March 31, 2010

Natives criticize Speidi names

Native American Backlash Over Speidi NamesRunning Bear and White Wolf aren't exactly being embraced by the community they hoped to join ... in fact, several Native American groups are lashing out at the reality stars over their "ignorant" name changes.

After the people formally known as Heidi and Spencer announced their new names, TMZ spoke with a rep from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, who told us, "Continued stereotyping such as this by people ignorant of our traditional ways is very disrespectful and only hurts our efforts to curtail these stereotypes."

The rep claims they're especially upset because "the names they have given themselves are legitimate names in our tribe." And they're not the only ones pissed at the MTV couple ...

The National Indian Education Association tells us, "they have taken an inaccurate stereotypical approach to enhance their public image which is offensive to our diverse American Indian cultures."
Some comments on this controversy from Natives on Facebook:White Wolf and Running Bear????? LMAO!!!!! Why not "Wind Whistles Thru My Ears"? I think that would be an appropriate name for these two idiots!!!!


How about running boor and white trash, instead?

Dumb and Dumber are more appropriate names...

I realize people want to make connections to the indigenous people of American, but this just is not the way to do it...glad that the tribe made a comment. More tribes need to speak up on behalf of our culture.

How embarrassing.... for them!

Such a disgrace...

New names: Looks For Self...Finds Gaping Pit of Soulless Racism. Will that work? I could translate it into Gaelic if it will make them feel more spirchul.
Another article makes a good point about the Rosebud Sioux's "legitimate names" claim:

Surprise!!!  Native Americans Are Offended By Heidi And Spencer’s New Native American Names.

By Noah GarfinkelNOOOOOOOOOO! You messed UP!!!! Now we’re all just thinking about how it’s a at least a little funny that those are legitimate names. And you also gave Heidi and Spencer credit for being accurate. You have to listen to me when I talk to you about public relations.Comment:  Yes, you don't want to give Heidi and Spencer credit for choosing "legitimate" names even if they are legitimate. Why not? Several reasons:

  • Cultural appropriation like this is never appropriate. It doesn't matter whether the names are legitimate or not.

  • Would the names be less offensive if they were more facetious: e.g., Rain Dancer, Big Beaver, or Drinks-a-Lot? No, obviously not.

  • Heidi and Spencer undoubtedly didn't choose their names by looking in a phone book and saying, "Oh, here are some real Indian names. Let's use them." They picked them because Indians are stereotypically associated with wolves, bears, eagles, and hawks. I.e., the noble beasts of the forest.

  • That some Indians really have such names is a coincidence. These Indians inherited their names from their ancestors, who received them in a dream or vision or by doing some great deed. They did not choose their names because they sounded cool, brave, or "spiritual."

    As I've said many times, if someone chose an Indian name such as Back Fat, Buffalo Hump, or He Who Yawns, I'd be impressed. It would mean they were emulating the vast majority of Indians who don't have a "noble" wolf/bear/eagle/hawk name. It would mean they were trying to connect with the reality of Indian culture, not their romantic version of it.

    Of course, it still would be a brazen example of cultural (mis)appropriation. But at least the names wouldn't be blatantly stereotypical. We could concentrate on why taking "Indian names" is wrong, not why the names themselves are wrong.

    For more on the subject, see Heidi and Spencer Adopt "Indian Names" and "Funny" Indian Names.

    Whitewashing in 30 Days of Night

    Here's a comic-book mini-series that was made into a movie:

    30 Days of Night (film)30 Days of Night is a 2007 American horror film based on the comic book miniseries of the same name. The film is directed by David Slade and stars Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, and Danny Huston. The film was released in the United States on October 19, 2007. The story focuses on the Alaskan town of Barrow, beset by vampires as it enters into a thirty-day long period without sunshine. The film follows a group of people who struggle to survive until sunlight returns.The film is based on a comic book:

    30 Days of Night30 Days of Night is a three-issue horror comic book mini-series written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Ben Templesmith and published by IDW Publishing in 2002. All three parties co-own the property.

    The series takes place in Barrow, Alaska, so far north that during the winter the sun does not rise for 67 days. In the series, vampires, being vulnerable to sunlight, take advantage of the prolonged darkness to feast upon the town's inhabitants.

    Initially an unsuccessful film pitch, the series became a breakout success story for Steve Niles, whose previous works had received relatively little attention. It was also the first full-length work by co-creator Ben Templesmith. The series has been followed by numerous sequel series and, in 2007, was adapted into a film of the same name.
    Eben OlemaunEben Olemaun, the primary protagonist of 30 Days of Night, is the sheriff of the small town of Barrow, Alaska. When the vampires attack Barrow, Olemaun leads a small group of survivors including his wife Stella and young teenage brother, Jake.


    In the 30 Days of Night film adaptation, the character's name was changed from Eben Olemaun to Eben Oleson. Eben was portrayed by American actor Josh Hartnett.
    Comment:  Michael Le of Racebending notes that Josh Hartnett's character was originally Inuit. The movie renamed him and made him white.

    Right, because people wouldn't go to a horror movie about vampires in the Arctic night unless a white actor plays the lead role. I can just imagine the pitch meeting:

    PRODUCER:  Vampires in the Arctic night!

    STUDIO EXEC:  Great idea! It practically sells itself!

    STUDIO EXEC:  I presume a white guy is the hero.

    PRODUCER:  Uh, no, the lead character is Inuit.

    STUDIO EXEC:  No go. That'll never work.

    PRODUCER:  But you just said it was a great idea.

    STUDIO EXEC:  That was before I knew. Audiences won't go to see an Inuit hero.

    PRODUCER:  Did I say he was Inuit? I meant he's white.

    STUDIO EXEC:  Great idea! It practically sells itself!

    The movie cost $30 million and has made $75 million because horror movies usually make money. But some exec thought this project was too risky to cast an Inuit (or Asian, or Indian) as the main character? Sounds like pure racism to me.

    I'd love to hear a studio exec make the case for casting Josh Hartnett. How much additional money do you think the little-known Hartnett brought in? What would the take have been with a Native actor? Give us some numbers so we can determine exactly how racist you are.

    For more on the subject, see Indians Hold Steady at 0.3% and The Best Indian Movies.

    "Hanging" Louis Riel t-shirts offend Métis

    Louis Riel hanging T-shirts offend MétisManitoba Métis groups are outraged about T-shirts being sold online that feature an image of Louis Riel with a noose around his neck.

    The image is accompanied by the text, "Hang with me on Louis Riel Day."

    Louis Riel Day is a February holiday in Manitoba.

    "I really feel disgusted when I see something like that," said Gabriel Dufault, president of the Franco-Métis Association in Manitoba. "It's obviously the work of one with a troubled mind.

    "It's racist in nature and I don't see any humour in this at all."

    Riel was a former MP and leader of the Métis people, and is considered the founder of the province of Manitoba.

    He was hanged for treason in 1885 at the age of 41 after leading Métis resistance in Saskatchewan against the Canadian government.

    Today, he is regarded as a folk hero by many for his defence of Métis rights and culture.
    Comment:  Some online commenters questioned Dufault's reaction to the shirts:We have seen t-shirts depicting the pope, presidents, prime ministers, etc. just as offensive sold on-line.

    I could see how someone could deem it in poor taste or even 'offensive' (a grossly overused term in its own right) but racist?

    Don't agree or disagree with me: TELL me...HOW is it racist?
    Show us the t-shirts featuring the pope, presidents, and prime ministers being hanged. Until you do, this shirt singles out a Métis person because of his race-based actions. That makes it discriminatory on the basis of race, or racist.

    For more on offensive shirts, see Lucky Brand Sells "White Lightning" T-Shirt and Duluth Shop Sells "Drunk Indian" Shirts.

    Yeagley suing his critics?

    I was wondering where David Yeagley has been the last couple years. Here's a possible answer.

    I'm told Yeagley the Indian apple is suing his Native critics for calling him a non-Indian. Apparently he was fired from his writing and speaking gigs and is lashing out.

    I gather he's also suing universities, literary presses, websites, and ISPs. Basically anyone who may have published or posted a defamatory statement about him.

    My informants were a bit surprised Yeagley hasn't targeted me. I've certainly criticized him enough, so I hope he doesn't come after me. But I'm not sure I ever explicitly labeled him a non-Indian. If he's enrolled in the Comanche tribe, he has a legitimate claim to be called an Indian, even if he has little or no Indian blood.

    Of course, I have called him an apple, an alleged Indian, a pseudo-Indian, and the likee. Not to mention a moron, a nutcase, and a racist. That seems like more than enough to earn his enmity.

