October 31, 2012

Halloween = "socially accepted racism"

Adrienne Keene writes about another Halloween-related travesty in her Native Appropriations blog:

So you wanna be an Indian for Halloween?I wasn't going to do a Halloween post this year. I thought about it, but decided I was going to try and let my posts from last year stand on their own. I've tried many approaches--the emotional plea, the in-your-face-racism approach, the "I am not a Costume" campaign--but every year, the arguments are the same. No one listens, people on both sides get angry, and then the conversation gets shelved until next year. But then, oh then, I was double-checking that the descriptions I quoted from the Spirit Halloween online store last year were still there...and I found this, and I couldn't let it go. This is their description of the "Indian Costume":"The Indian costume has been a part of the American Halloween scene since the beginning. Kids bedeck themselves in Indian costume jewelry and traditional Indian costumes and are able to live out a slice of American history.

The American Indian costumes that Spirit Halloween offers vary and come with a number of accessories that can make your Indian costume the best in the tribe. The American Indian Halloween costumes for men and boys are great costumes for any party or trick or treating adventure. Just don’t eat too much candy and go on a sugar induced vision quest!

The girl Indian costume variety is also a very popular Halloween costume idea. There are varieties for younger girls and women and similarly there are different accessories for the ladies with traditional Indian jewelry replacing the tomahawk and spear. There is also a sexy Indian costume for the more daring ladies out there trying to land their own John Smith.

Some of the accessories that Spirit offers for these great costumes are traditional Indian tools and weapons, guns, headdresses and jewelry. All of these accessories and costumes may only be a simulation of how these noble people lived, however, showing them deference and respect by keeping their memory alive in the traditions of America, especially one as festive and inspired as Halloween, is a great thing.

So when your kids want to don a traditional Indian costume with frays and a feather, don’t look at it as disrespectful. See it as a way to teach your little one about American history. Tell them about the rich tradition of the natives of this continent before the European invasion: the deep respect for nature, a rich, textured oral history, tribal society, etc. Let them in on the knowledge that for a thousand years, before there were cities and highways and the internet, there was a race of people living amongst the animals and trees. It will set their imagination on fire while instilling in them a sense of respect for Native Americans as well as a desire to learn more about them.

Halloween doesn’t have to be just candy and costumes, so this year, have your kid join the noble ranks of the thousands before him or her who wore the costume they will wear and tell them about the great tradition of it."
Adrienne summarizes what's wrong with this description:Enjoy. Welcome to 2012, where Indians don't exist, lived in the trees, and are super honored by trashy, "sexy," Indian costumes. Cause if you don't dress up like your a-historical, romanticized, fake, plastic "Indian," no one will remember the tragic, noble savage. Right.Why Native costumes fail

Some postings address Halloween-style Native costumes in general:

Calling Out Socially Acceptable Racism

By KevinI do not believe most people who wear these costumes are malicious in their intent. I honestly think many people would have the same attitude and questions as the women above did in the last video.

We all have blind spots and if one was raised in the mainstream U.S. society I would argue one is pre-conditioned to ignore and be dismissive of Native Americans. What we did to them is a dark part of our history that we gloss over and choose to remember only in myth and stereotype because the brutality and evil of what we have done and continue to do is horrendous.

However, malicious or not, pre-conditioned or not, people who wear these costumes are participating in socially accepted racism.

These costumes are racist because they make a mockery of traditional Native American regalia, which often have spiritual and personal meaning.

These costumes are racist because they are based on stereotypes, not reality.

These costumes are racist because (especially for the female costumes) they contribute to the sexualization of Native American women. Native American women are 10 times more likely than white women to be victims of sexual assault. Part of this reason is that they are seen as inherently “rapeable” by the dominant society and sadly often even within their own society due to their sexualization and fetishization which these costumes contribute to.

Perhaps most importantly, these costumes are racist because they are worn by people who live on what was originally Native American land. Physical and cultural genocide and countless injustices were used to take possession of these lands. Making a mockery of the culture that has suffered so much so our comfortable 1st world existence is rather uncaring and ignorant.

