August 31, 2009

Would people oppose Peltier movie?

Another Facebook discussion on my Why No Peltier Movie? posting:Lisa Savy James:  First of all, the FBI does not care about conspiracy movies as much as we (the public) would like to think. Movies are not considered evidence, they are considered fiction. Even movies based on true events. Secondly, even if the FBI/CIA/NSA whatever had the interest in monitoring the Hollywood development loop, it would be take a lot of money, time, and resources to keep track of every single independent filmmaker. I could make a movie about a fake moon landing in my back yard next week and have it streaming online next month.

Regarding the Peltier story. Even with an A-list actor, it would be a hard sell to big studios. Look at your summer blockbusters--that's what sells. However, it sounds like it would be a good project for an indie filmmaker to make for the film festival circuit because it is an important story that needs to be told. Rob would be a good candidate to write this script, and it seems to me that he should be able to find Native American funding.

Rob Schmidt:  The FBI might not interfere with a Peltier movie, but there are a lot of retired agents, law enforcement officials, and politicians who would oppose it. I doubt a studio would proceed in the face of this opposition.

I agree that an indie filmmaker would have the best chance of making this movie. I don't know enough about the Peltier story to write a good script. But I'd be a great choice to critique and rewrite it.

Tribes have yet to get behind moviemaking in a big way. And I doubt they'd consider a Peltier project a winning idea. If I were them, I'd bankroll popcorn comedies, romances, and thrillers first and serious political movies last.

Lisa Savy James:  "Oppose it" ... how? Write nasty letters? Sabotage the production? C'mon Rob, this is not the McCarthy era. Are studios really intimidated by such people? If all the other factors were in place ... funding, A-list actors, potential blockbuster status, would they give a squat about retired agents, law enforcement officials, and politicians? Just the idea of a studio head cowtowing to any kind officious nonsense would be an entertaining movie in itself...

"Sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Stone, but I have a retired Officer Pusser on the phone from Pine Ridge? He says he has some smoke bombs and knows how to use them? Do you want to take this call?"

Rob Schmidt:  They'd sabotage the movie the same way they've sabotaged every attempt by Peltier to get a fair parole hearing. Think of a typical PR campaign: pressure via meetings, phone calls, letters, e-mails, editorials, TV appearances, etc.

They'd presumably start this campaign before the funding and talent were in place. In fact, telling potential investors about the protests and boycotts they'd launch if the movie were made probably would be an effective technique.

A typical example of how this pressure works is the Reagan movie CBS pulled after conservatives protested it. If you weren't aware of this case and didn't think it was possible, now you know.

CBS Dumps Reagan TV Miniseries

After complaints from the chairman of the Republican Party and conservative groups about how the former president is portrayed in the film, CBS has decided to broadcast it instead on the cable network Showtime, which has a much smaller audience.
Lisa Savy James:  Again, if I wanted to, I could make this movie in my backyard in a week and have the final edited version online before they even looked up my address on google maps. Whether I would find a distributor and/or make money off of it is another story ... but as someone else pointed out, this is not blockbuster material.

And hey--any PR is PR.

Yeah, CBS, which depends on advertiser's money, is not going to show anything that makes people tremble, think, or feel guilty. What halfway intelligent filmmaker would try to market this as a TV movie??

You don't think there are other controversial conspiracy type movies that have been made?

Rob Schmidt:  Okay, Lisa...if you made a Peltier movie in secret with no investors or studio involvement or A-list talent, you could do it without outside interference. But that isn't what we were talking about, is it? Look at the original posting. The question was: "Why hasn't Hollywood made any movies about Leonard Peltier and his case?"

Lisa Savy James:  Well you already answered that question, didn't you? Because it's not blockbuster material in an economy in which even studios must invest wisely. We've also established that if someone DID make the film, it would not be Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions.
You didn't answer my question... You don't think there are other controversial conspiracy type movies that have been made?

Rob Schmidt:  Yes, Hollywood sometimes make controversial conspiracy movies. But these movies generally impugn historical figures (JFK) or fictional corporations or governments. They generally don't impugn living FBI agents, law enforcement officials, and politicians by name. Which is what a Peltier biopic would do.

Rob Schmidt:  Another example of political pressure affecting Hollywood:

The Disneyfication of Marvel

ABC canceled a reality show about prejudices that was won by a gay couple. Disney executives did not provide an explanation. The show ("Welcome to the Neighborhood") was being boycotted by fundamentalist groups. Low ratings weren't even used as an excuse, and a lawyer explained that giving away a house based on minority status was not illegal in this case. On "Grey's Anatomy," a story about a lesbian relationship was cut off abruptly.
For more on the subject, see Peltier Denied Parole Again and The Best Indian Movies.

Marriage or Mohawk membership?

Band's rules cast shadow on love story

Ex-Olympian forced to choose between marriage and Mohawk status in Kahnewake

By Linda Diebel
It was a cruel choice for Waneek Horn-Miller, having to decide whether to betray her Mohawk people. For too long, that's how she saw her decision, beating herself up in the process.

She could have love or community--not both.

And all because she fell in love with a white man.

Her heart and soul lie in Kahnewake on the south shore of Montreal. She understands her responsibility to perpetuate her line in a society where everyone knows the rule: don't "marry out."
And:If Horn-Miller disobeys, she loses her membership in Kahnewake, as do her children.

The problem, she argues, is the Indian Act created a mindset in aboriginal peoples that blood is everything. They've absorbed a concept imposed by 19th century federal bureaucrats who thought they knew best.

Says Horn-Miller: "It disconnected people from our traditional system of self-government and impacted upon our identity and cultural knowledge."

Aboriginal scholar Marlene Brant Castellano agrees aboriginal traditions were different. Professor emeritus at Trent University, long-time activist and officer of the Order of Canada, she notes that, historically, when a census of Indians was taken in the 1800s, it was clear their approach to who should belong was inclusive.
And:Former co-captain of the women's water polo team at the 2000 Sydney Games, she accepted the marriage proposal of Keith Morgan, a Calgarian, 34, gold medallist in the 100-kilogram Judo competition at the 2008 Pan-American Games and a Canadian hopeful at this summer's games in Beijing.

What should be a happy time for the couple, with Morgan competing and Horn-Miller under contract as a CBC commentator, carries the stress of her decision.

Filmmaker Tracey Deer, a Kahnewake Mohawk, understands the dilemma. Of Kahnewake, she says: "There hasn't been a positive step forward for 100 years in terms of membership. We all want to belong and it is psychological torment to deny some people that right."

Deer's documentary, Club Native, tells the story of disenfranchisement, including that of her own sister and her sister's baby, whose birth was filmed.

"We are told over and over again, 'don't marry a white man.' And if we do, so many people are obsessed with it," says Deer. "It's all about keeping the blood pure and generations of people are not being treated equally."
Comment:  Traditionally, I think many tribes would accept the husband and any children as members.

If the Kahnewake Mohawks want to remain "pure" for some reason, couldn't Horn-Miller marry and remain a member while the tribe excluded her husband and children? I don't see what the tribe gains by expelling her. Are people worried that having a non-Indian around will corrupt their beliefs and practices?

For more on the subject, see Defining Who's an Indian and Native Documentaries and News.

Below:  "Waneek Horn-Miller, a Mohawk, and her fiance Keith Morgan, at their Montreal home, May 29, 2008. Horn-Miller may lose native community status because of her impending marriage to Morgan, a white man." (Ian Barrett for the Toronto Star)

Lottery winner buys Tee Pee Motel

Tee Pee owner attracts national spotlight

Film crew for TLC show doing feature on Woods

By Barry Halvorson
Woods explained for the camera that after winning the lottery, his wife Barbara and he were driving by and saw the for sale sign out. Originally from the Wharton County area, she had always wanted to stay in the Motel but never got the chance before it closed in 1985.

