September 30, 2007

Review of America Is Indian Country

America Is Indian Country: The Best of Indian Country TodayThe dominant issues in both Indian and national public life in the first four years of this century have been met head-on by contemporary Native thinkers and writers. America Is Indian Country goes way beyond the usual litany of complaints about historical injustices and atrocities. The book is replete with nuggets that crisply and passionately explain many current issues facing tribes, from preservation of traditional culture to the defense of precarious new economic potentials based on tribal sovereignty. It is a book that reflects Indian perspectives and becomes, in fact, a Native critique of American life.

Review By: Susan Lobo, American Indian Culture & Research Journal - October 1, 2006

America is Indian Country is a compilation of selected editorials, essays and illustrations originally published in the national newspaper Indian Country Today between 200 and 2004. The paper's editors, key tribal leaders, politicians, and scholars are the contributing writers. Its purpose is to "elevate the art (of storytelling), to inform, share, shape, and activate the minds of those making differences at all levels of American Indian policy, from education, health, or housing workshops to meetings and conferences." (XVIII) As such, it touches on many, if not most of the contemporary Native issues and national concerns of those years, and offers information, opinions, insights and heart.

It is organized into ten chapters: Indian sovereignty is good for America; Nation building is key; Tribal nations and American justice ... Each chapter includes "Editorials" from Indian Country Today written jointly by the book's editors Jose Barreiro and Tim Johnson, and "Perspectives" on the same topics which were originally op-ed pieces written by nineteen guest contributors to the newspaper. ... Topically America is Indian Country ranges over some of the most important and historically significant issues of our times, and ones that are as diverse as gaming, intellectual property rights, economic diversification, religious freedom, tribal colleges, health care, control of tribal assets, tribal justice systems, identity politics, blood quantum, the mainstream press, the United Nations, and NMAI. Each written piece is no more than a few pages and all are written in a straightforward and readable style. A series of social commentary and sometimes hilarious cartoons by Marty Two Bulls are dispersed throughout.
Rob's review:  I read most of the columns in the newspaper or online, so they weren't new to me. For those who don't know much about Native America, they may be illuminating. For the rest of us, they're a mixed bag.

The personal perspectives, which make up about half the volume, are generally good. The official editorials, which make up the other half, are generally tough sledding. They're written in a bland institutional style, with overlong sentences and too much of the passive tense.

Here's a typical example. The subject is educating non-Native employees of tribal businesses:

Building the pillars of freedomThe capacity of non-Natives and non-members within tribal systems to be increasingly educated on fundamental tribal strategies of self-governance, growth and prosperity should be a dominant quotient in the new enterprises being built across Indian country. Cultural sensibility and loyalty to tribal self-governance, tribal wellbeing and prosperity are qualities to be exalted among tribal members and team-members.

It makes a huge difference in the interweaving of new people into Native systems to properly orient everyone, and particularly non-Native peoples, on the fundamentals of tribal affairs. Tribal elders and leaders who can supply good superlatives or principles from their cultures and traditions, for how to impartially conduct and manage enterprises, are at a premium. Good, well-trained management needs to re-conceptualize and impart these messages and these unifying concepts. Not nearly enough thought and education is presently going into this particular dynamic, and many are the tales from tribal organizations and enterprises where tension, power cliques and outright dysfunction emerge that traumatize and can even paralyze tribal operations.
In other words,It's important to educate non-Native employees of a tribal business about the tribe's culture and government. Tribal elders, leaders, and managers can all contribute to this effort. If a tribe doesn't do this, it can lead to problems and even paralysis.If you think ICT's editorial style is great writing, by all means rush out and buy this book. If it sounds like corporate-speak using buzz words to complicate a simple point, you'll probably find much of this book tedious.

Rather than slogging through this verbiage, I'd suggest you search ICT's website for the specific information you need. Or search, since I've excerpted ICT's best columns on the site.

When the review refers to "nuggets," it's unintentionally revealing. America Is Indian Country is full of nuggets of brilliant analysis amid a gruel of pedestrian prose. Parts of the book are memorable but the rest is forgettable.

Rob's rating:  6.5 of 10.

Cavalry learned from Caesar

VERMONT ESSAYS:  Volume OneJulius Caesar's "Commentaries on the Gallic Wars," a remarkable piece of military writing from the first century B.C., chronicled the domination of the advancing but still Neolithic Gaulish tribes by the well organized and efficient Roman Legions. Skirmish and war after war, Caesar always wins, even against a resolute and clever adversary like Orgetorix or Vercingetorix, the model for Sitting Bull of the American campaigns. Clearly "Civilized Man" must win out. Caesar was never taught in European schools, but the Commentaries were introduced as the prime Latin text in America by 1730. Here is the lesson drummed into every schoolboy from the 18th century on, who did his Latin paragraph by paragraph in American one-room school houses. These boys became the soldiers, the officers and the politicians who waged the Indian Wars of the Colonial Period, which were continued for economic and territorial reasons up to the very end of the 19th century, and continued for another century in the search for silver, gold and uranium ore.

We try very hard to see the bright side of the ancient world as enlightening, humane and a model for modern thinking. But there is a dark side which cannot be ignored. Athenian prosperity started with the slaves in the silver mines of Laurium, it fostered forced trade arrangements which brought in heavy taxes from the whole Aegean world. The Romans show us a world in which slaves did the work of building an infrastructure of remarkable proportions, they were the real working backbone of a prosperous society, and we moderns took that as advice to develop our lower working class with the slave trade from Africa. Caesar's triumph over the indigenous peoples of Gaul gave us a clear idea of how to treat our Native Americans, and the Classics enforced this message in every classroom throughout the country where Latin was taught--theoretically as literature, incidentally as political propaganda.

Get rid of Columbus Day

'Columbus Day' America's National Terrorist HolidayAmericans are calling into question their tax dollars are paying for Columbus Day holiday when the true history of the man cannot be taught in our nations schools. State school officials are on record saying it would be harmful to teach young school children about atrocities Columbus committed against Indian men, women and children. Americans do not want their tax dollars paying for Columbus Day when the true history of this "sick criminal" clearly shows he was not a man of honor toward other human beings.

Seventeen states have dropped Columbus Day holiday. South Dakota state law changed Columbus Day to Native American Day. No American Indian Nation supports Columbus having a national holiday, especially when you look at the fact that there's not a federal national holiday recognizing American Indians for all they have endured, to include helping the country America come about, plus our government being set up on the principals of American Indian governments. It's time for America to come full circle and give credit where it's deserved on our countries national holiday list.
Comment:  It's that time of the year again--time for a spate of articles for and against Columbus Day.

"Sacagawea" retires

Oregon native ends 10-year Sacagawea run, living history careerAfter nearly three decades of performing her "living history" programs, Joyce Badgley Hunsaker has retired from the stage with a final appearance as Sacagawea, the American Indian woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark on their expedition across the West.