In short, to accept these costumes, but not black face costumes, or slave costumes, or costumes of Latinos, or Asians, or Middle Easterners, or White people is inconsistent and represents a double standard. This double-standard points to the larger issue of socially acceptable racism against Native Americans present in our society.

So stop it.
You Indians Need to Worry about More Important Things than Halloween Costumes

By Chase IronEyesBecause most Americans see American Indians as a conquered and disappearing race or because we are not highly visible to them, they see no wrong in playing Indian dress-up, particularly in social situations which do not include Indians. When in fact there is definitely a wrongful appropriation happening, this is the same as Little Black Sambo and blackfacing. Members of the mainstream--historically of Euro descent but now of many “races” subscribing to Western world-views--have crafted 500 years of institutional paradigms that most always include depicting the Indian as noble, savage, bloodthirsty, lusty, and/or fierce. More importantly, mainstream is convinced by centuries of brainwashing that Indians, having not figured out how to exploit the earth properly, were and continue to be impediments to "progress"; of course as that term is used in "modern" financial-industrial civilization. These collective paradigms see us as relics, as interesting little bits of history-–that go well with White heroes as the protagonist in our stories, well their stories like Dances with Wolves and Avatar.

Consider these questions: Can I touch your hair? Are you a real Indian? Do you live in a tipi? I have personally been asked these questions in real life. Can I put your living culture in museum? Can I withhold sacred items for scientific inspection? Can you be our specimen? Can we track you based on pedigree as we do our dogs and horses? Can we enforce our imaginary Christian dominion over you without you even questioning its legitimacy? These questions are sometimes not even asked or fail to raise a brow on most Indians.

Thus, I can understand why the average American would not care to consider whether his or her action in dressing up as an Indian for Halloween is offensive. I have said before that no longer are we living our identity; we are looking at it through a lens created by the European-–a lens in which Indians are inferior and whites are superior. We are looking through a lens created and shown by such ongoing practices as Indian Halloween costumes, countless Hollywood "Indian" cameos or Indian oriented material, phony commercialized "Indian" products, and the use of Indians as team nicknames and mascots. Whatever the market (sometimes called “society”) demands, the market will produce. Right now, we are seeing what the mainstream market demands, the aforementioned.

This society will tolerate Scott Brown (US Senator) staffers doing the tomahawk chop and making the mock war cry of “woowoowoowoo” with hand batting over mouth. This society produces and tolerates the GAP clothing company and designer Mark McNairy recent release of a t-shirt line which simply displayed the words “manifest destiny” on the chest--essentially celebrating genocide. This society allows Dr. Phil to condemn our people for protecting our rights under ICWA to raise our children in our ways and to stop the loss of our kids to the social services system. This society bans “ethnic” studies and censors the education its students receive. This society destroys our sacred sites and threatens our waters. The Indian Wars Never Ended!
Comment:  Neither of these postings makes the key point explicit, so I'll make it for them. Dressing as a faux Indian for Halloween is celebrating the Indians' inferiority. Their alleged primitive and savage nature. It's telling the world that the Indians were meant to lose and die. That the policies of Manifest Destiny and genocide were justified.

As Iron Eyes notes, the same applies to phony "Indian" products and Indian team names and mascots. The stereotypes exist for the same reason and convey the same message. Namely, that Indians are primitive people of the past who don't deserve their treaty rights or human rights. Who got what they deserved.

If people really wanted to honor Indians on Halloween, they'd dress in a suit and tie, lab coat, or sports uniform like today's Indians. They'd learn Native history and culture and share it with others. They'd chastise people who wear stereotypical costumes like the ones they used to wear.

You don't honor a lion, tiger, or bear by killing it, stuffing it, and mounting it on a wall. You honor such an animal by leaving it alive and alone so you can continue honoring it. Only an idiot thinks a dead animal or Indian is more worthy of honor than a live one.

For some recent offensive costumes, see:

Company pulls "Sassy Squaw" costume
Aubrey O'Day as Indian princess
Nun wears headdress at canonization
Lana Del Rey in a headdress
Paul Frank's racist "powwow"

For more on the problems with Halloween, see:

Okay to dress as real person?
Whites defend "right" to be racist
Racist costumes = white privilege

West of Thunder to fund school

Film sheds light on plight of Lakotas

G. Allen JohnsonDavies co-wrote and stars in "West of Thunder," a Western set in 1899, about the beginnings of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota from the perspective of the Lakota people. But this is more than just a film: It is a fundraiser for a proposed $15 million school for impoverished Lakota children on today's Pine Ridge Reservation.