    Last time someone threatened to sue me, I kicked his butt all over the map. He didn't carry out his threat, which was clearly a bluff. I trust Yeagley will be smarter than that loudmouth was.

    Someone on Facebook added a little perspective:Yeagley doesn't have the money to sue anyone. It's just talk. He's done this before in hopes of silencing people.You're probably right, but he could've found some right-wing lawyers to help him. I think he's served papers on someone already, so it may be more than talk this time. Or not.

    For more on Yeagley, see Comanche Film-Score Controversy.

    Twilight site sells Quileute items

    Quileute tribe starts Twilight-inspired items onlineThe Quileute tribe has launched a Web site to sell Twilight-themed merchandise handcrafted by tribal artisans.

    Cedar wolf rattles and paddles, woven cedar baskets and hats, canned smoked salmon and other goods are available at

    "Traveling across our great country and observing other native tribes commercially marketing their wares in a successful and respectful manner motivated us to explore the concept of promoting culturally appropriate authentic Quileute items online," said Chairwoman Anna Rose Counsell-Geyer.

    "Though we began this exploration prior to the Twilight phenomenon, I am delighted for the artisans in the village who have a global audience interested in owning a part of authentic Quileute culture, and thrilled we can share our art with fans and collectors who are unable to visit LaPush personally."

    Students at the Quileute Tribal School made hand-cut cedar paddle necklaces which are modeled after the ones worn by the character Emily in the movie, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which was based on the second book in the Twilight series, New Moon.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Quileutes Embrace Twilight Tourism and Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

    Below:  "This paddle necklace is one of the items Quileute Tribal School children are making for the tribe's e-commerce site inspired by the Twilight books and movies."

    Olympic snowboarder gets Hopi tattoo

    Olympic snowboarder gets 'inked' with Hopi symbols

    By Rosanda Suetopka ThayerOlympic snowboarder and gold medalist Shaun White, 23, was so inspired by his most recent win at this year's 2010 Olympic games that he and his father decided to commemorate the win by getting new arm tattoos.

    At first, White's dad suggested, getting the Olympic circles or possibly a middle Eastern philosophy symbol, but White had his own idea.

    He wanted to get a tattoo that symbolized the strength and endurance of America's First People and that was somehow connected to water or snow. That's when he saw the Hopi rain cloud symbol and knew that was the one for him. He had this symbol inked on his left forearm.

    March 30, 2010

    "Indian" and "tribe" are misnomers

    The "I" Word

    By Julianne JenningsThe word "Indian" is a European classification and evidence of a serious geographical mistake. "American Indian," "Native American" and the use of the term "Mixed-Blood" are also classifications that are invalid and historically incorrect and misleading. According to Indian rights activist, Russell Means, these governmentally designated terms are used to describe Native Americans as "..­.all the prisoners of the U.S. government" and that the idea of a Native American Heritage Month is a "...subterfuge to hide the ongoing daily genocide being practiced against my people by this United States of America." Still, many indigenous people continue to use the word Indian to describe themselves as a result of internalized colonialism.And:As opposed to "White," Indian is a racist term. The "I" category was created to cause the ultimate vanquishing of the Indian through racial classification when all else failed to make Indians extinct. The category White is self-imposed to promote a social hierarchy of superior and inferior types. The real persons of this continent knew themselves by names that translated to "the people" or "the human beings" in relation to their physical location. Before the word "tribe" was obligatory, these differentiated people in respect to bands, clans and nations, had distinct territories, and were independent political entities with the inherent right to self-govern. Within these groups identity was based on community and society, and not race. Of the small amount of human genetic variation, eighty-six percent exists within a local population. There is more variation within a particular race than there is between different races. Race is not biological, but racism is real. These perceived "racial" differences justified colonial control, slavery and social inferiority today.And:Tribe is another misnomer to signify one stage of cultural development in human evolution, thus the etymological origins must be understood. "Historically, the term tribe in Roman colonial expansion was referred to as "tribus," meaning a conquered people away from the centers of "civilization" at the peripheries of empire. Prior to the rise of colonialism, many of today's tribes were "nations" or "kingdoms" with whom the Europeans and Americans negotiated on a state to state basis only after these people were subjugated was tribe applied to them" (Lobban et al.). With the concomitant rise in racist ideology, tribal people came to be stereotyped as "inferior, backward, heathen and uncivilized" from the loftiness of European and colonial perspectives.Comment:  I think everyone agrees we should call Indians by their tribal affiliation whenever possible. But everyone also agrees that we need a collective name for the original inhabitants of the Americas.

    Without such a name, we'd have no way of talking about the collective past, present, and future of these people. For instance, try describing the significance of the phrase "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" without using the word "Indian."

    So we need a collective term for these people. The alternatives commonly used include Indians, Native Americans, First Americans, First Nations, Aboriginals, and Amerindians. You can find problems with all these terms, but Indians (including Russell Means) have settled on the term "Indian." It's by far the most common term used in Indian country.

    Jennings is correct that "Indian" isn't a distinct racial category. It's more of an indistinct ethnic category with racial and cultural attributes. As we've seen, the dividing line between Indian and non-Indian often isn't clear. But at the core, Indians have a set of traits and beliefs that set them apart from non-Indians.

    As for "tribe" vs. "nation," the main difference may be size. Tribes were small enough that people could have kinship ties with each other. The larger nations relied on less personal bonds such as a common language, culture, or history.

    But now Indians tend to use "nation" in official or political circumstances and "tribe" in social or personal ones. It's become something like the distinction between "Indian" and "Native American." People will refer to "Native Americans" and "nations" formally and "Indians" and "tribes" informally.

    For more on the subject, see "Actual Indian" Defined and "American Indian" vs. "Native American."

    Below:  Russell Means, Lakota Sioux and self-described Indian.

    Vice:  Nunavut teens are drunk, depressed

    Hipster web-rag’s depiction of Iqaluit irks local youth

    “Nunavut teenhood, in a frozen and depressing nutshell”

    By Chris Windeyer
    Some young Iqalummiut are miffed at an American magazine article they call “very insensitive” to Iqaluit.

    The story ran on the website of the New York-based hipster magazine Vice.

    Entitled “Arctic Teenagers,” it’s basically a second-hand retelling of one girl’s experiences growing up here.

    “What if it was -50C outside, booze and drugs are almost triple what they are in the rest of the country, and a bunch of your friends committed suicide because they got dumped?” the story reads. “That’s Nunavut teenhood, in a frozen and depressing nutshell.”

    The piece also describes the smell of maktaq as “sweet, rotting, flesh-garbage” and claims that kids go snowboarding “in tank tops when it’s –35 C and get sunburned.”

    Angnaluaaq ‘Tia’ Friesen, an 18-year old nursing student at Nunavut Arctic College, called the story “pretty insane.”

    Friesen said the Vice story serves as an introduction to Nunavut for some southerners, and while the article has streaks of truth throughout, it’s insulting to imply that all teens ever do on weekends is get wasted.

    “I’ve never been drunk,” Friesen said. “I’ve never been high.”

    So Friesen’s started a Facebook group calling on Vice to pull the story. It’s attracted more than 130 members in under a week.
    The original article:

    Arctic Teenagers

    Comment:  There's a fine line between "negative but accurate" and "too negative and therefore inaccurate." For instance, the Vice article says:Like most teenagers the goal on a Saturday night is to get fucked up. If you don’t have a cool older sibling who hooks you up then you’re pretty much on your own to find a way of getting wasted. A typical Saturday night in Iqaluit consists of wandering around looking for a party.Does that imply that all Native youths get drunk? Does it imply they're worse than non-Native youths? Hard to say.

    The piece is focused on the negative and cultural insensitive. Since I haven't visited Iqaluit, I'll take Friesen's word that the portrait is unfair and "pretty insane." It carries a whiff of stereotyping: Natives as drunk, good-for-nothing, and uncivilized.

    Early Indians were entrepreneurs

    The return of Indian entrepreneurship

    By Jack StevensAll these new reservation products are cultural matches, but so is entrepreneurship itself. Markets, trade and importation of raw materials for manufacturing were not concepts brought here by Europeans. Sophisticated Indian trade networks veined the continent long before European contact. During the Hopewellian (200 B.C.–400 A.D.) and Mississippian (800 A.D.–1500 A.D.) periods of Native American history, Indians in Illinois, New York and Ohio traded for conch shells from the Gulf of Mexico, obsidian from what is now Yellowstone Park, copper from the Great Lakes, gold and silver from what is now Canada, fossil shark’s teeth from Chesapeake Bay, and mica and crystal from the Appalachians. Southwestern tribes traded in shells, copper bells, and macaws and parrots from what is now Mexico, and turquoise from what is today California. Indians on the Missouri in the Dakotas traded for marine shells from the Pacific and Gulf coasts.

