January 31, 2007

Indians aren't supposed to be modern

No One Ever Sees Indians:  “On Stealing a Native Identity”[W]hen we screened Chris Eyre’s A Thousand Roads, there is a segment about a young Inupiat girl returning to Baro, Alaska to live with relatives she has just met while her mother serves overseas. I noticed the same reaction every time one particular scene comes on screen. The scene shows the girl’s cousins playing a Star Wars video game and every time the movie showed the kids playing the game, with the too-familiar music and light-saber sound effects, there was an audible chuckle that roiled through the audience.

Indian kids are not supposed to play video games, or watch standard Hollywood fare, read comic books, or watch too much television. They are not supposed to think that every kid in America grows up in the splendor that they do. To believe they are no different from the kids they see on TV and in movies. Indians are supposed to be mystical, and mythical, and at the same time violent and warlike and unable to grasp modern technology, such as making movies about their lives. That is the perception we have had to endure for so long.

What publishers are saying

Let's ignore the fact that controversy sells, as it's arguably doing with the SCALPED series. I'm willing to be that no comic-book publishers are sitting around saying, "I'd really like to publish an Indian comic, but I'm afraid of the protests." What they're probably saying is, "Are Indians still around? I thought they were dead.

"Okay, I'll consider an Indian comic to make people feel good about themselves. But I don't want to expend too much energy on it. Because it might not work and then we'd look foolish. Despite the popularity of Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas, there's probably not much of a market for it.

"So let's not waste time or money finding creators who might actually understand Indians. Let's go with my stereotypical impressions. Indians are warriors with tomahawks or shamans with magic artifacts, right? We've done comics like that before and they've sold okay, so give me something like that.

"Hey, here's a proposal to do Independence Day (Indians as savage freedom fighters!) or The Sopranos (Indians as savage casino owners!) on the rez. They're Apaches or Lakotas, so they're savage by definition, but they're also human beings. Wow, that's heavy.

"No need to look any further. It sounds like something I've seen or read before, and it's close enough to reality for readers, who are as ignorant as I am. Let's do it."

Top 10 movie stereotypes?

From Borat to Mammy

The top ten stereotypes in cinema history

Comment:  Interesting list, but it missed many Native and other stereotypes. See my comment at the end of the posting.

The fact that no Native stereotypes made the list is telling. One could argue that the greatest stereotype of Native people is that they're gone--i.e., no longer around to be stereotyped.

My comics collection

I just finished inventorying last year's comics and adding them to my collection. If anyone cares, I now have 9,045 originals and 2,346 duplicates for a total of 11,391 comics. That doesn't include another 300 or so that I have to read again before I make them part of the official collection.

Another Native-themed video

The Boy with the Sun Tree Bow

January 30, 2007

"New Age" explained

New AgeNew Age is a broad movement of late 20th century and contemporary Western culture, characterised by an individual eclectic approach to spiritual exploration.

Though there are no formal or definitive boundaries for membership, those who are likely to sample many diverse teachings and practices (from both 'mainstream' and 'fringe' traditions) and to formulate their own beliefs and practices based on their experiences can be considered as New Age. Rather than following the lead of an organised religion, "New Agers" typically construct their own spiritual journey based on material taken as needed from the mystical traditions of the worlds religions, also including shamanism, neopaganism and occultism.

New Age practices and beliefs may be characterized as a form of alternative spirituality or alternative religion.
Comment:  In case you were wondering, I'm an agnostic. In other words, I'm a religious and spiritual void. My attitude is to question everything and believe nothing (at least without proof).

In that regard, I'm like a Vulcan. I believe only in what you can prove with facts and evidence and logic. If there's no reason to believe in something, then I don't believe in it.

In contrast, both the religionist and atheist are sure of their beliefs, even though neither one has proof. They have faith that their position is the right one. Agnostics aren't like either type of believer because they have no definite beliefs.

New Agers have all sorts of religious and spiritual beliefs. But atheists, who are certain God doesn't exist, may have some beliefs aligned with New Ageism. For instance, they may believe the universe is filled with a "force" that isn't God but is supernatural. Or they may believe in the healing power of yoga or meditation or aromatherapy.

As an agnostic, I have no spiritual beliefs whatsoever. I'm the opposite of a New Ager, who tends to believe in anything and everything spiritual. No one in existence is less of a New Ager than I am.

All clear?

Multiracial kids need strong ID

Problem behaviorChoi has yet to decipher all the factors that exacerbate multiracial youths’ “bad outcomes,” but racial discrimination is part of the equation. Kids act out in response to ridicule or ostracism. In junior high and high school, “some [racial] groups are very exclusive. Other children will push you out if you’re a racial combination.” In similar surveys in Hawaii, she notes, multiracial youths did not show more problems than their monoracial classmates. “It’s not even an issue there—so many people come from multiple backgrounds.” In the U.S. at large, interracial marriages account for 4 percent of the total; in Hawaii they account for nearly half.

“However, there is some indication that a strong ethnic identity” with at least one race—a sense of racial or cultural pride, belonging, and confidence—“helps protect kids from these behaviors,” Choi says. But youths must strike a sometimes difficult balance. “This research is just emerging, but it is saying that ethnic identity for multiracial children is unique. They need to endorse every part of who they are, and for children of combinations from conflicting groups”—for instance, black and white or, Choi says, Asian and black—“that will be hard.”
Comment:  The corollary of the claim that a strong ethnic idenity helps is that a weak ethnic identity hurts. What weakens the identity of Indian or part-Indian children? Being ignored, trivialized, or stereotyped in the mainstream culture.

Best Indian = white man

No One Ever Sees Indians:  “On Stealing a Native Identity”While Dances with Wolves saw a more accurate Native American representation it was still, in the end, a movie about a white man’s experience among a “vanishing race.” Yet again, a white man “becomes” Indian only to see the Indians vanishing as Dances with Wolves rides on, new identity intact. Armando Prats illustrates this in his book when he writes, “Such an authorization of the hero’s Indianness functions not to establish the Indian’s humanity, or to reveal something like the autochthonous wisdom that recognizes a common bond with the white man. Instead, it tends to announce the almost obligatory moment of perspicacity …whereby the Indian, conceding his imminent doom, defers to this privileged white man.”