"I consider the film the engine to the train--and the train is the school," Davies said. "It's a film where all of the profits go to this K-through-12 Cambridge-accredited school in economically the poorest area in the United States.

"We wanted to make an amazing film, but we wanted to shed light on the problems of the Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation."

"West of Thunder," co-written and co-directed by former Berkeley resident Jody Marriott Bar-Lev and co-directed by Steve Russell, plays at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bridge Theatre as part of 37th American Indian Film Festival. The festival opens Friday at the Bridge with two short films and the Canadian feature "Path of Souls," about a road trip by a grieving wife and her best friend to sacred Indian sites, and closes Nov. 10 with an awards program at the Palace of Fine Arts, which hosts the last three days.

"West of Thunder" is up for best film. It also has been nominated by the prestigious Political Film Society in Hollywood for best film on human rights and best film on peace--George Lucas' "Red Tails" is one of its competitors. It looks like a multimillion-dollar production--cinematographer John Stanier shot "Rambo III," among other films--and the sets are amazing. The movie was shot at Wisconsin's Stonefield Historic Site, as well as wide expanses in Colorado and California. But make no mistake: It's a distinctly Lakota project.

"We worked with the Lakota people," said Marriott Bar-Lev, who has worked on the Pine Ridge Reservation and saw the plight of the children firsthand. "So we weren't trying to guess what their perspective was or about the authentic things of that time."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Davies Defends West of Thunder and Whites Star in "Thunder Being" Movie.

LaDuke endorses Obama

Pro Life and Not a Planet Baker: Why I’m voting for Barack Obama

By Winona LaDukeLet’s start big. It’s official. Climate change is no longer a topic of the presidential election banter. Since pretty much no one has mentioned climate change for the past three months, we must be free and clear. As I watch the east coast get hammered with Hurricane Sandy, and 7.4 million people out of power, I note that politicians may be wrong.

I just spent an evening with my Harvard classmate Bill McKibben, president of 350.org, who sobered me up a bit on where we are. As of May, we had broken world temperature records for the 327th month in a row. Worldwide, we broke maybe 100,000 temperature records this year. This year we saw the sea ice melt in the Arctic, making it possible to move through the region, and to exploit more oil, deeper than ever. Nice, except if you are a polar bear, or happen to live on Christmas Island, Tuvalu or other Pacific countries, which are now going underwater. Then, there is our food, coming from the ocean to a Red Lobster near you. The north Pacific itself is already about 30 percent more acidic than it was 25 years ago. That is climate change.

In Copenhagen, in a post conference accord, l67 countries agreed to not hit the two degree temperature rise mark. We have already driven global temperatures up 0.8 degrees. And if we are interested in the tipping point: Swiss Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company predicts that climate-change-related disasters will be costing about 20 percent of world GDP by 2020—that’s a scant eight years away, or two presidential elections. That will be a costly problem for our economy, and for whomever is in the White House.
And:So, where am I going with this column?

I know President Obama does not share my enlightened views on all issues, but, I am dead sure that the terrain should be contested.

I am a person of faith, who does not happen to be Christian.

And I am pro-life, in a much larger sense.

I believe that life should include the Earth.

So there you have it, a two time Green Party Candidate for vice president and I am voting for Barack Obama, because I am pro-life and want to see our descendants have a beautiful life on our Mother Earth.
Comment:  For more on Winona LaDuke, see Winona LaDuke Changed Our World and Warrant Issued for LaDuke.

Natives protest Hurons logo

Native American reps upset about Huron

By Danielle WillmanRepresentatives from the Native American community were on hand to express their displeasure with the resurrection of Eastern Michigan University’s Huron logo on the new Marching Band uniforms and various university paraphernalia at the Board of Regents meeting Oct. 30 in Welch Hall.