    After the Europeans’ arrival, Ojibwe (not English, Spanish, or French) became the lingua franca of trade up to the 18th century. Great Lakes tribes established portages and elaborate schedules for water-borne transportation of furs and other trade goods. Choctaw-based Mobilian was the language of commerce between tribes and the new settlers on the lower Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. In the Northeast, both the Dutch and English adopted as legal tender the Indians’ wampum, intricately crafted strings of cylindrical beads.

    It is likely that the Lakota ancestors of Hunter and Red Cloud traded buffalo meat, hides and horns for food crops at Arikara trading centers along the upper Missouri Valley. The forebears of Simon and TurningRobe may have bargained at inter-tribal markets along the Columbia River, where Nez Perce, Wishram, Wasco, Wyampam, Chinookian-speaking coastal people, and members of other tribes traded wares.

    The framers of the U.S. Constitution acknowledged the substance and scope of these indigenous exchange networks by adopting the Commerce Clause to regulate trade “with the Indian tribes.”
    Comment:  Although you occasionally see two tribes meet in movies or TV shows to settle a grievance or arrange a marriage, you rarely see any trade activity. Indians engaged in the beaver trade, guiding Europeans on trade almost never see anything like that. It's more comfortable to imagine Indians sitting in their tipi villages plotting war or worshiping nature. Either way they're savages. We don't have to credit them with being clever, resourceful businessmen like the Europeans were.

    For more on the subject, see Early Inuit Were Entrepreneurs, NCAIED Celebrates 40 Under 40, and Native Women Are Entrepreneurs.

    Guardian Angels = Sioux tradition

    Charles Trimble:  Guardian Angels come to Indian CountryWhen I read the article that the first Guardian Angels chapter in Indian Country is starting on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, my reaction was, “How appropriate; a traditional Akicita approach to the problem of policing Indian country.”

    In Sioux camps in olden times, the police that kept order were the Akicita (pronounced ah-KEE-chee-tah). These were men who were selected for their generosity, leadership, and most of all, their bravery. These men were of the warrior societies, the elite among the men.

    Life in the camps on the Plains required much discipline on the part of individuals and families. There was no place for troublemakers who disturbed the peace by their behavior and by their disrespect for laws and authority. With families that were troublemakers, we are told, akicita warriors might call out the male head of the tiospaye, and humiliate him, sometimes whipping him from their horses with their quirts. A family that persisted making trouble, or trashing the campsite, would be ostracized to live away from the camp, and sometimes even to be expelled from the camp completely. This would doom that family because other camps would know that they were forced to wander because they were troublemakers, and nobody wanted troublemakers.

    As with much of our traditional cultures, that discipline has been lost. There is little respect, even for elders. Neighbors’ yards and gardens regularly are trashed. In one village on the Pine Ridge Reservation, gangs are mounted and do their mischief on horseback, causing much damage to property. Gangs and drugs are a growing problem on reservations all across the Northern Plains.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Guardian Angels on the Rez.

    Heidi and Spencer adopt "Indian names"

    Speidi--We've Given Ourselves Indian Names ...Heidi Montag has altered her identity yet again--sans plastic surgery this time--after she and Spencer Pratt decided to give themselves "true native-American names" in an effort to become more spiritual.

    So ... goodbye Heidi and Spencer ... hello White Wolf and Running Bear, respectively.
    Comment:  These are really lame names...but no worse than the ones chosen by any New Ager or wannabe.

    The idea that names will make them more Indian, and being Indian will make them more spiritual, is doubly stereotypical and stupid. Try going to church, or whatever your ancestors did, if you want to get in touch with your spiritual side.

    TMZ previously caught Naomi Campbell and Jessica Simpson in Indian faux pas.

    For more on the subject, see "Funny" Indian Names.

    Pix of Chumash country in Ojai

    Some pictures of the trip that inspired my Legends of Chief Matilija posting:

    Chumash country--March 28, 2010

    For more photos of Indian country, see my Photo Gallery.

    March 29, 2010

    Pechanga muffins in The Simpsons

    Sunday's episode of The Simpsons (airdate: 3/28/10) featured yet another reference to Indians. Here's the story:

    The Greatest Story Ever D'ohedNed Flanders invites the Simpson family to join him a church retreat to Jerusalem. Homer is unappreciative of the culture, until a tour guide starts taking him around the city and Homer deludes himself into thinking he is the Messiah.When the Americans arrive in Jerusalem, Homer convinces them that a breakfast buffet is more interesting than the city's sights. The following exchange occurs:MRS. LOVEJOY:  These blueberry muffins are bigger than the ones we had at Pechanga.

    REV. LOVEJOY:  Finally, something you like better than Pechanga.
    Comment:  As long-time readers know, I work for a Pechanga Indian on the website.

    This is a minor reference, to be sure, but it's notable for several reasons:

  • Following Hopi Project in The Simpsons and Koyaanis-Scratchy in The Simpsons, it's the third Native reference in three weeks. This may be a record for a network entertainment series with no regular Indian characters or storylines.

  • It's the fourth Simpsons reference to Indians this season, which isn't a record but is pretty good.

  • This makes three nonstereotypical references in a row: no chiefs, teepees, or other Plains stereotypes.

  • This also makes three references in a row to tribes other than the usual ones: Lakota, Cherokee, Navajo, or Apache.

  • It's a rare instance of a real tribe's being mentioned by name. It's all the more unusual because the tribe is one of two or three dozen in Southern California. I can't recall any instances of a network entertainment series naming a tribe south of the Chumash in Ventura County.

  • It's possibly the first mention of Pechanga in any network entertainment series.

  • It's a reference to a gaming tribe without some snide or stereotypical comment about Indian casinos.

  • Clearly someone on the staff is trying to include Native references in The Simpsons this year. Let's hope it continues.

    For more on the subject, see Indians in The Simpsons.

    I Didn't Cross the Border exhibit

    I Didn’t Cross the Border, the Border Crossed Me

    Exhibit Explores Arbitrary Boundaries Drawn in Native Communities

    By Bradley Pecore
    When the United States was founded hundreds of years ago, Indigenous communities were presented with new and arbitrarily drawn borders within their ancestral homelands. A group exhibit, I Didn’t Cross the Border, the Border Crossed Me, at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts’ Museum Store and Lloyd Kiva New Gallery will investigate the impact these borders have had on Native people. The exhibit opens Saturday, April 17 from 12 noon–2:00 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in downtown Santa Fe (108 Cathedral Place) and will continue until May 23. As with all Museum Store exhibits, art work is for sale, and proceeds go to the artists and the Museum.

    The physical and cognitive constructions of the United States/Canada and United States/Mexico border have created multidimensional divisions in society associated with nationality, physical borders, family, identity, sovereignty, regional attitudes, human rights, documentation and more. Gallery Associate, Institute of American Indian Arts’ alumnus and show organizer Bradley Pecore says the show will investigate these “…varied perspectives regarding traditional lands and current national boundaries in the modern day Indigenous reality.”
    The exhibit title may come from Somos mas Americanos, a song by the Grammy-winning group Los Tigres del Norte:

    'I didn't cross the border, the border crossed me' A thousand times they have shouted at me,
    "Go home, you don't belong here"
    Let me remind the Gringo
    That I didn't cross the border, the border crossed me
    America was born free--Man divided her
    They drew the line so I would have to jump it
    And they call me Invader
    That's a big error
    They took eight states from us--who is the invader here?
    I am a stranger in my own land
    I don't come to make war--I'm a working man
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Border Project.

    Algonquin rapper rocks China

    Algonquin rapper rocks China

    By Doug MeigsSamian came to China to share the story of his people. His people are the Abitibiwinni (Algonquin) of Canada’s Quebec Province.

    Samian–aka Samuel Tremblay–joined a group of musicians for a whirlwind tour of seven Chinese cities. The International Organization of the Francophonie sponsored La Fête de la Francophonie, a roving festival showcasing the French-speaking world’s shared linguistic culture. Samian represents Canada. He joined an electro-pop singer from Belgium (Labiur) and a hip-hop trio from France (Al K Traxx).

    “Maybe I’m an ambassador for Canada, though I’d prefer to be an ambassador for First Nations; French is okay, but my pride is when I rap in Algonquin.”
    Comment:  For more on Native rappers, see Litefoot Dispels Stereotypes and Tribal Youth Music Academy.

    Below:  "Samian (right) is seen here with fellow Quebec rapper Anodojay (aka Steve Jolin). In May, Samian will be releasing his second album on Anodajay’s 7ième Ciel Records." (Photos by Doug Meigs)

    Panels honor Princess Angeline

    Honoring a tribe's history with artPrincess Angeline, Chief Seattle's eldest daughter, will be honored with a three-panel carving by artist George David, who was commissioned to create a work for the 100th anniversary of Chief Seattle Days in Suquamish, Kitsap County.