The idea of assuming a Native Identity goes back to the earliest westerns, including the much-loved Little Big Man. Prats examines a scene where Jack Cabbe (Dustin Hoffman) returns to the Cheyenne and enters the lodge of Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George), now blinded, and hears of the numerous deaths at the hand of the white man. Jack cries out against the white man. While it shows Crabbe’s sympathy for the Cheyenne and his being a part of the tribe, as Prats writes, “It is in part his censure of the white man that empowers Jack to become …the narrator. But such denunciations also exonerate him from any possible blame for the actions of his race.”

No. 1 of The 4400

I just finished watching the second season of The 4400 on DVD. Good sci-fi show...just a notch or two below the excellent Battlestar Galactica. I just realized that Alana, agent Tom's girlfriend, is played by Karina Lombard. As her website explains:She was born in Tahiti, the daughter of Henry Lombard, The Swiss-Russian heir to a Geneva banking dynasty, and Nupuree Lightfoot, a Lakota Sioux Indian medicine woman.Wow. She's as beautiful as Catherine Zeta-Jones and a fine actor to boot. She should be doing bigger things than The 4400 and her current project, The L Word.

Art by Rachel Dennis (Mohawk)

my-little-native's deviantART gallery

January 29, 2007

Major article on comic-book Indians

Native Americans in Comics"For every good comic there are probably 50 titles that severely misrepresent us," Sheyahshe lamented. "Comics like 'Red Ryder' denigrate us with simple-minded, child-like characters like Red's sidekick, Little Beaver. Titles like 'Tomahawk' (from the 1950s, not the Vertigo one-shot), 'White Indian' and 'Scalphunter' seem to convey the message that white people make better Indians than we do."

"To say there is room for improvement for Indigenous representation in current popular media would not adequately address how much disparagement still occurs," Sheyahshe said. "Nor would it adequately suggest that there is an urgent need for more Native authors, artists, writers, and everything in between to get out there and make things better by infiltrating the entertainment industry and reshaping those old, worn out stories into ones we can truly call our own.

"Sure, things have improved marginally overall in comics as well as many other genres, Sheyahshe continued. "But this slight improvement is not enough; it is far too little too late. We are way overdue for a major breakthrough and change across the board in every media source. I look forward to reading comic books that shatter all of these misrepresentations."
Comment:  This is a fine article overall with too many worthy points to quote or summarize. I'm glad to hear of THE RAVEN and DESPERADOES, which I wasn't aware of. You learn something every day.

But naturally, I take exception to a few things:

  • The article skipped a lot of the history of fictional Indians by starting with the dime novels of the late 19th century. It ignored the legends of good Indians such as Pocahontas and Squanto, the first Thanksgiving myth, the Boston Tea Party and other Indian-themed protests, the writings of Fenimore Cooper and Longfellow, the plays about Metamora and Minnehaha, the artwork of Remington and Russell, and the Wild West shows. Only after these other forms of cultural transmission did the dime movels add their, um, two cents' worth.

  • You could argue that there wasn't enough room to mention all these things, but this is a Web-based article. More to the point, it wasn't necessary to start with a historical overview. If you're going to do an overview, take a paragraph to sum up the whole history.

  • I think the article overstated how the noble savage or shaman has become the predominant image of Indians. It understated the lasting power of the Indian as warrior, killer, or animal. Comics still feature many plain ol' savages (e.g., SCALPED, COWBOYS & ALIENS), half-breeds (SHAMAN'S TEARS, Echo), and angry veterans (SCOUT, Super-Chief).

  • As usual, I disagree with Mark Waid (an old story). Tonto represents the good Indian, but there's still a good Indian/bad Indian dichotomy. The characters in SCALPED, the movie The Missing, or (I gather) DESPERADOES: A MOMENT'S SUNLIGHT represent the negative side of Indian portrayals. And although Tonto is undoubtedly the most famous fictional Indian, people still envision a Plains Indian "brave" or chief when they envision Indians, not a Woodlands Indian like Tonto.

  • Ironically, Waid's Super-Chief is one of the more stereotypical Indian superheroes in recent years. This character is a standard warrior-veteran with a magic-based grandfather straight out of the Thunderbird/Butcher/Scout era of the late 1970s. Sixties characters such as Pow-Wow Smith and Wyatt Wingfoot were more original and they appeared more than 40 years ago.

  • Jason Aaron seems to want to have it both ways with SCALPED. On the one hand, he's done "a lot of research" because he's writing about "real people and a real location" with "a tremendous amount of respect." On the other hand, it's a "fictional crime book" in which he's "exploiting the setting."

  • So if you enjoy SCALPED because of its authenticity, he'll take the credit. But if you criticize SCALPED because it's stereotypical, he won't take the blame. Sorry if you're offended, I imagine him saying, but it's just entertainment.

  • SCOUT, TRIBAL FORCE, and CHICKASAW ADVENTURES were all breakthroughs of one sort or another, but I'm not sure anyone would pick them as great Native-themed comics. I wouldn't. I list what I consider the best Native-themed comics at Comic Books Featuring Indians. These include COMANCHE MOON, Sitting Bull: The Life of a Lakota Chief, and the new RED PROPHET series.

  • Publishers are kiddings themselves if they think huge numbers of critics are waiting to pounce on any negative portrayal of Indians. I've read several reviews of SCALPED and COWBOYS & ALIENS, for instance, and I'm about the only one to slam the stereotypes in these comics. Fact is, Indians have a lot of things to worry about besides comic books. And most of these comics aren't popular enough to generate a lot of responses.

  • I'd say the critical situation is no worse for Indians than it is for any other minority. To which the publishers might respond, "Yes, which is why we don't do minority-themed comics in general." To which I might respond, "Minorities aren't as hyper-sensitive as you depict them. They criticize your minority-themed comics only because you don't do them right. Start doing them right and you'll get praise rather than pans."

    Anyway, this article was a great undertaking with good results. Kudos to writer Emmett Furey, who covers the Native American beat for Comic Book Resources. (Yes, there is such a thing, apparently.) I'll try to keep you posted whenever he writes about Indians in comics.

    Angelina's Native connection

    Angelina Jolie's Mother DiesAngelina Jolie is in mourning after her mother Marcheline Bertrand lost her battle with cancer on Saturday.

    The former actress died Saturday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

    Bertrand, who was partly of native American descent, appeared in movies like 'Lookin' To Get Out' and 'The Man Who Loved Women,' but gave up her acting career to raise her kids as a single mom, after divorcing their father, actor Jon Voight, in 1978.
    Comment:  It's interesting to note the Native connection for Angelina Jolie, mega-celebrity. Also, I believe Jon Voight, her father, is a supporter of Indian causes. I saw him at a First Americans in the Arts awards ceremony about 10 years ago.

