Thursday, July 7, 2005

Cries of Minuteman heard in Hamblen County

A Hamblen County resident aims to form a Tennessee-based "Minuteman" group targeting underground expatriates. He's Native American and paints his sentiment as consistent with his people's struggles against Europeans. Hamblen County leaders are hesitant to endorse the idea, but it resonates among those who are uncomfortable with their Hispanic neighbors.

"Carl 'Two Feathers' Whitaker, an American Indian activist and erstwhile Tennessee gubernatorial candidate, tapped into a splinter group called Arizona Border Watch on a trip to Arizona in April and brought the movement back to Tennessee."

"Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce president Thom Robinson, who grew up in Montgomery, Ala., in the '60s and knows the terms and tactics long associated with hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, said the group is practicing 'the same sort of dogmatism that racists used against blacks in lower Alabama and across the South.'"

"Whitaker seems an unlikely leader for the Minutemen. But he said his American Indian heritage gives him insight into the cause. 'We know better than anybody about being pushed around,' he said."

"Red pins in a map of Tennessee hanging by his desk denote like-minded people interested in the Minutemen. Whitaker claims he's heard from more than 120 potential recruits from Morristown in the Smoky Mountain foothills to Memphis in the southwest corner of the state."

"'There are people who would just as soon pick up a gun and shoot somebody walking down the road because, hey, their family got cut off from TennCare and he knows that Mexican over there is on it. You have that mentality all throughout Tennessee,' said Minuteman supporter Ron Livingston, a computer technician."

Update: Reader Response

As a Menominee Indian I would like to make a statement concerning an article posted on your website. In NO shape or form does Carl Whitaker represent me or many, many other American Indian's opinion towards the Latino communities of the South. We are aware that the majority of our Latino brothers and sisters are also Indigenous and we clearly understand that Latino people have always been a part of this land. We know that many of them were forcibly pushed further South across a newly formed imaginary border by the advent of manifest destiny and the illegal taking of their lands.

Indigenous people throughout the world have historically shared a common thread when it comes to being displaced from their homelands and obviously Carl’s lack of knowledge in this area is revealed by his negative stance towards Latino people. For a few years now Indian communities have been encountering people such as Carl whose only goal appears to be self indulging propaganda by claiming Native American heritage without any proof.

Those who promote vigilantism must also shoulder the responsibility of the resulting bias and hatred that could cause many people to be unjustly targeted and profiled because of how they look and/or sound. These same people are actively promoting the very same kind of racist hatred that American Indians have been subjected to from the moment the very first white man stepped upon this continent.

I do not welcome or need Carl Whitaker to represent how I feel!

Kathleen Wesho-Bauer
North Little Rock, Arkansas

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