July 31, 2007

Flying dragons of the Diné?

Exploring the Prospect of an Unidentified Species of Reptile within Navajo and Hopi Lands:  In Search of Tł’iish Naat’a’í (Snake-That-Flies)This report is the culmination of more than a year of independent research. In this presentation to the department of Fish and Wildlife, it is my intent to create an awareness of the potential presence of an as-yet-unidentified species of reptile, in specificity referred to as a type of snake, existing within (though not necessarily exclusive to) the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. In disclaimer I should state that, while this animal may be unidentified by academic science, it long has been known to, and recognized by, the Navajo and Hopi peoples both. The significance of this animal exceeds simply that it is alien to Western science, in that it exhibits a most remarkable feat of biomechanics in many ways unprecedented when compared with all other known terrestrial organisms. This biomechanical ability perhaps has been its own best defense from scientific investigation, classification, or even interest, simply because the very concept of such a creature initially seems absurd. The reptile in question is referred to in Navajo as either Tł’iish Naat’a’í (pronounced: kleesh-not-ahee), which transliterates as “Snake-That-Flies” or Tł’iish Naat’Agii (pronounced: kleesh-not-agee), roughly meaning “the snake amongst the flying animals.”

With this report, I intend to establish a case for the fact that Tł’iish Naat’a’í existence is not limited to being a mythological figure, nor as a simple symbolic representation of hybridized elements as anthropologists may conclude, nor as a resident of the spirit world, nor as a mere concoction of elder-stories, but in reality as a rare form of reptile that through the course of evolution somehow has evolved a successful means of achieving true flight via limbless wings.

If Churchill is guilty, so is everyone

The Churchill Firing—IIResearch misconduct is in the eye of the beholder. Euroamerican teachers and scholars have taught and written for several centuries that Columbus discovered America. That is a more profound and easily provable case of research misconduct than anything of which Churchill has been accused. The Indigenous peoples of the Americas have been here at least 13,000 years and more likely, according to recent DNA research, 50,000 years. This Columbus lie, which is at the foundation of Eurocentric American history, dehumanizes all those who are now called American Indians by discrediting any of their accomplishments as not being human accomplishments. Everyone who has perpetuated this myth over the years should be found guilty of deceit, research misconduct and racism, according to the standards of the investigating committee.

The 1987 edition of the standard American history textbook, American History: A Survey begins by saying, “For thousands of centuries—centuries in which human races were evolving, forming communities and building the beginnings of national civilizations in Africa, Asia and Europe—the continents we know as the Americas stood empty of mankind and its works” The book informed its readers that American history “is the story of the creation of a civilization where none existed.” Now that is a very egregious form of “research misconduct.” That statement bears no resemblance to the truth and serves only to continue to misinform and to indoctrinate students in Eurocentric lies.

Gaming tribes vs. union

Union seeks popular vote on casinosAgreements signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last August and approved by the Legislature this spring allow four Indian tribes to add as many as 17,000 slot machines to the 8,000 they already operate at casinos. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians won approval to expand its casino just south of Temecula from 2,000 slots to as many as 7,500, possibly dwarfing the largest in Las Vegas.

UNITE HERE, the nation's largest hotel-workers union, filed paperwork Friday with the state attorney general's office, the first step toward taking the issue to voters. The union would need to gather about 434,000 signatures in the next two months to put the referenda on the ballot for the Feb. 5 presidential primary election.

The union had demanded that the agreements--known as compacts--include provisions to make it easier to unionize casinos. Side agreements negotiated just days before the Assembly approved the compacts in late June include additional financial oversight, but not the provisions that the union wanted.

Bypassing the recognition process

Tribe Battle Goes To Senate

Bypassing Of BIA Process Is Opposed By ManyWhen North Carolina's Lumbee Indians sought formal recognition through an act of Congress recently, four of Connecticut's five House members opposed the plan.

If recognition happens in this unorthodox way, warned Christopher Shays, R-4th District, "the tribes in Connecticut, the tribes in Massachusetts, the tribes in New York, those that can't prove that they meet the federal standard ... will come to Congress and say they want the same thing."

The lawmakers' votes against a tribe hundreds of miles away were unusual, but their motives couldn't have been clearer: to limit the number of "new" tribes and, more important, new casinos. The means to this end was to force petitioning tribes to make their case through the rigorous U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs process, rather than the easier route of wooing Congress.

Gaming tribes vs. nongaming tribes

Gaming power play pits tribal haves vs. have-notsCalifornia's oldest and largest Indian gambling organization is in turmoil, with nongaming bands challenging the historic rule of wealthy tribes in what some say is an inevitable clash of the “haves and have-nots.”

A push by nongaming tribes for more power within the California Nations Indian Gaming Association prompted a prominent tribal leader to raise the question that has simmered for years: Should nongaming tribes even have a vote in an organization established to promote gambling?

Without changes in the organization's voting and dues structure--casino tribes largely bankroll the operation--Agua Caliente Chairman Richard Milanovich suggested his Palm Springs tribe may pull out, as it did five years ago during a previous mass exodus.

Hollywood knows whites' fears

White Eye for a Red DragonI'll admit it: I am completely incapable of understanding other cultures, races, ethnicities and creeds without a white surrogate. I am frightened by the other. They smell different. They eat loudly. They lambada.

Thankfully, Hollywood feels the same way. For example, when they deign to diagnose, say, the extremely naughty conflict diamond trade in Sierra Leone, they know to give me a handsome white face so as to remind me that not all people are dirty and beyond salvation. When I see this beacon of becalmed, beatific, blanched humanity, I know there is good in the world, and I leave the theater confident that, with a little training, Sierra Leone's tallest male children could become excellent shot blockers in the NBA.
Comment:  Needless to say, this applies to Hollywood's take on Indians, too.

Seminoles remake Hard Rock

Hard Rock rolls with the times

The theme-restaurant chain now belongs to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, but the Orlando-based company has been undergoing a transformation started in 2004.Hard Rock still conjures images of logo T-shirts and music memorabilia for most people. But the company's identity began undergoing a major transformation in 2004, when the Seminoles opened two Florida casino-hotels under the Hard Rock flag.

"When our facilities opened, Hard Rock was a restaurant company," said Jim Allen, chief executive officer and president of Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, the tribal parent company. "It is now becoming more of a hotel-and-gaming company."

July 30, 2007

Review of THE KENTS

The KentsThe Kents is the title of a comic book limited series published by DC Comics that told the story of a troubled generation of Superman's foster family's history in the mid to late 19th century. Following mostly the life of two Kents Nathaniel and Jebediah. It was written by John Ostrander. The limited series was later collected as a trade paperback.

Plot summary

The story begins with Clark Kent's foster father Jonathan writing to his adopted son about the newly discovered memoirs he has discovered on the family farm. They reveal that the Kent family in the 19th century were noted abolitionists who assisted the personnel of the Underground Railroad, like Harriet Tubman. The family moved to Kansas Territory to promote the cause of creating a free state by running a newspaper for the region.

Unfortunately, the family patriarch was murdered by Border Ruffians who wanted to silence him. Furthermore, the sons, Nathaniel and Jeb, argued and had a parting of the ways so deep about slavery that they found themselves on opposing sides of the American Civil War, with Jeb fighting with the notorious Confederate guerrilla unit led by William Quantrill and Nathaniel fighting for the North and marrying a half-Native American woman who gave him a special traditional spiritual symbol that was apparently a forerunner and inspiration for Superman's chest symbol.
Some reviews from Amazon.com:
  • I've long felt that comics could be a powerful educational tool and here the medium realizes this potential. Ostrander and Truman, along with Mandrake and Bair, are far from novices and the benefits of their collective experiences shimmer through this, likely their finest work. Everyone knows that Superman's adoptive family found the infant Superbaby in a Kansas cornfield and raised the prodigious progeny in Smallville. This tale tells how the Kent family comes to Kansas and it is the story of the American westward expansion. There are rich characterizations here in Nathaniel and Jeb Kent, two brothers divided by personal, familial, and eventually political differences; the lovely half white, half Delaware native Mary, whose passion and grace sustains Nathaniel Kent through many trials, as well as the reader; and Jonathan Kent himself, the adoptive father of Superman, who narrates the saga in a series of letters to his son the reporter in Metropolis and his bride. Then there are the cameos; some historical; some purely from the western comics genre, including Brian Savage, the Scalphunter; Jonah Hex; John Wilkes Booth, John Wesley Hardin, the James brothers and so many others. This delicious tapestry is not only for comics fans, but also for Western readers (those who love John Jakes or Dana Fuller Ross, will find much to love here as well) and American history buffs. Ostrander did a superb job with the research here. Simply a glorious family saga in the full richness of that tradition.

