November 30, 2009

Palin quotes John Wooden (Legs)

Palin's Latest Rogue Gaffe

By Geoffrey DunnAs the epigram to Chapter Three, "Drill, Baby, Drill," Palin assigns the following remarks to the Hall of Fame hoops coach:

Our land is everything to us... I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it--with their lives.
Only the quote wasn't by John Wooden. It was written by a Native American activist named John Wooden Legs in an essay entitled "Back on the War Ponies," which appeared in a left-wing anthology, We Are the People: Voices from the Other Side of American History, edited by Nathaniel May, Clint Willis, and James W. Loewen.

Here's the full quote:

Our land is everything to us. It is the only place in the world where Cheyennes talk the Cheyenne language to each other. It is the only place where Cheyennes remember the same things together. I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it--with their life. My people and the Sioux defeated General Custer at the Little Big Horn.
Comment:  Not only did Palin misattribute and mangle the quote, she misused it. Wooden Legs is talking about protecting the land from Americans, not protecting for Americans so they can drill it.

Of course, Palin's ghostwriter Lynn Vincent is really to blame. She's the one who has Palin quoting Plato and Aristotle as if Palin knows who they are.

For more on the subject, see Natives Call Going Rogue Fiction and The 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Below:  "I made a mistake? Who cares? Facts are for Democrats, not Republicans."

Wampanoag vs. wind turbines

YOUR VIEW:  Respect Wampanoag opposition to Cape Wind

By Gerard R. BourassaI commend the Wampanoag for their efforts to block the construction of 130 wind turbines on historic and picturesque Nantucket Sound. We should not lightly dismiss these American Indians' claims that the project would impede their ability to properly practice certain religious rituals that require them to have an unobstructed view of the sunrise.

Furthermore, we should be more sensitive to their concerns that erecting the wind turbines would disrupt sacred burial grounds. In general, I am supportive of wind turbines. Anything that promotes clean energy and makes us less dependent on fossil fuel and therefore on other countries is certainly a positive concept. However, in this case, the religious rights of the People of the First Light who have called this area home for more than 12,000 years should take priority.

Although I know that no malice is intended toward the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes by the proponents of the Nantucket Sound wind turbines, one can't help but think that this episode is just the latest manifestation in long history of incidents in America of gross disrespect and utter disregard for the spiritual rituals and religious sites of the indigenous.

It's a shameful history that spans centuries from the "Pilgrim fathers" desecrating the graves of the natives when the former arrived in the "New World" to modern day non-Indian charlatans trying to get rich by counterfeiting sacred Native American sweat lodge ceremonies.
Comment:  I'm not sure the Wampanoag are declaring Nantucket Sound a sacred site. I think they're declaring their unobstructed view of the ocean and the rising sun part of a sacred ceremony.

Even so, they're getting into some tricky territory. Can a group declare its view of the land or ocean a First Amendment right? It can try, but I doubt any US court will uphold such a right.

For a somewhat related case, see Comanches Kick Army's Butts.

Fireworks celebrate Native heritage

Fireworks light up pueblo sky to honor proclamation

By Bertha ParkerMoments after learning about the historic Presidential Proclamation honoring tribes via email Sky City's Marketing Director Brianna Mitchell began planning a public celebration for Nov. 27. According to Mitchell there wasn't much time to plan more than three days of celebratory events. The celebration included an eight minute fireworks display the evening of Nov. 27; Acoma dance performances at Sky City Casino; Arts and Crafts at Acoma's Cultural Center and Museum; multi-instrument and flute performances by Adrian Wall of Jemez Pueblo at Sky City Casino.

“There have been a lot of people and lots of excitement about the presidential proclamation. It's to honor the First Nations of the United States and recognizes the contributions we Native people made to this country especially at Thanksgiving. We associate Thanksgiving with Native Americans helping the Pilgrims with our crops,” said Adrian Wall.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see History of Native American Heritage Day.

Below:  The church and pueblo atop the Acoma mesa.

Coushatta Heritage Center set for 2010

Coushatta Heritage Center set for 2010The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is working to protect and showcase it's rich culture and proud history, investing in the development of a new, 20,000-square-foot Coushatta Heritage Center that is set to be completed in 2010.

The Center will house a theater, interactive digital exhibits and video displays that tell the Tribe's story. It will also feature an archive of genealogical materials and information about the Coushatta language, "Koasati." Specifically, it will include a Koasati language library featuring books, computer games, tapes and audio equipment.

"The new Coushatta Heritage Center will be a state-of-the-art facility that will provide a unique and entertaining way for visitors from around the state, the country and the world to learn about the Coushatta." said Tribal Chairman Kevin Sickey. "It will also serve as an important educational and cultural resource for the Coushatta community."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Coushatta's 3D Environment.

Navajo intern in the White House

Daily Times intern goes to CBS, and now the White House

By Brendan GiustiWhen the White House calls, you do what Charly Edsitty did: Take the job.

Edsitty, a former intern at The Daily Times, will spend the spring semester as an intern in the Office of Presidential Correspondence.

However, the White House isn't the pinnacle of her career, her mentors say, but rather a launching pad into the world of journalism for the Baylor University senior and Navajo journalist.

As an intern at the White House, Edsitty will handle official correspondence on behalf of the president, which can range from concerns from citizens to letters to elected officials.

First Goodwill store on the rez

Lac du Flambeau Goodwill store is first-ever on an Indian reservationThe first Goodwill store to be located on an Indian reservation has its grand opening next week in northern Wisconsin.

Members of the Lac du Flambeau tribe have wanted more retail stores on the reservation for years. Patricia O’Neil is with the Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community, one of the partners behind getting the first Goodwill store built in “Indian Country.” O’Neil says it’s a good fit and a good time for its grand opening. She expects the store will be successful because more people are using resale services because of tight budgets and the green movement.

November 29, 2009

The origin of "redskin"

A Linguist's Alternative History of 'Redskin'

Term Did Not Begin as Insult, Smithsonian Scholar Says; Activist Not So Sure

By Guy Gugliotta
For many Americans, both Indian and otherwise, the term "redskin" is a grotesque pejorative, a word that for centuries has been used to disparage and humiliate an entire people, but an exhaustive new study released today makes the case that it did not begin as an insult.

Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard spent seven months researching its history and concluded that "redskin" was first used by Native Americans in the 18th century to distinguish themselves from the white "other" encroaching on their lands and culture.

When it first appeared as an English expression in the early 1800s, "it came in the most respectful context and at the highest level," Goddard said in an interview. "These are white people and Indians talking together, with the white people trying to ingratiate themselves."

It was not until July 22, 1815, that "red skin" first appeared in print, he found -- in a news story in the Missouri Gazette on talks between Midwestern Indian tribes and envoys sent by President James Madison to negotiate treaties after the War of 1812.

The envoys had rebuked the tribes for their reluctance to yield territory claimed by the United States, but the Gazette report suggested that Meskwaki chief Black Thunder was unimpressed: "Restrain your feelings and hear calmly what I say," he told the envoys. "I have never injured you, and innocence can feel no fear. I turn to all red skins and white skins, and challenge an accusation against me."
The word occurred a few decades earlier in a non-public usage:In fact, the earliest usages of "redskin" that Goddard tracked down were in statements made in 1769 by Illinois tribal chiefs involved in delicate negotiations with the British to switch loyalties away from the French.

"I shall be pleased to have you come to speak to me yourself," said one statement attributed to a chief named Mosquito. "And if any redskins do you harm, I shall be able to look out for you even at the peril of my life." The French used the phrase "peaux Rouges"--literally "red skins"--to translate the chief's words.

By this time the original colonial designations of "Christian" and "Indian" were giving way to "white," "red" and, with the increase in slave traffic, "black": "Color didn't originate with Indian-white relations but with slavery," said University of Connecticut historian Nancy Shoemaker. "It is slavery that makes color seem to be a way to organize people."
Many dictionaries claim "redskin" originated in 1690-1700, but Goddard says that isn't true:Reporting his findings in the European Review of Native American Studies, Goddard noted that the first appearance of the word was long thought to have occurred in a 1699 letter written by "Samuel Smith," quoted in a 1900 memoir by his descendant, Helen Evertson Smith, titled "Colonial Days & Ways."

"My father ever declardt there would not be so much to feare iff ye Red Skins was treated with suche mixture of Justice & Authority as they cld understand," the purported letter said. Another part of the letter is quoted in the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary as the etymological origin of "redskin."

