September 30, 2012

Is Warren a racist?

The Only Racism on Display Has Been From the Elizabeth Warren Camp

By Cole R. DeLauneVarious critics of Brown first enjoyed the opportunity to wax moralistic when the Senator broached the subject of his opponent’s decades-long history of ethnic self-identification during the first debate of the campaign season on September 20. Condensing the extensive and unwieldy topic into time-limited opening remarks, Brown correctly noted that the Cambridge professor had advertised herself as an American Indian in a professional context, “and, as you can see, clearly she’s not.” The Senator since clarified that he was invoking a common idiom to emphasize the substantial evidence that suggests Warren is neither culturally or genealogically Native: as documented realities show, her dishonesty is easily discernible. Of course, sanctimonious fury arose, and the backlash mischaracterized Brown as deploying a myopically superficial definition of race as skin deep. The chorus disseminating this perspective would do well to refer to the comments made by Warren in early May, when she defended the claims to Cherokee and Delaware heritage that remain unsubstantiated to this day by declaring that she has, “high cheekbones…like all the Indians do.” Evidently, policing semantic constructs and political correctness is an inherently selective pastime, since Warren herself has invoked reductive stereotypes and external signifiers of ethnicity when she felt they bolstered her fabricated narrative.DeLaune goes from "substantial evidence that suggests" to "documented realities show," which is a big leap. I'd say we're still at the "suggested" stage, not the "shown" stage. Which mean Warren's "dishonesty" isn't discernible at all, much less "easily." Again, it's not a lie to believe something without proof.

DeLaune seems to think liberals were inconsistent for criticizing Brown's comments about appearance but not Warren's. Wrong. Indians and other liberals widely lampooned Warren's "high cheekbones" remark. If you think she got a free pass on that remark, you weren't reading the news.

No liberal criticism of Warren?Enter the recording of Republican aides mimicking a gesture once popularized for commercial incentive by progressive stalwarts Ted Turner and Jane Fonda. The seconds of inanity captured on the tape in question offend only basic standards of taste: the hyperbole of the scene clearly operates as a satire of the ridiculousness of Warren’s increasingly outlandish improvisations rather than as an expression of anti-Indian animus. But, of course, few authorities wasted any time in taking Brown to task . . . for the conduct of third, fourth, and fifth parties. The rush to ascribe moral responsibility to the Senator for the foolishness of others presents a stark and chilling contrast to the absolution Professor Warren has enjoyed for the appalling prejudice she herself has displayed.To review once more, conservatives haven't proved that Warren has no Native ancestors. More important, they haven't proved that she doesn't sincerely believe what her family told her.

It would've been wise to verify these claims, but she was under no legal obligation to do so. Whenever she claimed to be Native, she apparently thought she was Native enough to do so.

The counterargument, I guess, is that she secretly researched her heritage and found she wasn't Native. Or that she should've sought tribal enrollment if she believed she was Native enough. Or that she should've consistently listed herself as white or Native, even though people with some Indian blood often use both labels.

The so-called satire--war whoops and tomahawk chops--conveys none of these subtle arguments. It doesn't convey anything except a racist notion of what an Indian is. It's no different from what sports fans do when they're encouraging a Native-themed team. Or what little kids do when they ignorantly stereotype Indians as savages.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: When a so-called satire is indistinguishable from a racist attack, there is no satire. We can't mind-read Brown's supporters to learn which ones intend the "satire" and which ones don't. What they're conveying isn't "Warren would be an Indian if she had 1/32 Indian blood and enrolled in a tribe, but she's a phony because she hasn't met these conditions." What they're conveying is "Indians are savage brutes who would rather scalp someone than play by the rules. And so is Warren."

For more on this subject, see:

"Jokes" without punchlines are racist
Landover satirizes "Injun sin"
DJs learn not to satirize Natives
Okay to satirize in "satires"?

Racist to spurn Indians?During an interview in Springfield in early summer, the academic proclaimed that she would be “the first Senator from Massachusetts with a Native background.” However, since Harvard Law’s penchant for highlighting her as a “woman of color” who added a uniquely multicultural perspective first came to light in late April, Warren has refused to speak to Native newspapers and websites, including Indian Country Today, the largest indigenous media outlet in the nation. She rebuffed overtures by Native delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to establish lines of communication. And, most memorably, she initially agreed to receive four liberally inclined Cherokee women who traveled across the nation to request an audience, and then, once they arrived, accused them of advancing a right-wing conspiracy. Nothing suggests that she interacted in a meaningful capacity with the indigenous population in Cambridge at any point during her tenure, and she has displayed no understanding of or familiarity with the rituals, customs, traditions, woes, and concerns that texture the contemporary Indian landscape.

When an individual so deliberately and consistently refuses to engage with a specific minority group, such aversions are generally regarded in and of themselves as commensurate with one pillar of personal bigotry. Imagine if any other candidate so repeatedly declined to acknowledge African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, LGBT men and women, Catholics, Mormons, Christians, or the members of another cultural community. Such demographics should consider how effectively Professor Warren will champion their interests in the Senate when she projects such transparent antagonism and explicit contempt toward the people with whom she insists she is so “proud” to share a heritage that has “always been a part” of her identity.
This is a reasonable summary of what Warren has or hasn't done, but it doesn't tell us her reasons. A few points on that:

1) Do we know that Warren has met with "African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, LGBT men and women, Catholics, Mormons, Christians, or the members of another cultural community"? I don't and I doubt DeLaune does either.

2) Indians are only partly a "cultural community." Unlike the groups on DeLaune, they're a political group as well because of their sovereign status. Has Warren met with representatives from China, Iran, or Palestine? Would she if they demanded to see her for the purpose of challenging her position? I doubt it.

3) The reason Warren is avoiding Indians is because she doesn't want to answer their questions. Not because she has some sort of aversion to them. In a tightly controlled political campaign, a Democrat usually doesn't give interviews to Rush Limbaugh, the NRA, or anti-abortion groups. Indians are like that at the moment--a political (not racial) group--that she wants to avoid.


I agree with DeLaune's arguments about what Warren should do: meet with Indians, answer their questions, and so forth. But I don't consider her "racist" because she hasn't done them. Sure, she may be prejudiced against Indians despite choosing to be one occasionally. But refusing to address their politically-based questions isn't evidence of racism.

Meanwhile, DeLaune is giving a free pass to Scott Brown for some unaccountable reason. Brown has stoked a race-based crusade against Warren based on an inconsequential part of her history. He didn't fire any of his staffers for the racist actions he provoked. All he did was claim he doesn't condone those actions.

Well, whoopee. Coming from the guy who's trying to launch a mini-race war, that's nothing. Brown is pandering to his white followers' racial fears, and they've responded the way whites always respond. Namely, with ugly stereotypes to bolster their weak-kneed courage against the scary "other." Brown has encouraged people to attack Warren and he's ultimately responsible for those attacks.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see My Thoughts on Brown vs. Warren and More Racism from the Brown Campaign.

Kansas City Star won't use "Redskins"

Major Newspaper Doesn’t Use the Term Redskins for Washington’s NFL Team Because It’s a Racial EpithetOn September 24, The Kansas City Star‘s Public Editor Derek Donovan posted a statement on, the paper’s website, regarding the Star‘s policy to avoid using the term redskins because it’s a racial epithet. In his post “Star policy on Washington NFL team’s name,” Donovan writes: “I remain unconvinced by every argument I’ve ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple. And I’ll even break my usual rule about commenting on issues outside The Star’s journalism to say that I find it inconceivable that the NFL still allows such a patently offensive name and mascot to represent the league in 2012.”

It seems the paper has adhered to the policy reasonably well. writer Isaac Rauch reports that “A search for Redskins on … turns up about 150 results. For comparison’s sake, the same search on turns up about 55,000. If you look at websites owned by papers that cover other AFC teams, like—the website of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer—or, you’ll find about 5200 and 2050, respectively. Some of the results on the Star‘s website seem to be from wire services.”
Comment:  For more on "Redskins," see Satirizing Redskins with Whiteskins and Utah Utes Were Redskins.