  • An epic graphic novel with as much heart as Larry McMurtry's novel "Lonesome Dove." This book details the history of the family that would one day shape the attitude and spirit of Clark Kent.

  • The Kents is basically a pastiche of Civil War-era history, a name-dropping who's who that also tries to achieve the scope of The Sacketts.
  • Rob's review:  THE KENTS was reasonably entertaining. I agree with the statements above, which is why I quoted them. But I wouldn't give the series five stars, as several critics did.

    The famous persons scattered through the book are merely a symptom of the real problem: an overabundance of history. THE KENTS reads more like a primer on Kansas during the Civil War that happens to involve the Kents than a story about the Kents that happens to take place in Kansas during the Civil War. Like many sprawling epics, it sprawls too much.

    The motivation of Jeb, the bad Kent brother, is weak. He constantly claims he's gotten himself in too deep and can't think of a way out, so he might as well commit another crime. The obvious alternative is to quit, flee, and start a new life elsewhere.

    Mary Glenowen, the half-Delaware woman who eventually marries Nathaniel, says she comes from one of the five tribes of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. This seems like a bad mistake, but the story later reveals that she doesn't know her own tribal history.

    She gives Nathaniel an "Iroquois healing blanket" with a snake symbol resembling Superman's "S." She spins a whole, uh, yarn about how it represents the union of the Iroquois tribes. Since this claim proves to be false, we never learn the blanket's true origin.

    When Mary goes to live with her people, their homes and clothes look authentic. Mary herself is a classic Indian maiden, a dark-haired beauty by Western standards. She stays with her cousin Fall Leaf, who is thoughtful but not insufferably wise. Best of all, he's not the chief and she's not the chief's daughter.

    Two other bits are worth mentioning. At one point, the US government forces the Delaware (Lenape) to move from southwestern Kansas to "Indian Territory" (Oklahoma). A mini-Trail of Tears ensues. Perhaps the worst injustice is that the government intermingles the Delaware with the Cherokee and declares they're all Cherokee now. It's an intentional gambit to eradicate the Lenape culture and language.

    At another point, Nathaniel and Brian Savage (a "white Indian" named Scalphunter) serve as scouts for George A. Custer. They're on duty when Custer launches his attack on the Cheyenne at Washita. Nathaniel joins in the killing ("Nothing else for it now!") but later feels sick about it.


    Indians play only a minor role in THE KENTS, so the series isn't a must-read for fans of Indian comics. It's notable mainly for what it tells us about Superman.

    The series doesn't specify Nathaniel Kent's relationship to Jonathan Kent, but the timing suggests that Nathaniel is Jonathan's grandfather or great-grandfather. So Jonathan Kent has one-sixteenth Indian blood, at least.

    These days, that might be enough to get him enrolled in the Delaware tribe. In any case, it's fair to say that Superman's values come in part from his father's Indian ancestry.

    Medicine woman in The Simpsons Movie

    Saw The Simpsons Movie Sunday night. It was about as good as everyone's saying: the same humor as in the TV show, but noticeably better animation. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.

    Of particular interest was Homer's encounter with a Native woman, who finds him after he wanders off into the Alaskan wilderness. She takes him home and revives him with a fiery brew. Then she guides him to his preordained destiny: to return to Springfield and save the day.

    The scene includes some good and not-so-good bits of Inuit and Native Alaskan cultures. Since the woman doesn't identify herself or her ethnicity, she may belong to one or both cultures. Perhaps she's consciously mixing the cultures.

    The details [stop reading if you don't want to spoil the scene]:

  • The woman is old, short, and broad, which is a pleasant change from the usual sexy princess type.

  • When we first see her, she's wrapped in a parka and smoking a corn-cob pipe.

  • She lives in a hut lined with skins, not an igloo.

  • A totem pole stands outside her hut. Since totem poles signify clan relationships, it's unlikely an isolated individual would have one.

  • The inside of her hut is decorated with masks and other art objects done in a reasonable facsimile of the Northwest Indian style.

  • The woman sends Homer on a psychedelic head trip by engaging in Inuit throat-singing and blowing on him. It's annoying that every Native in a traditional setting seems to have mystical powers--the ability to send people on a vision quest or put them into a dream state.

    In reality, throat-singing is a kind of vocal game with no metaphysical significance. On the other hand, blowing magic smoke on Homer or feeding him a magic stew might've been stereotypical.

  • The woman has enormous breasts, which leads Homer to call her "Boob Lady." Fortunately, the credits identify her as "Medicine Woman."

    Since she's not a nubile young thing, her voluptuousness doesn't seem especially gratuitous. But it's an example of The Simpsons' disdain for female characters. Other than the Simpsons family, the show's only noteworthy women are the man-hungry Patty and Selma and Mrs. Krabappel.

  • As Homer leaves, her ghostly image appears in the Aurora Borealis and urges him on. This bit wasn't original when it occurred in The Lion King and Brother Bear and it hasn't gotten any fresher.

  • Conclusion

    The Simpsons team could've mixed the Inuit and Native Alaskan bits intentionally to make a point about cultural synthesis. More likely, though, they did it heedlessly--using everything they could think of to create a pan-Alaskan sense of "Nativeness." It would've been better to make the medicine woman Inuit or Native Alaskan, since they aren't the same thing.

    At least they didn't stick her in an igloo or have her act "primitively." The hut and its artwork convey a certain sense of sophistication. If she's a traditional Native who lives alone for some reason, her life looks comfortable and secure.

    As I said, the scene is something of a mishmash. The show previously evinced some sensitivity to Native concerns, and the movie continues this hit-and-miss sensitivity. It could be a little better, but it also could be much worse.

    Below: The medicine woman's concoction revives Homer.

    Morongo wants to be shot

    Band takes lead in wooing LA film crews Offering a 32,000-acre reservation with roaming cattle, open hillsides, and even a quarry, while promising to do almost anything a film crew might need inside the casino--quieting music, programming television sets, cordoning off a bank of slot machines--Michael Potts, director of sales and marketing at the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, has taken the lead in attracting film and television to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians' reservation in Cabazon.

    Rather than waiting for Hollywood to call, the tribe has partnered with the Inland Empire Film Commission to set up an office inside the hotel to assist location scouts.

    It adds another form of revenue for a tribe that already counts retail, restaurants, water bottling, lodging, gambling and energy production among its economic ventures.

    "Anything you're looking at, you can shoot," said Potts in early June while he led a group of 17 location scouts with credits from television shows such as Showtime's "Dexter" and films such as the recently released "Transformers" on a tour of the tribe's reservation.

    July 28, 2007

    Understanding Churchill's "little Eichmanns"

    O'Reilly misrepresents Ward Churchill, as he has from the beginning, but Top Dog Dr. Marc Lamont Hill has the facts"'Some people push back'--On the justice of roosting chickens" was written shortly after the events of 9/11, and from a perspective unfamiliar to most of us, that of a person of Native American heritage angry over historic events and injustices. I've read it and I get it, which doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it. But for those who have only heard the soundbites and Nazi-screaming, here's the relevant passage about the people in the WTC who were killed that day:

    "They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire--the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved--and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance"--a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore"--counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in--and in many cases excelling at--it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it."
    Hill's correction of O'Reilly's misinterpretation was succinct and showed understanding of the root anger and frustration that bore this paper:

    "When you look at his 'little Eichmann' comment, he was referring to Hannah Arendt, one of the great theorists of our time, and what she was saying is that oftentimes the big bad person that you think is this crazy killer's actually an ordinary technocrat, a person in a building who pushes buttons, who does things without any sort of sensibility of how bad they are. And he's saying that many times the people who were in that building may have been advancing an American global financial empire without any thinking about it. And I don't necessarily agree that we should be indifferent to their suffering--I happen to be a little more sympathetic to the victims and their families than Ward Churchill is, but he certainly had a valid point, number one, and number two, he has the right to say it and we have to defend it."
    Comment:  For some of the original reactions to Churchill's essay, see Terrorism:  "Good" vs. "Evil".

    Choctaw player of the year

    Against all odds, a 23 year old Choctaw Indian, Benjamin Talako Williamson is making tennis historyHe is currently ranked number one in Men’s Open Singles Standing List in the five-state USTA Missouri Valley Region and was Nationally ranked last year in the top 100 tennis players in the US. Ben studied the moves of the pros and learned to play tennis by watching video tapes of the US Open since none of his family played tennis.

    Benjamin Talako Williamson, a 23 year-old Native American Indian born with Autism, defied the odds when he graduated from Bethany High School and where he was the only tennis player on their team, took Bethany to the State High School Championships. Bethany High School had never participated with a tennis team until Ben came along. Placing in the finals in the state each of his four high school years and then going undefeated at the Oklahoma All State Tennis Competition were just the beginning for Benjamin. December, 2006, Benjamin was honored by the United States Tennis Association Five State Missouri Valley Section (Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma) as the Adult Player of the Year. Ben was also honored two years as the Oklahoma Adult Player of the year.

