Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Red Lake Shooting

The most recent school shooting has happened on the Red Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota. Jeff Weise, a sophmore at Red Lake High School, shot 24 people. Ten have died, including Jeff himself. It is the worst incident of school violence since Columbine, where fifteen died and 23 were wounded.

I've been reading the news reports, from CNN.com and nytimes.com and some of the local smaller Minnesota papers. Indianz.com has a summary of all the current articles on the shooting.

The thing that struck me the most about Jeff Weise was his reported interest and admiration for Hitler. Not the sort of thing you would expect to find in a Native kid living on a rez. He was a poster on the nazi.org website under the name "NativeNazi" and "Todesengel". He has a Hitler quote in his .sig and he has one post admiring Charles Manson's philosophy. Although I will say both the quote and the philosophy seem rather mundane when you read them without knowing who wrote them (follow link above). Ah, the seduction of words when the actions they inspire are not taken into account.

He also posted on a "Native American For Nationalists from 'Native American'/'Indian' tribes" forum, but that info, according to Indianz.com, cannot be retrieved.

I admit I am left even more curious in reading his postings. He seems like a nice normal kid, with a sense of humor and intellectual curiosity. I want to know what was going on in his head that made his go on this murderous self-destructive shooting spree.

He was only a sophmore in high school, but his life had been difficult. He had lost his father to suicide, his mother to brain damage resulting from a car accident. He was living in a rural population where 40% of the people live below the poverty line. He was, by some accounts, a "goth-kid, loner" - but not so unusual for Indian kids, including myself. What drew him to neo-nazi philosophies? Was it the nationalist rhetoric? He is quoted as saying "I guess I've always carried a natural admiration for Hitler and his ideals, and his courage to take on larger nations." How that turned into the belief that he should kill his grandfather and companion and then go to school and apparently randomly shoot 24 people, and finally himself, we will probably never know.

It is a heartbreaking mystery to me, and I can only feel sorrow at the wasted life.

I think also, there is a perception that this sort of school violence is a white problem. Clyde Bellecourt, founder of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement, is quoted as saying: "Everyone in the Indian community is feeling really bad right now, whether they're a member of the Red Lake or not, we're all an extended family, we're all related. Usually this happens in places like Columbine, white schools, always somewhere else. We never hear that in our community."

But his brother Vernon points out the obvious: "No one would ever think that that type of violence would visit itself in our communities, it's not part of our culture and our traditions, so we're kind of puzzled by it all. But our young people are not exempt from the same problems young people have across the country, so our communities are now being victimized by this same kind of violence."

9 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

I heard on the radio that he didn't shoot any Native Americans only white kids.

Is that true?

3:05 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

I hadn't heard that. He definitely shot his grandparents, who obviously arent white. And considering the Rez is, according to news accounts, 90% Native and closed to outsiders, I find that hard to believe. From what news source did you hear that?

3:49 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

Dr. Strangejazz asked if the victims were all white, and I can say definitely not. I saw some of the photos of his victims on the ABC Nightly News and they were Native kids.

I am curious where you heard such a nasty rumor.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

I heard it on the radio this morning. I wasn't really sure that's why I asked.

This is a really awful situation all around.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Lawrence Angelo said...

Regarding your comment Dr. Strangejazz, didn't you hear anything about the kid being obsessed with Nazism, Hitler, and Charles Manson. I cannot think of a more obvious way to demonstrate white sympathies. Whoever is perpetuating this rumor must want people to believe that there is so much hate towards whites on these reservations that white people should beware or better yet, do something before it is too late.

5:33 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

Hi Lawrence

Regarding your comment Dr. Strangejazz, didn't you hear anything about the kid being obsessed with Nazism, Hitler, and Charles Manson.

Why yes, I mention that quite clearly as the thing that struck me most about Jeff Weise. If you go back and read paragraph three on my original post, you'll see that.

I cannot think of a more obvious way to demonstrate white sympathies.

I don't quite follow. If, as you suggest, Weise had "white sympathies", why would he kill only white kids, as Dr. Strangjazz's radio show asserted. Wouldn't, following your logic, he kill only Native kids?


Whoever is perpetuating this rumor must want people to believe that there is so much hate towards whites on these reservations that white people should beware or better yet, do something before it is too late.

Ah, well, you might have something there.

We still don't know why Weise did what he did. He did make comments on some online groups against race-mixing and he bemoaned the Ojibwe losing their language. But my guess is that his actions had more to do with his home situation than any nationalist leanings. Maybe we'll find out some day, but most likely not.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

I'm sure that lawrence angelo is saying that it would be strange for the kid to have just shot white people when he was supposed to be obsessed with extreme white-supremacy, it would be contradictory and therefore would point to that rumor being obviously un-true.

1:48 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

Hi Sylvana

Thanks for the clarification! Lawrence has not returned to continue the conversation, but I'll take your interpretation of his intent unless he says otherwise. :)

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Joan Vasquez said...

Hi i'm a mexican girl and i was in the rez with my friend jolone B and i was in the rez because my friend had to go to here sisters house...
and i will never forget that day because here sister was crying and and she was friends with him and i wish he didn't do that even if there was white kids,yea so i don't like white people and just don't say stuff to then...

by Joan Vasquez

12:47 PM  

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