Johnny Depp in Comanche Nation Parade

Photos and Videos: Johnny Depp Makes Surprise Appearance at Comanche Nation ParadeActor Johnny Depp, who is portraying Tonto in The Lone Ranger, coming to theaters in 2013, made an unannounced appearance on Saturday at the Comanche Nation Fair in Lawton, Oklahoma. In May, Depp was adopted into the Comanche Nation by LaDonna Harris, president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity, who sat next to Depp in the back of a convertible that cruised the parade route.

Gil Birmingham, Comanche, who also appears in The Lone Ranger, was on hand as well. According to a report at TMZ, Depp served as grand marshal of the parade.
Comment:  No, Depp wasn't "adopted into the Comanche Nation." The latest reports indicate he was made an honorary member at most. For more on the subject, see Johnny Depp Is Honorary Comanche and Jones:  Depp Is an Indian.

Below:  "Actor Johnny Depp with actor Gil Birmingham, LaDonna Harris, and Judy Winchester."

September 29, 2012

Origin of the tomahawk chop

‘Tomahawk chop’ pops up in Mass. Senate race after history in arenas, activists’ crosshairsBack in the mid-1980s, the Seminole football boosters asked a student spirit group, then called the Scalphunters, to create a cheer to compete with the University of Florida’s two-armed “Gator chomp,” said Florida State alum Tom Desjardin.

Desjardin, a Scalphunter, said that, for lack of a better idea, they debuted the chop at a 1984 pep rally he was leading. Florida State boosters say the famous chant was added later, on a suggestion from a student from Natick High School in Massachusetts, where the chant was used to support the school’s Redmen, a nickname since changed to the Red Hawks.

The chop really took off in a game at Auburn in 1985, when the Seminole band rolled out an intimidating drum beat and trumpet music to accompany it, said Desjardin, now a historian for the state of Maine.

Desjardin said the chop’s violent imagery wasn’t lost on the Scalphunters, but it wasn’t what drove its creation. A main consideration was the fact it was a shoulder-up motion that could be seen in a crowd, he said.

Desjardin added there’s a deep respect at Florida State for the Seminole tribe, which the school consults closely on all uses of tribal imagery and which in 2005 granted the school permission to use its name.

“If the tribe had ever said, ‘We don’t like that (the chop), you would have never seen it again,’” Desjardin said.Instead, the chop spread to Atlanta. That city’s Seminole Booster Club claims credit for starting it all when some members used it at a Braves game to catch the attention of outfielder Deion Sanders, an FSU alum who began playing for Atlanta in 1991.

When the Braves made the World Series that year against Minnesota, American Indian groups protested in Minneapolis and Atlanta, saying the cheer perpetuated racist stereotypes of Native Americans as war-obsessed savages. Some called out Braves owner Ted Turner and his wife at the time, Jane Fonda, for doing the chop.

But former President Jimmy Carter defended it, saying it was a way to note that the team was emulating the courage of American Indians.
Comment:  Turner, Fonda, and Carter are as wrong as everyone else about the "honoring" argument.

If the Seminole Tribe protested the tomahawk chop, it probably would face the usual firestorm of protest. The school would try to negotiate a compromise rather than simply ban the practice. See the whole "Fighting Sioux" conflict for a good example of how it would play out.

For more on the subject, see More Racism from the Brown Campaign and Brown Staffers Whoop and Chop.

Below:  The Seminoles' spearchucking mascot Chief Osceola.

My thoughts on Brown vs. Warren

A Native colleague said he was going on the radio to discuss Elizabeth Warren and asked what I thought. My response:

I'm sure you've been following the story. I don't have any special insights, but here's how I'd approach it.

I'd say they both deserve criticism. Brown is obviously playing racial politics. He hasn't proved Warren lied or did anything wrong. (Believing a family legend without proof isn't a lie.) All he's done is insinuate that she's hiding something.

This issue has little or nothing to do with her qualifications to be senator. It's all about stoking the racial fears and prejudices of his followers. I bet they'd react the same way if she were an enrolled citizen, but the cheating angle is irresistible. We can see how they've responded: the stereotypical headlines, the war whoops and tomahawk chops, and the "Princess Little Big Liar" billboard.

Warren is obviously playing Indian. Like every other wannabe in existence, she has a rumor of a Cherokee (princess) in her background. Acknowledging that tiny alleged part of her heritage is one thing, but she listed herself as Native, period, in a cookbook, a directory, and a job application or diversity report.

She hasn't answered any of the key questions about her claims. Why did she switch from white to Native to white again? If she wanted to "network," why didn't she join a Native group or get involved in Native issues? She admits she told at least one school she was Native. How is that assumed identity not a crass career move to jump ahead of the line?

In short, I'd criticize both sides equally. They're both guilty of playing politics and obfuscating the real issues of tribal citizenship and identity. America needs a serious dialogue about these issues and they're blowing a golden opportunity.

P.S. The evenhanded approach also has the advantage of making you look better than any partisan on one side or the other. <g>


Someone on the radio show made a good point. People have learned to associate Indians with headdresses, war whoops, and tomahawk chops from a myriad of old movies, bad TV shows, and sports mascots. Once learned, they don't limit this behavior to "harmless" activities like rooting at a sports game. They're using it to ridicule someone who could be part Indian.

Note that the insulting behavior began before people investigated Warren's background. So they're not doing it because they proved Warren was lying. It's more basic than that. Whenever a controversy about Indians arises, you can expect ignoramuses to trot out the usual stereotypes: chiefs, headdresses, tomahawks, savages, drunks, etc.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see More Racism from the Brown Campaign and Why Brown and Warren Are Wrong.

Romney:  47% are moochers

Indian Comics Irregular #213:  Romney:  47% Are Moochers">

September 28, 2012

Dammed Indians is South Dakota's Book One

Native Sun News: Indian author a part of South Dakota book fest

By Evelyn Red LodgeThousands of people are expected to visit the upcoming 10th annual Festival of Books in downtown Sioux Falls.

The festival features this year’s Book One selection, “Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux” by Michael Lawson.

According to the festival’s website,, more than 40 authors will be on hand to make presentations and offer book signings Sept. 28-30.

What is more, most of the 50 festival events over the three jam-packed days are free, but people are asked to register on the website. The site also states the festival includes events for children and teenagers.

Lawson’s book describes how “In 1944, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation created the Pick-Sloan Plan for multi-purpose water development in the Missouri River Basin. This plan caused more damage to American Indian lands and resources than any other public works project in America,” according to

Local Hunkpati Dakota, or Crow Creek Sioux, scholar and author Elizabeth Cook-Lynn sat down with Native Sun News to talk about Lawson’s book and its connection to her book, “From the River’s Edge,” which will also be featured at the Festival of Books.

“‘Dammed Indians Revisited’ is a non-fiction story of the flooding of the Missouri River with six hydropower dams in the 1950s and 1960s. Actually, it started in 1930 with (the) Flood Control Act,” Cook-Lynn, author of 12 books, said.

“My book, ‘From the Rivers Edge,’ is the only nonfiction book written about this event. It was originally published in 1991 by Arcade Publishing in New York. It has been out of print. Living Justice Press published 1,000 copies of it last month only for the Festival of Books.
Comment:  For more on Native-themed books, see Keillor Interviews Dakota Author and "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter."

Below:  Michael Lawson.

Multimedia Oneida exhibit at NMAI

Oneida Indian Nation announces new interactive exhibit at Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian

By Alaina PotrikusThe 19-foot bronze sculpture titled Ć¢Allies in War, Partners in PeaceĆ¢€depicts Oneida Chief Skenandoah and an Oneida woman, Polly Cooper, with George Washington.

A new multi-media presentation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will give new life to Oneida Indian Nation history, officials announced this morning.

In 2002, the nation committed $10 million to the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

This morning, Oneida leader Ray Halbritter delivered the eighth $1 million installment of the donation at the Shako:wi Cultural Center on the nation's 32-acre territory off Route 46 in Oneida.

