January 31, 2008

Cherokees left homes "willingly"?!

Russell Bates on the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Creeks, Choctaws, and Seminoles:[T]he so-called 'Five Civilized Tribes' never were native to the Plains until they willingly were marched to Indian Territory by Americans who lusted after their plantation lands and towns and settlements.Comment:  In other news, the Kiowas (Russell Bates's ancestors) "willingly" gave up their independence and signed treaties in 1853 and 1867. Presumably they did so because they were a bunch of sissies who couldn't defeat a kid with a bean-shooter, much less the US Army.

Get the point?

Now that we've had a nice bedtime story, here are some facts on the issue:

Trail of Tears State ParkIn the following seven years of his term in office Jackson cleared the lands east of the Mississippi of nearly 50,000 native americans, coercing them to surrender twenty five million acres of lush forest and farm land for parched western reservations. Tribes that would not sign like the Creek and Seminole were forced out at gun point or dragged out in chains.Congress seeks to educate on Trail of Tears

Study calls for closer look at forced removal of American Indians in 1830sThe National Park Service oversees the Trail of Tears. According to a park service handout, "families were separated—the elderly and ill forced out at gunpoint—people given only moments to collect cherished possessions. White looters followed, ransacking homes as Cherokees were led away."Samuel's MemoryMy mother tells me to gather my things, but the men don't allow us time to get anything. They enter our home and begin knocking over pottery and looking into everything. My mother and I are taken by several men to where their horses are and are held there at gun point. The men who rode off return with my father, Elijah. They have taken his rifle and he is walking toward us.

I can feel his anger and frustration. There is nothing he can do. From my mother I feel fear. I am filled with fear, too. What is going on? I was just playing, but now my family and my friends' families are gathered together and told to walk at the point of a bayonet.
Several thousand other sources in Google say the Cherokees and others were removed "forcibly" or "at gunpoint." I await the evidence that they weren't forced, coerced, or harassed into leaving--i.e., that they left "willingly."

Below:  Indians "willingly" trudge through snow on the Trail of Tears.

Raymond loves Indians

An old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond shows what Indians have to endure.

Everybody Loves Raymond--The Bird--Part 2Robert and Amy convince their families to spend Thanksgiving together. When the Barones arrive at the Pennsylvania home of Amy's parents, they find that their differing family traditions encourage lots of lively conversation. If only the MacDougalls owned a television set! Things start to come together when the families separate into Pilgrims and Indians for the annual MacDougall Thanksgiving Family Pageant. All is well until a bird flies into the house and Pat MacDougall decides to "put it out of it's misery."

Comment:  Go to the 3:12 mark for the first appearance of "Indians."

This 2003 episode features several Native stereotypes:

  • The "Indian" boys enter doing war whoops.
  • They and the other "Indians" have headbands or headdresses with feathers.
  • The boys aren't wearing shirts.
  • The brother who always plays Squanto has streaks of "war paint" on his chest.
  • When Raymond wants to play Squanto, he takes off his shirt.
  • Playing Squanto "feels good," he says. "Heap good."
  • Mr. McDougall calls the people playing Indians "savages."

  • About the only honest moment comes when Mr. McDougall, playing a Pilgrim, says, "We promise to protect your people and treat you with kindness." Robert, playing an Indian, responds, "Lies. They're going to screw us."

    This episode is a typical example of Native stereotyping in the media. Several million people watched it when it first aired, and many more have seen it in reruns. For every person who has read about or discussed Indians in person, a thousand people must have seen it. Therefore, it must have had a thousand times the effect of other sources of information about Indians.

    Key source for Hiawatha

    Michigan Books:  The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky:  The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft edited by Robert Dale ParkerThe Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft edited by Robert Dale Parker (University of Pennsylvania Press) brings to the public for the first time the complete writings of the first known American Indian literary writer, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (her English name) or Bamewawagezhikaquay (her Ojibwe name), Woman of the Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky. Born in 1800 and raised in Sault Ste. Marie by her Ojibwe mother and Irish-born father, Schoolcraft is the first known American Indian literary writer.

    Beginning as early as 1815, Schoolcraft wrote poems and traditional stories while also translating songs and other Ojibwe texts into English. Her stories were published in adapted, unattributed versions by her husband, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, a founding figure in American anthropology and folklore, and they became a key source for Longfellow's sensationally popular The Song of Hiawatha. Although Schoolcraft did not publish her work, Parker's thorough research led him to her poems and traditional stories, as well as her translations of Ojibwe songs and other texts into English. Publishing them in most cases for the first time, Parker also provides insights into and interpretations of her life and work.

    The State of the Indian Nations

    In Annual Address, Garcia Puts Focus on ChildrenIt was symbolic that as Garcia offered his address Thursday in Washington, D.C., the Senate still had not acted on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

    "Indian health care services have not been updated for 16 years, 16 years," he said, his voice rising in frustration. "That's just a shame."

    Native students continue to lag behind, despite President Bush's assurance only three days before Garcia's speech that test scores for students were on the rise across the nation as a result of No Child Left Behind.

    Not so, Garcia said.

    Fourth- and eighth-grade Native students continue to score lower than all of their peers in reading and math, he said.

    In other words, Indian students are being left behind.
    Comment:  This is just more bitchin' and moanin'--i.e., identifying problems that need fixing.

    Police chief fired for alleging racism

    Mohawk police chief fired after racism remarks

    Larry Hay had accused OPP, SQ and RCMP of 'deep-seated racism'The Ontario Provincial Police have fired the police chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory after an internal investigation into remarks he made to a student newspaper in Belleville, Ont.

    As a result of the probe, Larry Hay's appointment has been terminated, OPP Sgt. Kristine Rae confirmed Wednesday.
    The actual remarks:Hay made his controversial comments in an article about a protest at a quarry that a group of Tyendinaga Mohawks allege is on their land.

    "I left the RCMP after Oka and I realized just what a racist organization the RCMP was," Hay was quoted as saying, "and I came here to learn that the OPP and the SQ (Sûreté du Québec) are no different. It's deep-seated racism, and they will do all kinds of things to show that it isn't so, but we know better."

    UN representative for Indians

    Onondaga Nation woman gets UN postFor the next three years, an Onondaga Nation woman will represent millions of Native Americans in the United Nations, trying to persuade diplomats to recognize the rights of indigenous people.

    Tonya Gonnella Frichner will spend most of her time in Manhattan as North America's regional representative to the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    Frichner, an attorney who has been active in U.N. issues for more than 20 years, is at ease with the highly stylized language and customs of the U.N. She has met with foreign presidents and ambassadors.

    Washington teens make films

    Native Lens Youth Take Center Stage at “Native Experience in Film”March Point and five other short films created by native youth will be shown Saturday as part of the Native Experience in Film Festival at the Swinomish Reservation. The teens are from the Swinomish, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Suquamish and Tulalip tribes.

    The festival is sponsored by the Skagit County Historical Museum. It also will feature professional actors, writers and directors, including Elaine Miles, famous for acting in the Emmy-winning television show Northern Exposure; award-winning actor Robert Guthrie; and writer and director Rick Stevenson of the feature-length film Expiration Date.

    January 30, 2008

    Review of Vanishing Act

    In 2006 I reported on The Face-Changers, the fifth book in the Jane Whitefield series. Now I've read the first book in the series.

    Vanishing ActFrom Publishers Weekly

    Perry's sixth novel (after Sleeping Dogs) is a taut thriller that at times reads like an extended, though flawed, character study of its heroine. Jane Whitefield, half-white, half-Indian member of the Seneca Wolf clan, helps people disappear-people like Rhonda Eckerly, fleeing her abusive husband, or Harry Kemple, hoping to stay alive after witnessing a gangland shooting. Like a one-woman witness protection program, Jane has helped both vanish by giving them new identities and new starts at life. Now an alleged new victim has invaded Jane's upstate New York house: John Felker claims that he's a cop-turned-accountant, is being framed as an embezzler and has a contract out on his life. Almost immediately, the men chasing Felker appear, and Jane leads him farther upstate, to a Canadian Indian reservation where he can build a new life. Jane is an original and fascinating creation. Like Andrew Vachss's series hero, Burke, she operates outside the law, but with a particular slant born of her distinct character and Seneca heritage. Perry tells her story in a trim and brisk manner, moreover, with plenty of action and suspense.
    Some fan comments:An Exciting New Heroine, July 7, 1998
    By Robert Derenthal "bucherwurm" (California United States)

    It's a curious fact that more and more male authors have a strong female as protagonist. This leads one to hope that wimpy women who twist their ankles whenever running will eventually disappear from the literary scene. Jane's a great lady and fortunately Mr. Perry has seen fit to build a series around her.

