March 31, 2011

Up's Native sources

I recently watched the movie Up. Here's the story on it:

Up (2009 film)Up is a 2009 computer-animated comedy-adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and presented in Disney Digital 3-D.

The film centers on an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and an earnest young Wilderness Explorer named Russell who fly to South America by floating in a house.

Production

The filmmakers' first story outline had Carl "just want[ing] to join his wife up in the sky," [director Pete] Docter said. "It was almost a kind of strange suicide mission or something. And obviously that's [a problem]. Once he gets airborne, then what? So we had to have some goal for him to achieve that he had not yet gotten." As a result, they added the plot of going to South America.

There is a scene where Carl and Russell haul the floating house through the jungle. A Pixar employee compared the scene to Fitzcarraldo, and Docter watched that film and The Mission for further inspiration.

Docter made Venezuela the film's setting after Ralph Eggleston gave him a video of the tepui mountains; Venezuela and tepuis were already featured in a previous Disney film, Dinosaur. In 2004, Docter and eleven other Pixar artists spent three days reaching Monte Roraima by airplane, jeep and helicopter.
More on the setting

Mount RoraimaMount Roraima (also known as Monte Roraima in Spanish and Portuguese), is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area is defended by 400-metre-tall cliffs on all sides. The mountain includes the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.

Culture

Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the indigenous people of the region, and it is central to many of their myths and legends. The Pemon Indians of the Gran Sabana see Roraima as the top of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by one of their ancestors, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. Roroi in the Pemon language means blue-green and ma means great.

In 2006, Mount Roraima was the destination for the award-winning Gryphon Productions two hour television documentary The Real Lost World. The program was shown on Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater and OLN (Canada). Directed by Peter von Puttkamer, this travel/adventure documentary featured a modern team of explorers: Rick West, Dr. Hazel Barton, Seth Heald, Dean Harrison and Peter Sprouse who followed in the footsteps of British explorers Im Thurn and Harry Perkins who sought the flora and fauna of Roraima in the mid-19th century. The adventures of those explorers may have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's seminal book about people and dinosaurs, The Lost World, published in 1912.
What the Indians believe

Excursión al Monte RoraimaThe experience of visiting the top of a tepuy is not just external, but also internal. And in this regard, it is important to point out that every mountain everywhere in the world and for all types of communities, represent places that are usually associated with mythical, sacred and/or divine matters.

For the traditional Pemon Indian, for example, the tepuy tops are a species of Olympus of fantastic beings that he respects, admires and even fears…“a place through which the dead pass on their way to heaven” (Koch Grünberg). It is no wonder that until relatively recently, the Pemon Indians resisted to go up the mysterious heights…as if they were afraid the mythological entities--but felt as real--might punish the heedless offender who dared to enter that kingdom of clouds.

Thus, it is thought that, at the top of Matawi-tepui (Roraima's sister table-top mountain), close to the lagoons and other bodies of water, there is a strange being with fantastic dimensions and a monstrous shape--some sort of tepuyan “Lochness Beast”--that devours its victims by inhaling their vital fluid--their breath--and then disappears without leaving the slightest trace (just as the comments made about the accident that occurred in this tepuy in 1998).

But the tepuy tops also hide other less wicked beings, although no less bad. These are the “Mawari”: sorts of spirits of the place in charge of guarding and taking care of the place…. And although they do not in general attempt against the life of the unfortunate victim, they can play with him, giving him a hard time until the victim abandons “their” precious place.

The same as the Irish elves, the “Mawari” like to “play jokes” on the unwary…and, according to the Pemon Indians, they are found under the stones, on the trees and other places that the fertile Pemon imagination can offer….
Comment:  It's remote places like this that made Europeans think they could find El Dorado or the Lost City of Z somewhere in the Amazon.

Arthur Conan Doyle populated his fictional plateau with an Indian tribe and a race of ape-men. In reality, Mount Roraima is uninhabited, although Indians live around it and tourists can climb it.

I imagine the Indians are ambivalent at best about outsiders. One posting reports:

La Gran Sabana--Mount RORAIMA & Santa Elena de UairénHalf a year before I went to this region (I was here in june.2005) tensions in this area arose. The indigenous indians (who will guide you to their mountains) attacked the military post (same one I mentioned before), captured the officer and laid him in the sun, tied down, for a whole day covered in honey, so the insects could have their way with him. Two Indians were killed in this up rise.

--La Gran Sabana Trip Report on world66.com
For more on what Europeans thought about the Amazon Indians, see Victorian-Era Racism and The South American Genocide.

Review of The Elder

Author Manny Moreno was kind enough to send me a copy of his book The Elder. An excerpt from the book's introduction tells what it's about:

Manny Moreno SiteManny Moreno’s book The Elder is about many things--loss, tribute, grief, brokenness, the mending power of ceremony—but above all, his book is a plea for the reintegration of elders into the fabric of our culture. Moreno’s book documents his long (and often thorny) relationship with revered Navajo elder and prayer man Harry Jack, especially his last years when he was changing from a spirited and healthy 500-mile runner to an increasingly incapacitated elder requiring a great deal of vigilance and attention. He is mugged on the streets, suffers strokes, and must be accompanied by someone at all times because, after his strokes, he is unsteady and capable of hurting himself. In spite of Jack’s infirmities and his telegraphic English (his first language was Navajo), he continues to enrich the ceremonial life of the Indian community through the power of his prayer and understanding, through his availability to those in distress, and through his luminous presence evident even to elementary school children who would write him love notes after visiting.

Jack, tough and unrelenting (applying what some California Indians call the “elder hammer”), teaches the author, and many other recovering alcohol and drug addicts (at the Central Valley recovery lodge he helped sustain), the importance of health, commitment to community, and sensitivity to the suffering of others, no matter what their backgrounds. And the author, young and hardheaded when they first meet and seeking refuge from gang-infested Stockton, is not easy to teach.
More on The Elder and Manny Moreno:

Review:  In Writing A Tribute Writer Shares His Own Destiny...

Interview by Livingston Chronicle

Comment:  At 63 pages including photos, The Elder is a slight book. It feels like it's self-published, and at $12.50, it may be overpriced. But I'm glad I read it.

It's relatively rare to see the struggle of urban Natives in fiction. Mysteries such as Tony Hillerman's present middle-class Native professionals. A few movies--e.g., The Exiles, Four Sheets to the Wind, and The Business of Fancydancing--and Sherman Alexie's stories give you a hint of what it's like.

Moreno survives a youth filled with alcohol and petty crime. He works menial jobs for room and board. He lives in a trailer or a friend's rented room. He shuttles between the city, a recovery center, and an occasional sweat lodge or powwow.

It could almost be a sequel to The Exiles. A couple of decades after drinking to excess, running with bad crowds, and being locked up, he's more or less hit bottom. Now he's middle-aged and searching for meaning in his life.

Enter the elder

Moreno has an off-and-on relationship with Harry Jack, a Navajo powwow dancer and prayer leader. At first, Harry treats him with disdain, yelling at him or ignoring him. Moreno has to learn patience and fortitude to endure the harsh treatment.

But when Harry has a stroke, he calls upon Moreno to help him. Moreno becomes his driver, keeper, and ceremonial assistant. He learns more about compassion and helping others. Eventually Moreno rails against those who don't visit elders like Harry or treat them with respect.

Finally, Moreno wonders who will perform the ceremonies when Harry is gone. He finds that others expect him to lead a prayer or pour water for a sweat lodge. He's come full circle, growing from a troubled young man into a respected elder himself.

If you want to know how Indians live on the margins of the white man's world, The Elder is a good start. It presents a slice of Native life we seldom see. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.

You can order the book directly from Moreno's website and have him autograph it for you.