    Pueblos vs. Navajos on the field

    Baseball:  Pueblos' traditions unite for Native American All-Star Game"Baseball is a tradition in every pueblo," she says. "There have been generations of players here."

    That tradition will be celebrated Saturday night when the Pueblo All Stars face the Navajo All Stars at Isotopes Park. The Native American All-Stars game is an annual grudge match. Last year, the Pueblos won in the 10th when Jeremy "Worm" Leonsanders scored on an error.

    Ignorant Indians could barely speak

    Butcher:  Indians had "limited vocabulary," relied on signing

    July 27, 2007

    Review of The X-Files: Ruins

    I listened to this 1996 X-Files novel because of its Mesoamerican storyline. A summary of the plot:Lost city, found....

    When a well-connected American archaeologist, Cassandra Rubicon, disappears while exploring the lost Mayan city of Xitaclan, the incident becomes a case for FBI agents Mulder and Scully. They are investigators assigned to the X-Files, the strange and inexplicable cases the FBI wants to keep hidden--cases involving the paranormal, the supernatural, and possibly, the extraterrestrial.

    Mulder thinks there may be more to this case than simply a missing team of scientists--namely ancient curses, blood sacrifices, and deadly reptilian monsters lost in the jungles since before history.

    Scully is, as always, more skeptical and likely to provide the logical explanations for her partner's unorthodox speculations. Meanwhile, a covert U.S. military commando team has been sent to investigate, and destroy, a strange electronic signal received from beneath the ruins--a signal aimed upward, at the stars....
    Unfortunately, it was only mediocre. I agree with the following comments from Amazon.com:
  • The assignment of writing an "X-Files" book is a very difficult one. Anderson probably wasn't allowed to have any kind of meaningful character development, nothing can happen that has any sort of permanent effect on any of the regular X-Files characters, and you're introducing characters that every single reader has undoubtedly formed some preconceived notions about.

    Given these limitations, perhaps all you can do is churn out some by-the-book prose and play it safe. That's what Anderson has done here.

  • [L]ike I said before, this is merely decent. The prose isn't breathtaking. There are no incredibly deep philosophical moments. No new ground was really exposed with the characters, but that's an impossibility with a series-based novel. The bottom line is that this is just vanilla. Get it if your a hardcore X-files fan, but otherwise? Fahgeddaboutit. There are much more interesting science fiction books, like Cosm and Mysterium.

  • Okay if you're not expecting much...
  • [Spoiler alert]

    The book has a few problems from a stereotyping viewpoint:

  • The Mexican characters come across badly. The major ones seems to care only about plundering the Xitaclan site, not preserving it. The minor ones seem to be cowardly and superstitious.

  • Mulder discovers (surprise!) that "ancient astronauts" came to Earth and taught the Maya everything they know. This condescending theory denies that the Maya were smart enough to develop their culture--their arts and sciences--on their own.

  • The book postulates that the feathered serpents of myth were actual beings: pets or companions of the aliens. This implies that the Maya couldn't come up with their own deities until they literally saw something worth worshiping. That their rich cosmology didn't evolve over thousands of years but was invented on the spot.

  • Rob's rating:  6.5 of 10.

    Richardson knows Indian country

    Big Three' can learn much from RichardsonIf the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates were as one-dimensional as the popular media portray, American Indians might be hard-pressed to decide which candidate best reflects the values of Indian country. Is it Hillary Clinton, an experienced woman leader? Or maybe it is Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose brown skin underscores each audacious speech on paradigm change. John Edwards sheds light on poverty and inequality. The front-runners are evident; their actions in improving the federal-tribal relationship are not. At least their campaign materials boast a basic knowledge of the significance of tribal sovereignty, an improvement from 2004 when George W. Bush famously stumbled through a simple question regarding its meaning.

    Whether these candidates believe tribal sovereignty is good for Americans is another matter altogether. As they begin to develop Indian policy proposals, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's strong record on government-to-government relations with tribal nations stands as a beacon. Shortly after declaring his candidacy, Richardson told Indian Country Today that if elected president, he would install a cabinet-level secretary of Indian Affairs. Given his record, this is less lip service than intention. In 2005 he appointed Jemez Pueblo native Benny Shendo Jr. as New Mexico's first secretary of Indian Affairs. It is the only state in the country that has a cabinet secretary and a department of Indian Affairs. Spoken commitment followed by action is the key to winning the increasingly critical Native vote.

    It is important to note that while the leading candidates are reaching out to Indian country as campaign strategy, they will not appear at what may be the only forum focused solely on Indian issues. Prez on the Rez, an event sponsored by the Indigenous Democratic Network (INDN's List), is slated for Aug. 23 at the Morongo reservation in southern California. The forum places Democratic candidates squarely before Indian people to address their concerns. It is the first such forum to be held in Indian country, and leaders of all federally recognized tribes have been invited. The chance afforded to nearly every other group in America has finally materialized for Indian people. Not surprisingly, Richardson was the first to accept the invitation. Unfortunately, the "Big Three" won't attend due to scheduling conflicts. It is too bad. Each could benefit from the example set by Richardson, and by experiencing firsthand the strength of Indian leadership and the challenges they face in their communities.

    Review of STRONG MAN

    Back in March I reported on STRONG MAN, a comic published by Association of Alaska School Boards' Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement (Alaska ICE). Now I'm finally getting around to reviewing it.

    Written by Ishmael Hope, the comic tells the dual stories of Dukt'ootl, a legendary lad who goes through a series of trials to become a Tlingit tribe's "Strong Man," and "Duke" (also Dukt'ootl), a modern boy who struggles to pass tests, stay on the basketball team, and avoid bullies. The stories closely parallel each other; each victory or defeat for Dukt'ootl has a counterpart for Duke.

    Unfortunately, this robs the comic of suspense. The events in Duke's life seem preordained by the Strong Man legend. He's more of an allegorical figure than a flesh-and-blood human.

    The art by Dimi Macheras, who also drew the Chickaloon comics, generally works well. The cartoonish, manga-inspired style is bold and dynamic and only occasionally lapses into awkwardness. As Macheras's talent grows, it may be something to behold.

    Hope and Macheras have done the right thing in STRONG MAN: adapted a traditional tale to the modern world with permission from tribal clans and elders. But the result will appeal only to children, if anyone, not to adults. Hard-core fans of Native comics will want to add STRONG MAN to their collection, but casual fans can pass.

    Warning:  The comic supposedly costs $5.00 if you buy it online. But if you click the "purchase" button, you won't get a chance to review the transaction. Instead, the Association of Alaska School Boards will send you the comic and bill you for it.

    The problem with that is a steep shipping charge, $6.55, that you weren't informed of. Paying $11.55 for an average comic is way too much, especially since the actual postage for mailing a comic is less than a dollar. I suggest you contact the AASB before buying STRONG MAN; learn the final price including shipping and try to negotiate a better deal.

    Republicans block Indian legislation

    Native American Community Shocked by Senate Republican Steering Committee Commitment to Fight All Bills Helping Native PeopleBlow after blow, the U.S. Senate Republican Steering Committee continues to block all legislation that benefits Indian people. The Senate Republican Steering Committee is a small group of Senators who have been working together to put secret "holds" on all legislation benefiting Indian tribes and Indian people.

    Indian Country has had strong ties to the Republican Party through the Indian Self-Determination Policy and respect for the U.S. Constitution, which explicitly recognizes the treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, religious freedom, and the shared values of federalism that encourage local decision-making. Tribal leaders and the Republican Party share strong interests in law enforcement, economic development, energy, the military, veterans, and many other issues.

    "At first we thought that it was coincidence that so many bills on Native issues were being blocked by members of the Republican Steering Committee," said National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Joe A. Garcia. "But it is clear now that it is not. NCAI is a non-partisan organization that has built successful relationships on both sides of the aisle for many decades. It is a very small number of Republican Senators, but we must address this obstructionism that stops all legislation no matter how bi-partisan and non-controversial."
    Comment:  Republicans respect the US Constitution? Except when the Republican presidency conducts warrantless spying, the Republican Supreme Court overturns decades of precedents, and Republicans in general subvert tribal sovereignty.

    Churchill fired for wrong reason?

    University of Colorado axes Ward Churchill on charges of academic misconductThe investigation into Churchill's academic misconduct did not consider a much more prolonged controversy that has outraged scholars and others in Indian country, who charge that Churchill has fraudulently advanced his academic career over the last 20 years by misrepresenting himself as an American Indian, a claim disputed by the Cherokee Nation, Keetoowah Band and Muscogee (Creek) Nation when Churchill claimed Cherokee and Creek ancestry.