The meeting between Halbritter and museum director Kevin Gover included details of the new exhibit on the museum’s fourth floor, which was named for the Oneida Nation's donation.

The centerpiece will be the existing 19-foot bronze sculpture titled “Allies in War, Partners in Peace.” It depicts Oneida Chief Skenandoah and an Oneida woman, Polly Cooper, with George Washington.

The exhibit will now include an eight-minute multimedia presentation that will fill the entire gallery from floor to ceiling, “immersing the audience within the storytelling montage,” Halbritter said.
Comment:  For more on the Oneida Nation, see Oneida Nation Finances Feature Film and Oneida Nation Gives Another $1 Million to NMAI.

September 27, 2012

More racism from the Brown campaign

War Whoops Heard In 2nd Video Of Brown CampaigningA second video has surfaced showing Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown speaking to supporters while war whoops can be heard in the background.

The whoops, apparently from a lone supporter, escalate as Brown criticizes Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage.

Brown doesn’t react in the brief clip. It’s not clear that Brown even heard the person.

The video, recorded at a Republican fundraiser in Chatham over the summer, was posted by the Democrat-leaning Blue Mass Group Wednesday.

Local Anti-Elizabeth Warren Sign Ridicules Her as ‘Princess Little Big Liar’Robert Sullivan, 64, owner of Sullivans Inc., a motorcycle accessories distributor in Hanson, Massachusetts, has posted two signs outside his store featuring Elizabeth Warren in American Indian headdress with war paint on her face, reported

The signs state: “Elizabeth Warren is a joke. Princess Little Big Liar. Vote Scott Brown United States Senate,” criticizing the U.S. Senate candidate for her claimed Cherokee and Dakota heritage. Indian Country Today Media Network’s Rob Capriccioso has written extensively about Warren’s claim, including a story about the Senate debate.

“We’re $16 trillion dollars in debt and these politicians don’t seem to care and somebody’s got to pay the tab, right?” Sullivan told the local newspaper.

Sullivan is also the man behind controversial anti-Obama ads. On one placard, a young girl gives the middle finger to the President. The other displays President Obama’s photo beside the remarks: “Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing its idiot. Obama One Big Ass Mistake America, Vote Mitt Romney for 2012!”

Response from Indians

NCAI Characterizes Massachusetts Senate Campaign as “Extremely Disturbing”

National tribal organization calls for civil discourse and immediate stop to politicization of Native identityNCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata released the following statement:In the last week, the Massachusetts Senate race reached an extremely disturbing place. The National Congress of American Indians is calling for the candidates to return civility to the public discourse and to immediately stop the politicization of Native identity. On Tuesday, video footage was released showing Senator Brown’s staff leading crowds in ‘war whooping’ and ‘tomahawk chopping’ during a clash with Warren supporters. Additionally, last Thursday Senator Brown made inflammatory remarks about Warren’s skin color as an indicator that she is not of Native descent.

The video footage of Senator Brown’s staff engaged in ‘war whooping’ and ‘tomahawk chopping’ is not only offensive and demeaning to Native Americans it is also demoralizing to citizens across the country. It’s concerning that experienced staff members of a United States Senator would act this way; Senator Brown should take corrective action immediately. These actions belittle the democratic process and are emblematic of an irresponsible public discourse on race and Native identity by misinformed individuals and the media.

Elizabeth Warren also bears responsibility for allowing the public discourse about Native identity to become misrepresented. She has every right to be proud of her family, however her campaign failed to educate a non-Native media and the public unfamiliar with federal tribal enrollment rules or about historic federal policies that make proving Native ancestry very difficult for some people. Finally, Warren’s campaign did not respond to requests for interviews from Native media organizations. All of these actions could have gone a long way to reducing tension and increasing awareness.

The video released of Brown’s staffers comes just days after Senator Brown responded to a question during the opening of a September 20, 2012 televised debate between the two candidates in which he referred to Warren’s white skin color as proof that she is not of Native American descent in response to an opening question about character, “I think character is important…what you are referring to is the fact that Professor Warren claimed she is a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she is not.”

Skin color or physical appearance has no bearing on one’s Native American heritage or status as an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. As a result, numerous national television programs and websites have irresponsibly echoed Senator Brown’s statements by referring to someone’s skin color as an indicator for Native American identity. These claims are false and Senator Brown should correct the record and retract his statement immediately.

NCAI is concerned by the negative and racially charged statements and actions that are the result of the politicization of the issue of Native ancestry. This issue has no bearing on the qualifications to be the Senator of Massachusetts.

Native American peoples have long endured discrimination and we will not tolerate, nor should the American people tolerate, a return to hostile environments or ignorant discourse about America’s first peoples. Nor should we tolerate a hostile environment about a common characteristic many people share, a connection to Native American ancestry.

Today, Native people are proud of our ancestors, our place in the American family of governments, and we will not stand for irresponsible behavior or public discourse.
Comment:  I'd say the NCAI's statement accurately reflects the Native sentiment I've seen. Many Indians are Democrats who support Warren, but some have questions about her heritage claims. Nobody finds Brown's comments or the actions of his supporters acceptable.

Let's add that it's not clear Warren has lied about anything. By all accounts, she sincerely believes her family legends whether they're true or not.

It's not a lie to stick with a belief even if you have no evidence for it. If that weren't the case, a few billion people would be "liars" for believing in their religion.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Why Brown and Warren Are Wrong and Cherokee Chief Denounces Brown Staffers.

Nunavut Resources Corporation seeks financing

Inuit Group Seeks Funding on Wall Street to Mine Nunavut for Metals, MineralsAn Inuit group from Canada’s Nunavut territory comes to Wall Street today to pitch investors for financing for start-up mining and exploration projects in the Arctic, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Nunavut Resources Corporation (NRC) seeks to explore the 280,000-square-mile Kitikmeot Region of the Territory of Nunavut for metals and minerals. Approximately 32,000 people reside in the vast region roughly the size of Western Europe. The Inuit-owned land is “totally unexplored,” said Charlie Evalik, the chairman of the NRC, and mining experts speak of its potential mineral riches.

This week, Evalik said he will met with New York-based private-equity investors, as well as Eric Sprott, chief investment officer at Sprott Asset Management, in Toronto.

“The financing will be a challenge, but I think it will come,” Evalik told the WSJ.
Comment:  "Eskimo Susie" in Saturday Night Live is the stereotype and this is the reality. Namely, guys in suits meeting Wall Street financiers to sign a multimillion-dollar business deal. The gap between truth and fiction couldn't be much wider.

For more on the Inuit, see Alaska Documentary on Native Suicide and Ice Age Documentary Stars Alaska Natives.

Below:  "The rugged airstrip on the Goose property south of Bathurst Inlet used by Sabina Gold and Silver to bring in the supplies they need for exploration. NRC announced a partnership with Sabina on March 23 to work together on infrastructure development in the Kitikmeot." (Sabina)

Muscogee man is #1 principal

There’s joy in Toppenish as principal named #1 in nation

By Phil FerolitoSchool band members rolled out a bass beat as students chanted "We’re No. 1, we’re No. 1." A few students held a large banner naming Greene the 2013 National Principal of the Year. He knew he had been nominated for the national award, but this was the first word that he was chosen.

"I didn’t understand why all the cameras where here, but everyone was smiling so that seemed like a good thing," he said after the gathering. "Usually when there are a bunch of cameras at a school, it isn’t a good thing."

Greene, 43, is the first high school principal in the Northwest to receive the award from MetLife Resources and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Only two awards are given each year by the organizations, one to a high school principal and the other to a middle school principal.

Greene, a Muscogee-Creek tribal member, was noted for turning this school nestled on the Yakama reservation—where poverty is high and opportunity slim—into a high-performing institution offering 27 high-profile engineering and biomedical classes. The effort saw state science scores improve by 67 percent over three years. Greene, who became principal of the high school in 2008, was selected from a large pool of principals, one from each state across the country. He was nominated for the national award by the state’s principals association. His school will receive a $5,000 school-improvement grant as part of the award.
Comment:  For more on Indians and education, see First American Indian Sorority and Juneau Addresses Democratic Convention.

