Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005  

Commentary: Indian chief used myth to mislead

I watched the performance of some leaders of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa after Jeff Weise's murder spree with a skeptical eye. I say performance because that is what it was. Whenever someone puts on the 'I am a mysterious Indian' hat that person is performing. Indians are no more mysterious than anyone else. But, the mythology of the Noble Savage is far the from dead. Talk about mysterious rites and secret words and some white Americans will eat it up. It's all so ex-o-tic, they say. Chief Floyd "Buck" Jourdain and his minions probably thought they would get away with it when they barred outsiders from the reservation and urged members of the tribe not to talk about the circumstances of Weise's life, all allegedly for the sake of Indian authenticity.

Time told of the abuse reporters attempting to cover the story experienced last week.

The Red Lake Tribal Council took strong measures in the days after the shootings to rein in press access to their sprawling reservation. On Tuesday tribal chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. announced that reporters must stay inside a fenced parking lot next to the reservation detention center. Reporters caught roaming the reservation suffered tough penalties. Many were escorted off tribal land and instructed never to return. Two photographers were arrested and spent the night in jail. Two others were pulled over at gunpoint by tribal police. Police confiscated their cameras. "This is insane," said Bill McAuliffe, a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune who was among the first on the scene.

If tribal leaders intended a coverup, they have failed. Investigators have learned that other persons were apparently involved in the planned massacre. One of those persons is Buck Jourdain's adolescent son.

The Kansas City Star reports.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - (KRT) - The teenage son of Red Lake Nation tribal chairman Floyd Jourdain has been arrested on federal charges stemming from last week's deadly school shooting on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Louis Jourdain, 15, a student at Red Lake Senior High School where Jeff Weise fatally shot five students, a teacher and a security guard before killing himself March 21, was taken into custody Sunday evening, according to sources with knowledge of the arrest.

One of the sources, who spoke on the condition his name not be used, said Jourdain and Weise exchanged e-mails that discussed Weise's intent to go on a shooting rampage at the school. Other teenagers who were in e-mail contact with Weise also could face charges in the coming days.

The sources declined to provide details about the correspondence, but indicated the alleged conversations between Jourdain and Weise were troubling enough to prompt the filing of conspiracy-related charges.

It is too early to say how the investigation and charges will turn out. But, based on what I've read, there does appear to have been knowledge of Weise's intentions by other members of the tribe. Jourdain initially refused to comment. He now says his son is innocent, according to an article in Wired.

Reasonably related

Read more about the investigation at the New York Times. Wired says that Louis Jourdain may have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

posted by J. | 3:05 AM