September 30, 2009

Gumby's Indian episodes

While I was researching Gumby, I found the cartoons often feature historical themes that include Indians. In the first batch of 131 episodes (1956-1967), at least ten had Natives or Native themes. I present them below along with my snap judgments.

Note: Wikipedia has a master list of episodes and has a set of summaries. The two sources don't always match.

31. Indian Trouble

34. Rain Spirits

35. The Kachinas

52. Ricochet PeteGumby's the sheriff of an old west town. One day, the dangerous Ricochet Pete comes into town, firing his gun at anything with volume or mass, like Gumby's hat. Gumby nonchalantly orders him out of town, but Pete has a better idea. They'll go to a nearby valley and see who can be the first to scare the other person, and the loser leaves town. Since Pete is in no position to be making demands, Gumby accepts. Pete scares him off with some cheap Indian puppets, and Pokey scares Pete off with a rubber spider. It's sort of a draw, so Pete is merely sentenced to perform violent puppet shows.Do the Indian puppets look scary, or are they supposed to be scary just because they're Indians? Either way, it sounds stereotypical.

53. Northland FolliesGumby and Pokey stow away in a box, thinking it's on its way to Hawaii. Surprise! They're dropped right on top of an igloo in the middle of Alaska. Unfortunately, the igloo belongs to a walrus and something that looks like Roger painted yellow. The fourth wall takes a bit of a beating when the now-homeless animals recognize Gumby and Pokey as television celebrities, but they still insist that Gumby and Pokey rebuild the igloo they indirectly ruined. We learn that Alaska is five hundred years behind in its news due to the fact that each year is one day up there, the igloo is rebuilt, and they celebrate with chocolate clam-dandy (chocolate sundaes served on clam shells). Their celebration is cut short when another box starts falling out of the sky, bent on destroying the new igloo, and Gumby and Pokey book it, lest they get asked to rebuild it again.A yellow-skinned Native living in an igloo? Sounds stereotypical and bad.

68. Pokey's PriceA pilgrim boy escapes from his book about the Plymouth colony and steals Gumby's apple. Gumby and Pokey pursue him back into the book and tackle him, but decide to go easy on him, what with how his family is starving to death. Pokey discovers a sinkhole where two baskets of corn are buried. The colony is saved from starvation, and the boys are ready to get a quick drink, when some Native Americans arrive, demanding payment for the corn stolen from them, which they'd been saving to plant next season. They decide to settle for Pokey, and they take him home with them, much to Gumby's discontent. Gumby rallies the pilgrims and they go into the Native Americans' camp, shoot off a few rounds, and trade Pokey for three hunting knives and some glass beads. And that's the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Note: The Native Americans feed Pokey something that makes him change colors randomly and makes crazy sound effects play.
The Indians are adversarial, but at least the two sides are trading with each other, not killing each other. Sounds decent.

71. Siege of BoonesboroughGumby and Pokey follow Daniel Boone to the Siege of Boonesborough, where hundreds of Native Americans are ready to attack. The fort is hopelessly undermanned, so all of the women and children dress up as men and everyone gets two fake man heads to hold up. Gumby uses his fire extinguisher to neutralize the Native Americans' overwhelming three flaming arrows, and everyone pokes their heads up from behind the wall, making it look like they have several thousand more men than they really do. The Native Americans decide that there's too many men on the opposing side, so they cancel the fight. It just goes to show you, trickery was just as important as brute force in driving Native Americans out of their homelands.

Trivia:  When Daniel Boone suggests that the women and children dress up as men to trick the Native Americans, one of the women laughs in delight for a second, then instantly looks grim again.
Indians as savage warriors who aren't very bright or brave? Sounds stereotypical and bad.

97. Indian Country

This episode is listed in Wikipedia but omitted in lists it as one of the episodes in Gumby & Friends--The Lost Episodes.

I couldn't find out what happened with Indian Country. I can only guess that Gumby's owners couldn't find the master for this episode, so they deemed it "lost." At some point, someone found it and made it available. So Indian Country is missing on older lists and present on newer lists.

130. The Indian ChallengeSome Native Americans are after Prospector Pete for all of the tales he's told about killing their people. He must face Old Joe, the champion of their tribe. He's scared, what with how they were all a bunch of tall tales, so Gumby and Pokey agree to spy on the tribe and see what he's up against. Wouldn't you know it, Old Joe's just a big blowhard too. And so, Pete and Joe enter a tall tale contest where the loser has to stop telling stories.Non-Indians with inflated fears of Indians? Sounds decent.

131. Gold Rush GumbyGumby's lookin' for gold deep in the Pesky Indian Reservation with Pokey and Nopey. When he strikes gold, he's captured by the Peskies. Normally they're a friendly people, but the chief's in a bad mood today, so they're gonna have to get burned to death. Gumby offers to help the chief, whose ailment comes from a toothache. Gumby has no idea about dentistry, so he just pulls it out. Everyone laughs at the gap where the chief's tooth was, so Gumby makes a gold one with the tooth-making kit he brought along.Burning someone to death because he has a toothache? Sounds like a stereotypical savage, and bad.

Of course, if any of these episodes feature more teepee-style Indians, they instantly go into the "reject" category. That portrayal is about as stupid as portraying Indians as gophers. It's roughly the same idea: "pesky" Indian and gopher pests.

I suspect Gumby's producers did so many Western shows because cowboys and Indians were big then. But still, 10 of 131 episodes was a lot of Native-themed shows. I doubt other children's shows had that many episodes featuring Indians.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

We Shall Remain in Utah's schools

American Indians focus of new Utah curriculum

By Wendy LeonardLike all kids in Utah, American Indian children are required by law to attend school, but they are rarely taught about their own history, culture or customs. Recent legislation aimed to change that, by footing the bill for the development of curriculum that can be taught to any age group, but specifically to students in 4th and 7th-grade Utah Studies programs.

"I think for too long the American Indian story has been considered only a 19th Century story," said Elizabeth Player, an educator hired to work with the University of Utah's American West Center to develop 24 lesson plans, including glossaries, mini-histories, interactive maps of original territories and more for Utah teachers to incorporate more of the American Indian heritage into current teaching plans. "This shows that our Utah American Indians are here, they're vital, they're living their culture. To make sure that our students are seeing that in their classrooms is going to make a big difference."

The new comprehensive study program for K-12 educators in all Utah schools delivers such tidbits as the fact that the Ute Indian tribe manages one of the largest herds of buffalo in the country, Paiute men historically grew beards when few Native Americans can, and the Navajo Nation has its own president, vice president and government apart from the United States government.
And:"One of the needs of American Indian students is that they work together to figure things out," Player said. Her favorite lesson plan incorporates all five Utah tribes, focusing on the different skills they showcase such as Navajo weaving, Paiute basket making, Utah buckskin tanning, Goshute botany and Shoshone bead work. "It's engaging and provides the collaborative environment where they learn best," she said. "It's just a real fun lesson."

Lesson plans are based on KUED's production of five documentaries about the prominent tribes in Utah, "We Shall Remain: A native history of America and Utah," as the two collaborated on the major curriculum project for Utah schools. DVDs of the episodes are contained in a binder with the 24 lesson plans and other instructional materials that were recently sent out to all parochial, private, public and charter schools in the state. Workshops are also being held in various districts through December, to introduce teachers to the materials. Educators who attend the workshops receive their own grade-specific teaching materials from the American West Center's project.

"The history of Utah, and indeed of the United States, looks significantly different when viewed from the Indian perspective," said Matthew Basso, history and gender studies professor at the U. and director of the American West Center. "It is essential for students to learn about Utah's tribes' long struggles for survival and why those struggles occurred. It is just as essential for students to realize that while each of these tribes has had setbacks and tragedies, they have also had triumphs."
Comment:  Montana has developed a whole school curriculum about its Indian tribes. Now Utah seems to be following its lead.

Interesting to note the role of We Shall Remain in this story. PBS produced a fine series telling genuine Native stories. Now its themes and messages are filtering into the school system.

