April 30, 2009

Winning in Tecumseh's Vision

Continuing the discussion of Tecumseh's Vision, the second episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

I was under the impression that Tecumseh suffered one major defeat--when his brother Tenskwatawa launched an ill-advised attack on William Henry Harrison's forces in Tecumseh's absence.

But I learned there were four turning points, not just one, from Tecumseh's Vision. Had the circumstances been different at any of these points, Tecumseh could've won--or at least kept fighting--against the Americans.

This reinforces what I said in Outcome of After the Mayflower--that Indians had many chances to stave off the Euro-American onslaught. They couldn't have defeated the foreigners outright, but they could've stymied them enough to make a coexistence compromise possible.

In all these cases, remember the context. The Americans had superior numbers, better weapons, and immunity to disease. Yet the Indians held their own under these adverse conditions. Any delay in an American victory gave the Indians more chances to rebuild their forces and fight another day.

The four turning points I noted in Tecumseh's Vision:

  • The Shawnee and their allies kept US forces on run in the Northwest Territory for six years--1788 to 1794. They were doing well until a disastrous loss at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. A well-planned retreat turned into a rout when the Indians' British allies locked them out of Ft. Miami.

  • The loss resulted in the Treaty of Greenville, which forced the Indians to give up the southern two-thirds of the Ohio Valley. As Wikipedia notes:One veteran of Fallen Timbers who did not sign the Greenville treaty was a young Shawnee war leader named Tecumseh, who would renew Indian resistance in the years ahead.The US troops were led by General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, whom I believe was a ruthlessly effective leader. At one point a tree fell on his tent and knocked him unconscious, but he recovered and carried on.

    If the British hadn't betrayed their Indian allies, or if Wayne had died from the falling tree or a stray bullet, the outcome might've been different. There would've been no Treaty of Greenville, and the Indians would've fought from a position of strength rather than weakness.

  • The aforementioned defeat--aka the Battle of Tippecanoe near Prophetstown in August 1811. Tecumseh told his brother Tenskwatawa not to do anything while he was gone rallying tribes to the cause. But the Western tribes in the confederacy didn't want to wait for Tecumseh's return. They urge a preemptive strike. Tenskwatawa bowed to the pressure and ordered a pre-dawn attack.

  • A noise apparently alerted a sentry at 4 am. He roused the troops and they forced the Indians to retreat and scatter. Then the troops marched on Prophetstown and burned it to the ground. So the Americans "won" even though they may have suffered more casualties, according to one historian.

    We can imagine several scenarios in which the Indians could've avoided or turned this battle. If Tenskwatawa had held firm to his brother's orders. If Tecumseh had had a trusted military aide whom he could've left in charge. If the sentry hadn't heard the Indians approach. If a stray arrow or bullet had killed William Henry Harrison.

    Though the loss smashed Tecumseh's confederacy, he was able to regroup the tribes in a year's time. At the beginning of the War of 1812, his position was as strong as before.

  • Tecumseh sold the British on the goal of reacquiring the Ohio Valley and they became allies again. Working with the aggressive General Brock, Tecumseh achieved "military brilliance" in the summer of 1812, forcing the Americans back.

  • According to Tecumseh's Vision, Tecumseh's finest hour was capturing Fort Detroit in 1812, which he and Brock masterminded together. A key trick was parading the same small group of fighters through a forest clearing to make the allied forces seem much larger. The Americans surrendered almost before the fighting began.

    As one historian put it:An independent Indian territory supported by the British was on the brink of becoming a reality.But Brock was killed in another battle in New York. Procter, the new British commander, was much less aggressive. He was interested only in defending Canada, not in defeating the Americans. Tecumseh had to goad him into action.

    If Brock had lived, the British/Indian forces might've continued their winning ways.

  • The British lost the Battle of Lake Erie and wanted to abandon Detroit. Tecumseh demanded that they stand and fight. But Procter retreated, offering little resistance along the way. As Wikipedia put it:The British retreat was badly managed, and the soldiers had been reduced to half rations. The British soldiers were becoming increasingly demoralized, and Tecumseh's warriors grew even more impatient with Procter for his unwillingness to stop and fight, giving Procter reason to fear a mutiny by the warriors.
  • The final betrayal occurred October 5, 1813, when the British abandoned their allies. Tecumseh fought on and was killed. His body was mutilated beyond recognition by Harrison's Kentuckians.

    This Battle of the Thames was "the final battle for control of the Great Lakes." But things might've been different if Procter hadn't bungled that final retreat, if he hadn't given up altogether, if he had stood and fought. Or if Tecumseh had survived the battle, or chosen a strategic retreat. (Tecumseh's Vision implies he wanted to go down fighting.)

    Even if the British and Indians lost the war, Tecumseh was only 45. He could've gone on organizing tribes for another 20 or 30 years. Imagine his convincing the Cherokees to resist the Trail of Tears relocation and instead fight back under his leadership.

    The short version of this long-winded posting is that no, Native defeat wasn't inevitable. There were a dozen scenarios in which Tecumseh could've won or staved off defeat for years if not decades. With a little luck, he could've been the central figure of 19th-century US history, not Andrew Jackson or Abraham Lincoln.

    For more on the subject, see Confederacy in Tecumseh's Vision and Review of Tecumseh's Vision.

    Below:  A speculative depiction of Tecumseh's death at the hands of Richard M. Johnson.

    Angry at Pope's non-apology

    Pope's apology too late

    Words little solace for aboriginalsWhen Karen Chaboyer saw the news from the Vatican yesterday of Pope Benedict XVI expressing his "sorrow" over the long-term suffering and abuse of thousands of aboriginal Canadians in the residential schools run by the Roman Catholic Church, her first emotion was one of anger.

    It was, in fact, her first and only emotion.

    And it remains a constant.

    "Why did the victim have to go to the offender to get his apology?" she asks. "Why did Phil Fontaine (Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and himself a residential school survivor) have to cross an ocean?

    "Why did the Pope not come to us? We're here, not there. And here is where it happened."
    Could it be because the Pope wasn't that sincere about apologizing?

    The article continues:Chaboyer scoffs at the rhetoric.

    "It's so easy to say, isn't it?" she says. "What he didn't say, though, was why now? And why it took so long?"

    Within minutes of the Pope's message being posted online, Chaboyer was also reading the mostly anonymous comments tagged on various websites and blogs, many of them so vitriolic and hurtful that she had to pause to regain her strength.

    "You've read them, the hate and the racism being tossed at us," she says. "We're being called whiners. We're being told to 'get over it,' to 'move on.' I'd like for them to walk in our shoes for generations, and then have to read those kind of comments.

    "There is so much ignorance out there, and so much intolerance," she says. "It continues to amaze me how so many people are able to know so little."
    Comment:  Good points, but Chaboyer didn't ask the question I would've asked. Namely, why "sorrow" but not "I'm sorry"?

    This isn't the first time Pope Benedict and his Vatican have been less than fully sensitive to Indians. For more on the subject, see 13 Grandmas Accused of Idolatry, Pope Doesn't Admit Guilt, and Pope Insults Indians.

    Below:  "I forgive you, my ignorant children, for worshiping your heathen idols rather than the one true God."

    Native pilots in Alaska

    Gaining Altitude in Numbers

    By Alex DeMarbanThe number of Native pilots has come in waves since the first batch took advantage of the GI Bill after serving in World War II.

    For some, it runs in the family. Fathers who learned to fly and founded airlines during that era passed along the skills and maybe even the business to their children.

    Arctic Transportation Services and PenAir, both of Anchorage, as well as Vanderpool Flying Service out of Aniak, are all examples of family-owned Native companies.

    But a recent surge of Native pilots has less to do with bloodlines and more to do with scholarships and training.

    In the last decade, money to pay for flight training has come largely from regional Native nonprofits, such as the Association of Village Council Presidents, and fishing consortiums that receive a portion of profits from Bering Sea fishing to create jobs in villages, such as Coastal Villages Region Fund, pilots say.
    Why Natives make better pilots:Natives make excellent pilots because they intimately know the land and weather they're flying in, says Bob Vanderpool, of Vanderpool Air. Vanderpool is a second-generation flier in his family-owned company.

