he learned detachment his readers would think him cold and negative he'd be called home for reorientation. So reporters are probably no more to blame than the man in the street who values his dream world and wants others to help maintain it. Rand concluded reporting indeed may not get better until everything else does.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- WGBH Journal
- The Longest Walk
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- Chicago: “WGBH Journal; The Longest Walk,” 1978-07-31, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-60qrfxb4.
- MLA: “WGBH Journal; The Longest Walk.” 1978-07-31. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-60qrfxb4>.
- APA: WGBH Journal; The Longest Walk. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-60qrfxb4