November 30, 2010

Cowboys and Aliens is no joke

Question for Big Film:  It’s Not a Comedy?

By Michael CieplyIn “Cowboys & Aliens”—which is directed by Jon Favreau, of “Iron Man” fame, and counts Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard among its producers—Universal and DreamWorks have one of next summer’s most highly anticipated movies.

But some people may be anticipating the wrong film.

Deceived by a title and a premise that many find inherently comic, potential viewers must now cope with a realization that Mr. Favreau wasn’t kidding when he told fans at the Comic-Con International convention last July that he planned to mix a “by-the-book, right-down-the-middle western” of the kind once made by Sergio Leone and John Ford, with really scary science fiction, like “Alien” or “Predator.”

“The concept of the movie sounds hilarious. Cowboys vs. Aliens,” a poster, Hitman21, wrote recently on Mmajunkie.com. But this viewer was one of many who went on to voice enthusiasm for the unexpectedly serious movie that appeared in the trailer.
The movie's evolution:Thirteen years ago Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, a comic-book entrepreneur, came up with a dual pitch for both a movie and a comics series, set in 19th-century Arizona, about warring cowboys and Apaches who join forces to fight an invasion by space aliens.

It was billed at the time as a follow-up to “Men in Black,” the hugely successful action-comedy—with which Mr. Rosenberg was also involved—about a couple of secret agents, played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, who are tasked with keeping tabs on all the unruly aliens who find their way to Earth.

Originally, Steve Oedekerk, the filmmaker behind “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls,” was to have been the writer and director of “Cowboys & Aliens”—a clear sign that it was conceived more in fun than as a homage to John Ford.

As it happened, a hard-edged “Cowboys & Aliens” graphic novel was published while the film project faded. That occurred partly because “Wild Wild West,” a frontier fantasy laced with improbable devices, including a giant mechanical spider, underperformed at the box office in 1999, reminding Hollywood of the risk in cross-genre adventures.

Revived much later under the supervision of the writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, “Cowboys & Aliens” became a deadly serious film. Its hero, Jake Lonergan, played by Mr. Craig, is a loner who stumbles into the troubled town of Absolution, which is under the thumb of Harrison Ford’s Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde. That is, until invading aliens change the game for everyone.
Comment:  The first graphic novel was stereotypical and lame, but it wasn't funny.

I think it would be difficult to make a lighthearted movie about white men and Apaches killing each other before they come together to fight aliens. F Troop and Shanghai Noon showed that comedies about 19th-century Indians aren't easy.

I'd expect this movie to be like Independence Day or War of the Worlds, not Alien or Predator. In other words, serious but fun, not serious and frightening.

Where are the Indians?

Alas, the Indians may have a minor role in this movie. They're mentioned only once in this article, and no one's talking about them. It doesn't seem as though they'll be equal partners with the cowboys.

My take is that a significant portion of the movie should be about the cowboys and Indians overcoming their differences and learning to work together. I'm talking about a third to a half of the movie. But I'm guessing that won't be the case. That the Indians will be relegated to Tonto status.

For more on the subject, see Noah Ringer = American Indian?! and Beach's Role in Cowboys and Aliens.

Cultural Appropriation Bingo

Someone named Elusis posted this on her LiveJournal blog back in January 2009:



In her Native Appropriations blog, Adrienne Keene explained why she reposted this item:Not only to point out the ignorance of commenters on the Internet, we all knew that already, but to point out how cliched and cyclical this conversation is. That awesome bingo card? Made at least a year ago. This, sadly, isn't new. These arguments continue to be brought up, and marginalized voices speaking out continue to be dismissed.Comment:  Not only does this point out how clichéd the arguments are, but how weak and interchangeable they are. When people defend something like an Indian mascot, they don't have to come up with original arguments. They could throw darts at this card and put together a string of rationalizations.

In other words, they aren't thinking. They're regurgitating pat answers they heard before.

When you challenge their pat answers, they've got nothing else to say. For instance: "I don't find this offensive." "When many Natives are offended, who cares what you think?" Silence.

Anyway, next time we have a lengthy debate about something--e.g., a hipster headdress--I'll try this bingo card. It'll be fun to see if I "win."

For more on criticism, see Rob Plays "Oppression Olympics"? and Solving Problems with Critical Thinking.

Hip-hop album for Leonard Peltier

Album review
New Hip-Hop Album Says Leonard Peltier Got a Bad Rap

By Gabriel San RomanPeltier has spent more than three decades imprisoned for the killing of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. Believing it to be unjust, various hip-hop artists have come together in common cause for a new compilation album.

Released on Thanksgiving, Free Leonard Peltier: Hip Hop's Contribution to the Freedom Campaign enlists the services of heavyweight conscious rappers Talib Kweli, Dakaa from Dilated Peoples, Immortal Technique, M1 of Dead Prez, and 2Mex. A-Ron, executive producer of the album, says in its notes that the mission of the compilation "is to highlight a case that clearly is an abuse of the legal standards of American justice."

After an introduction by Chairman Fred Hamption Jr., Dakaa and 2Mex get right to business on the Free Leonard Peltier's stand out track "Right the Wrong." The Dilated Peoples MC sums up the spirit of the collective effort when he rhymes "Human rights organizations are trying to right this wrong / The least I could do is write this song" while a following chorus sampling Native American flutes echoes case related samples.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see McLaren's Last Words:  Free Peltier and Art Show About FBI and Indians.

Octothorpe named for Jim Thorpe?

An article about the octothorpe (#), more commonly called the pound sign:

What we have here is one of the great comeback stories in the history of competitive punctuation

By Robert FulfordThis year GQ magazine, a major arbiter of the cool, has anointed # "symbol of the year." GQ explains: "Hashtags have changed the way we think, communicate, process information. # is everywhere." What we have here is one of the great comeback stories in the history of competitive punctuation. Today, &, © and ® have been left in the dust (of course@retains its status in email).The "octo" part of the name is obvious.And where did "thorpe" come from? The American Heritage Dictionary says it honours James Edward Oglethorpe, the 18th-century British general who helped found the colony of Georgia in 1732. A more popular story has an engineer at Bell Labs deciding to honour Jim Thorpe, an Indian athlete who won the pentathlon and decathlon for the U.S. at the 1912 Olympics; he had his gold medals taken from him when his background as a professional athlete was disclosed, a decision that was reversed three decades after his death.Comment:  For some reason, this is my first posting about a punctuation mark named after an Indian.

For more on Thorpe, see Review of Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete and Mauch Chunk Became "Jim Thorpe."

November 29, 2010

Criminal Conversations seeks funding

Criminal ConversationsThe Movie

CRIMINAL CONVERSATIONS is a romantic dramedy that unfolds amid somewhat unusual circumstances. A man meets up again with his ex-wife while his current wife is dying and his ex-wife’s current husband is suing her for divorce and trying to prove she is guilty of adultery. The tale unfolds on a small college campus in Santa Fe where Ted, whose dying wife has encouraged him to prepare for a new life without her, signs up for an acting course and discovers that his professor is his ex-wife, Alexandra.

Will Ted and Alexandra rekindle the love they shared long ago? Will Alexandra's soon-to-be ex, Frank, get the goods on her and Ted and claim adultery? Will Ted "fit in" with the much younger students in his class and fulfill his youthful dream of an acting career?

The Production Strategy

CRIMINAL CONVERSATIONS incorporates several key factors, including keeping the budget as low as possible while operating within union rules and regulations, putting as much money on the screen as possible, keeping the “above the line” costs lower than on most films, and attracting a name cast. The budget for CRIMINAL CONVERSATIONS is $50,000 for a 14-day shoot in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

CRIMINAL CONVERSATIONS has been written and specifically structured for low-budget production. The story focuses on a handful of characters and uses a limited number of locations that are readily accessible. The movie can be produced with minimal crew and no special effects. It is intended to be shot on HD using mostly ambient lighting.

And how did we get a famous actor like Wes Studi to star in our very-low-budget film? Well, it helps that he's a long-time friend of the director, Jules Rubin. And he lives here, and Wes has long been defying the mindset of casting Native Americans only in Native roles. Here he plays a romantic lead in a "straight" role and even gets to spout Shakespeare. Then, to add to the intrigue...Wes is playing opposite his lovely wife Maura Dhu Studi. We also have Anthony Arkin and we're keeping tabs on a number of other fine actors. We'll be casting some college students, as well.
And an e-mail from the producer:I'm so excited to be one of the producers on the film CRIMINAL CONVERSATIONS that Wes and Maura will star in. It's very low budget but it gives him the opportunity to play a non-Native romantic lead and for the two of them act together for the first time. Maura is an actress, teaches acting and even performs in Wes's band Firecat of Discord. I told her that singing back up with band is on my bucket list and she said she could handle that...can't wait.

