July 31, 2011

Aliens = metaphor for Indians?

“Cowboys & Aliens” & Obnoxious White GuiltWhen the Native Americans first saw European ships, these vessels may as well have been spaceships. And so goes the long-realized metaphors about aliens and the white man. One day the UFOs are going to come and enslave us all, just as we did to the Africans. It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to realize that. Or they’re going to herd us like sheep and cattle and slaughter us for food. Okay, that’s an analogy employing general carnivorous human beings*. But the process is still the same, of turning our guilt about conquering other races and other animals into science fiction fantasies where we get a taste of our own medicine. Only in a movie like “Cowboys & Aliens,” the idea isn’t that we’re getting payback for our past wrongdoings. It’s not even that we’re now walking in the others’ shoes. Instead we’re getting to play the victim, and the hero, and the survivor.

Mostly, though, it’s a kind of slap in the face to the Native Americans and anyone else conquered and exploited by the European invaders. Because by having white guys as the heroes, even with assistance from an Apache tribe, it’s as if to say, “this is how it’s done.” I guess rather than today’s usual white guilt, this is more an act of white innocence with a ton of white pride—like a declaration that we’re strong enough to avert invasion, and it’s not our fault that others weren’t. Notice that in the title “Cowboys & Aliens,” it’s the Indians who are substituted for new bad guys. Even if “Aliens & Cowboys” had a better ring to it, the phrasing would be incorrect. Cowboys remain first, best, top-billing.
Comment:  Interesting viewpoint. Yes, aliens clearly were substituted for Indians in the title, at least. Does that mean Cowboys and Aliens is a metaphor for cowboys vs. Indians?

Could be. I can't say much more about this question without seeing the movie. But I'll reiterate that it's lame that the cowboys and Indians weren't equal partners against the aliens.

It's also lame that the protagonists were overwhelmingly white. In the Southwest where the Apache lived (and still live), the local population probably was a quarter to a third Latino, at least. How about having several minority characters in significant roles? And making a point of the humans having to overcome their prejudices to work together?

Killing monsters at the box office

I gather the aliens were mindlessly evil CGI effects. Although destroying monsters can be fun, the best villains--Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, the Joker--are more complex. They hold your interest more than creepy crawlers do.

Are overly simplistic heroes and villains what the audience wants? Apparently not. Proving Cowboys and Aliens was lacking something, it didn't crush the opposition at the box office:

Box Office:  Spielberg's Struggling 'Cowboys' Stumble on Surging 'Smurfs'In one of the biggest surprise box-office finishes of the summer, Sony's Belgium-based blue-troll movie "The Smurfs" over-performed and tied Universal's genre mix-up "Cowboys and Aliens" this weekend, with both films registering about $36.2 million in ticket sales, according to preliminary estimates.

Touting a high-profile roster of producers including Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, and directed by Jon Favreau, "Cowboys and Aliens" had been projected to take in somewhere between $40 million to $45 million.
Comment:  Obviously, Cowboys and Aliens shoud've pitted humans against Smurfs. Blue aliens (Avatar) have a proven track record of success. It could've been fun if the Na'vi went back through time and space to conquer the humans before the humans conquered them.

For more on Cowboys and Aliens, see Adam Beach on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Indians MIA in Cowboys and Aliens.

Queequeg the Indian?

Encore’s lavish new ‘Moby Dick’:  There whale be blood

By Hank StueverEncore, that glorious waster of weekend afternoons on cable’s desolate seas, has finally decided to show something besides an endless loop of “Dumb and Dumber.” For its first offering, it’s bringing out “Moby Dick,” a lavish, exciting, well-acted and admirably thorough movie adaptation of Herman Melville’s 1851 classic.And:Charlie Cox, a charming British actor, plays a serviceably doe-eyed Ishmael, the young narrator who longs to join a whaling vessel. Arriving in Nantucket (having rescued the young slave Pip from a brutal master), Ishmael winds up on Ahab’s doomed Pequod with his other new friend, Queequeg the Indian, played with revitalized depth by Raoul Trujillo.Comment:  One slight problem with this: Queequeg wasn't an Indian. As Wikipedia notes:Queequeg is a native of a fictional island in the South Pacific Ocean named Kokovoko or Rokovoko. The island is the home to his primitive tribe, who practice cannibalism, in particular devouring the flesh of enemies slain in battle.I don't know if the TV show or writer Stuever made the error. I'm guessing it was Stuever. He saw a savage cannibal and assumed it was an Indian.

On the other hand, the character Tashtego is really an Indian. He's played by Billy Merasty, a Canadian Native, in this movie. Nice of Encore to use two Native actors rather than none.

For more on the subject, see Raoul Trujillo as Queequeg.

Tourism demands Devil's Bargains

Blogger Stephen Bridenstine mentioned this book to me. I haven't read it, but the Publishers Weekly review is interesting.

Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American WestTourism has been vital to the economic health of the American West for most of this century. In a penetrating look at the social, economic and psychological dynamics shaping the region's modern identity, Rothman, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas history professor, ably and exhaustively demonstrates that the tourism industry has also exacted high costs from many of the communities that have become the West's most popular travel destinations. The West derives much of its appeal as a tourist attraction, Rothman explains, from its place in the American cultural imagination as a kind of exotic elsewhere, a refuge from the postindustrial urban world. Such perceptions pressure Western communities to stay frozen in time, he maintains, and play up their quaintness. Consequently, tourist demands, not the needs of local residents, play the biggest role in determining the community's values and way of life. Moreover, even as it bolsters the local economy, the tourist industry mires many locals in low-paying, dead-end jobs. Thus, Rothman concludes, "Tourism is the most colonial of activities... because of its psychic and social impact on people and their places." As insightful and deftly argued as recent books on the region by Robert Kaplan and Timothy Egan, Rothman's study traces the history of Western tourism from the late 19th century to the present, exploring in comprehensive and eminently readable detail the ways in which the tourist industry has shaped communities as diverse as Santa Fe, Aspen and Las Vegas. Each has been transformed from a small, obscure town to a mythic destination, he argues, often leaving local residents trapped inside the myth that the tourists' imagination creates.Comment:  We don't know if the book discusses tourism's impact on Western reservations, but the last sentence applies to Indians as well as non-Indians. If any Americans are "trapped inside the myth" of their history, it's Indians.

For more on the effects of tourism, see Skywalk Has Quadrupled Visitors and Schlock-lahoma!

Indians on TV talk shows

In Adam Beach on Jimmy Kimmel Live, I wondered when a Native last appeared on late-night TV. Someone suggested the answer was never. I said I thought Jay Silverheels had been on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and I knew Charlie Hill had been on David Letterman several times. So the answer wasn't quite never. It just seemed that way.

Activist Suzan Harjo provided a list of talk-show appearances:Charlie Hill was on Carson. Robbie Robertson on Letterman. Sherman Alexie on Ferguson and Colbert. If you count daytime talk, Will Sampson was on Dinah Shore and Rick West and I were on Oprah, separately, and I was on two of her shows. Vine Deloria, Jr., Frank Fools Crow, Matthew King, Larry Red Shirt were on Cavett (so was LaDonna Harris, on a separate show).I remembered Robertson on Letterman and Alexie on Colbert, but it was good to hear about the others. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the number of times Natives should've appeared, but it's not nothing.

More on Oprah

Coincidentally, someone else asserted that Oprah Winfrey had never done a show on Native Americans. I said she visited the Navajo Nation (in 2006), where she got in trouble. For staging a non-Navajo powwow, I think.

And there was this: Quileute Chairwoman Visits Oprah. Add these to Harjo's examples and Oprah has done at least five shows on Natives.

Still, the Oprah Winfrey Show did 4,561 episodes in its 25-year history. Given their percentage of the population, Natives should've appeared in 50 or more episodes. Five or 10 suggest Natives were grossly underrepresented.