When Goddard studied the letter, however, he concluded it was a fake: "The language was Hollywood. . . . It didn't look like the way people really wrote."

And it wasn't.
Comment:  As the article notes, the words "red" and "red man" were used much earlier to describe Indians. "Redskin" probably evolved naturally over time, perhaps in French, from "red man" to "red-skinned man" to "red skins" to "redskin."

I'm glad the author mentioned the transition from terms like Christian and Indian to color-based terms. I'm sure a lot of that had to do with the escalation of slavery and the Indian wars, which happened in the early 1800s. To deal with the potential troublemakers, I suspect Americans denigrated and demonized people with color labels. White was obviously the color of truth, justice, and the American way, while other colors were tainted. (Black = evil, red = blood, brown = mud, yellow = sickness.)

As the Indians resisted American encroachment more violently--how dare they!--people's feelings toward them changed. Before Indians had been symbols of liberty: the Boston Tea Party, the Order of the Red Men, Indians representing America on currency. Now they became savage criminals and killers.

The word "redskin" probably was ideally suited to become a slur. The "noble red man" easily converted into a "red-skinned devil" or a "dirty redskin." The article gives a few of the many examples:An 1871 novel spoke of "redskinned devils." The Rocky Mountain News in 1890 described a war on the whites by "every greasy redskin." The Denver Daily News the same year reported a rebellion by "the most treacherous red skins."As historian Nancy Shoemaker notes, "redskin's" origin, even if it was positive, has nothing to do with its meaning today. It became derogatory over time and it remains so.

For more on the subject, see Confusing "Red" and "Redskin" and "Redskin" Predates Columbus?.

How Chaske Spencer got started

Oklahoma-born actor Chaske Spencer becomes leader of the pack in “Twilight: New Moon”For Spencer, 34, his first major role as an actor was playing the title character in an off-Broadway production of “Dracula.” The Oklahoma-born thespian finds himself at the other end of the supernatural spectrum in “New Moon” as Sam Uley, a Quileute Indian who becomes first of his generation to tap his people’s genetic ability to transform into werewolves. Their job is to protect the tribe from vampires, and Sam becomes leader of the pack.

Born in Tahlequah, the Lakota Sioux actor grew up on reservations in Montana and Idaho. As a child he dreamed of becoming a photographer but eventually moved to New York City to pursue acting. After doing some theater work, he was discovered by TV and film casting director Rene Haynes, who cast American Indian actors to play the “New Moon” werewolves.
More on how Spencer got into movies:

Alpha wolf in 'Twilight' blockbuster has Poplar roots

By Elizabeth L. HarrisonWhen Chaske was 17, some friends of his parents invited the family to the First Americans in the Arts Awards in California. It was there that he first crossed paths with Great Falls native Rene Haynes, a Los Angeles-based casting director recognized for her Native American and First Nations casting.

"Rene Haynes was there, and she said, 'That kid has some real talent,'" Jan said. "And I kinda always knew, because he's so determined."
And:The woman he had met with his parents on their trip to California cast him in the 2002 feature film "Skins," about a Lakota Sioux tribal police officer in South Dakota.

"She's altered my life," Chaske said about Haynes, a graduate of C.M. Russell High School.

Haynes said Chaske was a latecomer in the auditioning process. Just before they made their final casting decision, Chaske's parents' friend Bob Hickswas talking with Haynes and mentioned Chaske.

At the time, the actor did not have an agent, so he had not been submitted for the film. Haynes got in touch with him and had him overnight a videotaped audition.

"It really was one of those 'stop the presses' moments. As I said, we were about to cast someone else—but when we got to Chaske's tape that all changed," she said. "He had the ideal look, and he was an excellent, skillful actor."
Comment:  Spencer must've attended the first FAITA ceremony in 1992. I've been attending these ceremonies since the fourth year in 1995.

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

Quileutes welcome Twilight fans

Twilight fiction doesn't always jibe with Quileute legend

By Paige DickersonThe Quileute people are ready to embrace the fans and teach them the real legends--which do not include the werewolves Meyer's books describe.

Though the legends about the origins of the Quileute people in the best-selling vampire books set in Forks and LaPush have some resemblance to the real stories--they both involve wolves--the tribe wants to make sure fans are aware of the rich reality of their true culture.

"We want to assure that all visits to LaPush are successful, enjoyable and provide lasting memories to those that are blessing us with their presence," said tribal councilwoman Anna Rose Counsell.

"The Twilight phenomenon gives the Quileutes the opportunity to educate those about who we are by way of sharing our own stories, food, song and dance passed down from generation to generation," she added.
And:Hatch said that, by some estimates, more than 100,000 visitors may visit LaPush throughout the next several years.

So far in 2009, more than 70,000 visitors have passed through the visitor centers in Forks and LaPush seeking to see the spots named in the books.

"Stephenie Meyer is a great fiction writer and her characters bring excitement to her story," said executive director Bill Peach.

"The culture of the Quileute tribe is also very exciting because of the very long time they have lived here, and the success of the tribe in preserving their culture.

"An opportunity for visitors to learn about the culture is to experience tribal art and purchase items such as handmade cedar baskets."

Since the "Twilight boom" the Quileute have embraced fans with storytelling on special fan weekends and events to entertain and teach.
Comment:  I previously posted articles on whether the Quileutes were embracing the Twilight phenomenon: Quileutes Ponder Twilight Tourism and Quileutes Embrace Twilight Tourism. Now it seems they're getting used to the idea and thinking of how to benefit from it.

Below:  "Chris Morganroth III tells the legend of the Quileute people." (Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News)

Jacob's Quileute words = Easter egg

What did Jacob say to Bella? Among Quileutes, mum's the word

By Paige DickersonQuileute tribal members say Taylor Lautner, who depicts Jacob Black in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," spoke the tribe's language well, but they won't translate.

In the movie, Lautner's Jacob leans in for a first kiss with Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, when he murmurs a phrase in Quileute.

"I love you" seems to be the most popular translation chosen by blogging fans of the four-novel saga set in Forks, LaPush and Port Angeles.

But the tribe isn't saying.

"Please know we would love to translate the phrase for you, but out of respect for Jacob and his feelings for Bella, we are going to keep that private for now," Jackie Jacobs, tribal publicist, said in a prepared statement.

"We are very excited that Jacob's 'Quileute whisper' has generated worldwide interest in our beautiful and very unique language."

Lautner also has stayed mum on the phrase and told MTV that it was an "Easter egg that only the most hard-core 'Twilight' fans will be able to crack."
Comment:  Respect for the feelings of a fictional character? Sound more like a clever marketing ploy to me. Don't tell people what the words mean; keep 'em guessing and thinking about the Quileute language.

Good strategy on publicist Jackie Jacobs's part. Keep the words secret "for now." Reveal them at the most opportune time--perhaps when interest in the Quileute tribe is starting to flag. You probably could build a whole weekend event around the revelation: "Come learn the secrets of the Quileute, including the words Jacob said to Bella!"

For more on the subject, see Native Aspects of New Moon and Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

Below:  "Terra Sheriff, Page Foster, Taegan Counsell and Chelsea Jackson--all members of the Quileute tribe--arrive in style in a limosuine to the Los Angeles premiere of 'New Moon' on Nov. 18. The group were treated to the premiere as a result of the tribe's prominent spot in the movie. At the event the girls met many of the celebrities in the film--including Taylor Lautner, who plays the Quileute teen Jacob Black in the movie--as well as author of the books Stephenie Meyer." (Photo by Quileute Tribe)

eBay's guidelines for Native items

Correspondent DMarks tells us what eBay is doing to ensure that Native arts and crafts are Native:I was just now listing a Native-related item in eBay, and got this warning:

Before completing your listing, make sure you're following these requirements:

If you're listing an art or craft made in 1935 or later and you're describing the item as Alaska Native, Indian, or Native American, you need to:

Include the state or federally recognized artisan’s name and tribal affiliation.

List the item in Collectibles > Cultures & Ethnicities > Native American: US > 1935-Now.

If you're listing an art or craft that's not made by an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized tribe and the item is in the style of a Native American piece:

You should list the item in Collectibles > Cultures & Ethnicities > Native American: US > Non-Native American Crafts.

You're not allowed to describe the item as Alaska Native, Indian, or Native American.