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

The history of Spirit Iron-Knife

Carrie Baranet gives us the long history of a GI Joe action figure in her Awful "Native Inspired" Art blog:

N.A. Action Figure Pt. 1:  The Not So Changing Face of Spirit Iron-KnifeThink about Native American Action figures. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Spirit Iron-Knife, of course! If you were a child of the '80s, like me, G.I. JOE was a big part of your childhood along with He-Man, Transformers and, oh yeah, Star Wars. G.I. JOE had a Native guy, though. Okay, so he was a walking stereotype with bird. What is up with the bird, anyway? I've never met a Native American falconer, have you?Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native GI Joes and Tracker Kwinn in GI JOE.

Below:  Spirit the Tracker, 1984.

March 30, 2011

Natives slam Stossel's ignorance

Don’t Know Much About History: Stossel Says American Indians Receive the Most Help

By Gale Courey ToensingGabe Galanda, an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and an Indian law attorney said Stossel’s lumping together of Indians, Puerto Ricans, African Americans and Irish reveals a lack of knowledge about the sovereignty of Indian nations.

“Stossel, like many Americans, fails to fundamentally appreciate that tribes are governments, not ‘groups’ of individuals as he says,” he said, pointing that American Indians are the only Americans who are indigenous to the United States and the only peoples to whom the U.S. owes a trust responsibility.

“The United States has historically done a disservice to Native Americans, by and through genocidal and assimilationist federal policies. As a result of federal allotment, assimilation and termination policies, which remain in force to this day despite Congress’ repudiation of those policies, some tribal communities are in fact worse off socio-economically than most other American citizens,” Galanda said.
And:Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter said part of the problem with Stossel’s analysis is his limited understanding of both treaties and what the federal government has done throughout history to Native nations.

“Stossel fails to mention that the federal government has attempted to eliminate us, terminate us, remove us from our lands, cheat and steal from us and then created a paternalistic approach to civilize, and essentially convert and undo the Indian. Today federal programs do little to help tribes be more independent and self sufficient and current federal regulations and laws aren’t effective for enabling tribes to create sustainable economies and grow,” Porter said. “If anyone has been fleeced, it’s the Indians. Virtually every tribe has its own unique story in evidence of this.”
Tribe demands apology

Comments by FOX personality John Stossel draw ire of Chief Allan

By David Cole
Coeur d'Alene Tribe Chairman Chief J. Allan sent a letter to the head of FOX News Channel demanding an apology from both the network and one of its TV personalities.

Allan accused FOX anchor John Stossel of insensitive on-air comments made about American Indians.

"The ignorance behind the statements made by John Stossel poured salt into the slowly healing wounds of Native Americans and added disgrace to an already shameful page in American History," Allan wrote in his letter Monday.
And:Allan said American Indians share a unique relationship with the U.S. government through what he called the "Federal Trust Responsibility."

"This fiduciary duty arose from contractually binding promises made to tribes in exchange for the hundreds of millions of acres of land ceded to the United States government during the nation's movement westward," Allan wrote.

Allan continued by writing that Stossel "intentionally misleads viewers to believe that the 'help' tribes receive is some gratuitous benefit provided to one minority over another."

Allan said the benefits are a requirement under terms of treaties and executive orders.
Comment:  Forget about the fact that Indians receive government services as payment for their land. Even if they didn't, I think Stossel's basic claim--that they've received more government help than anyone--is false.

That Indians receive less government healthcare funding than federal prisoners is a well-known statistic. I'm willing to bet that the same applies to education, law enforcement, and other areas of government. Between infrastructure spending, urban development grants, and job-creating federal contracts, I'm guessing most parts of the country get much more government aid than Indian country does.

I doubt Stossel has any statistics to refute this claim. As far as I can tell, he's spewing his dogmatic beliefs without regard to the facts. Like most conservatives, he thinks his ideology must work because he and his buddies are rich.

What about Indians' losses?

None of this accounts for the negative side of the government's "help." Stealing the Indians' land and natural resources, forcing their children into boarding schools, giving them substandard food and medical care, losing instead of paying their trust funds, etc. If you could put a price on this, it might be the biggest case of government robbery in history.

To sum it up, the US government has cost Indians money in countless ways. The compensation and support it provides is less than most Americans receive. In two-plus centuries of dealing with the US, Indians arguably have received less than anyone else, not more.

For more on the subject, see Trahant Agrees About Termination Agenda, Fox Special on Indian "Freeloaders," and Stossel:  Indians Are Biggest Moochers.

Land theft in My Little Pony

Educator Debbie Reese summarizes a recent episode of My Little Pony:

"Settler ponies" and buffaloes in MY LITTLE PONY (new TV series)In it, the ponies visit a western town of ponies that have planted apple orchards all around the pony town. The orchards are on the lands belonging to the buffaloes. The ponies did not know the land belonged to the buffaloes.

The buffaloes use that land "for stampeding." It is their "sacred tradition" to stampede. The buffaloes want the ponies to take the trees down.

The ponies say they've worked hard to get those trees planted and growing, and therefore do not want to take them down.

Neither group backs down, so, they have a fight at high noon.

The town ponies are led by a sheriff; the buffaloes have a chief. In the fight, the ponies hit the buffaloes with pies that knock the buffaloes out. The chief is barreling down on the sheriff. He is hit by a pie and everyone thinks he is dead. Sad music plays. But, apple pie filling drizzles down to his mouth, and he wakes up. He loves the pie.

They settle the dispute. The ponies keep the orchard and land. In return, the buffaloes get apple pies and apples.

Sound familiar?
(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 3/29/11.)



Comment:  The buffaloes in this cartoon aren't just analogues for Indians. They wear headdresses and feathers and live in tipis. They're "Indian" buffaloes.

The key moment comes when the buffaloes and ponies reach an impasse. "The buffalo had it first." "The settler ponies need it to live." And then the faux voice of "reason": "Look, both the settlers and the buffalo have good reasons to use this land."

Uh, wrong. The settlers don't need the land, they want it. They don't need to live in buffalo territory, they want to. They could pack up and go home any time they chose.

So the show creates a false equivalence. Owning the land is no more significant than wanting to own the land. It's as if a criminal and his victim are debating which one is right. And the criminal gets what he wants because, well, he's American and civilized and represents the white man.

Civilized ponies vs. savage buffaloes

The story and its message aren't the only problems. The buffaloes themselves are stereotypical. They have tiny eyes and big blunt foreheads. They snort, paw the ground, and butt heads. The chief speaks in a gruff voice. In short, they're more animalistic than the human-like ponies.

Moreover, their "culture" consists of nothing more than stampeding and sitting around a campfire. They decorate themselves with warpaint. They're primitive compared to the ponies, who have managed to build towns and railroads despite not having hands.

As the crisis escalates, the buffalo stampede the town. They've got no solutions except a brute-force attack. But the ponies are too smart for them. They throw pies in the buffaloes' faces, blinding them and causing them to crash.

A smart approach for the buffaloes would've been to use their fire to burn down the town. But these buffaloes aren't that clever. In fact, they can barely argue their case. "Rainbow Dash" the pony argues it for them.

The show pitches the ending as a compromise that satisfies both sides. In reality, the ponies kept their ill-gotten gains without giving up anything significant. The buffaloes gave up their cherished land for something of lesser value they didn't necessarily want. It's a good deal only if you think fruit is more valuable than real estate.

For more on the subject, see Indians in Porky Pig Show #3 and Tom and Jerry in Two Little Indians. Of course, these cartoons were done half a century ago. What's the excuse of My Little Pony's apologists for Euro-American aggression?

Lumbees prove government doesn't work?!

John Stossel and my pleasure jolts

By Barry FarberNow here comes John Stossel, fellow WND columnist, over the weekend of March 26 with one of the best pieces in television history: "Freeloaders," a Fox News special delivering stomp-down proof that Indian tribes that are not recognized as tribes by the government and get no federal handouts are more successful than those on the federal dole. Stossel visited the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, whose members get nothing from the government. They're generally successful in business. Many live in luxury mansions. In contrast, the Indians embraced by the feds live in what look like tar-paper shacks.