I never thought I'd get to know a star like Wes and I'm always impressed with his skill, charisma, and dedication. We filmed a video of them at their house that will be posted on the fundraising website soon, but please go there now

http://www.indiegogo.com/Criminal-Conversations

and donate whatever you can and please use the tabs provided to send the link along to your friends and family.

All of us are doing this at little to no salary and we want to get started on pre-production so we can film in the spring.

All the information is there and photos and videos and news will be added as we go along.

Also, I'm developing a film, Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses, that will be partially filmed at Pine Ridge. ... George Burdeau, acclaimed director, writer, and producer is interested in working with me on this and Wes Studi wants to direct it. And the incredible Gary Farmer will star.

Thank you all.
Judy Bell
Belle Starr Productions
Santa Fe
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

Review of Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete

Last year I reported on the new Jim Thorpe documentary. Last week I finally watched it on PBS as part of Native American Heritage Month. Here's a synopsis:

Jim Thorpe--About the FilmJim Thorpe, The World’s Greatest Athlete is a biography of the Native American athlete who became a sports icon in the first half of the 20th century. Beginning with Thorpe’s boyhood in Indian Territory it chronicles his rise to athletic stardom at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, winning two gold medals at the 1912 Summer Olympics, his fall from grace in the eyes of the amateur athletic establishment, and his rebound in professional baseball and football. Thorpe retired from pro sports at age 41 just before the stock market crash of ’29. He worked as a construction laborer before getting work in Hollywood as a bit part player. He became a representative for Indian extras in Hollywood, fighting for equal pay for Native Americans in the movies. In the 1940s he crisscrossed the nation as a public speaker advocating for Indian self-determination.

This is a film about a man who used his amazing physical prowess as a way to affirm his American Indian identity in the face of unrelenting efforts to eradicate Native American culture. It is the first documentary film to tell the story of Thorpe’s life outside of his well-known athletic victories.The film uses in-depth interviews with Thorpe’s surviving children, some simple recreations and images culled from over seventy-five archive sources, both stills and motion picture.

Presented by Native American Public Television, the film will air on U.S. public television stations in fall 2009 and winter 2010.


Comment:  The summary pretty much sums it up. The documentary is a bit on the glowing side; it begins with the omnipresent flute music and glosses over Thorpe's drinking and spendthrift ways. But Jim Thorpe is a solid look at the athlete's life.

A few things I learned about Thorpe:

  • He played against Dwight Eisenhower in the Army-Carlisle football game.

  • He spoke out for Indian land rights and oil royalties.

  • He was an extra in Errol Flynn's They Died with Their Boots On, one of the few Westerns in which Indians won. He later punched Flynn in a bar after Flynn taunted him.

  • He lectured in a stereotypical Plains chief outfit under the name "Bright Path."

  • The movie doesn't mention Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, or the controversy over Thorpe's burial place. That may be for the best.

    Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10. Check it out if you get the chance.

    For more on Thorpe, see Three Native Olympic Gold Medalists and The NFL's Oorang Indians.

    Graphic Universe's Hero Twins

    The Hero Twins: Against the Lords of Death: a Mayan Myth (Graphic Universe)Product Description

    Can two young boys outsmart and outwit the lords of death? The Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, were blessed by the Mayan gods with special powers. But their incredible skill at playing Pok-ta-Pok, the Mayan ball game, angers the lords of Xibalba, rulers of the land of the dead. When the lords challenge them to a Pok-ta-Pok game in Xibalba, the twins know they must use all of their powers and cunning to defeat the lords' many challenges. Will they survive the land of the dead?

    From School Library Journal

    Grade 3-6–Hunaphu and Xbalanque are characters from a Mayan myth in the Popul Vuh. Their special powers include their skills at playing the ball game Pok-ta-Pok. The competitive rulers of the underworld are not happy and challenge the twins to a game, planning to destroy them. After crossing a river of blood and a river of pus (This is so gross, says Hunaphu) to meet the Lords of Death, the young men must survive nights in increasingly dangerous houses, including one filled with razors and one filled with bloodthirsty bats. Readers should delight in the creepy action, especially the final game in which Xbalanque's head is used as the ball. The bright colors and strong lines of the cartoon-style illustrations add to the story's irreverent tone. A narrative of a contemporary boy assigned to read the myth for school begins and ends the story. Though slightly corny, this framing device may draw in readers resistant to the historical or educational theme. Children may not pick this up on their own, but once they begin they'll find much to enjoy.

    Brings the Mayan Hero Twins to life, May 1, 2010
    By T. Webster (Alaska)

    The Maya stories of the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque go back to the time before contact with Europeans. A central part of the Quiche Maya "Popol Vuh" ("Council Book") tells at greater length the story graphically illustrated in this Graphic Universe book for young readers. I've read Dennis Tedlock's translation of "Popol Vuh" and would recommend it to those interested in Classic Maya culture. It has intriguing strangeness for those immersed in Western culture, as well as moments of great beauty and depth, and Tedlock's introduction and notes are outstanding.

    I enjoyed this comic book treatment of the Hero Twins' adventure underground, where their quick thinking and skill at the Mesoamerican ball game enable them to defeat the gods of the underworld. The text was carefully crafted in consultation with an academic specializing in Maya studies, and the illustrations are inventive and a fairly straight representation of the story. The "Lords of Death" in this version appear ghoulish and scary, making the Twins' triumph through skill, magic, and trickery all the more impressive. If this book whets the appetite of readers to go on to the "Popol Vuh" itself one day, it will have served a valuable purpose.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

    Below:  The Hero Twins in Olmec art.

    Misty Upham's PETA interview

    Misty Upham's Warm HeartIn a candid and heartfelt interview with PETA, actor Misty Upham—whose mesmerizing performance in Frozen River garnered rave reviews—expresses her dismay over a wide range of animal issues, including the treatment of captive bears who are displayed in pits and cages as tourist attractions in Cherokee, North Carolina:Upham grew up on a Black Foot Indian reservation in Montana, and she's passionate about bringing animal issues to Native American communities. In the interview, she also speaks out about puppy mills and the importance of adopting from animal shelters as well as the cruelty of carting animals around in traveling shows.

    Please join Misty in asking Cherokee and federal officials to close the bear pits for good.
    Native American Star Calls for Closure of Cherokee Bear Pits

    Frozen River and Big Love Actor Misty Upham Says Bears Are Subjected to 'Years of Torture'In a brand-new interview with PETA, Frozen River star Misty Upham expresses her dismay over the treatment of captive bears displayed in pits and cages as tourist attractions in Cherokee, N.C. Says Upham, "I do hope that the Native American elders can separate tradition, pride, and what is popular and give these bears the right to have a peaceful, healthy, respected lifestyle and to possibly have peace of mind after so many years of torture."

    Upham, who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, also says, "Anybody who goes anywhere to feed an animal who's being kept in a space where … there's nowhere else to go, I think they're all in a huge denial of what they owe the land."

    In the interview, Upham also talks about animals who are carted around by exhibitors (the animals are subjected to "psychological torture") and describes how dogs helped her in therapy for sexual abuse.

    TV icon Bob Barker has also spoken out against keeping bears captive as tourist attractions. Recently, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) against Chief Saunooke Bear Park in Cherokee after a 9-year-old girl was bitten by a captive bear—it was the second bite by a bear at the facility in one week. Since then, the facility has also been cited by the USDA for failure to provide veterinary care, failure to separate incompatible animals, failure to maintain facilities to protect the animals from injury, and reusing dirty paper trays to feed the bears.
    Comment:  The tribe is the Blackfeet, not "Black Foot."

    For more on the subject, see PETA Billboards:  "Avoid Cruel Bear Pits" and Bear Pits = Boarding Schools.