In other words, the good media is driving out the bad. Hence the need for more good media. Along with (my) criticism to ensure it remains good. <g>

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

Twilight Weekly's Morganroth video

Here's another video from the Quileute episode of Twilight Weekly: Spotlight, a cable TV show dedicated to Twilight.

Chris Morganroth III tells the true story of the Quileutes' origin. Legend has it that a being known as the Transformer changed a pair of wolves into the first man and woman.

This confirms that Twilight's backstory is less authentic than Stephenie Meyer has claimed. The key differences:

1) In Meyer's version, the ancient Quileutes voluntarily used their magical powers to change into wolves to battle their enemies. They passed this ability down to their descendants.

In the real story, an external force changed wolves into people--once. The Quileutes didn't choose to undergo this transformation, and they didn't gain a magical power to change again. Once they became human, they were plain ol' people, not shapeshifting werewolves.

As an analogy, consider the princess who kissed a frog and turned him into a prince. In Meyer's version of the story, the prince would be a frog person who could change into a frog at will. These aren't two versions of the same story; they're two different stories that happen to involve frog transformations.

Wolves gave birth to humans?

2) It's debatable whether the Quileutes are truly descended from wolves. Wolves didn't give birth to the first Quileutes; they were changed into humans. So the Quileutes are descended from humans who were formerly wolves, not from wolves.

As an analogy, if God created humans out of clay, would we say we're descended from clay? No, we'd say we're descended from the first humans (perhaps Adam and Eve), who were made out of clay. The Quileute situation is similar.

An article sums it up nicely:

TV program to show that Quileute don't actually have 'Twilight' werewolvesWerewolves are not part of the cultural tradition of the Quileute, and that point will be made on Reelzchannel-TV's "Twilight Weekly: Spotlight," which airs Friday.

Author Stephenie Meyer cast some Quileute as werewolves in her best-selling vampire novels set in Forks, LaPush and Port Angeles.

Although the Quileute have extensive stories about wolves in their heritage, they have no stories about werewolves.
Descended (sort of) from wolves, changing into wolves...really not the same thing.

That Twilight Weekly has to dispel the idea that the Quileutes are werewolves is telling. I bet a lot of Twihards think something like this. Not that the Quileutes are literally werewolves, but that they think they're werewolves. That they have some sort of mystical culture centered around wolf worship and transformation.

For more on that subject, see The Problem with Quileute Werewolves. For more on Twilight Weekly, see Twilight Weekly's Korey Video.

Rhodes Scholar tackles Native health

Fantasy Football

Star athlete partners with Indian educators

By Rob Capriccioso
A football star was recently featured at the Department of the Interior with a plan to help children attending Native American schools get healthy.

Myron L. Rolle, an all-American college athlete, explained in a Sept. 23 ceremony at Interior’s Washington office that improving the health of Native American youth is one of his major concerns.

Rolle, a former safety for his college team, the Florida State Seminoles, has gained much attention in the press for his desire to forgo an immediate National Football League career in order to take advantage of a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University for the 2009–10 academic year.

“I’ve been an athlete for my whole life, so I know what it takes to have an active lifestyle, to eat proper nutrition, and how to perform daily functions better,” Rolle said.

“My father is a Type 2 diabetic, so I know what it’s like personally to have someone and live with someone who has to monitor his blood sugar and watch his diet and have a more active approach to his lifestyle as well.”

Rolle said his former college team name also inspired him to want to honor Native Americans. He did not refer to the mascot controversies that plague many teams named after American Indians.

He heads a foundation that designed and implemented a health program last year for Indian fifth graders at a largely Seminole charter school in Okeechobee, Fla.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BIA head Larry EchoHawk are impressed with the success of the program. Thus, they chose to expand it to introduce a similar physical fitness and health program into Interior-funded American Indian schools.
Comment:  For more on Rhodes Scholars, see Rhodes Scholars Organized Lenape Exhibit and Crow Rhodes Scholar.

Below:  "Pictured, from left, are Kevin Skenandore, acting director, Bureau of Indian Education, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Myron Rolle, Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk." (Photo courtesy Rick Lewis/National Park Service)

Navajo vs. environmentalists

Environmentalists rile tribes

Navajo, Hopi say they are not welcome

by Felicia Fonseca
The leader of the country's largest Indian reservation threw his support behind the neighboring Hopi Tribe, whose lawmakers declared environmental groups unwelcome on the reservation.

Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. and Hopi lawmakers say environmentalists' efforts could hurt the tribes' struggling economies by slowing or stopping coal mining.

Shirley said Wednesday that he will stand in solidarity with the Hopi Tribe, and joined Hopi lawmakers in encouraging other tribes to re-evaluate their relationships with environmentalists.

"Environmentalists are good at identifying problems but poor at identifying feasible solutions," Shirley said in a news release. "Most often they don't try to work with us but against us, giving aid and comfort to those opposed to the sovereign decision-making of tribes."

Environmentalists and tribes have forged partnerships on a number of issues, including opposition to uranium mining and the protection of mountains that American Indians consider sacred.

But coal is another story.

Environmentalists have waged a campaign against coal as an energy source, in favor of renewable energy such as wind and solar. But the Navajo and Hopi long have depended on coal revenues to fund their governments and pay the salaries of tribal employees on reservations where half the work force is unemployed.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The News No One's Reporting and Energy First, Indians Last.

Below:  A coal mine on the Navajo reservation.

Whiteclay needs creative thinking

Whiteclay needs creative thinkingAmong the more creative suggestions brought forth by the renewed legislative study are those made by two women: Donna Polk-Primm, executive director of the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition, and Judi Morgan gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, who suggested that state taxes collected at Whiteclay be used for alcohol treatment of Natives at Pine Ridge or in Nebraska, and possibly for job creation on the reservation.

We suggested virtually the same thing on the Whiteclay issue in this space four years ago.

Recognizing the difficulties of crossing jurisdictional and cultural boundaries, we want the appropriate public authorities in the states, the reservation and the federal government to show the same kind of creative thinking in trying to improve these destructive conditions.
Comment:  I tend to agree that blunt-force solutions such as banning alcohol sales won't work. Getting at the root of the problem with alcohol-treatment and job-creation programs seems like a better way to go.

For more on the subject, see Whiteclay = Genocide? and Whiteclay Protests Are "Wildly Ineffective."

September 29, 2009

Natives respond on Canadian colonialism

In No History of Canadian Colonialism?! I posted a comment by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and my response. Now here's more on the subject:

Prime Minister Harper Denies Colonialism in Canada at G20"We cannot remain silent when such false statements are made. In fact society has a responsibility to denounce such misleading statements. Denying the history of colonialism in Canada is like denying the holocaust" said Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL).

A simple search on Google on "Canada and colonialism" would certainly deny PM Harper's statement. What can be more colonial than a system where the original inhabitants have been removed from the land and forced to live on plots of land that are often the size of a postage stamp. There can be no other term than a colonialist regime when a constitution of a country is drawn up and the original inhabitants are excluded and made wards of the state, with no citizenship.

Legislation such as the Indian Act with policies of registering the Indigenous population for purposes of control have established a long standing colonial relationship of a racist, exploitative and coercive nature by the dominant settler population and their governments.
Harper denies Colonialism--Natives demand justice!All members of this group demand a public retraction of this falsehood.

His statement is not merely a gross error in the interpretation of Canadian history. It is a DENIAL of CONTINUOUS POLITICAL, INSTITUTIONAL, LEGISLATIVE, and CULTURAL OPPRESSION that has led directly to the DESTRUCTION and ONGOING REPRESSION of entire nations of indigenous peoples, their cultures, their languages, and all aspects of their ways of life.

This odious statement DENIES a consensus belief among a vast majority of Aboriginal, Canadian and non-Canadian historians, academics, activists, and many other community leaders of what has been justifiably called GENOCIDE.