In boxing, John Stossel's interview with Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the government nanny of the recognized tribes, would have been canceled as a mismatch or halted on a TKO early in Round 1. She was pitifully unable to defend government stewardship over Native Americans as anything but the failure of socialism.
Comment:  Too bad Homer (whom I've interviewed before) isn't a kick-butt debater like me. Here's what she should've said:

1) One example of anything is statistically meaningless. Compared to 565 federally recognized tribes, the Lumbee case is irrelevant. It's an anecdote, not a fact.

2) I'm guessing Stossel didn't do more than talk to one or two Lumbees and drive through one or two Lumbee neighborhoods. There's zero evidence that he examined the lives of 55,000 Lumbees in any meaningful way.

3) Stossel provide no context for his claims. The important context is this: Many unrecognized tribes in rural locations are as poor as recognized tribes. And many recognized tribes in urban locations (the Mashantucket Pequots, Mohegans, Seminoles, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, San Manuel, Morongo, Agua Caliente, Pechanga, Viejas, Chumash, et al.) are as rich as their non-Indian neighbors.

What's the key information in this paragraph? Tribes in rural locations are poor because no jobs are nearby. Tribes in urban locations are (relatively) rich because jobs are nearby. The Lumbees are well-off because they live in North Carolina's booming Triangle region (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), not because self-reliance has made them strong.

For more on the subject, see Trahant Agrees About Termination Agenda, Fox Special on Indian "Freeloaders," and Stossel:  Indians Are Biggest Moochers.

San Manuel donates to Japan

San Manuel tribe hands out money, awards

By Michel NolanOn Tuesday, the People of the Pines shared financial assistance and hope.

Members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, who call themselves "Yuhaviatam," or People of the Pines, hosted their third annual Forging Hope luncheon by giving to those who give.

The luncheon brought together nonprofit groups for an awards ceremony at San Bernardino's National Orange Show Events Center, where the tribe's Yawa' Award was bestowed upon four charities.

In addition to the Yawa' Awards, Ramos announced the tribe would provide $100,000 to the American Red Cross--Inland Empire Chapter--and $50,000 to the International Medical Corps for relief efforts to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Natives Raise Funds for Japan.

March 29, 2011

Roger:  Let Indians commit suicide

Another day, another entry in the Rand/Stossel termination agenda for Indians:

American Indians Putting Faith in Government 'Help'?

By Chuck RogerIn New Mexico's state capitol, a local newspaper reports that Santa Fe Indian School students are "watching with bated breath" for Governor Susana Martinez to sign a bill that would create "culturally sensitive programs" designed "to help Native American communities deal with teen suicides."

The situation is tragic on two levels.

First, the high suicide rate attests to social problems endemic in Indian communities. But the second tragedy is even worse, for it compounds the first. No one, especially American Indians, should put faith in government to "deal with" anything, much less something as horrible as suicide. Government has consistently worsened the plight of the Indians with poverty-perpetuating, will-weakening, assimilation-discouraging "help."

The bill in question, sponsored by a Democrat state senator, would also provide resources to address general mental health issues of New Mexico's Indians. The effort would typify the emotional liberal response to problems like the ills that afflict Indian communities.

It doesn't seem to occur to liberals that the solution to social problems in isolated communities could be to end the isolation. Psychologists have understood for decades that increased self-reliance, encouraged by the rewards earned by self-reliant people, has the power to eliminate depression. Yet big-government liberals incessantly fall back on feel-good but ineffective "interventions" orchestrated by governmental central planners.
Comment:  No doubt you recognize the key codewords here: End the isolation. Stop discouraging assimilation. In other words, Indians should give up their land, their reservations, and their sovereignty. They should forget about the treaty rights that guarantee them certain benefits.

It doesn't matter what the Constitution and various court decisions say. We stripped them of their land, cultures, languages, and religions. Now let's strip them of the money that was supposed to compensate them. They're only "dirty redskins," so who cares if we rob them twice? We'll rob them as many times as it takes until they shrivel up and die.

Pay close attention to what this Jolly Roger is saying. Indians are suffering high rates of suicide, but let's do nothing to help them. Maybe they'll help themselves and maybe they won't. If they don't, problem solved. Once they're dead we can take their remaining land and resources without listening to them whine about their "rights."

This is pure social Darwinism: survival of the fittest. Those that overcome depression on their own deserve to live; those that don't deserve to die. Roger is more concerned about his free-market ideology than saving actual lives. If self-reliance isn't the cure-all he thinks it is...oh, well, they're only savages. No big loss to humanity.

Rugged individualists kill themselves

Roger reguritates his free-market propaganda without a shred of evidence except a vague reference to psychologists. This is anti-intellectual, asinine nonsense for several reasons.

1) We could point to many, many government programs that work for all Americans. The military. Water and electricity provision. Homeland security. The highway system. Food inspections. The air-traffic system. Public universities. National, state, and local parks. Public libraries. Home mortgage deductions. Student loans. Etc., etc., etc.

Roger says we shouldn't put faith in government to "deal with" anything. Does he really think we should privatize our troops, our highways, and our libraries? Or is he too stupid to realize that government does many things well? (Social Security has lower costs than comparable private programs, for instance.)

2) Roger obviously knows nothing about suicide. Guess which states have the highest suicide rates?

Ranking America's Mental Health:  An Analysis of Depression Across the StatesIn terms of 2004 suicide rates, the District of Columbia was the lowest, followed by New York and Massachusetts. Alaska had the highest suicide rate, followed by Nevada and New Mexico.Here are the ten most suicidal states:

West Virginia
Arizona
Colorado
Utah
Idaho
Wyoming
Montana
New Mexico
Nevada
Alaska

Colorado and New Mexico are arguably swing states, but every other state on the list is solidly conservative. These are exactly the states where people are supposedly rugged individualists. Where people supposedly hate the nanny state--when they're not receiving subsidies for their water, grazing, or mineral rights, that is--and rely on themselves. To put it bluntly, self-reliant people have the highest suicide rates in America.

It's not hard to understand why. Struggling to survive on your own is tough. The cure for feelings of loneliness and isolation isn't more loneliness and isolation. It's a caring web of social connections--the kind memorialized in the phrase "It takes a village."

Not everyone can live up to America's cowboy standard: the "virtue" embodied in John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. If you lived in a conservative state where they preached God and family while people lied and cheated, you'd feel whipsawed by the hypocrisy also. If it was bad enough, you might become depressed or suicidal too.

Suicide prevention works

3) Roger obviously knows nothing about suicide prevention programs, either. An article appearing the same day outlines the facts Roger is ignorant of:

Response plan needed on suicide epidemicMontanans may never know exactly what caused the spike in suicides among the youth of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation--but we have a good idea of how to stop it.

The first step is to urge the U.S. Public Health Service to return to the reservation and provide much-needed counseling and mental health care. The next step is to see to it that these services are available to Fort Peck families on a long-term basis as part of a comprehensive safety net that catches these kids well before they fall through the cracks.

The heartbreaking spate of suicides by Native American children in Montana reached horrendous levels last school year, when five Poplar Middle School children killed themselves and 20 more students attempted suicide on the Fort Peck reservation.

Assiniboine and Sioux leaders recognized the situation for what it is--a crisis--and in response to their crisis declaration, federal emergency teams came to the reservation to shore up mental health services, study the situation and make some recommendations.

And for 90 days, there were no suicides.
Duhhh. Unless you're a stupid twit, you know that mental health problems aren't solved with "self-reliance." They're solved with mental health services that require money. These services help military veterans with PTSD and they help others the same way.