    The investigative panel refused to consider the charge that Churchill had falsely claimed Indian ancestry, even though it noted that several Native leaders had made this complaint to the university in the mid-'90s and had been disregarded.

    "Ward Churchill is a fraud and, unfortunately, cannot be defended by Indian Studies professionals. It is unfortunate because many people in the field believe his role as an 'advocacy Historian' for Indian Studies has been crucial to achieving some influence in declaring how destructive the colonial "master narrative" of America has been to Native populations. He has spoken out against colonialism all of his professional life. His unsubstantiated claim to Indian identity, though, is a destructive act and it is an academic fraud that we have struggled against in Indian Studies for decades," said Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, professor emerita at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash.

    Pix of the 2007 Comic-Con

    San Diego Comic-Con--July 26, 2007

    For me the highlight of the day was meeting Chad Solomon (Ojibway First Nation), the creator of Rabbit and Bear Paws. He's doing a great job of developing and marketing his historically accurate, elder-approved comics. I only hope my efforts with PEACE PARTY go so well.

    Among the things I learned about Rabbit and Bear Paws:

  • Solomon is getting half the funding from grants and half from other sources.

  • The Rabbit and Bear Paws graphic novel has sold about 14,000 copies so far.

  • Solomon has made a distribution deal with Scholastic Canada and hopes to make a deal with Scholastic in the US.

  • As usual, there were few instances of minorities in comics at the Con. Other than Solomon, the only presence I saw of anything Indian was the small Skinwalkers booth.

    For more on the subject, see Thoughts on the San Diego Comic-Con 2000+.

    Adam Beach Golf Classic, round 2

    Adam Beach Golf Classic August 19 & 20, 2007Actor Adam Beach, of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit fame, is proud to announce the next Adam Beach Golf Classic, presented by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The dates of the tournament will be August 19 & 20, 2007 at the Black Bear Golf Course in Carlton, MN. The Golf Classic will be managed by Poitra Consulting out of Saint Paul, MN, with proceeds benefiting the Fond du Lac Native Veterans and the Adam Beach Endowment for the Native Arts (ABENA).

    “I am excited about our partnership with Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for our second bi-annual golf tournament.” Beach said. “This two day event will support the Fond du Lac Veterans and youth scholarships for the performing arts. We are pleased to have 4-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay III join us, along with comedian Don Burnstick and the music of Derek Miller. This is a special event that supports our tribal nations, our elders, our youth and our economies.” Mr. Beach concluded.

    July 26, 2007

    Skinwalkers the movie

    A movie coming out in August has (mis)appropriated the Navajo concept of skinwalkers. It appears to be about a race of were-beasts that look like us and live among us. They're supposedly missing the gene that separates man from animal.

    Wikipedia gives us the movie's plot:Two packs of werewolves, divided by principles, are signaled by the moon of the coming of an ancient prophecy. A young man named Timothy (Knight) approaches his 13th birthday, unaware this marks the time of his transformation. Timothy has been raised by his mother Rachel (Mitra), his grandmother (Gordon), his Uncle Jonas (Koteas), his cousin Katherine (Carter) and Katherine's boyfriend, Adam (Roberts).

    Rachel and Timothy have been unaware that the rest of the family are "good" werewolves that have guarded Timothy and his secret since birth. They know that Timothy is a half blood, and will control the destiny of the family. But they also know that Timothy's power will put him in danger, for there are other werewolves that revel and embrace their blood-lust that are prepared to kill to preserve their way of life. These werewolves, led by Varek (Behr), Zo (Coates) and Sonya (Malthe), are hell bent on finding Timothy; their kin.
    Here's the official site for Skinwalkers, and here's what people are saying about it in the site's forum:queenofthenight: the movie looks really good and i love werewolf movies but.....anyone from arizona can tell you the true tell of skinwalkers. it is actually a indian tale of people who suffer from a disorder that makes them sensitive to sunlight so they live in the mountains. regular food makes them really sick and they have to live off the blood of humans. they sharpened their teeth and worship wolves. they were their hides as clothes. u can see at night on the indian reservations in arizona and surrounding states. they are know for how pale and skinny they are and how their ribs are seen thru their skin but everywhere else their skin is loose. hence the name skinwalkers. indian children are warned not to go out alone at night because they travel as packs. so this is the tell i grew up with. wouldnt that be a good movie.

    Boo Boo: I am from Arizona and a Navajo, i have never heard of the tale of the pale people before... But the real story of the skinwalkers is evil medicine men or women who want to gain more power or whatever they want, go through a ceremony that lasts for days.Through that ceremony they transform into a coyote or a dog, in order to go on their travel. also it can be anyone, not just medicine men or women. it was created back then during the wars between tribes, in order to travel fast in long distances. when they travel they are in dog form, but when they need to do their job, they are in skinwalker (yanogloshi) form, some say it looks as if skin is in the shape of a human body with red eyes. they only travel at night, where no one can see them (they are incognito, as you can say). that's why the elders say you shouldn't be outside at night, plus you have no business being out there in the first place.

    feelion: From what I've seen on this website the movie is loosely based on the Navajo legend of skinwalkers. However, it appears more to be based on a cross between skinwalker legend and vampire and werewolf media.

    On the subject of skinwalkers, BOO BOO has the best input I've seen thus far. I'm not Navajo but I do study a lot of mythology. Her point that these are evil witches who become skinwalkers, by choice, is a very important distinction between the real Navajo legend and this movie. There is actually more to it, but my resources are second hand accounts and the internet, neither of which of which would garner much respect for accuracy. The lack of reliable sources is also due to younger generations of Native Americans choosing to ignore the cultural history that their parents and/or grandparents have to offer (in preference to conforming to mainstream America...sort of), or lost much of their heritage due to the U.S. government intervening in tribal affairs to "Americanize" the Native Americans (what laughable idea that was). And to speak of such a topic outside of the tribe, outside of shelter, and/or at night is supposedly considered taboo.

    navijowalker: Skin-walker (mythology).
    Comment:  I hope Skinwalkers doesn't stereotype Indians or portray their religious beliefs as superstition or magic. Otherwise, I'll have to criticize it.

    Also, I'll be curious the movie offers anything we didn't see in Wolf Lake, the underrated TV series from a few years ago. Good vs. bad werewolves, werewolves struggling with the change at puberty...it's been done before.

    Review of American Indians and National Parks

    American Indians and National ParksOne of the best overall views of this subject yet seen. . . . A well-researched and fascinating history detailing the often-tense relationship between American Indian tribal communities and the massive bureaucracy of the National Park Service.

    —The Public Historian

    Former National Parks Director Russell Dickinson once said that he didn't know of 'a single major national park or monument . . . in the western part of the United States that doesn't have some sort of Indian sacred area.' . . . This study by two scholars of Indian cultures argues against 'the stereotypes of Indian-as-ecologist/Indian-as-victim.'

    —Washington Post Book World

    Almost every chapter was a surprise and an education. . . . This book causes us to reexamine present-day stereotypes, but it is not so much about Indian stereotypes as it is about the National Park Service and environmental stereotypes. We have long held certain values about wildlands in high esteem, sometimes to the exclusion of the rights of native peoples. Fortunately, this is a trend that is reversing, and American Indians & National Parks also seeks to encourage the progress that is being made. . . . It is the accurate appreciation of these histories and optimism for future successes that make this book a must for any professional working on wilderness preservation issues.

    —Environmental Practice
    Comment:  These comments sum up American Indians & National Parks well. The book has a decidedly pro-Indian viewpoint. It notes that Indians were present at most of the Western national parks, yet no one has written about the links between Indians and national parks (until now). If the book has a flaw, it occasionally spends too much time on the details and not enough on the big picture.

    Rob's rating:  7.5 of 10.

    Churchill sues to stay

    Ward Churchill Sues CU

    Fired professor claims he's the victim of a witch huntThe Ward Churchill saga continued Wednesday as the now-former University of Colorado-Boulder ethnic studies professor filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming it violated his constitutional rights.

    Churchill claims the university's investigation of his writings, and their decision to fire him all stems from his controversial essay about the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks in which he compared some victims to holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, calling workers in the World Trade Center "little Eichmanns."

    The lawsuit claims the university violated Churchill's right to free speech.

    CU President Hank Brown says the decision to fire Churchill was based on allegation of fraud and plagiarism in his research and writing.

    First Amendment lawyer Dan Recht says Churchill will have to prove his firing was a result of his writings, and if he can do that, he may win. The university, he says, will make its case that the firing was about Churchill's research.

    A First Amendment watchdog group says professors win almost ninety percent of their free speech cases, but the rate is much lower in cases of academic fraud.

    Recht also notes that nowhere in Churchill's law suit does he specifically refute the allegations of plagiarism and fraud.