    Three red cedar panels, which will depict her life, will be placed in a dedication in Angeline Park the third weekend of August.
    Below:  "Working in a Port Orchard studio, George David carves the first of three panels depicting the life of Princess Angeline, Chief Seattle's daughter. When finished, the three panels will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chief Seattle Days in Suquamish, Kitsap County." (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

    Tahlequah named Top 10 True Western Town

    Cherokee Nation makes True West Magazine’s top 10 list

    Recognized for its cultural tourism program and preservation effortsDispelling the notion of western towns as nothing more than Hollywood movie lore, Cherokee Nation and its capital city of Tahlequah is a thriving cultural community that has earned the seventh spot on the list of Top 10 True Western Towns of 2010 as recognized by True West Magazine.

    True West editors determine winners for this annual award based on criteria demonstrating how each town has preserved its history through old buildings, museums and other institutions, events and promotions of historic resources.

    “The Cherokee have made it their mission to preserve their culture and hand it down to future generations,” said True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “Their heritage is a proud one–and their efforts to keep it alive deserve honors.”

    In January 2009, Cherokee Nation created a cultural tourism program with genuine Cherokee perspective and cultural experiences that is distinctively branded: “Osiyo, Cherokees Say Hello Like No One Else.” The foundation of the tourism program rests in its cultural, historical, natural and recreational resources of the Cherokee Nation, which includes the 14-county area located in northeastern Oklahoma that spans 7,000 square miles.
    Comment:  Eastern Oklahoma is in the Midwest, not the West, but never mind.

    For more on the subject, see Cherokee Capitol Is Historic Landmark and Cherokee Nation Offers Tour Package.

    March 28, 2010

    Darwinian view of Indians

    The Mask and the Mirror

    Savage: The Life and Times of Jemmy Button
    By Nick Hazlewood
    Thomas Dunne Books St. Martin's Press: 384 pp., $25.95

    By Yxta Maya MurrayIn 1833, British naval commander Robert FitzRoy permitted a free-thinking naturalist named Charles Darwin to accompany him on the Beagle en route to Tierra del Fuego, a network of channels and islands off the Straits of Magellan at the tip of South America. FitzRoy intended to return home three Fuegians who had spent a year enduring a "civilizing" education in England, with the hopes that they would convince the natives that Jesus Christ was their lord and savior and that their subjugation to Europeans wasn't such a bad idea, either.

    One of the Fuegians traveling with Darwin was the infamous Jemmy Button, nee Orundellico, who had been abducted by FitzRoy three years before and who, three decades later, would be implicated in the slaughter of eight British missionaries on Tierra del Fuego. Darwin saw no signs of the antipathy that would later (allegedly) drive Button to violence; in "The Voyage of the Beagle" he noted: "Button was a universal favourite, but likewise passionate; the expression of his face at once showed his nice disposition." Of the other Fuegians, however, who had not benefited from English instruction, Darwin wrote elsewhere:

    "I declare the thought, when I first saw in Tierra del Fuego a naked, painted, shivering hideous savage, that my ancestors must have been somewhat similar beings, was at that time as revolting to me, nay more revolting than my present belief that an incomparably more remote ancestor was a hairy beast."
    More quotes on Indians

    Some quotes from Darwin on the Indians he encountered:

    The Voyage of the Beagle

    Charles Darwin
    Chapter 10--Tierra Del Fuego
    In the morning the Captain sent a party to communicate with the Fuegians. When we came within hail, one of the four natives who were present advanced to receive us, and began to shout most vehemently, wishing to direct us where to land. When we were on shore the party looked rather alarmed, but continued talking and making gestures with great rapidity. It was without exception the most curious and interesting spectacle I ever beheld: I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilized man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, inasmuch as in man there is a greater power of improvement.

    It seems yet wonderful to me, when I think over all his many good qualities that he [Jemmy] should have been of the same race, and doubtless partaken of the same character, with the miserable, degraded savages whom we first met here.

    After our first feeling of grave astonishment was over, nothing could be more ludicrous than the odd mixture of surprise and imitation which these savages every moment exhibited.

    We have no reason to believe that they perform any sort of religious worship; though perhaps the muttering of the old man before he distributed the putrid blubber to his famished party, may be of this nature. Each family or tribe has a wizard or conjuring doctor, whose office we could never clearly ascertain.

    Their skill in some respects may be compared to the instinct of animals; for it is not improved by experience: the canoe, their most ingenious work, poor as it is, has remained the same, as we know from Drake, for the last two hundred and fifty years.

    I shall never forget how wild and savage one group appeared: suddenly four or five men came to the edge of an overhanging cliff; they were absolutely naked, and their long hair streamed about their faces; they held rugged staffs in their hands, and, springing from the ground, they waved their arms round their heads, and sent forth the most hideous yells.

    Like wild beasts, they do not appear to compare numbers; for each individual, if attacked, instead of retiring, will endeavour to dash your brains out with a stone, as certainly as a tiger under similar circumstances would tear you.

    We were well clothed, and though sitting close to the fire were far from too warm; yet these naked savages, though further off, were observed, to our great surprise, to be streaming with perspiration at undergoing such a roasting.

    The perfect equality among the individuals composing the Fuegian tribes must for a long time retard their civilization. As we see those animals, whose instinct compels them to live in society and obey a chief, are most capable of improvement, so is it with the races of mankind. Whether we look at it as a cause or a consequence, the more civilized always have the most artificial governments.
    Darwin attempted a pseudo-evolutionary explanation for the Indians' "savagery":Whilst beholding these savages, one asks, whence have they come? What could have tempted, or what change compelled a tribe of men, to leave the fine regions of the north, to travel down the Cordillera or backbone of America, to invent and build canoes, which are not used by the tribes of Chile, Peru, and Brazil, and then to enter on one of the most inhospitable countries within the limits of the globe? Although such reflections must at first seize on the mind, yet we may feel sure that they are partly erroneous. There is no reason to believe that the Fuegians decrease in number; therefore we must suppose that they enjoy a sufficient share of happiness, of whatever kind it may be, to render life worth having. Nature by making habit omnipotent, and its effects hereditary, has fitted the Fuegian to the climate and the productions of his miserable country.Darwin seems to have thought the Indians were like animals: well-adapted biologically to their environment. He seems to have missed the more obvious explanation: that they were well-adapted culturally to their environment. If their numbers remained stable despite not having clothing, religion, technology, or government, they apparently didn't need these things. They did just fine without them.

    Why not become more "civilized"? Well, clothing might've led to status-seeking, technology to an arms race, and religion and government to a power-hungry hierarchy. Perhaps they judged that these things weren't worth the trouble they'd bring. Which is very different from saying they were too bestial to figure out the "benefits" of civilization.

    What happened to Jemmy Button?

    Murray's book review continues with the outcome of Jemmy Button's story:In 1854, delegates of the Patagonia Missionary Society, "driven by intense religious passions," sailed from Bristol to Tierra del Fuego hoping to find the English-speaking Button and persuade him to aid in their evangelical efforts. Apparently expecting a couth Tarzan, the missionaries instead encountered a "fat little Indian, dirty and naked, speaking understandable phrases of their own language."

    What ensued reads like a cross between "Gilligan's Island" and "The Island of Dr. Moreau": The missionaries fought among themselves; one captain sailed home in a huff, threatening to sue; Button promised to return to England with the missionaries, then reneged; he demanded presents from the delegation's Rev. George Packenham Despard but refused to teach the Britons Yamana, his native tongue. Moreover, Button and his kindred resisted laboring for their keepers--an un-Christian trait that the missionaries set out to correct through a program of rewards, beatings and personal searches (the Fuegians could be quite the pickpockets when gifts were not forthcoming).

    How successful were the missionaries? After a while, Button seemed to play along, and the Fuegians learned to pray and cover their privates. The time spent with the British, Hazlewood tells us, "turned them from lethargic sloths into energetic, industrious laborers."

    Then one day, during a peaceful prayer meeting, 300 Fuegians descended upon eight of the missionaries, slaughtering them in cold blood. Although Button blamed another Fuegian tribe for the butchery, Hazlewood asserts that it is "distinctly probable" that he led the attack.
    Comment:  Darwin wasn't involved with the second voyage, but the missionaries' views seem similar to his. The Europeans and Americans who encountered North American Indians also had similar views. Basically, they thought Indians were wretched, slothful savages until they adopted the white man's ways. In their natural state they had no technology, religion, or government; they were just whooping, strutting creatures like some sort of peacock.