To invoke regret through a PUBLIC APOLOGY for the HATE CRIMES that constitute the Residential School program, and then to turn around and proclaim that 'Canada has no history of colonialism', is hypocrisy and an insult to all who have suffered under colonialism and those who have died fighting it.
"We also have no history of colonialism"--Harper lying at the G20September 26, 2009 - 9:47pm

Now, now...he meant no history of EXTERNAL colonialism.

September 26, 2009 - 9:51pm

That's how invisible first nations are.

September 26, 2009 - 10:13pm

Jesus Christ...I mean, what do you say to this? The degree of arrogance, moral imbecility, and contempt for Canada's Indigenous peoples is unfathomable.

September 27, 2009 - 12:19am

The Boer War? The First World War? The Korean War? Our political support of the U.S.A. in the Vietnam War? Gulf/Iraq War I (1990-1991)? The occupation of Haiti? The Afghan War? Canada's thinly veiled military support of the U.S.A.'s Gulf/Iraq War II (2003-)? Canada's diplomatic support of Israel in the Israel Lebanon War (2006)? Canada's diplomatic support of Georgia during the 2008 Georgia Russia War? Canada's diplomatic support of Israel in the Israel Gaza War? Canada joining in the current U.S. and Israel saber rattling against Iran over the bogus (Iranian) nuclear weapons issue?

September 27, 2009 - 1:45am


Just like the U.S. doesn't torture.

September 27, 2009 - 12:33pm

Once again Stephen Harper humiliates Canada on the world stage.

September 27, 2009 - 1:12pm

Making the Indigenous FACT disappear is a national task shared in by all Canadian politicians. It has never stopped, crosses all party boundaries and continues to this day. That is the essence of a settler state. Harper is not alone. As Ward Churchill has said, it is like being locked up in a room with "the sociocultural equivalent of Hannibal Lecter."

September 27, 2009 - 3:04pm

The internal/external colonialism debate is moot for indigenous peoples never surrendered their lands. Canada exists as an illegal state imposed over territory that was never surrendered.

September 29, 2009 - 7:08pm

We've decided to take this serious educational matter into our own hands. We think that Stephen Harper should go back to high school and learn or re-learn the history of canada.

We've drafted a letter to the principal of the high school that Stephen Harper graduated from, as well as the superintendent and trustee of its school board on Stephen Harper's behalf:

Harper's statement cannot be described as one of many possible historical interpretations, nor can it even be written off as a misinterpretation of Canadian history. Instead, it belies an ignorance of incontrovertible historical facts that should be the foundation of even the most introductory knowledge of Canadian history.

This leads us to believe either that Mr. Harper has simply forgotten the historical facts your courses presumably teach, or that a grave error has occurred and he did not, in fact, complete the history courses required to receive his high school diploma. In either case, Mr. Harper should be invited to take these courses, either for the first time or as a refresher of knowledge he has obviously forgotten.
Comment:  Someone compared Harper to George W. Bush. Harper's comment on colonialism does sound like something Bush would say.

Blackstone TV pilot

Blackstone:  Story Synopsis

One-Hour Dramatic Television PilotBlackstone is a one hour television series pilot, telling the story of a community suffering disintegration by its own hand--a result of the corruption, mismanagement and nepotism of its Chief and Councillors; and the parallel complicity of the silent bandmembers.

A fire at the Blackstone Reserve sets the stage, claiming the life of three band members. The suspicious circumstances of the tragedy compel bandmember Victor Merasty to turn his focus from videotaping the band’s history and cultural traditions to using his camera to document the reserve’s entrenched ‘culture’ of corruption.

Bandmember Leona Stoney lives off-reserve, by choice; an addictions counselor in the city, she removed herself from the vicious cycle of dependency that is reserve life…but continues to do follow-up work on the reserve and visits her family who is still there--her sister Gail, and her niece Natalie.

Unanswered questions about the real cause and purpose of the fire lead to an occupation of the Band Office. Chief Andy Fraser attempts to quash the allegations by holding a Band Meeting reporting the results of the official fire investigation, which exonerate him.

Having watched the news report of the occupation Leona returns to Blackstone for the Band Meeting. During her visit to Blackstone, while at Gail’s, Leona takes note of the telltale signs of Natalie’s continuing gas-sniffing habit. Gail has a serious alcohol addiction and Leona can’t help but judge Gail for the poor example she is setting for Natalie.
Local TV drama tackles reserve corruptionThe wind whipped past the weathered barns and old trailers on a set just north of Edmonton, catching the dust and stinging actors' eyes. The overtly political drama being filmed could also stir up something that carries a sting. Carmen Moore worries the one-hour pilot, being filmed to run on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, could ruin her career. "I'm in a little bit over my head, like, what am I doing?" said the lead actor, hiding from the wind in a decommissioned dairy barn. "Am I tying my own noose here?" Edmonton screen writer Gil Cardinal calls Blackstone a fact-based fiction, a story about warped band politics....Comment:  "Blackstone, a world-famous magician, visits an Indian reserve and makes its problems disappear with a wave of his magic wand." Er, never mind.

Blackstone appears to be a grim but realistic look at life on a troubled rez. As opposed to, say, SCALPED, which goes way over the top in its depiction of murder, crime, and gang warfare.

Whether the series continues to be this conflict-oriented or adds uplifting human elements to the mix remains to be seen. A purely negative portrayal could become stereotypical.

Blackstone's cast includes Carmen Moore, Nathaniel Arcand, Eric Schweig, Gordon Tootoosis, and Michelle Thrush. So it seems to be an A-list Native production.

But not all pilots get aired, of course. This one looks controversial enough that APTN and other networks may hesitate to air it.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

Gumby in Indian Trouble

The Gumby cartoon Rain Spirits was a better-than-average look at Indians. In contrast, Indian Trouble is a much-worse-than-average look at them.

In one of Gumby's historical episodes, Gumby and Pokey are looking for a route across the Southwestern desert so they can deliver the mail. They meet an Indian at a trading post who spins Gumby into a pot. Then Gumby and Pokey head into the desert where the Indian leads them astray. In the Indian's village, Gumby hides in a pot and Pokey hides in a teepee. They sneak off but run into more Indians hiding behind rocks and shooting arrows. In response, Gumby whips up an Army outfit, a bugle, and a regiment of soldiers made of clay. The Indians attack but are scared off by the imitation troops.

Indian Trouble has a long list of stereotypes: a caricature at the beginning, Indian music, a "squaw" peak shaped like an hourglass, smoke signals, teepees, a peace pipe, a chief, war whoops, and tomahawks. Unlike Gumby and Pokey, they don't talk. The cartoon calls them "Pesky Indians" as if their only function is to harass and annoy people.

The worst thing is that Indian Trouble portrays Indians as living teepees with faces and feathers. That's a great example of what people thought about Indians in 1957. Namely, that Indians are an alien species that has nothing in common with humanity. These Indians aren't just "Coneheads," they're pure cones. They have no identities or shapes; they're nothing but a compilations of stereotypes. You add some feathers to a teepee and you have an Indian. No need for a body, mind, culture, or history because the stereotypes define the Indian.

Imagine defining blacks as, I dunno, giant watermelons with kinky hair and thick lips. Or Latinos as animated sombreros with faces. Can you say "racist"? Gumby the green slab of clay is more human than these Indians.

A few bright spots

Only a couple of things separate these Indians from pure creatures. First, the cartoon shows an Indian creating pottery twice--a small example of Indian culture. This doesn't seem like much, but it's more than you'll see in most old Westerns.

Second, an Indian "woman" retrieves an errant Indian "boy" at the end and waves at Gumby. It's about the only sign that Indians might have more humanity than shown previously. That they might have other thoughts besides tricking, hunting down, and attacking non-Indians.

Curiously, Indian Trouble appeared only a few episodes before the superior Rain Spirits. Did the same person write both episodes? That's hard to believe. Or did someone watch Indian Trouble, think "this is embarrassing and insulting to Indians," and write Rain Spirits in response? That seems a more likely scenario to me.