Hunsaker developed "Sacagawea Speaks" in 1994, but her fascination with the story began with her very first library book, a children's biography of the Indian guide from the Shoshone tribe in northern Idaho.

She depicted Sacagawea in native clothing crafted from tanned elk skin, and wore bright bead necklaces and red circles painted on her cheeks as signs of peace. She also used sign language learned from a Shoshone elder.
Comment:  Since Hunsaker must be 50-something, at least, it's probably time for her to retire from playing the teenage Sacagawea.

Native version of AA

State's Indian tribes come together to discuss recovery

Traditional means of treatment may not be enough for someDespite the statistics and the stereotypes of the "drunken Indian," as White Bison coordinator Blaine Wood put it, it's vital to recognize the importance of recovery. Mainstream methods such as Alcoholics Anonymous may not be enough, Wood said.

"A lot of Native Americans may go to these meetings, but most don't for whatever reason," Wood said. "So we've adapted the message. Use the same steps as AA, but we call it Circles of Recovery."

Green Bay resident Ronald Singleton, who is studying at the College of Menominee Nation to become an alcohol and other drug abuse counselor, said getting a "non-European perspective" on a topic as pervasive as substance abuse was refreshing.

Arapaho horse healing

The Heyteyneytah ProjectHorses helped heal the spirit of Stanford Addison after a truck accident paralyzed him 28 years ago.

Now, Addison uses horses to help heal at-risk youth. He calls it the Heyteyneytah Project, a nonprofit program incorporating his gentle horse training techniques. In Arapaho, Addison's native tribe, heyteyneytah means respect.

While many of the youth who find their way to the Addison Ranch are from around the Wind River Indian Reservation, kids from Colorado, California, Iowa and Illinois have lived with Addison and learned his techniques. Addison supports these kids largely out of his own pocket.

Nutty Mad Indian

A toy from the 1960s:

September 29, 2007

Review of Buffalo Bill and the Indians

Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History LessonBuffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson is a 1976 revisionist Western directed by Robert Altman. It stars Paul Newman as Bill, with Geraldine Chaplin, Will Sampson, Joel Grey, and Harvey Keitel.

The film was poorly received at the time of its release, when the country was celebrating its bicentenial. As in MASH, Altman skewers an American historical myth of heroism, in this case the notion that noble white men fighting bloodthirsty savages won the West.
For more on the movie, go to Review of Buffalo Bill and the Indians.

Tanka Bars hit the market

From the Rapid City Journal, 1/1/07:

Seven in Oh SevenThe tiny community of Kyle on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation seems an unlikely launching pad for the next big thing in health foods, but two longtime entrepreneurs believe Tanka Bars could take off.

"We wanted a snack that was good for you, that would be traditionally appropriate for us but that, number one, tasted good," Karlene Hunter of Kyle said. "These taste good."

Tanka Bars will be a high-protein, low-glucose mixture of buffalo and cranberry.

Hunter's partner, Mark Tilsen of Rapid City, believes that the bars will fill a fast-growing niche with a reservation trend. "The naturalfood market is growing by leaps and bounds, and the meat-snack market is growing by leaps and bounds," Tilsen said. "Buffalo is one of the highest grade proteins that exist, and the buffalo are returning to the Lakota people."
Taste of the Plains

Energy bar based on indigenous recipeHow: The company is working with Hermosa buffalo expert Duane Lammers, South Dakota State University researchers and a food branding company on its product. Tanka Bars are made with a nine-hour slow smoking process developed by Native American Natural Foods and Froehling's Meats of Hecla.

Price: The 1 oz. Tanka Bar is $2.25; the half-ounce Tanka Bite is $1.

When: Tanka Bars hit the market Oct. 5 at the 21st annual He Sapa Pow Wow in Rapid City. Or, they can be ordered online at
Are Tanka Bars as salutary as Nike's Air Native N7 shoes?Native Americans have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. About 16 percent of Native American adults have diabetes, more than double the rate of the general U.S. population.

"Genes have memories," said nutritionist Kibbe Conti, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. She promotes pre-reservation-era eating habits to her Native clients. "The concept of the food-gene connection is supported by a lot of scientific research. You really can't turn a blind eye to lineage and heritage."

Conti has yet to taste-test the Tanka Bar but said she began giving wasna to her clinically malnourished dialysis patients in 2002. She said malnutrition rates dropped from 30 to 20 percent among those patients eating wasna.

"The Tanka Bar sounds like a health food, absolutely, if only because I consider buffalo to be superior protein source. ... What little fat there is in buffalo is rich in omega-3 fatty acids--the good fat."
Comment:  Another company markets a product that uses Native lore. Just like Nike, they say they want to help Natives. Are they exploiting Native culture to make a buck too?

And $2.25 for a 1-oz. bar? Yikes. I suspect most Natives lack fruit and vegetables in their diets more than they lack meat. I suggest they snack on apples or bananas.

Navajo biker-chick calendar

Me and my bike

Navajo photographer rolls out calendar of Native women bikersYou know those calendars that seem to hang in every mechanic's garage, the ones with the beautiful girls in swimsuits and high heels fawning over cars or tractors?

This isn't one of those.

Dan Denetchee's 2008 calendar, "Featuring Native Women Bikers," has women and machines all right.

But these women know how to drive the machines. In fact, they own them.

And you won't find any airbrushed cleavage in this calendar. Just lots of denim, leather and turquoise.

"It's a really clean calendar," laughed Eulalia White, Ms. August. "No bare skin, I promise."
Comment:  Gee, I wonder why Denetchee didn't go with the unclothed look a la Redskin magazine or the Rez Dog calendars.

Golf championship = major accomplishment

Another milestone for the Oneida NationIf there was any lingering doubt, the inaugural Turning Stone Resort Championship proved that the Oneida Indian Nation of New York has at least two major accomplishments to claim as its own.

One is the creation of an economic engine in an area depressed not only in fiscal opportunity but also in spirit. OIN's business enterprises, consisting of a major destination resort/casino complex, a media production company (Four Directions Media, parent company of Indian Country Today), a chain of service stations/convenience stores and several other endeavors, have created jobs and income in a region long ignored by the state Legislature and bloated bureaucracy.

The other, and perhaps more important, accomplishment is nothing shy of a milestone. The OIN became the first Indian nation to host a nationally sanctioned professional sporting event on tribally owned land. And that event--a four-day PGA golf tournament featuring top professional players--was a spectacular success that might easily get bigger and better.

Indians learn about Indians

'Dots and Feathers' explores identity and cultureUsing dance, music and spoken verse, 'Dots and Feathers' attempts to bring to life the issues of race and identity in the Asian Indian and Native American communities, creating a bridge between the two cultures. Katha Dance Theater, in collaboration with area artists, presents, “Dots and Feathers,” this weekend at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul.

While the piece begins with a juxtaposition of cultures and each group taking turns on stage, the gentle pitter-patter of Asian Indian tablas and ankle bangles soon blend effortlessly with pounding Native American drum beats and metal accessories. The two sides, once known to each other as merely “dots” or “feathers,” learn about colonialism, ancestry and love, realizing in the end that they are much more similar than they thought.