    Black Indian storytelling theater

    Mashpee Wampanoag Returns to the National Black Theatre Festival

    "The Talking Drum" to be a Part of the Festival's Late-Night Fringe OfferingsMashpee Wampanoag performing artist, and writer, Mwalim (Morgan James Peters, I) will be returning to the festival with his Black Indian styled, adult storytelling theater "The Talking Drum" as a part of the festivals lively late-night fringe offerings; on the nights of August 1 - 3, 10:30pm - 1:00am at the Best Western Salem Inn, 127 S Cherry Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "The Talking Drum" was a popular spoken-word & music show in Southeastern, MA from 1995 - 2000, Originally, it was a monthly show at the Prodigal Son Cafe in Hyannis, with video footage airing on public access television, it eventually moved to the Cape Cod Community Television studios in Yarmouth, in 1998, running as a monthly, live broadcast featuring poets, storytellers, rappers, and musicians from all over New England.

    "The Talking Drum" will include feature performances by Black Indian spoken-word artists Garland Lee Thompson Jr. and Mwalim, as well as an open mic. This presentation is a part of the effort to raise awareness to the upcoming exhibit by the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of the American Indian, exploring the Black Indian experience. Thompson, a member of the recently fractured Okalahoma Cherokees, and Mwalim, member of the recently federally recognized Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Southeastern, Massachusetts.

    "Cherokee Spokespeople" exhibit cards

    Cherokee artist America Meredith puts words on wheelsIt started as a summer project in 2004. Now there are hundreds of them: laminated cards, each with a Cherokee word and picture. Adanhdo: "heart," nvnohi: "path," atseluhisdi: "saxophone." They travel with bicycle messengers all over the world, a mobile international exhibition that Cherokee/Swedish artist America Meredith calls "Cherokee Spokespeople."

    Meredith, 35, worked as a bicycle messenger for 10 years. She gives away her illustrated cards to members of the close-knit international bicycle messenger community who send her back a photo or video of the card in the spokes of their bicycle in their city. In this way, Cherokee words have spread to Tokyo, London, Zurich, Tapei, Aukland and other cities.

    Another attack on "rapacious" Indians

    Cooper:  Calif. gaming tribes act like "rapacious" corporations

    July 25, 2007

    Churchill must go

    Colorado Regents Vote to Fire a Controversial ProfessorAfter more than two years of public tumult, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted Tuesday to fire a professor whose remarks about the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks led to a national debate on free speech. But it was the professor’s problems with scholarship that the board cited as the cause for his termination.

    The professor, Ward L. Churchill, was dismissed on the ground that he had committed academic misconduct by plagiarizing and falsifying parts of his scholarly research.

    The board voted 8 to 1 to dismiss Professor Churchill.
    But he won't go easily:At a news conference after the decision, Professor Churchill, who cut a dramatic figure with his mane of gray-black hair, towering frame and dark sunglasses, criticized the process by which he was fired.

    “I am going nowhere,” Professor Churchill said. “If there is a question in anyone’s mind to the political nature of the Regents, this should resolve it.”

    He continued, “All this did was confirm what it was in the first place about the nature of the academic process and lack of integrity within this institution as a whole.”

    Reactions to Churchill firing

    Backers decry decision to dismiss"I want to be clear," said Tom Mayer, a CU sociology professor. "This is a political firing with academic camouflage.

    "I believe the people who voted (to dismiss Churchill) are the same people who would have voted against Socrates, Galileo . . . and anyone else with an unpopular point of view."
    Churchill fueled perfect media stormKHOW hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman are fully invested in the story and broadcast live Tuesday from the University of Colorado. Caplis cut short a vacation to be able to broadcast the firing of Churchill.

    "This is the people's victory, and talk radio played a part in it. But that's what we're here for," Caplis said. "We shouldn't be bragging about it--we just did our job. If we don't do our job, bad guys like Churchill win."

    Indian school principal leaves

    Bye Bye, Ben

    Controversial charter school principal Ben Chavis pulls up stakes and leaves his school to someone else.Under fire recently for his heated run-in with a Mills College professor and her grad students, foul-mouthed educator Ben Chavis has resigned as principal of American Indian Public Charter School. Chavis, who won national accolades for his school's test scores and local scorn for his controversial teaching methods, said he moved to Tucson, Arizona to spend more time with his grandkids. "I had a great experience there," he said of American Indian. "I never had so much fun fighting liberals in my life."

    Full Disclosure learned of Chavis' resignation after receiving a packet of documents sent by American Indian Public Charter School to the Oakland Unified School District as part of the district's inquiry into Chavis' behavior. Included in the documents were the minutes from American Indian's March 15 board of trustees meeting, which included this bombshell: "Dr. Chavis has noted that he will work part time next year, 2007-2008 ... This will also be his last year as the director of American Indian Public Charter School." The board meeting occurred just hours after the Mills College incident.

    Lionel Hampton and the Nez Perce

    Jazz legend Hampton had bond with Nez Perce TribeJazz legend Lionel Hampton had a special relationship with the Nez Perce people.

    It started near the end of his life, in the 1990s when he was in his 80s and first visited the reservation to perform for school children during the University of Idaho jazz festival.

    Five years after his death, his touch continues to reverberate. One of the people Hampton's music reached is Andre Picard, a Nez Perce musician whose family connected with Hampton.

    He was there when Hampton was made an honorary member of the tribe. He was there during Hampton's final shows on the reservation when the performer counted on band members to shout out the lyrics of "What a Wonderful World" because he could no longer remember.

    Indians pray for rain, peace

    Litany brings rain; will peace follow?

    Determined group offers prayers for troopsTraditional medicine men, members of Native American Church and those who follow Christianity joined prayers to end U.S. participation in the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts, and also to pray for much-needed rain.

    Raymond Jones of Rock Point, who helped organize the event, said Monday that the turnout was small compared to what was expected, but those who showed up were sincere and dedicated, and all signs observed by NAC members indicate that their mission was accomplished.

    They asked for rain and they got it by the bucketful which was a blessing but also probably a factor in the small turnout. And when the eagle whistle sounded at midnight, shooting stars streaked across the night sky.

    Homer and the Boob Lady

    The Simpsons Movie--The Times review

    Our correspondent finds the big-screen debut for Homer and clan both hilarious and horrifyingly poignantAt the start of The Simpsons Movie Homer’s dreams of glory are limited to helping his new pet pig to walk upside down on the ceiling while singing “Spiderpig, Spiderpig” to the Spider-Man theme song.

    But when the adopted swine gets him into bigger trouble than even this celebrated screw-up has ever experienced before, he falls under the influence of a chesty Native American woman he calls “Boob Lady” and undergoes an uncharacteristic epiphany that galvanizes him into action for the good of his by-now estranged clan.
    Comment:  Another example of Native women as sex objects? We'll see.

    Aboriginal art sells for $2 million

    Aboriginal artwork in record saleA painting that hung for several years in a bank has set a new record price for Australian aboriginal artwork.

    The piece, by renowned indigenous artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, was sold for more than US$2m (£970,000) at an auction in Melbourne.

    July 24, 2007

    Review of Brother Bear 2

    Brother Bear 2 DVD ReviewBucking the current trend of "midquels" (which keep characters young, cute and identifiable for young, possibly cute viewers), Brother Bear 2 picks up after the unsatisfactory ending of the previous film. There might be noble artistic reasoning behind this decision, but it is just as easily justified by the fact that the big bear and little bear are the most recognizable personalities of the first movie and to have them both, you need to start here. Fidelity gets tossed out the window early on when this sequel dabbles in a bit of retcon; a young woman by the name of Nita (voiced by pop singer/actress Mandy Moore), entirely unmentioned before, is now significant enough to haunt the big brown bear Kenai (Patrick Dempsey) in flashback-based dreams. Nita is essentially Pocahontas, with a slightly different Native American appearance and without as close of a personal relationship to nature and wildlife. Her dilemma, nonetheless, feels borrowed from the heroine of Disney's 1995 film. She, whose mother has died, is about to marry an apparently respectable young man (who just as well could be called Kocoum) to whom she does not seem particularly attached.