    Painting Natives in ceremonial garb

    The woman who asked me about pseudo-Native art in Oxborough Paintings Infantilize Indians has more questions about these paintings. Here's an example of what we're talking about:

    **

    Her e-mail:Thanks for your reply. A coworker (who is really trying to see all sides) asked why it is okay for kids to, for example, wear feathers and 'adult' ceremonial dress in parades and at dances, but not to portray it in paintings, and I wasn't sure how to answer her.I assume you mean Native kids. It's not okay if they're non-Native.

    Native kids may wear powwow-style regalia in parades and at dances. I don't think they'd wear a stereotypical chief's headdress or warrior's headband with feathers. If they did, I'd say that's stereotypical too. A Native who permitted that would be going against the beliefs of other Natives.How do we know if a painting is a stereotype or an accurate representation without knowing every tribe's style of dress?Knowing the most common stereotypes is usually enough. Also consider the source. A book or movie by Natives is more likely to be accurate than a sports logo or advertisement. If you see something questionable, you can always research it on the Internet.

    Remember, people's thinking tends to gravitate toward these stereotypes, not away from them. Someone may dress a Wampanoag as a Plains Indian--e.g., for Thanksgiving--but they probably won't dress a Plains Indian as a Wampanoag. Most people don't recognize or care about Wampanoag apparel because it doesn't fit their stereotypical preconceptions.

    You can grasp many sstereotype simply by understanding that the Plains warrior apparel was limited to a few dozen Midwestern tribes, males only, through the end of the 19th century. Today the chiefs of these tribes wear such headdresses only during important political or cultural ceremonies. Any use that doesn't fit these criteria is probably stereotypical.

    Real life vs. memoryWhat's the difference between someone Native agreeing to sit for a portrait in ceremonial garb, and one being painted from the artist's memory?Either way it contributes to stereotypical thinking in the general public. But at least the posed portrait is documenting something real. That's assuming the Native has earned the right to wear the ceremonial garb, of course.

    If the artist is painting the same image from memory, is it something he or she actually saw? I.e., is the artist remembering an actual Native in actual garb? Or is the artist "remembering" (imagining) a stereotypical image from the media? That's one potential difference.

    Another is how the artist intends to use the painting. If it's documenting the lives of real Natives, that's one thing. If it's going into a romanticized collection of paintings for ignorant art buyers, that's another.

    For more on romanticized Indians, see Love/Hate Relationship with Indians and Johnny Preston's Running Bear.

    November 28, 2010

    Teabaggers lie about Thanksgiving

    Apparently Rush Limbaugh didn't just make up his lies about Thanksgiving. They're part of the standard teabagger prevarication along with Obama's birth certificate and "death panels."

    The Pilgrims Were ... Socialists?

    By Kate ZernikeIn one common telling, the pilgrims who came to Plymouth established a communal system, where all had to pool whatever they hunted or grew on their lands. Because they could not reap the fruits of their labors, no one had any incentive to work, and the system failed—confusion, thievery and famine ensued.

    Finally, the governor of the colony, William Bradford, abolished this system and gave each household a parcel of land. With private property to call their own, the Pilgrims were suddenly very industrious and found themselves with more corn than they knew what to do with. So they invited the Indians over to celebrate. (In some other versions, the first Thanksgiving is not a feast but a brief respite from famine. But the moral is always the same: socialism doesn’t work.) The same commune-to-capitalism, famine-to-feast story is told of Jamestown, the first English settlement, in 1607. Dick Armey, the former House majority leader and Texas congressman who has become a Tea Party promoter, related it as a cautionary tale in a speech to the National Press Club earlier this year.

    Rush Limbaugh repeats the Thanksgiving story of Plymouth every year, reading it from a chapter in one of his books titled “Dead White Guys, or What Your History Books Never Told You.” (Some details change; one year, he had the Pilgrims growing organic vegetables.)

    The version is also taught in a one-day course called “The Making of America,” which became popular with Tea Party groups across the country after Glenn Beck recommended the work of its author, W. Cleon Skousen, who died in 2006. Tea Party blogs have reposted “The Great Thanksgiving Hoax” from a Web site celebrating the work of the libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises, a favorite of Ron Paul devotees. The post concludes: “Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.”

    Leave aside the question of whether this country is on the march to socialism (conservatives say yes, and blame the Democrats). What does the record say?

    Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common—William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the “common course.” But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.

    “It was directed ultimately to private profit,” said Richard Pickering, a historian of early America and the deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, a museum devoted to keeping the Pilgrims’ story alive.

    The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving. “The celebration would never have happened if the harvest was going to be less than enough to get them by,” Mr. Pickering said. “They would have saved it and rationed it to get by.”

    The competing versions of the story note Bradford’s writings about “confusion and discontent” and accusations of “laziness” among the colonists. But Mr. Pickering said this grumbling had more to do with the fact that the Plymouth colony was bringing together settlers from all over England, at a time when most people never moved more than 10 miles from home. They spoke different dialects and had different methods of farming, and looked upon each other with great wariness.

    “One man’s laziness is another man’s industry, based on the agricultural methods they’ve learned as young people,” he said.

    Bradford did get rid of the common course—but it was in 1623, after the first Thanksgiving, and not because the system wasn’t working. The Pilgrims just didn’t like it. In the accounts of colonists, Mr. Pickering said, “there was griping and groaning.”

    “Bachelors didn’t want to feed the wives of married men, and women don’t want to do the laundry of the bachelors,” he said.

    The real reason agriculture became more profitable over the years, Mr. Pickering said, is that the Pilgrims were getting better at farming crops like corn that had been unknown to them in England.
    Comment:  You don't have to be a historian to dissect the conservatives' lies. Let's go straight to the source: History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford.

    In a section labeled "Private and communal farming (1623)," Bradford does speak highly of privately owning land and its effect on the colonists:All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other thing to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.Sounds important, but in a section labeled "First harvest (1621)," he also speaks highly of the harvest under the "common course":They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.Celebrating "plenty" in 1621

    How much clearer could Bradford have made it? The first harvest provided more than enough for everyone. That's why the Pilgrims celebrated with a three-day feast. If they'd still been suffering, they wouldn't have had enough food for the feast. And they wouldn't have wanted to hold one.

    While most Americans commemorate the Thanksgiving of 1621, teabaggers are trying to rewrite history. Here's an idea, you lying sacks of excrement: If you think 1623 was the first harvest worth celebrating, denounce your fellow Americans who don't know any better. Tell them to knock off all the displays, pageants, and parades featuring the Pilgrims and Indians eating together. Protest and march until everyone--churches, textbook publishers, even Plymouth Plantation itself--understands that we're commemorating the wrong Thanksgiving.

    Be sure to condemn your fellow conservatives most harshly, because they're the most likely to regurgitate the standard myth. For instance, Ronald Reagan didn't know anything about a failed harvest in 1621. He repeatedly told Americans the same story Obama reiterated decades later.

    Until you denounce Reagan and other liberal dupes, teabaggers, you're a craven bunch of liars and hypocrites. You don't believe what you're saying; you're simply fabricating history to promote your far-right agenda. You're just like the Communists and the Nazis: You hope that if you tell a big enough lie, people will start believing you.

    For more teabagger lies, see Beck Slams Tribal Flag Song, Islamophobia Just Like Stephen's, and Teabaggers = Constitutional Hypocrites.

    Reagan wrong about Thanksgiving?!

    How do you know when a teabagger is lying? When he opens his mouth.

    Once again teabaggers have rewritten reality--this time to claim the Pilgrims' harvest of 1621 was bad. They think the first good harvest wasn't until 1623, when the Pilgrims switched to a private system of land ownership. In other words, they think the bountiful first Thanksgiving is a myth and we should be celebrating the third Thanksgiving instead.

    Somehow the liberal/socialist/godless academia/media/elite must've gotten to conservative icon Ronald Reagan. Because he believed the same things most Americans believe. Here's what Reagan said about the Thanksgiving of 1621:Proclamation 4883--November 12, 1981

    On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the native Americans who had taught them so much.

    Proclamation 5098--September 15, 1983

    Since the Pilgrims observed the initial Thanksgiving holiday in 1621, this occasion has served as a singular expression of the transcending spiritual values that played an instrumental part in the founding of our country.

    Proclamation 5269--October 19, 1984

    As we remember the faith and values that made America great, we should recall that our tradition of Thanksgiving is older than our Nation itself. Indeed, the native American Thanksgiving antedated those of the new Americans. In the words of the eloquent Seneca tradition of the Iroquois, "…give it your thought, that with one mind we may now give thanks to Him our Creator."