"She told me she wanted to stay there," Woods told the rolling camera. He explained that while he saw it as a bad investment, she insisted he buy it and fix it up. Able to "afford" to keep peace in the family, Woods finally relented and took on the project, purchasing the motel in 2004 and reopening it on Oct. 30, 2006. Although the renovations continue.
A note from the person who alerted me to this item:I really do hate to see these kind of things in the media. It's freakin' dumb. The first thought that came to mind when seeing this was "why teepees!?" Every freakin' time it seems like there has to be an idiot show or music video or a business having ornaments or t-shirts depicting native Americans in a dishonorable way. I guess that's why I don't care much for cable or dish television. At work I've been watching the History Channel and Discovery Channel and I've came across information presented by these channels that are just theories but made to sound like factual discoveries such as the Big Bang. I even came across shows that present Native America in a past-tense sort of feel which allowed me to understand why many Americans believe these stereotypical things about Indian people.

(sigh) Well I hope you get this and I hope all is good with you.

Keep up the good work,

Salvador Martinez
This message is from a pomofyed Pomo.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Tee Pee Motel.

Below:  "Setting up the shot, Tee Pee Motel owners, from left, Barbara and Bryon Woods watch as Field Producer Conor McCarthy and Director of Photography Tom Inskeep check out a camera angle and sound engineer Scott Anderson checks his equipment's levels. The film crew, from Beyond Productions, were filming the Woods and the Tee Pee Motel for an upcoming feature episode of 'How the Lottery Changed My Life,' for the TLC channel." (Staff Photo by Barry Halvorson)

Terry Anderson's simplistic arguments

Lawyer Matthew L.M. Fletcher notes the editorial style of free-market advocate Terry Anderson. His comments apply to many conservative pundits who denounce Indian country and Indian policies.

Emotionally Potent Oversimplification of the Day:  Terry Anderson on the Indian Health ServiceIt’s usually a syllogism, repeating oversimplifications about Indian affairs again and again. For example, the one about Indian trust lands that gets noticed in the NYTs:

1. The United States owns all Indian lands.
2. Indians are poor.
2a. Quote/story from Indians angry at government.
3. Therefore, get rid of U.S. trust responsibility.

And the WSJ editorial (above), an obvious attack on the Obama health plan, unsurprising from a free market advocate:

1. IHS handles Indian health.
2. Indians are unhealthy.
3. Get rid of IHS.

Terry gets published in very respectful journals (Journal of Law & Econ., for example), but the work (despite the regressive analyses) seems a little superficial to someone with roots in Indian Country. He wrote on tribal courts a few years back, attempting to refute the Cornell/Kalt theory that tribal courts help to develop tribal economies:

1. Tribal courts have increasing jurisdiction over Indian Country commercial disputes.
2. Indians remain poor.
3. Get rid of tribal court jurisdiction.
Comment:  These are great examples of what passes for "analyses" of Indian policies among conservatives. Imagine if we applied the same "logic" to the federal government:

1. Our intelligence services warn us of terrorist threats.
2. 9/11 happened.
3. We should get rid of our intelligence services.


1. Congress is supposed to pass a balanced budget.
2. Congress rarely if ever passes a balanced budget.
3. We should get rid of Congress.

In short, it's stupid to hit a problem over the head with a sledgehammer when you're not sure what the problem is. There's no necessary causality between statements such as "IHS handles Indian health" and "Indians are unhealthy." Maybe something else is causing Indians to be unhealthy. Maybe they'd be even more unhealthy if private companies handled their health. You can't assume a linkage; you have to prove it.

For some previous mentions of Anderson's work, see:

Indians are poor because of "dependence on federal money"
Tierney:  Federal bureaucracies caused Indians' downfall
Kay:  Indians are preserving "hunter-gatherer traditions"

For more on the healthcare debate, see Healthcare Protests Are Race-Based and IHS = Model for Healthcare.

Migration theories in Time Team America

As noted in Clovis Site in Time Team America, the show presentedthree of the four prevailing theories about how the peopling of North America may have occurred (described by Time Team archaeologist Adrien Hannus).K. Krist Hurst continued:I'd have preferred that they spend more time on the more-likely theory of Pacific coastal migration and less time on the less-likely Solutrean connection; but that's just me.Either Hurst or I didn't pay enough attention to this part of the show. I thought the show presented only two theories: the conventional Bering Strait land-bridge theory and the "controversial" Solutrean hypothesis. I don't think it said anything about the alternative coastal migration theory or the related kelp highway theory. Nor did it say anything about the possibility of other ocean crossings.

Stating the Solutrean hypothesis--that the first Americans came from Europe--as one of two possibilities gives it more credit than it deserves. It adds to all the Kennewick Man talk that Caucasians may have been here first. I.e. that Indians don't deserve their tribal sovereignty or land rights.

Here are some problems with this theory:

The Solutrean-Clovis Connection

A Theory for the Peopling of America

By K. Kris Hirst
The most prominent opponent of the Solutrean connection is Lawrence Guy Straus. Straus points out that the LGM forced people out of western Europe into southern France and the Iberian peninsula by about 25,000 radiocarbon years ago. There were no people at all living north of the Loire Valley of France during the Last Glacial Maximum, and no people in the southern part of England until after about 12,500 BP. The similarities between Clovis and Solutrean cultural assemblages are far outweighed by the differences. Clovis hunters were not users of marine resources, fish or mammal. Finally, the Solutrean hunter-gatherers used land-based hunting supplemented by littoral and riverine but not oceanic resources.

Most essentially, the Solutreans of the Iberian peninsula lived 5,000 radiocarbon years earlier and 5,000 kilometers directly across the Atlantic from the Clovis hunter-gatherers.
Naturally, I came up with a few more criticisms of this theory. For instance, if there's no evidence that either side had boats, who's to say the Paleo-Indians didn't visit the Europeans rather than vice versa?

For more on the subject, see Dissing My Solutrean Postings and Criticism of the Solutrean Hypothesis.

Lightning = new face and first female

Georgina Lightning:  the first Native female director of a feature-length film

By Kathy WiseNamed one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2007 by Filmmaker magazine, Cree Indian director Georgina Lightning is actually not new to Hollywood. But with her latest project, Older than America, she has become something Tinseltown has never seen before—the first Native female director of a feature-length film.

Director Georgina Lightning and her crew on the set of Older than America. Filmed in Minnesota on the Fond du Lac Chippewa reservation, the movie initially drew resistance from the local tribe. But at the wrap party, a council member told Lightning, "It's been the greatest experience for the spirit of the people and our tribe. There is already healing that has started from this."

Native American directors have been making films since the dawn of the celluloid era: before color, before sound. James Young Deer (Winnebago) directed 17 westerns from 1909 to 1924, and he was quickly followed by Edwin Carewe (Chickasaw), who directed close to 60 films from 1914 to 1934 and produced and acted in nearly as many.

But over the following six decades, no major motion picture—with the exception of several self-produced releases by Cherokee actor Will Rogers—would be directed by a Native American. It took Chris Eyre's directorial debut with Smoke Signals in 1998 to jumpstart the Native directorial renaissance. And it has taken Georgina Lightning—and another decade—for the first Native female director to get behind the camera of a feature-length film.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  "Director Georgina Lightning and her crew on the set of Older than America. Filmed in Minnesota on the Fond du Lac Chippewa reservation, the movie initially drew resistance from the local tribe. But at the wrap party, a council member told Lightning, 'It's been the greatest experience for the spirit of the people and our tribe. There is already healing that has started from this.'"

Lautner:  Hiring me wasn't necessary

Taylor Lautner Poses An Interesting QuestionFifty percent of the time a franchise's success depends on casting the right actor (I blame part of "Superman Returns'" failure on Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth) and 50 percent of the time a franchise will be successful no matter who you cast (look at the ever-rotating casts of "Saw"). And to hear Taylor Lautner tell it, he believes "Twilight" falls squarely in the latter category.

"I think the fans would love anybody who played Jacob," he says in the October issue of Teen Vogue. "I'm just lucky to be the one who got the chance."
Comment:  We've heard talk about how hiring Lautner was necessary to get investors to fund the Twilight movie. Or necessary to get "tween" fans into the theaters.