Zhaawanong Nimkii Kuew and Linda Cypret-Kilbourne went before the board on behalf of the Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media. Cypret-Kilbourne spoke passionately against the use of the logo.

“Hiding the race-based logo inside the uniform does not change its meaning,” she said. “It makes it more offensive and shows the Native American community your true colors.”

Cypret-Kilbourne accused EMU president Susan Martin and the university of insensitivity and racism.

“We are a living race of people, here and now, so why do we have to be insulted in this manner today?” she said.
Comment:  The school seems to be missing the logic here. If the logo is offensive, why bring it back at all? If it isn't offensive, why hide it inside the band uniform jackets? Why not display it proudly for everyone to see?

For more on the subject, see EMU Revives Hurons Logo.

October 30, 2012

Charles Dickens on The Noble Savage

In Charles Dickens on "Esquimaux," I noted that Dickens had a negative impression of Arctic Natives. Someone on Facebook recently noted that Dickens wrote a more extensive piece on indigenous people. Here's an excerpt:

The Noble SavageTO come to the point at once, I beg to say that I have not the least belief in the Noble Savage. I consider him a prodigious nuisance, and an enormous superstition. His calling rum fire-water, and me a pale face, wholly fail to reconcile me to him. I don't care what he calls me. I call him a savage, and I call a savage a something highly desirable to be civilised off the face of the earth. I think a mere gent (which I take to be the lowest form of civilisation) better than a howling, whistling, clucking, stamping, jumping, tearing savage. It is all one to me, whether he sticks a fish-bone through his visage, or bits of trees through the lobes of his ears, or bird's feathers in his head; whether he flattens his hair between two boards, or spreads his nose over the breadth of his face, or drags his lower lip down by great weights, or blackens his teeth, or knocks them out, or paints one cheek red and the other blue, or tattoos himself, or oils himself, or rubs his body with fat, or crimps it with knives. Yielding to whichsoever of these agreeable eccentricities, he is a savage - cruel, false, thievish, murderous; addicted more or less to grease, entrails, and beastly customs; a wild animal with the questionable gift of boasting; a conceited, tiresome, bloodthirsty, monotonous humbug.

Yet it is extraordinary to observe how some people will talk about him, as they talk about the good old times; how they will regret his disappearance, in the course of this world's development, from such and such lands where his absence is a blessed relief and an indispensable preparation for the sowing of the very first seeds of any influence that can exalt humanity; how, even with the evidence of himself before them, they will either be determined to believe, or will suffer themselves to be persuaded into believing, that he is something which their five senses tell them he is not.

There was Mr. Catlin, some few years ago, with his Ojibbeway Indians. Mr. Catlin was an energetic, earnest man, who had lived among more tribes of Indians than I need reckon up here, and who had written a picturesque and glowing book about them. With his party of Indians squatting and spitting on the table before him, or dancing their miserable jigs after their own dreary manner, he called, in all good faith, upon his civilised audience to take notice of their symmetry and grace, their perfect limbs, and the exquisite expression of their pantomime; and his civilised audience, in all good faith, complied and admired. Whereas, as mere animals, they were wretched creatures, very low in the scale and very poorly formed; and as men and women possessing any power of truthful dramatic expression by means of action, they were no better than the chorus at an Italian Opera in England--and would have been worse if such a thing were possible.

Mine are no new views of the noble savage. The greatest writers on natural history found him out long ago. BUFFON knew what he was, and showed why he is the sulky tyrant that he is to his women, and how it happens (Heaven be praised!) that his race is spare in numbers. For evidence of the quality of his moral nature, pass himself for a moment and refer to his 'faithful dog.' Has he ever improved a dog, or attached a dog, since his nobility first ran wild in woods, and was brought down (at a very long shot) by POPE? Or does the animal that is the friend of man, always degenerate in his low society?

It is not the miserable nature of the noble savage that is the new thing; it is the whimpering over him with maudlin admiration, and the affecting to regret him, and the drawing of any comparison of advantage between the blemishes of civilisation and the tenor of his swinish life. There may have been a change now and then in those diseased absurdities, but there is none in him.
Dickens's conclusion:To conclude as I began. My position is, that if we have anything to learn from the Noble Savage, it is what to avoid. His virtues are a fable; his happiness is a delusion; his nobility, nonsense.