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

Parenteau heads to New York

Big dreams, Big Apple for Peace River actress

By Michelle HigginsTanis Parenteau spends her days working at a theatre company and attending class at the New School for Drama in New York City. Her resume lists appearances in independent feature films, short films, music videos, commercials, print ads and TV shows, including The Twilight Zone and Hank William’s First Nation. This summer, she made her off-Broadway debut in the comedy Bigger Toys for Bigger Boys at the Sage Theatre in New York.

It’s a far cry from her days growing up in Peace River. The brown-eyed beauty took part in a Peace Players production of The Sound of Music when she was eight years old, but back then she was more interested in figure skating, volleyball and track-and-field. The acting bug didn’t bite until she was pursuing her undergraduate degree in physical education at the University of Alberta, where she took a drama class to fulfill an outside-faculty requirement.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians and Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

Below:  "Peace River-born actress Tanis Parenteau, who first tasted the spotlight at the age of eight in a Peace Players production of The Sound of Music, is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the New School for Drama in New York City."

Twilight Weekly's Korey video

Recently we learned the Quileute Nation was going to appear on Twilight Weekly: Spotlight, a cable TV show dedicated to Twilight. Here's a video from the Quileute episode.

Korey says she had a "weird brainstorm" that people might want to know more about the real Quileute Indians. Yeah, I had that same thought when I first heard about Twilight two years ago. Better late than never, Tinsel.

Korey said that "our Native teachings" impelled her to give back to the Quileute people. So she's officially on record claiming that she's a Native. Now the only question is whether she's telling the truth.

For more on the subject, see Tinsel Korey Answers Critics and Tinsel Korey Comes Clean?

September 28, 2009

UN declaration = flat-earth policy?

Flat-earth Aboriginal politics at the UN

By Joseph QuesnelSomething like this flat-earth assumption is facing leaders in Canada, the United States, and New Zealand when it comes to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—an issue which was recently raised again after Australia reversed course and signed the document. This impressive-sounding document was ratified by the United Nations in September 2007, with 143 votes in favour, 11 abstentions, and four states--Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand--voting against.

At the time, critics of the Conservative government’s position, including former Assembly of First Nations (AFN) chief Phil Fontaine, couched their criticisms in language intended to embarrass Canada. The game was simple: the consensus is assumed right and the four nations (now three) are supposed to feel embarrassed.

Not surprisingly, all states opposed to the UN declaration actually contain indigenous peoples. While some argue this demonstrates that “settler nations” are continuing their “oppression” of indigenous peoples, it is conceivable each “dissident” state has legitimate reservations about the Declaration: each realize matters are complicated when it comes to Aboriginal rights and they understand this one-size-fits-all Declaration is in potential violation with each country’s internal legal and constitutional order.

For example, New Zealand is concerned that Declaration provisions which require “full consent” of indigenous people over legislation that affect them will give one group in a country, Aboriginals, a stranglehold over legislation. In Canada, there are concerns provisions within the Declaration could open ratified land claim agreements. This would be lousy policy for all parties involved, including First Nations.

But pressure built on the remaining states to ratify the Declaration after Australia’s new government signed on this past spring. Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and the 11 abstentions, however, should hold their ground. Appearing “progressive”--which is all signing the Declaration would be--is no substitute for substantive action that would make a real difference in the lives of Aboriginals.

The reality is that this Declaration is unnecessary in Canada. Aboriginals already have entrenched constitutional and treaty rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act. For instance, the Supreme Court and lower courts have ruled resource companies developing on traditional territories must consult and accommodate Native interests. Not signing it will not impact Aboriginal rights in Canada.

The latest target of this, “do it because everyone else is doing it” mentality is US President Barack Obama. Native American leaders are already demanding Obama ratify the UN Declaration, which his predecessor did not.

But why? Native American tribes in America enjoy a high level of tribal sovereignty. The U.S. Supreme Court long ago recognized that Native communities were “domestic dependent nations” and indigenous people in the U.S. have a level of independence from the government (independence that would make Canadian Aboriginals envious), including an impressive network of tribal courts.

If Obama was serious about “hope and change,” he should be encouraging Native Americans to enter into the mainstream, following his own inspiring story, one of the advancement for minority Americans within the system, not outside it.
Comment:  Actually, America's tribes "enjoy" a low and declining level of tribal sovereignty. This sovereignty is threatened by government and legal decisions almost every day.

You gotta love it when people go on and on about how a law is unnecessary. If it were really unnecessary, why would you care if it passed or not? Because you're a stickler for not having two duplicate items in our millions of lines of laws? Yeah, right.

Quesnel gives one reason why the declaration is necessary. It would require the "full consent" of indigenous people over legislation that affects them. In other words, the present Euro-American powers can impose legislation on supposedly sovereign tribes against their will. How exactly is that fair or just?

Indians spurn the mainstream?

But the stupidest thing in Quesnel's essay is how he confuses two separate issues. One is legitimate: establishing a firm basis for indigenous rights. The other is fictitious: Quesnel's belief that Indians want to remain separate, out of the mainstream. Presumably he thinks they want to live like simple hunter-gatherers from pre-Columbian times. That's why he labels their position "flat-earth politics."

Here's a clue, dummy. Indigenous people are already in the American mainstream. As readers learn in Newspaper Rock every day, they're using computers, rapping, starting businesses, writing operas, and serving in the White House. Most Indians live in urban areas; those on the rez are no more out of touch than any rural community.

What's the connection between protecting indigenous rights and living traditional lifestyles? Answer: There's no necessary connection. Did blacks stump for civil rights because they wanted to return to Africa or live in primitive villages? No.

A huge number of Natives believe in protecting indigenous rights. They range from little old ladies on reservations without electricity to million-dollar lawyers in the halls of Washington. One can believe the earth is round (i.e., join the mainstream) yet remain adamant in defense of indigenous rights.

Quesnel ignores history

Quesnel makes a lot of assumptions in this essay: that assimilation is best. That the American way is best. That the Great White Father knows best. All these assumptions are profoundly flawed. None of them is necessarily true.

How many times have Natives heard someone say the US or Canadian government knows best? Tens or hundreds of millions of times, probably. And how many times have the US and Canadian governments actually acted in the Indians' best interests? Only a tiny fraction of those millions of times.

So why should anyone believe these governments don't "need" the UN declaration to goad them into protecting indigenous rights? Believing and trusting the government is a sucker's bet. Quesnel may be stupid enough to believe his government will work for its indigenous population without prompting, but no one else is that naive. Natives have a long track record proving that Euro-American governments care mostly about protecting Euro-American people.

For more on the Canada's refusal to sign the UN declaration of indigenous rights, see Canada Blocks UN Declaration. For more on the larger issues, see Deconstructing Birdwatchers.

Below:  Another Great White Father tries to "help" Indians.

Hopi vs. environmentalists

Hopis say conservationists unwelcome on tribal land

By Dennis WagnerThe Hopi Nation's Tribal Council sent a message Monday to the Sierra Club and a handful of other environmental groups: Stay off the reservation.

Tina May, a council spokeswoman, said council members meeting in Kykotsmovi unanimously adopted a resolution declaring that the conservation groups are unwelcome on Hopi lands because they have damaged the tribe's economy by pushing for closure of a coal-fired power plant near Page.

The resolution says environmentalists have "spread misinformation" about Hopi water and energy resources, attempting to "instill unfounded fears into the hearts and minds of Hopi public."

The public castigation of conservation groups represents an unusual breach between a Native American tribe and environmental groups, which often work hand-in-hand on political causes, according to Ben Nuvamsa, a former tribal chairman.
What exactly is the problem?This spring, a coalition involving the Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, and several Native American groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency to review the Navajo Generating Station's role in smoggy skies over the Grand Canyon. They claimed the power plant is a source of "excessive pollution" and should be forced to reduce emissions.

The power plant and Hopi coal mines that fuel it support hundreds of families, providing more than 70 percent of the Indian nation's governmental revenues, said Scott Canty, tribal counsel.