    "The local boys and girls that grew up in the woods in rural Alaska, they know the environment, they know the country, so I think that's a big plus, especially around Bethel," says Vanderpool, who is part Athabascan. "They travel by snowmachine between all the villages all their lives, when they're kids they're boating, so they know all the brush piles and where to go."

    Home-grown pilots, as opposed to ones that are imported from the Lower 48, are also more likely to stay in Alaska, reducing the turnover that's often been a struggle for airlines.
    Below:  "Lee Ryan says he owes his education to supportive nonprofits."

    Ramona's eco-friendly retreat

    Tribe envisions reservation as new eco-tourist hotspotThe roughly 10-member Ramona Band of the Cahuilla Indian Tribe is working with a contractor to make its desert home a model for eco- tourism.

    Anaheim-based Catalyx Inc., which brings new technologies such as eco- friendly energy and sewage systems to markets, will be working with the tribe as part of a project that will be paid for by the Ramona Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies.

    “We want to create a truly natural retreat which mirrors our ancestral heritage of living in harmony with Mother Earth,” said Joseph Hamilton, the tribal chairman.
    And:Creating an eco-tourist destination is also a goal, he said, adding that the band envisions 38 cabins, a restaurant and a meeting center.

    “There are a lot of eco-friendly resorts out there, but they are not truly off-grid,” Jangbarwala said.

    The cabins will be built in the traditional Cahuilla “Kish” style—round yurt-like structures, Gomez said.

    Once completed, the reservation plans to operate as a retreat, where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the tribe.
    Comment:  For more on Native eco-tourism, see Navajo View Hotel Is Eco-Friendly.

    Salvage in UK arts festival

    SALVAGE Participates In UK's Festival Of First Nations Creative Art In MayNative Voices at the Autry is taking its 2008 production of Diane Glancy's Salvage to participate in Origins, the UK's inaugural festival of First Nations Creative Art. Native Voices is the only U.S. theater company selected to participate along with three others from around the world. Native Voices directors, crew, and Salvage cast and playwright will join with groundbreaking artists from the Indigenous cultures of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in London. The intercultural, multimedia company Border Crossings brings these artists together to explore First Nations experience in the twenty-first century through theater, film screenings, events, and participation at venues across London.

    Native Voices Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz and playwright Diane Glancy will participate in panel discussions followed by seven performances of the play in front of an international audience. The play features the original Los Angeles cast, made up of Elena Finney, Noah Watts, and Robert Owens-Greygrass, under the direction of award-winning director Sheila Tousey.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

    Hipp in Athletic Hall of Fame

    Hipp to be inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame May 2Along with three other Native Americans, Joseph T. "Joe" Hipp has been enshrined into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.

    Joseph Hipp, of the Blackfeet Tribe, was born Dec. 7, 1962, in Browning. World Boxing Federation A Heavyweight Champion, Hipp is considered the best boxer ever among the many Native American boxers of the past. He appeared 15 times on national television and won the World WBF Heavyweight Championship in 1995. Hipp also won the North American Heavyweight Championship in 1994 and fought for the World Boxing Association Heavyweight Championship in 1995.

    "Fighting Sioux," teabaggers, and Slanties

    Indian Comics Irregular #182:  White Men Love Their Mascots

    April 29, 2009

    Confederacy in Tecumseh's Vision

    Continuing the discussion of Tecumseh's Vision, the second episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

  • Tecumseh's brother Lalawethika had a vision and was reborn as Tenskwatawa ("open door"). He stopped drinking and started preaching that Indians should make themselves whole by rejecting Western influences. That they should restore themselves by reviving their Indian cultures and identities.

  • Tecumseh saw that he could use this vision to reunify his people. He parlayed Tenskwatawa's preaching into a pan-Indian organizational scheme. But until war broke out, it was actually Tenskwatawa's movement, and Tecumseh was in his brother's shadow.

  • The movement sent shock waves through Indian country. Many tribes, even the brothers' own Shawnee, were divided. Some saw the brothers as self-serving power seekers.

  • William Henry Harrison wrote a letter to the Delaware Indians, telling them to demand proof of Tenskwatawa's prophetic power. Tenskwatawa responded by correctly predicting an eclipse.

  • Is this the first time someone predicted an eclipse to intimidate people since Columbus did it in 1504? Could be. Good to see this hoary literary device has some basis in reality.

  • A prophecy supposedly uttered by Tenskwatawa to his followers:They have taken away your lands which were not made for them. The whites I have placed on the other side of the Great Water, to be another people, separate from you. In time, I will overturn the land, so that all white people will be covered, and you alone shall inhabit the land.
  • Apparently speeches like this caused the US government to panic. As one historian nicely put it:By 1807 most Americans assumed an orderly process of dispossession and conquest, in which Native Americans would gradually recede from the picture, or assimilate into American society.Boo-hoo! Genocide not going as quickly as you wished? Send in the Indian killers (troops).

  • In 1809 Tecumseh began the first of his epic tours from Alabama to Canada. He offered a novel argument--that the land was held in common by all Indians. That no one tribe could cede it without the permission of the others.

  • As one historian noted, Tecumseh had a much tougher job than the Founding Fathers. They had to unite 13 colonies with central governments and a common language and heritage. He had to unite dozens of tribes with different cultures and languages.

    Moreover, many of the leaders he dealt with ruled only villages, not whole tribes. Getting the support of one band of Indians didn't necessarily mean the neighboring bands would agree.

  • In his 1810 confrontation with Harrison, Tecumseh did something never done before, according to one historian:He stood up, defended Indian land, and said he represented every Indian on the continent.

    He understood that Native American peoples were in a particular historical predicament, and he was articulating that predicament, and was doing it for all of them.
    Sounds like my kind of guy. He reasoned his way to a sound conclusion--that Indians should unite--and said so. He didn't worry if some people might disagree with him because his position was logical and rational.

    An equivalent today might be a Native intellectual arguing that mascots and other stereotypes harm Indians. It doesn't matter if some Indians (and many non-Indians) don't get it. The facts and evidence prove this argument to be true whether people get it or not.

    For more on the subject, see War Footing in Tecumseh's Vision and Review of Tecumseh's Vision.

    Below:  Tenskwatawa by Charles Bird King.

  • Jodi Rave and Changing Winds

    Opinion:  ‘Small voices' remind Rave of own goal

    By Jodi RaveI've turned in my resignation letter to the Missoulian and Lee Enterprises.

    First, a review of a recent trip that prompted my decision to leave the newspaper business, which has provided me with inspiration, arguably more than 1,000 stories and columns, and a steady paycheck for the last 13 years.

    Last week, I visited three South Dakota reservations--Lower Brule, Cheyenne River and Crow Creek--to talk with youths about the power of our voices, a power we enhance through reading and writing skills. The speaking-writing invitation came from the Changing Winds Advocacy Center, a nonprofit Native civil rights and education agency based in Fairfield, Conn.

    Youths are some of the most inspiring people I've ever met. This includes 9-year-old Venetia St. Cloud, a member of the Lower Brule Boys and Girls Club. She wanted to take me up on my challenge: Write a story using as many Lakota words as possible.
    More on Changing Winds:“Through interviews with parents and teachers, Changing Winds saw how difficult it has been for Lakota children to celebrate their culture within the educational system,” said Christine Rose, director of Changing Winds Inc.

    Changing Winds has provided some organizations in South Dakota with Lakota language tapes and books by and about Lakota people and culture. Additionally, the organization has invited “Native role models to give children an idea of the ways they can work within their culture with a strong vision for the future,” said Rose.

    I support Rose's Changing Winds Literacy Project, a program she launched to get kids to write about what's on their mind. I agreed to go to South Dakota and collect some of the students' drawings, short stories and poems. Rose plans to publish their work in a newspaper called Hocik?la!, which translates into Lakota as “small voices.”