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

July 30, 2011

"Man’s most dangerous myth"

An excerpt from Steve Russell’s new book, Sequoyah Rising:The whole idea of “race” is, in Columbia professor Partha Chatterjee’s phrase describing nationalism, “a derivative discourse.” It is not only derived from European colonial discourse, but it has done and continues to do harm to Indian nations on a scale similar to that of smallpox and measles. Read Chatterjee’s words below (from her book, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World) and substitute “race” for “nationalism”:

Nationalism as an ideology is irrational, narrow, hateful and destructive. It is not an authentic product of any of the non-European civilizations which, in each particular case, it claims as its classical heritage. It is wholly a European export to the rest of the world. It is also one of Europe’s most pernicious exports.

Can “race” properly be considered, like nationalism, an ideology? According to the American Anthropological Association statement on race in 1998:

[Physical] variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. Today scholars in many fields argue that “race” as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor.… As they were constructing U.S. society, leaders among European-Americans fabricated the cultural/behavioral characteristics associated with each “race,” linking superior traits with Europeans and negative and inferior ones to blacks and Indians.… Ultimately, “race” as an ideology about human differences was subsequently spread to other areas of the world. It became a strategy for dividing, ranking, and controlling colonized people used by colonial powers everywhere.

Anthropologist Ashley Montagu’s famous formulation of race as “man’s most dangerous myth” dates from 1942, when Adolf Hitler was engaged in a spectacular attempt to govern a modern nation by that myth. Before World War II, Hitler expressed admiration for the U.S.’s handling of race in Mein Kampf.
Proving Hitler's regard for the US "final solution" is this quote:The settlement of the North American continent is just as little the consequence of any claim of right in any democratic or international sense; it was the consequence of a consciousness of right which was rooted solely in the conviction of the superiority and therefore of the right of the white race.Adolf Hitler, Speech to the Industrie-Klub of Düsseldorf, January 27, 1932Comment:  We hear echoes of Hitler constantly in online debates. "Western civilization was superior, the strong conquers the weak, it's inevitable, get over it." The people who say things like this are usually moderates or conservatives, not liberals. From now on, let's say these people agree with Hitler. "Might makes right" is the conservative/Nazi mantra.

Seriously, if you rewrote the Hitler quote in plain English, I wonder what percentage of conservatives would agree with it. A large majority, surely. It's part of their dogma that God made Americans exceptional, beyond the rules, free to do whatever they want. Including conquering and killing people.

For more on the subject, see Adolf Hitler:  A True American.

Below:  A typical "might makes right" conservative.

Red Shirt vs. Gover

An excerpt from Steve Russell’s new book, Sequoyah Rising:The Cherokee were not the only Indian peoples seduced by the ideology of color prejudice. Some kind of nadir was reached in 2002 by a Lakota—if not of racism, then of shortsightedness. Author and former adjunct professor at Connecticut College Delphine Red Shirt, writing in the Hartford Courant in 2002, opined that she was offended by Connecticut’s definition of “Indian”:

Why? Because I am an Indian. I grew up Indian, look Indian, even speak Indian. So it offends me to come east and to see how “Indian” is defined in this state that I now call home.

What offends me? That on the outside (where it counts in America’s racially conscious society), Indians in Connecticut do not appear Indian. In fact, the Indians in Connecticut look more like they come from European or African stock. When I see them, whether they are Pequot, Mohegan, Paugussett, Paucatuck or Schaghticoke, I want to say, “These are not Indians.” But I’ve kept quiet.

I can’t stay quiet any longer. These are not Indians.…

There are no remnants left of the Indigenous Peoples that had proudly lived in Connecticut. What is here is all legally created. The blood is gone.
And:Kevin Gover, the Pawnee former assistant secretary for Indian Affairs on whose watch during the Clinton Administration some of the objects of Red Shirt’s dudgeon were recognized, replied in the pages of Indian Country Today:

As I understand her position, Connecticut Indians are not Indians because they do not look like her, do not act like her, do not speak like her, do not—well, you get the picture. (They also do not have cool names like hers, but she forgot to mention that.) Expect to see Ms. Red Shirt trotted out every time some white people want to say something ugly about Indian people but dare not do so because they would be labeled as racists.

I think we brown-skinned, black-haired Indians had better be careful about what we say about New England Indians. There are fewer and fewer full-bloods among us. If being Indian means looking a certain way, then most tribes are only two or three generations from extermination.

The New England Indians did what they had to do to survive. They intermarried and accommodated the overwhelming presence of non-Indians. Yet they persevered and maintained themselves, some of them, as distinct social, political and cultural communities. Are they the same as the Indians who greeted the English and Dutch settlers in the 17th century? Of course not. But then few if any tribes closely resemble their pre-Columbian ancestors.
Comment:  I reported on Red Shirt's column when she wrote it in December 2002. I included the responses of Kevin Gover, Steve Russell, and others. As you can see for yourself, they're still right and she's still wrong.

For more on tribal identity, see Tribes Need Citizenship Tests and "Minimal Bloods" = Greedy White People?

Below:  Kevin Gover.

Defining tribes by peoplehood

An excerpt from Steve Russell’s new book, Sequoyah Rising. Russell offers an answer to the questions posed in The Trap of Blood Quantum.A sovereign nation determines who qualifies for citizenship. If Indian tribes are indeed sovereign nations, nobody outside of an Indian tribe has any right to determine citizenship in that tribe. UCLA law professor Carole Goldberg has stated the most important question for those exercising tribal power when she asks, “if Indian nations want citizenship requirements to serve a particular set of values and purposes within their community, what kinds of citizenship provisions will most effectively achieve those ends?”And:While I would hesitate to liken it to property, tribal governments have the task of erecting legal barriers to the dilution of distinct cultures. All culture is learned. No exceptions. Language, religion, customs—all are learned. Leaving aside that the idea of inherited behavior is nonsense, it is dangerous because it leads to the conflation of Indian blood with Indian citizenship. It makes a “racial” classification out of a political classification.And:University of Arizona professor Tom Holm and his colleagues offer an analysis of Indian studies as an academic discipline that might inform debate on Carole Goldberg’s question regarding the “values and purposes” to be served by tribal citizenship criteria. They postulate a “peoplehood matrix” consisting of “four fundamental elements” “a sacred history; a well defined territory and environment; a distinct language; and a characteristic ceremonial cycle.” Most surviving American Indian tribes share these elements to some degree, and we all had them at one time.Comment:  Russell says a tribal citizenship test would be hard to administer, but I'm not sure how a tribe would apply these four "elements" to a prospective member. Sounds like candidates would have to pass something similar to a cultural test. They'd have to know something of a tribe's history and language, and would have to live close enough to participate in some ceremonies.

In any case, I haven't seen a good alternative to this kind of cultural test or standard. Eventually a blood-quantum requirement will extinguish a tribe, while a lineal-descent requirement will dilute it to the point of meaningless. Sooner or later, tribes will have little choice but to adopt a cultural standard like the "peoplehood" one.

For more on tribal identity, see Tribes Need Citizenship Tests and "Minimal Bloods" = Greedy White People?

The trap of blood quantum

An excerpt from Steve Russell’s new book, Sequoyah Rising:Intermarriage started soon after the first contact with Europeans and continues apace to this day, with a majority of Indians choosing exogamous marriages. The collective result of these individual choices is an inevitable decline in blood quantum.

University of Colorado professor Deward Walker produced a demographic study for the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation that illustrates the trap of blood quantum. In connection with a referendum on changing citizenship requirements, the Tribal Council requested demographic projections based upon three scenarios: (1) changing enrollment to allow all lineal descendants of current citizens to enroll, (2) changing the blood quantum requirement to one fourth from any tribe for the descendants of current citizens, or (3) maintaining the current blood quantum requirement of one fourth Salish or Kootenai blood.

Using the current standard of one fourth Salish or Kootenai blood quantum, Walker found “the only possible projection is one of decrease.” Enrollment in the base year of 1999 was 6,953. The new enrollment and death rates converged in 2002 (65 new enrollments and 63 deaths) and the slide from zero population growth to population loss leads to a projected population of 6,400 in 2020.

Altering the blood quantum requirement to include all Indian blood in descendants of current citizens results in a short term spike up to 7,700 in 2010 followed by a steady decline thereafter.