But finally Lautner has stated what some of us realized long ago. Namely, that from the studio's standpoint, it doesn't matter who plays Twilight's Indian characters. Any decent actors could do the job and everyone--investors, executives, filmmakers, fans--would accept them.

In other words, Lautner has just shot down one of the rationales for hiring non-Natives like him rather than Natives like the Wolf Pack actors. Lautner wasn't necessary for Twilight's success and he knows it. Therefore, studios should stop making lame excuses and start doing the right thing: hiring Native actors for Native roles.

For more on the subject, see Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

August 30, 2009

Clovis site in Time Team America

Time Team America: The Topper Site

By K. Kris HirstThe Topper Site, an extensive and important Clovis site (likely ca 12,500-12,900 bp, no dates yet from the Clovis occupation at Topper) with a controversial preclovis occupation (bracketed between ca 15,000-50,000 bp) in South Carolina, is the focus in the new Time Team America program airing July 15, 2009. The opportunity to see Topper should make many archaeologists and others interested in the original colonization of the Americas eager to see this program.

The Time Team at Topper

Most of the excavation action by the Time Team America crew takes place in the sandy deposits of the Clovis site, including an attempt by team geophysicist Meg Watters to identify the Clovis deposit in unexcavated areas by using ground penetrating radar, which does eventually seem to be successful.

Program Notes

The program does a nice job of explaining the several ongoing current issues in Clovis and preclovis archaeology, including the "black mat theory" (aka "extraterrestrial impact theory") of how Clovis may have been ended by a cometary explosion over the Canadian ice shield (described by theory proponent Allen West) and three of the four prevailing theories about how the peopling of North America may have occurred (described by Time Team archaeologist Adrien Hannus). I'd have preferred that they spend more time on the more-likely theory of Pacific coastal migration and less time on the less-likely Solutrean connection; but that's just me.
The official PBS website:

Topper, South CarolinaDeep in the woodlands near the Savannah River in South Carolina lies a remarkable archaeological site that may challenge our understanding of America's first inhabitants. Named after the local man who discovered it, the Topper site was once the location of an ancient quarry, a kind of prehistoric workshop, where people came thousands of years ago to make weapons and stone tools. For archaeologists, the site is providing a wealth of material left behind by the Clovis people. Known for their distinctive stone spear points, the Clovis people are commonly thought to be the first to inhabit North America around 13,000 years ago. But evidence being found at sites like Topper is challenging the long-held theories about when people first came to the American continent. Did they follow big game across a land bridge from Siberia to North America 13,000 years ago or did they arrive much, much earlier and by a different route? Time Team America visited the Topper site to join the hunt for evidence that could shed light on these questions.Why We Went ThereThe Topper site is an excellent and undisputed example of a rich Clovis-era quarry site. This makes it a great case study for scientific inquiry—not only for researchers seeking to learn more about the Paleoindian people, but also for those with new theories about when people first arrived in the Americas and what happened to them. Time Team was invited to the site by Al Goodyear from the South Carolina Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology. The Topper site is abuzz with researchers in the summer months and Time Team joined the students, volunteers and scientists from several disciplines, all braving the bugs and the brutal heat in order to get a closer look at America's earliest people.Historical BackgroundLocated alongside the lovely Savannah River, the Topper site is an archaeological treasure—the richest Clovis-era site ever found in the Southeast. Topper was discovered by archaeologists in the 1980s, when local resident John Topper led Al Goodyear out to the site. Topper has been under the trowel ever since, continuously proving itself a cache of Paleoindian data.Full Episode

The Topper site controversy:

New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years AgoRadiocarbon tests of carbonized plant remains where artifacts were unearthed last May along the Savannah River in Allendale County by University of South Carolina archaeologist Dr. Albert Goodyear indicate that the sediments containing these artifacts are at least 50,000 years old, meaning that humans inhabited North American long before the last ice age.The key evidence:In 1998, Goodyear, nationally known for his research on the ice age PaleoIndian cultures dug below the 13,000-year Clovis level at the Topper site and found unusual stone tools up to a meter deeper. The Topper excavation site is on the bank of the Savannah River on property owned by Clariant Corp., a chemical corporation headquartered near Basel, Switzerland. He recovered numerous stone tool artifacts in soils that were later dated by an outside team of geologists to be 16,000 years old.And:Goodyear's team uncovered a black stain in the soil where artifacts lay, providing him the charcoal needed for radiocarbon dating. Dr. Tom Stafford of Stafford Laboratories in Boulder, Colo., came to Topper and collected charcoal samples for dating.

"Three radiocarbon dates were obtained from deep in the terrace at Topper with two dates of 50,300 and 51,700 on burnt plant remains.
Comment: The biggest achievement of the Topper visit seems to have been using ground penetrating radar to identify possible excavation sites. As in the Fremont episode, while this may be exciting to archaeologists, it isn't necessary exciting to laypersons.

Once again, the show didn't live up to the initial hype. The Time Team didn't uncover any evidence proving humans were at Topper before the Clovis era. The only conclusion offered was a weak "It's possible" and "We need to keep digging."

For more on the subject, see Fremont Indians in Time Team America and Fort Raleigh in Time Team America.

Below: "A 13,000 year old Clovis point found in the Time Team trench." (Photo: Meg Gaillard)

Al Carroll on Tarantino's scalping

Correspondent Al Carroll comments on Tarantino's Apache Warfare Fiction and Tarantino's Indian Revenge Fantasy:There was scalping done by Indian soldiers in both WW I and WW II. Offhand I recall it being done by Kiowa, Navajo, Ojibwe, Pawnee, and Lakota. There were scalp dances done with actual German scalps in the Kiowa and Pawnee communities. There was also at least one case of Germans being scalped by a Cherokee soldier, which I'll get to in a moment.

There was also an enormous amount of scalping and collecting of Japanese body parts done by Anglo soldiers in WW II. The most famous case was a Japanese skull sent to a white Marine's fiancee, which made the cover of Life magazine. FDR also got sent some Japanese body parts as gifts from a serviceman. He was appalled and threw them away.

What you describe in the film much more resembles the second case, collecting body parts for trophies or doing it to intimidate the enemy. Kiowa and Pawnee scalp dances are done by women to reconcile the spirit of the dead warrior with that of the man who killed him. The same reasoning is behind Navajo scalping, where it's actually the sideburns that are taken, not the whole scalp, and are burned in a ceremony done by the man taking them. I should also add this was not a widely done practice. The Navajo have very strong taboos about viewing or handling the dead, so most Navajo soldiers never did this.

The single case I know of where a Cherokee soldier (actually an officer) scalped German soldiers happened in Italy. He was part of an elite commando unit. The unit ambushed a German patrol. The officer decided to scalp the dead patrol members and leave them sitting by the side of the road, arms neatly crossed, unhelmeted with the bloody heads on display. This was done to intimidate and shock the enemy.

When I first read this account, I thought the officer may have known about Germans' love affair with Karl May books and all the falsehoods in them. In WW I some German commanders actually ordered their snipers to kill Indian soldiers before white ones when possible. There were some articles in both US and German papers where German soldiers were said to be fearful knowing that they would be facing Indian soldiers, fears likely provoked from reading those same May novels.

I don't know of any widespread use of scalping by Cherokee soldiers, or indeed by Cherokee warriors. I did find some accounts where the British, in fact, scalped many Cherokees during their colonial era wars with them.

Cherokee Confederate soldiers were also widely accused by northern newspapers of having scalped Union soldiers. But I couldn't find any evidence to corroborate that, so I consider it wartime propaganda or sensationalism.

You're right that Apaches were far more often the victims of scalping than the ones doing it. Sonora, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa all offered bounties for Apache scalps, which were collected not only by white and Mexican bounty hunters, but by a company of Shawnee, Seminole, and Tarahumara mercenaries called Sahuanos. The O'odham also collected Apache scalps, which they kept in baskets.

BTW, I looked up Tarantino's supposed half Cherokee mother. It made me suspicious, since Cherokee (and Indians in general) generally don't refer to themselves half this or quarter that when identifying, but simply as Cherokee, etc. Tarantino's website says "half Cherokee" but many other sites say "part Cherokee." That includes his own Facebook site.

