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Posts Tagged ‘Sioux Nation’

30yearsThat’s Spanish if your uncertain and stands for “Happy Box” (or loosely translated into Happy Meal) and it’s the 30 year celebration of the Happy Meal at McDonalds.

First introduced by Dick Brams (McD’s Regional Ad Manager) in 1977 and initially called the “McDonaldland Fun-to-Go” meal.  Since first hitting the market they have included everything from the puzzles, crayola toys, motorcycles, personalities riding motorcycles and movie tie ins.  The McDonalds Happy Meal first movie tie-in was the Star Trek Meal which featured images and games based on the 1979 movie.  In fact, the ‘Teenie Beanie Baby’ promotion created a huge worldwide interest with over a 100 million toys selling out in the first 2 weeks.  McDonald’s has had a lot of controversy over Happy Meals from poor working conditions at a toy factory in Danang, Vietnam (Keyhinge Toys), to recalls and even legal issues with Devo.  Then there is the questionable association with the non-green gas guzzling Hummer and some people even complained over the hearing a four-letter word in the Kidz Bob #6 CD song “I Don’t Want To Be” which turned out to be false.  Sure the rap on Happy Meals is that kids are lured by the toys into eating unhealthy food while the execs focus on high value licensing deals, but many still eat them.

Custer_MCAnd then there was the Custer/Blackhills/Motorcycle tie-in — it was two fries short of a happy meal — the McD’s marketing department poorly vetted the toy “General” (he was Lt. Col.) Custer who rides again on a motorcycle and was distributed in South Dakota.  Quick to realize they angered the Sioux/Lakota Indians they withdrew it from the market after complaints poured in.

In the end, millions of Happy Meal items have been produced with a lot items turning into memorabilia and has spawned an entire collectors market.   Numerous meals have included motorcycles, people riding motorcycles and even Digi Sportz games which included motorcycle racing.  There is a McDonald’s Collectors Club which holds annual conventions for the serious collectors.  It turns out cycling artifacts not only include books, magazines, promotional items, but to some Happy Meals which has a rich history of the sport and hobby of motorcycling.

Photo courtesy of Happymeal.com

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native_americanLike many of you I have rolled through the Black Hills of South Dakota with the wind in my face…

Whether a weekend warrior eager for a brief interlude of escapist revelry or it’s a way of life — I think all would agree that rolling through the “hills” offers up an incredible experience.  From rolling plains to majestic mountains — sometimes you have to pull over just to take it all in.  It’s not only a magical place to visit because of its beauty, but also because of its “roots” to the Native Americans who live there.  Most are Dakota, Lakota or Nakota people and known collectively as the Sioux.  The Sioux nation traces its roots to the  “Oceti Sakowin” (Seven Council Fires) and traditional stories place the nations birth in the Black Hills where customs hold the forces of nature as holy.

Having lived in “NoDak” during a more violent time, I’m reminded of Anishinabe decent, a person from the Dakota/Lakota Nations who has been imprisoned since 1976.  His name is Leonard Peltier.  Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a June 26, 1975, standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

I previously blogged about Leonard Peltier HERE and the significance of the song “Sacrifice” from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy” by Robbie Robertson.  Peltier was convicted in Fargo, N.D., in 1977 and recently was denied parole after having a full parole hearing for the first time in 15 years at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison where he is being held.  Some feel he is an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed two FBI special agents and has neither accepted responsibility for the murders nor shown any remorse.  However, others feel the FBI had no substantive evidence in the trial, essentially framed him and he has unsuccessfully appealed his conviction numerous times.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

For many Native Americans, Peltier’s imprisonment has come to stand not only for unjust violence waged against Native Americans but also for the theft of the life of a man who has handled his 33 years in jail with dignity and grace.  If you take the time and look deeper into Peltier’s legal situation — compare the 64-year olds poor health and then contrast it with the recent “compassionate grounds” release of the Lockerbie bomber — one can only assume that the public outrage likely didn’t help his chances in the parole hearing.  His best chance now of getting out of prison alive is to receive a pardon or clemency from the president of the U.S.  However, that is unlikely, as Mr. Obama would rather spend time reaching out to Muslims and celebrate Islamic holy month by hosting a Ramadan dinner than address the plight of Native Americans.  To be fair, Mr. Obama did present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Medicine Crow — High Bird in Washington last month.  Photo HERE.

I’m not on a mission to convince anyone of Peltier’s guilt or innocence.  Remember, this all started with a song and I’ve not turned activist fighting for the overturn of the U.S. constitutional court rulings that affirmed the confiscation of Native American lands.  I’m a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys the Black Hills and appreciates the freedom to take in a week of open roads.  There is more information related to freeing Peltier HERE or if compelled, you can write him at:

Leonard Peltier
#89637-132
USP-Lewisburg
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Lastly, in doing the research for this post I run across Arron Huey.  A photo journalist with images that are truly captivating of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.  His work was featured in Perpignan at the last Vis d’Or Photojournalism Festival.

Photo courtesy of  LDOC and Travel South Dakota web site.

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