The lineal descent from current citizens scenario naturally results in an exponential growth of the population eligible for enrollment. The number of eligible persons is projected at 21,524 in 2020 and the long-term trend continues upward. This raises a different set of questions. How many of those eligible would choose to enroll and why? Put another way, is there a reason rooted in tribal identity to choose between physical extinction and cultural extinction?
Comment:  For more on tribal identity, see Red Shirt vs. Gover and "Man's Most Dangerous Myth."

Adam Beach as Harrison Ford's son

Ford has Beach of a 'son' in summer blockbuster

By Randall KingFor a summer action movie, Cowboys & Aliens has a hefty amount of emotional back story, especially for Beach, whose Apache character was adopted as a youth by Ford's crusty Col. Dolarhyde.

Beach, 38, lost both his parents within an eight-week period when he was just eight-years-old, and he says he used that history to get into the headspace of Nate, who quietly reveres Dolarhyde.

"My father passed at a young age," Beach says. "I just adapted that by looking at (Ford) at all times, longing for that father.

"With our characters, I'm always looking for his approval but he's such an ass, I've got to take the brunt (of his temper). But who wouldn't want Harrison Ford as a father, you know what I mean?"
For more on Cowboys and Aliens, see Adam Beach on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Adam Beach at Cowboys and Aliens Premiere.

July 29, 2011

Crooked Arrows announces lacrosse team

Crooked Arrows Casts its Native American Team (Pictures and Video)The game of lacrosse was, of course, invented by the Six Nations tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy: the Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. Crooked Arrows will be the first film ever to showcase the game invented by these tribes, now widely played by male and female athletes of all backgrounds all over the U.S.

Today, we’re very happy to showcase and announce the talented Native American lacrosse athletes that will be featured in Crooked Arrows as our hero team.
The players that will make up the Crooked Arrows team are, as pictured (L-R). Back Row: Aaron Printup, Tuscarora; Shaye Thomas, Onondaga; Alex Cook, Mohawk; James Bissell, Tuscarora; Emmitt Printup, Tuscarora; Ty Thompson, Mohawk. Front Row: Tyler Hill, Mohawk; Derek Bennett, Onondaga; Orris Edwards, Onondaga; Miles Thompson, Onondaga; Lyle Thompson, Onondaga; Cree Cathers, Onondaga; Michael Hudson, Mohawk.

Crooked Arrows Co-Producer Ernie Stevens III of the Oneida tribe will be coordinating the movie’s Native American community marketing, publicity and philanthropy outreach programs. Here’s a video from Stevens himself who speaks about the Native Americas aspect of the film, featuring some lacrosse action from our very own Crooked Arrows team:

Plus a video of the players trying out:

Comment:  It's funny how they didn't have much trouble filling every role with a Native--except the lead role.

For more on the subject, see Birmingham to Play Routh's Father and Adam Beach as Superman?

Chief Wahoo in Germany

Chief Wahoo Decorates Building in Germany, But Why?

By Vince GrzegorekThe Wall Street Journal reports it's the work of Cyprien Gaillard, an artist who took a 12-meter neon Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo sign and placed it on top of a "derelict East German office building, ominously called the "House of Statistics."

And what is the viewer supposed to take away from the combination of Wahoo and Germany?

Supposedly this: "The project, which combines a symbol of the American Rust Belt with a souvenir of Communist town planning, is meant to reflect on the broader subject of urban decline. And it would only be possible in Berlin, says the artist. 'You would never find an abandoned building in the middle of Paris.'"
Comment:  The writer theorizes that Chief Wahoo symbolizes Cleveland and Cleveland symbolizes urban decline. Thus the use of an Indian symbol is just a coincidence.

That's one theory. Another theory is that the Indian symbol is quite intentional. An Indian supposedly symbolizes primitiveness or savagery--i.e., a lack of civilization. It's uncivilized to let a city decline into a mass of derelict buildings. So Chief Wahoo = urban decay.

Then there's the whole German love of Indians as seen in the hobbyist movement. How can you use an Indian symbol in Germany without taking that into account? Maybe Chief Wahoo is an ironic statement: Germans cherish their vision of a primitive pastoral past while ignoring the grim reality in front of their faces. Chief Wahoo is smirking at them as if he gets the point but they don't.

I think you have to stretch to say the artist wanted to make a statement about Cleveland and just happened to use Chief Wahoo. More likely it's the other way around: the artist wanted to make a statement about Indians and just happened to use a Cleveland symbol.

For more on Chief Wahoo, see Turbaned Indian Offensive, Chief Wahoo Okay and A Mascot for White People.

Super dunker Kenny Dobbs

The Inspiring Bounce-Back Story of Super Dunker, Kenny Dobbs

By Bryan AbramsKenny Dobbs can fly. When he jumps with a basketball either in his hand or in his sights (many of his dunks have him chasing a ball in midair), he appears to be floating. He has mastered this ability after years of intense training, dissecting the physics and physiology of dunking with the focus of an artist—or a madman. After years of physical, mental and spiritual training, Dobbs is arguably the greatest dunker in the world, perhaps one of the greatest ever. His vertical leap is 48 inches, as good or better than NBA dunk champions Michael Jordan, Spud Webb and Vince Carter in their primes. He has traveled the world showcasing his talents, from south Florida to South America, from Rome to Romania as a celebrity dunker for both the NBA and Sprite. He displayed his dunking abilities at this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend, and was asked to be a featured talent in the biggest-selling basketball video game on the planet, NBA 2K12. This past May, he beat two of the best dunkers in the world by wowing judges at the Ball Up’s Air Up There Slam Dunk Contest in Los Angeles. One of those judges was 1992 NBA dunk champion Cedric Ceballos. Another was a doctor by the name of Julius Erving.

Kenny Dobbs can also change lives. He has traveled across the country to speak to and on behalf of kids on reservations as an employee of the Division of Behavioral Health Services for the state of Arizona. For three years he served as the chairman on the Arizona State Youth Advisory Council for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention. He is currently serving as an ambassador’s for Nike’s N7 division and the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) Foundation. With NABI, Dobbs created the UpRise Youth Motivational Presentations to educate kids on Native lands. He knows that if you want to grab a kid’s attention, flying is a good way to do it.

Kenny Dobbs, member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Phoenix resident, proud son, brother, father and husband, is 27 years old. And he is lucky to be alive.
Comment:  For more on Native basketball stars, see Nike Signs Tahnee Robinson and "Superstar" Native Basketball Player.

Below:  "Dobbs was headed down a very bad road until he lifted himself up by dunking a basketball. Now he’s trying to raise up Native youths around the world."

Spirit Bear in National Geographic

Gitga’at and Spirit Bear Grace National Geographic’s August CoverIt’s a “white-knuckled fight” against the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, and the Gitga’at First Nation is determined to safeguard the mooksgm’ol, or Spirit Bear, and its rainforest habitat from the havoc wreaked by pipeline leaks and oil spills.

The August cover story of National Geographic profiles this white black bear, the Gitga’at and the struggle against Calgary-based Enbridge’s attempts to build a pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta to the Pacific coast, cutting right through the territory of dozens of First Nations. Such a pipeline would be Canada’s key to the international market beyond the U.S.—China is thirsting for fuel, for instance—but numerous First Nations coalitions have turned down financial incentives designed to get them to permit the transport of the extracted crude and gas across their lands.

Also at issue is the method of getting the oil ocean-bound: Under the plan, huge oil tankers, some as tall as an NYC skyscraper, would wend their way up winding, narrow waterways to Kitimat, which is coastal but not on the open sea, and load up on the viscous liquid.

A spill anywhere along the route, the Gitga’at and others point out, could have far-reaching repercussions on the environment and thus the people who depend on it.
Comment:  For more on oil spills, see Oil Spill = "Runaway Greed" and Oil Spill Shows American Values.

Below:  "The First Nation of Gitga’at, part of the Tsimshian people who inhabit the northwest coast of British Columbia, are stewards of the white black bear known as the Spirit Bear. They are all featured, along with Enbridge's proposed pipeline, on the August cover of National Geographic."

July 28, 2011

Understanding implicit bias

An article on the Supreme Court's Wal-Mart ruling explains how racism ("bias") works in our society.