    From the first Pilgrim observance in 1621, to the nine years before and during the American Revolution when the Continental Congress declared days of Fast and Prayer and days of Thanksgiving, we have turned to Almighty God to express our gratitude for the bounty and good fortune we enjoy as individuals and as a nation. America truly has been blessed.

    Proclamation 5412--November 15, 1985

    A band of settlers arriving in Maine in 1607 held a service of thanks for their safe journey, and twelve years later settlers in Virginia set aside a day of thanksgiving for their survival. In 1621 Governor William Bradford created the most famous of all such observances at Plymouth Colony when a bounteous harvest prompted him to proclaim a special day "to render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings." The Spaniards in California and the Dutch in New Amsterdam also held services to give public thanks to God.
    Comment:  Will Limbaugh and other teabagger scum denounce Reagan the way they've denounced Obama? Because Reagan and Obama repeated the same myths uttered by every president since Lincoln.

    Or will the party faithful rise up and denounce Limbaugh and company for their lies? Because Obama's Thanksgiving proclamation was exactly as valid as Reagan's were.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for either outcome. As far as I can tell, there isn't a teabagger alive who has a shred of integrity.

    For more on Ronald Reagan and Indians, see Name Alpine School for Reagan? and Rob's Reply to Reagan.

    Meraz among People's sexiest men

    Apparently People magazine has chosen Alex Meraz as one of its sexiest men of 2010. Meraz tweeted this pic of him and thousands of breathless Twihards reposted it on their Twilight blogs.



    There you go. Meraz is still getting only a fraction of the attention given to non-Native Taylor Lautner. But even a minor role in a major movie is enough to put Meraz on the map.

    People magazine is about as mainstream as it gets. This proves audiences will embrace Indians if they're given a chance. "Tall, dark, and handsome" has always been appealing, so why would Indians be any different?

    For more on the subject, see Twilight Screwed Native Actors?, How New Moon Robbed Natives, and Twilight's Missed Opportunity.

    Navajos in Emerging 200 Initiative

    Navajo entrepreneurs reach for the next level

    By Cindy Yurth[Darrell] Yazzie, who co-owns Round Rock Trading Post with his father, can quote from his company's mission statement and explain its value proposition.

    He'll tell you off the top of his head what percentage of the store's revenue comes from groceries, and how much of that is purchased by food stamps.

    Want details? Just a minute, let him go through his briefcase. Don't even get him started on his five-year plan.

    Yazzie is not an MBA. He doesn't even have a bachelor's degree. But he is one of eight small businessmen--including six Navajos--who recently completed the Emerging 200 Initiative (abbreviated "e200") in Gallup.
    Comment:  For more on Navajos in business, see Navajo Company Expedites Fingerprints and Navajo Pair Is BRAVE.

    Below:  "Anthony Arviso, a physical therapist and owner of Enchantment Physical Therapy poses, with his plaque recently in Gallup." (Special to the Times/Donovan Quintero)

    Kitt Peak Observatory on Tohono O'odham land

    Tribe paved way for stellar research

    A journey back in time to discover the roots of Kitt Peak observatory

    By Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan
    March 15, 1960, was a cool, clear day in southern Arizona. That morning, about 50 people drove up the winding road to the top of Kitt Peak, 56 miles southwest of Tucson. These scientists, politicians, military officers and members of the Tohono O’odham Nation had gathered to dedicate the country’s first national observatory.

    They listened to William W. Morgan, a professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago, deliver the official address. After the ceremony, the visitors ate lunch and toured the mountain.

    The dedication of the Kitt Peak National Observatory tied two cultures together—one with ancient roots in the Southwest, the other with modern eyes on the universe. Helmut Abt, an astronomer at Kitt Peak, played a key role in establishing a modern observatory on the Tohono O’odham’s (then called the Papago) ancestral homeland.

    “Kitt Peak observatory is very successful on the mountain, and they (Tohono O’odham) have gotten something in return,” Abt said.
    Comment:  For a more troubling observatory story, see Myopic Mt. Graham Observatory and University of Arizona vs. Apaches.

    Navajo company expedites fingerprints

    Navajo woman heads firm doing work for FBI, BIAThe FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are working with an Albuquerque company owned and operated by a Navajo woman to expedite fingerprinting and background checks on prospective workers—particularly those who might come into contact with children—for American Indian tribes and tribal organizations.

    The FBI has been handling fingerprints submitted through the BIA since 1996. Prints generally were done the old-fashioned way—rolling someone's fingers in ink, rolling the inked prints onto a card, then mailing the cards to the FBI.

    Under a new agreement, Personnel Security Consultants Inc., known as PSC, will submit prints by electronic scanner, which will speed up the process for criminal history checks mandated by the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act.

    Michele Justice, the Navajo woman who owns PSC, said her firm will be the go-between that provides fingerprint technical assistance and training services for more than 200 tribes.
    Comment:  For more on Navajos in business, see Navajos in Emerging 200 Initiative and Native Women Are Entrepreneurs.

    Book about Cave Rock

    Lake Tahoe's Cave Rock court case inspires book

    By Susan SkorupaA precedent-setting court case concerning a Lake Tahoe landmark so intrigued author Michael Makley that he teamed up with his historian son Matthew to write about it.

    The result, "Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts, and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place," (University of Nevada Press, $24.95 paperback) examines the court cases involved in the Washoe tribe's successful attempt to ban rock climbing at the South Shore site. It explains the vigorous arguments presented by the tribe, which considers the site a sacred and powerful place, and by the climbers, who had their own attachments to Cave Rock, ranging from a challenging place to climb to a place of spiritual serenity.

    After two decades of debate and legal decisions, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling to ban rock climbing and other invasive activity at Cave Rock in 2007, based on its cultural, rather than religious, importance to the tribe. It was an outcome seldom experienced by American Indians in court.
    Comment:  For more on sacred sites, see Preserving the Oxford Mound and LSU Mounds Protected from Football Fans.

    November 27, 2010

    First Thanksgiving in 1609?

    Chief Rodney Randy Joseph cites 1609 for first Thanksgiving

    By Emily ClarkFederation of Old Plimoth Indian Tribes Chief Rodney Randy Joseph, who has researched Native American history exhaustively, says he’s discovered that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth in 1609, not in 1621.

    According to the Sons of Liberty’s History of New England, originally printed in 1721, the Pawtuxet tribe performed a celebratory dance, known as the Nickommo dance, in 1609 in what later became Plymouth, as part of a celebration of gratitude, and to commemorate a friendship with a Dutchman by the name of Pring. This European traveler and trader had, apparently, arrived in the area in 1609, and crafted a block print of this event that showed a performance of this dance.

    To Joseph, this is definitive proof that Native Americans began a tradition that blended with European Christian values of gratitude when the Pilgrims arrived in 1620. For Wampanoags, expressing gratitude is an exuberant, joyous and boisterous affair, filled with song and dance, he added. For the Pilgrims, it was solemn. These different approaches united in that so-called first Thanksgiving Americans have come to define between these two cultures, he said.
    Comment:  It's good to recall that the Pilgrims weren't the first Europeans to colonize New England. Wikipedia gives us some of the pre-Pilgrim history:

    New England ColoniesThere were several attempts early in the 17th century to colonize New England by France, England and other countries who were in often in contention for lands in the New World. French nobleman Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) established a settlement on Saint Croix Island, Maine in June 1604 under the authority of the King of France. The small St. Croiz River Island is located on the northern boundary of present-day Maine. After nearly half the settlers perished due to a harsh winter and scurvy, they moved out of New England north to Port-Royal of Nova Scotia in the spring of 1605.

    King James I of England recognizing the need for a permanent mother in New England, granted competing royal charters to the Plymouth Company and the London Company. The Plymouth Company ships arrived at the mouth of the Kennebec River (then called the Sagadahoc River) in August 1607 where they established a settlement named Sagadahoc Colony or more well known as Popham Colony to honor financial backer Sir John Popham. The colonists faced a harsh winter, the loss of supplies following a storehouse fire and mixed relations with the indigenous tribes.

    After the death of colony leader Captain George Popham and a decision by a second leader, Raleigh Gilbert, to return to England to take up an inheritance left by the death of an older brother, all of the colonists decided to return to England. It was around August 1607, when they left on two ships, the Mary and John and a new ship built by the colony named Virginia of Sagadahoc. The 30-ton Virginia was the first English-built ship in North America.