In 2005, environmentalists succeeded in closing the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev. The Hopis claim that shutdown cost the tribe more than $6.5 million per year, and closure of Navajo Generating Station would wipe out another $11 million.
Comment:  As Loretta Windas wrote on Facebook:Interesting topic and article...competing interests within groups that would normally work together. One cannot simply take away a source of revenue AND energy without a work-around plan or a full-on replacement of same.Good point. But there's another good point worth considering. The Hopi and Navajo may have the sovereign right to pollute their own air, but they don't have the right to pollute the surrounding air. Their rights end where someone else's rights begin.

Obviously we need another solution besides closing the plant or letting it continue unabated. Require the installation of scrubber technology or something like that. Or put a carbon tax on the plant to reflect the true cost of its emissions. The Indians can either pay the tax or implement whatever alternative they want.

For more on the subject, see Ecological Indian Talk.

Below:  "Hopis are angry with environmental groups for pushing for closure of the Navajo Generating Station (shown in 2003), a coal-fired power plant near Page." (John Stanley/The Arizona Republic)

Gumby in Rain Spirits

Gumby--Rain Spirits

Comment:  I posted a summary of this cartoon in Gumby Does Hopi, but I hadn't seen the video until now. I've watched it and it's not too bad.

True, the Indian is a Tonto type. His English is clipped and he sports a headband with a feather. But other than these things, he's a decent character. He's not half-naked, wearing buckskins or a headdress, or waving a tomahawk. His skin is brown, not red.

Once Gumby, Pokey, and "Hopi" enter a book titled Hopi Indians--near books titled Wild Indians I Have known and All About Eskimoes--things pick up. The renditions of the Hopi corn field and pueblo are pretty accurate for a 1957 Claymation cartoon.

There's some stereotypical Indian chanting and music in the background. And the Indian's goat also speaks like Tonto. But these are minor issues.

The biggest issue is the cartoon's use of sacred Hopi kachinas (katsinas). The Hopi might say these figures are "taboo" and should never appear in children's entertainment. But within the Gumby framework, I'd say the cartoon portrays the kachinas respectfully. There's no egregious violation of Hopi beliefs like the infamous NFL SUPERPRO #6.

Give the cartoon credit for getting some basic things right. The Hopi do grow corn, live in pueblos, and pray to "rain spirits" called kachinas. That's more Hopi information than you'll get from 99% of Hollywood productions about Indians.

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

"Magical Native" TV trope

Magical Native American"Apache Chief, INYUK-CHUK!"

After centuries of various atrocities (smallpox, Columbus, Custer, the Trail of Tears) perpetuated against "the savages," white people finally came to realize that Native Americans have rich identities and cultures. Furthermore, Native American tribes have their own rich and varied beliefs, many of which hold close to the idea of the value of everything on the earth, and the spirits that hide close to us. Of course, there was still slavery, torture, and various other atrocities amongst several Aboriginal Nations, but we'd come to realize that Native Americans were a bit more nuanced than the whooping savages of early Westerns....

Of course, many non-Natives, especially those Hollywood types, saw a complex faith with a focus on ritual and spirits and broke it down to "magic." So, whenever someone needs to bring in a spirit guide, or magical superpowers, they bring in the Magical Native American. Furthermore, Native characters are usually painted as more serene and in touch with the world, and above its petty squabbles, but that's a whole other trope entirely. It can be particularly grating, because if Native Americans have such an unique claim to powerful tribal magics, then why did they put up with any of the aforementioned atrocities? This trope also applies to Aborigines, African bushmen, and First Nations, of course, but is most commonly represented via Native Americans.

Similar in vein to the Magical Negro, although usually more explicitly magical.
Comment:  This posting has a long list of examples from anime, comic books, movies, books, live-action TV, tabletop role-playing games, video games, and animated TV. Most of these are examples I haven't seen or covered. The comic-book and animated-TV categories are the only ones where I'd say my coverage is close to complete.

"Indians Don't Talk Like That!"

Classic Sesame Street:  Indians Don't Talk Like That!From Episode 871: When a Native American boy overhears two white boys playing "cowboys and Indians," he teaches them that the Western-movie stereotypes are wrong.

Comment:  For more on Sesame Street, see Buffy on Sesame Street. For more on the subject in general, see Tonto Talk, "Cowboys and Indians" Images, and TV Shows Featuring Indians.

September 27, 2009

"Next Dance" at University of Illinois

We get e-mail:Dear Rob,

I am contacting you today because you have, in the past, written about the University of Illinois' sports mascot Chief Illiniwek, and I thought you might appreciate hearing about how things stand here at UIUC now that 'the chief' has been officially 'retired'.

As you may remember, in March 2007, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted to officially 'retire' Chief Illiniwek. Unfortunately this was done without any mention by the University administration of the problems associated with the mascot or its negative impact on the campus climate, and for this reason it is generally understood by all concerned that the decision was a financial rather than moral one. Further, there has been no attempt to fill the void and create a new mascot or identity for the team--the name 'Fighting Illini' has been retained along with the Hollywood-'Indian' music which used to accompany the chief's dance at half-time--therefore 'the chief' remains the de facto mascot of the U of I's sports teams even though the mascot himself no longer makes an on-field appearance.

Images of 'the chief' and references to him still overwhelmingly dominate the UIUC campus discourse, and there are large and well funded groups actively working to not only keep his memory alive, but to find ways to retain him as an integral part of campus life. Their stated goal is to ultimately come up with some way of reinstating him as the official mascot.

One such group called Students for Chief Illiniwek is now hosting an annual event titled 'The Next Dance' at a place called the Assembly Hall--the University of Illinois' largest and most prominent sports and entertainment venue. This event features video retrospectives of the chief and his history, as well as a live appearance by a new portrayer of 'the chief' who recreates his dance and half-time performance to the accompaniment of members of the University marching band.

This is, as you might imagine, a fairly large and well organized operation, and therefore in no way can this be considered simply a student inspired initiative. It is in fact a quasi-official event which requires coordination and cooperation throughout the entire University administrative system in order for it to be successfully staged.

I am writing to you therefore on behalf of a group of student, faculty and community members who oppose this activity.

Unlike those who wish to retain 'the chief', we operate without any outside funding or official support and therefore articles such as the ones you've posted on this subject in the past have been extremely important to us and our work, because by far the biggest obstacle we face is the continuing ignorance of the general population as to what this struggle is actually all about.

Racism, intolerance and bigotry are certainly factors to be considered when trying to understand 'the chief's' continuing popularity, but what probably creates the broadest support for it is the fact that people in this country have long been misled and misinformed about their own Indigenous population--real education having been replaced by the promotion of myths and stereotypes--and it is this which sustains and underpins the success and popularity of the commodification and commercialization of Native cultures that figures like Chief Illiniwek represent. Very few people would think this thing was acceptable, or buy into any of the references to 'dignity' and 'honor' that are made on its behalf, if they only had some idea of just what a one-dimensional caricature their 'chief' actually was, but after being raised on a steady diet of similar characters via movies, TV shows, and cartoons--and even quite a few actual history books as well--this imagery seems so normal to them that they are unable to recognize that these are in fact stereotypes at all.

And on top of all of that, there is something inherently offensive about the descendants of the invaders of this land using a representation of their dispossessed victims for entertainment purposes of any sort, regardless of how authentic that representation may or may not be. When viewed in this context 'the chief' appears as nothing more than an animated trophy whose intentionally anachronistic appearance reenacts for our amusement those all too familiar tall tales about 'taming' the Wild West and bringing 'civilization' into the wilderness.

But we will never solve this problem until people understand what's actually going on, and therefore we who oppose the continued use of this thing depend upon voices like yours to keep this issue and others like it a part of the national conversation, because only if someone knows there's a question being asked are they likely to be able to recognize an answer when one is presented to them.

To this end I'd like to let you know that on October 2nd, another 'Next Dance' is scheduled, and our coalition plans to be there. We're holding a rally outside of the stadium to let the public know what's really going on inside.