We have no greater justification for being cruel to the miserable object, than for being cruel to a WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE or an ISAAC NEWTON; but he passes away before an immeasurably better and higher power than ever ran wild in any earthly woods, and the world will be all the better when his place knows him no more.
Comment:  Wow. Dickens was about as bigoted as his contemporary Mark Twain--another great writer whose work was marred by racism. Now we can say with greater confidence that Dickens's prejudice against Jews, as shown in the character Fagin, was no exception.

True, Dickens didn't want to harm indigenous people himself. But like L. Frank Baum, he basically wished them dead. Nice.

Like many Euro-Americans, his intent was genocidal. Presumably he wouldn't have lifted a finger to stop the people's destruction if he learned about it. This is why the Holocaust and other acts of genocide happen--because the powers that be letting them happen.

For more on Twain, see "Book Indians" in Huck and Tom and Scholar:  Huck and Twain Were Racist.

Ishi producers sponsor Indigenous Day

After Controversial Ishi Play, University of California, Berkeley Co-Sponsors Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration to Promote Healing

By Marc DadiganLast spring, the University of California, Berkeley, produced a historically inaccurate and graphically violent play about Ishi, the famous California Indian, which caused some American Indian viewers to openly weep and condemn it for perpetuating racist stereotypes.

Though a group of graduate students who led the protests against the play didn’t succeed in stopping the production, they did engage the university’s Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS) in an ongoing dialogue.

This led to TDPS co-sponsoring an interactive Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration October 8 at the university that included elders from many tribes speaking about their people’s history and hopes, poetry, dancing and demonstrations in making baskets and acorn mush, important elements of many California tribes’ cultures.

“We wanted to do something that would start atoning for the Ishi play, and that would create awareness that there are Native students on campus and in the community who are still here,” said Peter Nelson, Coast Miwok, a graduate student in anthropology and Coast Miwok.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Theater Apologizes for Ishi Play and Play Portrays Ishi as Rapist, Murderer.

Below:  "Julia Parker, Pomo/Coast Miwok, demonstrates to University of California, Berkeley students and community members how to make acorn mush." (Josh Hesslein)

October 29, 2012

Project to photograph 562 tribes

One Ballardite's journey to photograph all 562 Native American tribes

By Zachariah Bryan

In November, a local photographer, Matika Wilbur, is leaving Ballard to take up an extraordinary mission: To visit all 50 states and photograph and document all 562 Native American tribes in the nation.

Wilbur (www.matikawilbur.com), who is enrolled in the Tulalip tribe and was raised in the Swinomish tribe, has dedicated much of her professional career to photographing, lecturing on and informing people about contemporary Native American people and culture. In the past, this has dealt mostly with local Salish tribes, but now her goal is to document the entire culture all over the United States.

“I’d like to update the identity of the native American person and create a 21st century image in people’s consciousness, so through that we can build cultural bridges, demolish stereotypes, honor traditions, and leave a legacy,” she said.
And:Her work has been showcased at the Seattle Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts in France and the Kitteredge Gallery at the University of Puget Sound. She has permanent, viewable collections at the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes.

Her next project, “562,” plans to take things to a whole new level.

Wilbur said the plan came from a desire to explain to people that Native Americans are still alive and still have a culture all their own, and not the kind that you see in old John Wayne movies.

“The stereotype is that native people live in teepees and wear leather and feathers,” she said. “People don’t realize that there is very much a living breathing contemporary culture within indigenous communities.”

When she would lecture at other places, particularly on the east coast or in other countries, people were often amazed or shocked that Native Americans even existed.

“When you go to different places in the US and you exhibit your work, people don’t realize we’re still here, you know?”
Comment:  Sounds like a good project with a worthy goal.

Of course, countless exhibits, shows, events, films, and reports have explained that Indians have "a living breathing contemporary culture." Including this blog. Nothing has moved the needle significantly on the "Indians still exist?" scale.

I'm not sure people will get the message until something dramatic happens. Like a no. 1 movie starring an Indian, an Indian pop superstar, or an Indian elected US president. Something of that magnitude.