    The "hunt" scene in the latter half of the book is outstanding. Great thriller. Literate plot. Buy it today.

    Compelling, textured thriller in Adirondacks, December 3, 2005
    By W. Johnson "?no - who?" (NYC)

    While learning some interesting facts ("Adirondacks" is Iroquois for "bark-eaters," a derogatory term for ineffective hunters, and George Washington ordered assorted massacres of Indian villages), I found this novel consistently engaging. The reviews suggesting the heroine's "gullibility" forget the difference between reading a novel and living an experience. Perry isn't interested in tricking his readers, but inviting them to see and experience the world as his heroine does. All in all, she's quicker to figure out the shape of a complex story than that reviewer would have been, and this novel's merits don't depend on "figuring it out" anyway. If a mythic heroine can be credible, this one is.

    People finding new identities, July 11, 2002
    By Fred Camfield (Vicksburg, MS USA)

    The novel introduces Jane Whitefield when she switches places with another woman and beats the daylights out of a sleazy bounty hunter who thinks he is kidnapping a runaway wife. It illustrates how people can completely disappear and start life over as a new person. The story digresses a lot to discuss American Indian lore, and that can be distracting. One gets the impression that the author is trying to show off his knowledge of the subject.
    Comment:  Some thoughts on Vanishing Act:

  • Every reviewer seems to have said Jane is half Seneca. Maybe so, but she thinks of herself as a full-fledged member of the Seneca tribe. This may reflect the fact that Indians don't necessarily distinguish themselves by "blood." If her people accept her, she's Seneca regardless of how much Indian blood she has.

  • One reader compared Vanishing Act to the Leaphorn/Chee novels. Except for the use of Native lore, no. Hillerman's characters live in a Native world; they are Native, as far as I can tell. In contrast, the Native lore is uneven in Vanishing Act. Sometimes it seems integrated into Jane's worldview, but sometimes it seems grafted on--i.e., added gratuitously for color.

  • Example:  In the early part of the novel, Jane is driving along a New York country road. She thinks to herself how her Seneca people used to run along the same track. That's extraneous information that doesn't contribute directly to the story. Later, when she's running across the same countryside, she doesn't think about how her people used to run through the same territory. The mention of the runners should've occurred at this point, not the previous point.

    But near the end of the novel, rock formations remind Jane of mythic monsters as she canoes along a lake. A dead person gives her a key insight in a dream. These are examples of Native lore integrated into her character and the story.

  • I didn't find Vanishing Act predictable or boring, even though I guessed the "victim" wasn't what he seemed. What I did find was that it was too linear and unrealistic at times. For instance, rather than fleeing up or down that country road, she decides to run eight miles cross-country. Wouldn't you know it? The criminals guess her plan and are waiting 200 yards away when she emerges.

  • Or...when she pursues the villain, he travels deep into the Adirondacks and she guesses exactly where he's going. If he'd done something less predictable (to her), she never would've found him. And we wouldn't have had that exciting ending.

    The best native mysteries I've read (so far) include Tony Hillerman's Hunting Badger and The Face-Changers. Vanishing Act isn't quite up to their level, but it's good. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.

    Mr. Spock the half-breed

    “Running in Good Company” by Drew Hayden TaylorI find it interesting that the whole concept of being "mixed blood" or a "half-breed" can still, in this day and age, evolve into a volatile discussion, just over the usage of the terms. There are people out there that firmly and confidently believe, rightly or wrongly, that there is no such thing as a "half-breed," because either you are or aren't something. You can't be "half" something. Same principal I suppose as being half pregnant. However, I must disagree on principle (not the half pregnant part though). There have been way too many times that I've been half broke, half-cut or half in the bag. I've had ideas that were half-baked. I've been called a half-wit. Occasionally I've gone off half-cocked, but that's between me and my girlfriends.

    Confessing my geek heritage, I'd like to introduce Star Trek's Spock into the discussion--undoubtedly one of the most famous pop icons that immediately come to mind. The product of a human mother and Vulcan father has made him into one of the more interesting characters in Science Fiction and television--an individual of split cultural drives. Same with Star Trek--Voyager's Belanna Torres, human father and Klingon mother. The constant battle between her two competing sides directly influences her character and makes her fun to watch. By comparison, the other mono-heritaged members of the crews seem almost boring. This "mixed-blood" aspect adds spice to the show and inter-relations.
    Comment:  I said something similar once when someone criticized PEACE PARTY for addressing race:Heck, even the original Star Trek (unlike Star Wars) was riddled with sociopolitical commentary. Did Spock's self-identification as a Vulcan hurt ST thematically? No. That central theme worked precisely because real humans (including Native Americans) go through such conflicts daily.

    If PEACE PARTY's "racial identification" is anything like's Spock's racial identification, I'll take the results. Four TV shows, nine movies, and a billion-dollar licensing, er, enterprise. All are based on Spock's multicultural conflicts, without which ST wouldn't have achieved the iconic status it has.
    Of course, we're up to five TV shows and 11 movies now.

    For more on the subject, see The Indian-Star Trek Connection.

    The Indian-Turk connection

    Are American Indians Turkish?For many years, there were occasional stories related to the commonalities between Turks and Native Americans in the Turkish media. For example language similarities were always portrayed as the strongest link between the two groups' association. It is widely known in Turkey that French linguist Dumesnil found more than 300 Turkish words in native Indian languages: Türe and Töre (Tradition), Yanunda and Yanında (Near), Atış and Ateş (Fire) to name a few.

    For some groups, the commonalities of Native Indian languages and Turkish are normal because some regard all human languages as descendants of one Central Asian primal language. One group supporting the Sun Language Theory are the ultranationalists. The theory further proposes that the only language remaining more or less the same as this primal language is Turkish. For others, the connection between Native Americans and Turks is far-fetched and they argue that these kinds of stories are stretching the imagination.
    Plus a curious piece of (mis)information:Ç?nar also mentioned the main purpose of the conference was to strengthen relations between Turkish Americans and Native Americans. "In the U.S. Senate there are 15 Native American senators. Therefore I see this conference also as an important element in strengthening the Turkish lobby and increasing its supporters in the U.S. Senate."Comment:  Fifteen Indians in the Senate? Not according to the Wikipedia entry on Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). "As of 2007, Cole—a member of the Chickasaw Nation—is the only registered Native American in Congress."

    The language connection might be impressive if the Turkish words matched the words in a single Native language. But since there are hundreds of Native languages, it probably isn't hard to find a match between a Turkish word and some Native word.

    For a similar claim, see Kokopelli a Hindu God?

    Parade for Osama bin Laden too

    A good response to Jessica Peck Corry's column on Columbus Day:Here's an example. I am not suggesting a moral equality between my example and the Columbus parade, however the emotions stirred in most people who read this example will probably be similar to those stirred in people who oppose state-sponsored celebration of Columbus etc.

    Imagine Denver has a parade to celebrate the state holiday OBL day. OBL is an important figure in history because he helped our country repulse the communist invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. OBL was trained by, paid by, and worked honorably with the CIA in this effort. OBL is Arab, and many of the OBL parade organizers say the parade is a celebration of Arab people, not a celebration particularly of OBL himself, that is, Osama bin Laden.

    In the parade which is supposedly not about celebrating the terrorism of OBL or about celebrating attacks on the USA, is a float. On this float is a scale model of burning, smoking, World Trade Center towers next to the figure of OBL himself with a "thumbs up". Even with this float, the fiction that the parade celebrates Arab people and not anti-US terrorism is repeated even by Good Democrats.

    After a multi-year, multi-faceted effort to get the state to stop sponsoring the OBL holiday, including entreaties to City Council and the Colorado State legislature, protesters sit in the street in the parade route.

    I am not saying people should feel that Columbus Day and OBL Day are morally comparable--only to hold this in your mind--and re-read Corry's piece. Notice how she describes the protesters and their legal team in this light. If this fiction actually happened in America, we'd probably call the protesters heroes rather than shallow attention-seeking arrest junkies.

    Educating Russ about who's an Indian

    Some fun exchanges on how we determine who's an Indian:

    Not a single tribe enrolls Indians based on "knowing" they belong. If you disagree, name the tribes that use this criterion.

    Apparently your overwhelming arrogance trumps the rules of every tribe, even your own. Regardless of whom the Kiowa or any other tribe says is an Indian, you know better.

    Now it's merely a "family history" that makes someone an Indian? I guess you forgot the standard you dreamed up before. Oops.