We don't imagine that we will change very many minds in this way, but we do hope to make people at least think about what they're doing, and hopefully come to realize that their casual entertainment comes at a very steep price to all those who's history and culture is being packaged and sold for their amusement.

If you would be interested in having more information about this action or the current campus climate at UIUC, you can contact me directly or else visit our website at

Thank you.

Thomas Garza
Comment:  Garza has summarized the problem well. Let me reiterate his key points:

  • "After being raised on a steady diet of similar characters via movies, TV shows, and cartoons--and even quite a few actual history books as well--this imagery seems so normal to them that they are unable to recognize that these are in fact stereotypes at all."

  • "'The chief' appears as nothing more than an animated trophy whose intentionally anachronistic appearance reenacts for our amusement those all too familiar tall tales about 'taming' the Wild West and bringing 'civilization' into the wilderness."

  • An "animated trophy"...perfect. I'm adding that phrase to my repertoire of mascot descriptions.

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

    Johnny Firecloud

    A correspondent brought this movie to my attention:

    Johnny Firecloud (1975)Tagline:  They taught him today's violence....He gave them yesterday's revenge!

    Plot:  Young American Indian gets out of the army and returns home to find his tribe victimized by a white rancher.

    Quotes:  Johnny Firecloud:  You have the balls of a mouse!

    exciting and violent exploitation flick., 31 March 2004
    Author: bukakkefriedchicken from fabulous Las Vega$!

    Johnny is a much picked-on Native American in a small desert town that is "owned" by a bigoted rancher. When Johnny is is pushed to his limit after the murder of his grandfather, he exacts a brutal and bloody vengeance...Red Man style! This exploitive vehicle does not approach its sensitive race issues with the greatest of grace or respectability, but it certainly provides some good trashy thrills in that distinct 1970s drive-in way. Production values are slightly above average for this type of fare, and most of the performances are surprisingly strong. Interesting, too, is the presence of Sacheen Littlefeather in a minor role....

    Overall, pretty enjoyable. 5.5/10

    The Best Thing David F. Friedman Ever Produced, 15 February 2002
    Author: Robot Rancher from Texas

    I always saw David F. Friedman as basically a low budget Roger Corman. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed many of the David Friedman classics (such as Two Thousand Maniacs and She Freak), but those films paled in comparison next to the wraith of Johnny Firecloud.

    The movie plays out like Charles Bronson's Deathwish, only more violent. The bad guys, a group of country fried bigots lead by head bigot Mr. Colby, are truly wicked. This wickedness, which includes rape, murder, and torturing of the elderly, is truly disturbing, but in the long run makes the bad guy's deaths even more enjoyable to watch. The good guys (Johnny Firecloud, the Sheriff, and Chief White Eagle), have qualities that make them likable as heroes, but also flaws that make them seem more human (like White Eagle's drinking problem, and the inner turmoil faced by the Sheriff caused by his "sexual secret"). But with any David Friedman film, the main draw is the gore, and this film has it...boy does it have it.

    Granted, there are flaws, mainly in the acting. Sacheen Littlefeather gives a rather stiff performance and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the bad guys tend to put on the southern act a little too thick.

    So with that said, Robot Rancher's Final Score is a big 7 points. A solid film with enough eye gouging, scalp lifting, crotch socking violence to keep any David Friedman fan happy.
    Comment:  An Indian veteran returns from war and uses his military skills to become a savage warrior. That would have to be a contender for the most unoriginal Native-themed plot in modern fiction. It's probably been done hundreds of times.

    This is one movie I won't be adding to my Netflix queue.

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

    "Squaw" and Sammy on Bonanza

    A survey of Bonanza on the 50th anniversary of its debut mentions the role of Indians:

    A half century of Cartwrights:  Bonanza’s 50th anniversary

    NBC’s Bonanza brought location shooting, tourists, and money to Nevada

    By Dennis Myers
    The earliest episodes of Bonanza relied on local history more than the later ones did, but the program had a way of sanitizing that history, though not so much that it broke from the prejudices of the time. “Like they say,” guest star Charles Bronson said in one episode, “an Indian takes better care of his horse than his squaw.”And:When Roberts departed Bonanza, it damaged the program because he had fought for better scripts. Roberts’ own interpretation of the Adam character and his dark looks and brooding personality had been the disharmony the strait-laced program often needed. The show lost not just Roberts’ acting but his healthy challenges to the show’s producers. One of his last attempts to break out of the formula was a plan to marry off the Adam character. He proposed that Adam fall in love with a Native American woman to be portrayed by an African-American actress.

    It was a bold stroke, the very opposite of the tokenism that plagued television in those days—an interracial marriage with interracial casting, no less. Within the safe confines of a family-oriented program, blacks and Indians would have achieved a permanent showcase rather than a one-time guest appearance, while Roberts’ misgivings about the cookie-cutter shows would have been appeased.

    Unfortunately, producer David Dortort’s response to Roberts’ proposal was pure tokenism—a counterproposal for Sammy Davis Jr., to make an unrelated guest appearance which, as it happened, never came off.
    Comment:  As I've suggested before, Bonanza was only average in terms of portraying Indians physically. But in some early episodes, it did an above-average job of humanizing Indians and their stories.

    For more on the subject, see:

    The Paiute War in Bonanza
    Day of Reckoning in Bonanza
    The Lone Ranger vs. Bonanza
    El Toro Grande in Bonanza
    Death on Sun Mountain in Bonanza

    Hopi to reopen Twin Arrows

    Hopi Tribe hopes to reopen restored I-40 rest stop

    By Hillary DavisNorman Honanie, a Hopi council representative and land team member, said the tribe’s ambitions for the site include reopening the curio shop and diner. The store would showcase and sell authentic Native art, and traditional dancers would hold performances in the open area outside the small stucco building that still bears a faded mural declaring Twin Arrows the “Best ‘Little’ Stop on I-40.”

    Even sooner than that–by next summer, Honanie estimates–Twin Arrows could be home to a monthly “Indian Market,” which would allow Native vendors to sell arts, crafts and other wares.

    Twin Arrows would have a Hopi focus but also welcome other nearby tribes, such as the Navajo, Zuni, Hualapai or Havasupai. Just north of the site, Navajos are in early talks about their own major commercial endeavor: a $200 million, 150-room, 1,100-slot machine casino, spa and hotel complex.

    Honanie said the casino and the Twin Arrows post would complement each other, bringing customers to one venue, who then might venture across the road. He pointed out that Twin Arrows is already known as a point of interest.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Twin Arrows Refurbished.

    "Scariest places" include Indians

    Correspondent Shadow Wolf brought this TV series to my attention:

    Scariest Places on EarthScariest Places on Earth was an American paranormal documentary reality television series that aired from October 23, 2000, to October 29, 2006. The program featured reported cases of the paranormal by sending an ordinary family to visit the haunted location in a "reality TV"-style investigation. It was produced by Triage Entertainment for Fox Family Channel, which is now ABC Family and owns the rights to the show. The show was recently shown in reruns on SCI FI which is a part of NBC Universal. It currently airs on NBC Universal's horror and suspense-themed cable channel Chiller.

    The show was hosted by Linda Blair of the film The Exorcist. The show was narrated by Zelda Rubinstein, who is most famous for her role as the busty clairvoyant Tangina Barrons in the Poltergeist film series.
    Comment:  According to this episode guide, Scariest Places featured two places I've mentioned recently:

    Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
    Mission La Purisima Concepcion

    I don't know if any of the other "scariest places" are built on Indian burial grounds or involve Indian legends. If there are only two, that's not too bad. It gets annoying when people claim that every scary place is haunted by Indians.

    For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

    September 26, 2009

    Former Arapaho says tribes = slavery

    Former tribal member Lee Ann Ragains calls for end to system

    Tribes:  She wants American Indian dependence on federal funds to stop

    By Ron Jackson
    Lee Ann Ragains realizes she won’t be invited any time soon to tribal functions celebrating her Choctaw or Northern Arapaho ancestry.