    The paper will be distributed in South Dakota. “We have funding in place to carry this project for six months, and we are going ahead on faith because we believe this is an important project for the kids,” said Rose. “If the project is good, we believe the money will come to keep it going.”
    Comment:  I gather Rave will continue working with Changing Winds. The children also have inspired her to do her own writing: a book on "Indian land advocate Elouise Cobell and the federal government's management of trust lands in Indian Country."

    I know Rave only from a brief meeting and a few e-mails, but I'm a decent friend of Rose's. She's a non-Native like me who's become passionate about Native issues in the last decade or so. But she's much more of an activist than I am: visiting South Dakota frequently, getting involved in legal cases and clothing drives there, and now starting a nonprofit dedicated to education.

    I did supply some materials for the Bittersweet Winds exhibit she helped organize. You can read about that in "I Was a Teenage Mascot" and Traveling Exhibit Features Stereotypes. Not many people have collected as many stereotypical images as I have.

    Here's a previous posting from Rose so you can see where she's coming from. It's a good bet that she'll accomplish what she's set out to do.

    Of course, she needs to think about having the kids create comic books in their Native languages. That should be the next project after the newspaper. <g>

    Pope feels sorrow, not sorry

    Pope expresses 'sorrow' for abuse at residential schools

    AFN's Fontaine says he hopes statement will 'close the book' on apologies issuePope Benedict XVI expressed "sorrow" to a delegation from Canada's Assembly of First Nations on Wednesday over the abuse and "deplorable" treatment that aboriginal students suffered at residential schools run by the Roman Catholic Church.

    In a statement, the Vatican said the Pope "offered his sympathy and prayerful solidarity" to those whose anguish was caused by some church members. The comments came during a private audience with the delegation, which included Assembly of First Nations Leader Phil Fontaine, aboriginal elders and residential school survivors.
    And:Following the meeting, Fontaine, who is also a residential school survivor, called the Pope's words a "very significant statement."

    While he said it did not amount to an official apology, Fontaine told CBC News he hoped the expression of regret would "close the book" on the issue of apologies for residential school survivors.

    "The fact that the word 'apology' was not used does not diminish this moment in any way," he said. "This experience gives me great comfort."
    Comment:  This is what's known in the media as a non-apology apology. The Pope feels sorrow that someone somewhere did something bad. But don't blame him or his church for anything. It was a few bad apples--kind of like Abu Ghraib--not an institutional failure. Some priests stepped over the line, but the church's mission--to convert non-believers to Christianity--remains a sound one.

    Yeah, right. If you believe that, you'll believe the Vatican is thinking of selling its art to help the poor, huddled masses around the world. You know, the people Jesus said we should help?

    But if Fontaine is satisfied, I'm happy for him. Since he seems to be leading the quest for apologies, he should know if the "book" is closed. Now maybe he can concentrate on something else--like getting tangible aid for his people instead of more "sorrowful" words.

    Anyway, let's hope this non-apology apology provides the closure and healing the residential school survivors need. I trust their quality of life will increase and their pain and anguish will decrease. After all, the Pope's is God's man on Earth, so his words should be able to heal someone.

    For more on the subject, see Canadian Apology = Divide and Conquer and Our Turn to Apologize?

    Below:  "Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine, left, walks in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City ahead of a private audience with the Pope on Wednesday.Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine, left, walks in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City ahead of a private audience with the Pope on Wednesday." (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

    Review of Red Ink

    Mixed Blood’s 'Red Ink' offers moody mixed bag by Native American playwrights

    Some of the 10 plays are good while others aren't short enough

    By Quinton Skinner
    Writer Yvette Nolan contributes a couple of the stronger snippets, both featuring Anderson, who lends a mature gravity to a night that often comes across with more energy than cohesion. In the first, he's portaging a canoe through suburbia past a startled homeowner, noting that it's his backyard, too. In the second, Anderson is in the backseat of a police car, subject to the whims of an angry cop (Ernest Briggs), while explaining his status as a City Hall insider by dint of his position as a Native representative in a sea of white faces.

    From here the mood shifts at a whiplash pace, and you'll either give yourself over to the experience or feel as though you're witnessing something half-baked. (The show, directed by Sarah Rasmussen, seems to be working out the question for itself. It seeks small truths in a sprawling format and tries for mood over precision, which might well be the smart gambit).

    Arigon Starr, also an ensemble performer, pens a riff on American Idol, in which George Keller emotes through a warbling "Cry for My Reservation," leading to a controversy over blood purity. (That theme is also explored earlier in a piece by Drew Hayden Taylor, in which a single woman straddles the paradox that she will only bear children with pure Native men while commenting that pure-bred dogs are nothing but trouble). Starr later also contributes a parody of Native casino culture that only just gets off the ground.
    Comment:  I guess the show is called Red Ink because Natives wrote all the pieces. Okay, but that's not much of a unifying theme.

    Moreover, there's a well-known collegiate Native magazine called Red Ink. Mixed Blood gets no points for co-opting its name.

    For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

    The first Native dentist

    Tribal members recruited into medical fields

    By William HermannThe need for Native Americans in the health-care professions has never been greater, but the obstacles standing between them and medical degrees are often daunting, if not overwhelming.

    George Blue Spruce knows those obstacles firsthand and has spent a lifetime helping others overcome them.

    Blue Spruce, the nation's first American Indian dentist, is an assistant dean at A.T. Still University in Mesa, where he is helping tribal members enter the world of medicine.

    At 78, Blue Spruce has a long and distinguished resume. He founded the Society of American Indian Dentists and was assistant U.S. surgeon general from 1981 to 1986. He also wrote the original draft of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in Title 1 of federal statutes.

    Now "retired," he is pursuing what he calls his true life's work: traveling the nation to tell young American Indian men and women that the medical professions need them, and perhaps more importantly, that their people need them to be in the medical professions.

    Four Corners in wrong location

    X marks the spot... well, sort of:  Four Corners Monument expects tourism increaseA miscalculation in the location of the Four Corners Monument likely will not deter visitors to the only place in the country where four states meet.

    The number of tourists who want to stand on the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah has decreased steadily during the past decade, Park Manager DeWayne Johnson said, but recent media coverage exposing a surveying error is expected to increase tourism to the monument and the nearby community of Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.
    The nature of the error:The Associated Press reported last week that the initial 1868 survey placed the monument as much as 2.5 miles west of where it should be. Days later, the AP issued a correction stating the monument actually is about 1,800 feet east of where it was intended.Comment:  You can see my pix of the Four Corners Monument here.

    Lakota woman is Visionary Voice

    Lakota woman earns national awardA member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and White Buffalo Calf Woman Society has won a national honor recognizing her work and dedication in addressing and preventing sexual violence.

    Tillie Black Bear, executive director of White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, the oldest shelter on a Native American reservation, has been awarded The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s 2009 Visionary Voice Award. Black Bear is considered a leading expert on violence against women and children.

    April 28, 2009

    War footing in Tecumseh's Vision

    As with After the Mayflower, I've read books about the events of Tecumseh's Vision. But the second episode of the PBS series We Shall Remain really brought the story alive for me. Again, it was a thought-provoker and anyone interested in Native history should see it.

    For a fuller account of Tecumseh, see such postings as:

    Tecumseh's War
    Tecumseh's Confederacy

    Here are some bits and pieces of Tecumseh's backstory and my thoughts on them:

  • Tecumseh was a "man who led a revolution of young men," according to one historian. "Young men who were tired of the accommodationist stance of their elders."

  • Good point. I wonder how often a generation gap played a role in the Indians' response to the Euro-Americans. We've often seen depictions of wise elders counseling caution and patience and young warriors demanding immediate action, but how real was this? And which approach worked better in the long run?

  • When Tecumseh walked into room, according to a historian, people would stop talking and stare at him. He had such an aura of leadership and respect that even his enemies admired him.

  • "Tecumseh," pronounced Te-cum-theh by some, meant "shooting star" or "crouching panther" according to Wikipedia. A Shawnee in Tecumseh's Vision notes that the Shawnee considered falling stars to be panthers jumping among the stars.

  • "Lalawethika," the name of Tecumseh's brother, meant "the noise maker" according to a historian or "one with open mouth" according to Wikipedia. The historian says we'd translate this as "loudmouth."