    Comedic role models

    James and Ernie:  Native Comedy with a Positive MessageThat was the start of James and Ernie, Native America’s clean fun and clean living comedy team. In the nearly six years since that first meeting, the Navajo duo have entertained audiences throughout the Four Corners region to the Kennedy Center in Washington with their unique style of sketch-prop comedy mixed with musical parodies. What makes their humor stand apart is their innately personal perspective as contemporary Natives, even when those details include their own battles with alcohol addiction.

    “I want to tell the audience what happened to us. For me, I’ve been substance free for five years,” Ernie says. “I stopped drinking, finally, because I had one too many DUIs and my wife almost divorced me. I nearly lost my family and basically lost all my dignity and respect because of alcohol. I even lost two jobs.”

    More than flutes and drums

    First Nations Composer Initiative:  They’re Native and This Is Their MusicThis may come as a shock. Okay, maybe not… But lots of people think only of flutes and drums when they hear the words “Native American Music.”

    But shock or no shock, one thing is abundantly clear. “Native American Music” is about hip-hop, reggae, classical, electronic, pop, country, and experimental. Even, dare I say, flutes and drums.

    FNCI conductorWhich is why the First Nations Composer Initiative (FNCI—pronounced “fancy”) exists. Under the auspices of the American Composers Forum, FNCI promotes, and no less significantly, provides a virtual gathering place for the artists and aficionados of contemporary and traditional American Indian music. Established in 2004, FNCI’s commitment is to celebrate the wealth of talent and diversity that comprises Indigenous musical expression.

    Oops, America's mistake

    Genocide means having to say you're sorry:

    Resolution of Apology to the Native Peoples

    The power of PR

    See who's picking up my review:

    Scalped:  Another Comic Book Gets Indians Wrong

    January 28, 2007

    Reviews of RED PROPHET

    Red Prophet:  Tales of Alvin Maker by Roland Bernard BrownStarting with the obvious, Red Prophet: Tales of Alvin Maker is a straight-up adaptation of the second book in Card’s lengthy series about the seventh son of a seventh son, Alvin, who has a special ‘knack’. Issue #1 encompasses the first forty or so pages of Red Prophet using much of Card’s original text to tell the story. Set in a late eighteenth, early nineteenth century America that is equal parts alternative history, legend and magic, the Alvin Maker books have an earthy charm about them that could have been hard to translate into a visual medium. Thankfully artist Renato Arlem manages to assuage any concerns about the visual style of Red Prophet with highly detailed artwork that fully renders the frontier world of Alvin Maker, making it at once recognisable yet fresh.

    What springs out immediately from the first few pages is how busy the comic book is, there is a lot going on in each panel both in terms of the artwork and the narrative structure. Each panel’s artwork has a vividness of purpose that makes it appear as if the events are moving forward of their own accord, but unfortunately this is hampered by the way Brown tells the story. Many pages are littered with numerous narrative and speech bubbles that occupy a significant amount of space on the page, cluttering the artwork and creating the impression that this is very much a comic ‘book’.
    Red Prophet #2 by Roland Bernard BrownWhat began as a promising first issue has been followed up by a very enjoyable, if again too brief second issue. Red Prophet #2 begins to explain the background to Lolla-Wossiky and why, of all the ‘likkered Reds’, his story is important. In this second issue we learn why he is so dependent on whiskey and what the real reason behind his drinking is. As was the case with the first issue, issue two continues in the style that anyone familiar with Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series has become accustomed to. Roland Bernard Brown and Renato Arlem have settled quickly into the title with few adjustments required, which makes the transition between issues smooth and familiar.

    Centring on Lolla-Wossiky’s journey North to find his dream beast and escape his reliance on the whiskey of Governor Harrison, Red Prophet #2 uses Lolla-Wossiky to expand the reader’s understanding of the world and finally bring us within touching distance of Alvin. The journey itself is a beautifully drawn mixture of the peaceful green and disturbing black, balancing the problems Lolla-Wossiky suffers with the truth of his heritage. Wossiky’s missing eye is used intelligently as the main story-telling tool, seeing things in a different way and making the reader wonder whether he is a little crazy after all. Unfortunately the pacing of Red Prophet #2 has to be brought into question. Understandably some amount of time must be spent on the tale of Lolla-Wossiky, as it is central to the tale as a whole, however given the monthly release of the title, it’s lack of size and the limited length of it’s run, it seems too much of a luxury to go two issues without meeting the titular character. This second issue also feels like a setting of the stage, which, although unavoidable to a degree, is still disappointing because we’re not into the meat of the story yet.
    Comment:  I disagree with Owen Jones's negative comments. The narrative captions and the time spent exploring the characters are exactly what make this series stand out. Reading RED PROPHET #2, I realized it was taking a whole 15 minutes instead of the usual 9-10. That's a sign one is actually reading, not just looking at pretty pictures.

    If Jones wants less literary comics, he has about a thousand to choose from. Let's not prod this title to be like the other 999.

    Also, I believe Lolla-Wossiky is the Red Prophet of the series, not Alvin Maker. So issue #2 is all about the titular character.

    Illini mascot isn't a mascot?

    Illiniwek:  Symbol or mascot?The chief's supporters prefer the term "symbol" and say that "mascot" has become the politically correct word used by critics who believe the chief is a politically incorrect representation of Native Americans. They say the anti-chief camp uses the word "mascot" to make it sound as if the chief is demeaning to Native Americans.

    What chief supporters don't seem to realize is that their choice of the word "symbol" is just as political as "mascot." They think "symbol" makes the chief sound more dignified and better describes their view that the chief is a respectful tribute to the native people of Illinois.
    Why these supporters are wrong:McKean...said that because Chief Illiniwek performs at football, basketball and volleyball games, and sports teams have mascots, it makes more sense to call Chief Illiniwek a mascot.

    "The context expects a mascot," McKean said. "By trying to elevate it to the symbol context, then there is a problem. A symbol is certainly a more dignified word. Symbols do not usually dance."

    "Look, mascot is the name of these things," Nunberg said. "This isn't just a symbol. There is a guy out there in a chief suit."

    Mohegans visit Queen

    From the Norwich Bulletin, 1/28/07:

    Column:  Historic meeting finally takes place after 270 years[S]everal months ago, again, three Mohegan tribal members would travel to London and, in official ceremonies, would memorialize the grave of Mahomet and discuss with the queen of England, Elizabeth II, the matter in casual terms.