Quentin Tarantino--Film Director, Actor, and Screenwriter

Tarantino also grew up in Tennessee, where seemingly every white claims to be "part Cherokee." It's long been my opinion that most white Southerners with a story of a Cherokee in the family history were actually told that by family trying to explain away a Black ancestor. I don't know if that's the case with Tarantino. I do think that if his mother were actually Cherokee, he'd have been raised to tell people, "I'm Cherokee" rather than the usual white Southerner claim of "I'm part Cherokee."
Comment:  In Tarantino's defense, I think it's better to claim he's "part Cherokee" than to claim he's "Cherokee" when he has no real Indian identity.

There have been a lot of Native soldiers in movies, books, and comic books. Usually they're stereotypically good at hunting, tracking, and killing people. Usually they don't scalp their victims.

For more on the issues raised here, see Defining Who's an Indian and Indians in the Military.

Below:  Little Sure Shot from the Sgt. Rock comics.

Lizard People under Los Angeles?

Here's a legend I had heard of but didn't know much about until now:

City Laid Out Like LizardSo firmly does [a "geophysical mining engineer" named G. Warren Shufelt] believe that a maze of catacombs and priceless golden tablets are to be found beneath downtown Los Angeles that the engineer and his aides have already driven a shaft 250 feet into the ground, the mouth of the shaft behind on the the old Banning property on North Hill Street overlooking Sunset Boulevard, Spring Street and North Broadway.

And so convinced is the engineer of the infallibility of a radio X-ray perfected by him for detecting the presence of minerals and tunnels below the surface of the ground, an apparatus with which he says he has traced a pattern of catacombs and vaults forming the lost city, that he plans to continue sending his shaft downward until he has reached a depth of 1000 feet before discontinuing operations.
Lizard People's Catacomb City Hunted

Engineer Sinks Shaft Under Fort Moore Hill to Find Maze of Tunnels and Priceless Treasures of Legendary Inhabitants"I knew I was over a pattern of tunnels," the engineer explained yesterday, "and I had mapped out the course of the tunnels, the position of large rooms scattered along the tunnel route, as well as the position of deposits of gold, but I couldn't understand the meaning of it."

Then Shufelt was taken to Little Chief Greenleaf of the medicine lodge of the Hopi Indians in Arizona, whose English name is L. Macklin. The Indian provided the engineer with a legend which, according to both men, dovetails exactly with what Shufelt says he has found.
Did Strange People Liver Under Site of Los Angeles 5000 Years Ago?

Comment:  I think I read about the Lizard legend in an LA Times article dated 7/22/96 and referenced here:

Lizard People Not Yet Found Underneath Los Angeles

I think Peter Matthiessen mentioned it in his 1984 book Indian Country also. And some websites noted a Hopi legend about Star Warriors (which believers equated with UFOs, aliens, and lizard people).

Hard to imagine that this story went unreported from 1934 to the 1980s and 1990s. Whatever happened to Shufelt and his claims? Did the authorities lock him up in an asylum, or what?

FYI, I don't think the traditional Hopi had structures called "lodges," much less "medicine lodges." "Greenleaf" isn't remotely similar to a genuine Hopi name. I've never heard the Hopi use the title "Little Chief." In fact, the tribe didn't have a single chief. People lived in a dozen independent villages with a religious figure akin to a priest leading each one.

As for as I know, no independent source exists to verify "Little Chief Greenleaf" and his claims. Shufelt seems to be the only source, which suggests he invented or imagined the Lizard People legend.

Steven Seagal as Leonard Peltier?!

A Facebook discussion on my Why No Peltier Movie? posting:Trace A. DeMeyer:  I interviewed Peltier and he said there was discussion in 1998 about Steven Seagal playing him. As a matter of fact, since Peltier was talking to him on the phone so much and a call was transferred from an asst. to him, the prison cut off his phone privileges--this was quite awhile ago at Leavenworth. Would make a great action movie but better if it was truth and not fiction! Some day the truth will come...there was a war going on and AIM had soldiers.

Patrick G. Barkman:  Thank G*D it wasn't done with Steven Seagal!

Trace A. DeMeyer:  It was Seagal's idea, I understand. But it went nowhere. Who should play Peltier?

Rob Schmidt:  Hmm. Seagal looks a bit like Peltier, at least. But the role should go to an Indian, of course.

Rob Schmidt:  Yeah, I could see this as an action movie starring someone like Seagal. Unfairly convicted, Peltier kicks and chops his way out of prison. As a nationwide manhunt tries to corral him, he tracks down Mister X, the mysterious culprit who really killed the FBI agents.

Rob Schmidt:  The SCALPED comic-book series tells a highly fictionalized version of the Peltier story. So does the Thunderheart movie. I think a new movie would have to be highly fictionalized too. The actual story--32-plus years in prison with no parole or pardon in sight--is totally unsatisfying.

Rob Schmidt:  As for who to play Peltier, you'd have to get a Native actor who could age from his 30s to his 60s. That suggests someone who's 30 to 40 now.
Comment:  For more on Seagal, see Stereotypes in On Deadly Ground.

Bear pits = boarding schools

Cherokee, North Carolina--Earth Keepers or the Eco-Shams?

By Chipa & Ruby WolfeFor anyone to justify the bears' bleak existence in the Cherokee bear pits while at the same time claiming the bears are like their children is exactly the reason why we have child welfare laws. I respectfully challenge the Chief and bear pit operator, Mr. Santiago, to spend a 48-hour stint in the bear pit to experience a small taste of the life these bears have been condemned too. I realize these practices have taken place throughout Cherokee for more than half a century but that does not make it right as there were many other unsavory and immoral practices that were once rampant across reservations that are no longer tolerated as the norm due to exposure and a new consciousness.

For someone to say the bears are being cared for adequately because they meet USDA guidelines is like saying Indian boarding schools were adequate because they met US Government standards while innocent Indian children were being whitewashed, molested, and deprived of being who they are. Many elders from reservation to reservation have lots of horror stories as to how their hair was cut and their bodies saturated with dust to kill lice, punished verbally and physically for speaking their only language and practicing their traditions. There is a huge parallel between the treatment of these bears and the treatment imposed upon the American Indian by their oppressors so Cherokee, North Carolina, does not speak for all Indian people regarding their indifference towards animals anymore than I do.
Comment:  The bear pit in the picture below certainly looks inhumane to me. Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words.

For more on the subject, see Why PETA Brought in Barker and Hicks:  Cherokee Bears Are Fine.

Preview of Tombs of the Vanishing Indian

Native Voices at the Autry:  Tombs of the Vanishing IndianNative Voices at the Autry is proud to kick off its Tenth Anniversary Season with the return of Marie Clements' Tombs of the Vanishing Indian. Marie's one-woman play, Urban Tattoo, was Native Voices' first production at the Autry (1999) and Tombs was the company's first commissioned play (2003). The play has received three workshops and staged readings with Native Voices (2004, 2005) as well as a recent workshop and reading this past February with Native Earth Performing Arts.

Tombs of the Vanishing Indian was inspired by Marie's visit to the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, an entity of the Autry National Center. That visit, coupled with stories of those who were sent to Los Angeles in the 1950s and the ways Indians are made to vanish in society gave rise to this powerfully compelling play. Tombs weaves together the stories of three sisters who, along with their mother, were made to relocate to LA from Oklahoma only to find themselves lost down three very different tunnels. We follow each of the women as they struggle with the choices they have to make and the choices that have been forced upon them.
Comment:  The Southwest Museum does have a long underground entrance through a tunnel. And the rooms where it stores its collections are not unlike tombs. Sounds like a good use of the museum as a metaphor for locking Indians in the stereotypical past.

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

National parks connect with Native youth

Film inspires US parks to connect with students

By Susan Montoya BryanSuina and Baros were among a handful of teenagers from nearby pueblos who spent weeks exploring Bandelier's backcountry and educating visitors about the northern New Mexico monument as part of a new program funded by the National Park Foundation and its partners.