Imprint wins award

“Imprint” Wins Best Narrative Feature at South Dakota Film FestivalImprint, the Native American supernatural thriller produced by Linn Productions and Chris Eyre in western South Dakota, received the Best Narrative Feature Award at the South Dakota Film Festival in Aberdeen this past weekend.

The movie is in its second week of screening in Rapid City, South Dakota, and over the weekend maintained a strong position at the box office, finishing ahead of Jodie Foster’s The Brave One and Christian Bale’s 3:10 to Yuma. Imprint will continue at the Rapid City venue for at least another week and half, and longer if strong attendance continues.

My audio commentaries

Check out my commentaries for the Montclair Art Museum's Indian comics. To listen, call (408) 794-3717 and enter the following prompts:

30# -- NA Stereotypes in Comics
31# -- Peace Party Comics

32# -- Wyatt Wingfoot
33# -- Moonstar and Alpha Flight

September 28, 2007

New citizens must know Indians

Tribes included in new U.S. citizenship testThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services unveiled a new citizenship test on Thursday that includes two questions about Native Americans.

The first question asks "Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?" Acceptable answers include "Native Americans" or "American Indians."

The second question requires test-takers to "Name one American Indian tribe in the United States." A complete list is maintained by the agency.

The new questions are part of the first redesign of the naturalization test since it was created in 1986.
Comment:  For foreigners who start off knowing nothing about America, I guess these simple questions are reasonable. But one more question might cement their limited knowledge of Indians. For instance:

Which of the following statements are true? Choose all that apply.

a) Indians are extinct.
b) Most Indians live in teepees.
c) Indians were primitive people with no culture.
d) Indian tribes are governments similar to states.

Many American schoolchildren would get this question right, but I wonder how adults would fare on it. I'm betting most would flunk it.

Pucci goes Native

Milan Fashion Week:  Pucci hits the Navajo trailThe British designer Matthew Williamson took the Navajo path in his collection for Pucci at Milan Fashion Week.

The collection blazed a trail of brilliant colour, mixing pinks, reds and oranges and dazzling hues of turquoise with black, white and tan.

The prints, inspired by traditional native American blankets and jewellery, juxtaposed zig-zag patterns and arrow-heads with sun and moon motifs, on silk kimono-jackets, slinky silk jersey dresses, loose-fitting trousers, A-line short skirts and shorts.
Comment:  It's not obvious from this picture what the article is talking about. The bathing suit doesn't look a bit Navajo to me. If anything, it resembles the bright designs seen in Central and South America.

Oh, are some designs that look Navajo:

I guess the editor made a poor choice when deciding which picture should illustrate the article.

Mills, "the greatest upset"

Olympic gold medalist recalls victory to inspire kids"Look at Mills! Look at Mills! Oh my God," sports announcers cried as they watched the race unfold.

In 1964 in Tokyo, the Olympic race was called "the greatest upset."

The man who pulled it off and the first American to win a gold medal in the 10,000-meter run, William "Billy" Mills spoke at Palm Springs High School's auditorium Wednesday afternoon as part of the start of Native American Week 2007.

"I was told the moment was magical. I was told it was electrifying. However, that is not what I took from sport," said Mills, an Oglala Lakota (Sioux) who was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Instead, he said, he he learned life lessons.

Those life lessons included deciphering perceptions and promoting global unity through global diversity.

"I think he has a lot of good things about perceptions and the way Native Americans are presented through the media," said Laurie Lankhaar of Palm Springs. "Americans need to realize the perceptions of other cultures--especially Native Americans."

Casino vs. union

Petition filed to form union at FoxwoodsThe United Auto Workers submitted a majority of the names of 3,000 dealers at Foxwoods Resort Casino to the National Labor Relations Board Friday morning.

At a press conference in Norwich, regional leader Bob Madore said the next step is to bring a quick vote for a union at Foxwoods.

"We have well over the majority and this is the first time Foxwoods (workers have) gone to the NLRB with the full support of workers seeking an election," Madore said.

In a prepared statement, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods, said they do not believe federal labor laws apply to the tribe, which is recognized as a sovereign nation by the federal government.
Comment:  At this point, I'm not sure which is less popular with the public: an Indian casino or a union.

Churchill back at university

Ward Churchill to teach unsanctioned course on CU campus

University distancing itself for student-organized lecture series"He's a professor, he likes to teach people—so that's what he's doing," said David Lane, Churchill's attorney, who was unaware of his client's planned lecture series.

CU officials released a statement Thursday afternoon emphasizing that any students who attend Churchill's discussions will not receive credit and the lectures aren't endorsed by the university or considered to be sanctioned academic coursework.

"Any CU student is at liberty to invite Ward Churchill to campus to speak, but this should not be viewed by anyone as a resumption of employment or of his former professorial role at the University of Colorado at Boulder," campus officials said in the statement.

Auctioning off unknown tribes

Little-known tribe spotted in Peru’s AmazonHon said an indigenous group using the same kind of huts was seen in the region in the 1980s, and advocacy groups said they appeared to be part of the Mascho Piro tribe.

The sighting of the indigenous group comes as Peru's government is encouraging foreign companies to look for oil in the rainforest.

Environmental and Indian rights groups firmly oppose the exploration in the remote jungle area about 550 miles (900km) east of Lima, the South American country's coastal capital.

Indigenous people who have shunned contact with the rest of society are believed to live within some of the dozens of parcels being auctioned across the country for petroleum prospecting, some of them in the Amazon.

Blackfeet player is 1st-round pick

Explorers draft UM's ChavezMike Chavez, who led Heart Butte and Browning to state high school basketball championships, was drafted by the Great Falls Explorers in the first round of the Continental Basketball Association college draft.

The 6-foot-7 Chavez played basketball for three years at the University of Montana, mostly as a reserve forward. He earned a degree in Native American Studies and anthropology last spring.

“I feel blessed, because a lot of great players won't get a chance to play basketball after college,” he said Tuesday night. “I know nothing's guaranteed. In college, you knew you were in it for four years. But now, I know I'll have to get in shape and be there ready to play,” when camp opens in early November.

September 27, 2007

Shoes step on the sacred?

Nikes Sacred Sneaker, “Air Native N7”...There is enough dialogue, sites and other material from both the corporate and the indigenous side to this story, adnauseum I might add. The name of the shoe N7 “honors the traditional Native American Seventh Generation philosophy, an approach that respects the impact of decisions made today on seven generations. The shoe’s design draws inspiration directly from Native American culture.” quoted a Nike official. But it all boils down to this;

“It’s all about the money Paisan, it’s all about the frigging money,” simple as that.

