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Archive for October 16th, 2008

Groov’n to my XM Satellite this morning I was listening to Robbie Robertson’s Sacrifice from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy”…

I’ve heard the song before, but something in the song grabs my attention.  In the background you hear this narrated telephone-squawk box voice of Leonard Peltier.

The musician Robbie Robertson was born with the name Jaime Robert Klegerman, a son of a Jewish father and Mohawk Indian mother, and first brushed with music at the Six Nations Reservation.  He is an accomplished musician and has composed the score to Scorsese’s movies Raging Bull, King of Comedy and The Color Of Money as well as appeared with Bob Dylan, U2, and Peter Gabriel. His most recent work was with Touchstone Pictures / Beacon Pictures’ ‘Ladder 49′ (John Travolta) and the feature track, “Shine Your Light.”

It turns out the song Sacrifice is indeed a ‘protest’ song which features Leonard Peltier – a Native American who has been imprisoned since 1976 on charges of murder who many believe are fabricated – his voice is recorded from telephone calls from prison. Peltier, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., has spent nearly half of his 59 years behind bars in maximum-security prisons, most recently in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. Peltier was convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  If you’re into conspiracy theories, then you’ll be interested in the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973 which marked the beginning of a three-year period of heightened political violence on the Reservation.  Peltier was an American Indian Movement (AIM) organizer from the Northwest who got caught up in the shoot-out on the ranch of the Jumping Bull family.  I’m not passing judgment just sharing the information.

In doing the background and research for this post it connected me with the Protect Bear Butte initiative in Sturgis, SD and I wanted to raise awareness of the issue.  Headed up by Tamra Brennan, the Bear Butte is a sacred mountain in the Black Hills and only 8 miles from downtown Sturgis.  The issue is where motorcycle rally growth (see above map) and the need to accommodate the large influx of bikers means more and more people want in on the opportunity to make a buck so, there has been an increased presence or build out of bars, clubs, concerts facilities, campgrounds mixed with more and more alcohol sales near, on or over the mountain.  The rally collides with the spiritual beliefs and ceremonies of the Native People as well as disrespects a sacred mountain.  Sort of like going to church while partying with all your rowdy biker friends.

There are 14 sites from S.D. to A.Z being debated and/or fought over to ensure full freedom of religion on public lands.  Historically Federal land management has disregarded American Indian calls of protection on sacred sites in public lands.  More rocks were thrown sort-of-speak, when Jay Allen owner of Broken Spoke developed a multi-level property only one mile from Bear Butte called Sturgis County Line(SCL). He sold his stake in the property to Boston based Target Companies (a travel corp.), but remains active in “promotion” of the facilities and campgrounds.

I’m hopeful that Pepper Massey, the Director of the Sturgis Rally Department can indeed grow the Rally in both attendance and revenue while keeping the event vital for the community that supports it…which includes being respectful to the Native Indians and the religeous freedoms.

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It’s not a good day to be a Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) dealer.  The company reported that Q3 profits fell sharply and they tried to reassure investors that company management is taking prudent steps to manage the brand.  They also cut earnings outlook and lowered the estimate for motorcycle shipments for the rest of the year.

Harley reported that earnings for Q3 dropped 37% to $166.5M from $265M as compared to Q3 of 2007.  This is the fifth straight decline in quarterly earnings for Harley.  Revenue fell 8% to $1.42B from 1.54B in 2007.  Shipments of motorcycles fell 14% to 75,704 although they did report that international shipments were slightly up.  Dealer retail sales fell 10% this quarter as purchases of high-end motorcycles are often tied to consumer confidence and the credit market squeeze has compounded the problems.

Speaking of credit, the Financial Services segment of the company reported higher delinquency rates this quarter, a 28% decline in operating income and having to raise interest rates for all potential customers.

In a downturn climate Harley acquired MV Augsta Group, expanded on European operations, opened the new museum, rolled out MySpace and Facebook sites and hosted the 105th celebration all during this quarter.  So, given the daily doses of financial doom and credit circumstances Harley seems to be doing “okay” in trying to weather this slowdown.

Call transcript is HERE.

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