If you think they don't work, let's throw our traumatized soldiers out on their asses and let them fend for themselves. If this treatment is good enough for Indians, it's good enough for everyone.

Sheesh.

For conservatives like Roger who are ignorant of American history, we've tried allocating the Indians' land...forcing them to assimilate...and terminating their tribes. None of these policies worked. Don't take my word for it, dumbasses, look it up in the historical record. Stop pontificating about your ivory-tower theories and start dealing with reality.

There's no proven connection between government services for military veterans, the elderly, or women with children and suicide rates. There's no proven connection between government services for Indians and suicide rates, either. If "unearned" money made people weak and helpless, millions of trust-fund babies would be committing suicide. That's obviously not the case.

For more on the subject, see

Didier:  Stop protecting the weak
Tea Party leader posts racist "satire"
Why Americans hate welfare
Capitalism gets comeuppance
Westerners = freeloaders

Below:  Cowboy Bush grows weak and helpless living off government handouts (his presidential pension).

Debating Chief Joseph's cuneiform tablet

Indian Country Today recently posted an article on Chief Joseph's Cuneiform Tablet, a subject I covered a year ago:

Where Did Chief Joseph Get His Mesopotamian Tablet?

I answered the title question on Facebook:

Brought from the Old World a few decades earlier as a souvenir; traded or lost until it reached Joseph. Not proof that ancient Sumerians visited America. That's my theory, anyway.

This led to the following debate with "Rick":Rob I'm prone to beleive Joseph's version of the story. But I may be biased in this respect he was my G.Great Grandmother's cousin! Did you read the article?Yes, I read it. And I've heard of the story before. "White men had come among his ancestors long ago" could mean a small party of Europeans crossing the continent in the 1700s. It's still consistent with my theory.Explain the legends of white skinned tribal member in the far north from before the Mayflower landed on the East coast! And don't forget the rune stone found on the continent and the inscription rock in the eastern seaboard that seem to have ancient Hebrew and Phonecian writings. I'll stick with Joseph's version!My version is Joseph's version. 100-150 years ago is "long ago" in pre-industrial terms.

Earlier is possible too

Sure, some Vikings or other pre-Columbian explorers could've brought the tablet with them. This still contradicts the implied claim that ancient Sumerians visited America. There's no reason to believe this theory except an unreliable interpretation of Joseph's vague words.Consider that he said those words around 1880 and he was talking long long before his time which would add conservatively more than 200 or 3000 years I would bet. Remember that the tribes had tales about great monsters walking on two legs and hairy beasts with long noses and horns (tusks?) that would imply that the collective memory of the tribes could reach back thousands of years not hundreds! Vikings would not be carrying worthless to them tablets around the world on their small sail boats. And the Irish explorers left no records so we don't know on that count!A Viking or other explorer could've had a personal keepsake that seemed "worthless" to others. Such as an old tablet found in a raid or bought in a marketplace in eastern Europe.

Sumerians wouldn't have visited America and left zero archaeological evidence except one tablet. A cross-country expedition that reached Idaho or wherever should've left several traces.

All this is speculation based on some white man's interpretation of Joseph's words "long ago." (Is that a direct quote or a paraphrase? Who knows?) It could refer to 3,000 years ago, or to 100 years ago. We simply don't know.

Without further evidence, I'm going with the simplest explanation. I.e., mine. <g>

To sum it up, any pre- or post-Columbian explorer could've brought the tablet to Joseph's ancestors. Someone visiting a couple of centuries before Joseph's time seems most likely to me.

For another claim about a non-Sumerian explorer, see New Films on Prince Madoc.

Native fashions in Vogue

Jessica R. Metcalfe writes about Native fashion in her Beyond Buckskin blog:

Vogue's IndiansThe March 2011 issue of Vogue Russia shows us their version of Southwest Fashion that borrows heavily from Native themes such as fringe, leather, Navajo blanket patterns, and long braids:And the April 2011 of Vogue Spain shows us their version of 'algo salvaje' (something wild)--a photospread that includes a headdress, squash blossom bracelet, fringe, and some other crap:

Comment:  Go to the original posting to see all the images.

The Vogue Spain issue earns a Stereotype of the Month nomination. First, it labels the fashions "Something Wild"--because Indians are wild, you know. Then it features a model in a chief's headdress. I don't know what they're selling in this picture--the jewelry? The bikini top?--but the image is something like 80% stereotypical. A half-naked white woman selling herself her wares is the epitome of who should not be wearing a revered feather bonnet.

For more on hipster headdresses like this one, see Hipster Headdress PSA on YouTube and Grouplove's Stereotypical Colours Video. For more on Native-inspired fashion, see Lindsay Lohan Goes Native and Are Native-Inspired Fashions Okay?

Avatar 2 cast to meet Indians

James Cameron to Bring 'Avatar 2' Cast to Meet Brazilian Tribes

By Mike BrackenLast week, sources were saying James Cameron's plans to take a submersible to the deepest part of the Marianas Trench to capture underwater 3D footage for 'Avatar 2' were in jeopardy thanks to the recent earthquake in Japan. The director seems undaunted by that news and has other tricks up his sleeve to bring a sense of realism to the sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. For example, he plans to take his cast to the rain forests of the Amazon and let them spend time with the indigenous tribes who live there.

The filmmaker, who is currently in Manaus for the second International Forum on Sustainability, feels that the experience will allow his actors to appreciate the setting and people that inspired 'Avatar,' and make the film even better.

"'Avatar' is a film about the rain forest and its indigenous people," Cameron said. "Before I start to shoot the two films, I want to bring my actors here, so I can better tell this story. Actors could learn about the natives and what real life in the jungle is like." Hopefully, this will make it easier for some poor thespian to stand in front of a giant green screen and pretend he's in a lush alien forest.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Cameron Committed to Indigenous Causes and Brainstorming Avatar 2 with Indians.

Preview of Apache 8

Apache 8:  Fighting Fire with WomenThe documentary Apache 8, which will be showing on April 3 at the Native American Film + Video Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, tells of the women firefighters from the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona. “You never knew what you were going to face,” says firefighter Katy Aday early in the film. “You were with a bunch of women that could handle anything.”

The crew was founded in the mid-1970s and became well known as one of the top wildlife fire fighting crews in the country. But it remained largely unknown outside the fire fighting community and the Fort Apache Reservation. When director Sande Zeig first learned of its existence, she knew immediately she wanted to document it. “I was in the Phoenix airport on my way home,” Zeig recalled, “and I walked through this group of women. They were all ages, their 20s through their 50s, all in yellow shirts. I didn’t know who they were. I didn’t know they were Native American. I asked and they said they were Apache firefighters, and I said—the words just fell out of my mouth, I said, ‘I want to make a film about you.’”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

Native blues-rockers Daisy Chain

Seattle Blues-Rockers Daisy Chain Gear Up for Stage 49Leilani Finau (Haida/Samoan) and Waylon Mendoza (Lakota/Mexican) play blues-rock as Daisy Chain, but they didn’t initially bond over their indigenous heritage. Leilani had heard a CD that Waylon had put out, and she thought he might be a good mentor. “Because his voice is so deep,” she recalls, “I thought he was an older guy. I thought we could collaborate, and maybe he could help me get gigs.” The two started talking on the phone; Leilani was in Seattle while Waylon was back on the rez at Eagle Butte, South Dakota, home of the Minnecojou band of Lakota. Eventually, they realized they had something in common.

Basketball, of course.
Comment:  For more on Native musicians, see Eagle & Hawk in Music Showcase and Native Band Plays to Prevent Suicide.