Again some mindless nymph thought it would be “cute” to use sacred traditional teachings or “Something Native” to hawk their wears. It’s as if they watched Dances with Wolves and Pow Wow Highway marathon before they went to the boardroom with this new and wonderful idea. A sneaker that will cure diabetes, paleeeeeeeeeeze! Schtick is schtick…. Racial profiling? If this were another ethnic minority there would be protests on the streets as spokesmen and women would line up to have their voices heard. Targeting Native American’s for sneakers is liken to the manufacturers of Colt 45 Malt Liquor who targeted the African American community years back. Both acts showed a careless disregard for the ethnic community, cultures, concerns as well as a taste of racism. “We know what’s best for you.”

But the single most insulting thing is the fact sacred teachings and prophecies from within the Aboriginal communities are simply open game for Madison Avenue. I’m still pissed over Bob Redford’s use of “Sundance” to hawk films. Again I hear this lame excuse, “Well it’s for the greater good”. What greater good is there when we compromise the very essence of our spirituality to sell movies and now, sell sneakers?
Comment:  I appreciate Carlos Guevara's point, but I've never heard anyone claim the "seven generations" concept was sacred. Important or central, yes, but sacred?

If you're going to protest cultural appropriation, there are probably a thousand cases more important than this one. Sports teams with chiefs in "sacred" warbonnets on their logos. Cars and cities named after "sacred" Indian tribes and persons (e.g., Pontiac). Companies selling products based on the "sacred" buffalo or dreamcatcher or blue corn (oops).

I presume Robert Redford named his film festival after his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, not the Lakota Sun Dance. Since he implies no connection with the ceremony, is this really a battle worth fighting? DC published a sci-fi comic a few decades ago titled SUNDANCERS (about scientists who try to manipulate the sun). Was that also a Lakota ripoff?

Targeting one ethnic group for profit is a separate issue. But suppose a money-grubbing drug company developed a treatment for sickle-cell anemia, which primarily affects blacks. Should it withhold the product because it targets one race, just as Nike's shoes do (even though others can buy them)?

What about educational companies that develop language and cultural materials for tribes? Charities that address social problems on reservations? Are we literally going to say that any institution that focuses on one ethnic group is bad?

Sorry, I don't quite see the harm in Nike's shoes. Maybe someone can explain it to me. Other companies produce magazines, music, clothes, and cosmetics that explicitly or implicitly target ethnic groups. How is this any different?

Until someone persuades me otherwise, I'll stick with the top five or 10 or 20 cases of cultural appropriation and exploitation. You know...Chief Wahoo, Redskin magazine, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, the Kaweah immigration scheme, etc. Producing Native-style shoes and giving half (or whatever) of the proceeds to tribal health programs doesn't seem half-bad to me. It's not exploitative enough to make my radar screen.

Arigon Starr at Comic-Con

San Diego’s Comic Con attracts over 100,000 attendees...

And One Kickapoo Indian.  AAY!You might be wondering why a singer-songwriter turned actress-playwright wanted to attend a comic book convention. As a very young girl I attended Comic Con and have always been a fan. I cut my teeth on the Archie Comics, then moved on to Superman, Batman, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Creepy, Eerie and tons of other books. One of my favorite ways to get through biology or math class was to secretly open my sketchbook and draw comics featuring my favorite bands like the Beatles, Queen or the aforementioned Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil and always dreamed of putting out my own comic book.

For the first time in print and exclusively for News From Indian Country, I’m sharing one of my final drawings from the upcoming Super Indian. Many of you already know that Super Indian is a radio comedy series that will debut in November 2007 on the Native Voice One and American Indian Radio on Satellite networks.

Super Indian will also hopefully become a full-fledged comic title.

I say “hopefully” because one of the many problems with being an independent artist is finding the budget to make dreams come true. Ask any artist, filmmaker, musician, writer or performer and we’ll all tell you the same thing. Launching a film, book, CD or play is a risky venture. Adding “It’s about Native America!” to the pitch will definitely get you the cold shoulder. We don’t have the “numbers” that will guarantee audience--and most Native projects that get the big budgets from major studios or networks are set in the past. My actor friends call them “leather and feather” gigs--and as we all know, we’re usually portrayed as vanishing people on the brink of extinction.

Super Indian is different.

The "Chumash Buy-Way"

Case of the Perfidious PoodleDon’t get me wrong; I have no beef with the new highway name. In fact, I think it’s overdue. I’ve long been struck by the inexcusable dearth of street names and place names that acknowledge the region’s original Chumash inhabitants. (Anacapa, Anapamu, and Yanonali streets being three exceptions that approximate the actual Chumash pronunciation; Valerio, Cacique, and Rancheria streets reflect Chumash realities as seen through a Hispanified lens.) Personally, I think the off-ramp signs directing motorists to downtown Santa Barbara should be replaced with the glow-in-the-dark inscription “Syuxtun,” the name of the Chumash village that once thrived here.

As for the new Chumash Highway, the historical record clearly indicates that for thousands of years it functioned as the main thoroughfare by which coastal Chumash visited their country cousins living inland, and vice versa. So the name makes plenty of sense. That being said, the timing of the announcement could not have been worse, and the way it went down could not be more vulnerable to scoffing and suspicion. Little wonder that casino critics in the valley now call it the “Chumash Buy-Way.” And as for Assemblymember Pedro Nava’s role in all this, well, Our Main Man in Sacramento could not have been more coy if he tried.

The big problem was timing. No locals were notified that a possible name change was in the works until well after it was a done deal. Sheriff Bill Brown didn’t know about the new name until he read about it in the papers last week; neither did Santa Barbara County Über Executive Mike Brown. And neither did Brooks Firestone, the county supervisor through whose district the new Chumash Highway runs. As a matter of courtesy, it’s almost always a good idea to notify the local officials in advance.
Comment:  Don't ask me why this article is titled "Case of the Perfidious Poodle." I have no idea.

"Walking a Mile's" recommendations

Working to understand one anotherThe report suggests that "the content of education in museums, schools and the media should not only include more in-depth, less stereotyped information about Indians' history, but also be expanded to include information on Indians' contemporary life, culture and political rights."

It goes on to propose that "Non-Indians need to recognize and respond to the feelings, perceptions and issues uppermost in the minds of American Indians--at the levels of policy and public education. ... It is not enough to know, and feel guilty, about Indians' mistreatment in the past or even their poverty and isolation today."

While the report was long overdue and a little inceptive, perhaps with conscientious follow-up to helpful recommendations such as these, more communities can get our mutual walk together up to a healthy jog.
Comment:  This writer is another person who says "Walking a Mile" has only stated the obvious. Yes, and I'm stating the obvious when I say we still stereotype Native people after 500 years. Until everyone gets it, the obvious still needs to be stated. If it isn't truly obvious, it isn't truly obvious. (How's that for a Yogi Berra-style adage?)

Incidentally, not including info on contemporary life was a complaint about the National Museum of the American Indian when it opened. Critics said the NMAI glorified the sunny past while ignoring the cloudy present. So Natives as well as non-Natives are prone to overlook the negative and focus on the positive.