Nearly three dozen National Park Service sites used foundation grants to develop stronger bonds with surrounding communities.

The grants were inspired by filmmaker Ken Burns' new documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." The film centers on people from all walks of life who helped create and protect the parks.

"We wanted to create a grant program that helped bring that real diversity and connection back to the parks," said Mark Shields, spokesman for the National Park Foundation.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Review of American Indians and National Parks.

Below:  Bandelier National Monument.

August 29, 2009

Why no Native performers at casinos?

Actor/musician Gary Farmer triggered an interesting exchange about Native performers at Indian casinos on Facebook:Gary Farmer:  Finally, on the same day I go to the Isleta casino owned by the Isleta Pueblo south of ABQ and attempt like the last two years to get a gig at their local club within the casino. I am told that, "We tried Indian bands but they don't tip and we can not make money off Bud Light." By the end of the day...I felt like I was in the twilight zone....How we suppose to grow as a society when the darkness prevails...?

Chris Matinet:  Doesn't the casino make enough money?....It would be in their best interest to have Indian bands playing there....Don't u think?

Marie Warne:  What the hey??? Totally unbelievable...and this is in the heart of Indian Country? I think you did cross into the 'twilight zone' Gary....Geez!

Robert Upham:  I think our Indian casinos can sell a unique identity if they would have a little courage. We need to define ourselves and they will come. Why do we have to serve up the same product as Vegas or Atlantic City?

Rob Schmidt:  Shortsighted, I'd say. Building awareness of Indians as a thriving and entertaining people ultimately will make the casino more successful.

Trace A. DeMeyer:  When I started to work for the Pequot, I heard the same thing. Whites who play slots at casinos don't go to see Native bands. It's the white guys who manage the casinos who make the booking decisions. The few bands like Robert Mirabal and Brule who did play Foxwoods didn't draw big crowds. Gary, you can't make new fans if you can't play the casinos. Don't give up....

Rob Schmidt:  Right, Trace. But the Indians who own the casinos and oversee the white managers should be thinking further ahead than than the next quarter's profits. If they emphasize Indians as a "brand," they may attract more curious customers. They also may persuade the public that gaming really is about helping many Indians, not enriching a few ones.

Rob Schmidt:  Creating "Indian awareness" is the reason Indian casinos use Indian motifs in their architecture and decor. It sets them apart and helps them establish their "brand." If they didn't think this was useful, they presumably wouldn't do it.

Hiring Indian entertainers (and other Indian talent) is the same idea. It helps create brand awareness and set Indian casinos apart from others. It may not contribute directly to the bottom line, but neither does the architecture and decor.

In short, it's all about positioning Indian casinos as a separate and distinct kind of venue. Something different from the usual run-of-the-mill casino or card club. If you want pure gaming, you go to Vegas or Atlantic City. If you want a bit of ambiance and culture, you go to an Indian casino.

Everything else on the property has an Indian "vibe." The names, the symbols, the food, etc. Native performers can contribute to this vibe too.
Comment:  I've actually written a few articles on casino entertainment. For instance:

Tribal circuit lit by top talents
Casinos Miss a Bet with Native Entertainment

So I feel I know something about the subject. <g>

As I indicated, there are several possible benefits from employing Native performers. 1) Attracting more customers. 2) Attracting a different demographic of customers. 3) Branding the casino as an Indian kind of place. 4) Creating goodwill with the public--especially decision-makers who question the Indians' bona fides.

Naturally, casinos can't just give Native performers one or two shots and then say it didn't work. They have to book and market the performers on an ongoing basis to build their following. For example, put them on Wednesday nights--a la the Native band Inkompliant at Pechanga--or whenever business is slow. Let them prove themselves over time.

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

P.S. As usual, I've edited the comments slightly to make them more readable.

Below:  Isleta Casino & Resort.'s Jim Thorpe billboard

Our Mission StatementThe Foundation for a Better Life creates public service campaigns to communicate the values that make a difference in our communities--values such as honesty, caring, optimism, hard work, and helping others. These messages, communicated utilizing television, theatres, billboards, radio, internet, etc., model the benefits of a life lived by positive values. The Foundation encourages others to step up to a higher level and then to pass on those positive values they have learned. These seemingly small examples of individuals living values-based lives may not change the world, but collectively they will make a difference. And in the process help make the world a better place for everyone. After all, developing values and then passing them on to others is The Foundation for a Better Life.BillboardsThe Foundation creates these billboards to promote our values. If you have a good idea for a billboard, we’d love to hear from you.Here's the one Native billboard (so far):

ExcellenceJim Thorpe didn’t excel in just one sport, but in many, making a name for himself in track and field, professional basketball and football, as well as major league baseball. In 1999 the Associated Press placed him third on their list of top athletes of the century, behind only Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan.

The sheer excellence with which Thorpe performed every sport he ever competed in is an inspiration to many. Undoubtedly, Jim Thorpe is one of the greatest athletes this world has ever seen.

Comment:  By my count has done 49 billboards so far. Only one appears to be Native, which is a fair proportion for the US population.

The billboards are pretty diverse, although they skew toward white males. For instance, they include Michael J. Fox (Optimism), Christopher Reeve (Strength), a white guy who wrote a book on living while dying (Motivation), a white guy who donated bone marrow to a stranger (Sacrifice), and a white guy who climbed Mt. Everest while blind (Vision). could've found a woman or minority for all these values.

But there's an opportunity here to promote more diversity. lists 68 values but has only 49 billboards. That means it's open to suggestions for 19 billboards. It also does TV and audio spots for each value, so even more opportunities exist.

For example, there's no billboard for True Beauty. Before someone submits a picture of a pretty young girl, how about this? A beautiful older Navajo woman sitting at her loom weaving a beautiful Navajo rug. That would emphasize the Native value that true beauty is about what someone does, not who someone is.

I submitted this suggestion to, but it's an example of what you could do. Find an unfilled slot and suggest something. Let's get a few more women and minorities into this values campaign.

Below:  An image from the Weaving Worlds documentary.

True Beauty

It's the process, not the person.


Beauty is as beauty does.

Attack of the Short-Haired White Professors

Gyasi Ross talks about his experience in college:

12.0:  Saga of the unshaven armpit--skins and feministsI found out that the mother/woman historically controlled many Skin groups’ respective clans/societies/bands. That control apparently caused strange excitement for many Short-Haired White Professors. Moreover, these Short-Haired White Professors saw that many Skin women take many leadership positions within Skin society. Plus, it just seemed like many Skin women were the heads of households.

The Short-Haired White Professors put these facts together and came up with a very strange conclusion: Skin women are the poster children for the western white feminist movement (what Rush Limbaugh refers to as “feminazis”). The Short-Haired White Professors taught this theory in social anthropology classes that I was silly enough to take.
And:Looking back, I think that my Short-Haired White Professors--and white women in general--are simply “looking” for something. Since they have historically been so oppressed, they crave an example of strong womanly leadership. Like many Skin women. These professorial white women presumably love the idea of powerful women in a “man’s world.” So they attached a fantasy image of Skin women and societies--that may have been accurate at one time--to current day Skins.

Simply put, the Short-Haired White Professors think that Skins’ gender relations are somehow better than napikwons’ and napiakis’ simply because Skin women have a history of being influential in Skin society.

Sadly, that’s not the case. Not even close. My Short-Haired White Professors paid attention to the theory and history, instead of the everyday reality of Skin women. I’ve watched many Skin women become leaders by default, not because they wanted to be.
Comment:  So Native women such as Ada Deer, LaDonna Harris, Wilma Mankiller, Winona LaDuke, and Rebecca Adamson became leaders only because circumstances forced them to? And not because they're natural-born leaders and visionaries? Hmm.

I'm sure Ross has a valid point about the liberal tendency to see everything through rose-colored glasses. But given his characterization of feminists as "short-haired" women with "unshaved armpits"--not to mention "feminazis"--I suspect he's somewhat prejudiced against these women. Note that Ross considers Disney's Pocahontas a "hot" role model for Native women.