    And if she had her way, those tribes would exist in name only.

    So would the other 560 federally recognized tribes in the United States.

    Ragains, a former tribal member of the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming, said Thursday she wants to abolish all tribal nations and cut off the flow of federal subsidies "to liberate” American Indians.

    The Kingfisher small business owner is so passionate about her cause, she said she has spent almost $10,000 for advertisements in Oklahoma City, Edmond and Kingfisher newspapers since Aug. 21.

    "Indian people are all wards of the government” under the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ trust system, said Ragains, 42. "The government sees us as nothing more than incompetent, domestic dependents. There’s really no difference between us and the prisoners of war in World War II. There just isn’t a fence.”

    Compares to slavery

    Ragains is encouraging Oklahomans—regardless of race—to contact their local, state and federal representatives to abolish the tribal system.

    She also is calling for the return of all money and land presently being held in BIA trust to American Indian individuals.

    "President (Barack) Obama needs to issue an executive order immediately,” Ragains said. "If he truly wants to be like (President Abraham) Lincoln, then he’ll issue an Emancipation Proclamation for all Indian people. Yes, I liken this to slavery.”
    Comment:  Moron alert!

    While we're at it, why don't we eliminate government "subsidies" to elders, military veterans, and poor people? And why don't we eliminate state, county, and city borders? After all, we're all Americans!

    Yeah, the policies of assimilation and termination worked wonders from the 1890s to the 1960s. Let's go back to the era when Indians were rich, happy individuals and not poor ol' members of sovereign nations.

    For more on the subject, see Should Indians Cling to Reservations?

    Below:  The good ol' days on the Chumash reservation.

    No history of Canadian colonialism?!

    Every G20 nation wants to be Canada, Stephen Harper insists

    By David Ljunggren"We're so self-effacing as Canadians that we sometimes forget the assets we do have that other people see," he said, speaking with a rare passion.

    "We are one of the most stable regimes in history. . . . We are unique in that regard," he added, noting Canada had enjoyed more than 150 years of untroubled Parliamentary democracy.

    Just in case that was not enough to persuade doubters, Harper threw in some more facts about the geographically second-largest nation in the world.

    "We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them," he said.
    Comment:  I presume Harper meant no history of external colonialism. Like the United States, Canada colonized the Indian nations in its path. In other words, the US and Canada were guilty of "internal" colonialism.

    Even that isn't correct. Yes, these Indians nations are internal to the US and Canada now. But they really should count as examples of external colonialism. Remember, they were outside the boundaries of the US and Canada until the US and Canada overran them.

    Borders enough to stop colonists?

    This raises an interesting point. Apologists for American expansionism usually say the US government couldn't stop the pioneers from moving west and settling in Indian territory. But note: These pioneers didn't cross the border into Mexico or Canada and "settle" those countries.

    Why not? If government laws and military force were enough to stop Americans at the country's northern and southern borders, why weren't they enough to stop Americans at the country's western border? Why didn't the pioneers keep going until they reached the North Pole or Tierra del Fuego?

    Who cares if other people already occupied these lands? They weren't Americans. Did God and his Manifest Destiny tell the settlers to stay within the lines?

    Answer: The settlers went west but not north or south because no one tried to stop them. Because Americans saw Indians as savage beasts in the way of progress--like so many herds of deer or buffalo. Because Americans didn't see them as civilized people inhabiting their own countries--as humans "created equal" to them.

    If they had, the government could've and would've stopped the illegal migrations. The incursion into Indian nations established by legally-binding treaties.

    For more on the subject, see Peru Conflict = Colonization and Colonization = Digestion.

    Walla Walla knockout artist

    An article on "Ultimate Fighting Championship knockout artist" Dan Henderson:

    Dan Henderson:  The Native American Knockout Artist

    By Stoker MacHendo's fighting style resembles a hunter deep in the forest, stalking a trophy elk with with his trusty .270 Winchester rifle close by his side. There may be a valid reason for this.

    According to the Confederated Umatilla Journal, "Henderson's grandmother, Alice (Bergevin) LeJune, is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes and owns land on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. From all accounts, Henderson is 1/16 Walla Walla Native American."

    "Now I know I’m Walla Walla," Henderson told the publication. "It’s refreshing to find some of those things out. I look Indian and I knew I had some, but I didn’t know what tribe or exactly how much. It will be good to be able to tell my kids about their heritage."

    So, not unlike his hunting ancestors, he is also a highly skilled and patient hunter.
    Comment:  I don't know if the Walla Walla or anyone would consider Henderson an Indian just because his grandmother is an Indian. Apparently he knew little or nothing about his Native roots until recently.

    The talk of Henderson's being a hunter and stalker is ridiculous and stereotypical. Maybe he approaches his fights with a mystical sense of oneness with nature. Maybe he punches every part of his opponent the way his ancestors used every part of the buffalo. But I doubt it.

    For more on related subjects, see "Rezdog" the Mixed Martial Artist and Cage Fighter Doesn't Like Violence.

    Things not to say to Indians

    Things NEVER to Say to American Indian Coworkers[W]hat's the proper way to address American Indian coworkers? It depends on whom you ask, but one thing they all would agree on: to be the most accurate, identify the tribe first.

    [W]hat else might you say that would be offensive? Take a look at these 9 things you should NEVER say to an American Indian colleague.

    "Hey, Chief"
    "How Indian are you?"
    "Hold down the fort"
    "Do you live in a teepee?"
    "Climbing the totem pole" or "Low man on the totem pole"
    "That's a nice costume"
    Comment:  I'm pretty sure most Indians wouldn't mind "Hold down the fort." I'm not sure they'd get upset if someone innocently said "Pow-wow" or "Low man on the totem pole."

    I'm sure we could think of more offensive words and phrases. For instance, "going off the reservation." Or accusing an Indian of receiving government handouts or not paying taxes. Plus all the usual slurs and stereotypes: "savage," "redskin," "Geronimo," "Tonto," "drunk," "casino owner," etc.

    For more on the subject, see the Stereotype of the Month contest.

    "Quileute" actors go shopping

    A photo array of Twilight's "Native" actors shopping in Vancouver:

    Wolves are prettyThese are members of the pulchritudinous Quileute Nation out and about Vancouver recently–-young BooBoo Stewart with a new haircut, Chaske Spencer and the rarely seen and very beautiful Tinsel Korey. She’s stunning.Comment:  The photos also show Alex Meraz.

    None of these people are members of the Quileute Nation, of course. They're playing Quileutes in the Twilight movies.

    And only two of them--Spencer and Meraz--are Indians. The other two--Stewart and Korey--seem to be Asian.

    One could call the claim above a case of poetic license. But I think it's more than that. It shows the myth-making process in action: a movie influencing people's perceptions of reality.

    As I think we've seen, Twilight fans don't know or care which of the Wolf Pack actors are Indians. And they don't know the difference between the Quileute Nation and other tribes. To them, brown skins (Indians, Latinos, Asians) are werewolves and white skins are vampires. Quileutes are brown skins who live somewhere in the Northwest and are descended from wolves.

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

    RIT Big Shot No. 25

    R•I•T Big Shot No. 25

    Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
    Washington, D.C.
    September 26, 2009 • 8:20pm • 60 degrees Fahrenheit

    Direct Digital Capture: Camera--Nikon D3X with 14 mm lens

    Exposure time: 20 seconds @ f16 ISO 100

    All external lighting was provided by multiple hand-held electronic

    flash units and flashlights operated by approximately 815 people.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians Join the Big Shot and NMAI Is 2009 Big Shot.

    September 25, 2009

    Masek = naive village girl?

    A columnist provides dueling views of a Native woman: naive village girl or experienced legislator?

    Masek excuses sound hollow, sentence disappoints

    By Julia O'MalleyBeverly Masek's sentencing Thursday morning was a chance for her to take responsibility for pocketing $4,000 from an oil services company executive in exchange for her vote. And she told the judge she did. But what I heard in the courtroom was a long list of reasons why it wasn't really her fault.