There May be Bias, but Wal-Mart Can’t be Blamed, Says Supreme Court

By Rinku SenThe numbers don’t mean that all male managers at Wal-Mart are intentionally sexist. Their biases are implicit rather than overt, and most of these managers are probably unaware of having them. In 1995, researchers at Harvard and Stanford universities developed the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which measures reaction time to examine subconscious bias. The researchers assert that human beings place information about the world into personal “schemas,” or world views. Schemas allow for implicit stereotyping and perceptions about in-groups (the group you belong to) and out-groups (groups you aren’t a member of), which can translate into behaviors that are discriminatory, or that produce inequitable outcomes.

In the project’s online test, 75 percent to 80 percent of self-identified whites and Asians show an implicit racial preference for white relative to black. Everyday people, including the researchers who direct this project, are found to harbor negative associations in relation to various social groups (i.e., implicit biases) even while honestly reporting that they regard themselves as lacking these biases.

When implicit bias is combined with the human reliance on first impressions, the result can be devastating. As Malcolm Gladwell noted in the New Yorker, the impression from the handshake that precedes a job interview colors impressions of the interview itself. “The first impression becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: we hear what we expect to hear,” Gladwell writes.

These patterns apply to other forms of discrimination as well. The Restaurant Opportunities Center of N.Y. (ROC-N.Y.) has conducted multiple studies of employment patterns in the nation’s fastest growing private sector industry. Restaurants, especially in the high-end market, are marked by a rigid racial hierarchy, and generally shut out women altogether.

In ROC-N.Y.’s first study, interviews with employers revealed their rationale for raced and gendered decisions. They wanted “tall, beautiful” people in the front of the house jobs—these are the workers who make more money and actually speak to diners. For the more dangerous, low-wage jobs at the back of the house, they prefer “hard workers” who are immune to the poor wages and conditions. Simply counting the workers through observation makes it quite obvious that only white men, and the very occasional white woman, meet the beauty criteria in most such workplaces. Immigrants have accents too thick to explain the menu, employers say, while women can’t take the fast pace and informality (i.e. sexual harassment) of restaurant work.

In a later study, ROC-N.Y. ran a matched-pair test, sending applicants with the exact same qualifications but of different races and genders to inquire about jobs. Without fail, white men got interviews at double the rate of others. This hierarchy is so ubiquitous as to become invisible unless you pay attention. Again, the bias is unconscious, but the result is the same. That’s why the remedies have to be intentional. Discrimination doesn’t just check itself.
Comment:  It's obvious how this analysis applies to Natives. Millions of stereotypical words and images have cast them as uneducated, uncommunicative, stoic, physical rather than mental, angry, warlike, barbaric, primitive, close to nature, predatory, animal-like. In other words, savage.

You know, like a mobster. A killer. A werewolf. A terrorist. A Wendigo. A malevolent spirit or demon. A source of evil magic.

Now imagine what happens when a well-qualified Indian applies for a job. Even if you're well-intentioned and don't think you have any biases, who are you going to hire? Him?

Or him?

Which one fits your image of a head waiter? A junior executive? Or the lead in a romantic comedy?

Y0u can bet a matched-pair test of two people like this would produce the same results as the ROC-N.Y. study. The white guy would get twice the number of job interviews and offers as the Indian.

Implicit bias in Hollywood

I'm sure this is what happens when Hollywood execs decide to cast Johnny Depp, Taylor Lautner, or Brandon Routh over an Indian. On the one hand, they have someone who looks and feels "normal." On the other hand, they have someone who looks and feels "strange."

They make the safe, biased choice and then dream up justifications. "Johnny Depp is a box-office bonanza. Brandon Routh is a big-name star." Wrong in both cases, but enough to convince the equally biased investors and distributors. "Let's go with the white obvious choice and let someone else be a civil-rights pioneer. It's not racism if everyone is doing it. It's just common sense."

So we get "safe" choices like casting white actors in The Last Airbender. Although that didn't make the movie a success. Oops!

And "safe" choices like casting Indians as dark, scary creatures with a heart of gold. Because that's what Indians are good for. Snarling, hunting, and killing--i.e., savagery.

For more on the subject, see:

Americans refuse to acknowledge prejudice
Minorities suffer microaggression
Hollywood's cultural conservatism
Indians hold steady at 0.3%
Subconscious racism proved

Seneca and eagle carved from tree

Castile tree carving honors history of Senecas

By Matt SurtelJohn Thomas cited William Prior Letchworth as he looked over his new and giant piece of artwork Monday morning.

The statue depicts an eagle lifting a Seneca Indian into the spirit world. And it’s getting its share of onlookers at his Liberty Street home.
And:He notes the eagle is the highest totem. The Indian wears a Hiawatha belt and turtle necklace. It also carries a spear, with a stone tip donated by the Thomas’ friend Ken Wallace.

“It has one feather because that’s Seneca,” Thomas said. “Western New York being Seneca, I thought it would be in reference to what went before us.”
Comment:  Compare this statue to The American, which also shows an Indian with an eagle perched on his arm. This statue is better for a couple reasons.

One, the Seneca Indian seems to be dressed authentically. He isn't a stereotypical half-naked brave.

Two, the eagle is actually doing something per Seneca beliefs. It isn't just perching there because it looks cool. Or because Indians supposedly have a mystical connection with eagles, wolves, and the rest of nature.

For more on the subject, see Is The American Worth It? and Is The American Still Feasible?

Below:  "John and Cathy Lee Thomas commissioned a statue of a Seneca Indian and eagle at their Castile home. It’s about 18 feet tall and was hewn from an old spruce tree." (Mark Gutman/Daily News)

Tsimshian/Egyptian woman

The Muslim Experience in Minnesota--Nora Sadek

By Zafar SiddiquiNora Sadek is a medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus.

Transcript of Nora Sadek's Interview:

My mother is Native American. She is actually Alaska native from Tsimshian tribe. So, it's a royalty tribe in Southeast Alaska and so we're a rare breed. And she was born and raised over there and lived in Seattle, Washington most of her life. My father is Egyptian. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and he was raised there until he went to Britain for a while. And then came to the States back in the early eighties to study and how they got married is a whole different story.

So, growing up in a bi-cultural home is always interesting. And what is so beautiful is that a lot of Native faith and Native culture is very in tune with Islam as well. It’s very family oriented, it is very cyclical, it is very community yet individual, you know, the individual living in the community. And she would always share that. But my mom would always share with us Native stories, we used to go to Pow Wows and. Those are different because they are more the, what we call the lower 48 Native Americans versus the Alaska Natives. But still my mom wanted us to be exposed to also who we were.
Comment:  For more on Islam, see Norwegian Killer Hates Multiculturalism and Indians and Somalis Seek Peace.

Below:  "Nora Sadek--American of Native American and Egyptian Heritage, Student at Duluth Medical School."

Adam Beach on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Comment:  Beach was the best part of this show: a mostly unfunny salute to Cowboys and Aliens. His spontaneity and sense of humor demolished the stereotype of Indians as stoic and unfeeling. You gotta love the way he calls everyone "Dude"--even Olivia Wilde.

When was the last time an Indian appeared on a mainstream show on late-night TV? Other than the taped Wolf Pack segment on Leno, I can't remember any recent instances. Indians should constitute about 1% of the guests, but you can bet they don't.

For more on Cowboys and Aliens, see Indians MIA in Cowboys and Aliens and Adam Beach at Cowboys and Aliens Premiere.

July 27, 2011

Right-wing extremists aren't "lone wolves"

Muslim “Terrorists,” White “Lone Wolves,” and the Lessons of Oslo

By Michelle ChenAs the facts of Breivik’s ideology slowly broke through, mainstream news showed momentary compunction. But that emotion was quickly overtaken by a second and equally familiar theme in coverage of political violence: the often-deceptive “lone wolf” trope that threads through debates about domestic white supremacist movements.