    Their union is not to be, however, as the ceremony is halted after clouds fill the sky and the pair is literally divided by a lightning bolt, clearly illustrating the disapproval of the Great Spirits. Nita consults Innoko (comedienne Wanda Sykes), an unfortunate "sha-woman" character whose screen time is thankfully limited. With no shortage of contemporary feminist sass, Innoko informs Nita that she must reunite with her old childhood friend, Kenai, and the two must together burn an amulet (that's a neck charm, for those too lazy to look it up) that Kenai gave to her years ago. They must do this at Hokani Falls, a site which requires a trek. Oh, and they only have until the vernal equinox, which is three days away. To aid Nita in the communication department, Innoko grants her the ability to talk Bear, or actually, the Universal Animal Language. This is a good move for all, because the few instances in which the bears sound like real bears always come across as unintentionally hilarious regardless of the context.
    How good is it:With story particulars out in the open, it's time to get critical. How does Brother Bear 2 fare as a whole? Somewhere in between the offensiveness of Bambi II and the amusing free spirit of Kronk's New Groove. Basically, this is a mediocre movie. While the same can be said of many (if not most) of Disney's direct-to-video sequels, one gets a different feeling when mediocrity follows a masterpiece than when it comes after something which may be entertaining but is recent and still fair game. I liked Brother Bear quite a bit, calling it "a return to quality filmmaking from the studio" a little over two years ago. While Brother Bear 2 does not live up to it or even come anywhere close, I've seen enough of the Mouse's DTV output to not expect that.

    Brother Bear 2 is episodic and predictable. It's also a little childish in places, as it appeals to young viewers' senses of humor in broader strokes than the more solemn predecessor did. Still, I can't say I disliked it. It certainly doesn't opt for an excess of preachiness or dumbed-down tendencies. The storytelling here isn't quite as sophisticated as before, but it's in the same vein and doesn't yield entirely different results. The movie flirts with being a retread, but it does enough things differently to be cleared of that charge. It's a bit difficult to pinpoint exactly why this is neither better nor worse than it is, but I've got a theory: the first film does not feel like something intended to be sequelized. Of course, the same point can be made of other classic animated tales, like say, The Lion King (which is less emulated here than last time around) and its two sequels turned out okay. But something about the original Brother Bear--its arcs, tone, and characters seem most suspect--somehow make an even greater case for it being a standalone movie. Nevertheless, "okay", "not bad", and "fair enough" are benign comments I can apply to Brother Bear 2.
    Comment:  Brother Bear 2 is the latest in Disney's remarkable string of Native-themed movies. I was going to review it, but this reviewer did it for me. I pretty much agree with his or her sentiments.

    A previous reviewer said the sequel was better than the original. No, not quite, but it's reasonably close. It shows the usual drop in quality of Disney's direct-to-video sequels.

    The present reviewer is right in saying Brother Bear had an unsatisfactory ending. Was Kenai really choosing to spend the rest of his life as a bear, without human companionship? The question of finding a mate was an obvious one and this film addresses it.

    From a Native standpoint, Brother Bear 2 is less objectionable than Brother Bear because it shows (or invents) less of the Native culture. The main bit is the scene with the "sha-woman," described above, where she performs typical Indian "magic." Any Indian magic is suspect, since it implies Indian beliefs are closer to supernatural gimmickry than a true religion. But since this is a Paleo-Indian tribe with no clear connection to an existing Inuit or Native Alaskan group, it's hard to say her actions aren't authentic.

    There are only a couple more cultural bits worth mentioning. One shows two aunts suggesting different clothes, hairstyles, and meals for Nita the bride-to-be. From what I've seen, most Native cultures have strict, well-defined marriage protocols. Arguing over the particulars as if they aren't set by centuries of tradition seems peculiarly Western to me.

    Another bit shows Natives dancing with moose antlers on their heads and a totem pole topped with moose antlers. I haven't heard of a Native culture revering the moose like that. I'm guessing it's made up rather than based on anything real.

    Rob's rating for Brother Bear 2:  7.5 of 10.

    Critic revisits SCALPED

    Correspondence from Mathan Erhardt:Rob,

    Sorry it took so long to respond but I [had] stuff at work and a wedding to attend so the last few months have been super busy.

    After reading the series thus far (I'm assuming you've dropped it) it's obvious that you were spot on with your theory that he was remixing "Thunderheart." Dash actually resentful to be in the position that he's in, an even more extreme view than Kilmer's character had in the movie.

    I also think that you're right in that he's trying to make a Tarrantino comic book. Aaron is clearly applying a crime forumula to a reservation setting. Best case scenario (my view) it's fiction. Worst case (your view) it's damaging offensive fiction.

    I'm still reading the book though. I kind of like the way the story is developing. I like that Red Crow was once an idealist. I like that Nitz is on a vendetta. I'm honestly curious what Dash sees in Red Crow's daughter beyond being his first crush (she's way gross.)

    I do love your point about "mostly unlikable" and "totally unlikable" characters. And it's completely true; I'm not really that invested in the characters, I'm more interested in where the story is headed.

    I also love your blog in general. I'm sure that most people are aware of the offensive mascots, but you do an amazing job of shedding light on other jabs at your culture. Your blog is eye-openning and, as a Black man, oddly comforting. I guess it's nice to know that it's not just "us" and that someone else is calling attention to it.

    I promise the next time you drop me an email I won't take forever to respond.

    My reply:


    Someone asked me if I'd give SCALPED another chance, so I've read it through #6. I'll grant that there's less violence and more characterization in #4-6. We've gained more background on Bad Horse, and Red Crow merely seems bad, not evil incarnate.

    On the other hand, the characterization is mostly a rehash of Wounded Knee II, with Red Crow and Dashiell's mom as stand-ins for the actual participants. In fact, it's a pretty straight ripoff of the Leonard Peltier case. This may be news to many readers, but it's old news in Indian country. It's not representative of what's happening on reservations today.

    Bad Horse's soft-core affair with Red Crow's daughter is also unsavory. She's as voluptuous as a Playmate, a perfect male fantasy, totally unlike most Native women. There's an extremely long history of Native women as sex objects and Aaron is continuing the tradition.

    Again, other than a few Native phrases and the fictionalized Peltier case, there's no Native culture or history here. Judging by Aaron's dark version of the casino opening, he doesn't have a clue what goes on in tribes. And what about the stereotypical covers?

    SCALPED's totem pole and tomahawk

    Despite the bits of characterization, I'm getting less interested in the story as it goes along, not more. Bad Horse and Red Crow have become one and a half-dimensional rather than one-dimensional, but that's nothing special after six issues. At least the first couple of issues had the advantage of being fresh, bold, and unexpected, but that advantage is gone.

    In short, I don't think I'll be spending more money on what, to me, is a middle-of-the-pack comic. The Sopranos was rich and deep from the start, while SCALPED has been Tarantino-lite. When Red Crow goes to a psychiatrist and begins questioning his beliefs, then maybe I'll take SCALPED seriously as a work of fiction.


    Time to fire Churchill?

    Fire Churchill for dishonest practices

    The CU professor has a right to make inflammatory statements, but his academic conduct is inexcusable. He should lose his job.The Ward Churchill fiasco has dragged on long enough.

    While it has been cast by some as an argument about academic freedom, with the University of Colorado professor painted as a man persecuted for his unpopular opinions, that's not the central issue at all.

    Churchill may have drawn initial attention with his inflammatory opinions about Sept. 11 victims, but his real problem is the plagiarism and research misconduct he committed, as determined by several panels that examined his work.

    When the CU regents meet today to consider Churchill's fate, they should fire him.

    Pocahontas in Harry Potter

    Native imagery in Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsI was reading aloud when we got to page 216. At that point in the book, Harry is looking at a photograph of Albus Dumbledore's family. We were surprised to read this:

    "The mother, Kendra, had jet-black hair pulled into a high bun. Her face had a carved quality about it. Harry thought of photos of Native Americans he'd seen as he studied her dark eyes, high cheekbones, and straight nose, formally composed above a high-necked silk gown."
    (Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 7/24/07.)

    Camp for Bush wannabes

    Lawyer backs young Lakota RepublicansA Minneapolis lawyer enrolled in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe says he wants young Native Americans in South Dakota to grow up involved in politics and public service.

    Reid LeBeau, who grew up in Pierre and who works for Lockridge Grindal Nauen in Minneapolis, says that’s why he started raising money for a fund to send Indian youth to the annual Teenage Republican camp in South Dakota.

    July 23, 2007

    Chickasaw Space Camp

    Chickasaw Space Camp broadens students’ horizonsSeveral Chickasaw students spent a week of their summer learning more about the world of aviation and space during the fifth annual Chickasaw Nation Aviation and Space Academy (CNASA).

    High school students attended the Ada camp the week of June 18-22, and students in the fifth through the eighth grades attended June 25-29.
    The purpose:Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said CNASA was developed as part of the tribe’s commitment to making exciting educational opportunities available to Chickasaw students.

    “Our goal is to create an environment where these young people are encouraged to consider careers in science and technology and inspired to pursue excellence,” Anoatubby said. “Each year the camp is a great success. Many of the students left camp thinking about careers they may have never considered before, and we expect this year’s camp will expand the horizons of even more Chickasaw students.”

    A face you won't forget

    Who is Nathaniel Arcand?  You May Be SurprisedBut really, who is Nathaniel Arcand beyond the face-you-won’t-forget?