A Penobscot in Paris

Good golly, Miss Molly shone

Native American dancer was toast of Paris in the '30sDuring the Great Depression, it was tough times all over for performing artists. Tougher still, if you happened to be a Native American dancer from the Penobscot First Nations on Indian Island off of the coast of Maine. The opportunity to do much more than play a stereotype in one of the travelling "Frontier Indian" shows of the day was next to nil. Molly Spotted Elk did this and much more, becoming the toast of Paris society in 1931, wowing French audiences of the day.

Evening in Paris, a new interdisciplinary show created by Spiderwoman Theatre founder Muriel Miguel and Raven Spirit Dance's Michelle Olson, tells Molly Spotted Elk's story through dance, spoken word and archival photographic and cinematic images. It also ties her tale into the legacy of First Nations women's histories of the time; a "journey of forgetting and remembering."

NATV meets NorthWest Indian News

Nationwide Native news channel envisioned

Native American Television 'is about empowerment'Washington, D.C.-based Native American Television trains multimedia journalists, but doesn't have a regular news program. NorthWest Indian News has an award-winning news program, but has no nationwide channel on which to broadcast.

The two have joined forces with the goal of establishing a nationwide Native news program online and on cable.

Native American Television, or NATV, has partnered with NorthWest Indian News, a Tulalip Tribes-funded news program shown on commercial and public access stations from Alaska to New Mexico, with the goal of producing similar programming throughout the United States.

No conflict in Yellow Robe's dramas

Balance, not conflict, drives American Indian playwrightConflict—the thing that drives American drama—isn’t something William S. Yellow Robe Jr. strives to include in his writing.

Conflict in English literature is always defined as struggle, Yellow Robe recently told his students in his American Indian drama class at the University of Maine. For the playwright, who has written nearly 50 plays, bringing the lives of his characters into balance and finding clarity is the point.

"Balance is when you have a sense of clarity of all the components [in the play]," he said. "When you find it, that’s really and truly an achievement."
Comment:  Drama without conflict? Hmm. I didn't know that was possible.

September 26, 2007

Response from Redskin magazine

A response to Teresa Anahuy's e-mail:Hello: Teresa

Thank you for your comments. It is the negative emotions that stem from the confusion of words and those same negative extensions from our own Indigenous people. We at RSM have research and found educated material that is not promoted by the colonial education and media system our people have been taught by. I welcome you to 'read' the information on our web site and also encourage you to 'fight' against the proper racist system.

I realize how easy it is to let anger and emotion gain control of our people; we have the same problems in my community of Six Nations in Ontario Canada. We are fighting for our life and our land at the moment and are forced to deal with racist faces and voices in the media and the education system. I find it hard not to be angry, but my traditional culture teaches to practice 'the good mind' - to change that which angers
us into positive change.

I hope all is well and that we all can find hope and pride in our future as a united indigenous global family. It is hard to fight against what you have been taught and believed in, just know that no matter how angry and upsetting the world or people seem: We are family and that’s what binds us together.

If you are still upset, then please feel free to write an article for submission publication. (1400 - 1600 words .doc format)

Thank you once again.

Jody Martin Mathew Hill
Tuscarora Nation - Turtle Clan
Six Nations of the Grand River
Owner and Operator - Redskin Magazine
Comment:  Teresa thinks this is a form letter, which may be true. Whether it is or not, it's totally nonresponsive to the "redskins" issue. If Hill is as clueless as he seems, he deserves whatever consequences arise from his poor choice of a name.

Pictured below:  a couple of typical "redskins."

Ryan Huna Smith at the Smoki

New Museum Director Shares Art of Comic BooksComic books are an art form, according to Ryan Huna Smith, the new director of the Smoki Museum. Smith, a versatile artist who works with traditional native art styles, as well as comic-style art, led a comic book drawing class Sept. 15 as part of the Sharlot Hall Museum's book festival.

"I've done classes with Pima College in Tucson. I always enjoyed doing comic book drawing classes, cause when I was in college, there was always a lot of demand, but there were no classes on comic book production," said Smith. "So my friends and I would get together for drawing sessions on our own, and work on our stuff."
Ryan's philosophy and history:Smith stressed that, to him, comic book art is all about telling stories.

"The art tells the story, more than anything. You really have to learn to make the most of your space, draw the eye along from panel to panel, and be the best storyteller you can be, all with the visuals, the art."

He said he has had experience in creating his own comic book, "Tribal Force," which he fondly remembers, despite its early discontinuance.

"The publisher we were with was going under, and I had some creative differences with a partner, so it did fall apart before we could get more of it out, unfortunately," Smith said. "Still, I really loved 'Tribal Force,' and so did a lot of fans. It was basically Native American X-Men. Each member came from a different tribe, had their own power and weakness that made them unique, and they had to learn to work together. I thought that was a great message."
Comment:  Actually, the members of Tribal Force were two Lakotas, an Apache, and a Navajo. Which isn't as diverse as it could be, especially since these tribes are commonplace in comics.

Ryan is an infrequent correspondent, but now that he's at the Smoki Museum, I know where to find him. I'm hoping he'll do some art for the PEACE PARTY graphic novel.

Acoma photos on exhibit

Images of Acoma

Marmon: Tried to capture ‘real life images of Native peoples’Lee Marmon, the official photographer for the Pueblo of Acoma for decades, has sold his collection of 55,000-plus negatives to the Acoma Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum, which has placed 98 of his photos in a show that began Saturday at the museum.

“The name of the show is 'Pueblo Places and Faces,'” and will be on exhibit in the museum until Sept. 30, 2008, Museum Curator Damian Garcia said.
An example of Marmon's work:While viewing two photos, one atop another, of two American Indians, Jose Teofilo, from 1961; and Dewey Haskie, 1975, one is struck by the strength of character in their faces.

The deeply creased wrinkles in their faces an the looks in their eyes tell a story of determination during hard times.

While looking at the same photos, Rachel Robertson put it best when she said: “Their faces show the years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom and the history of their people.”

Nike unveils Native shoe

Nike Designs Shoe for American IndiansNike on Tuesday unveiled what it said is the first shoe designed specifically for American Indians, an effort aiming at promoting physical fitness in a population with high obesity rates.

The Beaverton-based company says the Air Native N7 is designed with a larger fit for the distinct foot shape of American Indians, and has a culturally specific look. It will be distributed solely to American Indians; tribal wellness programs and tribal schools nationwide will be able to purchase the shoe at wholesale price and then pass it along to individuals, often at no cost.

"Nike is aware of the growing health issues facing Native Americans," said Sam McCracken, manager of Nike's Native American Business program. "We are stepping up our commitment ... to elevate the issue of Native American health and wellness."

Nike said it is the first time it has designed a shoe for a specific race or ethnicity. It said all profits from the sale of the shoe will be reinvested in health programs for tribal lands, where problems with obesity, diabetes and related conditions are near epidemic levels in some tribes.