September 26, 2012

Why Brown and Warren are wrong

Senator Scott Brown’s Racist and Anti-Indian Campaign Rallies: Why Progressive People Should Give Money to Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign in Order to Get this Bigot Out of Office

By Gyasi Ross[T]he Scott Brown campaign decided to go a bit further than simply “questioning” her authenticity as a Native American. No, that wasn’t enough; instead, at a recent campaign rally, the campaign worked the crowd into a frenzy to the point where they were mocking and ridiculing the stereotypical Native “war cries” and “tomahawk chops.” Now, Brown said that he doesn’t “condone” the behavior, but in the same breath said that ”The real offense is that [Warren] said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American…”

No, the real offense is Brown excusing racism and attempting to deflect from the hate speech being conducted at his rally. The behavior there was bigoted, and his attempts to excuse it are likewise bigoted.

Disgusting. Don’t believe me?

Now obviously, this isn’t real Native American behavior—it’s the evil fantasy of what a bunch of racist white men think Native American behavior looks like. That doesn’t make it any better—imagine if they were slanting their eyes and acting like they were doing karate in mocking gestures of stereotypical Asian gestures. What would the reaction be then? Or alternatively, if they were in blackface and shuffling their feet in mocking gestures of unpleasant and racist African-American imagery?

There would be hell to pay. There should be hell to pay now. Objectively.

We need to hold Warren’s feet to the fire and figure out relationship with Indian country; I am hopeful that she will be an ally. It’s safe to say that she owes us some answers. Still, I would much rather roll the dice with Ms. Warren than with a man who excuses racist behavior within his campaign—he’s obviously not a friend to Native people, and you can probably safely assume that is not much of a friend to any vulnerable people. Remember: if it were you or your group, you would take action. Take action now—please give to Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign and let’s get this bigot out of office.
Massachusetts Senatorial Race: Identity Standards, Not Identity Politics

By Suzan Shown HarjoBrown and Warren are lawyers—he’s been making law and she’s been teaching law. They know the meaning of evidence and standing. They should know that federal and tribal Native American identity centers on nationhood and citizenship, under criteria set by each Native nation. The standard is political relationship, not racial composition.

“I never asked for documentation,” said Warren, “What kid would?” Kids of the 39 Native nations in and pre-dating Oklahoma (Warren’s home state) have all sorts of documentation, from treaties and governance documents to tribal IDs to verify eligibility for health care.

Even if Warren never sought or noticed proof about her family or ties to Native peoples past and present, is she curious about or interested in others, such as the many Native students at her Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City? Did she make friends with any? Did she ever go to a pow-wow or to a Cherokee or Delaware event? Oklahoma has the second largest Native population of any state today and Oklahoma City has the fourth largest Native population of any U.S. city. It’s hard to miss Native peoples or history in Oklahoma. Did she notice the awful “No Indians or Dogs Allowed” signs in Oklahoma when she was growing up?

As an adult, did she contact the Cherokee Nation or Delaware Tribe? As a lawyer or law professor, did she contact any tribal courts to find out how they are structured or how they handle cases in her areas of legal interest? Did she seek Native lawyers, teachers, students or policymakers in D.C. or Michigan (she was there at the height of the treaty fishing and hunting courtroom wars) or Harvard? Why didn’t she meet with Native American Delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August? They were trying to help her.

If she were so proud and certain of her family history and she did check the Native American box, why not admit it? If she did not, why not? And why the box-hopping from white to minority to Native and back to white?
Comment:  Pundits have made similar points in both Brown's and Warren's case before. Brown's campaign is a thinly veiled attempt to stoke racial prejudice: Racial Politics of Warren Case. Warren hasn't been begun to answer the questions put to her: Warren Benefited from White Privilege.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Brown:  Warren Doesn't Look Native and Brown Staffers Whoop and Chop.

Cherokee chief denounces Brown staffers

Cherokee Nation calls actions of Sen. Scott Brown staff 'offensive' and 'racist'

Rally video surfaces after campaigns release ads about Warren's heritageThe Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday, denouncing the actions of staffers and supporters of the Sen. Scott Brown campaign, who were shown in a YouTube video chanting Indian "war whoops" and making "tomahawk chops" during a rally for the Republican senator earlier in the week in Boston.

Staff members on Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's campaign have been caught on camera directing tomahawk chops toward supporters of opponent Elizabeth Warren, who has claimed her family has Native American heritage. Take a look at other notable missteps candidates and their campaigns have taken during the 2012 election season.

"The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse. The use of stereotypical “war whoop chants” and “tomahawk chops” are offensive and downright racist. It is those types of actions that perpetuate negative stereotypes and continue to minimize and degrade all native peoples," Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation said in a statement.
Comment:  For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Brown:  Warren Doesn't Look Native and Brown Staffers Whoop and Chop.

Navajo Skate and BMX Competition

Wheels Up: The Skater and BMX Competition at the 66th Annual Navajo Nation Fair Another Success

By Sunnie ClahchischiligiOn September 8, during the 66th Annual Navajo Nation Fair Skate and BMX Competition held at the Office of Dine Youth/Boys and Girls Club of the Dine Nation skate park in Ft. Defiance, dozens of skateboarders and bikers, including Harvey, competed for a chance to win a skateboard and other prizes.

Harvey, 13, is now a sponsored skater for Lucky Day Skate Co., and no longer has to compete for a board, but that didn’t stop him from entering.

“It has changed for me,” he said. “Now that I’m sponsored, I don’t really need to worry about it, but I just joined to compete and have fun.”

Many aren’t as fortunate as Harvey, which is why Urian Begay, health education technician for Navajo Health Education Program in Ft. Defiance, helps put on such competitions multiple times a year. The Navajo Health Education Program reaches out to students and presents at various schools and communities about subjects such as tobacco, drug use and STDs.
Comment:  For more on Indians and skateboarding, see Red Lake Skate Park Opens and Stronghold Society Sponsors Sk8Jam Competition.

September 25, 2012

Brown:  Warren doesn't look Native

Scott Brown channels Jesse Helms

Scott Brown channels his inner Jesse Helms and attacks Elizabeth Warren for "using" her Native American heritage

By Joan Walsh
In last week’s debate, Brown channeled Helms when he attacked Warren. “Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she’s not,” he said. “When she applied to Penn and Harvard, she checked the box claiming she was a Native American. Clearly she’s not. That being said, I don’t know, and neither do the viewers know whether she got ahead as a result of checking that box.”

There are so many things wrong with Brown’s take on Warren’s heritage it’s hard to know where to start. For one thing, “as you can see” isn’t the way we classify people racially. Given our nation’s history of racial mixing, it’s a dangerous and insensitive place to go. It showed Brown up as cosseted in his own white world, unaware of the complexities of diversity—that people can wind up looking like one ethnicity when they are actually from another.

Most important, it showed Brown is willing to play on the anxieties of white men that women and minorities are using affirmative action to take jobs they should have. He came right out and said we don’t know “whether she got ahead as a result of checking that box.” It was astonishing. Watching the debate at the time, I tweeted, “I cannot believe Scott Brown talked about Warren’s racial background so stridently. It’s like the old ‘white hands’ ad.”

I’m not denying there are reasonable questions about Warren’s racial heritage and how she has identified herself over the years. Earlier in the campaign, she took too long to answer some of those questions. But her story that she was told she had Native American heritage by her family—in fact, that her parents had to elope because her father’s family disdained her mother’s family’s Cherokee and Delaware background—and that she never questioned it, has the ring of truth to those of us who’ve grown up on complicated family stories about ethnicity and secrets. In a Boston Globe story this weekend, some of Warren’s cousins corroborated her story, saying they too were told of ancestors who hid their Native American ancestry, while others said they’d never heard that (Warren’s siblings backed her up right away).

For Scott Brown to decide he’s going to be the arbiter of Warren’s complicated racial heritage is the height of white male privilege and arrogance.
Really, Scott Brown?