  • In 1801 Thomas Jefferson wrote:
  • The American settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, who will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi.There you have it: the "great" Founding Father's statement of genocidal intent. Unless the Indians commit cultural suicide, we'll commit cultural homicide. We'll push them into the badlands, into the desert, into the sea until they're gone.

  • The Americans pushed the so-called "factory system" on the Indians. They established forts throughout the Ohio territory to promote a trade system of furs for goods. This eventually made Indians into debtors of the US. They could pay their debts only by ceding land.

  • After the Mayflower also mentioned an English effort to force Indians into debt. Hmm. People haven't reported a lot on the role of economic pressure in subjugating Indians. There's probably much more to be said about this subject.

  • The influx of settlers kept the Indians on a constant war footing. The loss of Indian men led to broken homes and communities. Having twice as many women as men put kinship systems under stress. Diseases flourished and spread under these conditions.

  • No wonder the Indians experienced feelings of despair and turned to alcohol for relief. Yet genocide apologists still claim that Western civilization was and is inherently "superior"? The only superiority I see here is the superiority of numbers. The greedy land-grabbers were like an unstoppable plague of locusts.

    For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

    First Nations seek Pope's apology

    First Nations delegation to meet privately with PopeOn the eve of its private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Wednesday, a small delegation from Canada's Assembly of First Nations hailed the event as "historic and momentous."

    During the meeting behind closed doors, the Pope is expected to read a statement about the Roman Catholic Church's role in the residential school system in Canada.

    The church administered three-quarters of residential schools across Canada, but has yet to apologize for the abuse suffered by many of the 90,000 former students still alive.

    Assembly of First Nations Leader Phil Fontaine is part of the delegation, which also includes elders and survivors.

    "We're going to be in conversation with the Holy Father, and we're going to talk about the residential school experience," he told CBC News.

    Isabella Tatar, head of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, which seeks to create awareness about the effects of residential schools, said the meeting represents an important step forward.

    "The fact that survivors, their experiences are being validated, I think that will serve a very effective tool or forum for closure, not necessarily for everyone, but I think for a significant number of people," she said.
    Comment:  I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that whatever the Pope says, it won't alleviate the pain felt by the residential school survivors.

    Note that the survivors already have a financial settlement, which Fontaine called a "symbolic apology," and an actual apology from Canada's prime minister. They've also asked the Queen of England to apologize.

    One has to wonder why these apologies haven't provided "closure" yet and which apology will be the final apology needed. If the Pope apologizes and that doesn't do the trick, then what?

    Smith on Everything You Know

    A look at author Paul Chaat Smith and his new book, Everything You Know About Indians Is Wrong:

    Scribblings:  Paul Chaat Smith

    By Ben H. RomeIn a way, his latest book seeks to force the reader to confront the “modern mythology” slowly coming to form about Native Americans. Public understanding gravitates to what popular culture says, while the variety of Indian voices are slowly drowned out in the static. It’s a duality that is hard to wrestle with, but one that Paul embraces with his work at the NMAI. “We try to show the collection of voices here,” he said, “which is not an easy road, and we fail as often as we succeed. But I think in the end as long as the visitor walks away questioning what they thought they knew, then I think we’ve made a start.”

    Everything You Know… attempts to do that, through Paul’s own voice. It’s a very entertaining read; while it does critique at times the (often) disputed role Indians have had in the U.S., it also explores with dry wit and humor how today’s media portrays “the noble savage.” The book walks the line between skepticism and empathy, and at the end the reader has to admit that the book title is indeed, accurate.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.

    Mt. Taylor among endangered places

    Sacred site on list of most endangered placesThe National Trust for Historic Preservation says Mount Taylor, a sacred site in New Mexico, is one of the nation's 11 most endangered places.

    Acoma Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, Zuni Pueblo, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe are seeking to protect Mount Taylor from uranium mining. The tribes have run into opposition from officials and residents in Cibola County.

    The New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee voted to place Mount Taylor on Register of Cultural Properties on a temporary basis. The designation protects the site from development but it will expire in June without further action.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Rancheria Among Endangered Places.

    Miccosukee car wins NASCAR race

    Talladega:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Results--Keselowski, Chevrolet Win!Brad Keselowski and his No. 9 Miccosukee Indian Gaming & Resort Chevrolet went on to win the Aaron's 499, his first victory in five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This is his first victory and first top-10 finish in 2009. This is also his first victory and first top-10 finish in one race at Talladega Superspeedway.

    It was Chevrolet's 18th win in the last 21 races at Talladega.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Mohegan NASCAR Champion and Talladega Cursed by Creeks?

    Below:  Not the winner, but presumably the reason people watch an otherwise uneventful race.

    Native performers at Seeger concert

    Native musicians to play concert in New York City

    Nakai, Mousaa and other Native artists will join Springsteen, Dave Matthews for Pete Seeger 90th birthday concertAmerican Indian artists R. Carlos Nakai and Victorio Roland Mousaa as well as Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and more than 40 other award-winning artists are scheduled to perform May 3 at Madison Square Garden for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday benefit concert.

    The concert, officially dubbed “The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next generation of Environmental Leaders” will also include performances by Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle, Joan Baez, John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, and Ben Harper. Other performances as part of the Native American Indian Cultural Alliance will include Tom Pacheco, Vernon Masayesva, Bill Miller, Joanne Shenandoah, Joseph Firecrow, David Amram, Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Margo Thunderbird.

    Tanka Bar introduces Tanka Dog

    Tanka Bar company to unveil hot dog productNative American Natural Foods, the makers of Tanka Bar, will unveil a new product next week.

    The Tanka Dog is a hot dog made from buffalo and wild rice. Initially, it will only be available for food service sales, according to the Tanka Bar blog

    The company, which is based on the Pine Ridge Reservation, introduced Tanka Bar, an energy bar made from buffalo meat and cranberries in 2007.

    April 27, 2009

    2009 NAIIA nominees

    The nominees for the first North American Indigenous Image Awards are out. They're the usual mix of movie and music categories plus a few unusual choices. I'll list the film-related categories and the oddities below.

    2009 North American Indigenous Image Awards Official NomineesBest Actor

    Ron Harris "Moccasin Flats: Redemption"
    Raoul Trujillo "Apocalypto"
    Cody Lightning "Four Sheets to the Wind"
    Derek Miller "133 Skyway"

    Best Actress

    Candace Fox "Moccasin Flats: Redemption"
    Misty Upham "Frozen River"
    Tonatzin Carmello "Imprint"
    Jennifer Podemski "Moose TV"

    Best Supporting Actor

    Cowboy Smithx "Chance"
    Ernie Tsosie "Mile Post 398"
    Michael Spears "Imprint"
    Stuart Pierre "Moccasin Flats: Redemption"
    Tiio Horn "Moccasin Flats: Redemption"

    Best Documentary Film

    "The Hollywood Indian"
    "River of Renewal"
    "The 8th Fire"
    "Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy"
    "Our Spirits Don't Speak English: Indian Boarding School"

    Best Feature Film

    "Moccasin Flats: Redemption"
    "Four Sheets to The Wind"
    "Turquoise Rose"
    "Rez Bomb"

    Best Short Film

    133 Skyway
    Ancestor Eyes
    Good Looking
    One Step Left

    Best Guest Starring Role in a Television Show

    Jennifer Podemski "The Border"
    August Schellenberg "Grey's Anatomy"
    Gregory Cruz "Saving Grace"
    Gary Farmer "Easy Money"

    Best Comedian of the Year

    Ryan McMahon
    JR Redwater
    Vaugh Eaglebear
    James and Ernie

    Best Calendar

    Runway Beauty
    BT Girls
    21st Century Skins Mens Calendar
    Women of the Navajo

    Best Magazine

    National Indian Education Association "NIEA News"
    Spirit Magazine
    Redskin Magazine
    Native Youth Magazine
    Comment:  I guess being a few years old--as in the case of Apocalypto, Imprint, and Four Sheets to the Wind--is no bar to winning a 2009 award. Perhaps the NAIIA will limit the awards to the previous year in the future.