Make sure your listing follows these guidelines. If it doesn't, it may be removed, and your buying and selling privileges could be restricted

November 28, 2009

First Thanksgiving on Tonight Show

On Conan O'Brien's first Thanksgiving Tonight Show (airdate: 11/26/09), he and Pee Wee Herman did a Thanksgiving skit:

They stuck to the standard myth: Indians helped the Pilgrims survive and they all celebrated together. The narration wasn't stereotypical, but the imagery was. Tipis in the background...Max Weinberg as a Plains-style chief...and Andy Richter as the chief's daughter, a buxom Indian maiden in buckskin and braids.

A few days before, I saw a promo for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It showed a second or two of a skit about a modern Thanksgiving dinner. Helping to serve the dinner was a Plains Indian chief.

Not much has changed in the last few decades, clearly. Americans believe the Pilgrims celebrated with Indians led by a chief in a Plains headdress. We saw it in Wednesday's Twitter Tracker segment and in the racist JibJab video. Most people have seen a Plains chief at Thanksgiving so often they have no reason to think it's untrue.

Dinner with "Squanto"

In another Thanksgiving skit, O'Brien had dinner with three "friends," including his snobbish producer. When the producer supposedly made Conan mad, Conan called him "Squanto." Huh? Where did that come from?

The producer was acting strange, unpleasant, cool and aloof. Did O'Brien call him a Puritan or a Pilgrim--"Myles Standish," perhaps? No. On an unconscious level, O'Brien felt an Indian name was a fitting epithet. If you have a strange, unpleasant, cool and aloof guest at a Thanksgiving dinner, he's a "Squanto."

Conan the typical American

Conan has given us America's view of Indians in a nutshell. Superficially, he thinks they're noble and "cool." He mentions them occasionally in his monologues. To prove he's a sensitive guy, he always uses the politically correct term "Native Americans." (I don't think he's ever called them "Indians," and he pauses delicately before saying "Native Americans" as if he's afraid of saying the wrong thing.)

But he knows little or nothing about them. To him they're all Plains Indians in feathers and leathers. He's probably heard of Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Sacagawea, Pocahontas, and Squanto, and that's about it.

And when push comes to shove, he thinks they're a bit...unnatural. They wear funny costumes and have funny names. They're stoic and surly and likely to attack someone if provoked. They're half-crazed mystics who think the world is going to end in 2012. Unless you visit them in their casinos, they're nowhere to be found.

For more on The Tonight Show, see Native Float Joke on Tonight Show and Taylor Lautner on Tonight Show.

Native float joke on Tonight Show

Conan O'Brien does it again. On Wednesday's Tonight Show (airdate: 11/25/09), he mentioned the Oneida parade float:New York is getting ready for Thanksgiving. Yep. One of the f-- [cheers for New York City]

You're not there now...ah. So settle down.

Yeah, one of the floats at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City this year is going to feature a group of Native Americans. Which is cool. [applause] Yeah. Yeah, that's a good idea. Yeah.

Yeah, the Native Americans are happy 'cuz thanks to the bad economy, Manhattan is back to being worth only $24, all came full circle.

Twitter Tracker

Unfortunately, O'Brien undercut this "cool" joke with his subsequent Twitter Tracker bit. This is an occasional comedy sketch in which his announcer reads supposedly "hot" celebrity Twitter tweets.

For Thanksgiving, the show relabeled tweets as "twanks" (tweets saying "thanks"). It accompanied these "twanks" with the Twitter bluebird wearing a Plains chief headdress and warpaint. First the bluebird "chief" shot a flaming arrow into the "Twanks" logo. Then it destroyed the logo with a tomahawk toss.

Dead Mayans?

Then the show's first guest, comedian Norm McDonald, came on. He joked about the movie 2012, which he'd seen a commercial for during the break. After wondering if people were supposed to fear the year 2012 in advance, he launched the following exchange:MCDONALD:  It's not that frightening to me and I'll tell you why.

O'BRIEN:  Oh, really...why's that?

MCDONALD:  Well, uh, the Mayans, apparently, very bad predictors.

O'BRIEN:  Oh! [laughter]

MCDONALD:  So they said the world will end in the year 2012. However, since then, they have all died. [laughter and applause]

O'BRIEN:  Good point.
Actually, not a good point. I'm not sure the Maya ever predicted that they'd be around in 2012. Smart prognosticators understand that every civilization declines and falls, including their own.

Of course, Newspaper Rock readers know that the Maya didn't predict the end of the world in 2012. And that millions of Maya are still alive and practicing their religion. The Maya civilization arguably died, but not the people.

There's your yin and yang of media representations for you. First Conan tells a joke noting that Indians are alive and participating in current events. Yay! Then he does a bit portraying Indians as stereotypical people of the past, known only for their deadly weapons. Boo! Then his guest says an entire ethnic group is dead when it isn't. Double-boo!

Anyway, I continue to give The Tonight Show credit for mentioning Native news and people, even it if doesn't do it well. Maybe Conan will have an Indian--Sherman Alexie? Buffy Sainte-Marie? Charlie Hill?--as a guest someday. And no, I don't count Jessica Biel or Taylor Lautner.

For more on the Thanksgiving float, see Oneidas Don't Care About Peace?! For more on The Tonight Show, see Taylor Lautner on Tonight Show and 2012 Joke on Tonight Show.

How New Moon robbed Natives

Alpha wolf in 'Twilight' blockbuster has Poplar roots

By Elizabeth L. HarrisonFor Chaske, his heritage has been both a blessing and a curse. Some Native American roles, he said, he was very proud of, while others he auditioned for only because he needed a job.

"It's a double-edged sword," he said. "I've lost roles because I wasn't Indian enough. I can't figure it out, and I don't want to waste time trying to figure it out."

Being Native got him the role of Sam, he added, for which he's grateful.

"It's cool because it's very contemporary," Chaske said. "It's not all leather and feather."

And the exposure he's received from "Twilight: New Moon" has helped him land non-Native parts, as well as launch his own production company, Urban Dreams.

"The Twilight Saga films are allowing a new generation of young native and First Nations actors to be discovered by mainstream audiences," Haynes said. "That is very cool and exciting!"
Comment:  This is all good for Spencer and the other members of the Wolf Pack. But consider this: Judging by the Google hits for each of their names, Taylor Lautner is more popular than the four "wolf boys" combined:

"Taylor Lautner":  3,390,000 hits
"Alex Meraz":  1,300,000 hits
"Chaske Spencer":  753,000 hits
"Kiowa Gordon":  722,000 hits
"Bronson Pelletier":  547,000 hits

Lautner's fame should've gone to a Native actor.

Look at the response Lautner got on The Tonight Show. He was perhaps the most popular guest since Conan O'Brien took over the show. He's a star of New Moon, the most popular movie in the country. At the moment he may be the second most popular actor in Hollywood (after Robert Pattinson). No non-Twilight actor--not Will Smith, Tom Cruise, or Tom Hanks--has more eager and enthusiastic fans.

Before the Twilight movies, Lautner was a little-known child actor. Because of them, he may be a superstar, a leading man, or at least a well-employed actor for the rest of his career. Like other franchise stars--Sean Connery, William Shatner, Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, Daniel Radcliffe--I suspect he'll be always be a recognizable name brand.

What could have been

Now imagine if the Jacob Black role had gone to a Native actor instead. This actor would've become the most famous Native actor in the world--more famous than Wes Studi, Graham Greene, or Adam Beach. He singlehandedly would've put Native actors on the map.

People would be clamoring not only to hire him, but to hire actors like him. "The prime teen demographic is swooning over these bronzed Native hunks," producers would say. "Find me more actors like [name of real Native actor, not Taylor Lautner]."

Black actors didn't break through into mainstream Hollywood roles until Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby proved they could attract audiences. Native actors won't break through until they're given the same chance. With Taylor Lautner playing the biggest Native role since I don't know when, this is a huge missed opportunity.

Heck, this may be the biggest Native role in the history of movies. Has anyone (no, not Johnny Depp) ever played a top-three Native role in a bigger box-office hit? Not that I can think of.

That breakthrough role should've gone to a Native actor. It's what Twilight's producers robbed Natives of when they cast Taylor Lautner.

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

Below:  "Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, and now me! I'm the leadoff guest on The Tonight Show! That means I'm a big star!"