By Josh MarshallNow, there’s a whole complicated debate about what it means to “look white” and obviously there are different hues of Cherokee in the US today. But I think the examples above speak for themselves. Brown apparently thinks that if Warren were a real Cherokee she’d be over there at the podium with dark-hued skin, war paint and a feather headdress.

Whether Warren was right to claim some level of Indian ancestry or whether she’s credentialed with this or that tribe I don’t really know or care about. But this “she don’t look Indian” line Brown is now basing his campaign on is ignorant to the point of offensive.
Comment:  Newspaper Rock readers would never make this mistake, I'm sure.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Dueling Ads on Warren's Heritage and Brown Confronts Warren About Heritage.

Below:  Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation.

"Eskimo Susie" in Saturday Night Live

The 2012 season finale of Saturday Night Live (airdate: 5/19/12) had a mention of Natives. In a skit, failed theater actress Mindy Grayson (Kristen Wiig) appeared on the game show Secret Word. When she blurted out a secret word, she claimed she "knew to guess it." She continued:Just like I knew I wasn’t gonna win the Tony for "Eskimo Susie and the Igloo Crew." The New York Post said, "The only way is could be called a hit is if you put an s in front of the h!"

Here is the big number, hit it! "Eskimo Susie and the igloo crew, chewing on blubber, why do we live here?"
Comment:  So "Eskimos" live in igloos, chew on blubber, and live in the Arctic for no good reason? I guess they should move to someplace like Death Valley, which is just as intemperate but firmly ensconced in the United States?

These comments are obviously stereotypical. The Inuit live in igloos the way the Lakota live in teepees and white men live in log cabins. Which is to say, not at all, except in rare situations.

Everyone knows that white men no longer live in log cabins. But no one seems to know that the Inuit live in houses just like everyone else. Skits like this reinforce the stereotypical belief that "everyone knows": that the Inuit and other Natives are primitive people of the past.

For more on Eskimos, see Stereotypical Inuk Adoption Poster and Cartoon About "Eskimo Baptism."

Brown staffers whoop and chop

Brown Staffers Make ‘Tomahawk Chop’ Motions At Warren Supporters

By Eric KleefeldStaffers for Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) reportedly participated in war-whoop sounds and “tomahawk chop” gestures at supporters of Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, mocking Warren’s claimed Native American ancestry.

The incident occurred this past Saturday in Boston, at a rally for Brown featuring former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, and at which a group of Warren supporters also showed up with signs. The video was posted Tuesday by the state liberal blog Blue Mass Group.

According to the local ABC affiliate in Boston, it has been confirmed that among the participants were Brown’s deputy Chief of Staff Greg Casey, Constituent Service Counsel Jack Richard, plus state GOP operative Brad Garrett.

“It is certainly something that I don’t condone,” Brown himself told the station. “The real offense is that (Warren) said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American, and then she changed her profile in the law directory once she made her tenure.”
Comment:  For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Dueling Ads on Warren's Heritage and Brown Confronts Warren About Heritage.

September 24, 2012

Dueling ads on Warren's heritage

New Elizabeth Warren ad responds to Scott Brown's attacks on Native American issue

By Shira SchoenbergDemocratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren responded to a TV ad attacking her use of her Native American ancestry with her own ad that directly addresses the controversy.

Monday morning, the campaign of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown released a TV ad attacking Warren on the question of whether she used of her Native American heritage to benefit her career.

Asked about the ad at an event Monday morning, Warren declined to address it directly. But by the evening, the Warren campaign had shot back a response. In an ad featuring Warren talking directly to the camera, Warren offers a similar explanation to one she gave in Thursday’s night’s debate.

Warren says in the ad that as a kid, she never asked her parents for documentation of her heritage. “What kid would?” she asks. She says her parents eloped because father’s family didn’t like that her mother was part Cherokee and part Delaware. “Let me be clear,” Warren says. “I never asked for and never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn’t even know about it.” The ad concludes with Warren saying, “Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I’m going to continue fighting for yours.”
Scott Brown attacks Elizabeth Warren for use of Native American heritage with new TV ad

By Shira SchoenbergThere’s no more Mr. and Mrs. Nice Guy in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race.

After Democratic Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren released a TV ad attacking Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Brown is fighting back with a negative ad of his own – focusing on Warren’s use of her Native American heritage.

The ad features a series of news clips from this summer when Warren was confronted with questions about whether she used her Native American heritage to advance her career. The ad concludes with a clip of Warren being asked whether anything else will come out about her. Her joking response, “I don’t think so, but who knows?”

Warren listed her herself as a minority in law directories, and Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania both listed her as Native American in diversity statistics. Warren has not provided documentation of her heritage, but has said it is part of her family lore.
Comment:  To refresh your memory, the issue isn't what Warren's parents told her. No one is seriously questioning that, although Warren is wrong that no one questions their parents. My impression is that everyone does it. You ask them about family secrets and try to clear up vague claims. It's most common when you're adopted or a parent is missing, but it's common whenever there's a mystery.

One real issue is how the schools knew about her heritage if she didn't tell them. And in fact she's admitted telling them about it, so she's lying about not doing so. This knowledge may not have affected their decision to hire her, although that strains credulity. But it certainly raises more questions.

Another issue is why she claimed Native heritage for a while and then stopped. Claiming it in a cookbook is one thing, but in a professional capacity? Are we seriously supposed to believe she was just trying to meet other Natives? When she made no effort whatsoever to join Native groups or learn Native issues? Again, her explanation strains credulity.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Brown Confronts Warren About Heritage and Elizabeth Warren Ducks Native Delegates.

Ho-Chunk starts arena football team

Ho-Chunk starts up arena football team

By Dave DreeszenHo-Chunk Inc. has added a professional sports team to its diverse portfolio holdings.

The Winnebago Tribe's economic development corporation is the majority owner of the Lincoln Haymakers, a new indoor football team.

"We are committed to economic development in our region and in the state," said Ho-Chunk CEO Lance Morgan, who noted the tribe has a 150-year history in Nebraska. "This is an opportunity for us to provide both an entertainment venue and a spots franchise for Lincoln, and it is an opportunity to be associated with a game that all Nebraskans love."

The Haymakers will play in the newly formed Champions Professional Indoor Football League. Their rivals will include the Sioux City Bandits, which has moved to the six-league.
Comment:  For more on Native sponsorship of sports teams, see San Manuel Partners with Local Ballclub and Tiguas Buy El Paso Diablos.

Below:  Lance Morgan.

License plate for Plymouth's 400th anniversary

Plymouth pushing license plate commemorating town’s 400th anniversary

By Emily SweeneyPlans are underway to produce a special license plate commemorating Plymouth’s 400th anniversary.

The limited edition plate design features a light-blue image of the Mayflower ship encapsulating a solid white silhouette of a Native American man. Along the bottom of the plate reads the simple slogan: “1620 Plymouth 2020.”

The organizers of Plymouth’s 400th-birthday celebration hope to get that logo and slogan on the bumpers of 3,000 vehicles over the next two years.

They will cost $40 apiece, and $28 from each plate fee will go toward funding the town’s 400th-anniversary celebration in 2020.
Comment:  It was smart of them to include an Indian in the design. Without one, there might've been a protest over a plate that seemed to celebrate colonization.

For more on the subject, see "6 Ridiculous Lies" About Indians and Thanksgiving in This Is America, Charlie Brown.

September 23, 2012

Sumter Native American Family Tribe

Tribe keeping their history alive

By Roxanne BrownHoward Oxendine, or "Chief Red Eagle" of the Sumter Native American Family Tribe based in Bushnell, is passionate about keeping the history of Native Americans alive.

Oxendine, a member of the first Cherokee family to move to Sumter in 1957, for years has spent a great deal of time educating children in Sumter County schools about American Indian history.

Now, for the first time, he'll be able to educate hundreds more at the First Annual Inter-Tribal Native American Holiday Pow-Wow, set for September 28-30 at The Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, in Bushnell.