On one hand, the lone-wolf theory is refreshing in that it recognizes individuals can commit acts of terror even without the direction of an established group. But it also affords mainstream Americans a mental safe zone that detaches “the crazies” from more acceptable right-wing and racist currents in the public discourse. The failure to grasp the continuum of extremism creates self-enforcing ignorance, as seen in Homeland Security’s attempts to downplay the threat of militant right-wing groups amid pressure from conservatives.

True, extreme ideologies can’t be solely to blame for extreme violence. But curiously, that principle just doesn’t seem to apply to Muslim community leaders, constantly pressured to formally denounce every act that carries any suspicion of Islamic radicalism. The “lone wolf” concept doesn’t buffer European and American Muslims against the collective guilt that so many right-wingers gleefully impose on their religious identity.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald dissected the media’s conflation of religion, politics and terror in the coverage of Norway on corporate outlets:
[This] is what we’ve seen repeatedly: that Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target. Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn’t Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn’t).The assumption is that Western Christian liberalism is incompatible with fundamentalist violence. But Frank Schaeffer points out the flip-side of those vaunted Western values:
There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government in fact hatred of our country as fallen and evil because we allow women choice, gays to marry, have a social safety net, and allow immigration from other cultures and non-white races.So how many more “lone wolves” will it take to force people to recognize a collective threat?
Glenn Greenwald:  Why Do We Harass Muslims But Not White, Nordic Males?

The response to the Norway attacks shows that the world "terrorism" has no meaning--aside from when it's used to bash Muslims.

By Amy Goodman
GOODMAN:  Glenn, on Wednesday, House Homeland Security Committee chair Peter King, the New York Republican Congress member, will hold his third hearing on Muslim radicalization, focusing on radicalization within the Muslim-American community and the threat to the homeland.

GLENN GREENWALD:  Well, that’s one of the interesting things, is you would think that—you would think that in response to this attack, we would end up doing things like, for example, profiling Nordic males or tall, blond Americans, tall, blond, Nordic-looking people at airports, or would start to, for example, engage in surveillance on the communications of people who belong to right-wing groups in Europe, or you look at the people who inspire these attacks, people like Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller, people who engage in this sort of strident anti-Muslim commentary who inspired this individual. You know, we look at Islamic radicals who we allege inspire violence, such as Anwar al-Awlaki, and we target them for assassination—due-process-free killing—even though they’re American citizens. Of course, none of these measures are going to be invoked against right-wing ideologues who are anti-Muslim in nature. And you would expect that Peter King’s hearings, if he were really interested in the threat of violence or terrorism, would be expanded to include what we now know is a very real threat, and yet it isn’t, which simply underscores that those hearings, like so many of these measures done in the name of terrorism, is really just a vehicle for demonizing Muslims, restricting their rights, subjecting them to increased scrutiny. It’s about Islamophobia and not about terrorism.

GOODMAN:  Finally, the lack of coverage over the weekend in the United States was stunning, from Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, this story where so many young people were killed, massive terror attack, hugest terror attack in Norway in its history. Yet in this country, when you go to the networks, cable networks, known for covering a story for many hours at a time, this one almost fell from all the networks except the occasional headline.

GLENN GREENWALD:  Well, that was completely predictable. I mean, on Friday, when the attack actually took place, there was quite substantial and intense interest in what had taken place. Everybody was talking about it. There were complaints that—on Friday, that CNN wasn’t running continuous coverage. But in general, there was a lot of media interest, because at the time people thought, based on what the New York Timesand other media outlets had said, based on nothing, that this was the work of an Islamic—a radical Islamic group. And at the time, I wrote, when I wrote about the unfolding story, that if it turns out to be something other than an Islamic group that was responsible, especially if it turns out to be a right-wing nationalist who’s anti-Muslim in his views, that interest in this story was going to evaporate to virtual non-existence.

And what’s really amazing is, you know, every time there’s an act of violence undertaken by someone who’s Muslim, the commentary across the spectrum links his Muslim religion or political beliefs to the violence and tries to draw meaning from it, broader meaning. And yet, the minute that it turned out that the perpetrator wasn’t Muslim, but instead was this right-wing figure, the exact opposite view arose, which is, "Oh, his views and associations aren’t relevant. It’s not fair to attribute or to blame people who share his views or who inspired him with these acts." And it got depicted as being this sort of individual crazy person with no broader political meaning, and media interest disappeared. It’s exactly the opposite of how it’s treated when violence is undertaken by someone who’s Muslim.
Comment:  For more on Breivik the Norwegian killer, see:

What Christian jihadists want
Norwegian killer hates women
Norwegian killer hates multiculturalism

For more on terrorism in general, see:

Indigenous resistance = "terrorism"?
Indians, terrorists = US enemies
How people get labeled "terrorists"

Below:  Some of our own Konservative Kristian Killers.

Jasper totem pole should go

When I posted about the Haida totem pole being raised in the Shuswap Nation's territory, I neglected a couple of issues. The situation is more complex than I thought.

New totem raised in Jasper, in place of nearly century-old landmark

Artists put the finishing touches on the Two Brothers Totem Pole, days before it was erected Saturday, July 16.

By Julia Parrish
The town of Jasper has been without one of its most well-known landmarks after it was found to be unstable. Now a new totem pole stands in its place.

The Jasper Raven Totem Pole was acquired by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway when it opened a rail line across the mountains to Prince Rupert, British Columbia in 1914.

It was one of a set attained to be erected at the Prince Rupert and Jasper railway stations.

The Raven totem pole was built by a master carver in the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1870s or 1880s.

Parks Canada tried to save the original totem pole, but it was not salvageable.
First, there's the fact that the pole is almost a century old. Even if it's from the "wrong" tribe, it commemorates a historic event. No doubt it's become part of Jasper's culture and life. It's probably a tourist attraction, found on postcards and t-shirts, and so forth.

This case reminds me of the Massasoit statue in Utah. As you may recall, Utah-born sculptor Cyrus Dallin created a statue of Massachusetts sachem Massasoit. Utah put it in front of its state capitol to "honor" Indians and Dallin.

I'd say the same thing in this case that I did in that case. You shouldn't eliminate the art because it's in the "wrong" place. But you can do a couple of things.

One, label it properly so there's no chance of a misunderstanding. It's a Haida pole, from hundreds of miles away, with no connection to local tribes. It's in Jasper, Alberta, for a particular reason. Make sure Jasper's residents know about it. Post the info in city hall and the visitor center, teach it in schools, spread the word online, etc.

Two, move it to a less prominent position. Jasper National Park is too official a location for a cultural error. It makes the pole's existence seem like a government endorsement.

Put it in some unofficial location like a local plaza, park, or schoolyard. Then you have the best of both worlds. Jasper still has its totem pole, but it's not the town's centerpiece. The move serves to deemphasize it.

In its place, put some art or exhibits from the local Shuswap Nation. They should be at the center of Jasper's Native culture, not the distant Haida. As with the Massasoit statue, it's no honor to spotlight Indians if they're the wrong ones. The British wouldn't accept a statue of Napoleon in front of Buckingham Palace, so why should the Shuswap accept this Haida pole?

Pole confirms government's position?

The next article confirms that the Simpcw First Nation, a member of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, considers the pole a form of government endorsement:

Haida totem pole raises territorial questions for Shuswap band

A totem pole carved by two Haida brothers is erected in Jasper National Park on July 16. The pole has caused concern for the Simpcw First Nation near Barriere because Jasper, Alta., is part of their traditional territory, not that of the Haida.Simpcw First Nation wants the federal government to confirm its territorial status in Jasper National Park.

Chief Nathan Matthew said Sunday the band did not attend the July 16 Parks Day in Jasper that included the erection of a new Haida-carved totem pole to replace a 94-year-old one that had become unsafe.

The area is considered part of the traditional territory of the Simpcw First Nation, but it's hundreds of kilometres from Haida lands.

Matthew said the band has evidence of occupation in Jasper before it was made into a park. If the federal government has proof that has changed, he wants to see it.

"They're denying we have any rights in the park. They're saying the rights were extinguished or surrendered. If they were extinguished, they have to tell us how they did that. If we've surrendered, there should be some documentation. There's nothing on our side of the fence," he said.