Michelle Obama's mentors include Erdrich

Michelle Obama books stars to mentor:  Hilary Swank, Geena Davis, Anna Deavere Smith, Michelle Kwan

First Lady Michelle Obama to Host Mentoring Events with Renowned Women to Celebrate Women's History Month

By Lynn SweetOn Wednesday, March 30th, First Lady Michelle Obama will host a special event during the annual celebration of Women's History Month at the White House. Mrs. Obama will bring together more than twenty accomplished women, each paving their way in a variety of fields, to serve as mentors and share their experiences with students in the Washington, D.C. metro area. These women will showcase the important role mentoring can play in the lives of young people as they encourage all students, particularly young women, to pursue their dreams.Comment:  The list includes "Louise Erdrich, Pulitzer Prize winning author."

For more on Erdrich, see Louise Erdrich Wants PEACE PARTY and Bestselling Native Children's Books.

March 28, 2011

"Little Indian girl" in Community

In last week's episode of Community, titled Critical Film Studies (airdate: 3/24/11), Jeff Winger reveals that his parents dressed him as a little Indian girl with braids for Halloween. Jeff suggests this is the source of much of his self-loathing.

In Community's fictional world, this is a reasonable bit. Anybody's parents might have dressed a little non-Indian boy as a little Indian girl. And that might've traumatized the boy.

But in the real world beyond Community, this is problematical. For starters, why make Jeff a little Indian girl rather than a little princess or ballerina? Also, why not add some perspective on this scenario? And more than just a faux PC comment such as, "The proper term is Native American, not Indian." How about having someone say, "Not only was dressing you up traumatic for you, but it also was insulting to Indians."

The lack of this real-world perspective is telling. It suggests that the producers don't think there's anything wrong with the Halloween Indian scenario. And that they don't think audiences will think there's anything wrong with it.

In other words, we're supposed to believe that pretending to be a stereotypical Indian is normal. Nobody would suggest dressing up as a black Uncle Tom, a Mexican bandito, or a Chinese coolie, but dressing up as an old-fashioned Indian is okay.

For more on Community, see Anthropology Class in Community. For more TV shows about Halloween Indians, see Halloween Joke in Family Guy, Halloween Comedy on NBC, and Pocahontas in Parenthood.

Below:  Which one is still socially acceptable in America?



Tanka Bar company's goals

A look at Native American Natural Foods, maker of the critically-acclaimed Tanka Bar:

Tasting success

By Barbara SoderlinFor Tilsen and Hunter, that means economic development on the reservations. The two are Pine Ridge Indian Reservation residents and longtime business partners. Together they founded the Lakota Express direct marketing firm years ago and both also have been board members at the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce.

They want to fight poverty and unemployment among Native Americans in a number of ways: first, through hiring and job training. They now employ 18 people at their Kyle headquarters, some of whom had never worked before and who might otherwise have not seen a way out of poverty. Five others work for the company in other locations, and the actual processing is done at plants the company contracts with.
And:They also want to buy from Native Americans where possible. They say today they get 20 percent of their bison from Native producers and hope to increase that further.

Another part of their mission is helping to fight obesity and diabetes that disproportionately plague Native people. People aren’t going to eat low-fat buffalo just because their grandmothers tell them to. It has to taste good and be branded as something cool to do, they said.
Comment:  If Blue Corn Comics is ever successful, we'll try to give back to Native communities in similar ways.

For more on the subject, see Tanka Bars Coast to Coast and Review of Tanka Bar.

Below:  "Kelly Hunter prepares a package for shipping at the Tanka Bar headquarters in Kyle on Monday, March 21, 2011. Tanka Bar ships small orders from Kyle to all 50 states. Hunter ships about 30 packages per day." (Aaron Rosenblatt/Journal staff)

Tulalip Reads for Unity

See Sherman Alexie

By Julie MuhlsteinAward-winning author Sherman Alexie will be at Tulalip Casino on Tuesday evening for a free event. It's part of Tulalip Reads for Unity, a new literacy program presented by the Northwest Indian College-Tulalip.

For the past month, people in the Tulalip community have been reading Alexie's young-adult novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." Like the book's main character, Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Alexie, winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and other prestigious literary prizes, will talk about the book at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Orca Ballroom of the Tulalip Resort Casino, 10200 Quil Ceda Blvd.

Brooke Waite-Kellar, site manager of the Northwest Indian College-Tulalip, said Tulalip Reads for Unity was made possible by a donation from the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund. About 260 free copies of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" were distributed to people on the Tulalip Reservation, "from middle-schoolers to elders," Waite-Kellar said. Alexie's appearance is one of several events planned for Tulalip Reads for Unity.
Comment:  Alexie's Absolutely True Diary has been part of non-Native reading programs before: Two Alexie Books for "One Philadelphia" and True Diary Chosen as One Book. But this is the first I've heard of a tribal reading program.

Using Absolutely True Diary for such a program is a good idea. The book is culturally appropriate for Indians in general and Pacific Northwest Indians in particular. Since it's a young-adult novel, it shouldn't be intimidating to adults. One hopes it'll encourage reading while instilling a bit of Native pride.

For more on the subject, see Bestselling Native Children's Books and Classmates Thought Alexie Would Shoot Them.

Trahant agrees about termination agenda

Mark Trahant, an Award-winning Native journalist, also sees an insidious agenda in Rand Paul's and John Stossel's anti-government attacks.

Termination returns in the health reform debate

By Mark TrahantWe in Indian Country understand health care as a federal government obligation. We know the history--and have been painful witnesses to the shortage of funds. I bring this up because there’s another narrative surfacing; one that parallels the language used decades ago to justify termination of federal services.

First, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called for the elimination of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a drastic reduction in Indian health spending. Then last week Fox’s John Stoessel said: “Why is there a Bureau of Indian Affairs? There is no Bureau of Puerto Rican Affairs or Black Affairs or Irish Affairs. And no group in America has been more helped by the government than the American Indians, because we have the treaties, we stole their land. But 200 years later, no group does worse.”

Rand and Stoessel might as well have attributed their ideas to Sen. Arthur Watkins. A generation ago the Republican from Utah was the congressional champion of termination. He promised to “free the Indians” from all those special restrictions against private property (the same ones Stoessel talked about on Fox). “This is not a novel development, but a natural outgrowth of our relationship with the Indians,” Watkins wrote in 1957. “...After all, the matter of freeing the Indian from wardship status is not rightfully a subject to debate in academic fashion, with facts marshalled here and there to be maneuvered and countermaneuvered in a vast battle of words and ideas.”

By every measure termination was a disaster as a public policy. It was legal theft and a failure so great that even a casual reference should be outside that battle of words and ideas.
Comment:  For more on Stossel and Rand, see Fox Special on Indian "Freeloaders." For more on the conservative agenda, see Political Vitriol in Giffords Shooting and Conservatives Hate Wikileaks and Indians.

Bill Clinton opposes Amazon dams

Ex-Pres Clinton Criticizes Hydroelectricity in AmazonFormer President Bill Clinton said this weekend that he was against building more hydroelectric dams in the Brazilian Amazon, according to Folha de São Paulo, the country’s largest daily. Clinton was speaking at the World Sustainability Forum in Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian rainforest state of Amazonas.And:Clinton’s call for the consideration of alternatives to new hydroelectric dams puts him in elite celebrity company. Hollywood director James Cameron is vehemently opposed to the building of the new 11,200 megawatt power station, Belo Monte, set to be constructed along Amazon tributary, Xingu, later this year if all of the conditions to an environmental permit are met. Cameron compared the building of Belo Monte, which would be the third largest in the world if constructed, as a battle similar to the one portrayed in his film Avatar. Only in this one, the enemy is the Brazilian government and a consortium of mostly government owned power companies called Norte Energia.Comment:  This is a prime example of the ongoing South American genocide against Indians.

For more on the subject, see Amazon Indians Petition Brazilian Government and Cameron's and Weaver's Anti-Dam Films.

Below:  "Former President Clinton didn't call out GDF Suez or the Brazilian government for its largescale hydroelectric power projects in the rainforest, but did call for alternatives to damming for electricity at the World Sustainability Forum in Manaus, Brazil, on March 26, 2011."