    “I consider myself a human being and a Cree man. It dictates my life in a lot of ways. Every since I was a kid, there was something there that always reminded me that, yes, I’m an Indian,” he says. “That’s what makes me who I am today as a Native actor. To portray the Native man in a different way they’ve ever been seen. With compassion, heart, and thought in his words. There’s more to this acting thing than the money or the notoriety or the fame. It’s about being a good human being. And pass it on…”

    His acting resume includes more than 40 appearances in no-frills indie films to large Hollywood movies, a few leather-and feather productions, episodic television dramas, and even a Lifetime movie. Nathaniel has earned his acting chops and he’s neither intimidated nor cocky. In other words, he’s hardly naïve about the entertainment business he so loves.

    Free book for Utah's teachers

    Utah's ancient history is focus of donation[L]ast week, the nonprofit Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance unveiled a book it's donating to every Utah fourth- through seventh-grade teacher. The group hopes teachers will pass a trove of ancient history to their students—with a lesson in stewardship.

    "The kids are the ones who are going to protect this stuff for the future," said Jerry D. Spangler, CPAA executive director and co-author of "Treasures of the Tavaputs," which focuses on the archaeology of Desolation Canyon, Nine Mile Canyon and Range Creek near Price. "Our generation hasn't done a very good job of it."

    Indian takeout food

    New eatery features American Indian fareLittle Jewels' fare includes salmon dishes from the Pacific Northwest, bison pot roast, crab cakes from Alaskan crab, fried ribs with wojapi, sweet potato French fries, Indian blue corn breads and venison stews. It will also sell dishes such as Indian tacos and fry bread.

    For now, she said, Little Jewels is strictly a carryout eatery. But she later hopes to expand the scope and launch some mentoring events with American Indian models, musicians, artists and other role models meeting with young people.

    July 22, 2007

    Madoc and the Welsh Indians

    Will DNA turn Madoc myth into reality?

    The search is on for evidence supporting the idea a Welsh prince settled in the Americas around 1170There are different stories told in Wales about Madoc (Madog in Welsh) but most agree Madoc was the son of Owain King of Gwynedd (North Wales). Some say his mother was Brenda, a Viking princess from Ireland who sent him to be raised by Pendaran, an old Druid.

    When Owain died in 1169, fighting broke out among his 24 children for the right to rule. According to the legend, Madoc decided not to pursue a claim to the throne, so with his brother, Riryd (Regyd), he left the North Wales Coast (now Rhos-on-Sea) in two ships. They sailed west to what is now Mobile Bay, Ala., and liked it so much one ship returned to Wales for more adventurers. They sailed up rivers, settling in what is Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, building stone forts.

    After 1186, they were ambushed while sailing downriver. In a truce Madoc and his followers left, sailed to the Mississippi, up the Missouri and settled with a tribe called Mandans.
    The evidence:Kimberley, 63, a former engineer who spent years researching the Madoc story, says many historians dismiss it as an Elizabethan invention, created to lay prior claim on the New World by saying that Madoc discovered America 300 years before Columbus.

    But Kimberley says he has found copies of references to Madoc that pre-date the reign of Elizabeth I and Columbus' trips.

    Kimberley, studying for a master's degree in Celtic History at the University of Wales in the hopes of uncovering more evidence, wants to raise funds to cover the cost of DNA tests to help prove the Madoc story.

    The challenge is obtaining permission to test Native American bone samples that pre-date Columbus. Kimberley has found an ally in a Shawnee "wisdom-keeper" named Ken Lonewolf.

    Lonewolf, 67, from the Pittsburgh area, believes he is descended from a tribe of Welsh Indians and is working on persuading U.S. authorities to release samples for DNA testing and carbon dating.

    "Our last Shawnee leader was named Chief White Madoc; this name must have been passed down for many generations," says Lonewolf.

    How to write children's books about Indians

    How to Turn a Traditional Indian Story into a Children’s Book (for fun and profit)1. Go to a special collections library and peruse the traditional Indian stories told to and written down by non-Indian anthropologists. Don’t worry about asking anyone’s permission to use or change the stories you discover—Indians may consider many of them sacred, but according to copyright law, they are public domain and yours for the taking.

    3. Magnify the details you think are important—and get rid of everything else. Cut out all references to violence, sex, bodily functions, spiritual beliefs, or anything else you don’t particularly like or understand.

    5. Improve on the dialogue. Let your imagination run wild. If the story reads, “I am going!”, change it to: “Farewell, my parents, and do not grieve. I have another home under the sea and I’m going there!”
    (Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 7/20/07.)

    Modern Indian heroes

    Two Volumes of Indian Heroes and LegendsOne of my other heroes, a man I have known for more than 30 years, Dr. Dean Chavers, saved me all of the work and troubles by pointing out the names and histories of nearly 100 of his Indian heroes. His brand new set of books titled, "Modern American Indian Leaders, Their Lives and Their Works, re-acquainted me with so many of the Indian people I have known and loved over the many years I have been a journalist in Indian country.

    It took Dr. Chavers two volumes to include the names of so many Indian heroes he has met or read about over his more than 40 years of serving Indian country. His books cover a gamut of Indian leaders from sports figures like Jim Thorpe and Billy Mills, to holders of the Medal of Honor like Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., Winnebago and Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, leader of the famed Black Sheep Squadron at Guadalcanal, a member of the Coeur d' Alene Tribe of Idaho.

    February Stereotype of the Month loser

    The loser:  NY Post:  Mohawks are "gangsters," "corrupt folks," "crooks"

    Dishonorable mention:  WSJ:  Tribal sovereignty is "little-known quirk of federal law"

    Throwing tomahawks is educational?

    Kids make tomahawks and throw them at Mass. Indian fair

    Baroness knows Bushmen?

    Baroness labels Bushmen as "stone age," "primitive" on BBC

    July 21, 2007

    More Native plays

    Stories of Our Way:  An Anthology of American Indian Plays (Hardcover)

    by Hanay GeiogamahThe first anthology of its kind, Stories of Our Way: An Anthology of American Indian Plays (1999) spans more than thirty years of American Indian theater. This distinguished group of twelve plays draws on a rich range of tribal experiences Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Kiowa, Navajo, Oneida, Otoe-Missouria, Rappahonack, and urban. The theatrical influences range across the spectrum of drama: Brechtian performance and production style in "Sun, Moon and Feather" and "Foghorn"; poetic ceremonialism in "The Truth Teller"; traditionalism and spirituality in "Butterfly of Hope"; historical pageantry and tribal oral traditions in "At the Sweet-Gum Bridge"; bold experimentalism and nonlinear plotting in "The Cherokee Night" and "Hokti"; realism and comic theatricality in "An Evening at the Warbonnet"; solo performance form in "Grandma and Grandpa"; the Coyote tradition in "Coon Cons Coyote"; and theater as ceremonial literature in "49". Featured plays include: "The Cherokee Night" by Lynn Riggs; "Foghorn" by Hanay Geiogamah; "Coon Cons Coyote" by Native American Theater Ensemble with Hanay Geiogamah; "Butterfly of Hope (A Warrior's Dream)" by Ray Baldwin Louis; "49" by Hanay Geiogamah; "At the Sweet Gum Bridge" by Wallace Hampton Tucker; "Sun Moon and Feather" by Spiderwoman Theater; "Grandma and Grandpa" by Hanay Geiogamah; "The Truth Teller" by Diane Glancy; "Evening at the Warbonnet" by Bruce King; and "Hokti" by Annette Arkeketa.Comment:  For other books on Native theater, see the ones listed at Amazon.com under "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought...."

    More Native theaters

    Native Theater ProfilesThe Project HOOP Website presents the following brief profiles of seven of the 14 Native American theatre companies, projects, and support organizations represented at the 3 rd annual national Native performing arts conference held in Los Angeles in December, 2004. The profiles are based on verbal presentations by each project's spokesperson and have been edited by the presenters and the HOOP website.

  • American Indian Community House, New York , New York
  • Haskell Indian Nations University, Thunderbird Theatre, Lawrence, Kansas
  • Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Red Earth Performing Arts, Seattle, Washington
  • Red Eagle Soaring, Seattle, Washington
  • Sinte Gleska University and Project HOOP, Rosebud, South Dakota
  • Tulsa Indian Actor's Workshop (TIAW), Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Comment:  Thanks to Eulala Pegram McDonald for these items.

    More on dresses exhibit

    American Indian Dresses Blend Tradition and Innovation

    Exhibit traces history of dressmaking by indigenous peoples over 200 yearsThe prominent roles of women in American Indian societies are mirrored in the evolving designs of the ceremonial dresses and accessories they have created over the past 200 years, says Emil Her Many Horses, an expert on Northern and Southern Plains cultures at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

    Her Many Horses, a member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) nation of South Dakota, is co-curator of the NMAI exhibit “Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses.” The exhibit traces the history of native dressmaking from the 19th century to the present, with examples of richly ornamented deerhide and cloth dresses representing a variety of North American tribal and regional styles.