    Tribes such as the Chickasaw and Kickapoo have documented histories going back hundreds of years, but you dismiss them because they don't fit your stereotypical notion of who's an Indian.

    There's a huge difference between being an Indian, or being a person who has Indian blood.

    [Y]our racist assumption that all Indians must look and act like full-blooded Kiowas is just that...your racist assumption.

    You think you know better than the 560-plus tribes who accept the federal recognition process. That's mighty white of you, apple.

    [B]elonging to a federal recognized tribe is one definition of "Indian" accepted by most Indians. It's a much better definition than your fictional "genetic racial memory" or "awareness granted by heredity."

    Whether you can articulate or not, you have a dividing line in mind. So what is it?

    I sent Russ's previous comments on the Chickasaw and Kickapoo to two correspondents from Oklahoma tribes. Here's how they responded: "Where to start with the ignorance?"

    As far as I can tell, you have no standard; you merely disparage the tribes who aren't as pure as you are.

    At least the federal government offers a standard, one backed by a lengthy examination process. That's more than you've done.

    You've determined by some means that some tribes are "Indian" and some aren't. These are tribes recognized by the vast majority of Indians as Indian.

    If Russ has defined a standard for determining who's a legitimate Indian--a verifiable standard that includes him; excludes Chickasaws, Pequots, and wannabes; and doesn't rely on blood quantum--I must've missed it.

    By "my" standard, I gather you mean the standard accepted by Native nations in general.


    Tribes enter big leagues

    Native Americans nearly hosted Super Bowl XLIITribes have targeted most of their gaming revenue toward addressing social issues, among them poverty, diabetes, alcohol and drug abuse and a high dropout rate in school. But, said Billy Mills, a Sioux who came off the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to win gold in the 10,000 meters during the 1964 Olympics, the day isn't far off when Native Americans own a major sports franchise.

    "Very realistically, you'll see that with a tribe or a business conglomerate of Native Americans," said Mills. "It's exciting. It's positive. I'm glad we have Native American entrepreneurs going into that area. In time it will happen. In the process, we cannot neglect addressing our youth. What we can't do as Native American entrepreneurs is fall prey to the only downfall of our free enterprise system, and that's profit at all costs. I see us on the verge of that at times."

    The major pioneers in plunging gaming dollars into sports ownership are the Mohegans, who own the WNBA Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and the arena in which the team plays; the Southern California Sycuan tribe and South Florida Seminoles, who both promote boxing; and the Yakama Indian Nation, which owns the Yakama (Wash.) Sun Kings of the Continental Basketball Association.

    Aborigines to get apology

    Australia to Apologize to AboriginesAustralia will issue its first formal apology its indigenous people next month, the government announced Wednesday, a milestone that could ease tensions with a minority whose mixed-blood children were once taken away on the premise that their race was doomed.

    The Feb. 13 apology to the so-called "stolen generations" of Aborigines will be the first item of business for the new Parliament, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose Labor Party won November elections, had promised to push for an apology, an issue that has divided Australians for a decade.

    January 29, 2008

    "Commit to the Indian"

    Some thoughts on the Blackhawk hockey logo, which doesn't look much like Black Hawk the Sauk war chief.

    Commit to tastefulness

    Though Blackhawks fans quickly have taken to Savard's 'motto,' it hasn't gone over well with the Native American communityYou want to "Commit to the Indian"? Joe Podlasek has some ideas for you.

    "If the Blackhawks want to commit to the symbol, why don't they help us feed 300 families a month?" he said. "Why don't they write a check for scholarships? I don't see them as being committed to the symbol."
    Some background:The phrase has struck a chord with Hawks fans, many of whom would like to adopt it as the team's slogan. President John McDonough has been inundated with e-mails suggesting ways the Hawks can market the phrase, and you already can buy "Commit to the Indian" T-shirts online. Clearly Hawks fans are rediscovering their passion for the team, and that's great. But not everyone is happy about the way they've latched onto Savard's poor choice of words.

    Count Podlasek--executive director of the American Indian Center at 1630 W. Wilson on the North Side--among the unhappy.

    "For a fan base to use that statement as its motto is terrible," he said. "What are they teaching the kids? These old symbols perpetuate the belief that American Indians are a thing of the past and that natives don't exist."
    The logo is also a problem:And there's more. The Indian head on the Hawks' sweater, Chief Blackhawk? While the image is not as offensive as others--Podlasek cited the former Illinois mascot, Chief Illiniwek, as an example of a highly offensive symbol--that doesn't mean it's acceptable.

    "We're not happy about the logo, either," he said. "It's on our list to be removed. But because they don't surround it with all the hoopla, it's not a priority compared to others.

    "I can't speak for what their logo means to them, but as a representation of our people, it feeds into other stereotypical things. These kind of symbols went out with every other race and culture a long time ago."
    Comment:  Feathers and warpaint...check. But what's with the orange skin?

    Below:  The historical Black Hawk. Doesn't look much like the logo, does he? Message to fans: All Indians look the same.

    Below:  A comparable logo for the Chicago Zulus. Go, team! Commit to the African! Honor the warrior from two centuries ago!

    Commit to banishing stereotypes because they're false or misleading. For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.

    King Lollipop in Comanche Moon

    We constantly hear that movies (and TV shows, and comic books) are "just entertainment." People who think this clearly haven't thought it through. Let's take a moment and help them. Let's see if it's really true.

    Consider the recent Comanche Moon. The main Indian character was named Buffalo Hump after a Comanche who really existed. Some aspects of Buffalo Hump's life were incorporated into the series as well.

    But "Buffalo Hump" is a rather prosaic and unimaginative name. If the only goal of the series was to entertain, why not give the main Indian a more entertaining name? Why not give him a name that would have kids shrieking and adults chuckling every time they heard it?

    Some possible names:

  • Elephant Turd.
  • Osama bin Indian.
  • King Lollipop.
  • George W. Bushbaby.
  • Super Cali Fragilistic.
  • H.R. Buffnstuf.
  • The Galloping Ghost.

  • Some of these names are real knee-slappers. They're certainly more entertaining than boring ol' "Buffalo Hump." So why not use one of these names to maximize the show's entertainment value? What's the justification for using a historically accurate name if the series' only goal is to entertain?

    If anyone can offer a satisfactory answer to this question, I'll give him or her a cookie. So take your best shot. Explain to me why McMurtry used the bland "Buffalo Hump" in a piece of pure entertainment.

    Chinook art for the children

    Preserving Culture Through Art

    Artist Draws on Native HeritageThrough a lifetime of artistic endeavors, Funk has thrown himself into a variety of media. Just to name a few, he’s been involved in commercial art, illustrative work, oil paintings, watercolors, screen printing and carving. A common thread through most of his endeavors, though, is the inspiration from his family history and childhood memories of Willapa Harbor and the Chinook Indian Tribe.

    “When I’m just sitting and loose drawing things I do Willapa Harbor,” Funk said. “That or dancing bunnies, but that’s for the children.”

    Funk has been involved with the Chinook Tribe and the Quinault Indian Reservation since his grandparent’s generation. His father worked on the reservation in the Indian Conservation Corps, which was an organization similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps. More recently, Funk has been a member of the Chinook Tribal Council for two years.

    The 2,000-member Chinook Tribe, based near Astoria, Ore., is not yet recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, though they are working on reinstatement. Funk said Northwest Indian is a popular art style with local artists, but what makes his art unique is it is drawn specifically from the traditions of the Chinook Tribe.
    Comment:  Northwest Indian art is my favorite kind of Indian art, and I like what I see of Funk's style.

    Who's an Indian again?

    Tim Giago:  Claiming Indian status to get aheadA recent article in the journalism blog of Richard Prince about a gay Native American that had just been named editor and vice president of the Arizona Republic newspaper brought immediate questions to my mind.

    The man named Randy Lovely said, “I don’t want to overstate or understate my Native American heritage. Both of my parents are of Cherokee origins and my family comes from East Tennessee. I am not a member of the tribe.” If not, why should it be announced that he is openly gay and a Native American? Whether he is gay or not is not the question. The question is that at some time in his application for the job he must have listed himself as Native American. If he admits that he is not enrolled as a Cherokee, why would he do that?

    There are many reasons why an individual may claim Indian heritage and yet not be enrolled. Maybe they do not meet the criteria demanded by the tribe, or maybe they just have not bothered to find out how one can become enrolled in the tribe in which they claim membership. But surely most people can see that it is extremely important to all legally enrolled members of tribes that there be a distinction.