Beach debuts on SVU

I forgot to mention the big news in TV land. On Tuesday Adam Beach debuted as a regular on Law & Order: SVU. As you'll recall, he plays Chester Lake, a Brooklyn detective assigned to the Special Victims Unit. In this episode, he filled in for Detective Munch, who was temporarily promoted to commander.

Beach was billed sixth in the credits and played only a minor part, which is understandable since he's the new guy. He didn't do anything to distinguish himself as an Indian, which is probably good. Apparently the show isn't going to make a big deal of his ethnicity.

But it's a big deal for Native actors. As I said a few months ago, this is the first starring role for a Native on American TV since...I don't know when. Perhaps since the heyday of the small-screen Western and faithful Indian companions such as Tonto and Mingo.

Incidentally, last year I noted that Lake used the phrase "he's in the wind" and said it sounded Indian. Since then I've heard several cop characters use the phrase. I guess it's fairly commonplace among police officers, at least on TV.

Navajo kids develop anti-drinking slogans

Billboards aim to save livesThe children who live along Navajo Route 36 near Upper Fruitland are asking motorists to slow down and drive sober.

Pictures of students from Nenahnezad Community School are plastered on four billboards strategically placed along the 30-mile strip of highway that connects N.M. 371 and U.S. 491. Labeled as one of the most dangerous roads on the Nation, Navajo Route 36 is the scene of more than 30 vehicle accidents every year.

Next to the pictures are sayings like "If you drink and drive, you're going to make someone cry," and "Slow down because I love you"—slogans written by the fifth-grade class at Nenahnezad Community School.

How to learn Indian culture

Dorreen Yellow Bird has a good column on the need to surround oneself with Indian culture and language. Check it out in Pictographs.

September 25, 2007

Why Bury My Heart won

Hollywood Loves Indians.  They Really, Really, Really Love IndiansI know this to be true, because they proved it by bestowing the OUTSTANDING MADE FOR TELEVISION MOVIE honors to HBO’s adaptation of Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It has everything Hollywood relishes. White guilt and brown people as victims. Even a victim who overcomes by joining the heroes in their quest to help his fellow victims—what could be better!

So what if HBO tinkered with the facts a bit ... mmmm ... a lot, like taking the life the Santee activist Charles Eastman and planting him at battles he never fought in, situations he was never involved in, and assuming that’s it’s boffo because, well, it “served a higher purpose.”

And what is that, pray tell? Oh, let’s see; how about feeding the entertainment beast’s insatiable hunger to prove just how progressive, impressive, provocative and evocative they are. Nothing quite as satisfying than a couple of hours of the pillaging powerful, preferably in government and the military (Wait! Do I whiff a present-day metaphor?) to warm the heart of those on George Soros’s speed dial.
Comment:  Carole argues that HBO made Bury My Heart so liberals could feel good about seeing the US government as the "pillaging powerful." Maybe, but as a card-carrying liberal, I didn't feel good about the movie's portrayal.

Perhaps the superficial motive was to please liberals--especially those who haven't read Dee Brown's book and don't know their Native history. But I'd say the deeper motive was to please the conservatives who support our government's imperialist policies. Bury My Heart gave these people succor by justifying the US onslaught against Indians.

As I wrote in my review:Bury My Heart takes a clear case of wrongdoing and muddles it. In this version of history, there are no good or bad guys. Flawed Americans, flawed Indians ... they're all the same.That's basically the same position we've taken in Iraq. Sure, we've killed tens of thousands of civilians and destroyed the country's infrastructure. But we're fighting "evildoers" who supposedly want to kill tens of thousands of our civilians and destroy our country's infrastructure. In short, their evil justifies our evil--just as in Bury My Heart.

So the movie has something for everyone: a sinful US government for liberals and sinful Indians for conservatives. No wonder it won the Emmy for best picture.

Ojibway hockey player stopped at border

Nations continue to 'fight for the line'The short distance between the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the Canada Border Services Agency can seem like no man's land to many Native North Americans who attempt to pass freely across the border. Forced by U.S. law to show identification issued by a country from which one does not accept citizenship is one thing. It is outright humiliating to be told that one's tribal or First Nations-issued identification means "nothing" to a border agent. A recent incident at an Ontario border crossing sparked controversy in Canada, but with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requiring passports for all travelers entering the states imminent, the story should have raised more eyebrows here in the midsection of Turtle Island.

Brandon Nolan, a professional Ojibway hockey player (and son of Ted Nolan, a well-known National Hockey League playmaker and coach), said he was harassed and denied entry into his native Canada in August by a pair of customs officials. According to media reports, Nolan presented a New York state driver's license and a First Nation status card. The license, said one officer, did not provide proof of U.S. residence, and the status card meant "nothing" to him. Nolan was sent back to the United States and it was suggested he try another port of entry, specifically the crossing at "Cornwall." The guard referred to the only customs house in Canada located on Native territory, on Cornwall Island, Ontario (known locally by its Mohawk name, Kawennoke). Nolan was offended by the comment, aware that the port at Akwesasne is often associated with drug smuggling and other illegal activities. "I was treated like a criminal," the young man said.

Filmmaker touts Navajo movies

Director calls Kirtland showing of Navajo movie Turquoise Rose' a successInspired by John Woo, director of the 2002 film "Windtalkers," Hamilton held auditions exclusively on the Navajo Nation, and 90 percent of his cast and crew was Navajo.

"There's a quote by John Woo," Hamilton said Friday. "He said he auditioned over 400 Navajos and never found any of them with any experience. But I found that you've got to get Navajos from the Nation and you've got to be given an opportunity to gain experience. I believe in you guys."

Hamilton said the production, which took five years and a crew of 500 to create, was a dream come true. With only a handful of Navajo-made films on the market, the time is ripe to accurately portray the Navajo people, he said.

The best way to do that, Hamilton said, is to film Navajo talent on the reservation. He is already at work on his second feature-length film—another Navajo movie to be shot on the Nation.

The "rich Indians" perception

Tribal leaders worry about 'wealthy Indian' imageTribal leaders said Monday they were troubled by a growing public perception of American Indians as "casino-rich" special interests.

Anthony Pico, a prominent former chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in East County, said tribal governments need to take a more active role in improving their image through the media. Pico, reporters and tribal public relations officials participated in conference called Native Voices held Monday at the Pechanga Indian Reservation.

"The future preservation and prosperity of American Indians will not be decided in the halls of Congress or state legislatures, nor will it be adjudicated ... (at) the U.S. Supreme Court," he told an audience of more than 50 people. "It will be decided by the voting public in the court of public opinion."
Comment:  Exactly. Which is why fighting stereotypes is a central issue to Native people.