Installing a Haida pole in Simpcw traditional territory is seen as non-recognition of the local First Nations' rights, he said. Matthew has written to the federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to get an explanation, as well as making calls to the Haida, who haven't responded.
Yes, it sounds like the pole really should go somewhere else. For political as well as cultural reasons.

The government denies that the pole has anything to do with the Shuswap claim. I think we know what a government's word is worth when it comes to Indians. Not much.

And we know how this kind of situation usually plays out. In 10 or 20 or 50 years, a different government says: "Hey, you didn't protest the pole when you had a chance. Now it's too late. The pole's continued presence proves you didn't care about this land. Therefore, you've forfeited your claims."

For all these reasons and the original one--that it's stereotypical--the pole should go. Move it and replace it with something that belongs there.

For more on totem poles, see Spokane Tribe Replaces "Totem" Art and Goofy Moments in GREEN LANTERN #79.

Below:  "Artists put the finishing touches on the Two Brothers Totem Pole, days before it was erected Saturday, July 16."

Navajo and Buddhist discuss compassion

Compassion confab draws Buddhists, Diné

By Cindy YurthNo one could argue that "Compassion for a World in Crisis"-- the title of this year's Ideas Festival in this wealthy mountain enclave--isn't something much needed.

But what is compassion, exactly? Does its definition vary among cultures and languages? And is there, in fact, such a thing as too much compassion?

These are some of the questions that surfaced last weekend as neuroscientists, anthropologists, Buddhist monks and a Navajo medicine man gathered to discuss this most rarified of human virtues.

While Peter Gold, a New Mexico anthropologist who has studied both Eastern and Native American religions, drew several parallels between Buddhist and Navajo tradition, the two spiritualities seemed to diverge on the subject of compassion.

Buddhist monk Jangchub Chophel (formerly a high school history teacher known as John Bruna) described Buddhist teachings on the subject as "very practical," with a precise definition of compassion ("the sincere desire to remove the suffering of others") - and a six-step program to achieve it.

In Diné tradition, the emotion seems much more vague. In fact, traditional practitioner Johnson Dennison of Chinle said he consulted other Navajo medicine people prior to the conference and they had a hard time coming up with a Navajo word equivalent to the English "compassion."
Dennison explains why too much compassion may be counterproductive:"We believe in a balance between negative and positive energy," he explained--and there is such a thing as too much positive.

For instance, he said, the state of being in love is "an extreme of positive energy," and previous generations of Diné were very wary of the romantic love so idealized in Western literature.

"Couples that start out with this overly positive energy, they go on to an extreme negative side when they get divorced," he said.

In a similar vein, the traditional Diné is wary of people who are too eager to help him.

"People see compassion as help," he said, but too much help makes people dependent.

"We (Navajo) were a proud, strong nation at one time," Dennison said, "until the government started taking care of us."
Comment:  For more on Indians and Buddhism, see Yoga and Native Teachings Combined and Indians and Buddhists Make Peace.

Below:  "Navajo traditional practitioner Johnson Dennison, far right, explains the Navajo concept of compassion at a panel discussion July 8 at a conference in Telluride, Colo., titled 'Compassion for a World in Crisis.'" (Cindy Yurth)

Cagle's Tea Party cartoon

Comment:  I agree with this cartoon's message, but the image is borderline stereotypical. The original Tea Party protesters were angry at the British--but with reason. They threw the tea overboard as a calculated stratagem, to send a message, not in a fit of madness.

Today's Tea Partiers are this irrational--witness their lies and hypocrisies on a host of issues. But the cartoon equates their irrationality with the alleged "wildness" of Indians. Again, the original protesters weren't this "savage," but Indians supposedly are. The cartoon plays on that stereotype.

I'm not sure how Cagle could've done the cartoon without using the stereotype. And I think it conveys a useful message. I guess I have mixed feelings about it.

For more on political cartoons, see 19th-Century Cartoons About Indians and Indians Shoot Arrows in New Yorker Cartoon.

July 26, 2011

What Christian jihadists want

What the crimes of Norway's conservative Christian killer tell us:

The Greater Threat:  Christian Extremism From Timothy McVeigh to Anders Breivik

By Pierre TristamMcVeigh and Breivik are bloody reminders that Western culture’s original sin—the presumption of supremacy—is alive and well and clenching many a trigger. It’ll be easy in coming days, as it was in 1995, to categorize the demons as exceptions unrepresentative of their societies. Easy, but false. Norway, like much of Europe, like the United States, is in the grips of a disturbing resurgence of right-wing fanaticism. “The success of populist parties appealing to a sense of lost national identity,” The Times reports, “has brought criticism of minorities, immigrants and in particular Muslims out of the beer halls and Internet chat rooms and into mainstream politics. While the parties themselves generally do not condone violence, some experts say a climate of hatred in the political discourse has encouraged violent individuals.”

It’s convenient duplicity. The parties don’t explicitly condone violence. But they would have no appeal without explicitly endorsing beliefs of supremacy and projecting the sort of scorn and hatred for those who fall outside the tribe that cannot but lead to violence or the sort of fractured society we’ve become so familiar with. Those “Take Back America” bumper stickers share most of their DNA with the same strain of rejectionist white Europeans who think their culture is being bankrupted by Socialism and immigrants. Those idiotic anti-Sharia laws creeping up in Oklahoma, Arizona and Florida take their cues from the likes of Geert Wilder, the Dutch People’s Party leader who compares the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Florida’s own Koran-burning Terry Jones or the Rev. Franklin Graham’s velvety crusade against Islam are Wilder’s American clones.

Timothy McVeigh’s rhetoric may have been more extreme, but it was indistinguishable from the more college-polished and aged rhetoric of anti-government reactionaries now pretending to speak for American ideals under the banner of patriots, tea parties, Fox News’s hacking of the “fair and balanced” parody, or more establishment oriented zealots in Congress. The common denominator is exclusion and heresy: those who supposedly belong to “true” American values, and those who don’t. Al-Qaeda’s loyalty oath is identical: those who belong to “true” Islamic values and those who don’t. Either way, the inclusive, tolerant, broad-minded, and yes, multicultural outlook is under siege by fundamentalism in virtually every part of society as we know it: cultural, political, economic, religious. Timothy McVeigh and Anders Breivik used bombs and rifles. More seasoned zealots use rhetoric and policies. The ongoing march of folly over the national debt is merely one example among many.
Christian Jihad?  Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway's in the US

There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government--in fact, hatred of our country.

By Frank SchaefferCall this the ultimate "Tea Party" type "answer" to secularism, modernity, and above all our hated government. Call this the Christian Brotherhood. From far right congress people, to far right gun-toting terror in Norway and here at home, our own Western version of the Taliban is on the rise.

Foreigners, visitors from another planet and Americans living in a bubble of reasonable or educated people might not know this but the reality is that the debt ceiling confrontation is by, for and the result of America's evangelical Christian control of the Republican Party.

It is the ultimate expression of an alternate reality, one that has the mistrust of the US government as its bedrock "faith," second only to faith in Jesus.

To understand why an irrational self-defeating action like destroying the credit of the USA might seem like the right thing to do you have to understand two things: that the Republican Party is now the party of religious fanatics and that these fanatics--people like Michele Bachmann--don't want to work within our system, they want to bring it down along the lines of so-called Christian "Reconstruction." (See my book for a full account of what this is.)

In the scorched-earth era of the "health care reform debates" of 2009 and beyond, Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren't the evil government. The right even decided that it was "normal" for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies--even for military operations ("contractors"), prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.
Schaeffer's conclusion:In a country awash in weapons and wallowing in the rhetoric of rebellion against an "evil" government, sporadic outbursts of murder tinged with political overtones seem as inevitable as they seem horribly "normal."

It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to foresee a day when a "secessionist" group and/or members of some "militia"--let alone one lone individual--will use their U.S. passports, white skins, and solid- citizen standing as a cover for importing a weapon of mass destruction to "liberate" the rest of us from our federal government's "tyranny" and/or to "punish" some city like New York, known as the U.S. "abortion capital" or San Francisco as the place that "those gays have taken over." And the possibility of an assassination in the same vein is a never-ending threat.

