Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 5, 1973)
John Two Birds Arbuckle
says he lives for his people
1i : v -
"Our legend says that we'll have to come
from the woods and feed and clothe the
white man again, just like we did when he
first came to America . . . only this time,
we'll be caring for his spirit," John Two
Birds Arbuckle explained, a note of wonder
in his voice.
Arbuckle is a former UNL Indian
counselor, now an American Indian
Movement (AIM) organizer. Since resigning
his post in December for "personal reasons,"
Arbuckle has been traveling, talking, sitting
in jail and living for what he calls "my
"Indians believe in a cirlce, we're part of
Mother Earth-and everything's out of
balance, the psychological reverberations:
we started thinking maybe it's not the
Indian, maybe it's white society," he said,
his hands moving in delicate circles. The
cigarette in one hand left smoke circles that
drifted lazily to the ceiling of Casey's Other
Arbuckle said whites often say they can't
believe Indians are treated badly or that they
are discriminated against. Others ask how
they can help.
"Jump in your cars and come to Fort
Robinson I Some cop facing his own son is
not going to be so handy with his billy club .
. . Find out what's really happening,'
His current project is an organization
called the United Indians of Nebraska,
composed of all five Nebraska tribes.
Arbuckle helped organize it and has great
hopes for its effectiveness. He said the group
drew up several proposals recently and
presented them to state officials who were
"pleasantly surprised at such initiative and
had to go home and do their homework,"
according to Arbuckle.
Another thing on Arbuckle's mind is a
trial coming up in Scottsbluff. He is charged
with carrying concealed weapons and devices
to make flammable weapons. A school in
Alliance was fire bombed the day before
Arbuckle was arrested.
Arbuckle plans to plead innocent if the
charges "ever stand up in court," he said. His
lawyers has asked for abatement
proceedings, a review of evidence against
him by the District Court in Scottsbluff.
"Under the circumstances, there's almost
no way an Indian can get a fair trial in
Scottsbluff," he said. "So we plan to take
the case to the higher courts and to the
Supreme Court is necessary."
In addition, a restraining order was issued
two weeks ago by Federal District Court
"It's to restrain police officers from
apprehending American Indians except
under the most obvious infractions,"
Arbuckle explained. "It's to assure that
Indians will get the protection of the most
basic of white America's freedoms: The 1st
and 14th amendments."
Arbuckle snorts at the mention of
"young activists." It's the old people-the
grandfathers who are the Indian militants,
"Why, the old people fought and died
fighting the white man," Arbuckle
said. "They just want to hold on to the old
ways, they want to preserve our culture, our
religion and our language."
He said the Indian movement is not
moving away from traditional styles, but
toward them, and that thought was echoed
by the young people who arrived two weeks
ago to protest discrimination in Custer, S.D.:
Beaded be-feathered and carrying willow
bark in small pouches.
Arbuckle was raised in Arizona, part
Navaho, Hopi, Sioux, Chippewa and part
Irish. His parents were middle-class and he
attended a parochial academy until he was
16. His mother once told him that "you'll
never make it if you don't assimilate," but
he said he began to doubt that when he
started "looking aroung and seeing how
badly our people are treated." He later
entered the Army and was in the Special
Forces in Vietnam for seven years before
leaving the service with honors.
He held a post as advisory counselor for
disadvantaged students at South Dakota
State University before coming to UNL last
fall as Indian counselor.
His views on the University are mixed. He
doesn't entirely believe that an
"Anglo-Saxon" educational institution can
organize a sufficient ethnic studies
program-an all-Indian school is needed.
"The University is guilty of tokenism, but
it's not always their fault. They call you in
and say, 'we're really trying'-and they
are-but they're so paternalistic," Arbuckle
He said he'd offered to teach a course in
Indian psychology and religion, which
Wesleyan University may offer yet this
semester, but that university officials turned
it down. Director of Minority Affairs Leroy
Ramsey said he never heard a proposal for
the course, however.
"Indian studies at NU consists of one
man-Webster Robbini," Arbuckle said.
"The University should Implement an ethnic
About Wounded Knee . . .
"Wounded Knee is significant because of the massacre that
occurred there 83 years ago and I think that the over-reaction
of the U.S. marshals is much the same as the U.S. Cavalry. The
only difference between the two is that the U.S. Cavalry didn't
have a national press or a national conscience-they weren't
allowed, this time, to do what they did before.
"We look for stepped up activity as far as take-overs and
other activities are concerned ... the Indian people are not
going to be ignored."
-John Two Birds Arbuckle
story by Sara schwieder
photos by Dan Ladely
Judge Warren Urbom directed to Scottsbluff
officials' handling of the case.
The restraining order required law
enforcement officers to Scotts Bluff County
to "protect the constitutional rights of
plaintiffs who are Indian and
Mexican-American," according to Urbom.
The order also required officers to allow
out-of-state attorneys to represent their
clients in Scottsbluff County, as well as
permit the plaintiffs' families visit them in
jail during regular visiting hours, Judge
studies department, and make a bigger effort
to hire more Indian people."
He said the Minority Affairs Department,
of which Indian affairs is a part, is too
predominantly black, and that "actually,
there are more Indians in Nebraska than
Arbuckle is running in the May election
for the Lincoln City Council. He describes
his campaign as "low-key," anddesigned so
low-income people-especially students and
minorities-will have a voice on the Council.
monday, march 5, 1973
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