For more on the subject, see "Feminist" Mohegan Princess.

Below:  A proto-feminazi who didn't shave her armpits?

MC Mong's Indian Boy video

Reader Enseniel E. brought this racist video to my attention. He nominates it for my Stereotype of the Month contest and offers his comments:

MC Mong--Indian Boy released July 23th

Checking up on the release of the album, it seems to have come out on July 22, 2009 so it's fairly new. In short, a Korean Rap performer utilizes American Indian stereotypes and guess what the name of the album is...Humanimal. "Indian Boy" just happens to be the second song on the track. Might not be the first but it's close. What's striking to me is that a number of people have called out the blatant stereotyping and quite a few have made the connection between the primitive animalistic theme and Natives (there's some hope after all) but many fans, Asians and non-Asians alike, have overall, fully supported the video and deny any stereotyping to have taken place. Some have even said that it promotes the positive aspects of Natives. What aspects those are I've yet to see in the video. I guess the whooping-with-hand-over-mouth and feathers is a way of paying respect? The thing that gets me is that Asians have been victims of racial stereotyping to a great effect during the Yellow Peril eras of U.S. immigration and of course WW II (the Japanese at least) and they'll decry that stain on American history yet when it's done on Natives, all of a sudden a lot of them play the denial game, or at least say it's a positive perception of Natives. There also seems to be a syndrome of everyone-does-it-itis. Ya know, "We get stereotyped so why can't we do it to others too?" Go fig.

Ah....Long email. Well, there ya go. Bye. And keep up the good work.
Comment:  Feathers, headdresses, warpaint, bows and arrows, whooping, drumming, deserts with cacti--this video uses some of the most common stereotypes. About all it's missing is a couple of teepees.

Note the guys dressed like 19th-century African explorers. Their fearful reaction to the "savages" suggests the idea of torture and cannibalism, even if these things aren't shown.

For more stereotypical music videos, see:

Dean Martin's Not Enough Indians
Girl Chief in Lady GaGa Video
Dissing Jana's Video

For more on the subject in general, see Native Videos and Cartoons.

Why no Peltier movie?

Correspondent Morten Krogh asked me about a Peltier movie via Facebook's instant messaging system. The following exchange ensued:Hi Rob. Just wonder. Why hasn't Hollywood made any movies about Leonard Peltier and his case? Do the FEDS have toooooo MUCH power? Remember the International Day of Solidarity for Leonard Peltier on Saturday, Sept. 12.There was the Incident at Oglala documentary.

I suspect no one thinks it would be marketable or successful. I wouldn't bet my money on such a movie. <g>I know. (I have that one in my collection.) But that's the only one.I'm impressed that Bury My Heart and the Wounded Knee episode of We Shall Remain got made.It's not for the money. :-) :-) It's for getting the true story out. And if the whole world knows how the FBI works, they [the world's people] will pressure the White House and so on. The sad thing is that no one will write about it in the media.

They re too scared. Maybe.
If some Hollywood filmmakers wanted to do a Peltier movie, you're probably right. The FBI and other powers that be would pressure them to stop.Maybe you should write about that. ?????Write about why no one is making a Peltier movie? I doubt I'd get more than the obvious answers from people. E.g., "No one in middle America would go to see this movie."

Besides, it doesn't have a real ending. Decades of unchanging imprisonment don't make for good drama. If and when he gets out, then maybe someone will deem the subject worthy.I really hope so.Comment:  Here you go, Morten. Now we've discussed the issue in the (online) media. Let's see if the FBI and company try to stop the Peltier pardon and movie now!

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

P.S. I've made minor changes to Krogh's messages to make them more readable.

2nd season for Cashing In

Cashing In Season Two Extras Casting CallThe APTN series Cashing In has started production of its 2nd season here in Winnipeg, and is having an open casting call for Aboriginal extras.

This half-hour dramatic comedy series is set in a fictional reservation, “Stonewalker” First Nation nestled comfortably beside an affluent beach community in Southern Manitoba, with a diverse cast of shark executives, smooth dealers, scheming slicksters and likable community members. Cashing In is filled with a star studded cast including Eric Schweig, Glen Gould, Sarah Podemski, and many more. This season will also include guest appearances by some of Canada’s most treasured Aboriginal artists including musician Derek Miller and Native comedian Don Burnstick.

This is a great opportunity to be a part of a true Canadian TV production!
Comment:  For more on the subject, see:

Cashing In reflects Native humor
Cashing In = Cosby Show?
No payoff in Cashing In
Cashing In on Canadian TV

Why Sheyahshe wrote his book

A decent article on Michael Sheyahshe's Native Americans in Comic Books:

A deeper look at comic booksWhy did he become so determined to write a book on the subject? Mainly, he wanted there to be a research tool for others, like him, who wanted more information on how Native characters have been represented in the graphic medium over the years. There have been plenty of books on Native Americans in film, literature, television and radio shows, but there was always something missing.

"There was nothing else published like it," Sheyahshe said. "That's why I got it published, but not why I wrote it. I wrote it because there's all these stereotypes in comics, and they shape how people view Native Americans. There was nothing out there, and the truth needed to be uncovered."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

August 28, 2009

Zionists:  Occupied territories = Manhattan

'Native American' protesters to US: Give us back Manhattan

Some 20 people protest in front of American Embassy against US pressure on Israel to freeze settlement building. Protesters dress up as Native Americans in effort to remind US that pioneers who settled their country did not quite ask where they could and could not build

Olga Gouresky
Some 20 people protested Wednesday outside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv against US pressure on Israel to freeze settlement building. Some of the protesters were dressed as Native Americans in a reminder to the US authorities that their country did not exactly ask the natives where they could live or build.

The protestors carried signs emblazoned with slogans like "Three countries for three races" and "America, we understand you--understand us, too" and "Freeze building west of the Atlantic Ocean. Red-skinned American within 1492 border."
And:"We wanted to show the Americans that they have their own problems," added another protester, writer Alexnder Kazarnovsky, a resident of Pardes Hanna. "They won't teach us and we won't allow foreigner to dictate (terms) to us. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and only Israel will decide where it is allowed to build."

"As an analogy, we showed here what would happen if we would dictate to them not to build in New York or in Washington. We wanted to say to them that just as they call upon us to give back certain territories in the State of Israel, we call upon them to give Manhattan back to the Indians--the third most important site to the Indians. To return to the borders of 1492," explained Kazarnovsky.

Comment:  Wow, what a spectacularly bad idea for a protest.

Let's note a few things:

  • These protesters imply that they're "Zionists" at one point. Either "Zionists" or "conservative Israelis" seems to describe them well. Clearly they don't represent all Israelis or all Jews.

  • Manhattan..."the third most important site to the Indians"? That's an unsubstantiated and unprovable claim. It's plainly ridiculous. (Third? Not second or fourth?) If there were some way to prove it, I doubt Manhattan would be in the top 20.

    Maybe the protester really meant what her misspelled sign said. Manhattan is the third-best Indian site for collecting holly. But I doubt it.

  • Many Indians still call for the return of their lands. Especially the lands guaranteed to them by signed treaties. To use this as a justification for not returning Israel's illegally occupied territory is a colossal fail.

  • The Zionists' message

    From a PR standpoint, it was smart to dress up as stereotypical Indians than stereotypical Dutch New Yorkers. It makes for a more colorful photo op. But from an intellectual standpoint, this protest is incredibly stupid. Zionists want to keep the land they they dress up as Indians to remind us of the land they stole.

    In Zionists = Puritans, Dan Lieberman argued that Israeli Zionists were more like the early Puritans than the later Americans who believed in Manifest Destiny. Now we see that they're some of both. (Puritans were practicing their own form of Manifest Destiny before the term existed, but that's a detail here.)

    Incredibly, here's the Zionists' core message: We're like the Euro-Americans who took Manhattan from the Indians. We take pride in our theft of native land; we'd do it again if we could. America's colonizers were among the first to instigate genocidal policies against the indigenous population. Since we've equated ourselves with them, draw your own conclusions about whether Zionism is (potentially) genocidal.