    For more on the subject, see "The Lowest Tribes Are Still Children" and The Myth of Western Superiority.

    Any excuse to hate Obama

    The Rage Is Not About Health Care

    By Frank RichIf Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House—topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman—would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver—none of them major Democratic players in the health care push—received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

    They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

    If Congressional Republicans want to maintain a politburo-like homogeneity in opposition to the Democrats, that’s their right. If they want to replay the petulant Gingrich government shutdown of 1995 by boycotting hearings and, as John McCain has vowed, refusing to cooperate on any legislation, that’s their right too (and a political gift to the Democrats). But they can’t emulate the 1995 G.O.P. by remaining silent as mass hysteria, some of it encompassing armed militias, runs amok in their own precincts. We know the end of that story. And they can’t pretend that we’re talking about “isolated incidents” or a “fringe” utterly divorced from the G.O.P. A Quinnipiac poll last week found that 74 percent of Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, while only 16 percent are aligned with Democrats.

    After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence. The arch-segregationist Russell of Georgia, concerned about what might happen in his own backyard, declared flatly that the law is “now on the books.” Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now. Last week McCain even endorsed Palin’s “reload” rhetoric.
    Comment:  This column is consistent with the conservative view of Indians I described before. These same people want to "take back the country" from Indians and their alleged special rights, welfare mooching, and casino greed.

    Frank Rich says conservatives would've tarred and feathered Obama with some other issue if the stimulus package, General Motors takeover, and healthcare reform hadn't been available. The evidence proves Rich is right.

    Let's look at the long list of attempts to label Obama black, foreign, and un-American. Just off the top of my head, there's:

  • Obama's birth certificate.
  • Obama is a Muslim.
  • Calling Obama "Hussein."
  • Obama as Hitler, the Joker, and a terrorist.
  • Michelle Obama hates America.
  • Rev. Jeremiah Wright hates America.
  • John McCain's "that one."
  • Sarah Palin's "real America."
  • Obama associates with Bill Ayers.
  • Obama doesn't wear a flag pin.
  • Obama bows to foreign dignitaries.
  • Michelle Obama isn't feminine enough.
  • Sonia Sotomayor's "wise Latina."
  • Obama's "back to school" speech.
  • Obama's slow response to the underwear bomber.

  • Etc.

    None of these have anything to do with government spending or taxation. All of them reflect the beliefs of teabaggers, talk radio, and other rabid conservatives. They hate Obama not because he's a "liberal" Democrat but because he isn't a WASP.

    These people weren't crying about "death panels" because they seriously believed that was part of the Democratic agenda. They were crying because they found another way to paint Obama as a threat to their white power and privilege. Now that Congress has passed healthcare reform, they'll find something else to cry about.

    Frank Rich has nailed this point before and he's done it again. For his previous columns on the subject, see:

    "Birthers" = scared white people
    Last gasps of the Class of '94
    Palin's "real America" vs. America

    For more on the Tea Party movement, see:

    Teabaggers = hatemongers
    Klansmen, militias, and teabaggers
    Teabaggers want doddering white guy

    Below:  The teabaggers' view of the Obamas in a nutshell.

    Legends of Chief Matilija

    Over the weekend I drove two hours north to my sister's home in Chumash territory (Ojai). We were gathering to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday.

    At one point Sis and I went out to buy some oranges. I asked her what the name of her street, Matilija, meant. She didn't know.

    I figured it was Spanish for an obscure kind of fruit or something. Not so. Here's the story of Matilija:

    Glory from Old California–The Matilijas are in BloomThe name Matilija originates with the Chumash Indian Chief Matilija and his tribe, who lived in the hills and valleys of Ventura county during the early 1800s. Numerous legends from Old California tell of the story of his daughter Amatil and her lost love. In most versions, Amatil falls in love with a young brave, is kidnapped by Spaniards to work at Mission Buenaventura, longs to return to her tribal home, Ojai (the Nest), and finally flees the mission only to find her lover mortally wounded after a fierce battle with the Spaniards. The lovely Matilija flower is said to symbolize the tears of Amatil and her heart of gold.

    The legends seem to have some base in history—like many California tribes, the Chumash resisted the influence of the Spaniards and their Mission culture, and Chief Matilija is known to have fought a major battle with the Spanish near Mission Buenaventura in 1824. To this day, many creeks, canyons, natural and man-made landmarks, streets and businesses near Ojai and Ventura are named after Chief Matilija.

    A longer version of the legend with a slightly different ending:

    Legend of the MatilijaWell, many years passed before a stranger climbed the stairway to the headlands. (As I told you, all this was long before my time.) And what do you think he found there? To this day, white flowers of the Matilija poppy cover the grave of the lovers, a more beautiful burial shroud than the hand of man could devise....This legend has Chief Matilija dying in the Spanish attack. Another legend adds a twist:

    Chief Peak AdventureThe legend says Chief Matilija, nearing death, was brought to the top of the mountain so he could look up at the sky. After his death the mountain was transformed into an image of the chief. He lays on his back in full headdress, looking up to the you see him?

    Scouting in CaliforniaVentura County Council

    Order of the Arrow

    Topa Topa Lodge #291

    Many years ago the Chumash Indians roamed the forests and hunted game in the bountiful Ojai Valley. When a bad omen came to the tribe, the great spirit sent two white gophers to Chief Matilija. The gophers instructed the chief and his people to perform acts of unselfish service and sacrifice. Chief Matilija perished in a great calamity, but with the acts of service and devotion done, the great spirit sent Chief Topa Topa to the Chumash to save the worthy people from an evil horde. In the 1920s the spirit of unselfish service was rekindled at Ventura County Council's Camp Grey. There, the "Tribe of Matilija" was founded as the honor camping organization of the council. The tribe had as its purpose to promote camping at Camp Grey. The Order of the Arrow in Ventura County was established in June 1944, when ceremonies were conducted during the Camp-O-Ral at Steckel Park to induct 13 selected scouts as charter members of Topa Topa Lodge #291 of the Order of the Arrow. Thus the Order of the Arrow came to replace the "Tribe of Matilija." The new lodge took its name from the legendary Chief Topa Topa.
    Comment:  As usual, the Boy Scouts' reason for appropriating Indian culture is weak or nonexistent.

    So my sister's street is named after a chief, a flower, and a Boy Scout troop. It's yet another example of how our culture is built on Indian cultures and we don't even realize it.

    For more on the Chumash, see Chumash = "Fluffy Indigenous Kittens"? For more on the Boy Scouts, see Indian Origin of the Boy Scouts and Scout Society Stereotypes Indians.

    2010 Aboriginal Achievement Awards

    Awards to honour aboriginal achieversInuit artist Kannanginak Pootoogook and Blackfoot cultural leader Tom Crane Bear are among this year's recipients of the 17th annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Regina on Friday.

    Pootoogook is the son of Joseph Pootoogook—one of the founders of Cape Dorset artist colony. He is a painter, engraver and lithographer, particularly of wildlife art. His work documents the Inuit way of life, the land and the environment.

    Tom Crane Bear served as an elder adviser for the Siksika Nation and for the Banff Centre's aboriginal programs contributing to cross-cultural collaboration. Crane Bear brings his knowledge of the Blackfoot heritage to work with aboriginal youth and counselling in Alberta and Ontario prisons.

    Métis actress Andrea Menard from the supernatural drama-series Rabbit Fall and actor Raoul Trujillo from True Blood will host the event. Performers will include singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, who won the Lifelong Contribution to Aboriginal Music Award in 2008. Also performing are country music artist Crystal Shawanda, actor/director Michael Greyeyes, with actor Lorne Cardinal, best known for his character Davis Quinton on Corner Gas.
    National Aboriginal Achievement Awards presented in Regina

    Comment:  For more on the subject, see 2009 Aboriginal Achievement Awards.

    Below:  "Actress and singer Andrea Menard rehearses on stage in Regina before the awards ceremony Friday. Actress and singer Andrea Menard rehearses on stage in Regina before the awards ceremony Friday." (CBC)

    March 27, 2010

    "The lowest tribes are still children"

    A Man for All Seasons; The Prescience of John Wesley Powell and the Meaning of His Legacy Today

    The Life of John Wesley Powell
    By Donald Worster
    Oxford University Press: 720 pp., $35

    By Patricia Limerick
    On the last page of "A River Running West," Worster briefly comments on Powell's standing, so espoused by Stegner and contemporary environmentalists, and he issues what we might call a "permit to admire": "Conservationists and environmentalists would rightly look back on him as one of their founding giants." But he also suggests that those who might want to reshape Powell, retrospectively, into a supporter of any early 21st-century political program will have a tough time of it. Worster lets us know that Powell had an unusual and progressive enthusiasm for the company of Indian people; inspired by his parents' ardent abolitionism, he believed that difference among races derived purely from culture and not from biological inferiority or superiority. And yet, as Worster thoroughly acknowledges, Powell felt certain that Anglo-American culture was far superior to Indian cultures. Near the end of his career, Powell announced his hearty approval of the good work done by the federal government in driving Indian people toward assimilation: "The lowest tribes are still children," he said, "and must be managed by a kindergarten system."John Wesley PowellJohn Wesley Powell (March 24, 1834–September 23, 1902) was a U.S. soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions. He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers that included the first passage of European Americans through the Grand Canyon.