    Finally, after all those years, Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, council chairman, Mark Brown, council member and Mohegan ambassador, and Shane Long, cultural and community outreach specialist, traveled to London. It was on Thanksgiving evening, on CBS, that Katie Couric took the Mohegan story nationwide in a five-minute clip with Queen Elizabeth, "Two Dogs" Bozsum, Mark Brown and Shane Long presenting a tribal ritual on the grounds of Southwark Cathedral.
    Comment:  I've interviewed Brown and Bozsum for articles I've written on Indian gaming.

    Racial preference for whites

    White Privilege:  Swimming in Racial Preference[I]t is hardly an exaggeration to say that white America is the biggest collective recipient of racial preference in the history of the cosmos. It has skewed our laws, shaped our public policy and helped create the glaring inequalities with which we still live.

    We strike the pose of self-sufficiency while ignoring the advantages we have been afforded in every realm of activity: housing, education, employment, criminal justice, politics, banking and business.

    We ignore the fact that at almost every turn, our hard work has been met with access to an opportunity structure denied to millions of others. Privilege, to us, is like water to the fish: invisible precisely because we cannot imagine life without it.

    Native left out of Platoon

    No One Ever Sees Indians:  “The Turn”The image of the beads and feathers continue to endure during the new enlightened period of the 1970s and still a Native Voice continued to be missing. The 80s showed few choices in regards to Native American films. More often than not, non-Natives were portraying Native roles, irregardless of Chief Dan George’s portrayals. The first time I realized that Native American actors were being ruled out was with the success of Oliver Stone’s Platoon, about his own experiences during the Vietnam War.

    Later, I picked up an issue of Rolling Stone Magazine with an interview with Oliver Stone and he talked about casting Platoon. In the interview he revealed that he actually cast a Native American actor for the role of Sergeant Elias, my favorite character. This took me aback. Why was a Native actor not good enough for the role? I mean, he could have recast the role with another Native actor but chose Dafoe instead after seeing his work in To Live and Die in L.A.

    Crybaby misunderstands Constitution

    Indians forfeited sovereignty when they became US citizens

    January 27, 2007

    Native Martin Luther King?

    Short Takes:) Upcoming Po’Pay Feature; Collaboration is a Beautiful Thing...Po'Pay is, without hyperbole, Indigenous America's Martin Luther King. Sad thing is, very few people–Native or not–have ever heard of this great man. Po'Pay is North America's first revolutionary war hero. No, not THAT revolution–the revolution of Native people against the Spaniards. He was born around 1630 in Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo), later becoming a religious leader. In 1680 Po’pay organized the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish–which ultimately helped to ensure the survival of the Pueblo traditions, language and religion, and restored a respect for life, harmony, peace and freedom. Amazing.

    In honor of his achievements, the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is producing a feature length documentary; enlisting the filmmaking talents of Derek Stokes and Catherine Angeles. The documentary is in post-production as we speak, with an eye on a 2008 Sundance premiere. We will be publishing a feature article about this ground-breaking film in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to watch an eight-minute promo video. You will be impressed!!
    Comment:  Popé is more like Malcolm X than Martin Luther King Jr., if you ask me. In Revolutionary War terms, he would be Sam Adams, not Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin.

    See Popé Called "Murderer" for Killing Spanish Conquerors for more on the subject.

    Depowering the Indian

    No One Ever Sees Indians:  “The Turn”[S]o continues the de-powering of the Native voice by continuing to represent them in movies as the Old Times Indians in the beads and feathers and buckskins. The Old Times Indian will continually be made present in such works as Into the West only to show that they need to be made absent to show the inevitability of their demise and for American Society’s progress.

    Armando José Prats has written an excellent film critique, Invisible Natives: Myth & Identity in the American Western. In this book he dissects the movie western and how it pertains to Native representation in western movies. Reading it I saw a connection to both the power of controlling such images and the taking of that power gradually through the “stealing” of a Native American identity, prevalent in many westerns, most glaringly in Dances with Wolves.

    Hillary follows Iroquois model

    Talking with people to reach a consensus:

    Hillary’s WayThe candidate herself is going from network interview to network interview, telling the nation that she intends to win over the country the way she won over New York: "I’m going to go into people’s living rooms, into union halls, into church basements and let people ask me anything," Clinton told NBC’s Brian Williams. "And believe me, people have asked me nearly anything."

    When she first pondered a Senate run in 2000, she began her research into the state’s history not with the Rockefellers or the Roosevelts but by reading up on the Iroquois Confederacy, a league of Native American tribes that preceded the arrival of Europeans by more than 300 years.

    Wrong message to kids

    Native Americans singled out as symbolSelf-identity of Native American Indians is the moral and exclusive responsibility of Native Americans, not non-Indian high school cheerleaders and alumni associations. What are we teaching our children when we say that the majority social or ethnic group has the right to portray others any way they want to?

    Schools and their alumni treat their "Indian mascot" as a commodity, a thing, a piece of property that is theirs forever, a doll to dress up and make dance, yodel pretend-war whoops, and safely play with as they please, like slaves of the mid-1800s. As long as the words "Indians" and "Chiefs" and "Redskins" and their related representations are considered the historical property of schools, we continue to live in a slave society.

    One more thought on Pirates

    Pirates and Indians...a winning combination ever since Peter Pan. Two romanticized groups lost in the mists of yesteryear. Box-office boffo when pitted as savage enemies against civilized heroes.

    Oh, wait...I forgot. Unlike the swashbuckling pirates of legend, Indians are still around. In reality, they fought the forces of "civilization" only because these forces were trying to destroy them. By staying strong through their religion and culture, they defied the prediction that they would vanish. They're thriving today as CEOs, movie makers, Olympic athletes, members of Congress, and astronauts.

    Never mind.

    Itsy bitsy Alutiiq spider

    Children's songs in Kodiak Island languages...another interesting item in Pictographs.

    January 26, 2007

    Warhol and Lichtenstein on display

    Culture clash

    Artists' motives were good, but methods offended tribes, curator saysWhen it comes to Western artists, chances are Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol aren't the first names that come to mind. Trailblazers in the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, Lichtenstein and Warhol generally are associated with New York, not the Old West (or the New West, for that matter).

    Yet at different points in their careers, both used Western themes as the basis for their artwork. Lichtenstein did it twice, first in the 1950s and again in the 1970s. Warhol did it in the late '70s and early '80s.