    I have to wonder how shows like this pick their categories. Why calendars and magazines and not plays, dance routines, books, newspapers, websites, video games, fashion designs, photography, graphic art, painting, and so forth and so on?

    Anyway, since the award show was supposedly April 23, the winners should be known by now. But I haven't seen any info on them.

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

    Review of Tecumseh's Vision

    Still a week late, here's my review of Tecumseh's Vision, the second episode of the PBS series We Shall Remain. In this part I'll concentrate on the storytelling aspects.

  • Although this episode is an hour and 20 minutes, or a bit longer than the first episode, it doesn't lag.

  • The credits say this episode was written and produced by Ric Burns and directed by Burns and Chris Eyre. So it's basically a white man's production.

  • A few shifts in tone and style from After the Mayflower are evident.

    1) Although Burns uses recreations throughout the episode, he shoots them at a distance...through tall grasses or smoke...out of focus...or using quick cuts. Clearly, as Burns said, he doesn't want us to take these recreations too literally.

    This technique doesn't hurt any, but I don't think it helps any either. I'd say Eyre was right to try for a more realistic look in After the Mayflower.

    2) Most of the narration is done by white historians, not by Benjamin Bratt or the actors. They tend to focus on the main characters and events and not on the Indian cultures.

    Between the impressionistic recreations and the white-man narrators remove us a step from knowing the Native characters intimately. But I'd still say Tecumseh's Vision seems to unfold through Native eyes. There's no obvious bias toward a Euro-American point of view.

  • Once again, everything looks and feels authentic to the untrained eye.

  • Michael Greyeyes does a fine job as Tecumseh. So does Billy Merasty as Tenskwatawa. Greyeyes should be the go-to guy every time Hollywood needs an intense Indian actor in his 30s.

  • A couple of times the production uses screeching hawks--once when young Tecumseh is running through the grass and once when his brother is reborn as Tenskwatawa. No more hawk cries, please.

  • In their joint statement to PBS, the Wampanoag leaders wrote:PBS in its support and broadcasting of this production has given credence to a radically altered interpretation of the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh’s 1811 declaration to President James Madison’s messenger by deleting its land based implication. “We Shall Remain” implies a call for pity and does not carry the same declaration and meaning as “… AND HERE, WE SHALL REMAIN.”I don't quite understand this complaint. Are they claiming that removing the two words "and here" radically changes the meaning? Even if that were true, it's irrelevant. Tecumseh's Vision has Tecumseh saying what I presume is the whole line:The Master of Life has appointed this place for us to light our fires, and here we shall remain.Sounds like a land-based declaration to me.


    Anyway, Tecumseh's Vision is an excellent documentary. It has the same virtues as After the Mayflower, but not its slow start. After watching this documentary, you'll understand why some people consider Tecumseh the greatest Native leader ever.

    Rob's rating:  9.0 of 10.

    For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

  • Outcome of After the Mayflower

    Continuing the discussion of After the Mayflower, the first episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

    The narrator concludes this documentary with something like, "It's hard to see how the conflict could've been avoided and outcome could've been different." No, actually, it's easy to see. If the Mohawks hadn't ambushed their fellow Indians, King Philip's confederacy might well have won the war.

    We see this outcome again and again in American history. It's almost a truism. If rival Indian tribes had united against their common foe, they could've won. They almost won under Tecumseh using this strategy. Even without this strategy, they fought the US Army to a standstill in places like Florida, the Great Plains, and Arizona for years.

    In King Philip's case, all it would've taken is a visionary leader to persuade other tribes to join him. Tecumseh managed to do this, and there's no reason other leaders couldn't have done it as well. As with Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin at Malta, all the Indians had to do was realize that they had a common enemy. That the Euro-Americans would betray them at every turn.

    It's easy to imagine a science-fiction scenario in which this visionary leader existed. Perhaps it was an Indian youth who was accidentally cut down by a random arrow or snakebite. Many Indians who died prematurely probably could have filled the role.

    In fact, sci-fi writers have imagined such a scenario. In Jake Page's Apacheria, the visionary leader was Juh the Apache. In 1812: The Rivers of War, it was Sam Houston speaking for his Cherokee brethren.

    Still some colonization

    Obviously, a united Indian front wouldn't have stopped the Europeans altogether. But note how the disappearance of Roanoke delayed the colonization of the Carolinas for 20 or 30 years. If the Aztecs had won over Cortés, or King Philip over the English, the Indians would've had several decades of breathing room. They would've gained some immunity to diseases, rebuilt their tribal strength, and obtained the guns and supplies they needed.

    The result would have been an amalgamation of European and Indian nations in the Americas, in my opinion. No one would have considered the situation ideal, but no one would've loathed it either. It would have been a reasonable compromise between one race and another race owning and ruling the entire hemisphere.

    Clearly I found After the Mayflower thought-provoking, which is a testament to its quality. It laid out how the Indians lost ground step-by-step until their cause was doomed. Most of the choices they made seemed sensible at the time, but cumulatively they were a mistake.

    What New England's Indians needed was a paradigm shift in their thinking. They needed to see the Pilgrims and other "innocent" colonists as the first wave of a invading army of conquerors. A visionary leader such as Tecumseh could've provided that insight.

    For more on the subject, see Was Native Defeat Inevitable? and Quality of After the Mayflower.

    Teaching the two holocausts

    Librarian likens Holocaust, treatment of IndiansA librarian at Ft. Washakie School is developing a curriculum that she says shows similarities between the Nazi Holocaust that killed millions of Jews others and the U.S. government's treatment of American Indians.

    Robin Levin is completing the curriculum at the school on the Wind River Indian Reservation. She is a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's teaching fellows program.

    "A lot of our young people struggle in defining their futures," Levin said. "My theory is that if you don't have a firm grip on you cultural past, you won't have a firm grip on you cultural future."

    Levin is comparing the Holocaust with the U.S. government's policy of placing Indian students in boarding schools. Students at such schools were forbidden from speaking their native languages and forced to give up their traditions.

    Levin, who is Jewish, said it's important to share the story of both tragedies with American Indian students.

    Gene Meier, superintendent of Ft. Washakie School, said he believes there's no doubt that boarding school movement shares similarities to the Holocaust.

    "It may not have been as quick, it many not have been as in your face," Meier said, "but truly, there has been an agenda in the history of the U.S. to eradicate Native Americans."

    Meier said teaching American Indian students about the Holocaust allows them to consider the issues of social injustice, protection of tribal sovereignty and how to be better human beings.

    "That's where I see the connection between the Holocaust and Indians," he said.
    Comment:  Why limit the connection to the boarding-school movement? Euro-Americans tried many different times and ways to eradicate Indians.

    Levin may want to explore how Hitler learned about genocide from reading the Bible, US history books, and Karl May's Westerns. As well as other sources, of course.

    After that she could get into the similarities between Bush's immoral invasion of Iraq and the Europeans' immoral invasion of America. Wouldn't that be controversial? <g>

    Actually, I suspect Levin's curriculum will be too "radical" for the conservative people of Wyoming and their cowboy mentality. We'll see if it ever gets off the ground.

    For more on the subject, see Churchill:  Manifest Destiny = Holocaust and Holocaust on Display (Or Not).

    American patriots have same DNA?

    In Mestizo Leaders = "Scrub Stock"? a pundit took Pat Buchanan apart for comparing Latinos to a breed of animals. But a helpful reader brought another of Buchanan's phrases to light:

    This IS Your Father's Pat BuchananIt's not the "dip" into an "obscure racist phrase" (in TPM's words) that is so disturbing--it's the use of three phrases and the ideology behind them, tied together in one article, that rise to a level I've never witnessed in recent mainstream political discourse: "blood-and-soil," "scrub stock," and "(m)ost Americans remain visceral patriots. It's in their DNA."

    This rises to a level that would likely, ironically, put Buchanan in prison in today's more enlightened Germany, but might have earned him an officer's commission in the SS in 1938, the year he was born.
    Comment:  Gee...American DNA. I would've thought the multiracial nature of America was obvious by now, but I guess not. I wonder which Americans the white Christian Buchanan could be referring to.

