Update: The Tribune has updated the story, and Iron Eyes is now claiming that 21 stoves are on the way. Which doesn’t seem like very many for a $60,000 investment.
Chase Iron Eyes is an attorney and Native American activist. He works for the Lakota People’s Law Project and runs the website Last Real Indians which is an epicenter of left-wing activism for Native Americans.
The LRI website helped fan the flames of a controversy surrounding Rep. Kevin Cramer supposed verbal abuse of tribal leaders. The website often features contributions from anti-fossil fuel activist Winona LaDuke, and aligned itself with the Occupy Wall Street movement from a few years ago.
The website is very influential among Native American communities and is very active on Social Media (the website’s Facebook page has over 180,000 likes).
Earlier this year Iron Eyes started an online fundraising venture for a worthy cause. Last year’s brutal winter was exacerbated by a propane shortage which left many on the reservation without heat. Iron Eyes sought to raise $50,000 through an IndieGoGo campaign to buy stoves for reservation citizens. His campaign was successful, raising over $60,000 by March of this year, but according to the Bismarck Tribune today none of those stoves have been delivered yet and Iron Eyes isn’t responding to requests for information.
“The Tribune’s numerous efforts to reach Iron Eyes have been unsuccessful,” the paper writes in an editorial today. “Phone messages, emails, Facebook messages and messages through Iron Eyes’ website “Last Real Indians” haven’t been returned.”
It seems obvious that Iron Eyes is avoiding contact, as he’s certainly been active on Social Media. He was hawking Last Real Indians t-shirts on his Twitter account, and has posted as of yesterday on Facebook. So why isn’t he responding to the Tribune?
One hates to assume the worst, but this doesn’t look very good. Winter is upon us, and the help pledged by Iron Eyes hasn’t arrived for the reservations.
I’ve long felt that the generational problems with substance abuse, poverty, and crime in the Native American communities is not something which can be corrected by anyone but Native Americans. I think that those of outside of the communities can pontificate about the way things oughta be, but we’re not a part of that community. We don’t have their life experiences. Imposing a “fix” for what ails the Native American communities from the outside is only going to be met with resentment, and perhaps rightfully so.
The Native Americans must lift themselves up. Sadly, they’re far too often sabotaged by charlatans and corrupt leaders in their own midst.
Let’s hope this isn’t another example of that.