    Works of both are featured in a pair of exhibitions opening at the Eiteljorg Museum on Saturday--"Roy Lichtenstein: American Indian Encounters" and "Andy Warhol's Cowboys and Indians."
    Not everyone is happy about these shows:"They're controversial shows because many Native Americans feel that both Lichtenstein and Warhol misappropriated cultural objects and symbols in their work."

    The irony, Complo-McNutt said, is that both artists were trying to highlight the fact that American popular culture was guilty of misappropriation and misrepresentation of native cultures, leading to the stereotypes of Indians that were predominant in films, TV shows and Western novels.

    "I don't think that anything Lichtenstein and Warhol did was intentionally offensive," Complo-McNutt said. "They were making genuine efforts to try to understand and correct past misrepresentations of Native Americans."
    Comment:  One could argue the "appropriation" question either way. For instance, consider the image below. Are the headband and braids mocking stereotypes or are they reinforcing them?

    I'll have to see the show, but I don't think it's wrong to appropriate cultural symbols such as these. Perhaps the curator is talking about more sacred symbols.

    Which reminds me to remind you:  I'll be attending these exhibitions as part of a "Native Americans in comics" program on March 10. Be there or be square!

    Burning the "Fighting Sioux"

    UND group honors NCAA for effort to ban 'Fighting Sioux' nicknameA University of North Dakota student group opposed to the school's "Fighting Sioux" nickname has nominated the NCAA for a human rights award.

    Members of the student group BRIDGES nominated the NCAA for the award to recognize its efforts to eliminate American Indian logos and nicknames, said Frank Sage, the group's president.
    Naturally, the powers that be don't like that:

    Forum editorial:  UND group pours gas on logo fireToday a UND student organization will lower itself to cheap-shot status by giving a representative of the NCAA an award as a way to say thank you for the NCAA’s work on the nickname/logo issue. The university is challenging in court the NCAA’s conclusion that the logo is part of a “hostile and abusive” environment, and therefore university athletic teams cannot participate in post-season tournaments. The NCAA’s prohibition has been put on hold by an injunction.

    The awards luncheon was organized by UND’s Multicultural Student Services office to recognize contributions that reflect the spirit of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The award to the NCAA does not serve that noble purpose. King’s life was about bringing people together, not driving them apart. Thanking the NCAA for misrepresenting the American Indian experience on the UND campus is, in effect, an in-your-face insult to all the people of good will who are trying mightily to resolve the logo controversy.
    Comment:  Go students! If there's a "logo fire," I say burn, baby, burn!

    The only way many people at UND are trying to "resolve the logo controversy" is by denigrating mascot foes and hoping they'll go away. Too bad that ain't gonna happen.

    Saving Africans and Indians

    Paleface to the Rescue...Today, the movie-making moguls luuuurve and respect Natives because they are “progressive” folks who save their contempt for other White Americans. They would never, ever dis’ an Indian. In fact, they care. About the “plight” of Native America.

    That’s why Hollywood is still saving Natives. Because they care. Want a recent example? What would've happened to poor ol’ Thunder Heart Woman if not for the kindly intervention of Jacob Wheeler in the 2005 miniseries, Into the West? Thank Gawwwd, Jacob cared. About her “plight.”

    The miniseries Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, based on the book by Dee Brown, just completed filming and will air on HBO next year. It’s about the “plight” of Indians and boasts an all-star cast including August Schellenberg and Adam Beach. The star? Aidan Quinn.

    Paleface to the rescue. Again.
    Comment:  Thanks, Carole, for following up on the Tarzan article of a few days ago. You made the implicit link between African- and Native-themed movies explicit.

    SCALPED writer did good job...

    If he says so himself:


    Area comic book writer explores crime, corruption on the reservationOddly enough, Aaron had no connection to American Indian culture prior to pitching “Scalped.”

    “It’s just something I’ve been fascinated with since I was a kid,” he says. “I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Alabama where I didn’t have any firsthand access to other cultures.”

    Does his lack of a relationship to the subject make the project less credible?

    “It’s the same as doing a book set in the Vietnam War. Obviously, since I’m tackling those subjects as someone who is not a Vietnam vet or a Native American, that’s going to raise an eyebrow with some people. But I think people who read the book are going to see we’ve done a lot to capture the mood, look and feel of this reservation. I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” he says.

    Book to look for

    Native Americans in Comic BooksNative Americans in Comic Books, to be published by McFarland Publishing, is a unique study and critique of the way in which Indigenous people are represented in the medium of comic books. This work takes an in-depth look at the world of comic books through the eyes of a Native American reader and offers frank commentary on the medium's cultural representation.

    For this book, Michael Sheyahshe has interviewed a host of individuals in the comic book and video game industry: Tim Truman (creator/writer/artist for Scout), Alvin Schwartz (writer for Tomahawk from the 1940s), Terry LaBan (creator/writer/artist for Muktuk Wolfsbreath), Steve Englehart (creator/writer/artist for Coyote), John Ostrander (writer for Blaze of Glory), Rachel Pollack (creator/writer for Vertigo's Tomahawk), Jon Proudstar (creator/writer for Tribal Force), Mike Grell (creator/writer/artist for Shaman’s Tears), Bradford. W. Wright (author of "Comic Book Nation"), and Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, Ph.D. (author of "Celluloid Indians").
    Comment:  Native Americans in Comic Books looks like a must-read for me and for fans of my website.

    FYI, Sheyahshe purchased PEACE PARTY #1-2 a couple years ago and says he discusses them in the book also. But he didn't interview me about them or about Indians in comics. <sniff>

    The Bible in Cheyenne

    Interesting article on translating the Bible into Cheyenne over in my Pictographs blog. Check it out.

    January 25, 2007

    Fanning the SVU flames

    Ice-t Is Leaving. For Real., Ice-T will be Replaced by Adam Beach.This all sounds so strange. Not that I'm doubting the veracity of the article, but 1) why would NBC sign an actor to a 6 year deal for a series that only got renewed for 1 season? and 2) why announce that he's replacing Fin when it was Fin that they paired the newbie up with?Comment:  1) Because SVU is popular and Law & Order series can go on for years. 2) It's a passing-of-the torch thing. It's often how shows introduce replacement characters.

    And don't forget the flirtation between the Chester and Casey characters. Why add that scene if Beach isn't going to become a regular and romance her? That's strong evidence that he'll be back.What also is interesting is that this is the only newspaper that's making these statements. Variety, the industry newspaper, only reported on Thursday that Beach was in talks to become a regular, yet this other paper reports that he's signed for 6 years and is replacing a long-time character. Something just doesn't jive. It could be that Variety's falling down on the job, but that would surprise me.Comment:  What can I say? I heard it from a friend who overheard it from Adam himself. Since it didn't seem to be a secret, I reported it.