    Even Yeagley gets it, sort of

    Even David Yeagley, who is stupidly wrong about most things, pegged the stereotypical nature of this protest:

    “Fighting Sioux” in Tel Aviv!Whenever someone feels the United States government is out of line, who do they put on the front lines? Not the Black Watch of Scotland, but the good o’l American Indian warrior. Any time someone has something to say against America, they use the Indian. The American Indian is the quintessence of discontent with Washington.And:But the Indian remains malcontent, or so the image portrays us. The American Indian alone has not excelled in American society. He rather protests its foundation, and refuses to participate. Thus, the Indian has come to be associated with the rabble of the land, and the Indian is made into the mascot of all discontent, a toy of any and all protesters.Yes, Indians have long stood as symbols of protest against authority. As many people have observed and I reiterated in The Political Uses of Stereotyping.

    Everyone's an Indian

    Yeagley even noted how silly it is for Israelis to dress up as Indians when Palestinians did it two years ago:And to think, just two years ago, 2007, “Palestinians” dressed up as American Indians in Gaza to protest America’s support of Israel!

    Some 100 Palestinian residents, peace activists held a peaceful protest at Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus in the northern part of the West Bank, dressing like Native Americans to send a message to the visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

    This is my point. It doesn’t matter who the people are, what nation, what race, or what religion, when they have a beef with the United States, they dress up like Indians. This is the world image of the American Indian–protesting the American government. This is what we are in the eyes of the world: protesters.

    Too bad Yeagley didn't say more about the obvious contradiction here. Israelis and Palestinians can't both be "Indians" conceptually or thematically. Now these conservative Israelis have correctly identified themselves with the Euro-Americans who appropriated Native land and turned the inhabitants into refugees. Which means the Palestinians are the Indians in this scenario.

    Stereotypes and Yeagley wrong

    Unfortunately, Yeagley's prescription for this stereotyping is, well, stupidly wrong. As usual. He decries the use of Indians as "negative" he'd use them only as positive mascots. Dressing people as primitive savages with bows and arrows isn't a problem to him if they're "honoring" Indians. It's only a problem if they dare to criticize his beloved Great White Father in Washington DC.

    The actual solution is not to portray Indians stereotypically in any context. It's to portray them as they really are, free of myths and stereotypes. Too bad Yeagley, with his fetishism of savage Indians, doesn't understand this.

    Gotta say I love this posting. Finally some Zionists have demonstrated what many of us already knew. I wish I could give it the many headlines it deserves:

    Protesters Admit Occupied Territories Are Like Stolen Indian Land

    Message to Americans:  Help Us...We're Criminals Too!

    Let's Cheat the Indians and Palestinians Together

    Yes, It's True:  Zionism = Manifest Destiny

    For more on the subject, see American and Zionist Imperialism and Indian Country = Zion.

    P.S. No comments this time because I don't want fanatical reader Stephen posting a long diatribe "proving" that Israel's illegally occupied territories aren't illegally occupied. I already kicked his butt on that subject once and I don't want to do it again. E-mail me if you have any reactions to this item and I'll consider posting them.

    (Photo: Michael Borodkin

    Abenaki werewolves = Twilight ripoff

    Residents shooting for big time with werewolf romance

    By Joseph G. Cote"The Clear" is a feature-length independent film being produced by SEEntertainment through its feature-film arm, SNJ Films LLC.

    The movie, which stars 2008 Milford High School grad Caitlin Blair Thistle as Rose and Boston resident Grady Justice as Morgan, is described as a teen love drama twirled with a new kind of werewolf fable in the "Twilight"tradition.

    That tradition being that these are not your father's werewolves. Werewolves in "the Clear" are not the mindless savages brutally transformed by moonlight a la "The Wolf Man." Instead, the werewolves--including Rose and Morgan--are two of the last of a dwindling bloodline founded generations before by a single Abenaki Native American on the shores of the Clear.
    Comment:  Indians as werewolves for the umpteenth time. How original...not!

    These werewolves aren't mindless savages a la The Wolf Man. They're mindless savages a la a thousand old Westerns.

    IOW, they're Indians, which means they're animals on the inside. In this case, literally.

    No doubt these noble savages will struggle not to give into their darker urges. Their bloodthirsty desire to hunt people like prey. Because that's what Indians werewolves are: ruthless predatory beasts.

    Monkey see, monkey do

    How is The Clear not a blatant Twilight ripoff? Quileute Indians as werewolves from an ancient bloodline...Abenaki Indians as werewolves from an ancient bloodline. I must've missed the key differences, because this sounds like a bad carbon copy.

    The producers practically admit they're trying to cash in on Twilight. I wonder what their evidence is for thinking that derivative movies make money. The Star Wars ripoffs? The Indiana Jones ripoffs? The Terminator ripoffs?

    Really, I'd love to compare the most successful and unsuccessful movie ripoffs and see which list is longer. I'm guessing the latter would outnumber the former by five or ten to one.

    No real Indians in The Clear?

    I don't get a sense that any of the actors are even part Native. How much do you wanna bet that non-Natives will play these "Abenaki" werewolves? Will the producers consult with a single Abenaki to make sure their film isn't inaccurate or stereotypical?

    I doubt it. Unless Indians are involved and cast in The Clear, we should stay clear of it. And give it a big thumbs down.

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

    Below:  Lots and lots of Indian werewolves.

    "Hey, I'm part Indian! I can star in The Clear too!"

    Indian Werewolf--Google Images
    Indian Werewolves--Google Images
    Werewolf Horse
    Kashmir Siberians--About Us
    The Crimson Virus

    Maasai evicted like Indians

    Conservation's 'new breed of refugee' is all too familiar to Indian CountryPatches of white ash on parched earth are the latest markers of the Tanzanian government's efforts to evict Indigenous Maasai cattle-herders from their settlements in the name of conservation. In July more than a thousand Maasai took a hasty last look at smoldering homes as Tanzanian police forcibly removed them, making way for a safari camp controlled by a United Arab Emirates billionaire who jets in and jets out again when the urge to go big-game hunting strikes.

    The conservation refugees from the traditional Maasai territory of Loliondo are the most recent Indigenous victims of a slightly more subtle invasion than the land-grabs, mining concessions, damming of waterways, over-fishing and buffalo kill-offs of the past, said Rebecca Adamson, founder and president of First Peoples Worldwide. But conservation eviction began in the United States, she emphasized, with the transition of Yosemite Valley in California to Yosemite National Park, and the attendant eviction of Mewoc, Paiute, and Ahwahneechee Indians. They did not get reservations; they became refugees, banned from the park and prohibited from gathering their traditional food, water and material resources there.

    American Indian tribes will recognize their own experience in the Maasai evictions, Adamson said. "Our buffalo, our salmon and Appaloosa ponies, our corn seeds, our traditional ecological knowledge, our lands, were like their cattle. Our pride, our traditions faltered under the onslaught against our livelihood, like theirs. Our stewardship against global warming and environmental degradation, our sense of place, were besieged like theirs. Despite the many issues on Indian lands, tribes must try to stand up for the Maasai. They are Indigenous, like us, and their doom would be ours all over again."
    And:The latest Maasai eviction victims add to "a new breed of refugee" identified by Charles C. Geisler, professor of rural sociology at Cornell University. Global numbers for conservation refugees are impossible to come by. "However the most recent and rapid expansion of protected area initiatives has occurred in Africa and Asia," reports investigative journalist Mark Dowie in "Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples."

    Land areas protected for conservation purposes, Dowie adds, have risen from 600 in 1950, to 1,000 in 1990, to 110,000 today. Governments have found they can be profitable from tourism, trophy hunting and photography, while tax-exempt foundations have worked out complex ways to fulfill their pro-environmentalist missions and raise operational funding without too many questions asked.