    Powell served as second director of the US Geological Survey (1881–1894) and proposed policies for development of the arid West which were prescient for his accurate evaluation of conditions. He was director of the Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution, where he supported linguistic and sociological research and publications.

    Beliefs and Ideas

    As an ethnologist and early anthropologist, Powell was a student of the pioneering anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. Powell divided human societies into "savagery," "barbarism" and "civilization" based on levels of technology, family and social organization, property relations, and intellectual development. In his view, all societies progressed toward civilization. He was a champion of preservation and conservation. It was his conviction that part of the natural progression of society included a combination of efforts to maximize and make the best use of resources.
    Comment:  Powell's view is probably what passed for enlightenment in his era. As an Indian advocate, he thought he was helping them by lifting them into civilization.

    It took almost another century for activists to push through a radical alternative: "Leave us alone. Stop trying to change us. We'll decide what's best for us, thank you very much."

    For more on the subject, see Manifest Destiny = Pathology and The Myth of Western Superiority.

    Below:  "Powell with Tau-gu, a Paiute, 1871-1872."

    What Powell really thought of Indians:

    Financing Crooked Arrows

    Lacrosse Movies:  “Crooked Arrows”

    Lacrosse Movie To Be Released In 2011 As It Lines Up Financing And Endorsements That Include Reebok, US Lacrosse And Major League LacrosseWith increased frequency, brands have been called on to help curb production costs, share the marketing responsibilities and even tell the stories of some of the biggest studio movies of recent years, including the “Transformers” franchise, “G.I. Joe” and “Up in the Air.” But for independent films, it’s a much more difficult task to attract name brands without the ability to pair them with A-list talent or a top-tier studio.

    “Crooked Arrows,” a sports film set in the world of lacrosse that goes into production this spring, will try to help change that. The independent movie, produced by J. Todd Harris (“Jeepers Creepers”), Mitchell Peck (the upcoming “Priest”) and Adam Leff (“Valentino: The Last Emperor”), will be exclusively sponsored by Reebok, which will use the film to promote its 9K product line of lacrosse equipment and apparel, along with its 10K lacrosse sticks. The marketer’s early involvement has helped the film’s producers secure a bulk of their financing, and also guarantees distribution for a nationwide release of at least 250 theaters in 2011.
    And:“Crooked Arrows” will also focus on Native-American culture, as lacrosse is rooted in the indigenous game. Adding to that appeal is casting director Rene Haynes, who most recently cast the Native-American werewolves in “Twilight” films “New Moon” and “Eclipse.”

    “We want this movie to appeal to more than just athletes, but at the same time with the lacrosse players we want to make sure the action is authentic and a cultural story to go with it,” Mr. Vroom said.
    Comment:  Interesting way to fund a movie. Independent filmmakers need to think outside the box and try methods like getting a corporate sponsor.

    I'm not sure about the title "Crooked Arrows." What do arrows have to do with lacrosse?

    Is "crooked arrow" a nickname for a troubled Native youth? As opposed to an untroubled "straight arrow"? Will these crooked arrows gain pride and self-confidence by playing lacrosse, bonding with teammates, and winning the big game? Is the pope a pedophile enabler?

    For more on the subject, see Iroquois Team Takes Bronze and The Best Indian Movies.

    Cotillard's discovery of the Menominee

    Marion Cotillard Interview PUBLIC ENEMIES

    By Steve 'Frosty' WeintraubQuestion: Aside from the accent, what were the other challenges in creating this Midwestern American woman when you’re French and the French are supposed to be very sophisticated? Can you de-sophisticate yourself to play this woman?

    Cotillard: I don’t think that I’m that sophisticated. Maybe I’m not aware of it, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that it was a challenge, but it was so interesting. I never thought that I would have to play an Indian, well half French, but an Indian woman in my life. I got to discover Native American history and American history. So it was more like I opened a box with a lot of treasures about a culture that is not mine, but that is so interesting. I met these people from Menominee Tribe and it’s an amazing culture. I met with really amazing people. I was very lucky to be in a situation that I had to be one of them. I had to be one of the American history which is amazing for a hundred percent French girl. But I would say that the only big challenge for me was definitely the accent and that the rest of it was…it was the accent and also, I mean it was the biggest challenge to let it go and not think about it than to actually work on the accent. I think that when you work you can get somewhere. But all the rest was just a joy.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see (Mis)casting in Public Enemies and Dillinger's Menominee Moll.

    Mescalero Apache/Yaqui actor and musician

    Multi-ethnic upbringing guides Native American artist, musician

    By Sean MangetHe now works as the director of strategic initiatives and media for the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where he has created programs designed to help Alaska Native youth retain their cultural traditions while also learning valuable skills for their future careers. He also helps create documentaries and short films for the center, all of which focus on Native American culture.

    The funding for these programs comes thanks to a provision within the No Child Left Behind Act. Though securing this funding can be a challenge, Alvarez is confident Congress will continue to see its value to Alaska Natives and the community.

    Alvarez has also acted in a number of theatrical productions, including the starring role in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Che in "Evita."

    He performs as a percussionist with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra and a slew of other musical groups, including local band Medicine Dream.

    Most recently, he starred in "Dancing in Pursuit of Dreams," a musical production that fuses contemporary music with music and dance from various Native cultures, in addition to western influences.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News and Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

    Below:  "Steven Alvarez, director of strategic initiatives and media production at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, poses for a photo inside the center." (Michael Dinneen/For the Journal)

    Guitarist Kabotie's trilingual lyrics

    Guitarist pays homage to native roots

    By Rick BrownKabotie describes his music as a hybrid style combining traditional American Indian music with modern influences.

    “The lyrics are all centered around virtues that are meaningful to me,” he said. “It’s done with a lot of longing for home. I want to reintroduce those values to others. My music is trilingual with lyrics sometimes in English, sometimes in Hopi and sometimes in Tewa.”

    Kabotie, 40, a Hopi, is from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico and the Hopi village of Shungopavi.

    Kabotie’s grandfather, Edward Dozier, was an anthropologist who inspired Kabotie to research and write about American Indian history. Along his music, Kabotie also specializes in etch work and often collaborates with relatives who produce polished pottery. In addition, Kabotie creates paintings, silver jewelry and carvings.
    Comment:  For more on guitarists, see Guitarist's Southwest-Themed Album and Yaqui Classical Guitarist.

    March 26, 2010

    Means on his acting career

    Means spirited:  American Indian actor and activist honored at Haskell film festival

    By Jon NiccumRussell Means' Lakota Sioux name (Oyate Wacinyapin) translates to "Works for the People."

    It's fair to say the American Indian activist and actor has earned that designation.

    "I've made a difference in everything I've participated in," Means says.
    Hmm. Means isn't exactly humble, is he?Q: Has Hollywood gotten better at portraying American Indians since you first started acting?

    : In the '70s and '80s we thought they got it. They were finally treating us with respect. Then they do an about-face and become as bad, if not worse, than the treatment before. It's a horrible, racist, stereotypical image--racist to the point of genocidal. It engenders into the entire American psyche that we are primitive, dirty idiots.

    Q: Can you give me an example of a movie you feel this way about?

    : "Dances with Wolves"--even though the liberals loved it. "Missing" by that bald-headed, redhead kid (Ron Howard). "Black Robe" from Canada, which was the most vile of them all. ... The TV series "Into the West" that won all those awards. Anytime you portray Indian people in a stereotypical way, you win awards.
    I don't agree with Means that Dances with Wolves is bad. It's certainly no worse than Disney's Pocahontas, which Means touts because he was in it.

    But I do agree with Means that Native movies got better before they got worse. That was a central point in Ups and Downs of Hollywood Indians.Q: What do you remember about working on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"?

    : Man, that was perfect. And when they had the audition, you should have seen the lineup. Normally, I only audition for white modern roles. I don't usually audition for Indian roles because I've been there, done that. But I agreed to audition for that. They told me I had to ad lib. They had their set lines. But the scene that's so famous (involving Wandering Bear's cure for Cheryl David's "female problems"), I ad-libbed that. They all laughed so hard that they hired me on the spot.
    I didn't realize Means had appeared in Curb Your Enthusiasm.Q: Do you have a dream project?