    Conflict over land rights continued through the early 17th century, with the French constructing Fort Petagouet near present day Castine, Maine in 1613. The fort protecting a trading post and a fishing station was considered the first longer term settlement in New England. The fort traded hands multiple times throughout the 17th century between the English, French and Dutch colonists.

    In 1614, the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block sailed along the coast of Long Island Sound, and then up the Connecticut River to site of present day Hartford, Connecticut. By 1623, the new Dutch West India Company regularly traded for furs there and ten years later they fortified it for protection from the Pequot Indians as well as from the expanding English colonies. They fortified the site, which was named "House of Hope" (also identified as "Fort Hoop", "Good Hope" and "Hope"), but encroaching English colonization made them agree to withdraw in the Treaty of Hartford, and by 1654 they were gone.
    Why don't we remember any of these early colonies? Because the colonies weren't rousing successes and the colonists weren't Anglo-Saxon Protestants like "us." These events didn't contribute to the narrative of God-given triumphalism, so they had to go.

    For more claimants to the first Thanksgiving, see Indians at St. Augustine Anniversary and Texas Held the First Thanksgiving?

    P.S. Whatever the Federation of Old Plimoth Indian Tribes is, it isn't a real tribe.

    Below:  "Federation of Old Plimoth Indian Tribes Chief Rodney Randy Joseph points to a map of the area highlighting Wampanoag sites and places of worship." (Wicked Local photo/Emily Clark)

    Love/hate relationship with Indians

    A review of Obama's new book Of Thee I Sing summarizes our conflicted views about Indians:

    Of Thee I Sing: A Semiotic Review by Scott AndrewsAmerican mythology has been deeply conflicted about the original inhabitants of the continent since Day One of Contact. Americans have hated Indians and they have loved Indians. But, strangely, in both cases the Indian disappears from view.

    The side of the American psyche that hated Indians wanted to clear them out of the way of westward expansion, even if that meant killing them all. Thus the Indian became, for many decades, the ubiquitous villain of American popular fiction and Hollywood Westerns. In contrast to the bloodthirsty savage, the American hero could look that much more heroic--and could be justified in killing Indians.

    The side of the American psyche that loved Indians romanticized and envied them, and yet still imagined the Indians absent from the path of westward expansion. In American literature, sometimes the Indians disappeared voluntarily, because they did not want to live like their new neighbors. Sometimes the Indians disappeared tragically, perhaps from disease or even from hearts broken by the damage done to their communities. This passing was lamented by some Americans, and it was sometimes used to critique the American greed or violence or prejudice that so harassed Indians. But hardly ever in the American imagination did this critique result in the Indian not disappearing.

    Sometimes what the American psyche hated about the Indian was also what it loved. The Indian Hater oftentimes justified his hatred by seeing the American as civilized and the Indian as savage. The task of transforming the landscape into European-style agricultural and urban landscapes was seen as a process of conquering nature. Since the original inhabitants of the land needed to be removed before the land could be transformed, the Haters equated Indians with the land or nature. Both needed to be conquered. They were not merely obstacles to expansion, but as “nature” they were the opposite of “civilization.” In his survey of Indians in American literature, Savagism and Civilization, Roy Harvey Pearce says that the Indian became an important symbol “for what he showed civilized men they were not and must not be” (5).

    Meantime, the Indian Lover also equated Indians with the land or nature, but this time that was seen as a good thing. Many times the Indian Lover had grown tired of his own society. Like the Hater, the Lover associated “civilization” with European-style society, but unlike the Hater he saw “civilization” as corrupt or decadent. Pearce describes this as a type of “primitivism--the belief that other, simpler societies were somehow happier than one’s own” (136). The Indian Lover saw “nature” as the opposite of “civilization,” as pure and noble. He saw the Indian as the Noble Savage, and in so doing he also equated the Indian with nature.

    However, despite his admiration for Indians, the Lover could not bring himself to live with them permanently or imagine a role for them in his society. Apparently, just because you love something doesn’t mean you want to live with it. And so even those writers who loved Indians rarely ever ended a story with the Indian characters still around--they either died or faded into the landscape, headed further West, making room for the tide of Americans.
    Comment:  Indian lovers and haters correspond roughly to liberals and conservatives. But as Andrews notes, the outcomes of love and hate aren't much different.

    Among the lovers we could include mascot worshipers, New Age wannabes, and hipsters in headdresses who think they're honoring Indians. The common denominator is that they love a fictional, romanticized version of Indians.

    In contrast, they don't know or care about real Indians. They especially don't want to hear about anything negative like poverty, termination, boarding schools, broken treaties, or genocide. As long as they have their fantasies, they're happy to be ignorant.

    For more on the subject, see Ups and Downs of Hollywood Indians and The Political Uses of Stereotyping.

    Bulgarians like Indians

    Native American Artist Peter Johns:  Bulgarians Show Great Interest in American Indians

    By Ivan DikovPeter Jones is a potter and sculptor who resides on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation of Indians in New York state. He studied under Hopi artist Otellie Loloma while attending the Institute of American Indian Art in New Mexico. While creating his pottery, Jones uses the traditional Iroquois method of pit firing, hand-built coiling and slab construction. Jones' works have won numerous awards, and are on exhibit at museums such as the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and in the Museum of Anthropology in Frankfurt, Germany to name a few.

    Jones was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of State to visit Bulgaria as a Cultural Envoy. During his 10 day program from November 10-20, he has visited schools, universities and art centers in the cities of Etera, Gabrovo, Plovdiv, Sofia Troyan and Veliko Turnovo. He spoke to more than 500 students at the American College in Sofia, conducted a demonstration for ceramics students at the Art High School "Professor Nikolay Rainov" in Sofia, and gave a lection at Sofia University.

    Jones participated in a public lecture and exhibition at the American Corner in the City Library of Sofia on November 17th along with members of the Eagle's Circle Society. The Eagle's Circle are Bulgarians who study and practice Native American arts including music, dress and dance.
    And:American Indians have been very popular in Bulgaria through a lot of novels about their life in the 19th century. Some of them might not be very realistic but all the way since the 1950s they made American Indians very popular in Bulgaria. Do you feel or hear about any of that?

    I met the Eagle Circle Society based in Sofia. And we talked, and they did a performance of song and dance for us. I know about the other groups in other countries. The one in Germany is perhaps the largest that I know about. It is very interesting to see this group of dedicated people who are not really trying to be Indians but are just interested in our culture and our language.
    Comment:  For more on German hobbyists, see Germans Think They Own Native Culture and Germans = "Only Real Indians"?

    November 26, 2010

    Chief Caddo football trophy

    A press release from 11/19/10:

    Annual Battle for Chief Caddo fuels NSU-SFACollege football teams across the country play for trophies in rivalry games, but none is harder to cart off afterwards than the one at stake when Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin meet Saturday at 2 in Nacogdoches, Texas.

    Chief Caddo is the world's largest sports trophy, standing 7-foot-6 and weighing over 320 pounds. He was once 400 pounds, but he's dried out a bit over the years and supposedly went on the Pritiken Diet during the great Natchitoches experiment in 1980.

    The tradition originated in 1960, when longtime rivals Northwestern and SFA decided to award the winner of the game with a trophy. They settled on a statue of a legendary Indian chief whose tribe was responsible for settling in the locations that became the English-speaking towns of Natchitoches and Nacogdoches. The loser of the 1961 game would have a tree chopped down from its nearby forests to be sent to the winning school, who would have a statue carved. The Demons won that 1961 game 35-19 and SFA delivered a 2,000-pound black gum log to Northwestern. Wood carver Harold Green of Logansport spent some 230 hours on the statue.

    He was named "Chief Caddo" to honor the native Americans that not only first settled the two communities, but provided safety for the early white settlers in the area. Historians say had it not been for the Caddo Indians, the Spanish and French colonists who came to the area would not have survived the onslaughts of the Apache and Comanche warriors from the west and the Natchez from the east. Also, French and Spanish writers of the time said certain wise Caddo chiefs made it possible for the two European colonies to live as neighbors while their mother countries were at war against each other.
    Comment:  Unfortunately, the trophy is a life-sized wooden Indian with a stern, stoic visage. He looks like a stereotypical Plains chief; I doubt the Caddo Indians wore such headdresses.

    It's a bit unsavory to be playing for ownership of an Indian. Imagine if the statue was a black man. "We won Aloysius (or whatever) fair and square! We own him now!" How do you think that would go over?

