Letters To The Editor


November 29, 2007

Native Americans live right next door

My family celebrates Thanksgiving the same way we celebrate Columbus Day: We participate in sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies to mourn the loss our ancestors suffered in the colonization of what became America and to honor the sacrifices made by our ancestors to enable us to be here.

It's a small act of defiance but an important way of asserting that the indigenous people of this land are indeed still here.

I was pleased, then, to see that The Sun published Andrew L. Yarrow's commentary in its Thanksgiving Day issue ("Reach out to American Indians the other 364 days of the year," Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 22).

Mr. Yarrow overturns many misperceptions. But the one most relevant to the urban Indian is the myth that most native people live on reservations.

In fact, we go about our lives as your neighbors, co-workers and friends as truly an invisible minority.

While our connections to our traditions are strong, we must strike an uneasy balance as we seek to remain true to our heritage and strive to function with integrity in a world that consistently seeks to squash our history.

However, images from films such as Dances With Wolves can trap Indian people in the mythic past and make it harder for the non-native to see us as we are today.

In spite of what you may see at powwows, ours is not a monolithic culture but rather a richly diverse one whose songs, stories and practices vary from nation to nation.

Many thanks for printing Mr. Yarrow's column.

I hope that others will read it and remember that after the cute Thanksgiving decorations are put aside for another year, we real Indian people are still very much alive and very much here - maybe right under your nose or even the brim of your Washington Redskins cap.

Kerry Hawk Lessard

Ellicott City

The writer is a volunteer for Native American Lifeline, a social services agency that assists Native Americans in Baltimore.

Democrats help fuel the war machine

What will it take to convince everyone that the Democratic Party is the oxygen for the fire of the war machine?

Look whom the party chose last week to be its spokesman for the customary Saturday address by the "opposition" party - retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez.

Mr. Sanchez was directly involved in the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

If Democrats of good conscience do not repudiate their party's choice, they will have no one but themselves to blame for the continuing war in Iraq and the erosion of our basic human and civil rights.

Myles Hoenig


Saudi Arabia isn't a moderate state

According to The Sun: "The participation of the Saudis and other moderate Arab states [in the Mideast peace conference] has been considered critical, analysts said, because of the U.S. intent to form a coalition of moderate Arabs and Israel against Iran" ("U.S. voices optimism on talks," Nov. 21).

But how can Saudi Arabia, a nation whose citizens have contributed so much money to Arab terrorists and where the law has scheduled 200 lashes for a 19-year-old rape victim, be described as "moderate" ("Judges defend term for gang-rape victim," Nov. 21)?

Jon Valentine


Licenses for illegals make roads safer

The people who oppose driver's licenses for illegal immigrants seem to be missing or ignoring a very important point: They are going to drive with or without licenses ("Licenses for illegals ignore other laws," letters, Nov. 21).

Illegal immigrants have knowingly violated the laws of two nations to come here to work. If they feel they need to drive to get to work, the lack of a license isn't going to stop them.

It's a matter of public safety. Getting a driver's license means getting some training in safely operating a vehicle and instruction on U.S. traffic laws. This drives down the likelihood of an accident.

We need to be realistic. The illegal immigrants are already here. They're already driving.

Having them get driver's licenses can help mitigate the consequences of those facts.

And they will get licenses, if they are offered, because doing so will lower their risk of being arrested.

Craig Bettenhausen


Reusable bags cause no inconvenience

While I generally agree with the editorial "Blowin' in the wind" (Nov. 27), I disagree with its characterization of reusable bags as an "inconvenience." The problem isn't that the bags are an inconvenience; it's our attitudes.

Too many people think that using reusable bags doesn't make much difference. But collectively it can make a huge difference.

The cloth bags my family uses are stronger and can hold more than plastic bags can. Every time my wife grocery shops, we avoid the use of at least 10 plastic bags, which comes to more than 500 a year.

A couple of years ago, we purchased a nifty, pocket-size, zippered, folding reusable bag in Australia, and such bags are now available here.

These bags fit easily into my back pocket, my wife's purse or the car door pocket.

Our local supermarket sells reusable bags and gives a per-bag discount for using them.

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