566, not 562

Meanwhile, whenever I see a notice of this project, I have to point out that there are 566 federally recognized tribes, not 562. When I noted this on Facebook recently, Matika Wilbur herself contacted me. She said 562 was just a starting point--that she planned to cover state-recognized and unrecognized tribes as well as the 562 566.

Okay, I said, but I think Natives will wonder about your project if the name and number are "wrong." Like, "Is she living a decade or two the past, or what? Doesn't she realize there are 566 tribes now?"

If it were me, I'd plan to change the project's name with each newly recognized tribe. Or go with a less precise name. But I'm sure the project will be worthwhile regardless of its name.

For more on photographic projects, see Greatest Photographs of the American West and 100 Years Pueblo Exhibition.

Oneida Nation sponsors Packers gate

Oneida tribe renews Lambeau Field gate sponsorship

By Scott Cooper WilliamsGreen Bay Packers fans will continue entering Lambeau Field through the Oneida Nation Gate for at least another 10 years.

The Oneida Tribe of Indians announced Monday it has renewed its sponsorship deal with the Packers through the year 2022.

Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.

But tribal Chairman Ed Delgado said the arrangement gives the Oneidas valuable exposure and promotes tribal businesses, which include Oneida Bingo & Casino in Ashwaubenon.

“Financially it’s a win-win,” he said.
Comment:  For more on gaming tribes and sponsorships, see Ho-Chunk Starts Arena Football Team and Foxwoods Sponsors Chinese Dragon Boat.

October 28, 2012

Republicans lie about "apology tour"

Why “no apologies” Mitt needs to grow up

Sorry, Mitt--Obama doesn't "apologize for America." But if he occasionally did, would that be so horrible?

By David Sirota
Truth-wise, “The Apology Tour” is about as factual as “Love Actually”—which is to say that, yes, there is a president of the United States, and this president does travel abroad and make speeches, but just like our president did not create a diplomatic crisis by leering at a British secretary, he did not travel abroad and give speeches apologizing for America. As CNN’s fact-checkers summarize, when Obama took the international trip in question in 2009, he “never uttered an apology for the United States.” This was previously confirmed by PolitiFact, which gave “The Apology Tour” its “Pants on Fire” rating, which is nothing short of the Academy Award for political lying.

To know the fact checkers are right is to simply go to Glenn Beck’s website and watch the collage of Obama video clips that Republican “Apology Tour” promoters insist is the documentary evidence supporting their hysterical agitprop. In those clips, of course, you won’t see any apology or contrition at all. Instead, you will merely see honesty and a recounting of indisputable facts. You will, for instance, see a president admit that “we sometimes make mistakes” that “we have not been perfect” and that we “at times have sought to dictate our terms” rather than work multilaterally. You will see him admit that when it comes to Europe, “There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive even derisive.” You will see him speak frankly about the United States, saying the country is “still working through some of our own darker periods in our history” and making some “required some course corrections.” You will even see him echo conservative libertarian critics of the Patriot Act by saying that, “In some cases (9/11) led us to act contrary to our traditions and ideals.”

In short, you won’t see contrition, you will merely see a president do what Affleck did—merely acknowledge basic contextual facts that, whether we like it or not, define and shape our ongoing foreign and national security policy challenges. Because that is even more rare and taboo in politics than it is in Hollywood, Obama has been excoriated by a completely fictitious story that has absolutely no connection to reality.

Considering its mendacity, why has “The Apology Tour” nonetheless metastasized into a talking point that is repeated so much that it has become unquestioned assumption? Because it taps into a virulent strain of jingoism that has been ascendant on the political right—a strain that got a public boost in the 1980s with Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s “Blame America First Crowd” speech and now categorizes any recitation of inconvenient historical facts or truisms as akin to “hating America.” Indeed, only a few years after George W. Bush rightly apologized for the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, the right’s “Apology Tour” catechism now effectively posits that the only way for a president to love America and build relationships in the world is for that president to never admit we’ve made mistakes and to use trips to foreign capitals as occasions to give the world a big Old-Glory-wrapped middle finger.