    I have heard some people claiming Indian heritage say that they did not want to be insulted by going through the Bureau of Indian Affair’s criteria for tribal membership and it just goes to show their lack of knowledge about the process. It is the Indian nations that determine membership, not the BIA.

    Let the Circle be free

    Miami Circle rounds a corner toward public view

    After nearly a decade of delay, the public soon might be able to visit the Miami Circle, the prehistoric artifact saved from downtown developers' bulldozers.Nearly a decade after its discovery on prime downtown riverfront real estate, the 38-foot-wide circle remains fenced off, reburied under a layer of weeds, nearly engulfed by the concrete cliffs rising around it--utterly inaccessible to the taxpayers who bought it for $26.7 million.

    Now, government officials and a South Florida museum are seeking public comment on four detailed proposals, part of a reenergized effort to open the prehistoric site to the schoolchildren and other South Floridians who rallied to save it from bulldozers.

    The new target dates: open access by the end of 2009 and limited tours later this year, which would mark the 10th anniversary of the circle's serendipitous discovery.
    Comment:  For more on the Miami Circle, see America's Stonehenge No. 3.

    Navajo oratorio to debut

    Phoenix Orchestra Premieres Enemy Slayer: A Navajo OratorioIn anticipation of its world premiere performance of Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio, The Phoenix Symphony is presenting a series of special events devoted to the Navajo culture that inspired Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Mark Grey's new work for chorus and orchestra.

    Artists and leading authorities from the Native American community as well as Valley organizations including the Heard Museum and Arizona State University are partnering to present events including concerts, lectures, and film screenings in January and February exploring and discussing the Navajo traditions that influenced Enemy Slayer. Several months of creative exploration will culminate with the world premiere performance of Mark Grey's Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio on February 7 and 9, 2008 at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix.

    Tribe discriminated against Indian

    First Nation guilty of discrimination[S]omething happened at Ebb and Flow in 2003--something that has culminated in a rare finding of racial discrimination against the band by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

    In a decision late last week, the tribunal ordered the band to pay one of its members, Jean Bignell-Malcolm, more than $70,000 in compensation after concluding the predominantly Ojibway band withdrew a job offer in 2003 because she's Cree.

    That violates the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and ethnic or national origin.

    January 28, 2008

    Tribes differ on propositions

    Casino battle divides tribes"We're going to basically stay on the sidelines for now and see where this goes," said Manuel Hamilton, vice chairman of the Ramona Band of Cahuilla Indians near Anza. "It's just a shame that the two factions are creating a problem for all tribes in California. Both sides are self-serving, and they're putting everybody else in the middle of everything."

    With eight members and no casino, the Ramona band is among several not choosing sides now, but which once worked to get Vegas-style gambling approved in 1998 and 2000.

    They believed California tribes were "one voice, many nations" and supported gambling and prosperity for all, Hamilton said.

    "Now it's all about the money and who can I step on to get there," said Hamilton, who laments the tens of millions of dollars being spent on the campaigns instead of on education, substance-abuse treatment or other needs.
    A pro-compact tribe:Locally, the Augustine Band of Mission Indians in the Coachella Valley is upset that two tribes are trying to undo compacts negotiated by four other tribes. The Augustine band, which runs a neighborhood casino with 800 slot machines near Coachella, is opposed on principle to the ballot referendums challenging the compacts.

    "We have issues or concerns about the contents of those compacts, but we'll keep those to ourselves because the tribes have the right to negotiate those compacts," said Michael Lombardi, a gaming commissioner for the Augustine Casino. "We think the voters can figure out what they want to do."
    Another neutral tribe:Not far from the Augustine Casino, the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians operates the Spotlight 29 Casino along Interstate 10. The tribe is staying neutral on the ballot measures, but doesn't approve of the decision by the tribes and Gov. Schwarzenegger to end the four tribes' payments to a special distribution fund.

    The fund was established several years ago to give local government a cut of tribal gambling revenues to mitigate the affects of casinos on their communities. Currently, the tribes put a portion of their revenues into this fund.
    An anti-compact tribe:Several hundred miles to the north, the leader of another tribe without a casino is working for the agreements' defeat.

    Nelson Pinola, chairman of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians in Mendocino County, said he opposes the measures because of the hit to the special distribution fund. The fund has helped backfill another tribal account, called the revenue-sharing trust fund, which funnels $1.1 million in annual gambling revenues to each tribe with no casino or with only small gambling operations.

    "This is not an issue of sovereignty for me. It's an issue of fairness and equality," Pinola said.
    Comment:  Yes, achieving economic self-sufficiency and providing for your children's future is "all about the money." It takes money to do almost everything important, including teaching children about their tribal culture and language.

    As I've said before, I think California's gaming tribes should give generously to its non-gaming tribes.

    Worst US massacre ever?

    Tribe Remembers Nation's Largest MassacreOn January 29, 1863, almost 500 Northwestern Shoshone men, women and children perished in the Bear River Massacre. Federal troops trapped and decimated the Tribe at the site of its annual "Warm Dance," in present Franklin County, Idaho. The Tribe will be conducting a memorial service at 11am, Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at the Massacre Memorial four miles northwest of Preston, Idaho, on Highway 91. The public is invited.

    Now, 145 years later, the Tribe has acquired the Massacre Site and surrounding lands, in an effort to protect the sacred site and create an appropriate memorial. In an ironic twist, the Northwestern Shoshone have distinguished themselves as an important federal contracting partner with the U.S. military, providing important intelligence and infrastructure assets in enhancing the nation's war fighting capacity.
    A long description of the massacre and the events leading up to it:

    Bear River massacreAs the Shoshone were reaching desperate measures to fight off the U.S. Army, including the use of tomahawks and archery, the soldiers seemed to lose all sense of control and discipline. After most of the men were killed, soldiers proceeded to rape and molest the women of the encampment, and many of the children were also shot and killed. In some cases, soldiers held the feet of infants by the heel and "beat their brains out on any hard substance they could find." Those women who refused to submit to the soldiers were shot and killed. One local resident, Alexander Stalker, noted that at this time many soldiers pulled out their pistols and shot several Shoshoni people at point blank range. The soldiers also deliberately burned almost everything they could get their hands on, especially the dwelling structures that the Shoshone had been sleeping in, and killing anybody they found to be still inside.

    The California Volunteers lost 27 soldiers, including five officers. The Shoshone bands lost between 200 and 400, including at least 90 women and children, with the official U.S. Army report listing 272 dead.
    Comment:  I previously reported that Sand Creek or Wounded Knee was probably the worst massacre in US history. That's because I'd never heard of Bear River. Or if I had, I forgot about it. This massacre obviously needs better PR.

    Paiutes call Miwoks liars

    New Yosemite Indian war:  Tribes fight over place in history

    Paiutes call Miwoks' park legacy 'a lie'The Miwok already play too prominently in a replica Indian village outside the park museum, the Paiute say.

    For 50 cents, visitors can buy a brochure called "The Miwok in Yosemite." There are few references to the Paiutes, who archaeologists say came from the Eastern Sierra more than 10,000 years ago and fought, traded and married Miwok from the west.

    The new Yosemite Indian war pits cousin against cousin. At stake is the recorded history of the national park, the fate of native remains and who ultimately gets federally recognized as the true stewards of Yosemite.

    Yosemite's 3.6 million visitors a year--many of whom tour the Indian museum and village--are being "taught a lie," said David Andrews, a Sacramento Indian activist from the Walker River Paiute reservation in northern Nevada.
    Below:A statue of "Chief Lemee," who was actually an Indian park employee who danced in Miwok and Plains Indian regalia for visitors, occupies a place at the Yosemite park museum, as does a photo showing the ceremony. Members of the Paiute tribe contend the display, as well as others, are historically inaccurate.

    Three choices among the candidates

    Now that Bill's out, it's a tough call for Indian Country"On the Democratic side, it's a toss up between two individuals (Clinton and Obama) who have both initiated advisory committees on Indian Affairs," García said, who will deliver the annual State of the Indian Nations address later this week from the nation's capital. He emphasized that NCAI, as a nonpartisan organization, cannot officially endorse any candidates. He then mentioned that Sen. Clinton participated in the NCAI meeting in Denver (in November) via satellite and Sen. Obama recently had a teleconference with tribal leaders, in which he (García) was a participant.

    "On the GOP side, one of Sen. McCain's strong points is that he has served as a long-time member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee," García said. He added that McCain is familiar with Indian issues and that he has been a supporter of tribal self-determination on many issues. He pointed out the AIPC is open to endorsing a particular candidate. García says tribes need to be prepared for whoever takes office and said tribal leaders are convening in D.C. next week to begin talks.
    Comment:  McCain may know Indian issues, but that doesn't mean he generally takes a pro-Indian position. He's still a right-wing conservative on most issues.

