Saturday December 2nd 2023

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Raise Your Voice – Sitting Bull vs Jeff Bezos

By Peter Molenaar

This parcel of territory, this domain of the Alley, if you will, has imprinted upon the writer’s mind since employment at Smith Foundry began in 1979. He was also, at that time, a volunteer at the Paul Robeson Marxist Bookstore, located in  DinkyTown. A poster of the iconic Sitting Bull was prominent on the wall there.

So then, I was pleasantly surprised to find Curt Brown’s MINNESOTA HISTORY article (Star Tribune, Sunday, December 12),: “Looking back on Sitting Bull’s visits”. I had no idea that Sitting Bull had toured the Twin Cities on two occasions subsequent to Custer’s last stand. He actually attended mass at the Assumption Catholic Church in Richfield!

As far as the eye could see, far beyond seven generations, what spirit did the sitting bull manifest… reflection, contemplation, meditation, even serene contentment while chewing the cud? Such was the nature of his namesake.

These were whirlwind tours that were punctuated with press briefings, a telephone, ballet and theater, even an aborted assassination attempt. Federal agents intended to impress. However, there were starving people on the Dakota plains.

Even so, on a bitter cold day, “a beggar woman, with a worn wistful face and pleading eyes, stood in a supplicating attitude, her thin blue hands outstretched for alms.” From the proceeds of his autograph sales, Sitting Bull plucked out at least $10 of silver—worth about $280 today—and handed it to the woman… thus the opulence of tall buildings contrasted with her plight.

How does Jeff Bezos compare with Sitting Bull? From Wikipedia: “Jeffrey… American entrepreneur, media proprietor, investor, computer engineer, commercial astronaut… he is the founder of Amazon… with a net worth of around $200 billion, he is the wealthiest person in the world…”

Okay then, Bernie Sanders put it this way: “instead of attempting to go to the moon, how about Jeff Bezos pays his workers a living wage?’ Moreover, Bezos deploys an electronic monitoring system to enforce rapid repetitive motion on his workers. The result, for example: workers at the Shakopee facility suffer twice the injury rate of other Minnesota warehouse workers, also an extraordinary burn-out-turn-over rate, or otherwise a retired life with serious arthritis.

Hey folks, locally, it is largely our East African neighbors who have borne the brunt of Amazon’s brutality. Their effort to build worker’s power emanates from the Awood Center, housed within Bethany Lutheran Church, 2511 E. Franklin Avenue. Their struggle is our struggle. Right?

With Sitting Bull in mind…

In our approach to children, we should ponder Lenin’s thesis regarding the historical basis of the uneven development of peoples. It follows: Minnesota will, one day soon, develop a traveling cadre of Native American educators for the purpose of uplifting every child, including our white kids who all too frequently need special attention.

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