NELSON MANDELA 1918 – 2013
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and after his release became the first black South African president died Thursday. He was 95 years old.
The anti-apartheid revolutionary’s death was announced by South Africa Jacob Zuma just before midnight on Friday in Johannesburg.
Mr. Mandela suffered a stroke around Christmas last year and has been in failing health since.
American Indians were pleased Mr. Mandela spoke out on their behalf.
In 1990, Mr. Mandela held a rally in the Oakland Coliseum where he referred to American Indians as “the first American nation.”
The New York Times ran on July 1, 1990 in an article on his Oakland visit. The following is an excerpt:
Although he had refrained from speaking on American issues for most of his visit, Mr. Mandela said he had received a number of messages from ”the first American nation, the American Indians,” including a group prevented by logistical mixups from presenting him ceremonial robes today.
”I can assure you they have left me very disturbed,” Mr. Mandela said, ”and if I had time I would visit their areas and get from them an authoritative description of the difficulties under which they live.”
“I was there at the Oakland Coliseum. I had just moved to the Bay Area and went to hear Mandela speak. He mentioned American Indians and I felt so proud,” said Nanette Bradley Deetz (Cherokee/Lakota), who still lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I know that many American Indians from the entire Bay area also attended. In fact, I think I remember seeing a delegation in their regalia. This may have been the group that was planning on presenting Mandela with robes or something, but it never happened. I know that he did mention the American Indian Movement and did thank all of us that were involved,” Deetz continued on Thursday evening.
“I do remember that he mentioned the contributions and struggles of American Indians during his speech. I felt so proud and happy to be there on that day. It really did feel like something quite historic. The feeling among the crowd was one of just pure happiness and joy at seeing and hearing Mandela. There were people there from all races, backgrounds, ages and everyone was just so joyous.”
Anna Rondon (Diné), who works for the Navajo Nation and lives near Zuni, New Mexico, wrote on a website on Mandela’s birthday this year;
“As a Dine (Navajo) woman, I recognize that Mr. Mandela has always spoke out on the injustices of apartheid over the many decades.
When he was born, American Indian Nations were still fighting our battles over land and resources. In 1913, the Mescalero Apaches were released from Fort Sill Prison after 26 years of incarceration. Our histories share the horror and today we still see the subtle yet, deadly genocidal indigenous policies. Mr. Mandela, you gave us resisters, protectors of water, land, air and fire the strength to fight for justice here in the United States.”
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