    Obama talks more about Indians

    Obama touts Indian policy ahead of Super Tuesday vote"Washington's 'one size fits all' solutions don't work in Indian Country," Obama said. "Tribal communities should be empowered to address their own problems, and that will be an important goal of my presidency."

    If he wins the November election, Obama plans to appoint an Indian policy advisor at the White House. Currently, there is no position set aside for Indian Country, so tribal governments must compete with state and local governments for attention.

    On specific issues, Obama supports "full" funding of the Indian Health Service. During debate last week on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, Senate Democrats said the agency only meets 60 percent of the health care needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

    The professor and the Redskins

    The Simpsons did it again. In a new episode titled "That 90's Show" (1/27/08), a "politically correct" professor mentioned Indians twice.

    First, he gave Marge a dreamcatcher. "This dreamcatcher," he said, "was given to me by a warrior of the Lakopane tribe, a tribe ruled by women." Referring to Marge, he added, "I think it has already caught my dream." Then he began chanting stereotypically. (Needless to say, the "Lakopane" tribe doesn't exist.)

    Later, he showed Marge his library. "But I watch sports as well," he said, "just like a regular man." To prove his point, he turned on a football game. But when he saw who was playing, he exclaimed, "Good goddess! The Patriots are deep in Redskin territory. This isn't entertainment; it's genocide!" He then broke down and cried.

    Obviously, these bits say more about the professor than they do about Indians. But it's interesting that no minority except Indians gets this kind of exposure.

    Miss Washington speaks

    January 27, 2008

    Another eco-book bashes Indians

    The reviews raved about The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. For instance, this one:

    The World Without UsFrom Publishers Weekly

    Starred Review. If a virulent virus—or even the Rapture—depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman (An Echo in My Blood) in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation. Days after our disappearance, pumps keeping Manhattan's subways dry would fail, tunnels would flood, soil under streets would sluice away and the foundations of towering skyscrapers built to last for centuries would start to crumble. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, anything made of bronze might survive in recognizable form for millions of years—along with one billion pounds of degraded but almost indestructible plastics manufactured since the mid-20th century. Meanwhile, land freed from mankind's environmentally poisonous footprint would quickly reconstitute itself, as in Chernobyl, where animal life has returned after 1986's deadly radiation leak, and in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a refuge since 1953 for the almost-extinct goral mountain goat and Amur leopard. From a patch of primeval forest in Poland to monumental underground villages in Turkey, Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like.
    But it got an inordinate amount of negative reviews on Amazon.com. Roughly a quarter of them gave it three stars or fewer. I'm with them on this one. In other words, the nays have it.Good Idea, Poor Execution, October 22, 2007
    By Salacious Crumb (Tat)

    This book was an interesting idea but was poorly done.

    The book strays from the main subject far too often, typically on discussions about "the world before us." The author also has a somewhat misguided understanding of evolution and other biological processes that occur over geologic time.

    Broad But Shallow, October 9, 2007
    By Chris Loh (New York, New York USA)

    Fascinating idea; mediocre execution. The concept of exploring humanity's impact on the environment by imagining its absence is a good one, but while the first half of the book is on-message and absorbing, the remainder reads like a sprawling collection of NY Times Science Tuesday articles inserted to pad things out to book length. Those suspicions are corroborated by the stand-alone nature of the chapters and their rather arbitrary arrangement; starting at the back or in the middle of the book won't harm your understanding of the material. A lot of the chapters that match up squarely with Mr. Weisman's premise--namely the descriptions of Northern Cyprus, Chernobyl, the Korean DMZ and Kingman Reef, which are returning to nature in interesting ways--felt too short and superficial for me. Each of these areas, on its own, would have been worthy of an entire book.

    Having been impressed by Jared Diamond's "Collapse," I was largely expecting Mr. Weisman to do for the future what Mr. Diamond did for the past. I was disappointed. "World Without Us" is a decent compilation of (mostly) ecology-related reporting, but don't expect more from it than that.

    Not What I Expected, December 29, 2007
    By Brandon Whitfeld "caulfield0" (nyc)

    I respectfully disagree with most of the reviews I've read here.

    No one can argue that this book is thought-provoking, scientifically relevant, and thoroughly researched. While an intriguing (although, think about it, ultimately pointless) concept, the book reads like my 7th grade social studies textbook: dry, dull, wordy. It even has those superfluous black & white photo caps (a tree, a plant, a tool, a building) that make me yawn just by glancing at them.

    The trick with these types of books is to engage the reader, but Weisman, with his grand-scope "thought experiment" lacks that essential skill. With the notable exception of a chapter or two, where the imagery and thinking were aligned, I was genuinely nonplussed. I have no doubt that PHD candidates in agriculture, botanists, farmers, and environmentalists are all sitting around their greenhouses with their shrubs drying up and day-old caked mud falling off their boots cause they can't put this down. I, however, am I "layperson" in these matters and I was bored stiff.

    WORLD WITHOUT FOCUS, October 1, 2007
    By Roger A. Ross (Strafford, PA USA)

    While this is undoubtedly an intriguing premise, the authors drive readers away in droves by incessantly listing example after example of every conceivable tree, bush, weed, bird, or other creature that currently inhabits a region, is endangered, or will hypothetically be lost in or will repopulate the "world without us." Most frustrating, however, is their inability to focus. The book bounces around like an atomic powered "Superball." One minute we're in Africa with the Masai, the next we're in precolumbian Central America, the next were in 19th Century England, then to Chernobyl. If there was ever a book that could benefit from editorial discipline, this is it.

    Could have been better, November 13, 2007
    By Andreas Mross (Sydney, Australia)

    The topic holds a lot of promise; this book just doesn't deliver.

    I think the problem is with the writing. The approach taken is very similar to that seen in Jared Diamond's books; in each chapter, introduce a different place in the world, discuss it's specific situation or history, then draw out a more general conclusion from the more specific situation. It's worked for Jared Diamond, but it doesn't work here. The problem is that in many chapters the author does too good a job of concealing what general point he is trying to make; several times I found myself thinking "This is a moderately interesting story... but what does it have to do with the topic of the book?" After finishing some chapters I found I still wasn't sure!

    The writing style also grates. He uses a kind of journalistic, "reporter on the scene" approach. "Jim swiveled clockwise in his chair, as he revealed the true reason behind the drop in pH in the Pacific's coral atolls!" There is a perplexing amount of fluff regarding scientist's hairstyles, what they're wearing, where they went to school and other filler. I guess the idea is to do the "popular science" "let's make science relevant to the common man" thing; by fleshing out the otherwise faceless scientists with details of their lives and personalities. Boring. If the science itself isn't interesting, don't expect the scientists to make up for it!

    The World Without Us, November 29, 2007
    By frequent reader

    The title was the lure which made me choose the book. The writing was disorganized and the book very unreadable. It was chosen for book club. The consensus was unanimous. One of the worst reads we have had.
    Comment:  I'm wondering what Weisman's political philosophy is. I couldn't tell from the book, but I thought there was a subtle bias toward the status quo. Condemnations of today's political and technological decisions were curiously absent, as were hosannas to environmentalists and indigenous people for raising alarms.

    At the end, Weisman proposes a simple fix that would supposedly cure the earth's problems: limit each person to one child. Nice, but that isn't going to happen, obviously. What might happen is the emergence of a global ecological ethos combined with agreements to limit overconsumption, pollution and greenhouse gases, overfishing and deforestation, etc. But Weisman doesn't go there for some reason--perhaps because he doesn't believe in government action.

    Those awful Indians

    His three significant mentions of Native people are gratuitous and negative. He opens the book with an account of the Zápara Indians of Ecuador. Devastated by Western incursions, they now get drunk when they gather (except for one old woman).

    Clearly, they've lost the old ways, but I'm not sure what the point of this anecdote is. If Indians no longer care about the environment, you can't blame Westerners for not caring either? Weisman would convey a different message if he began with a story of Indians fighting for the environment--for instance, the Hopi-Navajo battle to protect the San Francisco peaks from recycled wastewater.

    In the second case, he goes on about Paul Martin's explanation of the Pleistocene megafauna extinction. Namely, that the Indians did it. Even Shephard Krech III treated this as a controversy with two sides in his anti-Indian book The Ecological Indian. And since that book came out, scientists have increasingly found environmental explanations for the large-scale extinctions.

    But in The World Without Us, there's no alternative. The Paleo-Indians are guilty of mass-murdering species. Weisman even quotes Martin saying it "amounts to genocide."