    The schools should retire this ugly hunk of wood to a display case and create a new trophy. If you want to honor the Caddo, make it a sculpture that's realistic or abstract, not phony. Teach football players and fans some genuine Caddo lore while you're at it. Whatever you do, don't reinforce the belief that all Indians are stone-faced Plains Indians.

    For more on wooden Indians, see Native Humor for Thanksgiving and Roadside Indian Stereotypes.

    Haircutting = human rights violation?

    In January 2010 I reported on a story that happened in May 2009: Teacher's Aide Chopped Native Boy's Hair. The aide wasn't charged with anything, but the case is still alive.

    Haircutting incident heading to human rights tribunal

    By Rick GarrickThe haircutting incident at a Thunder Bay school that prevented a First Nation boy from following his traditional dancing practices is going before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

    “It was traumatic for him, it was traumatic for the family,” said Julian Falconer, explaining the seven-year-old boy did not participate in traditional dancing for “some time” after his hair was cut by a teacher’s assistant at McKellar Park School in April 2009.

    The family asked for accountability and were demeaned for doing it, that somehow they were in it for the money, Falconer said.

    “How bizarre is that? If it were anybody else’s child, I can absolutely assure you they would have asked for and gotten accountability,” Falconer, a Toronto-based lawyer known for human rights and public interest litigation, said.
    And:First Nation leaders had called for an investigation into the issue shortly after the haircutting incident happened, including Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, who said First Nations want to understand why and how the incident happened and ensure it never happens again.

    “For First Nations, this is a painful and harsh reminder of what our children suffered in the residential schools, where braids were cut as part of the overall denigration of our people and culture,” Toulouse said.

    Alvin Fiddler, a Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief at the time, called for an explanation of the circumstances that led to the decision not to lay charges against the teacher’s assistant.

    “What we have now is confusion as the Thunder Bay Police say the responsibility for charges rests with the Crown and the Ministry of the Attorney General saying the responsibility rests with the Thunder Bay Police,” Fiddler said.

    “First they claimed it wasn’t in the public interest and now for the first time, without ever having consulted with the child’s parents, they say it’s ‘to avoid revictimizing the child.’”
    Comment:  For another hair-related case, see Court Rules for Long-Haired Boy.

    2011 Sacagawea dollar reverse unveiled

    2011 Native American Dollar Design Selection Announced

    By Michael ZielinskiThe United States Mint has announced the reverse design that will appear on the 2011 Native American Dollar. This series of circulating dollar coins features a different reverse design each year, representing the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans.

    The theme for the 2011 design is Diplomacy--Treaties with Tribal Nations. The selected reverse design specifically highlights the treaty between Supreme Sachem Ousamequin, Massasoit of the Great Wampanoag Nation, and Governor John Carver of the European settlers at Plymouth Bay.

    The design features the ceremonial passing of the peace pipe after initiating the first formal written peace alliance.
    Comment:  Like the reverse of the 2010 dollar, this is another fine design.

    It highlights some little-known aspects of history: that the Wampanoag signed a treaty with the Pilgrims, and that they smoked peace pipes. We typically associate peace pipes with Plains Indians.

    I guess the image depicts a Pilgrim handing the pipe to an Indian, which is a bit odd. Usually you think of Indians doing the passing and non-Indians doing the receiving. But if they were sitting in a circle, the passing could've happened that way.

    It's nice that the Indian hand is more prominent and detailed. That conveys a key point: that Indians were active players in, even instigators of, diplomatic relations. They didn't just sit around waiting for white men to hand them a piece of paper to sign.

    For more on the subject, see 2nd Sacagawea Dollar Reverse Unveiled and Sacagawea Dollar's Reverse Unveiled.

    Southern California Native secular songs

    DVD preserves Native American songs

    By David OlsonThroughout their history, Southern Californian Native Americans have documented their lives and passed on traditions through song.

    Some sacred songs have been preserved through centuries of ceremonies, but some secular songs were lost, at times because they were only sung among members of a particular family.

    A recently released DVD is the first to feature secular songs from Southern California Native Americans, said Cliff Trafzer, a professor of history at UC Riverside and one of three UCR researchers who created the DVD.

    The 40-minute DVD, "Keeping the Songs Alive," includes interviews with 10 tribal elders and teachers from Inland and other Southern California tribes. They sing generations-old songs about mountain sheep and recently written songs about the casinos that have lifted some tribes out of poverty.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see High-Tech Traditional Music.

    National Day of Listening

    Day of Listening to include oral histories from Yoko Ono, Native Americans

    By Brett ZongkerYoko Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, are joining a nationwide oral history project that urges people to take time the day after Thanksgiving for a National Day of Listening with their friends and loved ones.

    The recorded conversation between mother and son about their lives will be broadcast Friday as part of the StoryCorps segment on NPR's "Morning Edition." Organizers said Ono and her son find similarities between their childhoods.

    This is the third year of the National Day of Listening, which encourages people to record interviews with friends or family members about their lives. In addition to Olympic athletes, new participants this year include staff at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian as part of Native American Heritage Day on Friday.

    KJ Jacks, 29, who has worked in special events since the museum opened in 2004, said it is a chance to talk about the diversity among Native Americans, including her own experience growing up near Denver. She said it's important for people to know that Native Americans are part of everyday life and that "we don't all walk around wearing buckskin dresses."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Modern Indians Are Less Native? and Modern Indians Anger Museum Goers.

    3rd largest Native film festival

    Aboriginal film festival third-largest on continent

    By Alison MayesWAFF--which opened Wednesday and runs to Sunday--is packed with guests, educational events and more than 40 new indigenous films (about 10 features and more than 30 shorts) from Canada and the world.

    Screenings take place at the University of Winnipeg's Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall and Cinematheque. The gathering is the third-largest showcase of aboriginal cinema in North America, Rajotte says, after Toronto's ImagineNATIVE and the San Francisco fest.

    Attendance doubled last year, leaping from about 1,500 in 2008 to 3,000.

    High-profile features in the 2010 lineup include Two Indians Talking, a comedy/drama about two First Nations men as they prepare to erect a blockade (stars Nathaniel Arcand and Justin Rain will attend the screening Saturday) and La Mission, a drama about a macho Mexican-American (Benjamin Bratt) who finds out that his son is gay (supporting actor Patrick Shining Elk will attend Friday).
    Comment:  For more on Native film festivals, see 7th Annual Red Nation Film Festival and AIM's First Film Festival.

    Rockwired Radio seeks Native artists

    Native-owned music website seeks artistsSince April, the online radio show Rockwired Radio Profiles has featured bands and solo recording artists from around the world. In its transition from a weekly to a daily show, Rockwired Radio Profiles has broadened the musical styles and the number of artists that it features.

    Upon archiving the 60 shows that have streamed up to that point, the show’s host Brian Lush noticed something. There weren’t enough Native artists represented.

    “There is absolutely no excuse for it,” he said. “There are tons of great artists throughout Indian Country, and now Rockwired is committed to shining a light on this rich, vibrant music community.”
    Comment:  The article notes that Lush is Yankton Sioux. It's interesting that he didn't think of promoting Native artists until six month after launching his Rockwired Radio.

    For more on the subject, see Online Radio for Native Hip Hop and InnerTribal Beat on the Radio.

    November 25, 2010

    Limbaugh lies about Thanksgiving

    Rush Limbaugh Rips Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation (AUDIO)

    By Adam J. RoseRush Limbaugh tried to rain on Barack Obama's Thanksgiving Day parade, lashing out against a proclamation issued by the president to honor the national holiday and the story behind it.

    He also went on the war path against Native Americans, calling for a look at the "scoreboard" of number of people killed since European settlers arrived, and insisting that "a bunch of Native Americans scammed us" in the deal to purchase Manhattan.

    As found in the show's transcript, Limbaugh interprets Obama's version of events:

    We were the invaders. The Indians are minding their own business. We were incompetent idiots. We didn't know how to feed ourselves. So they came along and showed us how, and that's what Thanksgiving is all about. Now, he says nothing about the Constitution in his Thanksgiving proclamation, because he's got a problem with it ... Every cliche that is wrong about Thanksgiving shows up in his proclamation.