    In almost all cases of conservation eviction, Geisler states, the victimized indigenous inhabitants of protected areas become invisible refugees. "We called them invisible citizens in America," Adamson said. "But by any name, through its treatment of Indians in the creation of its national parks, America established the model for export. The Serengeti took its specific bearings from Yosemite, and that meant excluding Indigenous inhabitants. In our environmentally conscious times, protected areas are the Manifest Destiny of the 21st century, so obvious in its assumed virtues to average citizens, so taken for granted by elite classes in their self-congratulating way, that no one thinks to consult the Indigenous peoples who know their land and its carrying capacity. That has got to change if we're going to save Indigenous peoples and our environment. Indian tribes and individuals, with their history, should be leading voices for change."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Obama, Yosemite, and Manifest Destiny and Review of American Indians and National Parks.

    Comic-book art at Indian Market

    Another excerpt from a newsletter by Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics (August 25, 2009):I have all sorts of stories from Indian Market that I plan to pass on to you in upcoming newsletters, but I thought I would start by mentioning that the connection between comics art and Pueblo art is starting to become amazingly strong. To illustrate my point, I've included two images from this year's event. The first is a wonderful adaptation of a TALES OF SUSPENSE cover, by Jason Garcia. Originally painted on a clay tile, Jason transformed this image of the Popay, the leader of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, into a superhero image. Given that Popay successfully led a loose confederation of tribal people armed only with spears and stone clubs against a Spanish occupying force that had horses and guns, the superhero attribution may not be too far off. Whatever the case, Jason's printed interpretation of his original clay tile won more ribbons in the SWIAA judging than any piece I've ever seen entered. That's pretty darn good for an image that might not even have been allowed into judging 20 years ago because it would have been considered far too influenced by Anglo culture.The second illustration is by my good friend Diego Romero. Diego has been featured in this newsletter previously, as he has been a huge comics fan ever since he was living in Berkeley as a small child during the 1980's. Diego choose to create a tribute to Jack Kirby as his primary piece for this year's Indian Market, featuring a Pueblo warrior with a stone club (Popay?) in hand-to-hand combat with a Spanish conquistador. If the pose of the image seems familiar, but you just can't place it, check out the cover to Captain America #106.As an aside, this huge bowl should have also have won several ribbons, but Diego had some serious family issues arise just before market. That meant that he wasn't able to get his bowl fired until the actual morning of Indian Market, too late for Friday morning's judging session. Given that some of Diego's less elaborate bowls are already prominently featured in the Smithsonian and British Museum collections, however, I'm certain that this incredibly detailed work would have taken best of class, if not best of division.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Jason Garcia's Tewa Tales and Indigenous Comic Art.

    Dakota downgraded to wolf-dog

    Dad now wants wolf-dog home

    No charges will be filed in infant case

    By Greg Kocher
    Alexander James "A.J." Smith was 3 days old on July 20 when Dakota, a female wolf-dog hybrid, took the baby from a crib and carried him outside the Smiths' Jessamine County home.

    The baby suffered a cracked skull, cracked ribs, and a collapsed lung and a partially collapsed lung. He was in critical condition for several days at University of Kentucky Hospital. A.J. has since returned home.
    Comment:  Interesting. I see they're no longer calling Dakota a Native American Indian dog. In fact, they're calling her a wolf-dog hybrid, which is clearly different.

    I wonder if the newspaper decided the claims about the "breed" were questionable at best and fraudulent at worst. I suspect that's what happened.

    For more on the subject, see Is "Indian Dog" a Breed? and Indian Dog Steals Baby.

    Below:  "Dakota, the 4-year-old wolf-dog hybrid, is staying for now at the Jessamine County SAVE Center in Nicholasville." (Greg Kocher)

    Indians at St. Augustine anniversary

    Native Americans focus of 444th birthday eventsOf course, the Spaniards were not the first to think of the St. Augustine area as “home.” When the Menendez expedition arrived, Native Americans known as the Timucua had been living there for at least 500 years. In fact, from the first moments of their arrival, the Spaniards encountered the residents of Seloy, a large Timucuan village located at the present site of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park.

    From 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, September 3-4, the park will feature exhibits and living history presentations highlighting the culture of the Timucuas, as well as the Seminoles and other U.S. Indian tribes that have been part of Florida’s history.

    In addition, from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, an Indian Pow Wow honoring Native American traditions that are part of the city’s history will be held at the park. Admission is free to all of these events.
    Comment:  St. Augustine also claims to have celebrated the "truly first Thanksgiving." But Texas claims a Thanksgiving feast was held there some 25 years earlier.

    For similar anniversary celebrations, see "America's First Settlement"? and Lake Champlain's 400th Anniversary.

    Meyer sued for plagiarism

    'Twilight' Author Sued For 'Rip-Off'A woman is suing Twilight author Stephenie Meyer over allegations that she stole ideas for the fourth novel in her vampire franchise.

    Meyer was forced to defend herself earlier this month after Jordan Scott sent a cease and desist letter to the publishers of her 2008 novel Breaking Dawn, the fourth in the hit Twilight series, alleging that it bears a "striking and substantial similarity" to Scott's 2006 fantasy The Nocturne.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

    August 27, 2009

    Serra almost a saint

    Junipero Serra needs just one more miracle

    To be named a saint, the founder of California's missions has to be credited with a final marvel. One possibility: an artist who is still alive after losing a third of her skull in 14 brain surgeries.

    By Steve Chawkins
    At one point, he walked back to Mexico to lobby for a decree barring soldiers from sexually abusing native women.

    Yet in his missions, flogging and shackling were common punishments. Indians who left were pursued and brought back--sometimes to die from European diseases that ran rampant.

    The missions "almost failed to recognize inhabitants of this continent as being fully human," said Sister Kateri Mitchell, director of the Tekakwitha Conference, a Native American Catholic group.

    Vaughn, who says that saints "are not perfect, but holy," has heard it all before. "You can't judge a 17th or 18th century figure by 21st century rules. How many of our Founding Fathers owned slaves?"

    That argument has sparked dissent.

    "Sainthood requires that Serra's experiences--especially those with the California Indians--transcend time and place," writes James A. Sandos, scholar of the Mission era at the University of Redlands. "Sainthood means that his is a universal example for all Catholics to follow."

    In 1985, Pope John Paul II found that Serra had lived a life of "heroic virtue" and declared him "venerable." That triggered the hunt for two miracles--one for beatification and one for sainthood.
    Comment:  Our Founding Fathers weren't saints, Father Vaughn. They were grossly imperfect humans who did bad as well as good things. If that's your best argument for canonizing Serra--that he, Washington, and Jefferson all enslaved people--you lose the debate.

    By the way, many of the Founders knew slavery was wrong, but they were too selfish and greedy to end it. So your analogy fails for that reason too. Try again.

    You say you've heard all the arguments for condemning Serra and his attitude toward Indians? I've heard all the arguments for excusing him and his attitude toward Indians. Any time you want me to kick your butt on the subject, just let me know.

    If you study your own religion's history, you'll learn some Christians deplored the Spanish treatment of Indians almost from the beginning. In fact, the Church held debates on the morality of its actions in the 1500s. So spare us the ridiculous claim that people were unaware of what Jesus taught until the 20th century.

    Ridiculous religion

    The article also notes that the Church has exhumed Serra's body twice and shaved bits of his bones so people could have a piece of him. Those Christians are as superstitious as children with their lucky rabbit's feet. But they think it's weird that Indians hang dreamcatchers or carry medicine bags?!

    The Church has devoted 10,000 pages and countless man-hours to proving Serra is a saint. Do Catholics think they'll defeat Jews and Muslims in heaven if they have more saints on their team? They already have thousands of them, so why would they expend so much effort to find one more?

    Showing how screwy the canonization process is, Wikipedia reports that Christopher Columbus was "a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church in 1866." Yeah, because it was a miracle he blundered into the Americas on his way to Asia. And a miracle some indigenous wise man who saw the future didn't give him the same welcome as Magellan and Captain Cook.

    For more on the subject, see Mural Depicts Subservient Indians and The Missions' Mission.

    Below:  Junipero Serra fondles guides an Indian boy at Mission San Juan Capistrano.