Why the Indian Child Welfare Act exists

Susan Devan Harness has written a book about being "among the 395 or so American Indian children forcibly adopted into white families as part of a national social experiment conducted from 1958 through 1967."

Forcibly adopted American Indians torn between cultures

By Monte WhaleyShe found that like her, many of the adopted children were ostracized and belittled in both white and American Indian communities.

Harness, now 50, recalls being a teenager sitting on her front porch, listening to radio reports of the rising clamor caused by the American Indian Movement in the early 1970s. "I heard my dad say, 'What are those drunken war whoops up to now?'" Harness said.

"I thought to myself, 'If my dad was saying this to my face, what are other people saying about me?'"
Why these adoptions happened:Stevenson and others say the Indian Adoption Project may have been well-intentioned. But mostly it allowed non-Indians to pass judgment on reservation families and break them up as they saw fit, said Sandra White Hawk, who was taken from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation when she was 18 months old.

In many cases, missionaries working on reservations would call local authorities to complain about housing conditions. A social worker would then do a home study and, more often than not, build a case recommending a child be taken away, White Hawk said.

Families felt they were powerless to stop the process and allowed white authorities to take over, she said.

Most of the forced adoptions were based on prejudices, White Hawk said. Many children lived with extended families—including aunts and uncles—and often did not have a room to themselves. Many of the homes also did not have running water or electricity.

"I think it's interesting that the state would be more interested in yanking a child away from his home than in helping to try to get utilities and other services to these homes," White Hawk said.

White Hawk's parents—both missionaries—viewed her biological family as part of a dangerous social and religious subculture.

"My adoptive mother constantly reminded me that no matter what I did, I came from a pagan race whose only hope for redemption was to assimilate to white culture," White Hawk said.
Hence the need for the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act:The law gives tribal governments a stronger voice in American Indian child-custody proceedings, including adoptions. The act blocks state courts from having any jurisdiction over the adoption or custody of Indian children residing within their own reservations.Comment:  I believe the fact that tribes are political entities, not racial entities, is relevant here. Critics of the Indian Child Welfare Act say it's "racist" to favor a child's Indian relatives over its white adoptive parents. But the law exists to preserve a tribe's political rights--its control over its citizenry. An Indian child could be 15/16ths white or black by "blood"--i.e., a non-Indian genetically--and the law would still affect him or her. Ergo, the law isn't racist.

For more on the subject, see Campbell Brown Slams Indians.

Below:  Susan Devan Harness.

Nine Native cultural centers to visit

Discovering Native Cultural Centers

It’s Native American History Month. Here are 9 places in North America where you can see and learn some of that history close-up.

By Crai S. Bower
As children, many of us first learned about Native American culture in November, when we were instructed to draw, recite and perform scenes from the original Thanksgiving Feast, when "Indians" emerged from the wilderness shadows to feed (and save) the starving Europeans. Our only other window into the native world, save for a few dioramas at the local museum, came from Hollywood, source of countless "us vs. them" westerns and Tonto, the Lone Ranger's obsequious sidekick.

Today's children enjoy access to a wealth of information about the diverse cultures of Native American and Canadian First Nations people. ... From southeastern Connecticut's Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center to Florida's Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, indigenous people share their culture and philosophy, entertain and educate visitors about their experience and wisdom living on the North American continent for many thousands of years.
The nine Native cultural centers:
  • Iroquois Indian Museum
  • Mid-American All Indian Center
  • Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
  • Skwxwú7mesh Lil'wat7úl (Squamish Lil'wat) Cultural Centre
  • The Institute of American Indian Arts
  • Heard Museum
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
  • Comment:  The only places I've been to on this list are the Heard Museum and the NMAI (both the NYC and Washington DC facilities). The main NMAI in Washington is an interesting experiment, but it's not entirely successful. The Heard Museum in Phoenix is the real thing--a must-see for anyone interested in Indians.

    Thanks also to Bower for stating the obvious. Except for a few museum dioramas or a Thanksgiving pageant in school, most people have no exposure to real Indians. They learn about Indians from the media. From product advertisements, sports broadcasts, and Hollywood portrayals of Indians in everything from old Westerns to the Twilight saga.

    For more on the NMAI, see Pix of My 2009 Washington DC Trip. For more on Indians in museums, see Indians in Natural History Museums, Autry Museum vs. Southwest Supporters, and Museums Yes, Casinos No.

    Below:  "The Iroquois Indian Museum pays tribute to the extraordinary past of the Six Nations."

    Native weaver's wearable art

    Blue Dome to display weaver's wearable art

    By Christine SteeleDay was raised on the Osage Reservation near Pawhuska, Okla., and is of French and American Indian descent. His designs have influences of American Indian and Catholic traditions, both of which he observed while growing up on the reservation and serving as an altar boy in the mission church.

    Using the traditional garments of the native peoples of the American Southwest and Mexico as a guide, Day weaves contemporary fibers in vibrant colors into a modern version of the poncho and the triangular poncho known as the quechquemitl and creates his own contemporary wearable art creations.
    Comment:  For a related subject, see Tlingit Weaver Is Cultural Treasure.

    Below:  "Crane Day shows some of his wearable art at the 2006 Spring Artisan's Market sponsored by the Tucson Museum of Art."

    Online radio for Native hip hop

    ThunderCloud Radio joins latest online radio worldHome of “HU-HAA HITZ” ThunderCloud Radio is a nonprofit online radio creating a landmark for Native hip hop, aimed at reaching each reservation, village and metropolitan tribal audience by “rep’n and installing pride in their local music artist, and leaving a message in our underwrites that will imprint in the minds our young adults who are our future leaders, with directives concerning healing and personal growth.”

    ThunderCloud Radio consists of a three-member partnership, DJ “Dan Da Man,” Pamela Rae and DJ “Big Bad.” We set out to pioneer new territory and build an online location for all indigenous hip hop and R&B to reside at.

    The goal is to give Native hip hop and R&B a voice while joint venturing with Native organizations that render an alcohol abuse prevention, school drop out prevention, suicide hot lines, and Native college aspirations; in essence to give young Natives a direction. “Rap is a youth market, we aim to provide repetition of .org’s in an underwrite format to give our indigenous loved ones a point of providence,” said “Big Bad.”

    November 27, 2009

    Oneidas don't care about peace?!

    In Oneida Float in Macy's Parade, an anonymous commenter wrote:It's to bad they OIN cannot practice what they preach. When NYS tried to treat them as equals and collect the taxes every other business owner is forced to abide by, the clan members took violent action against civilians and shot at NYS Police officers. All for what, so the OIN could have a bigger profit margin. I'm all for traditions but I only see Halbritter and most tribal gov's out for one thing--MONEY AND FREEBIES FROM THE US GOV. They can talk the talk to look good but they are could give 2 craps about mother nature and peace. Sad story.You probably shouldn't open your mouth on a subject you know little or nothing about. You'll only embarrass yourself. Unfortunately for you, it's too late now.

    Tribes don't get "freebies" from the US government, in general. They get treaty benefits that they paid for with their land. If you don't like this arrangement, feel free to give the Oneida Indians their land back. Then you won't owe them anything anymore.

    I don't recall anything about Oneida Indians shooting at New York state police recently, but it could've happened. If it did, the Indians probably thought they were under attack and fired in self-defense.

    FYI, I don't think you can call armed representatives of the state government "civilians." A police force is a quasi-military organization, not a bunch of innocent civilians who just happened to stumble into a firefight. The only way Indians would shoot is if the state police were attempting to exert their questionable authority on sovereign land.

    The Oneida Nation's businesses aren't like any other businesses because they're operating under a government-to-government treaty. The OIN claims that treaties forbid state taxation of Oneida businesses. Until a court issues a definitive ruling on the matter, the OIN has a right to defend its position.

    If that bothers you, too bad. The Oneida were in New York long before your ancestors were. Move to a state where taxation isn't governed by a treaty--the "supreme law of the land," according to the US Constitution.

    In short, your claim that tribes are "equals" like everyone else is founded on ignorance. A tribe is a political entity like a federal, state, or local government. State and local governments don't tax each other like "equals," and they have no right to tax tribes as "equals" either.

    Most tribes are money-grubbers?

    Really, you think most tribal governments exist to get money from the US? Then what was their purpose before the US was formed? To get money from the English or the Spanish?