    Obama did acknowledge George Washington, who declared the first nationally recognized Thanksgiving when the Constitution was enacted. Limbaugh didn't further clarify why the document from 1787 required a mention, even though the holiday's roots are generally traced back to at least 150 years earlier and it wouldn't become a regular national holiday until more than 75 years later.

    Insisting that he thought the presidential proclamation seemed like a "phony," "parody," "hoax" and "prank," Limbaugh then offered his own interpretation of the holiday's significance:

    [Obama] said that Thanksgiving is about the Indians saving us, with their agriculture and everything else. The true story of Thanksgiving is socialism failed. Of course we showed them gratitude! We shared our bounty with them, not because we didn't know how to make it. It was because we first failed as socialists. Only when we turned capitalists did we have plenty. The Indians didn't teach us capitalism.

    Limbaugh punctuated his pre-Thanksgiving show with shots at Native Americans, joking that Obama had said their "rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage ... at their casinos and on their reservations." He immediately made it clear he was making that last bit up.

    The host also argued that more people have been killed from lung cancer, "thanks to the Indian-invented custom of smoking tobacco," than from the arrival of Europeans and their wars and diseases. "Where are our reparations?" asked the well-known cigar smoker.

    And despite his problems evaluating the recent Manhattan real estate market, Limbaugh had another look at the one from 1626. "We got shafted when we bought Manhattan," he claimed, saying that European settlers initially paid a Long Island tribe that didn't own the land, then had to repurchase it from the actual owners. "We got scammed ... we got hosed ... we paid for Manna-hata twice because a bunch of Native Americans scammed us."

    In the long run, there hasn't been much buyer's remorse on behalf of the settlers.

    As agitated as the conservative commentator was over Obama's buckle-hat tip to Native Americans, Media Matters notes that another well-known conservative named Ronald Reagan did the same in his 1981 proclamation:

    On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first Thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the Native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well-being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.
    Comment:  Once again Limbaugh proves he's a big fat liar.

    In his first comments (above), everything Limbaugh said is false is basically true. Limbaugh doesn't provide any evidence for his anti-historical claims because he can't.

    Trying to link Thanksgiving to the Constitution when there's no link is another lie. It's a blatant attempt to smear Obama as un-American.

    In his second comments (above), it isn't clear who he's blaming for "socialism." The Pilgrims with their communal society and food-sharing? Then why don't we cancel this socialist holiday and replace it with something else?

    Actually, the Indians did help the colonists learn capitalism. Their barter system of trade was a pure expression of free markets, unencumbered by taxes or regulation. Why do you think the colonists dressed as Indians at the Boston Tea Party...because Indians represented socialism? No, they did it because Indians represented freedom from Britain's government meddling.

    Reparations for lung cancer? I don't think tobacco killed a lot of people until cigarette companies began adding chemicals to their products. But okay...after the US upholds all its broken treaties and pays Indians the full value of the land it took, then I'm sure Indians will be glad to pay reparations for lung cancer.

    Natives = scammers?

    The only thing that may be true in Limbaugh's rant is the part about Natives scamming the Dutch over Manhattan. I've heard that before. I believe it's just a speculative claim, not a historically proven fact.

    Even if it's true, Limbaugh's mention of it is misleading. He makes it sound as if Natives were scam artists in general. If he had said, "The US scammed Natives thousands of times, but the Natives got even once," then his remarks would be fair. But he didn't say that because he's prejudiced against Indians.

    Finally, it's a lie of omission to slam Obama for the same kind of proclamation made by presidents such as Reagan. Like other conservative liars, Limbaugh doesn't care about the truth. He cares only about scoring points against the black man in the White House.

    For more on Limbaugh's prejudice against minorities, see Limbaugh:  Indians = "Redskins," "Clowns" and Limbaugh Blames Flood Victims.

    No turkey at first Thanksgiving?

    The first Thanksgiving

    In the fall of 1621, 90 Wampanoag Indians and 52 English colonists gathered for a three-day harvest feast. How did Americans get from that celebration to the Thanksgiving 'traditions' we observe today?

    By Elizabeth ArmstrongThere are many myths surrounding Thanksgiving. Here are nine things we do know are true about the holiday.

    1. The first Thanksgiving was a harvest celebration in 1621 that lasted for three days.

    2. The feast most likely occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11.

    3. Approximately 90 Wampanoag Indians and 52 colonists--the latter mostly women and children--participated.

    4. The Wampanoag, led by Chief Massasoit, contributed at least five deer to the feast.

    5. Cranberry sauce, potatoes--white or sweet--and pies were not on the menu.

    6. The Pilgrims and Wampanoag communicated through Squanto, a member of the Patuxet tribe, who knew English because he had associated with earlier explorers.

    7. Besides meals, the event included recreation and entertainment.

    8. There are only two surviving descriptions of the first Thanksgiving. One is in a letter by colonist Edward Winslow. He mentions some of the food and activities. The second description was in a book written by William Bradford 20 years afterward. His account was lost for almost 100 years.

    9. Abraham Lincoln named Thanksgiving an annual holiday in 1863.
    The Original Thanksgiving Day

    The Surprising First Thanksgiving Menu--No Turkey, No Pumpkin Pie?

    By Karla Reed
    Foods Included in the Original Thanksgiving Feast

    In addition to the wild fowl, pumpkin and squash mentioned above, the following foods were certainly abundant and most likely were included in the “harvest” celebration:

  • Fish
  • Lobsters
  • Eel
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Corn
  • Parsnips
  • Collards
  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Dried Beans
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Nuts

  • 1621 Thanksgiving Meal Details

  • The celebration lasted for three days, not one, and consisted of intermittent feasting and entertainment (games and shooting of muskets).
  • It was most likely held in October, not November.
  • There is no evidence that the Indians (Wampanoag) were explicitly invited.
  • It was not called “Thanksgiving.” It was a “harvest festival.”
  • It did not become an annual event.
  • Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians Made Turkey Dinners Possible and Squanto the Con Man?

    How Thanksgiving went national

    The Christian Science Monitor notes how the modern Thanksgiving holiday came about:

    The first Thanksgiving

    In the fall of 1621, 90 Wampanoag Indians and 52 English colonists gathered for a three-day harvest feast. How did Americans get from that celebration to the Thanksgiving 'traditions' we observe today?

    By Elizabeth ArmstrongUntil the early 1800s, Thanksgiving was considered to be a regional holiday celebrated solemnly through fasting and quiet reflection.

    But the 19th century had its own Martha Stewart, and it didn't take her long to turn New England fasting into national feasting. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular Godey's Lady's Book, stumbled upon Winslow's passage and refused to let the historic day fade from the minds--or tables--of Americans. This established trendsetter filled her magazine with recipes and editorials about Thanksgiving.

    It was also about this time--in 1854, to be exact--that Bradford's history book of Plymouth Plantation resurfaced. The book increased interest in the Pilgrims, and Mrs. Hale and others latched onto the fact he mentioned that the colonists had killed wild turkeys during the autumn.

    In her magazine Hale wrote appealing articles about roasted turkeys, savory stuffing, and pumpkin pies--all the foods that today's holiday meals are likely to contain.

    In the process, she created holiday "traditions" that share few similarities with the original feast in 1621.

    In 1858, Hale petitioned the president of the United States to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote: "Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand Thanksgiving holiday of our nation, when the noise and tumult of worldliness may be exchanged for the length of the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart."
    Comment:  It isn't just my impression that Thanksgiving is pro-American propaganda. Hale made this explicit. Instead of a quiet day of fasting and reflection, she wanted a big showy holiday where Americans could celebrate their virtues.

    Not coincidentally, the Civil War and the Indian Wars were looming. We can almost imagine what Hale was thinking. "We white Christians have to stick together. We can't let the Negroes and Indians tear this country apart. Let's put aside our differences and unite as one nation under God."

    For more on the subject, see Why Thanksgiving Pageants Are Wrong and Peanuts' Thanksgiving Propaganda.

    41st National Day of Mourning

    Telling the other side of the story

    Native Americans gather in Plymouth to protest

    By Erin Ailworth
    At age 8, Patricia "Bright Star" McCallum helped bury Plymouth Rock.

    That was in 1970, during the first National Day of Mourning, an annual protest by Native Americans of the recounting of the Thanksgiving holiday. Each year since, they have gathered on Cole’s Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock, to recount their people’s history, and the arrival of the Pilgrims and other settlers—which they say resulted in the loss of their lands and harmed tribes.