This raises another, even more troubling question: Even if Obama had actually apologized for American mistakes in the past (which, again, he didn’t), would that have been so horrible? The right says yes, arguing—as Romney did during the debate—that the world looks at contrition and sees “weakness.” This is a reiteration of the belief most clearly articulated by Sarah Palin, who said that no matter what happens or what we do, we have “nothing to apologize for.”

But, then, was Bush harming America when he apologized for Abu Ghraib? Was President Ronald Reagan showing “weakness” and unpatriotically undermining the country when he apologized to Japan, France, China and Soviet-controlled Poland for various international episodes? Hardly. They were instead showing the world that an exceptional nation is one that is mature enough to recognize problems and mistakes and to, yes, pursue what Obama would call a “course correction.” They were also showing their comprehension of the most coldly calculating truism in statecraft: Preserving important relationships and/or opening the possibility of bilateral reconciliation often means copping to the mistakes we’ve made.

Doing so doesn’t mean we are denigrating ourselves or even assuming blame for a soured international relationship. It just means we are fessing up to our past errors in the hopes of building trust and alliances in the future. Had Obama not merely noted disturbing facts but apologized for some of them, he would have deserved the same bipartisan support his predecessors received when they rightly expressed contrition. After all, if the weakening of history’s run-of-the-mill empires typically has been marked by hubris and an aversion to admitting mistakes, then those most interested in strengthening a truly Exceptional America should heartily embrace the opposite: namely, humility and a willingness to apologize for obvious transgressions.
Why Obama and Romney really do see the world differently

Don't be fooled by the moderate Mitt of last night's debate. His worldview is radically different from Obama's

By Kevin Mattson
Obama has ingested his Niebuhr, and it shows in various foreign policy areas. It animates the so-called “lead from behind” doctrine (a term an Obama adviser used in an interview with the New Yorker) and his continued faith that we must hold open discussions even with enemies like Iran. It animates his belief that America should not act alone in the world but build alliances—the sort of alliances his predecessor George W. Bush eschewed. The resultant view of American power is: Yes, America can stand for good abroad but must be cautious and act with a sense of humility. Obama has channeled his inner-Niebuhr ever since he made ending the Iraq War so central to his foreign policy.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, projects a dangerous philosophy that America can reshape history to its liking. Throughout the campaign, Romney has tried to depict Obama as tentative and almost embarrassed by American power. Last night, he reiterated his bizarre charge that Obama went on an “apology tour” in the Middle East. Romney last night talked more about “peace” than about war, but in his key statement on foreign policy, an Oct. 8 address at the Virginia Military Institute, he talked up a president’s right and duty “to use America’s great power to shape history,” and cited the need for “confidence in our cause” and “resolve in our might.”

For Romney, any hint of concern that America might make mistakes, overextend itself or submit to virtually any constraint projects an image of weakness.
And:I’m not sure if Romney has read Chambers the way Obama has read Niebuhr. But his blithe confidence—a near-religious faith—in America’s dominant role in the world certainly colors everything Romney stands for. He channels the Cold War conservative tradition of self-certainty and rollback when he calls for renewing enemy-status for Russia, sending more troops to Iraq, arming rebels in Syria, getting tougher on Iran (though how he could get any tougher than Obama has been on this one is unclear). And of course most of his top foreign policy advisers—and presumably, in a Romney administration, top appointees—are neocon blowhards like Dan Senor and (God help us) John Bolton.

In an election where slipperiness on a range of issues is the hallmark of Romney’s candidacy, President Obama would have done voters a service by laying out his larger vision of America’s role in the world, and highlighting the deep gulf between his philosophy and Romney’s. The choice before us is too consequential to let such fundamental differences slip by without debate.
Comment:  As pundits have said, this debate is merely a continuation of the Manifest Destiny argument that's dominated America for 150-plus years.

For more on the subject, see Obama vs. Romney on Manifest Destiny and Hitler Loved Manifest Destiny.

Reviews of Assassin's Creed 3

The American Revolution: The Game

Assassin’s Creed III is a thrilling, hyperdetailed journey to the Colonial era. There are also aliens.