    Clearly you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

    You must think these governments are pretty lame, since Indians remain among the poorest people in the country. So they're getting money from the US...and throwing it away on yachts and country clubs? Or what, exactly? If tribes are reaping such benefits, where's the evidence that they're enriching themselves?

    Are you also upset by all the American corporations, bankers, and traders whose stated purpose is to maximize their profits? Whose greed was a primary cause of the recession that's harmed millions of Americans? Is it okay for these non-Indians to seek wealth but no one else? Give me a reason to believe you hate all "money-grubbers"--that you're not a hypocrite and a racist who's prejudiced against Indians.

    To put it mildly, you sound like a typical ignorant American who knows nothing about tribal sovereignty or the law. Who thinks Indians are getting special rights they didn't earn by giving up their land. Educate yourself, bright boy, so I don't have to do it for you.

    For more on the subject, see the Oneida Indian Nation website and The Facts About Tribal Sovereignty.

    Florida held the first Thanksgiving?

    America’s real first Thanksgiving occurred in Florida

    By Jason KellyFifty-five years before the pilgrims even landed in Plymouth, Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his crew celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving about 100 miles north of UCF.

    The European explorers traveled to northeastern Florida to establish a colonial settlement on behalf of the Spanish crown. They anchored off the coast of the Timucuan Indian village of Seloy, and it was there that they founded the port of San Agustín–present-day Saint Augustine.

    The Timucuan people watched curiously as Admiral Menéndez and his uniformed men were rowed ashore to the sounds of blaring trumpets and thunderous artillery. Shortly after making landfall, a Catholic clergyman led the crew in an elaborate mass of Thanksgiving, rich in pomp and circumstance.

    As the villagers observed the newcomers kneel down to kiss a cross, many followed in solemn reverence.

    After several hymns and prayers, the Spanish and the Timucua joined together in a feast of Thanksgiving.
    Comment:  The Texas claim in Texas Held the First Thanksgiving? predates the Florida claim. So now we have three first Thanksgivings. And other Thanksgiving celebrations predate the Pilgrims' feast too.

    Whether the first Thanksgiving was in Florida, this article makes a good point. Namely, that we know little or nothing about the Spanish history of America. That we study and celebrate American history through English eyes, not Spanish eyes.

    In terms of European influence on the continental United States, Spanish culture is undoubtedly no. 1. French may be no. 2 and English no. 3. But we act as if none of the Spanish or French explorations happened. Columbus "discovered" America and, a few years later, the Pilgrims arrived to "settle" it. Few people could name any incident in American history between 1492 and 1621.

    How about if we have one holiday but celebrate it in several different ways? For instance, people in the Northeast, Southeast, and West could celebrate the New England, Florida, and Texas thanksgivings respectively. This idea poses no serious logistical problems, so why not?

    Would that be too radical an idea for Americans to handle? Would it contradict our national myth that civilization progressed in a straight line from one white country to another: from Greece and Rome to England and then to the US? With no messy intermingling of whites, blacks, Indians, and other dark-skinned minorities?

    In other words, that we're the pinnacle of civilization because God blessed America? Or as Theodore Roosevelt put it, that "it is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races"? Is that what we're celebrating when we celebrate the one true (New England) Thanksgiving?


    For more on Indians and St. Augustine, see Indians at St. Augustine Anniversary.

    Phony White House guest met phony chief

    Days of wine and poses

    Vintners Michaele & Tareq Salahi drink deeply from life, but not all is so sparkling

    By Neely Tucker and Amy Argetsinger
    Before Tareq and Michaele Salahi catapulted to international notoriety as possible White House gate-crashers this week, the Virginia socialites had their pictures taken with President Obama during his inauguration, Prince Charles at a polo match and Oprah Winfrey at another event. They had Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy speak at their elaborate wedding, which more than 1,800 guests attended.

    Friends describe the 40-something pair as "fun-loving" and unabashed about pursuing the spotlight and playing the debonair couple who know and are known by all the right people.

    But by Friday, Secret Service agents were seen trying to track down the pair to learn how they managed to get into Obama's first state dinner; interviews and court records also show the couple have a far less glamorous side. These documents and statements include dozens of civil suits alleging non-payment for services, a long-running (and very public) feud with Tareq Salahi's parents about ownership and control of their now-idle 108-acre winery and claims the couple made about accomplishments that can't be verified.
    And:Last year Michaele, now 44, told a Post reporter that she had been a Washington Redskins cheerleader, and she has been photographed at several alumni events. But the cheerleaders' director of marketing, Melanie Coburn, wrote in an e-mail: "We have no record of her being a member of the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders."

    Nor could the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders Alumni Association find any record of her, said Terri Crane-Lamb, president of the association.
    Comment:  How appropriate that the picture below shows Michaele Salahi, the social-climbing wannabe, with the Redskins' Chief Zee. Since the Salahis came to prominence at a dinner for the Indian ambassador, we could say they're both Indian wannabes.

    For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.

    The Salahi-Obama meeting:

    History of Native American Heritage Day

    Native American History Month:  A Legacy of Achievement and Contribution

    By James RamosDr. Arthur Parker, a member of the Seneca Tribe, was an early champion of American Indian Day who convinced the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans."

    In 1915, the Congress of the American Indian Association approved an American Indian Day declaration. Its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, officially declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day. More importantly, the declaration included the first major demand for full U.S. citizenship for American Indians, eventually granted when the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.

    In May 1916, New York Governor Charles Whitman declared the first state American Indian Day in the nation.

    In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 National American Indian Heritage Month. Similar resolutions were signed through the years.

    Today, several states celebrate Native American Day on the fourth Friday in September, including California. In fact, in 1998 the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians partnered with the California Assembly to pass AB 1953, making California Native American Day an official state holiday.

    In June, President Barack Obama signed the Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009, sponsored by Congressman Joe Baca, which we celebrate today. Native Americans have come a long way since the humble efforts of Dr. Parker a century ago.
    For Immediate Release
    November 25, 2009

    Statement by the President on Native American Heritage Day“Tomorrow, Americans everywhere will observe our National Day of Thanksgiving. It will be a time of celebration and reflection as we gather with family and friends to count our blessings and remember those less fortunate. But it will also be a time to remember how this holiday began–as a harvest celebration between European settlers and the American Indians who had been living and thriving on the continent for thousands of years.”

    “That is why on Friday, I encourage every American to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day. My Administration is committed to strengthening the nation to nation relationship with tribal governments. But it is also important for all of us to understand the rich culture, tradition and history of Native Americans and their status today- and to appreciate the contributions that First Americans have made, and will continue to make to our Nation.”
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Heritage Day at NMAI and A Month and a Day for Indians.

    Praise for my stereotype presentation

    An e-mail received by Richard Regan, the person who invited me to speak at the USDA on Native stereotypes:Richard--

    Just a note to express a job well done with the presentation of Feathers and Leathers for Alaska Native and American Indian Heritage Month.

    The choice of topic was 'spot on' this year and the communications advertising the event were well done also.

    I attended with a group of individuals from the Forest Service, many of them Native Americans, and the response was the same.

    Again well done and thanks for the time and energy you invested in the program.

    Ken Kessler
    U. S. Forest Service
    Office of Tribal Relations
    Comment:  As I think I said, Regan did a great job of promoting this event. The USDA had signs for it everywhere. I don't think any USDA employee can claim he or she didn't hear about it.

    For more on the subject, see Video of My Stereotype Presentation and Pix of My 2009 Washington DC Trip.

    Taylor Lautner on Tonight Show

    On Monday's Tonight Show (airdate: 11/23/09), Taylor Lautner was the first guest. I was curious to see if he'd say anything about his role playing a Quileute Indian.

    Lautner got a big round of applause when Conan O'Brien mentioned his name. Lautner got an even bigger round of applause when O'Brien introduced him. I don't recall any guest getting as much applause--even Kristen Stewart, who was on the show the week before.

    As it turns out, O'Brien and Lautner didn't say anything about Indians. In fact, they didn't say anything about wolves or werewolves. The talk was mainly about the Twilight fans' craziness. According to Lautner, the least enthusiastic fans are screamers; the most enthusiastic fans are fainters.

    Wolf Boy appears again

    With the popularity of vampires, O'Brien occasionally does a bit about his "personal assistant," a "brooding, handsome, misunderstood" vampire named Cody Devereaux. Another "personal assistant," a tanned shirtless guy called Wolf Boy, has joined Devereaux a few times. Wolf Boy even has a circular tattoo on his shoulder similar to the one sported by the wolf boys in New Moon.