    And yesterday, as she gathered with a few hundred others in the chilly air to commemorate the 41st National Day of Mourning, McCallum recalled that first protest, which her mother helped organize after state leaders prevented Wampanoag leader Wamsutta Frank James from giving what they considered an inflammatory speech on Thanksgiving.

    "I didn’t understand the power of it—not at the time," said McCallum, who is of Choctaw heritage. "I remember burying the rock and helping with that. And I remember feeling proud because I was with my people and it was our event."

    Around McCallum, protesters stood silently. Some watched Juan Gonzalez, who performed a prayer ritual beneath a statue of Wampanoag Indian leader Massasoit. Others listened as the day’s speakers urged everyone to remember their shared history and use its lessons to fight racism and oppression; help one another get better access to education and health care; and to keep watch over the environment.

    "Every inch of this land is Indian land," Moonanum James, son of Frank James and co-leader of the United American Indians of New England, told the crowd. "We are here to unite people and to speak the truth. . . . We are like the dirt, like the sand, like the tides—we shall endure."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Jolie:  Thanksgiving = Murder and Thanksgiving Set the Tone.

    Below:  "Juan Gonzalez of Boston kindled a fire under the statue of Massasoit in a prayer ritual during the 41st National Day of Mourning in Plymouth yesterday." (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

    "Stands with Song" in Thanksgiving parade

    Philadelphia held a Thanksgiving parade today. Someone reported hearing ABC announce the presence of Chief David "Stands with Song" Hughes in the parade. Here's the story on him:

    Chief David Stands with SongDavid Hughes is Principal Chief of the Eagle Medicine Band of Cherokees (former Chief of The Cherokee Nation of New Jersey). He’s also performed with and traveled throughout the country with Native Nations Dance Theater. David Hughes is a first place champion Men’s Grass dancer. He’s also President and CEO of his own production company, Power Records Production Company, and founder of a non-profit organization Joshua Generation Free Inc. (a community based out-reach program promoting and distributing inspiring original works in the performing and fine arts throughout the Delaware Valley and surrounding areas). David has completed two CD's: "Creator" and "Urban Indian."Comment:  The Cherokee Nation of New Jersey? Are they vying with the Sopranos for control of Atlantic City's casinos?

    Needless to say, there aren't any Cherokee tribes in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. These must be two of the hundreds of "Cherokee" groups who claim to be Indians.

    Hughes may be a legitimate Indian, but as chief of a wannabe tribe, he's suspect at best. Most likely he's a wannabe too.

    And please spare us the phony "Stands with Song" name. That sounds exactly like what an Indian wannabe musician would call himself after watching Dances with Wolves.

    As someone noted, Hughes's presence counteracts the good done by the Oneida float in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. One audience got an accurate idea of who Indians are and another audience got an inaccurate idea.

    For more on the subject, see Fraudulent "Cherokee" Organizations and A Lenape-Cherokee Jew.

    November 24, 2010

    "Drink like an Indian" at Station 280

    Here's another in our series of almost daily racial offenses against Indians.

    This controversy bubbled through the Internet briefly before bursting into everyone's consciousness Wednesday morning.

    Here's the offender:

    Station 280 on ComoStation 280 on Como is the best place to catch your favorite team in action. Armed with a dozen fifty inch flat screen TVs, a full kitchen and a great bar staff, we offer great food and excellent service. Parked between both the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus and the St. Paul campus, we boast the Twin Cities' most accessible fun zone available. Make Station 280 your new local hang out!And here's the offense: a flier Station 280 created and distributed in person and online.



    Indians dislike Station 280

    Once people on Facebook realized what was going on, the reactions were swift and sure:Your thanksgiving poster is racist and offensive. I will NEVER go to your club and I will advise ALL of my friends who are obviously way more EDUCATED than your PR people are, to boycott you as well. Really Station 280? "Drink like an Indian, party like a Pilgrim..."? It is not funny and it only shows your ignorance...of history and blatant bigotry. I would choose NO stars for a rating but since Facebook tells me I must select a star in order to post this, one will have to suffice. I hope you choke on your fucking turkey.

    I agree...very racist...maybe their PR person could benefit from a visit from a bunch of "Indians"....

    Seriously! Who thought this racist poster was a good idea?! Racist and dumb, ughh!

    First, TAKE THIS DOWN....Second, find the balls you had to post it in the first place and use them to apologize for such a disgusting, racist advertisement. There is NOTHING "edgy" about this, NOTHING "funny" about this.

    Celebrating atrocities committed as reasons to "Party Like a Pilgrim" (I'm not descended from those people--who...by the way were not even called Pilgrims until the 1870s) is rejoicing in the scalping, raping, stealing and pillaging of people's property and humanity.
    After a couple of hours of intense protests (phone calls and e-mails), Station 280 issued this apology:Station 280 on Como would like to sincerely apologize to the Native American population for the Thanksgiving flyer. It was never our intention to alianate or offend anyone and we recognize that the message portrayed in the flyer was insensitive and did just that. Our goal will continue to be to provide an exciting and positive atmosphere for all people to enjoy.About half an hour later, the offending image disappeared from Station 280's Facebook page.

    Thousands learn a lesson

    The story made the news that night:

    St. Paul Bar Faces Backlash Over Thanksgiving Ad

    By John LauritsenJessica Nordin, a manager at Station 280, said the sports bar was trying to be edgy.

    “We sincerely didn’t think this many people would get offended,” said Nordin.

    She said the bar received more than 75 angry phone calls on Wednesday, so they pulled the ad.

    “We definitely apologize over and over and over to everyone that was offended. That was not our intention at all. I just want to make sure that’s very clear. That was not our intent,” said Nordin.

    The owner of the bar was the one who ultimately signed off on the advertisement before it went out.

    Nordin said he will be making a donation to a Native American alcohol abuse foundation.
    Comment:  I wonder what Nordin's acceptable number of offended people was. Five? Ten? Twenty? "We sincerely thought this flier would offend a few dozen people. But 75? No way!"

    Let's hope Station 280 has better luck offending people in the future. Coming up in its next "edgy" promotion:Dance like a black. Shout like an Italian. Haggle like a Jew. Sleep it off like a Mexican. Etc.I admit Station 280's apology was better than I expected. They didn't take the usual route of blaming the victim for being overly sensitive: "We're sorry if you were offended." But here's how I read the apology:Station 280 on Como would like to sincerely apologize to the Native American population, which we thought was dead and gone, for the Thanksgiving flyer. It was never our intention to alianate or offend anyone, especially savages who don't use computers, and we recognize that the message portrayed in the flyer was insensitive and did just that. Our goal will continue to be to provide an exciting and positive atmosphere for all people, especially hot chicks with big boobs, to enjoy.

    P.S. We plan to learn how to spell "alienate" real soon now.
    Another protest works

    Someone complained that the flier had been online 12 hours despite demands to take it down. Once the protest started in earnest, it came down quickly.

    I'd say even a 12-hour takedown is pretty good. In the olden days, an outfit like this would've blown off the protest. But now activists nationwide can cause real change in a matter of hours.

    To recap: The bar apologized. The story made the local news, informing the community of the stereotyping issue. You can bet the owners won't do anything like this again.

    Most important, we've helped educate people about the wrongness of Native stereotypes. Anyone who heard about the story has learned a lesson.

    Remember how critic Michael Cooke carped about how protests are ineffective and activists are wasting their time?

    Headdresses okay if they're "controversial"?
    Comic-Con protest vs. Dudesons protest
    Indians shouldn't act uppity?
    Devil's advocate defends Saginaw Grant
    Irish band is just harmless fun?
    Educational value of blogging
    Rob should fight poverty?!
    Stereotypes disappear "organically"?
    Headdresses = fedoras?
    Stereotypes okay in "cultural commons"?

    This is the perfect example of what I'm talking about. These stereotypes--the sexy Indian, drunk Indian, and primitive Indian--haven't disappeared in the last century. They continue to appear almost every day. They'll disappear only when people stand up and protest them. As they did successfully in this case.

    In other words, you lose, Cooke. Next time you think you understand social activism better than I do, think again. You're an ignorant child compared to me in this area. You literally don't understand how protests work. It's not rocket science to most people, but it is to you, apparently.

    In short, power to the peeps via the Internets!

    For more Native protests, see Columbus Day 2010 Protests, Cameron Helps with Anti-Dam Films, and Indians Rally Against Bloomberg.