Richard Nixon may have been a pale face who spoke with one heap big forked tongue–sorry, just got back from that Johnny Depp movie–but a northern New Mexico American Indian tribe is scheduled to honor the Trickster Friday for what would have been his 100th birthday. The Taos Pueblo obviously is using something other than the Gregorian calendar for the date of their special pow wow.
I know because Nixon shares the same birthday as my mother, who was born in January. Perhaps the tribe is just splitting the difference in this centennial year of the Dick between January and December, because on Dec. 15, 1970, the 37th president signed a bill that resulted in the return of sacred Blue Lake Lands to the Taos Pueblos.
“This is a bill that represents justice, because in 1906 an injustice was done in which land involved in this bill, 48,000 acres, was taken from the Indians involved, the Taos Pueblo Indians,” Nixon said as he signed the bill at the White House. “And now, after all those years, the Congress of the United States returns that land to whom it belongs. We restore this place of worship to them for all the years to come.”
Yep, for that reason, they love Nixon in northern New Mexico as much as do in his birthplace of Yorba Linda–despite that fact that today's modern teabagged Republicans in the rest of Orange County would have hated Dick as a raging liberal for many of his presidential stands. Hell, they would have hated Reagan as a raging liberal for many of his presidential stands.
As you'd except, news of someone honoring the dead president set off bells and whistles at the Nixon Foundation HQ, which is seizing upon Friday's event to further prop up the only commander in chief to resign in disgrace. “See, someone else other than us does love ol' stubbly face,” you can almost hear them saying to themselves as their drool lands on the pow wow announcement.
His vision would be groundbreaking, leading to such far-reaching results as the restoration of sacred lands; local autonomy and administration over Federal funds; more American Indians in high-level positions at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Department of the Interior where they could help administer their own programs; and substantial increases in Federal assistance for health care, education, and economic development.
More than 40 years later, most of these policies still remain in effect.
Dick's surviving brother, Ed Nixon, is scheduled to accept the honor and give remarks on behalf of the Nixon family at Friday's Taos Pueblo pow wow. They should project footage from the JFK-Nixon debate on the wall of the sweat lodge.