What we fear most from Islamist terrorists will be unleashed here as it was in Norway.

Terror is on the way on the way from our very own Christian and/or Libertarian "Tea Party" type activists inspired by right wing "Christian" intellectuals and political leaders like Bachmann who--after the killing starts--will then disown them and express horror at their actions, actions that are in fact the logical extension of the anti-government rhetoric spewing from Congress and the religious right.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see:

Norwegian killer hates women
White supremacists outnumber Muslim extremists
Christians reject Christ's message
Pro-tribal legislation spurs conservative threats
Conservative hatemongers deny responsibility
Political vitriol in the Giffords shooting
Loughner echoes right-wing extremists

Below:  "Christian jihadists: Timothy McVeigh and Anders Behring Breivik."

RPM.fm promotes Native music

RPM’s 10 Must Hear Tracks by Native Musicians

By Wilhelm MurgThe internet has become a place where everyone is on a level playing field when it comes to promoting music. The Vancouver film and video company Make Believe Media is taking advantage of this fact with the launching of RPM.fm, which is devoted to promoting Native music with MP3s, videos, streaming programming, and podcasts of Indigenous artists. The site was inspired by a documentary on Native blues artist Derek Miller, ‘Music is the Medicine,’ which the company produced for broadcast this fall on Canada’s APTN.

Jarrett Martineau, who is Dene and Cree, is the Creative Producer of the project. He comes from a background of working in digital media and is a hip hop artist himself. In the documentary Miller talks about the glass ceiling that Native artists seem to hit, and about the responsibility indigenous musicians have to their home communities and the Native communities they perform for while trying to reach a wider audience. This inspired Martineau and his team to start RPM.

“We all agreed that this is an experience that is common to a lot of indigenous artists,” Martineau said. “And we realized was there really wasn’t a contemporary pop forum to promote Indigenous musicians, particularly musicians who are breaking down genre barriers and who are seeking to expand their audience beyond these categorical definitions of what Native Music is, which is being relegated to the kind of categories you see in award shows, where Native music is treated as a solid music rather than looking at the diversity of music from Indian Country. As we started to build the site we did outreach to some of the artists, told them what we were doing, and the response has been amazing. The artists get to be associated with Native music hype that they don’t have to be embarrassed by.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Rockwired Radio Seeks Native Artists and Online Radio for Native Hip Hop.

Below:  A Tribe Called Red.

Head shop's name offends Natives

Head shop name offends some First NationsA head shop in Winnipeg's West End is offending some people with its aboriginal name, Miigwetch.

In the Anishnaabe language, Miigwetch is the word for thank you.

The shop sells drug paraphernalia, such as glass pipes, and some aboriginal people are far from thankful to be associated with those items.

"Our language is sacred to us. I don't want our language to be a part of any drug culture," said Robert Sinclair, who was with his 11-year-old daughter when she spotted the shop's sign on Notre Dame Avenue.

Sinclair is an addictions worker and says many First Nations people need to reconnect with their aboriginal culture in a positive way.

He says this is a step backward that reinforces negative stereotypes "that we're all drug addicts and drunks."

"We've been trying to eliminate that for years and this doesn't help," Sinclair said.
Comment:  For more on Native language, see Peruvian Actress Sings in Quechua and Amondawa Has No Word for "Time"?

Below:  "The Miigwetch head shop sells drug paraphernalia and some aboriginal people are far from thankful to be associated with those items." (CBC)

Braves haven't helped Choctaws

Mississippi Choctaw Sponsorship of Atlanta Braves Not Paying OffThe Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has spent millions to sponsor the Atlanta Braves since 2008, reported The Clarion-Ledger. And the payoff has proven minimal: less than 4 percent of customers are making the trip from Atlanta, Georgia to play their luck at the tribal casinos in northern Mississippi.

“That surprises me,” Beverly Martin, commissioner with the Harrison County Tourism Commission, told The Clarion-Ledger.
And:The Choctaw tribe inked the deal with the Braves in 2008, and at the time Denson said revenue from the casino had leveled off and he hoped advertising with the Braves would spike its attendance—an idea from the Titan Agency.

The Choctaws spent “eight figures” to sponsor Turner Field, said a business newspaper in Atlanta, according to the Ledger. Thus, “The Lexus Level” was renamed “The Golden Moon Casino Level.”
Comment:  Many Braves fans are conservative Christians who think it's okay to stereotype Indians as tomahawk-wielding savages. That they might not be fans of Indian casinos doesn't surprise me.

For more on the subject, see Potawatomi Casino vs. Atlanta Braves and Former Noc-A-Homa = (Oxy)Moron.

July 25, 2011

Norwegian killer hates women

Norway Killer’s Hatred of Women

Anders Breivik used anger against women to cast himself as a crusader, believing feminism is destroying the West from the inside and creating space for Islamism, says Michelle Goldberg.Conservatives worried about the Islamization of Europe often blame feminism for weakening Western societies and opening them up to a Muslim demographic invasion. Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It predicted the demise of “European races too self-absorbed to breed,” leading to the transformation of Europe into Eurabia. “In their bizarre prioritization of ‘a woman’s right to choose,’” he argued, “feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn’t accord women the right to choose anything.”

This neat rhetorical trick—an attack on feminism coupled with purported concern about Muslim fundamentalist misogyny—is repeated again and again in Islamophobic literature. Now it’s reached its apogee in mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.” Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.
And:[T]he right clings to the idea that feminism is destroying Western societies from the inside, creating space for Islamism to take cover. This politics of emasculation gave shape to Breivik’s rage. Thus, while he pretends to abhor Muslim subjugation of women, he writes that the “fate of European civilisation depends on European men steadfastly resisting Politically Correct feminism.” When cultural conservatives seize control of Europe, he promises, “we will re-establish the patriarchal structures.” Eventually, women “conditioned” to this new order “will know her place in society.” His mad act was in the service of male superiority as well as Christian nationalism. Those two things, of course, almost always go together.Comment:  I've written about this before. For instance, in:

Women and Indians as peacemakers
Conservative worldview = fear of cooties

Psychologically, what conservatives fear is to be soft and feminine. The whole point of conservatism is that the strong (white male Christians) should dominate the weak. Their "philosophy" amounts to social Darwinism...survival of the fittest...might makes right.

Blacks, Latinos, Indians, Muslims, and other minorities challenge this attitude in several ways. Chief among them are:

1) Minorities are, or seem to be, part of a poor underclass. They seem to values people, community, and church--i.e., humanistic things--over such Western abstractions as wealth, status, and power. Their continued existence is a threat to the established way of doing things. If wealth and power aren't the true measures of success, then what's the point of 2,000 years of Christian conquest and rule? Why not give up the trappings of power and go live simply and happily like an Indian "savage"?

2) White male Christians have victimized "others" throughout history: crusades, inquisitions, imperialism, slavery, genocide. The continued existence of minorities is a reminder that these Christians have utterly failed to live up to Jesus's ideals. That they're nothing but a pack of liars, cheaters, and hypocrites--worse than the minorities they've persecuted and killed. Rather than address this failure, conservatives want to eliminate the evidence of their crimes against humanity. So minorities must disappear or die.

Conservatives afraid of women

Women and gays challenge this attitude even more directly. If these people can do everything a strong, virile, self-reliant man can do, then what's the point of being a man? Rather than address this question, conservatives go into attack mode. "You're questioning our masculine superiority? Unacceptable! We'll either starve you of government services until you die (Republican Tea Party) or kill you ourselves (McVeigh, Breivik)."

In short, all the right-wing attacks--on government services, "death panels," Barack Obama's birth certificate, Michelle Obama's health programs, the New York City "mosque," immigration, gay marriage, Indian gaming, etc.--are part of the same overwhelming fear. Namely, that white male Christians will lose their positions of power and privilege in the world. That they'll be equal to everyone else, not better.

Alas, these conservative attempts to paint white male Christians as good and everyone else as bad are a constant. The whiny babies love to paint themselves as victims even as they continue to dominate the planet. For more on the subject, see:

Conservatives use "language of savagery"
Stossel:  Indians are biggest moochers
Fischer:  Natives had no morals
Bachmann fibs about America's founding
Right fright over UN declaration

Below:  White fears in a nutshell.

