Deidra Suwanee Dees
Harvard University

March 21, 2003

First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush
1600 Pennsylvania NW
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mrs. Bush:

As a biracial Native American born into Muscogee Nation, I studied Middle Eastern political science, international studies and the Arabic language at the University of South Alabama, and Native American studies at Cornell University. I am now pursuing my doctoral degree in Education at Harvard University. As I work on my dissertation, I am overcome by the moral and political issues surrounding President George W. Bush leading the United States military in the invasion of Iraq. My research on European colonization and Native American history coupled with my family’s teachings on Muscogee history bring me to oppose this war seeing it as yet another act of aggression by descendants of the white people who killed my ancestors. This war of your husband’s and his father brings to my mind horrible atrocities committed by your grandmothers and grandfathers against my people, painful results including eradication and exclusion which we still live with today. For example, how many Native American nations are represented in your Congress? How many Native American nations are represented in your United Nations? How is Native American sovereignty represented in your government today?

May I remind you that the land you and your husband are sleeping on tonight was stolen from legitimate sovereign powers of indigenous nations under the guise of "justified wars" called Manifest Destiny and Christianization. These facades were brought to the forefront of my consciousness when I heard your husband say he wanted to "liberate the Iraqi people" which I believe is yet another façade. In David Wallace Adams’ book Education for Extinction, he examines the façade of how white American policymakers manipulated indigenous peoples and the educational system for their own end, cloaking their intentions in a shroud of charity —pretending to hold the best interest of Native Americans at heart. But in reality, Adams writes, the intent of their hearts was, "We must either butcher them or civilize them, and what we do we must do quickly," —an intention that can be extrapolated to what Iraqis are facing at present.

As I prepare a warrior basket for one of our Muscogee warriors coerced to fight in the United States military on the warfront in Iraq, I come to you because you are a woman who cares deeply about humanity and social justice. I beseech you as a mother, a giver of life, to influence your husband in reconsidering the morality of loosing lives on both the coalition and the Iraqi sides of this war. I ask you to consider influencing him to end this war immediately and to seek other alternatives to resolve his grievances with the Iraqi regime, knowing there are many viable alternatives to continuing this full-scale war. I beseech you and your family to turn away from following the colonial actions and egregious genocide of your ancestors knowing now the tragic outcome upon Native American people, a similar outcome that could befall the Iraqi people. Thank you for your consideration.

Good medicine,
Ms. Deidra Suwanee Dees
cc: President George W. Bush

Muscogee Blood Quantum

Muscogee blood quantum
higher than mine,

she colors her hair yellow
cover her Indianess,

Muscogee blood quantum
lower than hers,

I color my hair black to

powerful Muscogee women,
yet we color our identity
because of our whiteness

Mirror, Mirror

I looked into the mirror today, smiling for a change, wondering what it would teach me. I noticed the ripples in the clay-colored wrinkles beside my eyes delineating the signs of wisdom that only age can bring. The mirror reminds me I will turn thirty-eight this season, a reminder that I have traveled a long way from the reluctant womb that was a receptacle for my entrance into this world, the reluctant womb that gave me up because I was a biracial birth. Because I did not have a fit mother as the other Muscogees had, I’ve been coerced to find things out on my own that I otherwise would have been taught. I find myself realizing I’ve spent all of my life doing this... and wondering if I will spend the remainder of however long I have left doing the same thing. How beneficial it would have been had I been taught the necessary life skills that come from loving mothers, skills I’ve had to scratch and claw for, by humiliating trial and error, fighting and struggling every step of the way; indeed, fighting against the womb that bore me.

Peering into the mirror, I asked, "How can I comprehend this all?" If I die like my beautiful vanilla-skinned daughter in a tragic auto-train accident, or if I die like my dark chocolate-skinned father in a head-on truck collision, what will be the moral of my story? That I scratched and clawed for nothing? That my terra cotta-skinned life was worthless and "good for nothing" like the biological one who bore me used to say?

While these are plausible considerations, the mirror reveals to me there is some force inside me—a strong life force—that compels me forward, and even fancies at times brief images of being somebody; brief images of me rising above what others see as unattractive mixed-race skin. I sometimes see my reflection of greatness which I have relegated to a cry for significance from my inner clay-stained child. The one who was neglected, abused and rejected; the one who because of this can never be whole. I have become strong, my skin taut, by learning to live with the ever-present anguish of not being whole, while whole people have passed me by, enjoying their wholeness, unaware of my fragment.