    Since I didn't hear it myself, I can't swear that it's true. (Of course, it might be false even if I had heard it myself.) If it doesn't turn out to be true, I'll apologize to the thousands of fans I've riled up.

    Oh, and this is a blog, not a newspaper. Don't be fooled by the catchy "Newspaper Rock" title.

    Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit in the MediaHe probably makes less that 100,000 and episode since there are like 23-24 episodes a season. It's like 85,000 an episode if he is in all of them. Anyway 100,000 an episode for someone with oscar buzz on an established show does not seem like a heck of a lot on money.Comment:  Exactly. But the news appears to be official. Here's the report from Variety:

    Beach joins 'Law & Order: SVU'

    Actor to become regular on hit NBC showBeach, who had a guest turn as Brooklyn detective Chester Lake on an episode of the skein that aired Tuesday, is in final talks to become a series regular. He's expected to return later this season.

    "SVU" creator Dick Wolf first worked with Beach on "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," the HBO telepic Wolf produced. Beach has the lead role in the project, which is expected to debut in May and is already being considered one of the paybox's key longform Emmy contenders.
    Comment:  Not that it matters, but I believe I was the first to break the news. At least in the blogosphere, where rumors matter.

    Another Beach rumor:  Adam is becoming friends with Forest Whitaker and spent New Year's Eve with him.

    Movie Indians = the "other"

    No One Ever Sees Indians:  A Reflection on Native CinemaSince the beginning of the medium, Native Americans have been portrayed in films. Native American dancers were among the first and common feature in the first coin-operated cine-scope viewers of the late 1800's.

    Yet, it was the image of the regalia outfitted Indians, clad in beads and feathers and buckskin, prominent in that time that has endured the longest. Assimilation and Termination policies very nearly rendered Native American people into a “vanishing race” and film companies never hesitated in promoting Natives as such.

    For colonization to have worked it is needed to portray the targets of civilization as something not human, as the other, as a primitive species. This way, the cruelties inflicted are no more than clearing out mice to make space.

    Which is why it remains the Native of the “Old West” that has endured for so long. This image continually renders the Native American voice powerless as it perpetuates the idea Native Americans are still less than, are still the other.

    Little Photoshop on the Prairie

    The Little House on the Prairie MakeoverAccording to the January 29, 2007 edition of Newsweek, the acclaimed Little House on the Prairie series is getting a makeover. For the 75th anniversary of the books, illustrations are being replaced with "photos of models as Laura" instead of the illustrations by Garth Williams.

    Interesting, and makes me wonder the publishers will do (already did?) with the illustrations of American Indians? There are many. Are they keeping those? Or will they simply replicate them, in photo format? Will they use American Indian models? Will they make changes to the ways the Indians are shown so that they are accurate--more accurate than the illustrations done by William?
    (Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 1/24/07.)

    Native TV debuts again

    Red Nation Media Channel programming re-debutsWhen the Red Nation Media Channel made its debut in May 2006, the response was so overwhelming it crashed the system, said Joanelle Romero, Apache/Cheyenne and founder and creative director of the burgeoning online network.

    Romero thought the system would be up and running in a matter of weeks, but it took longer; and to make a long story short, it's now up and running and features episode one of the first Native drama series produced in the United States, and a selection of documentaries, music videos, news and public service announcements aimed at sending positive messages to Indian youth.

    Noteworthy comic books

    Indian Comics Irregular #150:  Magic, Murder, and Mayhem

    A long overdue definition

    Political Correctness Defined

    January 24, 2007

    Box-checkers in academia

    Ethnic Fraud?

    Tribal scholars say some faculty are falsely claiming American Indian heritage to boost their job prospects.Noley and Chenault have a name for those who would use spurious ties to tribal heritage to further their employment opportunities. They call them “box-checkers.”

    According to Chenault, some job candidates simply “check the box” for American Indian/Alaskan Native on job forms, hoping to be identified as minority faculty and thus reap the benefits of any available affirmative action plans. There is responsibility, however, that comes with checking the box, she says. “We need committed, passionate people who will help other Native people gain access to universities and colleges.”

    Chenault argues that not requiring proof of tribal enrollment reflects mainstream institutions’ lack of commitment to genuine diversity. She says allowing those with marginal tribal ties to represent the Native community only diminishes the importance of indigenous academics and opens the discipline to attack.

    Haskell and the other tribal colleges require proof of tribal affiliation from all faculty and staff claiming American Indian heritage.
    It gets worse:Far more objectionable than those who simply “check the box” are the “mock checkers,” says Noley.

    The term refers to those in academic programs who not only falsely claim tribal affiliation but also set themselves up as official purveyors of American Indian culture and religion. Some of the professors Noley has labeled as mock-checkers have been known to conduct so-called sacred ceremonies as part of their courses.Many of the ceremonies, however, are little more than amalgamations of parts of disparate ceremonies or outright fabrications.

    The reports of questionable ceremonial activities have included stories of faculty taking students on trips to search for their power animals, teaching “sacred” dances, conducting ceremonies each time reservation land was crossed and others.

    Live Indian dancers!

    Chief Win'Em All is a Loser. Modern-day Exploitation of Cherokees in North CarolinaStephanie and I were driving down the streets of Cherokee, North Carolina, looking at all the shops For example, the "Redskin Motel," the "Raindancer Artifact Shop," the "Tomahawk Inn," and several others. As we were driving, we saw a tee pee with a sign that said "Live Indian Dancers," and we just had to pull over. I knew that we would find some examples of exploitation, but live Indian dancers? That was pushing it for me. We had to check it out. We pulled over, grabbed our notepads, and got ready for the show. Inside, there were two people doing the presentation: Jonathan and Joe Feather. Jonathan started the presentation by telling the joke about the Titanic. It was a clever and amusing way to bring up the history of the Trail of Tears. The two of them sang, danced, and taught the crowd (which consisted of white tourists) about their culture and that "Indians don't scalp people anymore." The information was presented in a very respectful manner. Before and after, there was a basket that was passed around for people to put money into.What kinds of misinformation are the Feathers trying to overcome?To get another perspective on the situation in Cherokee, NC, I visited a class of fourth graders. The youth of the Cherokee reservation are learning their own language as part of their curriculum. They taught us about their culture and about different current events going on. For example, the mascot at the high school was called Chief Win'em All. The mascot was an Indian chief who had a big long nose, and was a very unattractive character. At football games, he danced around the field during half time and between plays. The 4th graders told me that they found this mascot to be very offensive, as did I just learning about it. But some people didn't mind the mascot. We found one guy who was a lector on Cherokee history whose favorite team was the Washington Redskins.Comment:  I'm shocked--shocked, I tell you--to learn Chief Win-Em-All is a comic-book caricature after all. Who would've guessed it?