    And how is this relevant to Weisman's depiction of how the world will crumble without us? Who knows?

    I guess he deems it a "cautionary lesson," but no one's planning to hunt cows or chickens to death with stone-tipped spears. We're not reading this book for misguided moral lessons. We're reading it to revel in decaying skyscrapers, power plants, and monuments.

    Maya collapsed...so?

    In the third case, Weisman discusses the collapse of the Maya civilization. Based on one researcher's findings, he concludes the Maya destroyed themselves through warfare. While this undoubtedly was part of the cause, he downplays the environmental factors.

    Again, Indians are guilty of bad behavior. And again, the point of this is unclear. Weisman offers the lame excuse that it's a chance to contemplate the disappearance of a civilization.

    Maybe, but many civilizations--from Rome to the Soviet bloc--have fallen throughout history. Weisman's thesis isn't to beware the evils of war, so how is the Maya example relevant? Answer: It isn't. It appears to be gratuitous Indian-bashing.

    These examples are typical of the bouncing-around the reviewers described. It's as if Weisman found these interesting bits during his studies so he had to shoehorn them in. By implying or imagining a connection between them and the end of the world, he doesn't have to waste his research. He gets to regale us with colorful stories that are likely to impress the uncritical.

    Conclusion:  I'm fascinated by this "end of the world" stuff. I had high hopes for The World Without Us. But I had trouble slogging through it. Save your time and money for something better--e.g., the PEACE PARTY graphic novel.

    Rob's rating: 5.5 of 10.

    AhNiYvWiYa Inc.

    Here's another posting on a dubious Cherokee tribe. I first posted an article about them in Feb. 2007. Since then I've been debating with Stephen "Wind Walker" about his "father," "Chief Paul White Eagle" in the comments section.

    The crux of the debate is whether the tribe is genuine and how it determines its membership. Therefore, some quotes on the subject may be illuminating:

    Legal Status of AhNiYvWiYa Inc.AhNiYvWiYa is a legal corporation name registered in the State of Missouri.

    AhNiYvWiYa is registered with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America as a 501C3 Non-profit Native American Tribe under the categories of Religion and Education.

    AhNiYvWiYa Inc. Tribe of Native People is not under treaty with the Federal Government, therefore is not Federally Recognized.
    MembershipThose seeking Tribal membership must provide information of their bloodlines. This requirement will be discussed through correspondence with the Tribal Office. Once this is established, each applicant is asked to attend gatherings by invitation from the Chief.

    Correspondence must be maintained with the Tribal Office over a designated period of time before an applicant is given the Application for Tribal Membership. Because so many are interested in just being "Indian" by card membership and not interested in living the traditional culture of our people, the AhNiYvWiYa want to see from the applicant their sincere desire to be associated with the AhNiYvWiYa ah-ni-gu-ta-ni. Holding a card from a Tribe does not make you a Native Person. Living a true culture of Native People makes one Native.
    Teaching 'the human people'

    Whether they are an actual tribe is debated.Most of the AhNiYvWiYa do not look native at all. Blue eyes and fair features are not uncommon among their ranks. Talk to them and most claim only a grandparent or even a great-grandparent of any Cherokee stock.

    So are they really Indian?

    It's an uncomfortable question that gets to the heart of ethnicity and identity in the 21st century. In a melting pot world, who gets to decide who the "real" members of any group should be?

    "We do not look at a quantum of blood," said White Eagle of his tribal requirements.
    Comment:  I guess Wind Walker thought the debate was over and he was going to have the final word. Oops...not quite.

    Also of interest is Chief Paul White Eagle's art. As a website assures us:Chief Paul White Eagle is a skilled painter, as you can see in his artwork shown here.

    John Wayne's mainstream Westerns

    What exactly is John Wayne's anti-Indian reputation based on?

    John Wayne's Approach to Native AmericansIn retrospect, Wayne's Westerns were no different from other mainstream Westerns. In "Fort Apache," for example, one of the major conflicts between Wayne and Fonda concerns their approach to the Indian problem. Unlike Fonda's racist hatred and commitment to their extermination, Wayne sympathizes with their plight, describing the Indian Ring in Washington as "the dirtiest, most corrupt political group in our history."

    In "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," Wayne defeats the Indians by guile, stampeding their horses, rather than by violent conquest. And in "Rio Grande," he is contrasted with the white villainous trader, who objects to peace because he knows it means an end to his illicit traffic.

    The critic Jon Tuska regards "Hondo" as Wayne's closest personal statement of his view of the Indians. To begin with, Hondo was married to an Indian woman who died. The movie also depicts favorably Vittorio, the Indian chief, justifying his anger, following the treaty violations by the whites. "There's no word in the Apache language for lie," Wayne says, "an' we lied to 'em." Finally, the film comments on the sad passing of Indian culture: Hondo regards the end of the Apache as "an end of a way of life, and a good one."

    Tuska also views "McLintock!" as an unofficial sequel to "Hondo," because both were written by James E. Grant and both show the Indians' loss of their dignity, culture, and homeland.
    Note:  The reference to Rio Grande should be to Fort Apache instead.

    So where did Wayne get a reputation for being anti-Indian?By contrast, "The Searchers" was probably Ford-Wayne's strongest case in defending the purity of the white race.

    The British critic Alexander Walker sees in it a more extreme example of inbred hatred of non-Americans than in any of Wayne's earlier Westerns, which he explains as a product of the McCarthy era, when the film was made. In this narrative, Wayne cannot accept Debbie's choice to live with the Indians because he considers it "unclean" and "morally degraded;" as if saying, women must keep "pure" because the continuity of the white race depends on them.

    Furthermore, he continuously taunts Martin, his companion, for being partly Cherokee, thus impure. Still, as Beaver suggested, the Indians are not depicted as "the blackest villains," and even Wayne, who hates them, basically admires their expertise, persistence, and survival skills.
    Comment:  So Wayne's anti-Indian rep is built mainly on The Searchers? Hm, could be. I've watched a few of his John Ford collaborations recently and his characters were either neutral or sympathetic toward Indians. The movies may have treated Indians as anonymous warriors who lacked culture, but they didn't declare the Indians to be beasts or demons.

    For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

    Turok isn't worth it

    Turok Son of StoneThis DVD carries a warning on the back, but it really should be on the front. This is a very violent and blood show and not for young kids at all. Arms and legs are cut off, there are instances of cannibalism, a horse gets his head cut off and dropped which is then dropped onto the ground, animals are eaten alive, someone is slowly tortured, people staggering around with arrows all the way through their chests, and the film is filled with lots and lots of blood. I watch a lot of Japanese cartoons and this ranks up there with the most violent horror anime.

    Unfortunately the animation looks like it came right out of a Saturday morning cartoon for 10 years ago. The movements are often stiff, and when people walk they seem to just glide over the background art, traveling either faster or slower than their moving legs would indicate. The character designs are rather lackluster, including the dinosaurs.

    I just can't decide who this movie is aimed at. There is way too much blood and gore for children, and the story is so riddled with holes and simplistic that I can't see it holding the attention of mature audiences. With little replay value adults that are interested might want to consider renting it, but this isn't worth the purchase.

    Jessica Biel as Pocahontas

    Is Jessica Biel another Indian wannabe? Kind of.

    Disney Dream Portrait SeriesFrom Never Land to flying carpets to the forested domain of an Indian princess, movie stars and celebrities travel to their very own Fantasylands in a new round of images from photographer Annie Leibovitz.

    The new images continue the "Disney Dream Portrait Series" of celebrity photography produced by Leibovitz, spotlighting more celebrities living out their fantasies by starring in Disney dream scenes.
    The picture of interest:Actress Jessica Biel is portrayed as Pocahontas in an image titled "Where Dreams Run Free," created by photographer Annie Leibovitz.Comment:  So Jessica Biel dreams of running free like a member of a different race and culture: an Indian girl. Does she also dream of grinding corn and softening hides like an Indian girl? Serving as a hostage and a political pawn like an Indian girl? Probably not.

    Pontiacs use arrowhead logo

    Pontiac cars are more closely tied to Indians than I realized. From a posting by correspondent DMarks (with minor editing by me):

    Michigan Hometown Heroes--PontiacFor a while, Pontiac cars had Indian Chief Head hood ornaments, and there were models like Super Chief. "A Native American Headdress was used as a logo until 1956," according to Cars Directory. "The current Pontiac logo was originally meant to represent a Native American arrow-head."