Hawaii, New Mexico are most diverse

The Census Bureau has begun releasing data from the 2010 Census. Except for Hawaii, New Mexico is now the most multiethnic and multicultural state, largely because of its Indian population.

Diversity sets NM apart

By Alysa LandryNew Mexico is the most racially diverse state in the continental United States, according to Census Bureau figures.

The state's population grew 13.2 percent since the 2000 census, with the number of residents topping 2 million. American Indians make up 9.4 percent of the population and Hispanics make up 46.3 percent, which means that only four of 10 New Mexico residents are non-Hispanic Anglos.

New Mexico was the first of the lower 48 states to reach minority-majority status, said Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks international demographics.
And:The numbers are even more striking in terms of all racial/ethnic minorities in the state, Mather said. In the 2010 census, nearly three-fourths of people in New Mexico claimed they were minorities, more than any state except Hawaii.

How is that possible?

The Census Bureau 10 years ago changed the way questions were asked on census surveys. That census was the first that allowed people to mark more than one race.

"We saw a huge portion of people who were American Indian, but some combination of American Indian and another race," he said. "There is a huge increase in minority populations when you factor in those combinations."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see 2010 Election Doesn't Matter and Hispanics Have Native Roots.

Lindsay Lohan goes Native

Make-up free Lindsay Lohan channels Native America lookLindsay Lohan opted for an eye-catching new look as she ventured out in Los Angeles yesterday.

The troubled actress, who was wearing barely a scrap of make-up, channelled the Native American look by wearing her hair in plaits.

She was joined by a male friend as they dined at The Otherroom in Venice Beach--just down the road from the jewellery store where she allegedly stole a $2,500 necklace.

Lindsay teamed her Pocahontas-style hair with a below-the-knee tribal-inspired sweater.
Comment:  I wouldn't read too much into this. Lohan wasn't wearing feathers, turquoise jewelry, or other Native signifiers. It could be a coincidence that she paired "Pocahontas-style" braids with a tribal-inspired sweater.

For more on the subject, see Ashton Kutcher Goes Native and Pendleton Spreads Native Designs.

March 27, 2011

The Eskimo Clark Gable

Book recounts career of The 'Eskimo Clark Gable'

By Mike DunhamIn the prologue to her biography of Ray Wise Mala, "Eskimo Star," historian Lael Morgan tells how she kept seeing a photo of the same man in house after house while doing research in the Kotzebue area in the 1980s. Who was that handsome man? she asked.

"Cousin Ray, the movie star," she was told.

After years of work, Morgan has produced the first biography of the only Alaska Native to make it to the big time in Hollywood. Subtitled "From the Tundra to Tinseltown: the Ray Mala Story," the book will be officially released this week. Appropriately, the release coincides with a statewide Ray Mala film festival--probably the biggest screening of films by Alaska's best-known movie actor ever planned.

Mala was born in 1906 in Candle, on the north side of the Seward Peninsula. His father was a Jewish trader from Russia who wouldn't show any interest in his son until the boy started making big bucks in the movies. His mother was an Inupiaq who left the child with her mother and married a Swedish bar owner.
And:By the end of the decade, he was in California as an assistant cameraman for Fox Studios. Management noticed his good looks and took some head shots. In the early 1930s, he scored his first acting success in "Igloo," a staged documentary shot in Barrow. Universal Studios' press machine dubbed him "The Eskimo Clark Gable."

In 1932 MGM sent an army of production people to Nome to film Peter Freuchen's fictional drama "Eskimo." It was billed as "the biggest picture ever made" and was, in fact, the first full-length major studio picture ever shot in Alaska.

Mala was suggested for the lead but the director rejected him because the cameraman from Candle was half-Jewish. He only changed his mind when the original lead actor walked out in a dispute involving his wife and a member of the crew.

It turned out to be a lucky break for everyone else. Mala wasn't just handsome, he had a face that the camera adored. There was no "bad" angle.

He also knew the language. "Eskimo" used Inupiaq dialogue, but bilingualism also came in handy for translating between local Natives and Hollywood people. He was comfortably familiar with the traditional gear he wielded in the script. But, most importantly, he had considerable acting instincts honed by years of close observation of stars while working with them on the set.

Even before it debuted, "Eskimo" generated national industry buzz. Mala's many friends in the business chatted it up enthusiastically. Awesome raw footage had been beautifully edited. (The film would win the first Academy Award for editing.) Rave reviews poured in from critics in both America and Europe. "Eskimo" was an instant classic--and Mala became a matinee idol.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Publicity Pix of Eskimo and Eskimo Won Oscar.

Below:  "Ray Mala filmed Igloo in Barrow in 1931. The filmmaker did not include the names of the Native actors, including the woman seen next to Mala in this photo."

Some Days Are Better Than Others

'Some Days Are Better Than Others' review: moody Portlanders drift in a handsome cityscape

By Shawn Levy“Some Days” unfolds the lives of three loosely-connected Portlanders: a slacker working day jobs (James Mercer of the Shins), an animal shelter worker who dreams of being on reality TV (Carrie Brownstein of “Portlandia” and Sleater-Kinney), and a woman who sorts through donated goods at a thrift shop (Renee Roman Nose). Amid them, serving as a kind of font of wisdom, is an old tinkerer who finds beauty in the refractions of sunlight through liquid soap (David Wodehose, playing a role based on Oregon filmmaker and inventor George Andrus).

The slender, tender threads of plot involve aspirations, creativity, missed connections, and the tragic disposability of human life in an age when throwing things away--even precious things--is the norm. The images of Portland, its buildings, its landscape and, especially, its weather are pure, lovely, loving McCormick, and the contributions of cinematographer Greg P. Schmitt and composer Matthew Cooper are stellar.

The delicacy of the film might frustrate some audiences. As if watching a listless young relative do nothing in particular with his or her life, you sometimes want to shake these folks by the shoulders and tell them to get in gear. But then you realize that life has many gears and that moving slowly and somewhat aimlessly is no sin.
Comment:  Renee Roman Nose is Native, so Some Days sort of counts as a Native film.

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

Navajo artist's Auto-Immune Project

William R. Wilson:  Navajo Artist of the Post-Apocalypse

By Lisa Gale GarriguesA Navajo man in a gas mask stares into the camera, the land sprawling behind him in a luminous haze of post-apocalyptic beauty. The same man sleeps inside a hogan, on a mattress of light. Then the man, still in his gas mask in the hogan, works intently on his laptop.

These striking examples of visual storytelling are photographs from Navajo artist William R Wilson’s series “Auto-Immune Project.”

“The series is about this guy, who is played by me, who is this post-apocalyptic Navajo man just trying to figure out what happened, why the world is so toxic, so uninhabitable.” Wilson said.

With Native Arts and Culture Foundation funding, he will travel to Navajo country this summer and create photographs that document more of this post-apocalyptic Navajo man’s story. The journey will take Wilson to the four sacred mountains, as well as to energy resource extraction sites and coal firing plants.
Comment:  For more on Navajo photography, see Navajo Photographs One Nation, One Year and Through the Lens: Diné Photographers.

Below:  William R. Wilson, Auto Immune Response #4.

March 26, 2011

Preview of Columbus Day Legacy

Native Film Tackles Columbus Day Issues

By Carol BerryColumbus Day became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906; nowadays, Italian-Americans clash regularly with those opposed to a parade honoring the controversial historical figure.

“Columbus Day Legacy,” a half-hour documentary about the Denver Columbus Day parade and the protests that it engenders, will begin airing on PBS March 25. It will also be screening on April 2 at the Native American Film + Video Festival taking place at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.