    Yes, Indians don't scalp people anymore...except in ultra-violent comic books like SCALPED.

    Symphony is a triumph

    'Triumph' a multicultural experience with a message

    ANCHORAGE SYMPHONY: Audience thrills to Alaska debut of conductor's work."Triumph," an original work by Anchorage Symphony Orchestra music director Randall Craig Fleischer that incorporates Native American song and dance, made its Alaska debut Saturday night to a well-earned and seemingly endless standing ovation.

    Beginning with a haunting, almost supernatural-sounding Native American flute solo by guest artist R. Carlos Nakai, "Triumph" builds into a complex, fascinating interplay between the classical orchestra and traditional Native performers, combining orchestral music with traditional Navajo song and dance performed by the Jones Benally Family. In each movement, the orchestra picks up the Native singers' melodies and expands on them, blending the classical and the traditional in breathtaking ways.

    Ojibwe poet inspired Longfellow

    English professor compiles American Indian poetryMany students and scholars have read about the "gloomy pine trees" in Henry Wordsworth Longfellow's famous poem "The Song of Hiawatha," but few know the poem's actual roots.

    Robert Dale Parker, English professor at the University, traces the poem's history back to the work of a woman named Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, the first American Indian literary writer. Parker assembled the entirety of Schoolcraft's poetry and prose for his new book, "The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft."

    Dylan, the Band, and a Broadway musical

    Robert Robertson Won’t Stand on CeremonyRR: I just like the challenges of different things. Like right now I’m doing this Native American Broadway Musical. It’s really pushing me up against the wall and making me do some stuff that I’m excited about. I’ve never done anything like that before. I’m working with brilliant people on it. That’s really interesting to me. I’ve just done some music for Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Departed. I’ve worked on most of his movies ever since The Last Waltz in one capacity or another. Sometimes it’s not even describable exactly what it is that I’m doing on some of these movies, but it’s really just brainstorming and figuring out and trying and going against the grain and trying some things just for the filmmaking experience. So, that’s always fun and Marty’s a really good buddy of mine. I always like the opportunity for us to do stuff together. So, I’m doing that and I’m working on a collection of music for children. None of it’s got anything to do with the usual path.

    Good-bye to Columbus Day?

    Columbus Day name may changeA state legislator who is a member of the Comanche tribe is calling for study on a way to make Columbus Day less divisive, including the possibility of changing its name.

    Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, said she plans to introduce a resolution setting up a committee to debate "whether we should keep it, modify it or do something different with the holiday. Other states, for example, now call it All Nations Day."

    January 23, 2007

    No Oscars for Indians

    Despite all the hype, Adam Beach didn't get nominated as best supporting actor for his role in Flags of My Father. Apocalypto did get nominated for three awards

  • Best Makeup
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Sound Editing

  • but nothing significant. Also, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest got four nominations

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Visual Effects

  • for its lively depiction of fish-faced pirates and flesh-eating Indians.

    One pundit did list Beach as one of the actors who got snubbed, along with such stalwarts as Jack Nicholson and Annette Bening. Oh, well...better luck next time.

    Hair doesn't make the Indian

    Healthwise:  'I am not my hair'What's odd is that no sooner do I hate my hair on a given day than someone of a different race, generally white, comes up to me and says, "You're so lucky to have naturally curly hair." They seem to really mean it. During one peculiar stage of regrowth when a spontaneous pompadour--the 1950s men's style where the hair is brushed forward and curled over the face--emerged, the latte-drinking, laptop-lugging hipsters of Portland eyed me with admiration.

    I always wanted to tell them, it's an exceedingly expensive 'do. (Probably $60,000, the cost of my chemotherapy.)

    The opposite happens in Indian circles, where people who don't know me or don't recognize me without my old hair take my curly hair as an indication that I'm not Indian. More than once since my hair started growing back just over a year ago, I've been given the Indians 101 lecture or--worse--been turned away as unrecognized by old acquaintances. It was even more hurtful during the long months in 2005 when I had no hair.

    White men to the rescue

    Tarzan's children:  Why movies about Africa require white saviors"White Folks to the Rescue!" is a glorious tradition that stretches back at least as far as the Tarzan movies, in which a selfless Caucasian—for mysterious self-actualization reasons—has taken up residence in the bowels of the primeval forest and repeatedly ensures that truth and justice prevail in sub-Saharan Africa, something the local black community has been unable to effectuate.

    In all these films, the underlying theme is the same: If you're black and you're poor, and your nation is torn by horrendous strife, and your neighbors are dropping like flies, there's no reason to get down in the dumps because sooner or later the Great White Hope will come through for you. Which, of course, is exactly the way things happen in real life.
    Comment:  This applies to many mainstream movies about Natives, too.

    Imitation isn't flattery

    Native American film series concludes

    Commercialization of American Indian religion highlightedDirectors Macy and Hart said American Indians can get quite bothered when their religious practices are not taken seriously.

    "Many people tend to think copying and imitating American Indians can be a way to possibly flatter them, but in fact it can be quite upsetting," Colleen Boyd, Ball State University assistant professor of anthropology and director of the Native American studies minor, said.

    Some American Indians believe that when people imitate their religious practices the balance of the universe is thrown off, Boyd said.

    Another stupid, stereotypical school

    Activists want ban on schools' Indian mascotsTeams at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro are nicknamed the Warriors.

    The school's sports mascot is Chief Win-Em-All. And the basketball gym's student bleacher section is called "The Reservation," its name painted in big letters.
    Of course, the school sees nothing wrong with this:At Riverdale, Principal Tom Nolan said the school takes pride in its sports name and the 35-year tradition of the Warriors. To take that away would hurt the school, which so identifies with its Indian name, he said.

    That tradition is on display throughout the school. The student newspaper is called Smoke Signal, and the signs above the classroom doors are shaped like arrowheads. Nolan said none of it is done in a comic book or caricaturing manner.
    Comment:  Gee, that's reassuring. I'd hate to see the dignity of Chief Win-Em-All besmirched in a comic-book manner.