    With Lautner as the guest, it was probably inevitable that Devereaux and Wolf Boy would appear again. And so they did.

    Fortunately, Conan hasn't called Wolf Boy an Indian. Although I love Indians in pop culture, I'd say that's a good thing. Anything that associates Indians with were-beasts is bad in my mind.

    For more on the subject, see Twilight Reflects Sick Society and Native Aspects of New Moon.

    Below:  A previous appearance of Cody Devereaux and Wolf Boy.

    Lenape tribe, Collegiate Church reconcile

    NYC Protestant church apologizes to Native Americans for how they were treated 400 years ago

    By Verena DobnikMembers of one of America's oldest Protestant churches officially apologized Friday—for the first time—for massacring and displacing Native Americans 400 years ago.

    "We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land," the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. "With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events."

    The minister spoke on Native American Heritage Day at a reconciliation ceremony of the Lenape tribe with the Collegiate Church, started in 1628 in then-New Amsterdam as the Reformed Dutch Church.

    The rite was held in front of the Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, where Dutch colonizers had built their fort near an Indian trail now called Broadway, just steps away from Wall Street.
    Comment:  In July, the Episcopal Church repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. But this may be the first Christian church to formally apologize--not counting the Catholic Pope's non-apology "apology."

    True, apologies don't mean much unless they're matched by concrete action. But as an indicator of change--a measure of what people are thinking and feeling--they're worth noting.

    For more on the subject, see Mormons Won't Apologize to Indians and Bishop Apologizes to Miwoks.

    November 26, 2009

    Sexism in Twilight saga

    Disney, Twilight and Bollywood: Reinforcing the Purity Myth or Fantasy of Safe Sexual Exploration for Young Girls (and Their Mothers)?

    By Neesha MemingerEnter Edward Cullen, the indestructible, all-powerful anti-hero who wants, more than anything else, to protect Bella. In the film version of the novel, images of Bella in danger are juxtaposed with images of a fawn being chased by its predator.

    Edward Cullen is morally superior. His is the universal, colossal battle of mastering the beast within. What makes us as a species, different from the animals around us is the fact that we have the capacity to rise above our animal natures. And with Bella, Edward’s struggle meets the ultimate test.

    Initially, Edward is only attracted to Bella because of her physicality: her smell. This then turns into an inexplicable urge to protect her. So, in this relationship, Bella is safe, protected fiercely, cherished, and her innocence is allowed free roam. She is a child on the cusp of womanhood, exploring her sexuality, her sensuality, her womanchild-ness.

    Edward cherishes her fragility and innocence, even as it causes him great pain. At the expense of his own basic, animal hunger, he offers her a safe place to explore her budding sexuality.

    And this is key: their relationship can never become sexual. Even a simple kiss requires Herculean effort and self-restraint on Edward’s part. If they were to go “too far,” Edward could lose self control and consume the very innocence he cherishes in Bella. He could kill her.

    The final scene, with Edward lifting Bella onto his feet and dancing under the lights of the gazebo at her prom, is the ultimate little-girl-in-daddy’s-arms fantasy—safe, protected, cherished…still innocent. And if we take it a step further based on Valenti’s quote above, still “pure.”
    Comment:  If it isn't obvious, this is the same message sent by Disney's "princess" films as well as many Bollywood films and romance novels. Namely, that women are pure and innocent. That they should remain that way until they meet their Prince Charming. Their lives aren't complete until they meet the man of their dreams.

    Even Bella's name contributes to this message: Bella Swan, the beautiful white bird. Symbol of chastity and purity for a thousand or two years.

    Add to this Edward's stalking behavior, Bella's passiveness, and the whole imprinting thing--big brave male takes care of helpless little female--and you have a misogynist theme.

    Jacob's sexual assault

    But wait, there's more. In Stephenie Meyer's Use of Quileute Characters, Maerhys wrote:Possibly even older meme than Indians as werewolves is the Indian man so hot for the white girl that he manipulates her and finally forces her sexually.As Latoya Peterson notes in Running With the Wolves--A Racialicious Reading of the Twilight Saga, Jacob sexually assaults Bella in Eclipse:His lips crushed mine, stopping my protest. He kissed me angrily, roughly, his other hand gripping tight around the back of my neck, making escape impossible. I shoved against his chest with all my strength, but he didn’t even seem to notice. His mouth was soft, despite the anger, his lips molding to mine in a warm, unfamiliar way.

    I grabbed at his face, trying to push it away, failing again. He seemed to notice this time, though, and it aggravated him. His lips forced mine open, and I could feel his hot breath in my mouth.
    For more on the subject, see Romance in Twilight Movie and Sex in Twilight Movie.

    Below:  "Save me, Edward! I can't live without a man!"

    Quileute quiz for Twilight fans

    Twilight and New Moon fans: How well do you know the Quileute tribe? Test your knowledge of the real Quileute Indians depicted in Stephenie Meyer's books.

    1) Quileute legends are collectively called:

    a) Raven tales
    b) Wolf tales
    c) Coyote tales

    2) The Quileute chief who signed the Treaty of Olympia was:

    a) Goyathlay
    b) Taha Aki
    c) How-yatl

    3) The Quileute traditionally lived in:

    a) Houses
    b) Wigwams
    c) The forest

    4) The Quileute are ruled by:

    a) A constitutional government
    b) A group of wolf clans
    c) A chief chosen for his wisdom

    5) The Quileute were primarily known as:

    a) Whalers
    b) Hunters
    c) Mystics

    6) How does the Quileute tribe generate its income?

    a) A casino
    b) Tourist facilities
    c) N/A--The tribe doesn't own any businesses

    7) The Quileute "potlatch" is a:

    a) Whaling canoe
    b) Covered container
    c) Giveaway ceremony

    8) When the Quileute speak of their "wolf origin," they mean:

    a) A she-wolf raised a pair of Quileute twins
    b) The Quileute merged their spirits with wolves
    c) A wolf was turned into the first Quileute

    9) The Quileute are known for making:

    a) Wolf-fur cloaks
    b) Dog-hair blankets
    c) Bearskin rugs

    10) "A-Ka-Lat" is the Quileute name for:

    a) The Great Spirit
    b) James Island
    c) The Quileute people

    I don't want people posting guesses or clues in the comments section. E-mail your answers to me and I'll tell you how you did.

    Facebook users can take the quiz here.

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

    TV spots about San Manuel history

    The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is running a series of commercials here in LA about their history. Here's the history in question:

    San Manuel:  the early years

    By G. W. AbersoldA casual reading of the historical record is appalling. Carey McWilliams in his classic book, “Southern California Country,” calls the Franciscan mission program of Father Junipero Serra, a legend or a myth.

    According to the myth, “the missions were havens of happiness, places of song, laughter, good food and adoration of Christ.” In truth, the Indians, including the Serranos, endured forced labor, rape, children separated from their parents, starvation, imprisonment and other atrocities. So McWilliams records.

    Far more Indians were killed than were ever converted to Christianity.

    Why did Santos Manuel lead the Serranos in 1866 out of the mountains? Because their lands around Big Bear were increasingly valuable. Gold had been discovered. Logging was big business.

    The San Bernardino militia, made up of Mormon ranchers and refugees from the Civil War, accused the Indians of the mountains of cattle rustling. They slaughtered hundreds of Indians to get their land.
    Comment:  The commercials show the San Manuel Indians in sepia-toned colors living peacefully in the hills. Then the narration notes the advent of trouble (see above). In one ad, Santos Manuel leads the Serranos away from their old homes. In another, the past fades to the present with a smiling shot of the San Manuel chairman.

    The ads don't say anything about San Manuel's casino or other enterprises. The tribe has other commercials for that purpose. These historical ads leave viewers with a standard message about survival, sovereignty, and self-reliance.

    The purpose of these ads seems to be to raise awareness of the tribe. I don't know how effective they are, but I think they're a good idea. As I've said before, tribes need to be proactive in telling their stories and reminding people they're still here.

    For more on the subject, see Pechanga Documentary on TV and The Facts About Indian Gaming.

    Below:  "The San Manuel Business Committee, front row, sitting, Chairman James Ramos and Vice Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena; back row, Richard LeRoy, Jr., Treasurer Audrey Martinez, Leroy Hernandez, Stephanie Bustamonte and Jamie Barron."