"We are focused on educating as many people as we can about Native Americans because we don't want our history to be lost. That's what it is, we're trying hard to hold onto it," Oxendine said, adding that decades ago in 1962, President J. F. Kennedy designated the fourth Friday of September as 'Native American Day,' a state and federally recognized holiday in a proclamation.
Comment:  That should be "tribe," not tribe. And no Florida "chief" should wear a Plains headdress.

This posting led to a brief discussion on Facebook:"Sumter Native American Family Tribe"? WTF?Right. They even announce that they're some sort of family clique in their title. Most "tribes" go the other route and try to sound official. E.g., the "Western Cherokee Band of East Carolina" (a name I just made up).

I guess the "Oxendine Tribe Owned and Operated by Me" would be a little too informal.

Note that the South Lake Press has contributed to the problem by reporting on the "tribe" uncritically. The reporter should've asked Oxendine some basic questions, starting with: By what rights do you call yourselves "Indians" or a "tribe"? What makes you any different from the 200-plus other Cherokee wannabe tribes?

For more on Indian wannabes, see Serbin Protests Chasco Krewe, Wannabes and Cherokee Website Targets Warren.

Navajo hosts mixed martial arts

Navajo Nation hosts first MMA event in Window Rock

By Shondiin SilversmithThe capital of the Navajo Nation is about to play host for its first extreme sporting event as fighters from across the nation gather to compete in the mixed martial arts event "Warpath 3: Rise of Champions" this weekend at the Window Rock Sports Center.

"It's a Native American mixed martial arts professional and amateur event," said Tay Carroll, CEO of Cage LifeTM Sports and Entertainment, a Native American owned and operated professional MMA and entertainment company based in Albuquerque. "We are looking to promote up and coming Native American talent."

Carroll said Warpath was founded in 2006 with the intent of promoting local Native American fighters, but as they scouted for competitors no Native fighters could be found–until now that is.

"One of the biggest goals we have is helping the young Native American athletes find this sport and work toward that major goal of actually making it into the big time," he said.

A large part of the fight card is Native American, which is what makes Warpath 3 different from the first two, according to Carroll.

"This is the first time we've promoted a big card like this with all Native American competitors," he said adding that there are a total of 12 fights scheduled, including pro and amateur fights. Carroll said that two thirds of the fight card is Navajo fighters.
Comment:  The whole Warpath concept is stereotypical, of course. But I guess it's appropriate in this particular situation.

For more on Native martial arts, see Native Pankration Champion and Vilche the "Eskimo Warrior."

Evolution video game features Lakota

Gaming company to release Native American-themed gameA new gaming company in Germany called Scorpius Forge will be introducing a new series of games called Evolution that incorporates historical references and nature to create positive and interactive learning experience.

Native Americans is the first installment of the game series that takes place in 18th century Lakota Sioux territory. The player takes control of a 6-year-old boy who learns how to fish, hunt and ride horses. The game focuses heavily on living conditions, environmental effects, culture and rites of the Lakota.

Each hour of gameplay adds a year to the character’s life. The player can develop skills as a warrior, start a family and contribute to the community. Although the character can die, his skills can be passed to his descendants and the game will restart on a higher level with difficult challenges.

The game, scheduled for release in December, will be available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Comment:  The focus on the Lakota of the past is a bit unfortunate. Modern Indians from a variety of tribes could learn these skills too.

Even if it focuses on the past, the game could include a modern framework. You know, modern Indians want to learn traditional skills, so they consult an elder who tells stories about the past. Then the game goes into flashback mode.

But for what it's doing, the game sounds good. Sounds like it portrays Indians the way video games should portray them. Namely, as people with sophisticated skills and beliefs, not as savage killing machines.

For more on Indians in video games, see Assassin Creed 3' Native Heritage and "Native Representations in Video Games."

September 22, 2012

Parent calls Chippewa girls "thieves"

Racially-Charged Incident at Middle School Volleyball Tournament in Minot, ND: Turtle Mountain Chippewa Parents and Community Want Answers

By Ruth HopkinsFarrah Reopelle is the mother of Rylan Reopelle, a 13 year old girl who is part of the Turtle Mountain Community Middle School volleyball team. She spoke with Lastrealindians about the events in question. The Reopelles are Native American and live on the reservation in Belcourt, ND.

“I went to go watch my daughter's games and when I got there they were halfway finished with the first game. Once the game was over, the team came and sat in my area of the gym where their personal belongings were as well. As I sat there visiting with my daughter about her game, some girls came over to the coach and told her that a white iPod was stolen from one of the locker rooms. When the girls were leaving, they noticed one of our girls from the Belcourt team with a white iPod and immediately put the blame on her. About five minutes later a police officer and the director of the tournament came up to the coach and young girl, demanding that she give up the white iPod.”

Ms. Reopelle continues: “After the police officer inspected the iPod, he then went onto search a few of the [other] girls’ bags, continuing his search for the missing iPod. No other team was approached with this nor were any other teams’ bags inspected or searched, only Belcourt's. When the police officer was done searching the bags he left with the director of the tournament. Also, the police officer did not have the common courtesy to pull the coach aside and search bags in a separate room besides the gymnasium where a lot of other people were. It was actually pretty humiliating to witness.”

After these events, the girls on the Belcourt team were then expected to play in a game in another gym on the same campus. They lost that game. Farrah says her daughter came to her in tears afterward.

“My daughter was balling and so upset she could hardly even get the words out to speak. She said one parent from another team had come up to her and called her a "f***ing thief" and that the team members were nothing but "f***ing thieves." My sister grabbed Rylan and brought her out to the commons area to point out the parent that said this but she was nowhere in sight. We told the coach what had happened, so the coach gathered all the girls to bring them outside to wait for the bus. Upon waiting, that same parent came walking up to enter the school and started talking all kinds of filth. Saying things like, "You're all ***ing thieves," "go back to where you came from," and "we don't owe you anything," calling out my sister, and flipping us off. At this point I was on my phone trying to find the number to the police department in Minot and called dispatch. While speaking to dispatch, some of the girls from the Mandan team had come outside and were throwing grapes at myself, while I was completely oblivious as I was furious and on the phone with dispatch.”
Comment:  Assuming and declaring that Indians are thieves is stereotypical, of course. It's a variant of the savage and uncivilized Indian stereotypes.

For more racist incidents, see Poster Compares Abortion to Genocide and Legion "Joke" About Murdering Indians.

NCAI aims to increase Indian voting

National Tribal Group Aims to Register More VotersA national tribal advocacy group is planning a week of voter education and registration events in more than 130 communities across Indian Country in an effort to boost turnout in November.

The National Congress of American Indians says there's a "civic emergency" in American Indian communities. The group says two out of five eligible American Indian and Alaska Natives are not registered to vote.

The group wants to boost participation by at least 10 percent.

Next week's events are expected to reach more than 35,000 people in 29 states.
Elections 2012: Native Voter Drive Kicks Off This Week

By Mark TrahantMore than 35,000 people in 130 communities across the country are participating in Native Vote Action Week beginning today. Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day.

“Now is a crucial time for Indian country to work together to get Native Voters registered and ready to go to make our voice heard on November 6th as we participate in national and state elections,” National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel said. Native Vote Action Week is a response to Keel’s call during the January 2012 State of Indian Nations, for the largest Native voter turnout in history. “The Native vote counts for our people, our rights, and our culture. We must raise our voice and remember, that every Native vote counts.”

Earlier this year NCAI declared “a civic emergency” because of the low rates of voting participation by American Indians and Alaska Natives. NCAI said only two out of every five eligible voters are not registered–some 1 million eligible voters were unregistered.

Native Vote events this week include registration drives at tribal colleges, tribal offices and health centers.
Comment:  For more on voter registration, see White Americans Fear a Black President and Only Property Owners Should Vote?

Keillor interviews Dakota author

Garrison Keillor Chats With Native Author Diane Wilson About Her Memoir Spirit CarGarrison Keillor, host of A Prairie Home Companion, will discuss Spirit Car: A Journey to a Dakota Past, Native author Diane Wilson’s story of her family’s struggles during and after the 1862 Dakota War in Minnesota.