    My SCALPED press release

    SCALPED:  Another Comic Book Gets Indians Wrong
    Series Perpetuates "Savage" Stereotypes, Says Critic

    January 22, 2007

    Super diva

    Arigon Starr Takes the (High) Red RoadThe self-described “Diva” who’s a diva in the original definition of the word—meaning she’s very, very good at what she does—but isn’t at all a diva in today’s common usage. If you haven’t heard of her, you will, for this multi-talented artist is a singer-songwriter, playwright, theatre performer and has even had an acting stint on the soap, General Hospital. And through it all, she has remained grounded, from her early days playing coffee houses to last year’s one-woman hit show, The Red Road. Connected to her audience, to her roots; without pretense and with plenty of humor.

    But this Kickapoo/Creek/Cherokee/Seneca Diva isn’t about to rest on her laurels. This April, Arigon will be premiering her 10-part radio series, Super Indian, about a Native teen who gains super powers after eating tainted commodity cheese. That’s right. Tainted commodity cheese, with a sidekick and erudite talking dog to boot.
    More on "Super Indian":Tell us little bit about your upcoming radio series, Super Indian.

    I’ll be playing one or two characters. This is the fun of doing radio and also, playing several characters. The show, a radio play, is about a boy who finds out he has super powers after he has eaten tainted commodity cheese. From there he takes on the role of Super Indian, and he has a side kick named Mega Bear and a talking dog named Diogi.

    Talking dog?

    Yeah, the talking dog sounds like Frazier…(laughs) He’s very educated… It’s not set in stone, but the idea is to have five minute segments that will air at the top of the hour at various radio stations around the country. It will be syndicated, so the radio stations will play them when they play them. Either through Native Voice One or American Indian satellite.
    And a thought on role models:Because you’re in the public eye, do you consider yourself a role model?

    That comes with the territory.

    Native soldiers die in vain

    Tim Giago:  How many others will die over Iraq?The chart of those who died in Iraq places South Dakota second in the number of deaths in combat per capita. Vermont leads the list. Three Lakota have died in Iraq. The first woman to die there was a Hopi Indian woman from Arizona. Among the dead you will find several Navajo Indians and several from the Indian nations of Oklahoma. The people of Indian country have always considered themselves one, so this brings the war a little closer for all of us.

    Nineteen young Americans lost their lives to this futility only last week. Sunday, a one-year anniversary memorial service was held at Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a young Lakota Marine named Brett Lundstrom who lost his life to a sniper in Iraq. Brett was young and did not consider the politics or the sectarianism of the fighting in Iraq. He was a warrior sent to Iraq to bring a new democracy to a country that did not want it. Did he die in vain? We would hope that a life lost in a cause, whether it is noble or ignoble, is not a death to be disrespected. After all, the intent of the soldier or marine sent into combat is to carry out the orders of the president of the United States of America. If the orders are wrongful, it is not the fault of the soldier.
    Comment:  If the orders are wrongful enough, it's a soldier's duty to disobey them. The Nuremberg Trials established that principle pretty well.

    It's not our soldiers' fault if Bush sent them to their deaths. But since we can't "win" in Iraq, they are dying in vain.

    Pequots honor skywalkers

    Don't Look Down

    New Mashantucket Museum exhibit celebrates the art of 'skywalking'It's not that they are not afraid of heights. It's more that they've disciplined themselves to be comfortable working just one misstep away from a freefall. That's how many of the Mohawk Indians who have helped build some of the tallest buildings in the country, including most of the iconic, soaring architecture of New York City, have explained their generations-long tribal tradition of “walking the iron.”

    At the Mashantucket Pequot Museum through May 27, a new exhibit, “Booming Out: Mohawk Ironworkers Build New York” tells some of that unusual story, how so many American Indians from upstate New York and Canada came to help build the skyline of one of the world's great cities.

    Poor aboriginal artists

    Minority artists earn less: study[V]isible minority artists--largely from the Chinese, black and South Asian communities--earn an average of $20,800 a year, or 11 per cent less than the average artist. Immigrant artists fare slightly better, taking home about $23,200 a year, a touch under the average earnings of all artists.

    The lowest incomes were those of our aboriginal artists.

    The report, which presented a breakdown of the diversity within Canada's artistic ranks, also found that:

  • The majority of aboriginal artists live in the territories.
  • Aboriginal artists make up 54 per cent of all artists living in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • Aboriginal artists make much less in the territories (average salary $13,000) than their colleagues who live in major metropolitan areas (average salary $22,500).
  • Games Indians play

    Boys and Girls Clubs leaders come together to learn Indian gamesNew met old this weekend as representatives from Boys and Girls Clubs from several states came to Great Falls to learn traditional Indian games.

    This weekend's lesson focused on the recovered games of the Plains Indians. The games themselves were taught to the visiting Boys and Girls Clubs representatives on Friday. Saturday was all about learning how to make the equipment for the games.

    January 21, 2007

    Artists remember toxic waste

    Taking Control:  Opportunities for and Impediments to the Use of Socio-Cultural Controls for Long-Term Stewardship of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste SitesThe Institute brought together 25 indigenous and other storytellers, songwriters, poets, and dancers with historians and other representatives from a variety of tribal and disadvantaged communities in proximity to DOE legacy waste sites, along with policy makers from various public agencies with an interest in addressing environmental problems through the humanities. Roundtable participants were briefed on the types and hazards of persistent contamination from the DOE legacy sites, future hazards for human health and the environment, and the limitations of standard institutional controls. In facilitated discussions, roundtable participants set out the potential benefits of and strategies for encouraging creative/historical discourses that carry basic information about the histories of the sites, and risks of environmental contamination. Roundtable participants discussed how historical, cultural, and spiritual attachments to place are reflected in stories, songs, poems, and histories and how such discourses might also transmit information about environmental contamination that is crucial for safeguarding future generations.

    The roundtable discussions examined ways long term stewardship of DOE legacy waste sites can be enhanced through various methods of storytelling. It brought together artists and community representatives so artists can understand the broad universe of interests, including the spiritual, cultural and historical interests the people have in these landscapes. Conversely, it demonstrated to the community representatives that there are other means by which they can protect their long term interests. The roundtable discussions also sought to inform federal land managers about other mechanisms of long term stewardship beyond the conventional methods of institutional control.
    See especially Appendix C:  “Yucca Mountain” A Demonstration Comic Book.