    (More) racism in Twilight saga

    I've already covered many of the racist aspects of Twilight. But in Running With the Wolves--A Racialicious Reading of the Twilight Saga, Latoya Peterson brings a few more to our attention.

    Stephenie Meyer's description of women of color (Eclipse):My first impression of Kim was that she was a nice girl, a little shy, and a little plain. She had a wide face, mostly cheekbones, with eyes too small to balance them out. Her nose and mouth were too broad for traditional beauty. Her flat black hair was thin and wispy in the wind that never seemed to let up atop the cliff.Vampires from the Amazon (Breaking Dawn):“Carlisle,” the taller of the two very tall ferine women greeted him when they arrived. Both of them seemed as if they’d been stretched--long arms and legs, long fingers, long black braids, and long faces with long noses. They wore nothing but animal skins--hide vests and tight fitting pants that laced on the sides with leather ties. It wasn’t just their eccentric clothes that made them seem wild, but everything about them, from their restless crimson eyes to their sudden, darting movements. I’d never met any vampires less civilized.Peterson also notes how Bella joins the vampires in insulting Jacob:[T]he imprinting did appear to give the household new license to hate Jacob, call him dog and mongrel to his face, and this time, Bella joins in. Some friend she is. Jacob turned on his Pack, risked his life multiple times, revealed critical weaknesses for his tribe, maintained the flimsy treaty between vampires and werewolves, and went through immeasurable pain in order to make Bella feel like a nice person--if he had asked to eat the damn baby, it would have been a fair request.

    But of course, a brown man’s destiny is to suffer to save the white woman her tears.
    As I think I said before, "bloodsucker" or "leech" isn't a comparable insult to "dog" or "mongrel." Calling a vampire a bloodsucker is like calling a typical American a meat-eater. It's more or less an accurate description of his eating habits.

    In contrast, "dog" and "mongrel" are belittling terms for a 6'7" werewolf. A comparable insult for vampires might be "wormfood" (because of their dead bodies), "soul-stealer," or "murderer." In other words, something that acknowledges how Twilight's vampires are generally evil or inhuman.

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

    Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites

    Hopi hotel showcases tribe's cultureTourists traveling the vast expanse of tribal lands in northern Arizona soon will have a venue to learn about the culture of one of the oldest indigenous tribes in America.

    A $13 million hotel and conference center billed as the western gateway to the Hopi reservation is set to open late this year, where entertainment, lectures and demonstrations will provide non-Hopis with an insight into the tribe's culture and traditions.

    The Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites, only the second hotel on the 1.6 million-acre reservation, is part of the largest development project undertaken by a single Hopi village. Besides bringing in cash and helping to educate tourists, the hotel will provide much-needed jobs for tribal members.
    Comment:  For similar tribal projects, see Ramona's Eco-Friendly Retreat and Navajo View Hotel Opens.

    Below:  The Moenkopi village and fields (foreground).

    Video of my stereotype presentation

    Here's the Native stereotype presentation I gave at the US Department of Agriculture November 5. Clicking the link should start the video playing on your computer.

    Beyond Feathers and Leathers

    It's an hour-long program, but you can skip to my part about 15 minutes into the video.

    For more on the subject, see Pix of My 2009 Washington DC Trip and Intro to Stereotype Presentation.

    Pix of Alcatraz sunrise ceremony

    Photo albums of Indians and others commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Alcatraz occupation:

    Simba1947's Alcatraz1126092 set

    Pamela Peters's Photos--Alcatraz on Thanksgiving Morning

    For a writeup of the event, see Thousands Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Alcatraz Occupation. For more on the subject, see Alcatraz Changed Course of History?

    November 25, 2009

    New Moon fits Hollywood pattern

    A good posting on the Racialicious blog fits New Moon into the broader context of Hollywood's treatment of minorities:

    New Moon:  Old Story?

    By Wendi MuseHave you ever heard something along the lines of “dating someone who is [insert ethnic/racial group] ok, but you’d better not marry one!” or “Native Americans are so in touch with nature!”? Have you ever seen a film or tv show that relegated the person of color as the trusty sidekick, loyal friend, or temporary romantic plaything, only then to have the white hero enter in medias res and get all the praise and attention? Have you ever seen a piece from an ad campaign or historical policy discussions in which non-white people are portrayed as animalistic, in both their behavior, thought processes, and athletic ability? Have you, as a person of color, or if you are not, any of your POC friends, ever complained of feeling that their societal value was reduced to their physical appearance or a specific body part?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you have already seen New Moon.
    And:But beyond all the drama, there is a story that we have seen played out countless times in every other movie, tv show, etc. that decides to employ a character of color, only to put them on time out when the fun really begins. Despite being abandoned by her (technically) dead boyfriend, Bella, in true masochistic form, continues to go after him, even though living and breathing Jacob is a better choice for a beau. Not only is he charismatic, attractive, and fun, he can protect Bella too, which seems to be at the crux of her very existence. Playing the damsel in distress is Bella’s forte, so Jacob could fit the bill as a boyfriend who would suit her most important need. Yet his big character flaw, beyond actually being interested in Bella, is the fact that he’s not white.

    Yes, poor Jacob, as “beautiful” (Bella’s words) and awesome as he may be, is one of the Quileute, an indigenous group of the northern Pacific coast. While it’s not explicitly stated in the film that this is the reason Bella doesn’t continue the relationship with Jacob, any audience member who knows a little bit about American film already knows quite well that it’s a rare case when a main character of color, especially if surrounded by other main characters who are white, actually succeeds in the end and remains a romantic interest.
    Comment:  For more on the Quileute werewolves' savagery, see Why New Moon's Werewolves Go Shirtless and Wolf Pack Shows Savage Side. For more on whether they're heroes or role models, see Are Good Native Werewolves Okay? and Noble Savages in Twilight.

    Below:  Leading men who get the girl? Not in Hollywood.

    No Thanksgiving for Indian militant

    No Turkey for Me:  Confessions of an Indian Militant

    By Johnny P. FlynnI am an Indian militant. It is a name I wear with some ambivalence—like “Indian”—not my choice, but the alternatives for the sake of political correctness do not have the same power or panache.

    This year, while most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, we will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indian militants—around the time the term was coined. I was too young at the time, but supported those making the ironic statement about the quality of our own lands “given” to our ancestors, and the broken promise that any federal lands not in use will revert back to the Indians.

    While you eat turkey, we will fast, or eat hot dogs.
    After noting Thanksgiving's genocidal roots, Flynn offers a prescription for a healthier world:Okay, now that your Thanksgiving meal is ruined, let me confess that I know a way to make it taste better next year.

    Without a major shift in the way humans thinks about the earth, humans are not only causing the extinction of the biodiversity of the natural world, but also our own descendants. Facing the future must be more than driving a hybrid and recycling aluminum.

    We must recognize that tribalism is the most successful human social institution in the world. Tribes have survived the longest war in human history, the war against aboriginal people—and millions of people are turning to those traditions for spiritual sustenance in the modern world.
    Comment:  Not sure if I agree that "tribalism" is the best route to success. True, tribes have lasted a long time, but perhaps that's due to their culture or religion, not their tribal organization.

    For more on the subject, see Tribalism in Dreams from My Father and Professor on Disenrollment, Tribalism.

    JibJab's racist Thanksgiving video

    Here's a fractured fairy-tale video of the first Thanksgiving:

    Tall TalesCrappy Thanksgiving eCards wouldn't dare give you a Thanksgiving origin story this twisted, so it's a good thing this is a JibJab Sendables greeting! This hilarious video tells the story of the first Thanksgiving, and how a pile of dirty dishes led to an all out war! Sound like some lame Thanksgiving eCard to you? We didn't think so!Comment:  Wow. How racist and stereotypical is this video? Let us count the ways:

  • The Wampanoag Indian leader looks like a cross between a Plains chief and a turkey.

  • The Indians are ugly, big-nosed caricatures while the Pilgrims have pleasant, dainty features.

  • The Indians are shown hunting a buffalo, which implies that all Indian cultures = Plains cultures.

  • The Indians cause a breakdown in relations by showing up without RVSPs--half of them naked, with genitals depicted explicitly--not chewing their food, and not helping with the dishes.