    The company managed to avoid the controversy over the stereotypical use of Native American-related emblems, and the current arrow logo is abstract enough that it's hard to tell it is supposed to be an Indian arrow. In fact, I thought it was some sort of flame before I researched this post.

    Law school next for Miss Washington

    Wapato native is second runner-up at Miss America PageantShe'd been keeping it together for the past six months, through workouts and rehearsals, public appearances and interviews.

    Now, she can rest.

    While she isn't coming home with the Miss America title, she is coming home with $20,000 in scholarship money and a sense of accomplishment.

    She made it as far as any Miss Washington ever has, tying with Miss Washington 1959, Sharon Joyce Vaughn of Port Orchard, who also was second runner-up.

    January 26, 2008

    "Indians scare me, Mommy"

    Dueling views on whether the Columbus Day protests are doing any good:

    Columbus Day Protesters Pushed Infamy Over Free Speech[A]s this week’s verdict demonstrates, the public is growing tired of this annual battle. By continuing on, Lane and his radical clients have done nothing to help their cause, especially in my household, where my two-year-old daughter is now deeply afraid of American Indians.

    Her fear is not the result of some bigoted Hollywood movie production. Rather, it’s because of the radical activists themselves. On a morning walk with my husband not far from our home in downtown Denver on the day of the last parade, my daughter heard the sound of drums and wanted a closer look. As she leaned forward in her stroller, protestors jumped out in front of her, splashing their “blood” onto the street.

    Nearly four months later, she still talks about the event. Every time she hears the sound of a drum, she says “boom, boom, boom. Indians scare me, Mommy.”
    JOHNSON:  Standing up for a cause--and then going to jailI also learned that Glenn Morris, who has been protesting the Columbus Day Parade in this town for 20 years, has been arrested four times and stood trial three times, and that he doesn't care as much about Columbus as he does about using the holiday to highlight the problems of Native Americans.

    Those include some of the nation's highest diabetes, teenage suicide, infant mortality and cervical cancer rates.

    "We protest to educate people that the lands they are on are a result of the loss of native lands and our culture," Glenn Morris said. "This parade is a deliberate, state-sponsored and hateful celebration of devastating colonialism."

    It is why he goes to jail every October.

    He believes his method is working.

    "There are teachers," Glenn Morris said, "who are teaching Columbus differently. I guarantee you nobody is teaching Columbus the way they did in 1989. I consider that a small victory. The Civil Rights Era in this country did not happen overnight."
    Comment:  The first author's daughter may be scared of Indians because of her mother's negative attitude. See my comments at the end of her column.

    If Morris doesn't care that much about Columbus, what's his excuse for claiming he had to protest the parade because Columbus intimidates Indians? Sounds like he should pay the entire cost of arresting and trying him, not just the fine he was given.

    I suspect the protests are helping to educate Americans about Columbus. More precisely, the media reports about the protests are helping to educate Americans. If Morris could write a killer essay about Columbus--such as those found on BlueCornComics.com and in Newspaper Rock--he might not need to throw paint or scare little kids annually.

    Indians vs. Queen

    Canadian Tribe Serves Papers on Queen of EnglandMembers of a Canadian aboriginal group have served legal papers on the Queen of England, in connection with an ongoing legal battle with the Anglican Church of Canada over the location of graves of children who died in church and government operated Indian residential schools. At issue is the location of thousands of Native graves of First Nation’s children who died, possibly murdered, allegedly at the hands of officials of Church- and government-operated Indian Residential Schools between 1867 and 1996.

    The letter reads, in part:

    We, as the friends and relatives of tens of thousands of children who died or were murdered in Indian Residential Schools in Canada established and run by your Church of England and the British Crown from 1867 to 1996, do hereby demand that you, Elizabeth Windsor, in your capacity as Queen of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and Head of the Church of England, publicly disclose the cause of death, and whereabouts of the buried remains, of all children who died in Indian Residential Schools operated by the Church of England in Canada, aka the Anglican Church. [T]his Common Law Notice also requires that you, Elizabeth Windsor, arrange the immediate repatriation without conditions of the remains of these persons to their homes for a proper burial.
    Comment:  This article is vague about which tribe or group served papers on Queen Elizabeth. It's also vague about whether she received the papers she was supposedly served. But it's a good story anyway.

    Celebrating Native athletes

    Native Fantasy League--A Celebration of Native AthletesNative Athletes, Tribal Leaders, Models and Entertainers--a virtual "Who's Who in Indian Country" come together to celebrate accomplishments of Native athletes and Indian Country.

    All proceeds benefit UNITY, Inc. a national not-for-profit focused on creating leadership opportunities for Native youth.
    Native Fantasy League event to benefit UNITYThe gala evening event will honor athletes Titla fondly refers to as the "trailblazers," such as 1964 Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, football stars Sonny Sixkiller and Jim Warne, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, professional golfer Notah Begay and Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

    Native rap artist Litefoot will serve as the honorary gala chairman, and National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. will emcee the event. Guest appearances include actress Q'orianka Kilcher; Pete Homer Jr., CEO of the National Indian Business Association; and Sam McCraken, a representative from Nike.

    GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Jana is scheduled to perform.
    Comment:  I gather this event is supposed to be an unofficial tie-in with the National Football League and the Super Bowl.

    Cheering for their Loubug

    Miss America pageant a crowning moment for familyHer family's focus: Being there for Elyse.

    In addition to her parents, Miss Washington's contingent includes her 80-something grandmother, Viola Lumley, whom Elyse calls her "she-ro," Elyse's aunt, Lila Lumley, a 60-something retired school administrator from Wapato, and Elyse's three younger sisters, 17-year-old Lauren Lame Bull, a senior at Zillah's Christian Worship Center Academy, 10-year-old Sheliann Lame Bull, a fourth-grader at the same school, and 14-year-old Cheyne Lame Bull, who is home-schooled.

    They're among 120 supporters from Washington state who traveled to Vegas for tonight's pageant. When Elyse is up there, on the Miss America stage, under the lights for the final time, at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, they'll be cheering for their Loubug.

    "We do everything for Elyse right now," Luana Lumley says. "This is once-in-a-lifetime."
    Comment:  Alas, Miss Michigan won the Miss America title. But Elyse Umemoto was the second runner, which isn't bad.

    Abenaki documentarian recognized

    Abenaki filmmaker earns Luminaria AwardA Luminaria Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film was presented to Aln8bak (Abenaki) filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin by the Canadian Consulate at the recent Santa Fe Film Festival.

    She became a professional singer/songwriter, performing at various venues around the world. Two producers from Canada's public film producer and distributor, the National Film Bureau, heard Obomsawin's Abenaki singing in 1967 on television and invited her to consult on an aboriginal story film. She then began to produce her own material, creating more than 30 documentaries.

    Interestingly, it is the armed conflict between aboriginal Canadians and the municipal, provincial and federal Canadian governments that is the subject of Obomsowin's most well-known documentary. Her four-film series on the Oka Crisis of 1990 documents what the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper referred to as "the ... most significant event to take place on Canadian soil since the Second World War."

    Bible gave America to Anglos

    Newcomb:  Johnson v. M'Intosh:  The Christian right of colonizationMy book documents that behind the Johnson ruling is the tacit, Old Testament-premised claim that Christians, as "chosen people," have a "God-given right" to colonize (conquer, subdue and possess) the lands of "un-chosen" indigenous nations and peoples.

    Like the "chosen people" to whom Yahweh "promised" the land of Canaan in the Old Testament, the king "promised" the Christian adventurers of England the right to "conquer, occupy and possess" any lands held by non-Christians "in whatsoever parts of the world," such as the "new Canaan" of North America. As the 19th century British scholar Sir Henry Sumner Maine put the matter: "In North America, where the discoverers or new colonists were chiefly English, the Indians inhabiting that continent were compared almost universally to the Canaanites of the Old Testament, and their relation to the colonists was regarded as naturally one of war almost by divine ordinance."

    Bury My Heart shut out

    Golden Globes pass on 'Bury My Heart'Saulteaux actor Adam Beach could have been one of those lucky few to make the red carpet walk. He was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role as Lakota physician Charles Eastman in the HBO film "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." He did not, however, go home with an award.

    Anna Paquin, who played Eastman's wife, Elaine Goodale Eastman, in "Bury My Heart," received a nod for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. The film also was nominated for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture, but was trumped by another HBO film, "Longford."
    Comment:  Bury My Heart goes 0-3 in the categories it was nominated in. It wasn't even nominated for its writing or directing. That sounds about right to me.