It’s likely that filmmaker Bennie Klair, Dine’, will get a more sympathetic reaction from the New York crowd than he did when he showed the film in Denver in February. There, on consecutive evenings, he showed the film to Italian-Americans whom he involved in the documentary, and then to Columbus Day parade critics.

Parade supporters who saw the documentary were angry that “the Indians” got the last word, Klair said, although he pointed out that film concludes with Italian-Americans at a post-parade party while parade opponents wait for their fellow protesters to get out of jail.

The following evening, polite approval from Natives opposed to the parade gave way to stinging criticism that the film neglected to show the police brutality that had occurred against protesters. Klair’s repeated, exasperated response: “The film is what it is.”

Klair added that he didn’t have footage of everything that took place at the parade, and that “PBS wanted both sides told.” For that reason, he included material about the 1914 Ludlow Massacre in southern Colorado, where striking miners and family members, many of them Italian-American, were killed by the Colorado National Guard.
Comment:  I'm not sure what the deaths of Italian Americans have to do with anything. The issue is a Columbus parade held on Columbus Day, not an Italian American Parade held on some other day.

If you want to celebrate Italian American pride, go ahead. Honor Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, or some other great Italian. Just stop associating it with Columbus aka "America's First Terrorist."

For more on the subject, see Columbus Statue Defaced on Columbus Day and Columbus Day 2010 Protests.

Canoe voyage for Native awareness

A Canoe Voyage to Increase Cultural Understanding

By Vincent SchillingOn June 11, Jerry “2 Feather” Thornton, Cherokee, will join several other American Indians in Kentucky on a canoe adventure he has deemed the “Voyage for Native American Awareness 2011.” The 110-mile, three-week journey—created by Thornton to educate the public about the presence of Native Americans in Kentucky via trade camps along the route—has been endorsed by the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission.

According to Thornton, there is a vast Native presence in his state, contrary to the beliefs of the majority of Kentuckians. “There are still so many people that believe Native Americans never lived in Kentucky. Most people believe that American Indians only fought battles or traveled through the state. That is a huge farce that has been proven and re-proven. In fact, they have built many small towns here in Kentucky on the remains of Native villages.”

Thornton’s claims aren’t without merit. According to an archive article in KentuckyLiving.com, more than 22,000 archaeological sites have already been recorded within the state, ranging from small backyard finds to larger accumulations that attract university researchers. In the article, University of Kentucky assistant professor Dr. George Crothers, says the discovered sites may represent only about 20 percent of the actual sites discovered as of 2004.

Currently, there are no formally recognized American Indian tribes by the Kentucky General Assembly. Although in 2009, the Ridgetop Shawnee Tribe was recognized and commended for its work as a nonprofit organization, the tribe has since terminated registration and member services as of October 2010.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Cherokees = Lost Tribe of Israel? and Marketing Tennessee's Cherokee History.

Below:  Jerry "2 Feather" Thornton.

On the Ice wins in Berlin

'On the Ice' honored at the Berlin International Film Festival

By Mike DunhamSpeaking of Eskimo stars--Andrew Okpeaha MacLean's Barrow drama "On the Ice," which features an Inupiat cast, continues to rake in worldwide attention and major awards.

It received the Crystal Bear award for best debut film at last month's Berlinale--the Berlin International Film Festival. The Berlinale is considered that city's largest cultural event and a major forum for the international film industry. Some 19,000 cinema professionals (and 4,000 journalists) were accredited to the festival.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Mixed Reviews for On the Ice and Preview of On the Ice.

Below:  "On the Ice team Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (writer/director), Josiah Patkotak (actor), Frank Qutuq Irelan (actor) and Cara Marcous (producer) are shown shortly after getting the Crystal Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival." (Martin Sensmeier)

Seminoles demand Obama apology

Seminole leader writes Obama demanding apology for ‘racist, revisionist history’

Two leading Seminoles wrote Washington to protest a Guantánamo war court document that said the 19th century tribe fought like al Qaeda today

By Carol Rosenberg
The chairman and the chief lawyer of the Seminole Tribe of Florida sent a pair of angry letters Friday to President Barack Obama and his Defense Secretary protesting an analogy by Guantánamo war court prosecutors that likened the 19th Century Seminoles to al Qaeda.

Seminoles Chairman Mitchell Cypress accused the military lawyers of a “backward dive into racist, revisionist history.”

He demanded that Obama apologize, personally.

In his letter, the tribe’s general counsel, Jim Shore, demanded that the U.S. remove portions of a legal brief defending the military commissions conviction of Osama bin Laden’s media secretary, a video maker.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Seminoles Compared to al Qaeda.

Chief Drifting Goose Memorial Bridge

Bridge to be named for American Indian chief

By Bob MercerThe state Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to designate a South Dakota highway bridge in honor of Chief Drifting Goose.

He was leader of the Hunkpati band of American Indians who, in June 1879, received a U.S. presidential order creating for a small reservation along the James River in Spink County, only to see it rescinded by the president, Rutherford B. Hayes, one year later.

Official state signs for Chief Drifting Goose Memorial Bridge will be erected on each side of the structure on S.D. 20 over the James River between Mellette and Brentford.
Comment:  Drifting Goose is one of those genuine Indian names you'll probably never see a New Ager or wannabe adopt. It doesn't have the powerful feel of an Eagle, Wolf, or Hawk name.

For similar road-related honors, see Crazy Horse Memorial Highway and The Nomlaki Highway.

March 25, 2011

Indians "win" Oppression Olympics

Three stories that appeared yesterday demonstrate America's profound racism against Indians. These stories suggest that:

Indians have no 1st Amendment rights
Indians are the biggest freeloaders
Indians are anti-American terrorists

These comments were made by the US government and two major media figures, not by anonymous bloggers or trolls. How often do you see equally significant claims against other minorities? Once every few weeks? And how often do you see three such claims in the same day? Never, in my experience.

Yet here we are with three anti-Indian claims. Any two of them might apply to blacks, Latinos, Jews, or Muslims. But all three? I've never seen a bigger one-day onslaught that applied to one minority only.

That alone is enough for me to declare a winner of the perennial "Oppression Olympics." If there was any doubt, there isn't any longer. Alas, American Indians and Alaska Natives have "won."

Millions of examples

These postings are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Every day millions of fans cheer stereotypical Indian mascots: the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, FSU Seminoles, UND Fighting Sioux, et al. Tens of thousands of corporate logos and advertisements, statues and paintings, and movies and TV shows proclaim that all Indians are "chiefs" or "braves." Thousands of children, party goers, and hipsters dress up as faux Indians for educational or entertainment purposes.

No other minority faces anything remotely like this. If you disagree, show us the evidence. Show us millions of sports fans cheering Uncle Tom or Aunt Jemima. Show us tens of thousands of corporate logos, statues and paintings, and movies and TV shows portraying blacks as grinning idiots who love watermelon. Show us thousands of children, party goers, and hipsters dressing up as minstrel-style buffoons.

And do all this not 50 years ago, not 10 years ago, but today. Because these millions of examples confront Indians today, in 2011, and every single day. Millions of examples...every single day.

Get the message yet?

For those of you who haven't gotten the point, pay attention. I'm not saying this is an actual competition with a certifiable winner. I'm commenting on the predilection of everyone--even liberal racial advocates--to ignore the plight of Indians. If you care about prejudice against blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, or gays but don't see the rampant prejudice against Indians, you're missing the forest for the trees. Why ignore such blatant examples of racism and stereotyping when they only bolster your case?

Repeat: Our culture and our media broadcast literally millions of examples of anti-Indian words and images every day. If you don't care about racial issues, that's your prerogative. But if you do care, stop focusing only on black/white issues. Start addressing the oldest and arguably worst case of prejudice in America: the prejudice against Indians.

For more on the subject, see Racist Cupcakes vs. Chiefs and Rob Plays "Oppression Olympics"?