    Let's see...Americans Indians have always been here--since well before the beginning of recorded history, at least. They've always loved their land and their people. They've always defended America with every ounce of their blood. They're extraordinarily patriotic by definition, so it can't be them.

    Hmm. The WASPs who opposed, conquered, and killed the American Indian patriots can't also be patriots, can they? No, I don't think so. If they had been, they would've upheld the supremacy of the US Constitution, with its recognition of tribal sovereignty and treaties. Instead of trampling the Constitution and the concomitant Indian rights.

    I guess Buchanan is pro-Indian after all. Either that or he's a big fat racist. You make the call.

    For more on Buchanan's racist ignorance, see Buchanan:  Helping Indians = "Pigout" and Pat Buchanan on Jamestown.

    Below:  Buchanan and his Hitler-like eugenicist position.

    Arigon Starr in Red Ink

    An e-mail from singer/actor/playwright Arigon Starr:For those of you who have been following my travels, I've been in beautiful Minnesota for the past three weeks. The kind folks at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis asked me to be a part of their current production, "Red Ink" which runs from April 23-May 10.

    What is "Red Ink?" "Red Ink" is a compilation of plays from seven Indigenous playwrights about contemporary Native issues. Featuring new work from Diane Glancy, Tomson Highway, Drew Hayden Taylor, Darren Renville, Yvette Nolan, Rhiana Yazzie and yours truly, "Red Ink" takes on everything from gaming to reality shows to blood quantum. Additionally, there is a mix of traditional and contemporary music that adds a punch to "Red Ink."

    About two years ago, Rhiana Yazzie asked me to contribute two pieces to the show....and I happily obliged. For me, it felt like being asked to sit with the big people after years hanging at the kids' table. AAAY! Seriously--those names on the list are BIG time in Native theater. My favorite part of the assignment was to write as if the audience were completely "Native." At last...a chance to not have to explain what a "49" is or why not all Indians live on reservations. AAAY! It was a honor just to be included in a project like this.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

    Native America's Got Talent

    Okla. fancy dancer, family gets shot on NBC's 'America's Got Talent'

    Written by Judy LambertSapulpans Mike Pahsetopah, his wife, Lisa, and their 6-year-old daughter, Heaven, are headed for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, in just a couple of weeks.

    Not knowing they had been nominated by the Oklahoma Arts Council to star on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, they received a phone call from the casting director of the show with NBC asking them to come to Houston, Texas, for the initial auditions in May.

    Mike is a well-known Native American dancer and performer and World Champion Fancy Dancer who, over his life time, has performed at governors’ conventions, for dignitaries, the military, movie stars and thousands of others across the nation, as well as around the world. He started dancing when he was younger than his daughter and has danced in movies and television commercials. He began training on stage as soon as he graduated from high school and has experience in directing and choreography.

    April 26, 2009

    Brazilian cast in Whispers Like Thunder

    ‘Whispers’ gains new voices“This is a quintessential Native American story of courage and perseverance, but unfortunately, it is also a story that is largely forgotten. We want to bring this amazing narrative to life for a new generation of Americans, and we want to do so authentically, utilizing Native American talent wherever possible every step of the way,” Harper said of the project.

    In addition to his producing chores, along with partners Simone Sheffield and Valerie Hoffman, Kingsley will portray Charles Curtis, the only Native American to serve as vice president of the United States. Daniela Lavender is also on board to portray Ida Conley.

    “We are honored to be working with Sir Ben Kingsley and thrilled to be a part of a team that is so strongly committed to the Native American experience and vision,” Huey said.
    You gotta love how this article innocently reports the casting of someone named Daniela Lavender as the Wyandot sister Ida Conley. Here are some details the article left out--from September 2007:

    Sir Ben Kingsley makes Brazilian ex-waitress half his age his 4th wifeThe actor Ben Kingsley has secretly married a Brazilian former waitress half his age. The 63-year-old Oscar winner is said to have made bit-part actress Daniela Barbosa de Carneiro, 34, his fourth wife.

    The father of four met Miss Barbosa over two years ago in Hollywood. Many expressed doubts as to whether the relationship between Sir Ben--who enjoys pottering in the garden and reading--and the "bombshell" would last.
    And:Sir Ben's marriage to the former Miss Barbosa is just the latest episode in the colourful soap opera that is his private life.

    To date, the script includes: three failed marriages, four children by two different wives, a long-term live-in lover who was replaced by wife No 3 (also nearly half his age), whom he then jettisoned after discovering her embracing her lover in a photograph on the internet in 2005.

    The question is, will it be fourth time lucky?

    Miss Barbosa arrived in Britain as a penniless student who couldn't speak a word of English more than a decade ago. She worked as a waitress and model for a bridal shop in Camden, North London, while she pursued her ambition of becoming an actress.
    And:"Daniela was very confident and very ballsy. She knew exactly what she wanted--and that was to be a Hollywood actress."

    Was it a coincidence that her latest fiance; just happens to be one of Britain's most respected and famous actors, with a weakness for pretty and considerably younger women?

    Certainly, it comes as no surprise to learn that Sir Ben's latest project is launching a production company with Miss Barbosa.

    "Hopefully, we can finance and put together and produce our own films and material that I love, and stories that I think would be beautiful to tell. 'We' is myself and my fiance Daniela," he told a U.S. journalist earlier this year.

    For the ambitious Miss Barbosa, whose career highlights include an episode of Casualty, playing a maid in Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G In Da House, and the role as a woman who turns down her boyfriend's proposal of marriage in Emotional Backgammon--which was described by one critic as an "awful misfire"--the patronage of Sir Ben must be very welcome indeed.
    Comment:  Let's see what we have here.

    Daniela Lavender is the skirt-chasing Ben Kingsley's fourth wife. She's a Brazilian waitress who wants to be a Hollywood actress. Although she may have a few drops of Native blood, she looks part black and part white. She's had a few minor roles in minor British productions--nothing that would qualify her to play a lead role in a Native-themed movie set in Kansas.

    Kingsley has formed a production company to make movies such as Whispers Like Thunder to give himself and his actress-wannabe wife jobs. Casting themselves as Charles Curtis and Ida Conley has nothing to do with honoring Natives or hiring the best person for the job. It's all about nepotism and keep Kingsley's boy-toy happy so she won't divorce him.

    Basically, Whispers Like Thunder sounds like a vanity project for Kingsley and Lavender. But Harper and Huey are "strongly committed to the Native American experience and vision"? How, by casting non-Natives to play Native characters? By spurning filmmakers who try to tell genuine Native stories with genuine Native actors, directors, and writers?

    Native producer caves in

    So far we haven't heard of a single Native involved in this production except Harper the co-producer. And Harper is already fibbing to us. When he said they'd use "Native American talent wherever possible every step of the way," that wasn't true, was it? It's possible right now to recast Charles Curtis and Ida Conley with talented Native actors, but Harper isn't doing it.

    Instead, he's letting a role that should go to a strong Native actress go to Kingsley's Brazilian waitress-wife instead. If that isn't a slap in the face of the Native acting community, what is? Why stop with the Conley sisters, Harper? Maybe you can get DeNiro to play Sitting Bull and Pacino to play Geronimo in your next "respectful" production.

    If it were me, I would've said, "Having Native actresses play the three Conley sisters is non-negotiable, Sir Ben. You agree to that or we walk and take our credibility and connections with us. You'll never get the support of Indian country without us."

    Instead, Harper and Huey seem to be kowtowing to the great white father. They must want to be Hollywood producers badly--more than I ever would. I don't know if they've sold out yet, but they seem to be heading in that direction.

    In short, Whispers Like Thunder has the makings of a disaster. It'll be lucky if it achieves middle-of-the-road mediocrity. The chances of its being a great Native-themed movie are diminishing by the second. I'd advise any tribe thinking of investing in it to steer clear instead.

    For more on the subject, see Whispers Like Thunder Seeks Funding and Producers Set for Wyandot Film.

    Below:  The two "Native" leads...so far.