    Red Lake taps Internet

    American Indian products selling big on the WebThe Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota has developed a booming business on the Internet. The band sells wild rice, jellies and traditional handmade crafts to customers worldwide. Red Lake is one of a growing number of American Indian tribes tapping the power of the Web to get the highest value for homegrown products and the effort is creating jobs and establishing new business networks in Indian Country.

    Internet sales have exploded since Red Lake first started its Web site four years ago. Annual online sales for Red Lake Nation Foods jumped from around $10,000 the first year, to more than $250,000 in 2007.

    January 25, 2008

    Raiders of the lost archaeology

    Four California Museums Are RaidedFederal agents raided a Los Angeles gallery and four museums in Southern California on Thursday, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as part of a five-year investigation into the smuggling of looted antiquities from Thailand, Myanmar, China and Native American sites.

    The other institutions searched were the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, the Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Silk Roads Gallery in Los Angeles.

    At the center of the investigation are the owners of the Silk Roads Gallery, Jonathan Markell and his wife, Cari Markell, and Robert Olson, who is said in the search warrants to have smuggled looted antiquities out of Thailand, Myanmar and China.

    In affidavits supporting the warrants, federal agents said the Markells had imported looted antiquities provided by Mr. Olson and then arranged to donate them to museums on behalf of clients who took inflated tax deductions for the gifts.
    Olson's alleged crimes:

    Raids suggest a deeper network of looted artThe investigation began in 2003, when the undercover agent with the National Park Service posed as a buyer and began purchasing looted art from Olson, according to the warrants. Olson, the warrants say, specializes in Native American and Thai antiquities.

    Olson allegedly told the agent he had been importing objects from Ban Chiang since the 1980s and had never received a permit from the Thai government. He said he got objects "as they were being dug up" and knew it was illegal to ship them out of the country, the warrants say.

    The smuggled antiquities were affixed with "Made in Thailand" labels, and sometimes painted over, to make them look to U.S. customs officials like modern replicas, Olson allegedly told the agent.

    Olson also claimed to have the largest collection of Native American ladles anywhere in the world and admitted that he had dug for artifacts on public land in New Mexico without authorization, the warrants state.
    The scope of the problem:

    Archaeological artifact looting a 'chronic problem'Looting of archaeological artifacts and fossils from national parks is increasing as the demand for such items rises on the Internet and the world market, U.S. National Park Service officials say.

    About 340 looting incidents considered "significant" are reported each year at the 391 national parks, monuments, historic sites and battlefields--probably less than 25 percent of the actual number of violations, said National Park Service ranger Greg Lawler.

    "The theft of archaeological and paleontological resources is a chronic problem that we simply have not even been able to get a grasp on," said Mark Gorman, chief ranger at South Dakota's Badlands National Park. "There's just insufficient resources."
    Comment:  How typical that we don't care enough to devote the resources needed to preserve our cultural patrimony. Could that be because "we" (meaning the powers that be) see our cultural patrimony as consisting mainly of items such as the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, and the USS Constitution? I.e., the artifacts of Anglo-American history?

    P.S. I visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art occasionally.

    Big four didn't oppose Dickstein five

    Some background on California tribes that have renegotiated their gaming compacts. The so-called "big four" aren't the first to take this route.

    Governor, tribes sign casino pact

    Oakland Tribune, Jun 22, 2004 by Steve GeissingerThe reworked compacts between the state and five tribes are expected to bring in at least $1 billion for California in the new fiscal year that begins next week, then annual payments afterward of $150 million to $200 million until 2030.

    The new agreements also allow five tribes--out of 61 gaming tribes--to increase their casinos' number of slot machines beyond the current 2,000-per-tribe cap, which will help the tribes make the payments.

    At the same time, the deal lets Schwarzenegger fulfill a campaign promise to have at least some tribes pay a greater share of their income to the state. Much of the additional money, under Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, will go to repay money borrowed from transportation funds.

    "This is a fair deal for the tribes and for the state," Schwarzenegger said in a lengthy ceremony in Sacramento's ornate Memorial Auditorium. "I am hopeful that more tribes will join us."To pay the money to the state, the tribes will sell bonds that generate the $1 billion and then make the annual payments for 18 years until the bonds are paid off. Then the tribes will make direct payments to the state until the end of the compact period.

    The Republican governor signed the pacts with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians in Yolo County, the United Auburn Indian Community in Placer County, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians.

    Howard Dickstein, an attorney representing the Pala, Rumsey and Auburn tribes, also represents a Rusmey-led management group that hopes to run the Casino San Pablo card room for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians.
    Comment:  So the "big four" tribes didn't oppose the five Dickstein tribes when they renegotiated their compacts four years ago. But now two of the Dickstein tribes--Pala and United Auburn--oppose the big four for doing what they did previously. I guess turnabout isn't fair play when you're a Dickstein tribe trying to protect your interests.

    John Wayne respected Indians

    Some surprising claims about the Duke's relationship with Indians:

    John Wayne's Approach to Native AmericansJohn Wayne was accused by some critics of being racist because of his presumed belief in white supremacy in America. His intimate association with the Western film, which has traditionally ignored or, at best, under-represented all ethnic minorities, was used by his critics as further proof of his racism. Most of all he was attacked by Native Americans and African Americans.

    Leaders of the Native American community rejected his rationale for white hegemony: "When we came to America, there were a few thousands Indians over millions of miles, and I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from these people, taking their happy hunting grounds away." "There were great numbers of people who needed new land," he explained, "and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves." He not only believed that the whites were "progressive," but that they were also doing "something that was good for everyone."

    It therefore astonished him that the Indians indignantly protested his views of the necessity of eliminating what he considered handouts to the Indians. Later, by way of apology, he explained that the writer of Playboy and himself "were kidding around about the Indians in Alcatraz," and that he said not-too-seriously "he hoped they'd taken care of their wampum, so maybe they could buy Alcatraz like we bought Manhattan."

    "I can't imagine any Indian," Wayne said in his defense, "not realizing that over the past forty years I've done more to give them human dignity and a fine image on the screen than anyone else who has ever worked in pictures." "Indians were part of our history," he elaborated, "I have never shown the Indians on the screen as anything but courageous and with great human dignity."
    Comment:  As with Indian mascots, "courageous and with great human dignity" translates into savage and warlike. Any character who's primarily a warrior is a one-dimensional stereotype.

    Wayne probably wasn't the worst offender against Indians, but he wasn't a champion of them either. He probably was typical of his times. No doubt he thought of them in stereotypical terms: chiefs, braves, squaws, teepees, wampum, etc. Perhaps he envisioned them as children who occasionally grew troublesome, but were easily tamed.

    Play the greedy-tribe game!

    [formerly at http://www.nounfairdeals.com/game/default.htm]Do You Know Us?

    We're 4 of the wealthiest tribes in California. We spend money by the suitcase on politicians in Sacramento and now we're one vote away from being a lot richer. Just try and stop us!

    Attack of the Killer Slot Machines.
    No one is safe from their one-armed madness.

    Roll mouse from left to right to move character. Click the left mouse button (single mouse button for Mac) to fire. Press 'Esc' to quit game at any time.
    Comment:  Funny to see two of the wealthiest tribes in California slamming four of the wealthiest tribes in California.

    Is it racist if some tribes portray other tribes as greedy?

    Alaskan child abuse on DVD

    DVD brings topic of child sexual abuse to Alaska Native villages[B]efore a word is spoken in English, there come the words of a half-dozen elders: Each, in their own language, whether it be Yup’ik or Inupiaq or Tlingit, grants a sort of permission to those who will watch a film of interviews intended to lift the dark silent cloud of child sexual abuse so pervasive in parts of rural Alaska.

    The 40-minute DVD, titled "Pathway to Hope: Healing Child Sexual Abuse," is the creation of the Anchorage-based Tribal Law and Policy Institute. The film includes interviews with more than 40 Alaska Natives who are survivors of child sexual abuse.

    "That’s why it’s the first of its kind," said narrator Diane Benson, one of the film’s producers. "It’s Alaska Native people talking to Alaska Native people about an issue that impacts us. That makes it very relevant."

    Fatter off the rez

    Higher obesity rates found in off-reserve aboriginal people:  study

    Aboriginal women 19-30 the most overweight groupAboriginal people living off-reserve are two and a half times more likely to be overweight than non-aboriginal people, according to Statistics Canada.

    The 2004 study, focusing on Ontario and the western provinces, found that the main difference was due to higher obesity rates among aboriginal women aged 19 to 30. Rates for being overweight or obese among aboriginal and non-aboriginal men were statistically similar.

    Off-reserve aboriginal people are more likely to suffer from health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis—all conditions that have been linked to obesity, Statistics Canada noted.