  • Except for the sexy Indian maiden, they look like a swarming horde of rats or other vermin.

  • Incredibly, the video portrays the resulting Pilgrim massacre of Indians as a crusade for "good manners." In other words, Indians were responsible for their own genocide.

  • The video shows all the dead Indians with holes through their bodies, dripping blood, and heads cut off. What twisted but hilarious humor--ha ha.

  • After mocking the dead Indians, the video shows a drunken Indian sprawled outside the "Crazy Horse Saloon." The narration says, "Lest it be said that the oppressors became the oppressed...."

    Huh?! No one thinks Indians oppressed the Pilgrims or other European invaders. Except the makers of this racist video, perhaps.

  • Finally, the video shows an Indian operating a casino because of "extraordinarily favorable gambling regulations."

    In other words, because of the US Constitution, tribal sovereignty, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and various democratic votes to allow gambling. You JibJab people are jibjabbering idiots if you think Indians are getting a special benefit that someone, somewhere, has denied you. Tell your state legislature to legalize gambling in your state and you won't have to worry about favorable conditions for Indians.

  • To protest this video, use JibJab's Contact Us form. For more on the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming.

    Forest Service seeks Snowbowl solution

    Feds acknowledge withholding permits for Snowbowl

    By Felicia FonsecaThe U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday it was withholding snowmaking permits for a northern Arizona ski resort as a way to promote settlement talks in a long-running dispute between American Indian tribes and the resort's owners.

    The permits were delayed despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that upheld the Arizona Snowbowl's right to spray man-made snow on San Francisco Peaks.
    And:The stalemate marks the latest development in the dispute in which tribes insist making snow with wastewater would desecrate land they hold sacred and infringe on their religious beliefs.

    Snowbowl officials counter the man-made snow is necessary to ensure the survival of the ski area, which opened in 1937 on Forest Service land and has struggled with short seasons because of a lack of snow.
    Comment:  The article also notes that Sen. John McCain is demanding that the Forest Service act for the snowmakers against the tribes. So much for his claims of being pro-Indian.

    The US Forest Service is part of the USDA, where I spoke in early November. This is a good example of how the USDA is involved in Native issues.

    In fact, I'm a bit surprised the Forest Service is taking the tribes' side by stalling the permits. Usually the feds are gungho to develop the land at the expense of Indians.

    For more on the subject, see Sewage Water as Holy Water and Court Rules Against Native Religion.

    Lakota lawsuit against Ray detailed

    Pine Ridge man sues Arizona retreat center over sweat lodge practices

    By Mary GarriganFloyd Hand Jr., who serves as an Oglala delegate on the treaty council, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Arizona earlier this month against James Arthur Ray and the Angel Valley Retreat Center.

    Hand contends the "inikaga" ritual, commonly referred to as a sweat lodge, was desecrated by Ray when three people died and 18 others were hospitalized after a sweat lodge ceremony Oct. 8 that was part of Spiritual Warriors program that they paid about $9,000 to attend. The retreat center is legally responsible for allowing individuals like Ray to rent their property, which offers a sweat lodge for paying participants, Hand said. The lawsuit also alleges fraud on the part of Ray and the center for the "impersonating Native Americans" and for dismantling the sweat lodge immediately after the tragedy.
    And:Also named as defendants in the suit are the U.S. government, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, the state of Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Terry Goddard for failure to uphold the "bad men" clause of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Article 1 states, "if bad men among the whites or other people subject to the authority of the United States shall commit any wrong upon the person or the property of the Indians, the United States will ... proceed at once to cause the offender to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States and also reimburse the injured person for the loss sustained..."Comment:  For more on the subject, see Suing the Sweat Lodge Killer and New Age Mystics, Healers, and Ceremonies.

    2010 = Year of the Inuit

    2010 declared Year of the InuitThe head of Canada's Inuit organization wants to draw national attention to Inuit culture and issues next year, which has been declared the Year of the Inuit.

    Announcing the 12 month-long initiative Wednesday in Ottawa, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Mary Simon said she wants to raise awareness of the challenges Inuit face in Canada.

    "The Inuit cannot only be remembered during times of [Arctic] sovereignty issues," Simon said in a news release.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Eskimos:  The Ultimate Aborigines.

    Below:  "Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Mary Simon speaks to reporters Wednesday at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa." (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

    November 24, 2009

    Satire:  Sioux attack Wall Street

    Sioux Tribe to Attack Wall Street from Within

    Posted by Iracundus HumanusIt has recently been reported that the Lower Brule Sioux tribe of South Dakota has purchased the Wall Street investment firm Westrock Group. This marks the first instance of a Native American organization diversifying out of the gambling, jewelry and blanket markets.

    Tribal spokesperson Oscar Get Many Ponies Leibowicz justified the $700 million purchase by stating that the tribe is fighting a 40% unemployment rate, decreased demand for Sioux blankets and jewelry, and lower profits from their Golden Buffalo Casino.

    “Our cousins in Connecticut, Michigan and Nevada do pretty well with the gambling, but we are out here in the middle of nowhere and who wants to come here to spend any wampum.” Leibowicz is quoted as saying. Jessica Have Pig Sweat Moody questions where the funds came from to purchase the firm, noting that the tribe is essentially bankrupt; “We know that this firm brought in over $22 million last year, but how long will it take before we can divvy up the profits with such a large loan outstanding?” She said.

    Tribal elder Buffalo Hair Smith noted the historical significance of the purchase. “Over three hundred years ago our stupid cousins, the Delaware, sold off the whole of Manhattan Island for a measly twenty five dollars worth of beads from that Dutch guy Pieter Minuit, those guys had it stolen from them by the Brits.

    What fools, why, we could have been the Donald Trumps’ of the seventeenth century with all the building that was going to be happen if we had just held out for more wampum.” Buffalo Hair went on to remark that, “We spent years trying to break through that wall those Dutchmen built, lost many braves to their fire sticks.

    Now we own a piece of that damn wall and we will get back what was ours over the long term.” It is rumored that the Lower Brule have already applied for a Federal Bail-out for Westrock, stating that poor management practices by the Round Eyes, including the sale to the Lower Brule, have seriously damaged the firms’ solvency. It is anticipated that the tribe will qualify for a substantial cash influx from the Fed, as well as certain Minority Owned Business incentives that should be well over one billion dollars.

    This should be sufficient to satisfy any outstanding loans for the purchase, as well as provide a new Saturn for all tribal members over the age of fifteen. It is still unclear if Federal Banking rules will apply to Westrock now that it can be claimed as sovereign property of a recognized Native American Tribe.
    Comment:  As usual with such "satires," the writer thinks he's mocking something current. In this case, Wall Street takeovers and bailouts. What he's really mocking is the Indians in his piece. Here's how:

  • That the tribe has only "gambling, jewelry and blanket markets" says that it exists in the primitive past of trading posts except for the recent influx of gambling. In other words, it has no industries of its own and depends on handouts from tourists and the US government.

  • "Funny Indian names" such as Get Many Ponies and Have Pig Sweat make the Indians look like thieves and pigs, respectively.

  • Worse, their full names are Oscar Get Many Ponies Leibowicz and Jessica Have Pig Sweat Moody. These sound like non-Indian names--in particular, Jewish names. The implication is the Lower Brule Sioux tribe is a phony tribe concocted by Jews and other non-Indians to enrich themselves. That Jews are behind this fraud makes sense since everyone knows Jews are the biggest money-grubbers in existence.

  • The Sioux's use of the Algonquian word "wampum" obscures and trivializes the differences between tribal cultures.

  • The Sioux bemoan the Delaware's foolishness in selling Manhattan for $25 (actually $24) of beads. But one theory says that the tribe doing the selling didn't own the rights to the island. So the Indians ripped off the Dutchmen, not the other way around.

  • That the Indians are already seeking a bailout implies that they purchased the company only to get handouts. So does the author's claim that they'll use the money to buy each tribal member a Saturn. In short, the satire says Indians are greedy cheaters--gaming the system to benefit at the taxpayers' expense.

  • This so-called "satire" is even more unfunny and insulting than the last one I posted: Satire:  Indians Protest "Red State." Kind of amazing that these writers don't see the racist and stereotypical thrust of their pieces. Fortunately, I'm here to point it out to them.

    Below:  Indians as nasty savages--the basic message behind portraying them as pigs, thieves, fools, greedy Jews, and welfare kings and queens.