    Mestizo leaders = "scrub stock"?

    Conservative "thinker" Pat Buchanan proves once again how racist he is:

    Buchanan:  Nicaraguan Leader Is "Scrub Stock"[E]very now and then, the centrality to Buchanan's worldview of racial difference rises to the surface. In addition to his frequent MSNBC appearances, where he plays a mostly well-mannered, if hardline, conservative, Buchanan also writes a column for the far-right web magazine, Human Events. And that's where he gets himself into trouble.

    His most recent effort, "The Rooted and The Rootless," takes as its premise the notion that there's a "blood-and-soil, family-and-faith, God-and-country kind of nation" that's competing with a minority represented by the "rootless" Obama and his "aides with advanced degrees from elite colleges who react just like him."

    Already, we're in National Socialist territory here, but let's leave that aside (with Buchanan, once you start down this path, it can be hard to stop...). What jumped out at us was Buchanan's contention that the "blood-and-soil" part of America...

    does not comprehend how the president could sit in Trinidad and listen to the scrub stock of the hemisphere trash our country--and say nothing.
    The posting explains that "scrub stock" means "inferior breed."[L]et's look again at who Buchanan is calling "the scrub stock of the hemisphere" who "trashed our country" at the recent meeting Obama attended in Trinidad. The leader who most prominently did so was Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who, aside from being a left-wing former Sandinista, is, like many Latin-Americans, mestizo--meaning he's part Amerindian and part white.

    Buchanan may also have had in mind Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela, who was on relatively good behavior in Trinidad, but who has frequently "trashed America" and whose handshake with Obama in Trinidad was blown up by the right into an example of the president kowtowing to America's antagonists. Chavez, of course, is also mestizo.

    That's not incidental. The leftist social and political movements of Latin America--against which Buchanan has been fulminating since at least the Reagan era--have traditionally been led by mestizos, and many have been defined in part through their efforts to mobilize non-whites against the often European-descended conservative elite power structure.

    With that context, the notion that Buchanan used "scrub stock" to refer simply to ineffective or morally bankrupt leaders, with no racial connotation, becomes, frankly, implausible.

    So what does all this amount to? Buchanan referred--not in a heated moment while speaking, but in print--to the mixed-race leader of a foreign country with a phrase that's used to denote an animal or person of inferior stock. There's really no getting around that.
    No doubt Buchanan also meant to include Evo Morales, who is not merely a part-Indian mestizo but a true Indian.

    For more on Buchanan's racist ignorance, see Buchanan:  Helping Indians = "Pigout" and Pat Buchanan on Jamestown.

    The conservative hypocrisy on the phony "handshake with Chavez" issue may surpass the conservative hypocrisy on the phony "tax increase" issue--if that's possible. Here's a clue, dopes: Not only did George W. Bush shake hands with the leader of Communist China, he held hands with and kissed the tyrannical, terrorist-supporting leaders of Saudi Arabia. Even worse, Donald Rumsfeld shook hands with Hitler-of-the-day Saddam Hussein. Yet you witless idiots didn't utter one word of protest about these handshakes.

    If there's ever been bigger hypocrites than today's right-wing Republicans, it's hard to imagine them.

    Below:  Members of the Stupid Conservatives Hall of Fame.

    King Philip's War in After the Mayflower

    Continuing the discussion of After the Mayflower, the first episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

  • Massasoit died in the 1660s and his 24-year-old son, Philip, became chief. Philip rejected the English attempts to convert him and placed a moratorium on land sales. But it was almost too late. At this point, the English no longer considered the Indians partners and equals. The Indians had become second-class citizens in their own land.

  • Even their language change to reflect this. Previously, the word they used for "my land" meant, "I am physically the land, and the land is me." But eventually they began using a word in which "I" and "the land" were two separate entities.

  • According to After the Mayflower, the Indians complained about the loss of their "sovereign" rights. I don't know if anyone literally used that word or if it was a writer's invention. But it suggests the reality that we often forget or ignore. Indian tribes were separate and distinct nations long before America was "settled" and the US Constitution recognized this fact.

  • Philip realized the Indians must make a stand or they would be overrun. So the Wampanoags and the Narragansetts, their old enemies, launched King Philip's War. They burn something like 25 towns and killed 2,000 colonists. The war spread to Connecticut and eastern New York. The Indians were winning.

  • This is fascinating if you think about it. Remember, it was 50-plus years after the first English incursions. Diseases had decimated the Indian population. The English had guns while the Indians, unless they bought them, didn't. Yet the Indians were winning.

  • The English considered the Christian Indians in the praying towns akin to a "fifth column." In one case, they marched hundreds of their fellow Christians to Deer Island in Boston Harbor and left them there without food or shelter to die. I wonder what Jesus would've said about that.

  • Anyway, Philip's forces were winning...until the Mohawks, long-time English allies, mounted a surprise attack. This doomed Philip's confederacy. Many of the defeated Indians, including Philip's nine-year-old son, were loaded onto boats, shipped to the West Indies or Europe, and sold into slavery. Again, a sterling example of Christian charity.

  • Philip was dismembered and his body parts strewn among the colonies. His head was put on a pike and left there for 20 years. Message: This is how the conquerors will deal with rebellion and treason.

  • For more on the subject, see Praying Towns in After the Mayflower and Quality of After the Mayflower.

    Below:  "Philip, King of Mount Hope, 1772, by Paul Revere. Revere designed this pygmy like image to make King Philip look repulsive."

    Spacey making Abramoff movie

    Exclusive:  Abramoff Gets Hollywood Prison Visit; Kevin Spacey Starring As 'Casino Jack'My sources tell me that 2-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and film director George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl, Hearts of Darkness) are right now visiting Washington DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff in Cumberland Federal Prison. Abramoff, of course, was responsible for one of the biggest political scandal to hit the nation's capital since Watergate, and is the subject of a screenplay Casino Jack starring Spacey and directed by Hickenlooper and written by Norm Snider (Dead Ringers) and produced by Bill Marks, George Vitetzakis and exec-produced by Donald Zuckerman and Richard Rionda of Hannibal Pictures. ... The story is described to me as a modern day GoodFellas set in Washington DC that plays like a thriller involving Karl Rove and others in former President George W. Bush's inner circle. Cameras will roll later next month.

    I'm told that Kevin Spacey is set to star as Jack Abramoff, Hayden Christensen will play Abramoff's closest associate Mike Scanlon, Spencer Garrett (Public Enemies) will portray Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Arrested Development star David Cross will be Abramoff crony Adam Kidan. The production is also in talks with Tea Leoni as Abramoff's wife.
    Comment:  My question is who will play the casino-owning Indians whom Abramoff scammed. Wes Studi, Graham Greene, Gordon Tootoosis, and Gil Birmingham...call your agents!

    For more on the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming and The Best Indian Movies.

    Tribute to Cash's Bitter Tears

    Tribute to Johnny Cash

    Michael Bucher and Joanne Shenandoah release ‘Bitter Tears--Sacred Ground’Michael Bucher and Joanne Shenandoah, in conjunction with Hondo Mesa Records have recently released “Bitter Tears--Sacred Ground,” a tribute to the 1964 album “Bitter tears: Ballads of the American Indian” by legendary country artist Johnny Cash.

    Cash’s album has long been a subject of controversy by mainstream media because of its graphic portrayals of the hardships faced by Indians. The album was removed from stores soon after its release, but has since remained popular in Indian country.

    Cash, who believed he was of Cherokee descent, created the album in response to Native musician Peter Lafarge’s poem “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow,” based on the forcible relocation of the Seneca Nation after the construction of the Kinzua Dam in the 60s.

    The controversy surrounding the album, the attention paid to struggles of American Indians and an admiration for Cash is what prompted Shenandoah and Bucher to create “Bitter Tears--Sacred Ground.”
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Interview with Johnny Cash and Cash DVD Highlights Indians.

    Native influence on classical music

    Pianist Orgel explores Native American influenceWas there actually a Native American influence on classical music?