    The dresses, shown with moccasins, leggings and other handmade items, illuminate the vibrant artistic traditions of American Indian communities. “In our cultures, artistic ability is considered a spiritual gift,” Her Many Horses told USINFO. “Women who excelled at dressmaking always were held in high regard” for contributing to their families’ well-being, and their creations enhanced the status of their families within the tribal framework.

    Coin commemorates Inuit kidnapping

    Coin evokes grim past for Inuit, leader says

    Mint's $20 offering ignores darker side of Frobisher expeditionThere's two sides to every coin, and that certainly seems to be the case with the new $20 coin released by the Royal Canadian Mint.

    Struck to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the International Polar Year, the silver coin depicts, among other things, the 16th century Arctic explorer Martin Frobisher and an Inuit kayaker.

    The problem, says Canada's main Inuit organization, is that it's eerily reminiscent of the kidnapping of an Inuit kayaker by that explorer.
    What this refers to:In 1576, Frobisher travelled to the Arctic to find the elusive Northwest Passage. While sailing near Baffin Island, the British explorer and his men captured an Inuit man-–kayak and all-–for display in England. The captive died from disease-–likely the flu–-shortly after arriving in Europe. Frobisher returned a year later and captured three more Inuit, who also died from disease.

    Sky's the limit for "Soaring Eagle"

    Gerald Auger ~ Director/Producer/Actor/WriterGerald Auger has certainly come a long way from his humble origins of Wabasca, Alberta, Canada. A National Native Role Model, Entrepreneur and Director/Producer/Writer/Actor who has appeared on a TV series and a few movie appearances to his credit, Auger is living proof that if the spirit is willing, the sky is the limit.

    Such achievements seemed insurmountable when Auger left an abusive home environment for a turbulent life on the streets several years ago. Abandoning his life on the reserve he spent his youth drifting between the East and West coasts, witnessing the horrors of street life, from the urban squalor afflicting his people, to routines instances of alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and witnessing death.

    To avoid becoming a statistic, he kept his head above tempestuous waters stealing food and finding refuge in the occasional cardboard box. But when he saw his companions die one by one, Auger quickly came to terms with his situation: either 25 years behind bars or six feet under.

    Protecting land from ATVs

    S. Utes look to build motocross parkThe Southern Ute Indian Tribe is seeking bids for the design and construction of a motocross park with multiple tracks on tribal lands.

    The proposed tracks would be located at the Jefferson Gravel Pits, near County Road 321 and Shellhammer Road, about two miles southeast of Ignacio, said Josh Batchelor, parks and recreation manager for the Southern Ute Division of Wildlife.

    The tribe has been having problems with children riding all-terrain vehicles on the reservation and destroying tribal lands, she said, and part of the reason for building a new track would be to give children and others a location for such activities.

    Richard Eagle, "ordained shaman"

    N.C. shopkeeper Eagle claims to be "ordained shaman," chief

    July 20, 2007

    Juanenos pray for unity

    Mission event brings Juaneno's together

    Organizers hope Kateri Tekakwitha Mass serves to overcome tribal factions.More than 500 Native Americans and Mission San Juan Capistrano parishioners attended the first Kateri Tekakwitha Mass Saturday, as organizers attempt to unite the fragmented Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation.

    With three groups claiming leadership of the tribe--led by Anthony Rivera, David Belardes and Joe O'Campo--organizers hope the Mass serves to bring Juaneno members together.

    "There are some inner struggles and inner turmoil among the factions," said Jerry Nieblas, the event's organizer. "I thought there was only one way to bring our people together; through the mission and the church."

    Kateri Tekakwitha, the daughter of a Mohawk chief who joined the Catholic faith in the mid-1600s, has become an important figure for the Juanenos.

    "We picked her because she is the first Native American to be recognized by Rome, and she is one step away from being declared a saint," Nieblas said.

    Knowledgeable or naive?

    Conversation with a German Hobby IndianThere was a man standing in front of me in the Wied-Neustadt Pow wow Grand Entry, he was dressed in the Men's Southern Traditional Style. He turned to me, looked me up and down, and smiled, after his smile he asked. "Is that a Crow style or an Iroquois style head-gear that you're wearing?"

    "Cree-style," I said.

    "Would that be Plains Cree, Woodland Cree or Montagnais Cree?"

    "Plains Cree," I reply, hoping that I passed this unexpected multiple guess quiz.
    On the other hand:"Do you believe in the Native American Church?"

    "Umm, no." I say.

    "Why not, it's the religion of the American Indians." he says, tossing in another banking term.

    "Well umm, not my Indians."

    Ten Canoes is tough going

    'Canoes' voyages into tribal mythEver-venturesome Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer, in his beautiful but demanding "Ten Canoes," takes the viewer back 1,000 years to evoke the lives of Aborigines and even further, to a mythological antiquity, the source of tribal beliefs, customs, laws and rituals. De Heer, whose films include the well-received "The Tracker," has understandably been highly praised by the Aboriginal community for evoking its culture and traditions with such authenticity, respect and grace.

    In his wholly admirable fidelity to the leisurely pace and endless convolutions of Aboriginal storytelling, De Heer has made a movie that is indeed tough going. Most viewers, aside from those with a passion for the ethnographic, are not likely to find it a conventionally involving film. Its key people emerge as individualistic—and sometimes amusing, as well as heroic—in their timeless revelations of the foibles of human nature, but their way of life seems so remote and distant it's difficult to identify with them. "Ten Canoes" is nonetheless audacious and impressive, but challenging work, requiring steadfast concentration.

    The Dead Meat Olympics

    Salmon, whale blubber and seals lend unique flavor to Native gamesThe Dead Meat Olympics are in full swing at Sullivan Arena.

    Twenty chum salmon went under the knife Wednesday night.

    Five spotted seals are chillin' in the arena's cooler, waiting for their turn to be sliced and skinned on Friday.

    And tonight a pound or two of whale blubber will be diced and devoured.

    Of the zillion things that make the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics unique, the three slime events--the fish-cutting contest, the seal-skinning contest and the muktuk-eating contest--are without parallel in the sporting world.
    Comment:  See also WEIO Likes Its Anchorage Digs.

    Cherokee fusion band

    Band Gives Gratitude[W]ith a scheduled performance Saturday, July 21 at Crosstown Community Center in Alameda, the current five musicians authenticate the label "fusion band."

    Snappy jazz sizzles from the strings of electric guitar. Haunting notes float from Native American cedar-wood flutes—instruments carved by hand and adorned with animal ornaments.

    Bradley Deetz, registered Cherokee of the Eastern Band, taps a traditional hand-drum, while John Rossillon, longhaired, side-burned, mustached (picture a well-preserved hippie) bangs away on a modern drum set.

    Tribal showcase at Jamestown

    Indian festival is next in Jamestown 2007 series

    Hampton Coliseum will host a weekend event that places a spotlight on American Indian tribes.Jamestown 2007 organizers expect thousands of visitors to the Hampton Coliseum this weekend for a free festival showcasing 15 American Indian tribes.

    The American Indian Intertribal Cultural Festival is intended to serve as one of Jamestown 2007's 10 signature events and further the commemoration's goals of attracting visitors and teaching people about history and different cultures.

    Dem candidates spurn Indians

    Top contenders say no to Prez on the RezThe leading Democratic candidates for president will not participate in the Prez on the Rez debate at the Morongo Indian reservation next month, an organizer said Thursday.

    Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina rejected invitations to the Aug. 23 event, said Kalyn Free, president of the Indian group organizing the event.

    July 19, 2007

    Bury My Heart gets Emmy nominations

    'Bury My Heart,' 'Sopranos' top Emmy nods"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," adapted from Dee Brown's nonfiction best-seller, received nominations for best made-for-TV movie, writing and for support acting. The film chronicles the Sioux victory over Custer at Little Big Horn and events leading up to the assassination of Sitting Bull and the Sioux massacre at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890.

    Executive producer Dick Wolf said its clutch of nominations was a validation of a very difficult project.

    "Anybody who says it's not nice or it doesn't mean anything to get this many nominations, it's the ultimate sour grapes because it sure feels great," he said.
    Anna Paquin, "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    August Schellenberg , "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO
    Aidan Quinn, "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heat At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO

    "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," HBO
    Comment:  Once again, Adam Beach is touted as a surefire award winner but doesn't get nominated. Someone is either overrating or underrating his performances.

    Bury My Heart may deserve some of these nominations, but it doesn't deserve a nomination for best writing or made-for-TV movie. My review explains why.