The discussion, to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, will be on September 24 at 7 p.m., with tickets available at the One Minneapolis One Read website.

One Minneapolis One Read is a program started by the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County Library and Minneapolis Public Schools “to promote community involvement, literacy and respectful public dialogue,” the program said. “At its heart, One Minneapolis One Read is a community-driven effort with individuals, neighborhood groups, educators, businesses and nonprofits all coming together to make this a truly citywide read.”

Spirit Car was published in 2006 but remains relevant today, especially during this 150th anniversary of the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862, as the conflict is officially known. It won the 2006 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir, Autobiography and Creative Nonfiction. Her family’s story insinuated itself into Wilson’s mind and work gradually.
Comment:  The article notes that Wilson is Mdewakanton Dakota.

This item is a pop-culture two-fer: Wilson's book was chosen for the One Read program, and she gets a public interview with Garrison Keillor.

For more on Native literature, see "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" and "Books That Shaped America."

Red Lake Skate Park opens

Hundreds Gather for Grand Opening of Red Lake Skate Park

By Michael MeuersOn September 14 with just a week left of summer, hundreds of people gathered for the grand opening of the new Red Lake Skate Park.

The celebration had been postponed from the originally scheduled date of August 29 due to the unexpected death of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Chairman (SMSC) Stanley Crooks. The SMSC played a major role in the development of the skate park, providing funds through their grants programs.
And:The park is so heavily used that kids are seen skating after dusk with nothing but the dim light of a school sign for illumination.

The skatepark groundbreaking took place this past April on the front lawn near Red Lake High School and was finished a bit ahead of schedule. The new park—as well as two new basketball courts—were built during the summer as part of an initiative to engage the community’s youth in activities that promote healthy lifestyles.
Comment:  For more on Indians and skateboarding, see Stronghold Society Sponsors Sk8Jam Competition and Skating the Navajo Rez for Skatepark.

September 21, 2012

Is Neil Young a wannabe?

Neil Young Puts Native Horseman Front and Center on Cover of Upcoming AlbumYoung’s “Indian” identity dates back to his days in Buffalo Springfield, the group he was in from 1966-67; in In For What It’s Worth: The Story of Buffalo Springfield, he said:

There I was making 120 bucks a week at the Whisky as a musician. … I’ve always liked fringe jackets. I went out and bought one right away with some pants and a turtleneck shirt. Oh yeah, I thought I was heavy. I wore them on some TV shows and whenever we worked. Then I went to this place on Santa Monica Boulevard near La Cienega. I saw this great Comanche war shirt, the best jacket I’ve ever seen. I had two more made. The group was Western, the name Buffalo Springfield came off a tractor, so it all fit. I was the Indian. That’s when it was cool to be an Indian.

Authors John Einarson and Richie Furay add that the music press really dug the idea: “Many people believed Neil was, in fact, an Indian because magazines like Teen Screen and TeenSet constantly referred to him as ‘Neil the Indian.’”

With so much talk of cultural appropriation and misappropriation—see Paul Frank Industries’ “Dream Catchin’” party (and surprise happy ending)—we’re curious to know whether any Natives feel Young, who was born in Canada and has no known Native heritage, ever crosses the line with his enthusiasm for American Indian culture. This one is a little trickier than a pair of “Navajo” panties from Urban Outfitters because, speaking very broadly, a lot of Indians really like Neil Young’s music. Musician Bill Miller, Mohican from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin, for instance, included two Neil Young tunes in his list of 10 Essential Songs for Native Musicians.

Sorting out what uses of American Indian culture are respectful and what ones aren’t is a personal decision—perhaps Neil Young’s Native fetish is uncontroversial because everyone feels it’s done in a completely respectful way. Or does he get a pass because, well, he’s Neil Young?
Comment:  Nobody gets a free pass from me. <g>

I don't know much about Neil Young or his music, so I can't answer the question. But I can suggest some questions that would help determine the answer.

  • Is the albums' content as rich as the albums' covers? Or are the covers just a marketing gimmick?

  • When Young sings about Native subjects, does he lament the fate of the vanishing Indian? Or does he sing about Indians as modern, forward-looking people?

  • Does he give back to Native people in some way--e.g., by hiring Native musicians, giving concerts on reservations, or contributing to Native charities? Or does he just take?

  • If anyone still thinks he's an Indian, does he immediately disabuse them of the notion? Or does he "play Indian" whenever he can get away with it?

  • If the answers to these questions favor Indians, we can surmise Young is the genuine article: an honest Native enthusiast. If the answers don't favor Indians, we can surmise he's a wannabe. That's how you determine these things, in general.

    For more on celebrity identity issues, see Justin Bieber Thinks He's Native and Gary Busey the Adopted Sioux and

    Below:  "An undated publicity photo of Buffalo Springfield with 'Neil the Indian' at upper right."

    Brown confronts Warren about heritage

    US Sen. Scott Brown Confronts Elizabeth Warren on Her American Indian Claims

    By Rob CapricciosoIn his most direct shots against U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, challenged her claims of Native American heritage in their first debate on the evening of September 20—and the shots kept coming from his campaign after the debate ended.

    Kicking off a lively one-on-one in Boston, Brown looked at Warren squarely, and said she had presented no evidence to show she has Cherokee and Delaware ancestry, which she has claimed for years sans any tribal enrollment or genealogical evidence. She has relied on family folklore to back up her claim, but genealogists, including Indian ones, who have researched the lore have found no blood ties that would indicate she is any part Native.

    “She checked the box claiming she is Native American, and clearly she is not…. I think character is important,” Brown said. “You refuse to release your records, and I think that speaks volumes.”

    Warren responded that she has answered all questions about her claimed heritage, and she believes the election should be focused on jobs and taxes.

    “I never used it, never used it for getting into college, never used it for getting into law school,” Warren said. “There’s nothing else there, the question has been asked and answered. I think the senator just doesn’t like the answer.”
    And:While Warren and her campaign have downplayed the importance of this Native identity issue, Brown says it speaks directly to her character, and polls have indicated that it matters to independent voters. With the race currently very close between the candidates, with polls alternating who is in the lead by the day, every vote here will matter, experts say.

    Warren has done little to help calm the controversy, instead always sticking to her story on family lore. She has chosen not to do interviews with the Native press, has ignored visits and inquiries from Cherokees, and she refused to meet with Native American delegates at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month. Her campaign did not respond to questions from Indian Country Today Media Network after the debate.

    In recent days, some relatives of Elizabeth Warren have told The Boston Globe that they share none of her remembrance of Indian ancestry, while others cited the same lore she has relied on. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and former chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, also recently called her claim “bizarre. … I know lots and lots of Native Americans, they have a very huge presence in my state and I’ve yet to meet one of them who claims to be related to Elizabeth Warren,” McCain told The Boston Herald earlier this week.
    For more of their exchange over Warren's heritage, see:

    Warren And Brown Hammer Each Other Non-Stop In First Debate

    Comment:  Warren still hasn't answered most of the questions asked of her. Her claim that she has is disingenuous, if not a lie.

    For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Angry Patriots and Pinheads and Elizabeth Warren Ducks Native Delegates.

    Chimney Rock to be national monument

    Chimney Rock to be named a national monument

    By Allison SherryPresident Barack Obama will designate Chimney Rock as a national monument Friday—a move that will help preserve 4,726 acres in southwestern Colorado, administration officials said.

    Chimney Rock is in the San Juan National Forest, surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

    The land will be managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service, and White House officials said they will work with the tribes in the area. Ranchers will maintain grazing rights.

    The site is deeply spiritual to the Puebloan people and other tribes. Ancestors used the rock to see "lunar standstills"—a phenomenon that happens every 18.6 years, when the moon rises exactly between the two stone pillars of Chimney Rock.
    Colorado's 'Deeply Spiritual' Chimney Rock To Be A National Monument

    By Mark MemmottIn his statement confirming the news, Bennet says Chimney Rock "contains the rare combination of a spectacular geologic formation with extraordinary cultural, historical and archeological significance."