Looking for Native actors

I'm watching the new TV series this month. As usual, I'm looking for Native actors. I thought I spotted one--Moon Bloodgood on Journeyman--but then I read this on Wikipedia:Bloodgood was born in Anaheim, California to an American father of Dutch and Irish descent and a South Korean mother; her father was stationed in Korea when he met her mother. Bloodgood is a former cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers.So let me get this straight: The name "Moon Bloodgood" sounds vaguely Native but isn't. With all the Native talent out there, the makers of Pathfinder couldn't find a single Native actress to play the love interest. Instead they hired a former cheerleader--perhaps because most traditional Native women looked like cheerleaders. Wow.

Lucy and Indians on video

Clips from "The Indian Show," episode #59, airdate May 4, 1953:

I Love Lucy--Scared of Indians

I Love Lucy--By the waters of the Minnetonka

For more on Lucy and Indians, see Lucy Loves Indians.

Alaska Native wins genius grant

Read about a great achievement for an Alutiiq anthropologist over in Pictographs.

September 24, 2007

Tainted leader picked tainted leader

Scrutiny continues for SmithsonianIn August 2001, Indian Country Today columnist Rebecca Adamson wrote a bitingly satirical take on an original Architectural Digest article focusing on "one of the largest collections of Amazonian tribal art in private hands, conserving many valuable examples of a folk art form that is rapidly disappearing." The private hands were Lawrence Small's. Not surprisingly, the Smithsonian paid no attention to an Indian protest, and Small later proved to have been abetting the rapid disappearance of Amazonian tribal art ("folk art") by illegally possessing the feathers of endangered bird species. He pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor charges and performed community service in retribution. His Smithsonian tenure deteriorated from there to the point that a June 2007 Independent Review Committee report described the relationship between Small and the Smithsonian's governing regents in terms befitting a ringleader and his racketeers: "Over the years, Mr. Small placed too much emphasis on his compensation and expenses. Rather than seeing this as an indication of the need for careful oversight, the Regents involved in Mr. Small's compensation, to the contrary, became complicit in Mr. Small's desire to maximize his personal income and have the Smithsonian pay his expenses."

Sheila P. Burke, chief operating officer and deputy secretary of the Smithsonian under Small, earned more than $10 million in cash and stocks from corporate service while working for Small. She also joined Small in "a level of absenteeism" the review committee sharply criticized, working at the Smithsonian as second-in-command only three days out of every four. Her compensation and leave arrangements with the Smithsonian were known only to Small, who did not disclose the financial disclosure forms she completed, according to the Independent Review Committee.

Beginning in December 2006, Burke headed the search committee that ultimately recommended Gover to Cristian Samper as the next executive director at NMAI, following the impending retirement of inaugural director W. Richard West in November. (Samper, acting executive secretary of the Smithsonian since Small's departure, has the last word in hiring Smithsonian unit museum executives.) Small, already discredited for his Amazonian tribal art collection and his travel expenses, resigned in March 2007 after a Washington Post series exposed further shortcomings of his stewardship at the world's largest museum complex. But even after the June IRC report likened Burke's "level of absenteeism" and lofty compensation to Small's, Burke continued to head the search committee for West's replacement at NMAI.

Last One Standing

Check Out 'Last One Standing,' Oct. 4 On Discovery ChannelIn the thrilling new Discovery Channel series "Last One Standing," six athletes--three American and three British--are immersed in the most remote tribes in the world, where they live alongside and train with indigenous tribesmen as they prepare to represent their host tribe in raw and intense competition.

From death-defying Zulu stick fighting in South Africa to an arduous foot race in the Mexican mountains-wearing only handmade sandals-these men push their physical and mental limits to see who really is the last warrior standing. This new 12-part series premieres Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 9 PM ET/PT.

The diverse group of athletes are at the top of their game-there is a BMX rider, a strongman competitor, an Oxford University sportsman, a hiker and endurance athlete, a kickboxer and a British all-rounder and fitness professional. Together they compete in an array of tribal games and rite of passage ceremonies, where competition is frequently a metaphor for war. Completely immersed in a tribal culture, the adventurers live among the village warriors to train and prepare for the battle that lies ahead--no concessions are made.

Will the sprinter be able to keep up in the long-distance running competitions held by the remote Tarahumara Indians across punishing terrain in northern Mexico? Will the Florida BMX'er (who had never before left the United States) stand a chance against the fierce Kalapalo wrestlers in Brazil? Will any of the six make a showing endurance canoeing in Papua, New Guinea?

LAST ONE STANDING gives a view into parts of the world removed from civilization. The competitors travel to Kalapalo, Brazil (wrestling); Zulu, South Africa (stick fighting); Tarahumara, Mexico (endurance running); Mongolia (wrestling); Trobriand Islands (tribal cricket); Sumi, Nagaland (Akikiti kickboxing); Senegal (wrestling); Papua, New Guinea (canoe racing); Brazil (Kraha log racing); Peru (glacial challenge); Java (martial arts); and Vanuatu (canoe racing).
Comment:  For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

Buffalo energy bars

Native American Natural Foods Set to launch Tanka Bars Oct. 5-7

Pine Ridge-based company creates new food category with buffalo energy barsFollowing two years of intense product development, Native American Natural Foods is preparing to launch its new buffalo energy bar at the Black Hills Pow Wow, Oct. 5-7, in Rapid City, S.D.

The Tanka Bar, which pairs prairie-raised American buffalo with Wisconsin cranberries, is a modern artisanal take on a traditional Native American recipe for “wasna” or “pemmican,” which has been described by many nutritionists as the perfect energy food. The 100 percent natural bar is 70 calories per 1 ounce serving and no trans fats.

According to Karlene Hunter, CEO of the company, which is based in Kyle, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Tanka Bar introduces a new product category: the meat-based energy bar. “Tanka Bars don’t taste medicinal or like a candy bar,” Hunter said. “They are tender, flavorful and good for you. We’re convinced that once people taste them, they’ll choose pure meat protein-based energy over ‘enhanced’ cereal bars every time.”

Talent agent and novelist

Lorna Rainey, a Choctaw Talent Agent with Hidden TalentsSuccessful business woman and talent agent Lorna Rainey, MS Band of Choctaw descendant, demonstrates her own talents in her first novel, Native Intelligence. Until now, Lorna Rainey, a Native New Yorker and owner of Talent Express, normally made her fortune discovering, tapping into and nurturing the talents of others. While she continues to operate as a successful talent agent and business woman, Rainey has taken steps to begin nurturing a talent of her own--writing novels. This past July, Rainey released her first novel, Native Intelligence.

Native Intelligence is staged in post 9/11 New York immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Rainey draws heavily on her own Choctaw heritage as she weaves a suspenseful thriller about the novel's heroine, Nita, a beautiful woman of Choctaw descent who follows her instincts straight into the heart of a sinister anti-American plot. Guided by her ‘native intelligence,’ Nita must discover who and what mysterious substance killed her best friend before the police arrest her as their prime suspect.

Indians die in Iraq

American Indians proud of their service in military

Enlistment rate is increasing on U.S. reservationsWhile American Indians and Alaska natives account for just 0.8 percent of the country's population, they make up about 1.6 percent of those serving in the U.S. military.