    The five-time elected member of the Alaska House of Representatives took a bribe in 2003 from Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen because she was depressed and going through a divorce, her attorney, Rich Curtner, explained to the judge. She was cash-strapped and desperate and drinking too much. The defense sentencing document--built on letters from public figures and a psychiatric evaluation--painted a picture of her that seemed fragile, like a besotted Victorian heroine wandering the halls of the capitol.

    Masek was vulnerable and prone to relationships with domineering people, it said, a passive, dependent personality. She was unsophisticated and from a village, childlike, overwhelmed and adrift in Juneau when she had no one to tell her what to do. She was powerless to the pull of the Legislature's culture of corruption. Not to mention she had a habit of drinking too much. Reading all that, one might have expected her to faint right there in the courtroom. But instead she just sniffled, dabbing her eyes with a wadded Kleenex.

    Masek was looking at 18 to 24 months under federal sentencing guidelines. But she didn't want to go to jail, her lawyer told the judge. She wanted to go to alcohol treatment.

    In my seat in the front row, I was unmoved. Masek navigated the Iditarod Trail four times. Did she really have such a hard time, no matter how stressed or broke or hung-over she might have been, navigating the difference between right and wrong in Juneau? She had taken the oath of office five times, and been in the Legislature nearly 10 years when she deposited Allen's money in her bank account. The defense was reaching for heart-strings, playing a cloying victim tune. But it relied on a musty stereotype about Native women I don't buy. Masek was no naive village girl. She was an adult and an elected official. It seemed reasonable, even if she had an alcohol problem, that she should be expected to act like one.
    More on the story:

    Judge shows leniency in Masek sentence for corruption

    Corruption:  Former state representative must serve 3 years' probation after prison.

    By Richard Mauer
    Masek said she has "hurt, embarrassed and humiliated" herself and let her friends down.

    "I know I have done things I should not have done. I know I need help. I'm ready to get back on track and get off this cliff that I fell off of," she said.

    In a sentencing memo filed on behalf of Masek, Curtner said Masek accepted responsibility for her actions, but also blamed her ex-husband for being controlling and abusive and the environment in Juneau for depressing and confusing her.
    If she fell off a cliff, she doesn't need to get off the cliff, but never mind.

    Then there's this: "She start drinking in Juneau, with nice Republican rednecks," he added.

    Beistline, from the bench, acknowledged that Masek may have been a "pawn in the hands of several legislators (and) her husband," but it didn't excuse her conduct. He said the idea that a legislator incapable of acting on her own and frequently drunk was "kind of scary, when you think about it."

    Beistline said he was hopeful Masek could conquer her alcohol problems and become a useful member of society. But he also expressed skepticism because she hadn't gotten treatment despite her heavy drinking over the last decade and a driving while intoxicated charge. Under court supervision since her guilty plea in March, she's still been drinking to excess, the judge said.
    Plus this note about the situation in general:Masek was the sixth state lawmaker and 12th person overall charged in the wide-ranging FBI investigation of corruption in Alaska politics. The investigation, while still ongoing, has been on hold while the Justice Department and a special prosecutor in Washington investigates the conduct of prosecutors and the FBI as a result of the collapse of its biggest case, the corruption trial of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.Comment:  Note the culture of corruption that happened under Republican governor Sarah Palin. Before she quit, I think an informal survey rated her Alaska one of the most corrupt states in the Union.

    For more on the subject, see How Alaskan Natives Get Drunk.

    Marketing Tennessee's Cherokee history

    Cherokee history is new focus in southeast TennesseeLocal tourism professionals are working alongside scholars, citizens and history buffs in a movement that is uncovering new stories and raising awareness of southeast Tennessee’s extremely significant Cherokee history, a part of America’s Native American past.

    Representatives from Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association and the Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce are unveiling new driving trail brochures highlighting the rich Cherokee history and encouraging visitation to the area. The Bradley County brochure is titled “Your Passport to Explore Cherokee Heritage.” The SETTA brochure is “Southeast Tennessee Cherokee Native American Guide.”

    A remarkable convergence of events prompted this focused attention and cooperative effort, including the opening of the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park; this year’s 30th anniversary of Red Clay State Park; the 25th anniversary of the Joint Council Reunion with the lighting of the eternal flame, and the PBS series “We Shall Remain,” which focused one entire episode on the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee experience in and around southeast Tennessee. Portions of the film were shot at Red Clay, the last eastern capital of the Cherokee Nation.

    “Southeast Tennessee’s Native American History is one of the true hidden gems in Tennessee,” said Cindy Milligan, tourism director for SETTA. “We are committed to putting the spotlight on this region’s Cherokee history so that it is no longer hidden, but in fact, is raised to national and international prominence.”
    Comment:  For a related subject, see Cherokee "Living History" Tours.

    Below:  "The Bradley County brochure is titled 'Your Passport to Explore Cherokee Heritage.' It outlines the precise location of the Cherokee Agency where passports were required to enter into Cherokee territory."

    Western Shoshone's American Outrage

    Native American rights at heart of documentary

    “American Outrage” directed by Beth Gage & George Gage; written by Beth Gage; narrated by Mary Steenburgen, First Run Features, 2008 (released 2009), 56 minutes plus special features, $24.95.

    By Diana Staresinic-Deane
    In 1863, the U.S. government, seeking safe passage across Native American lands to the West, signed a treaty of peace and friendship with the Western Shoshone. The Treaty of Ruby Valley granted the U.S. the right to cross Western Shoshone territory without requiring the Western Shoshone to relinquish their land.

    The interpretation of this treaty is at the heart of “American Outrage,” a film documenting the Western Shoshone’s 36-year struggle to maintain ownership of and rights to their traditional sacred lands.

    At the center of this battle are sisters Carrie and Mary Dann, a pair of Western Shoshone grandmothers who have ranched near the Crescent Valley in Nevada for their entire lives. In 1973, a representative of the Bureau of Land Management informed the Danns that their animals were trespassing on government land. Consulting a map of Western Shoshone land as outlined by the Treaty of Ruby Valley, the Danns insisted they were within their rights.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

    Indians join the Big Shot

    A Brilliant Shot in the Dark

    Flashlight-Toting Volunteers Needed For Museum Photo

    By Ruth McCann
    Bill, 62, and Dawn, 58, first decided they wanted to bring the Big Shot to the Museum of the American Indian after visiting the striking, seemingly undulating building last year. Since this Big Shot is part of the museum's fifth anniversary festivities, many members of the Native American community are expected to turn out.

    Jamie Gomez, a member of Alaska's Tlingit tribe who works in Washington at the National Congress of the American Indian, plans on bringing her two sons, ages 6 and 9, to the event.

    "They're very excited," says Gomez, 33. "They're trying to convince me to let them each bring two flashlights."
    Below:  "In 2003, Stockholm's Royal Palace was lit by 350 flashlight-wielding volunteers for this photograph. Saturday, the National Museum of the American Indian gets its turn." (Rochester Institute Of Technology Big Shot)

    Autopsy photo becomes art

    Stonechild autopsy photo haunts Regina artistA Regina artist says he was compelled to create a portrait based on a disturbing autopsy photograph of Neil Stonechild, the young Saskatoon man who froze to death in 1990.

    "It's ugly. It's sad. It's depressing," David Garneau said of the autopsy photo. "It was just this stark image. But I felt like I really needed to record that."

    The autopsy photograph, a close-up of Stonechild's face, came from a website that was posting evidence gathered as a part of a judicial inquiry into the 17-year-old's death.

    Stonechild was last seen in the custody of Saskatoon police. While no officers were directly linked to his death, the case gripped the province for years as the relationship between First Nations and police was closely scrutinized.

    Garneau's large canvas replicates Stonechild's image with small red dots, which the artist likens to beadwork. Garneau is Metis.
    Below:  "Regina artist David Garneau, beside his work 'Evidence' which is based on an autopsy photograph of Neil Stonechild." (CBC)