    Shelburne pianist Paul Orgel explored just that question in a solo recital titled "American Suite," Sunday at Saint Michael's College's McCarthy Arts Center, part of the school's Humanities Program Concert Series. And if Orgel's excellent recital was any indication, it indeed had some influence.

    Orgel's programming was quite imaginative. He used Antonin Dvorak's "American Suite" as a base, interjecting works by later composers between the five movements of the suite. This proved ingenious as it may well have been the Czech Dvorak (1841-1904) that first created an "American" sound. Indeed, he was invited to the United States to help American composers develop an indigenous sound. Dvorak implored the Americans to utilize their own native sounds-–particularly Native American and African American.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Mixing Classical and Indigenous Music.

    Alexie's next adult novel

    Sherman Alexie

    InterviewYour next adult novel, Fire with Fire, recently sold to Little, Brown and is slated to be published in the Fall of 2010. What stage is it at now?

    It was sold with about half of it done. It’s going to be about 600 pages. It’s a mystery…I’m trying to write the great big American Native American novel. It’s huge…it’s apocalyptic, about everything. I’m trying to write the book about everything in the Indian world. It’s big. I’m trying to make a huge statement. Indian writers, we write small. Small worlds, because we grew up tribal. As soon as you see an Indian writer writing big, you know they’re not Indian. So here’s my chance to prove that an Indian can write big. Extend the vision. I’m trying to be epic. It’s about Thomas Builds-the-Fire and Victor from Smoke Signals on another road trip to solve a murder mystery. It starts on the rez and it ends up in Seattle. It’s incredibly violent.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see All About Sherman Alexie.

    April 25, 2009

    William Means on education

    From Wounded Knee to Comm Ave

    William Means will lead a tree blessing and speak todayWhat is the most important issue facing American Indians today?

    Treaty rights. Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution states that treaty law shall be supreme. Treaties are not signed between cities and states. They are signed between nations. That is why Indians have a special legal and political relationship with the U.S. government that no other minority has. People need to understand that Indian people are a nation within a nation. People get the idea that we’re getting something for nothing, when in fact we gave America everything we had. Through these treaties we ceded millions and millions of acres for the meager services we now get on reservations. We have had to overcome a tremendous amount of stereotypes and racist and biased education just to let people know that we do indeed have legal standing in this country and that our cultures are alive and well.

    What can individuals do to improve conditions for indigenous cultures?

    Education is the most important thing. You have to understand the indigenous people who live or who once inhabited the area where you live. You have to know their history. And you have to become active in your community. This activism can take many forms. Join the Sierra Club. Work against industries polluting our Earth. Make your relatives and friends aware of environmental challenges threatening humanity.
    Comment:  William Means, brother of activist Russell Means, notes the link between sovereignty and treaty rights and battling racism and stereotyping. You can't understand what Indians are unless you understand what they aren't.

    Thus, fighting mascots and other stereotypes is far from a waste of time. In fact, it's critical to achieving an honest understanding of Indian issues.

    To reiterate, "Education is the most important thing." Thanks, William, that's just what I'm doing by working at PECHANGA.net, writing for Indian Country Today, and posting here. I trust you approve.

    For more on the subject, see The Worst Native Problem.

    Water Braiding conference held

    Black Mesa Trust hosts Water Braiding conferenceBridging contemporary western science and indigenous wisdom was the topic of a conference that was sponsored by Black Mesa Trust, The Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon Trust and the Museum of Northern Arizona this past week at the Woodlands Radisson Hotel and Conference Center.

    A number of internationally acclaimed scientists, teachers and artists including water science pioneer Dr. Masaru Emoto, painter/environmental space artist Lowry Burgess of Carnegie Mellon University and artist Michael Kabotie of the Hopi Tribe gathered with Black Mesa Trust Board members, over 200 adult participants and 20 young Hopi and Navajo student interns during a four day conference that began at the Hopi Reservation and ended at Lake Mary.
    And:The idea of "braiding" is to allow dialogue and explorations on the two systems of knowing and their unique approaches to nature, actions and teachings of water.

    Like a black and white Hopi weaving, its own character and endurance, the weaver braids two strands into one, which yields a stronger, more beautiful and responsive solution to today's challenges.

    With Black Mesa Trust's mission of safeguarding, preserving and honoring the land and waters of the Black Mesa region, the "braiding" conference taught each of its attendees a new way of seeing and doing, of describing, understanding and most importantly of acting with global responsibility to protect Mother Earth.
    Comment:  If the attendees learned "a new way of seeing and doing"--the value of different perspectives--I'd say the conference was useful. Even if it used Masaru Emoto's pseudo-science to get people to think. But if the attendees learned to take Emoto seriously, then I'd say the conference was counterproductive. We need less pseudo-science in the world, not more.

    Below:  "Over 18 international panelists were featured at the recent Black Mesa Trust sponsored water braiding conference held last week in Flagstaff. The four-day conference started at the Hopi Reservation and ended at Lake Mary." (Photo by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO)

    Yeagley goes ape over Obama

    Normally David Yeagley the Indian apple couches his pro-white arguments in decent language. But as I should've guessed, the election of Barack Obama sent him over the edge. Now he's making his racism clear for everyone to see.

    Composer Brent Michael Davids gives us some of Yeagley's recent rants:

    Yeagley still trying to change his brown eyes blueYEAGLEY—“The long arms of the American political ‘ape’ have reached the Orient. Communist-based racism...This is a sure formula for the dissolution of nations... you will have supreme sexual desire for the Negro, and you will render complete cooperation with his every desire. You will be his slave... his reign is endorsed by the alien black African Communist in Washington... This is true racism” (Jan 2009).

    YEAGLEY—“regarding blackness of Hussein & Co. is of course an unspeakable insult and denigration... deeply sinister and racist... doting over a cute little company of chimpanzees who seem so wonderfully human... Hussein’s utter lack of qualification... only show the most denigrating, humiliating, racist attitude the world has ever seen” (Jan 2009).
    Yeagley so mad he sees white!YEAGLEY—“I despise the ideas and purposes of B Hussein O, and will work against him in every legal way... Hussein is a fluke and a fake... the ignorant and misinformed public was basically "willingly" raped by this pretender? ... He is a profound enemy of the country” (Dec 2008).

    YEAGLEY—“How could America elect a foreign black Communist? How could the majority of the population be so deceived? How could the nation commit treason against itself? ... Americans voted for an African black to assuage their pity for the miserable race” (Nov 2008).
    Comment:  For more on Obama and racism, see The 2008 Presidential Campaign.

    Below:  Someone who agrees with Yeagley that Obama is a monkey.

    Praying towns in After the Mayflower

    Continuing the discussion of After the Mayflower, the first episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

  • The English made one serious attempt to convert the heathens to Christianity. In 1651, John Eliot established a "praying town" in Natick, Massachusetts. Several other "praying towns" were set up subsequently. The English would guarantee the Indians' safety if they gave up their old ways, assimilated, and became Christians.

  • These are the same Indians whom the "Natick Redmen" supposedly honor with their nickname and mascot. So the "tame" Indians who submitted to brainwashing and spiritual death are good enough to "honor." And the "wild" heathen Indians aren't.

    I'd be impressed if Redmen supporters said they were honoring King Philip for fighting their pseudo-Christian ancestors. But that's not what they're saying. They're "honoring" the Indians who proved the white man's superiority by adopting his ways. Some honor.

  • The Indians couldn't just proclaim their belief in the Christian God--like most Christians do. They had to relate their conversion experiences and convince the English that they were sincere. One Indian was quoted as saying something like, "I'm angry with myself. I loathe myself for praying to many gods."

  • Is this the first recorded case of Euro-Americans inducing feelings of depression and self-hatred in Indians? Could be. No wonder Indians eventually turned to such palliatives as substance abuse and suicide.

    So even back then, the cultural assault was clear. The English intentionally tried to destroy the Indians physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you don't know the United Nations' definition of genocide, this fits it like a glove.

    For more on the subject, see Pequot Massacre in After the Mayflower and Quality of After the Mayflower.

    Below:  He died so that Indians could die and join him, or something. (Sorry, I'm a little unclear on how killing Indians fits in with Christian theology.)