That translates to almost 22,000 people in uniform, more than 18,000 sent to Iraq or Afghanistan and almost 3,800 of those deployed today. More than 300 have been wounded in battle in the past six years, and 46 died.

Never mind that America's tribes have a stormy history of relations with the U.S. government and remain locked in treaty disputes to this day. Indian veterans merit special attention at virtually every high plains powwow. They return from battle with the sort of respect that vaults a young man like the 27-year-old Banks to nearly equal footing with tribal elders many years older.

School criticizes kid's lunch

Mom says school overstepped bounds for health's sake"Health is my number one issue, especially with my daughter. And nutrition it's an uphill battle some days with my daughter just to eat in general," Lotcher said.

Lotcher never thought it would be a battle with the school, until she said she got a phone call and a lecture over a "doughnut." It was actually a piece of fry bread, a traditional Native American food.

"I'm feeding my daughter doughnuts and cookies (animal crackers), and they failed to see there was also Chex Mix and a stick of string cheese, which I thought was an adequate lunch for my daughter," Lotcher said.
Comment:  "Adequate" must be a synonym for high in calories and poor in nutrition.

Crow Rhodes Scholar

Rhodes scholar wins law scholarshipA Rhodes Scholar from the University of Montana has won the Charles M. Bair Family Trust Native American Law School Scholarship from the UM Law School.

Scott Bear Don't Walk is from Billings and is an enrolled member of the Crow tribe. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, books and some living expenses.

September 23, 2007

Review of The War

Despite blemishes, Burns' 'The War' is a strong, searing sagaKen Burns' “The War” is a triumph, but not an unconditional one. Despite its title, this stunning seven-part film cannot be considered the definitive documentary on World War II. In this country, in this era, perhaps no single work can make us fully comprehend the enormity of what happened 60-plus years ago.

The film, which premieres tonight at 8, was six years in the making. Despite controversies over Burns' initial failure to include tales from Hispanic veterans and a kerfluffle over four spoken obscenities, each episode shines. The viewer's 14 1/2 hour investment is amply repaid by the vivid testimony of dozens of survivors, and a few casualties. They speak in language that is bitter, wry, honest.
The Native segment:The irony of the United States battling fascism abroad while upholding racial injustice at home is a major theme in “The War.” Burns, then, must have been surprised when, as his film was being edited, Hispanics complained that their contributions had been ignored. He responded by interviewing two Mexican-Americans from Los Angeles, Bill Lansford and Pete Arias, and one American Indian, Joseph Medicine Crow from the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana.

Their memories advance a key Burnsian theme, how the war touched every corner of our country. Rather than being edited into the main body of “The War,” however, these tales were tacked on as codas following three of the seven episodes. (Lansford and Arias discuss Guadalcanal after Episode 2, and Iwo Jima after Episode 6. After Episode 5, Medicine Crow spins a marvelous yarn of how, in a German village, he performed the four feats required of his tribe's war chiefs.)
The main flaw:Burns did, however, have a choice in how he told this story. Often, “The War” is a prisoner of its format. The film occasionally roams beyond its four towns to provide historical context, but these are arbitrary and unsatisfactory outings. The Holocaust, for instance, is only hinted at until the final episode, when soldiers from Mobile and Waterbury encounter the Final Solution's survivors while liberating Nazi concentration camps.

While spanning the globe, this film ignores much of the world. “The War” is at its worst when cursorily explaining, or simply ignoring, the conflict's causes and results, except as they relate to Burns' four towns. ... [Y]ou have to wonder about a World War II documentary that has time to rhapsodize about springtime in rural Minnesota but can't spare a moment for the Warsaw ghetto, Shanghai, the battleship Bismarck or “righteous Gentile” Raoul Wallenberg.

The Tee Pee Motel

Lottery winner invests in a piece of national nostalgia:  The Tee Pee Motel in TexasIt’s easy to miss. But it is there, just around the bend: a row of 10 freshly painted, sand-colored tepees.

As in the Tee Pee Motel, a throwback to the 1940s and ’50s, when taking a drive was still in style and roadside businesses used gimmicky architecture—like a gas station that looked like an oil derrick—to lure customers. The Tee Pee Motel is one of a handful of tepee-themed lodges left.

For years, however, Wharton’s Tee Pee Motel was little more than gutted shells engulfed by a tangle of overgrown weeds and a broken sign that once beckoned guests with neon lights and an image of an American Indian chief.

Then, a diesel mechanic named Bryon Woods won $49 million in the Texas lottery in July 2003.

Four months later Woods and his wife, Barbara, were driving by the ruins of the Tee Pee Motel, about 50 miles southwest of Houston, when Barbara Woods piped up.

“I want to stay there,” she said. “Let’s buy it and renovate it.”

The Super Bowl of hunting

Tradition brings hunters to Wyo. eventIf hunting has a Super Bowl, this is it.

Each carried a single bullet, blessed by a chief of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, to fire at an animal that can be maddeningly difficult to hunt, with keen eyesight, a nervous nature and a top speed of better than 50 mph.

Among the men in the Sept. 15 hunt were three governors, various captains of industry and some of the world‘s leading big-game hunters, from as far away as Argentina and South Africa.

"To participate in the One Shot Antelope Hunt is really a tremendous deal for us in hunting, but also for the state of Wyoming," said Duncan, who ranks 85th on Forbes‘ billionaires, worth more than $8 billion. On some 60 safaris in Africa, he has killed 18 elephants, 20 lions and more than 50 cape buffalo. He holds top hunting awards from groups such as Safari Club International.

"It goes for a great cause, and conservation is what helps animals everywhere in the world," Duncan said.

How the Land Rush happened

Lawbreaking Boomers forced the opening of Unassigned Lands[A] man named David Payne became the self-proclaimed leader of a movement to get the Oklahoma Country opened for settlement. He formed the Southwestern Colonization Co. and charged a fee for anyone who wanted to join. This group became known as the “Boomers.” For the next decade the Boomers periodically made efforts to settle in the Unassigned Lands. Each effort drew more attention from the press and more pressure on the government to open the lands.

The Five Civilized Tribes pressed for Payne’s arrest, and he was taken to the federal court in Fort Smith. He was tried for “conspiring against the United States” and Judge Isaac Parker fined him $1,000 for trespassing on Indian lands. But Payne was unrepentant and continued to lead groups of Boomers into Indian Territory.

Payne died in 1884, but the Boomers persisted in their efforts. In 1889, they succeeded in convincing Congress to open the Oklahoma Lands for settlement.

Radio show on gaming tribe

Series on San Manuels set to airA four-part documentary on the history of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will air beginning Thursday on local television and radio.

"People of the Pines: A New Beginning," will air on KVCR TV 24, local radio station FM 91.9, and satellite radio station DT 24.1.

Each 30-minute episode will chronicle the rise of the tribe--from its humble, impoverished beginnings in the foothills north of San Bernardino to its ascension to one of the wealthiest gaming tribes in the nation.