Man descended from chief = chief?

How am I an Indian chief?  Man's search for birth father reveals astonishing truth

By Steve RobsonA man who put his DNA profile in an internet search engine was stunned to discover he is a chief of an American Indian tribe.

Chris McDonald-Constable, of Clayton-le-Moors, has been told that his great great grandfather was chief of the Chippewa tribe in Wisconsin in the USA.
"Chris found a match for his DNA with Stuart Ackley who was also researching his genealogy from his home in Palm Springs, California." Stuart turned out to be Chris's cousin. Then:Stuart gave Chris his Native American name ‘The Wind from the East’ in reference to their long-distance phone calls. He is set to visit Chris for the first time later this month.

There are only 641 descedants of the Chippewa tribe and Chris qualifies as a tribal elder because he is among the eldest of the surviving members.

Chief Willard Ackley was Chris’s first cousin twice removed. He was chief of the Sokaogon Band of Chippewa Indians from 1929 to 1969.
Comment:  Stuart Ackley presumably is a member of the Sokaogon Band of Chippewa Indians, although the article doesn't say this. But there are a few problems here:

1) Depending on who Stuart is, exactly, I'm not sure he has the authority to give Chris a "Native American name."

2) Similarly, I'm not sure Stuart has the authority to say who's a tribal elder. In most tribes, being a descendant wouldn't be enough to qualify.

3) The article says Chief Willard Ackley was Chris's a) great-great-grandfather or b) first cousin twice removed. Unless the article is referring to two different chiefs, that's a huge discrepancy.

4) The article calls Chris a "chief" twice. Uh, no. Being descended from a chief doesn't make one a chief. Especially in modern times. Chief Ackley probably didn't inherit the position; he probably was elected to it.

For more on genealogy, see Native Genealogy 101 and First American in Europe Was Native.

Below:  "Chris, with a tribal keepsake, and his wife Gillian."

Arts help Native communities

Fortifying a Nation through Art and Cheese

Native American tribes intent on nation-building are also increasingly intent on bringing traditional artists into the process. Governance and culture must work hand in hand.

By Mary Annette Pember
All tribes, notes Bashara, have great respect for the arts, but they often find it hard to go beyond the emergency state of demands that plague many reservations.

“They don’t think that the arts might be helpful to solving those problems,” says Bashara. “Fortunately, the Oneida Nation had the forethought to know that the arts would be helpful for the community.”

Examples of arts programming include: Arts in Residency, Summer Arts Camp for Kids, Artist Services including training camps for professional development, Apprentice/Internship Program, Public Arts that develop and display art reflective of the community, Oneida Youth Choir, Dollars for Arts Program, a regranter for the Wisconsin Arts Board, Community Arts Classes and more.

Sherry Salway Black of the Oglala Lakota tribe agrees that support for the arts is a critical component of tribal nation building. Black is the Director of the Partnership for Tribal Governance at NCAI, the National Congress of American Indians.

“Art reflects the collective spirit of a people, of a nation,” declares Black. “Supporting efforts that protect, preserve and enhance this collective spirit will strengthen tribal nations and nourish its soul.”
Comment:  This article talks about traditional arts such as beading and storytelling, but it applies equally well to film, theater, music, and other popular arts. Tribes should support these arts while taking care of the basic necessities.

For more on the subject, see Pechanga to Sponsor LA Film Festival, Gaming Tribes Must Take the Lead, and Rob Should Fight Poverty?!

Below:  The Chickasaw movie Pearl.

First Nations cruise in British Columbia

A Cruise into First Nations Culture

By Hans TammemagiWe arrive at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Over a century ago this was the site of a vibrant village, dominated by large cedar longhouses that extended almost to the waterline, with elegant towering totem poles at attention before every house. Today, I see a different picture. Moss-encrusted piers, several with missing planks, jut into the bay. Fishing boats with paint flaking from rusty hulls bob in the water. The tang of salt, seaweed and rotting fish hangs in the air. A few colourful totem poles punctuate the drab waterfront, reminders that this place, which has been home to the Namgis First Nation for thousands of years, has seen better days.

My wife and I are aboard the Columbia III on a First Nations’ cruise operated by Mothership Adventures that will meander amongst the hundreds of glorious isles of the Broughton Archipelago to the northeast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, while we learn about Native history and culture.

Lillian Hunt, a Namgis Native and curator of the U’mista Cultural Centre, comes aboard. She will be our guide for the next four days.
Comment:  What's noteworthy here is the existence of a First Nations cruise. The only thing I've heard of that's similar is the Pow Wow Cruise.

Below:  "The vibrant waterfront of Alert Bay circa 1880."

July 24, 2011

Saint devoted to Native plight

New archbishop pays homage to Drexel

By James McGinnisHours after his appointment as leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput traveled to Bensalem on Tuesday to quietly pray in the shrine to Saint Katharine Drexel.

The first Native American archbishop knelt before the tomb of a saint who dedicated her life to the plight of Native Americans.
And:Chaput is one of an estimated 493,615 Native American Catholics. His main ancestry is Potowambi. The tribe was forcibly moved to Kansas and Oklahoma from ancestral lands in Michigan and Indiana.

For his consecration as the bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota in 1988, Chaput prostrated himself atop a star quilt of the Lakota tribe.

Nine years later, he was appointed archbishop of Denver as Native Americans pounded drums in that city’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The church has a duty to “defend the dignity of Native Americans, deepening their self-respect as children of God, and insisting on that same respect for Native Americans from wider American culture,” Chaput told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Drexel might have used similar words in 1887, when she traveled to the Vatican, seeking an audience with the Pope.

The daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia couple, Drexel visited the American Southwest and was disturbed by the poverty and suffering among tribal peoples.

Not yet a member of the clergy, Drexel asked Pope Leo XIII to send missionaries to those tribes. The Pope responded: “Why not, my child, yourself become a missionary?”

In 1891, she professed her first vows, founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament whose mission would be to share the message of the gospel among Native and African Americans.

Her schools often were spared the wrath of angry tribal leaders who burned other buildings on the reservations.

A letter from the sisters at one such mission gave Drexel the good news that her school had been spared. Chief Red Cloud convinced the young warriors that “Blackrobes always acted kindly towards the Indians.”
More on St. Katharine Drexel:Katharine Mary Drexel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 26, 1858 to Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her family owned a considerable banking fortune, and her uncle Anthony Joseph Drexel was the founder of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She had two natural sisters, Louise and Elizabeth.

She became a nun, and took the name Sister Katharine, dedicating herself and her inheritance to the needs of oppressed Native Americans and African-Americans in the western and southwestern United States, and was a vocal advocate of racial tolerance. She established a religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. She also financed more than 60 missions and schools around the United States, and founded Xavier University of Louisiana--the only historically black, Roman Catholic university in the United States to date.

Drexel was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988, and canonized on October 1, 2000, one of only a few American saints and the first American-born saint. The Vatican cited a fourfold legacy of Drexel: A love of the Eucharist and perspective on the unity of all peoples; courage and initiative in addressing social inequality among minorities; her efforts to achieve quality education for all; and selfless service, including the donation of her inheritance, for the victims of injustice. She is known as the patron saint of racial justice and of philanthropists.
Comment:  A couple of points on the Chaput article. One, Chaput's background is Potawatomi, not "Potowambi." There's no such thing as "Potowambi."

Two, this statement:The church has a duty to “defend the dignity of Native Americans, deepening their self-respect as children of God, and insisting on that same respect for Native Americans from wider American culture,” Chaput told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.is a joke considering how Christians--Catholics and Protestants alike--have destroyed Native lives and cultures. Given its long list of crimes against humanity--up to and including genocide--the Church should consider disbanding itself. And giving all its wealth to the indigenous people it tried to eradicate.

Even that wouldn't wash away the blood on the Church's hands. But it would be a start.

For more on the subject, see Potawatomi Bishop in Philadelphia and Catholics to Ban Indian Practices?