Fox special on Indian "freeloaders"

No need to guess whether I interepreted John Stossel's comments in Stossel:  Indians Are Biggest Moochers correctly or not. Stossel has just confirmed it:

Freeloading Doesn't Help the Freeloaders

By John StosselNo group has been more "helped" by the American government than American Indians. Yet no group in America does worse.

Almost a quarter of Native Americans live in poverty. 66 percent are born to single mothers. They have short life spans. Indian activists say the solution is--surprise--more money from the government. But Washington already spends about $13 billion on programs for Indians every year.

There are special programs in 20 different Departments and Agencies: Empowering Tribal Nations Initiative, Advancing Nation to Nation Relationships, Protecting Indian Country, Improving Trust Land Management, New Energy Frontier Initiative, Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, Construction, Improving Trust Management, Tribal Priority Allocations, Resolving Land and Water Claims, Indian Land Consolidation Program. This is just a partial list.

But that's still not enough for Indian activists. In my Fox News Special "Freeloaders" (10 pm ET tonight), Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the U.S. Interior Departments Director of American Indian Trust, argues the government must do more.

I say government already does too much. Indians would be better off without government handouts. I have evidence: tribes not recognized by the federal government, tribes that get no special help, often do better.

Members of the Lumbee tribe from Robeson County, NC, own their own homes. They succeed in business. Lumbee tribe members include real estate developer Jim Thomas, who used to own the Sacramento Kings. Lumbee Jack Lowery helped start the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Lumbees started the first Indian owned bank, which now has 12 branches.

The political class doesn't understand that its independence, not government management, that allows people to prosper. Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC) is pushing a bill called the Lumbee Recognition Act. This bill would give the Lumbees the same "help" that other tribes get. That would give the Lumbees about $80 million a year.

"We shouldn't take it!" says Lumbee Ben Chavis, another successful businessman. Chavis says not getting any handouts is what makes his tribe successful, and if the federal money starts coming, members of his tribe "are going to become welfare cases. Its going to stifle creativity. We don’t need the government giving us handouts."

A report on this will air tonight at 10pm ET on the Fox News Channel. Its titled "Freeloaders." It also Re-airs Sunday at 9pm & Midnight ET.
Comment:  Stossel says he has "evidence": one quote from one member of the Lumbee tribe. And...that's it? I could find more evidence by closing my eyes and clicking on links at random.

Let's break it down for Stossel the conservative idiot. The Lumbee tribe has been seeking federal recognition for decades. This means that dozens of elected Lumbee tribal councils have sought federal recognition, which means the majority of Lumbee Indians must support recognition. Compared to that, who cares what somebody named Ben Chavis says?

Most of the nation's 565 recognized tribes could list businesses similar to the three Lumbee successes Stossel lists. Yet not one of them is demanding to be terminated and "set free." Not one of them wants to disband the BIA, sell its reservation, or eliminate its sovereignty. Not one of them is ready to abandon its treaty rights, which is the source of the government programs Stossel mislabels "freeloading."

Once in a while you do hear reactionary Indians who want to sell out their heritage, assimilate into the mainstream, and become just like the white man. I may have heard such calls a few times. Let's say five or so Indians want to do this...and five million or so don't. Stossel may be too stupid to realize it, but he's losing the debate 1,000,000 to one. For every Indian who agrees with him, roughly a million don't.

Stossel's not-so-secret agenda

I've said it before and I'll say it again. What conservatives like Stossel, Bryan Fischer, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul, et al. are doing is obvious--to me, at least. These Tea Party Republicans are launching hateful, racist attacks on Indians and other minorities to see what they can get away with. It's like launching a trial balloon for white supremacy.

They'll say the most ridiculous things they can imagine about Obama, Muslims, gays, or Indians. If America rallies behind their gambits, they're one step closer to establishing a conservative Christian autocracy that enshrines white rule. If thinking Americans slam them for their stupidity, they'll deny, obfuscate, or blame the "lamestream media." Then they'll regroup and try again.

That's the ultimate goal behind Stossel and his "Freeloaders" special. Demonize the Indians as un-American thieves and terrorists...build momentum to terminate them in Congress or the courts...take their land and resources...ban their cultures and religions...let them suffer and die...and celebrate another triumph for white Christians. That was plan Europeans came up with soon after October 12, 1492, and it's still the plan of many Americans.

For more on the conservative agenda, see Political Vitriol in Giffords Shooting and Conservatives Hate Wikileaks and Indians.

Below:  "Don't bother to thank me for stealing your whole continent. You're free now to open a laundromat or TV repair shop!"

Incredible Hulk, guitar, and buffalo skull

The Denver Art Museum’s New Galleries of American Indian Art

“Tradition” is a Work in Progress

By Holly HuntIn the education area of the Denver Art Museum’s newly reinstalled Native American galleries there’s a display of objects that contemporary native artists have named as inspirations–an Incredible Hulk comic book, a guitar, an American buffalo skull, an African headdress, an eight-year-old niece’s drawing of the BP oil spill, a rosary from a village in Chiapas where Mayan ceremonies are observed in the colonial church. The touchable art supplies in the children’s activity area include deer knuckle bones and CDs. Everywhere on the museum’s second floor the visitor encounters reminders that native people are citizens of the modern world.

The objects on display include Chippewa artist David P. Bradley’s, Land O Bucks, Land O Fakes, Land O Lakes (2006), an oversized Land O’Lakes butter box retooled as a comment on consumerist society; antique souvenirs of Niagara Falls made by Iroquois beaders. A large scale painting by Northwestern artist Jaune Quick-to-See, Trade Canoe for Don Quixote (2004), visually quotes Picasso’s Guernica and the grinning skeletons of turn-of-the-century Mexican graphic artist Jose Posada. A display of paintings by contemporary painter Mateo Romero, including works from his Bonnie and Clyde series, is paired with video of the artist in his studio. Romero, who placed the Hulk comic in the education area, describes how his first experience with art was copying pictures from the comic book collection he shared with his older brother, Diego. The work of Diego Romero, also an artist, is represented by Bar Flies (1995), a Puebloan-style ceramic bowl depicting two semi-abstracted potbellied figures drinking themselves into a stupor.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Boba Fett Meets Coyote and Denver Museum Recognizes Native Artistry.

Below:  Mateo Romero, Cochiti, Bank Job (Bonnie and Clyde Series #2), 1992. Denver Art Museum; Native Arts acquisition fund.

Four Directions wins awards

Four Directions Productions earns cinematography awardsThe Oneida Indian Nation’s involvement in the film industry recently stepped on to the national stage with four prestigious awards.

The Nation’s Four Directions Productions, a 3D animation/HD cinematography studio, won three Best of Show Platinum Aurora awards and one Gold Aurora Award in this international competition highlighting excellence in the film and video industry for regional commercials, as well as entertainment and corporate-sponsored video productions.

The promotional video the Nation produced and aired at Variety magazine’s screenings for major movie openings in New York City and Los Angeles in late 2010 and early 2011 won two Platinum awards in the category of sponsorship commercials. The 45-second spot featuring Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, spoke about the power of film and the goal of getting more “of Indian country’s rich pool of talent” into the mainstream film and television industry. A second video won a Platinum Aurora award in the area of corporate promotion/image category, as well as a Gold Aurora award in the entertainment/amusement category. This 30-second commercial was produced in 2010 to promote the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
Comment:  The interesting thing is here is Halbritter's talking about "the power of film and the goal of getting more 'of Indian country’s rich pool of talent' into the mainstream film and television industry." Sounds great, but we haven't seen any sign of its happening. Halbritter and company are still talking about Raccoon & Crawfish, a short CGI cartoon they completed in 2008. With their money, they could've completed one or two feature films since then and started developing half a dozen more.

For more on the subject, see Halbritter to Attend Oscars, Rising Stars in Native Animation, and Halbritter:  Indians Must Speak Up.