    : Yes I do. I co-wrote a script called 'Wounded Knee 1973.' Every time we've made the rounds in Hollywood we'd pitch the project. We'd go in with all the data. Understand, I'm well-respected in Hollywood because of my activism. It opens doors. Plus I did "Last of the Mohicans," "Natural Born Killers" and "Pocahontas"--three movies that have made over $100 million. That's the success benchmark. Consequently, a lot of doors are open to me beyond just being an actor. We'd go in and bring our statistics about the history of movies from the '50s to now that treated us with dignity. And every one of them made beaucoup bucks. There's no reason not to make a movie that treats us with dignity. But there were no takers. Now I've got a new management company that has influence, and we're making the rounds again. It might actually be made 40 years after it happened.
    Hmm. I don't think there's much of a market for a Wounded Knee II movie. Thunderheart, Incident at Oglala, and We Shall Remain's Wounded Knee have covered the story already. I doubt Means wants to present an evenhanded look at the conflict. Pro-AIM propaganda is more likely. And the story's not that dramatic. As with the occupation of Alcatraz, the protest just sort of fizzled out after going on interminably.

    On the other hand, he nailed the point that I've made repeatedly. Hollywood studios won't make Native-themed movies even though they've earned "beaucoup bucks." The reason must be something other than financial--in other words, racial.

    For those "in the industry" who think I'm wrong, Means has more moviemaking experience than most people. And he agrees with me. Therefore, I'm sticking with my theory.

    For more on the subject, see Russell Means Speaks and The Best Indian Movies.

    The people behind Shift the Power

    Twilight Saga's Chaske Spencer Shifts The PowerChaske Spencer, from Twilight Saga's New Moon (DVD released March 20, 2010) and the upcoming Twilight Eclipse (to be released June 30, 2010) is using his time in the spotlight to shine a light on an issue of great importance to him. Having grown up on reservations, Chaske knows intimately the already difficult existence, with 85% unemployment rates, and drug and alcohol use running rampant.

    In his words "Given how I grew up, I should be dead or in jail right now, it is really a miracle that I am where I am and I am so grateful, I just want to give something back."

    On February 1st, 2010 Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe declared a state of emergency after a severe ice storm devastated the reservation. The storm toppled more than 3000 power poles and left more than 13,000 people without power, heat and water.

    In response to these events, Chaske and the non-profit he has been working with United Global Shift, created a project called Shift the Power to The People, whose mission is to empower people to create sustainable, lasting change in their communities and countries through:

  • Creating Awareness of the current issues and conditions

  • Creating Alternatives that promote Dignity, Justice, Unity, and Accountability

  • Taking Action that supports the creation of these alternatives

  • Fellow native and non-native actors united to create public service announcements to create awareness of what is happening and inspire people to take action immediately. The people involved included Alex Meraz, Julia Jones, Gil Birmingham, Justin Chon, Boo Boo Stewart, Q'orianka, Raoul Trujillo, Taro McArthur, Jaisey Bates, Larissa Fasthorse, Elizabeth Sage, Natalia McArthur, Sharlyse McArthur, Fivel Stewart, Darryl Redleaf, Montano Rain and Joannelle Nadine Romero.
    Comment:  This posting implies Spencer was instrumental in creating Shift the Power. But since it's a press release, it may contain some hype.

    For more on the subject, see Twilight Actors in Shift the Power PSA and PSA for Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

    Glen Gould in Cashing In

    Glen Gould cashing in on opportunity with TV series

    By Laura Jean GrantSeason two of Cashing In stars returning cast members like Gould, who plays John Eagle, as well as Eric Schweig as Mathew Tommy, Wesley French as Justin Tommy, Karen Holness as Liz McKendra, Sarah Podemski as Cheyenne Blueweed, and new additions to the cast like Tina Keeper as Aura Sphere, and Jennifer Baxter as Rebecca Craig. Blues musician Derek Miller and comedian Don Burnstick appear this season as themselves, following the success of Chantal Kreviazuk appearing in the first season.

    “(Cashing In) revolves around a native-owned casino and the owner of the casino enterprise company and my character have a bit of history that goes 20 years before and involves a woman being stolen by one guy,” said Gould. “There’s a bunch of different storylines that follow different characters but the main part of the story is the guy that owns the casino ... he wants to expand the casino on to a wetland and my character deals in real estate so in order to get back at him he buys up the wetlands and he holds the lease for the land.”

    The second season of the series was shot during the fall of 2009 in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba locations, and overall the experience has been phenomenal, according to Gould, who says the show boasts a terrific cast, producer and director.

    The series has also allowed Gould the chance to hone more than his acting skills.

    “I got to learn how to ride horses really good. I play a rancher so when I went out there the first time I really didn’t know how to ride that well but I had to become good enough so that I look like I spend all my time on horses,” he said.

    Gould, who teaches in Eskasoni in addition to his acting career, has a couple of films lined up for the fall, and just completed a pilot for APTN called Escape Hatch shot in Montreal, and a short film, Filed Under Miscellaneous, by Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

    Below:  "Glen Gould plays wealthy rancher John Eagle in the television series Cashing In." (Submitted by RoseAnna Schick)

    Confrontational Aztec and Roman art

    Art review:  'The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire' @ Getty Villa"The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire" is a show of modest size but outsize impact. Not only is the subject unexpected and intriguing, but the loans that have been secured are phenomenal. It's the most impressive show the Getty Villa has organized since reopening four years ago.

    The first gallery introduces Spain's conquest of Mexico. A second gallery charts an array of Aztec deities. The third room considers imperial power. In each section, a few European objects are also included.

    Here's the premise: Spain's adventure abroad coincided with the Renaissance, which elevated Europe's Greco-Roman history to a position of prominence. In the European mind, circa 1520, the Aztec empire resonated with the ancient Roman empire. What better place to ponder the connection than the Getty Villa, with its European antiquities housed in a Roman-style building?
    The confrontational aspects:Monumentality is essential to an art of empire, given the need to be imposing in the face of diverse crowds. Unsurprisingly it is a trait shared by Aztec and Roman sculpture.

    The frontality of much of this sculpture is downright confrontational. The Aztec empire was an alliance of three city-states that held its coalition together for about a century, until Cortés. Confrontational art works for a civilization that, like Rome's, ruled its vast territory through a mix of warring aggression and compulsory tributes.
    Comment:  I may have to go see this exhibit.

    For more on the subject, see Aztec Treasure in Human Target and Human Sacrifice "Prevalent" Among Indians?

    Below:  "Goblet with Mictlantecuhtli, 1450-1521."

    Native stereotypes increase other stereotypes

    Native American imagery as sports mascots:  A new problem

    The dark side of Native American sports mascotsAmerican Indian mascots are a popular choice for sports teams. Controversy has raged, however, about whether such mascots encourage stereotypes about native Americans. New research suggests that there may be a problem of another sort entirely—the use of these mascots seems to increase stereotyping of other groups. The implications of the research are still not clear, but it is almost as though once your hidden brain is encouraged to use mental shortcuts such as “American Indian chief = sports warrior” it more easily comes up with other kinds of mental shortcuts that have nothing to do with American Indians. Sloppy thinking begets sloppy thinking.

    Boosters point out the mascots are much loved and used respectfully. Recently, however, Chu Kim-Prieto, Elizabeth A. Goldstein, Sumie Okazaki and Blake Kirschner tested how the use of a University of Illinois mascot, Chief Illiniwek, affected the tendency of volunteers to stereotype an unrelated group—Asians. They randomized volunteers into groups—one read about or was shown materials depicting the athletics program and Chief Illiniwek and the other was given materials about a university arts center. All the depictions about Chief Illiniwek were exactly as boosters of American Indian sports mascots described—respectful and admiring. The researchers found that volunteers shown the American Indian mascot were quicker to come up with stereotypes about Asians that suggested Asians were socially inept, overly competitive, and not fun-loving.
    Comment:  Not too surprising, but good to know. I'd expect the stereotyping of one group to increase the stereotyping of others.

    People who think Indians are savages obviously hold the opposite belief: that whites are civilized. That has to affect their view of other nonwhite minorities.

    For more on the subject, see The Harm of Native Stereotyping:  Facts and Evidence.