    The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association says the site "was home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago and is of great spiritual significance to these tribes. Their ancestors built over 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor, probably to be near the sacred twin rock pinnacles."

    According to The Durango Herald, the designation will safeguard "the ruins of a thousand-year-old great house connected to the Chaco Culture of present-day New Mexico" as well as the two spires.
    Comment:  For more on Pueblo Indians and national parks, see False Kiva in Motion and Chaco Canyon Quarter Debuts.

    Zuni Indian Website Launches to Highlight Southwestern TribeA new website is honoring the traditions and heritage of the Zuni Indian tribe. launched to provide visitors with new insights into the world of the tribe.

    "A lot of people aren't aware of how the tribe influenced modern American culture and there's really some fascinating information out there," said an editor with "The tribe's artwork and jewelry is a popular commodity even today and has helped drive the tribe's economy for generations."

    Visitors will learn about the societal development of the tribe as well as interesting facts about Zuni culture. The tribe still lives in their ancestral homelands in Western New Mexico, where they first entered prior to 2500 BC.

    "The first tribespeople to inhabit what we now know as New Mexico hunted big game and later started agriculture," said. "The Puebloan tribes of the Southwest were able to grow corn even in the dry high desert climate by building flat-roof homes that allowed for the collection and storage of rain water."
    Comment:  I'd say every tribe should set up an informational site like this one. Or link to an existing site if they believe it's reliable.

    For more on the Zuni, see 100 Years Pueblo Exhibition and Zuni Is First Native MainStreet.

    September 20, 2012

    Poster compares abortion to genocide

    Elections 2012: Abortion Debate Targets Native Students at University of New Mexico

    By Mark TrahantThe debate about abortion rights surfaced on the University of New Mexico campus this week–and American Indians were the focus. A poster with a fetus inside of a medicine wheel read: Abortion Extinction. Then it said, “Today, an Indian boy was killed the Indian way. Hey ya hey!”

    Native students organized a protest on Wednesday and the posters were removed.

    “The first thing that went through my mind was pure hurt, and then I was angry,” UNM senior Paula Herbert told KOAT in Albuquerque. “I left, and I actually cried in the hallway because it hurt me. My people were represented in a negative light.”

    Signs in the native protest said: “Racism is not pro-life” and “We will not be used to further your political purpose.” The Native students did not get into the abortion debate, responding instead about the negative depiction of Native Americans in the posters.
    Comment:  You can see the poster in the video below. The blurring covers the bloody body of a fetus.

    The description above is missing a few things. The fetus is wearing a headband with a single feather. It's resting in a birth control wheel--a container that helps women take the pill daily. The first caption, above "Today, an Indian boy was killed," says, "color the redman gone."

    This poster is wrong in so many ways. First, in general:

  • Genocide means the killing of a people distinguished by their race or religion. You can call abortion "mass murder" if you want, but that doesn't make it genocide. All genocides are mass murders, but not all mass murders are genocide.

  • I suspect people would be apoplectic if a poster showed fetuses being gassed with Zyklon B like the Jews at Auschwitz. It would be obvious the poster-maker was using the Jews' pain and suffering for their own agenda. Well, the same applies to Indians.

  • Many cultures around the world, including Native and Jewish cultures, accept the practice of abortion. It's unfair to equate the historically documented suffering of Natives or Jews with the suffering imagined by conservative Christians. (When you can prove a fetus has a soul, go ahead and do so. Until then, that a fetus is a person is an opinion, not a fact.)

  • Equating abortion with birth control is simply stupid. I hope I don't have to explain why.

  • Next, on the Native elements:

  • Some reports called the headband with feather a "headdress." Not quite.

    Even if it was meant as a benign way to identify Indians, the headband is stereotypical. Most Indians don't wear such headbands and never did.

  • Using the medicine wheel for a non-religious purpose against the wishes of Indians is sacrilegious.

  • The "redman" isn't gone, so comparing exterminated fetuses to exterminated Indians is false and stereotypical.

  • The phrase "Today, an Indian boy was killed the Indian way" is simply grotesque. What the hell is that supposed to mean? That Indians slaughtered their babies, either by aborting them or by killing them after they were born? Because that's what Indians do: butcher everything and leave bloody corpses behind? That alone is enough to call the poster racist.

  • "Hey ya hey!" is a phony, pidgin-English version of the Navajo greeting "Yah ta hey" or the Lakota greeting "Hoka hey."

  • I should add that the "killed the Indian way" caption sends a mixed message. Indians were the victims of genocide...but they killed babies in "the Indian way." Well, which is it?

    The poster presumes you're sympathetic to the near-extermination of the Indian. But it undercuts it with the fetus in a headband and the various captions. There's an air of mockery here. "Look what happened to the savage Indians with their funny headdresses, silly chants, and murderous practices," the poster seems to say. "If you're not careful, the same thing will happen to fetuses."

    The anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life has denied it was behind the poster. But this is what happens when you take an absolutist position. When you're a fanatic, you draw like-minded fanatics, even if you don't agree with them on everything. Until you denounce the hatemongers in your midst, you deserve to be lumped with them.

    For more on conservative hate, see The Logical Conclusion of Extremism and Conservative Hatemongers Deny Responsibility.

    Bridge dedicated to Milanovich

    Palm Springs dedicates bridge to Richard Milanovich

    Community members, valley leaders gather to dedicate bridge to late tribal chairman

    By Tamara Sone
    Under clear desert skies, surrounded by the San Jacinto mountains, more than 100 people gathered at the corner of Belardo Road and Sunny Dunes on Thursday to take part in the dedication ceremony of the Chairman Richard M. Milanovich Memorial Bridge.

    Milanovich, 69, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, died March 11 after a long bout with cancer.

    “I know Richard is probably smiling upon us right now for many reasons, not only that I dressed a little bit better than the mayor,” succeeding Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe said, laughing about his decision to wear a suit and tie despite the warm weather.

    “He would be humbled and very appreciative that the City of Palm Springs named this bridge after him.”
    Comment:  It's not much of a bridge: maybe 200 feet over a shallow gully. But with its red fence and yellow and orange patter, it's certainly colorful.

    What you should remember is that Milanovich was a respected leader throughout Indian country. He lived in California, not the Great Plains...was a chairman, not a chief...and wore a business suit, not buckskins and a headdress. He could serve as the face of modern tribal leadership.

    For more on Agua Caliente, see Two World Championship Fights on the Rez and Expedia Award for Agua Caliente.

    Court upholds tribal payday loan companies

    Will John Suthers Drag Down Romney's Presidential Hopes?

    By Phil LinsalataAmong the many reasons Colorado Attorney General John Suthers could drag down Mitt Romney's presidential hopes--Suthers covets a position running Romney's Department of Justice--is the loss Suthers sustained in an epic seven-year lawsuit that was both outrageously expensive and ill-advised from the start.

    Suthers waged his lawsuit against two Native American tribes, earning him pariah status with the well-funded Native American lobby throughout the country.

    A guaranteed loser

    Suthers sued the Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma to block the tribe's online loan operations in Colorado--a battle that anyone with even the most basic understanding of the law and longstanding legal precedents could see was a guaranteed loser.

    Suthers may have skipped class the day his law professor discussed the federal doctrine of Tribal Immunity, which prevents states from enforcing regulations against congressionally recognized sovereign tribes.

    Suthers didn't just lose the case; he and his office got spanked. Officially.

    Presiding judge scolds, sanction Suthers

    Suthers' team blundered in the case so badly that his lead staffer in the case was ultimately sanctioned and fined $12,500 by the presiding judge for wrongly having one defendant arrested and jailed on a warrant issued by Colorado and executed in Missouri, where Colorado was found to have no authority in the first place.
    Comment:  I don't know much about these particular companies, but payday loans are morally questionable in general. Nevertheless, it's good to see a court uphold tribal sovereignty for any reason, even if the cause is dubious.

    For more on the subject, see Americans Support Tribal Sovereignty and "Rent-a-Tribe" Payday Loan Companies.