    Lightning nominated as emerging artist

    'Older than America,' Georgina Lightning receive nom for emerging artist award

    By Michelle R. Shining ElkNative writer/director/producer Georgina Lightning has been nominated for a 2010 EPIC Award in the “Emerging Artists” category by The White House Project. The White House Project’s EPIC Awards honors extraordinary culture changers who have brought positive images of women’s leadership to the American public through their work in politics and media. Lightning is the co-founder of Tribal Alliance Productions, and the writer and director of the highly acclaimed independent film “Older than America,” which made its IFC Film Channel–On Demand debut, March 17, 2010. Lightning along with her Tribal Alliance business partner and executive director, Audrey Martinez, teamed up Christine Kunewa Walker to make “Older than America,” which has won over 19 awards, to date. 2010 EPIC award winners are determined via on-line voting at: Voting is open to the public and closes on March 22, 2010, at 11:59 pm.

    “Older than America” is the story of a woman’s haunting visions that reveal a Catholic priest’s sinister plot to silence her mother from speaking the truth about the atrocities that occurred at a Native American Indian boarding school. It is a contemporary drama about suspense, as “Older than America” delves into the lasting impact of the cultural genocide that occurred at Indian boarding schools across the United States and Canada. Lightning states, the film “covers the root of the problem that caused our Native nation to be in the state that it is in today--the film exposes the reality of the murders and violence that happened in the Indian boarding school system.”
    Comment:  I'd say Lightning's nomination is more significant that her victory will be. Since a public vote determines the winner, it's merely a popularity contest. The nomination presumably reflects her talent and vision.

    For more on the subject, see Lightning = New Face and First Female and Georgina Lightning Interview.

    Colonial texts = "hate literature"

    New book aims to dispel aboriginal stereotypes

    By Simon FullerAs she prepares for the release of her new book, a local author says that aboriginal peoples have been portrayed as "savages" and "less-than-human" in 140 years of colonial settlers’ literature, theatre, cinema and the history books.

    Emma LaRocque, a University of Manitoba professor, is set to launch her latest work—When the Other Is Me: Native Resistance Discourse 1850-1990—at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Grant Park Shopping Centre on March 25 at 7:30 p.m.

    LaRocque, who lives in Linden Woods, believes these historical texts have created a negative contemporary perception of aboriginal Canadians.

    "Colonial texts are offensive. In fact, many of these texts constitute hate literature," said LaRocque, who grew up in a Cree-speaking Metis culture in northeast Alberta.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.

    Below:  "Emma LaRocque is pictured receiving an Aboriginal Achievement Award in the education category, awarded annually by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation."

    March 25, 2010

    Teabaggers = hatemongers

    Teabaggers are escalating from hateful words to hateful acts. Here's more on the white-power agenda behind their attacks on healthcare reform and "big government."

    Fear Strikes Out

    By Paul KrugmanYes, a few conservative policy intellectuals, after making a show of thinking hard about the issues, claimed to be disturbed by reform’s fiscal implications (but were strangely unmoved by the clean bill of fiscal health from the Congressional Budget Office) or to want stronger action on costs (even though this reform does more to tackle health care costs than any previous legislation). For the most part, however, opponents of reform didn’t even pretend to engage with the reality either of the existing health care system or of the moderate, centrist plan—very close in outline to the reform Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts—that Democrats were proposing.

    Instead, the emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.

    It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson—whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president—pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.

    And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin—who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate—eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”
    An Absence of Class

    By Bob HerbertA group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town.”

    Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”

    In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others, including John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted because he is gay.

    At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress—epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.

    It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

    For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

    This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.
    And:The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

    The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party—think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants—tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.

    If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests—a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.
    Vandals Attack Dem Offices Nationwide

    Clyburn Says Noose Depiction Faxed To His Office After HCR Vote

    Stupak Receives Threatening Fax With Drawing Of Noose

    Pajamas Media Editor:  Let's Bring Back Tar And Feathering--And Maybe More

    When Right-Wing Extremism Moves MainstreamPotok points to race as one of the reasons "anti-immigrant vigilante groups [have] soared by nearly 80 percent" in the past year. He also notes a "dramatic resurgence in the Patriot movement and its paramilitary wing" in the past year—jumping 244 percent in 2009. Potok says that these groups' messages are increasingly moving into the mainstream.

    "I think it's very clear that you see ideas coming out of all kinds of sectors of the radical right, from the immigrant radical right, from the so-called Patriot groups, the militias and so on—and you see it spreading right across the landscape at some of these Tea Party events," he says. "I think it's worth saying that much of this is aided and abetted by ostensibly mainstream politicians and media members."

    Part of the issue, Potok says, is not what politicians say—but what they leave unsaid.

    "I think a lot of these ideas start on the radical right, but they are also being flogged endlessly by Republican officials," he says. "Even those who are sort of considered [to be] responsible Republicans have completely abstained from any kind of criticism of this talk. So even way back when, when Sarah Palin was talking about Obama setting up death panels and so on—what we heard was a deafening silence from the mainstream of the Republican Party."

    A new poll from Harris interactive finds that 40 percent of American adults think that Obama is a socialist; 25 percent believe that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not eligible to be president; 20 percent say Obama is doing many of the things that Hitler did; 14 percent say Obama "may be the Antichrist."

    "I hear a very scary situation developing," says Potok. "The idea that people really have swallowed these stories in such enormous numbers is something remarkable. I covered, as a reporter, the militia movement in the 1990s, which really produced an extraordinary amount of criminal violence. And even back then, you did not hear this kind of talk so broadly spread through this society."
    The Undying Shame

    By Josh MarshallThankfully, no one has been injured or killed. But this didn't come from nowhere and it can't be pawned off on a few cranks. Everything that's happened over the last five days has grown from a pattern of incitement going back almost a year--wildly hyperbolic statements, coded appeals to menacing behavior, flippant jokes about bringing firearms to political events and all the rest. Now Eric Cantor (R-VA) is going on the attack, claiming that who's really to blame here is the Democrats for making a big deal about these acts of violence against them.

    No one who is even remotely honest can pretend that anything about this is bipartisan in character. The Right and yes the national Republican party has been stirring this pot for months. We all see this. Cantor's behavior is shameful beyond imagining. It's time for a truth moment for the national Republican party. Incitement matters. They have to take responsibility for what they've done: which is nothing less than a campaign of incitement for which they're now unwilling to take any responsibility.
    Is this the Birth of a Nation?

    By Melissa Harris-LacewellThe Tea Party is a challenge to the legitimacy of the U.S. state. When Tea Party participants charge the current administration with various forms of totalitarianism, they are arguing that this government has no right to levy taxes or make policy. Many GOP elected officials offered nearly secessionist rhetoric from the floor of Congress this weekend. They joined as co-conspirators with the Tea Party protesters by arguing that this government has no monopoly on legitimacy.

    I appreciate the parallels to the civil rights movement drawn by the MSNBC crowd, but they are inadequate. When protesters spit on and scream at duly elected representatives of the United States government it is more than act of racism. It is an act of sedition.
    And:As I watch the rising tide of racial anxiety and secessionist sentiment I am not so much reminded of the Bloody Sunday protests as I am reminded of D.W. Griffith's Birth of Nation. This 1915 film depicts the racist imagination currently at work in our nation as a black president first appoints a Latina Supreme Court Justice and then works with a woman Speaker of the House to pass sweeping national legislation. This bigotry assumes no such government could possibly be legitimate and therefore frames resistance against this government as a patriotic responsibility.

    There are historic lessons to be learned. But they are the lessons of the 19th century not the 20th. We must now guard against the end of our new Reconstruction and the descent of a vicious new Jim Crow terrorism.
    Comment:  These are the same people who will scream insults and invective when Indians criticize their beloved mascots, Halloween costumes, and Thanksgiving pageants. Their thinking is the same in both cases. "They're trying to take away my history and heritage. White Anglo-Saxon Protestants were meant to rule the world because the Bible says so. I'll do anything to keep them--women, minorities, gays, immigrants--from stealing my power and privilege."

    That's the not-so-subtle message behind every conflict over race and stereotyping: Kesha's performance, the Chasco Indian wannabes, the conservative revisions to school textbooks. "We won the country and rule the country, so we can do anything we want. If we choose to mock Indians to prove our social superiority, you can't stop us. If you dare to challenge our authority, we'll make you suffer for it."

    For more on the subject, see Klansmen, Militias, and Teabaggers and Teabaggers Want Doddering White Guy. For a historical overview of the subject, see Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and Christian Patriots.

    Below:  Video of the teabaggers' verbal assault on the Parkinson's patient. Although he isn't a minority, he is disadvantaged, which is the same idea.

    The final words of this video make it crystal-clear what the teabaggers are thinking. Not "this bill is the wrong way to improve our healthcare system" or "higher taxes are a drag on our economy." "No more handouts!!" (to poor, lazy, dark-skinned, not-quite-real Americans) could be the Tea Party's slogan.