By Erik Sofge
[I]f there's a driving moral imperative in AC3, it's not a flag-waving desire for independence from a distant, fickle imperial power. It's the desire to defend those original Americans, specifically the Mohawks and Iroquois in the Northeast, who watch this white man's conflict unfold. The game's hero is a Mohawk (he's half-white but raised in and accepted by the Mohawk community), and inhabiting his point of view allows you to watch long-standing, formalized tribal alliances shatter as groups align with the Brits and the colonists. But whoever wins, it's clear—the Native Americans are going to lose, and lose everything.

While everyone in the entertainment industry claims to be culturally sensitive when dealing with Native Americans, Ubisoft Montreal didn’t just go through the motions. The game’s makers filtered every relevant plot point and line of Mohawk-language dialogue through Thomas Deer, the cultural liaison for the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center in the Mohawk territory south of Montreal. The studio hired an additional consultant to deal with translation—that time-honored Hollywood tradition of having old-timey Native Americans speak to each other in heavily accented English is notably absent in AC3. When the studio wanted to add background chatter to a village scene, Deer set them up with a local immersion school in his territory, where they could record Mohawk children playing during recess.

It's hard to express the cumulative impact of all that seemingly spot-on Mohawk language and culture. Sure, the hunting sequences are videogamey and oversimplified, and the recurring visual of a Native American driving a hatchet into a white man’s brains isn't the most obvious path toward reversing centuries of racist stereotyping. But even so, AC3 manages to be not only one of the best, most visceral examinations of the history of the Revolutionary War. It’s also possibly the first mainstream look at Native American history that isn't pandering or offensive.

Assassin’s Creed III is no dry history lesson. It's possible to enjoy this game and not care one bit about the fact that Boston is modeled on period maps and on topological data that nails down the elevation of every hill and down-sloping street. You can certainly stalk targets through old New York City without considering the research that went into recreating the distinctive flat Dutch facades that concealed gabled rooftops. And you may well get more excited about the game's present-day crisis, which involves aliens and the world's impending, fiery doom. Yes, AC3 is filled with history, but it's also a swashbuckling sci-fi rip-snorter.

New 'Assassin's Creed' has Native American roots

By Mike SniderThe pair of Assassin's Creed games stretches the standard for what constitutes a video game hero. Most remain white and male, even though some games such as Mass Effect allow the look of the main character to be customized.

Not only is Connor the only non-white main character in a console game this year, "Assassin's Creed III is the only game I can think of with a substantive primary role for a Native American character," says Arthur Gies, reviews editor for Polygon.com. It is also a "step in the right direction for a high-profile title" such as Liberation to have a mixed-race female lead, he says. Ubisoft's one-two Assassin's punch is, Gies says, "subversive, for sure."

Integration wasn't solely at the heart of the design decision to give Connor Native American bloodlines, says Alex Hutchinson, creative director for Assassin's Creed III. Where previous Assassin leads relied heavily on knives and swords, Connor wields a tomahawk, battle-axe and bow and arrow, as well as firearms. "It gave us a bunch of gear that maybe wouldn't be appropriate for an English or French person in this setting," Hutchinson says.

About the heritage of Connor and Aveline, who happen to cross paths in Liberation, he adds, "it just puts your brain in a different space of not just, 'When are we?' but 'Who are we?' What would this person do in this situation?"
And:A new lead character and new entry point could be driving interest in the game, Gies says. "I think the Revolutionary War setting is going to get an awful lot of attention, and initially could lead to great sales."

The franchise is popular enough that a live-action movie is in the works. "It's clear Ubisoft has a hit series in its portfolio," says Dan Hsu, GamesBeat editor-in-chief for VentureBeat.com. "Assassin's Creed is an ideal marriage of a great, marketable name, iconic imagery with its mysterious and cloaked protagonists, and a made-for-gamers theme. Who wouldn't think it's cool to be an assassin?"
‘Assassin’s Creed III’: A Critical Success, and a Cultural MilestoneThe high marks for the game, both as a game and as a window onto history, make clear what many Native gamers and moviegoers have thought all along: That it’s possible to make good entertainment without dragging out the same tired stereotypes.

And perhaps abandoning those stereotypes is one of the touches that is the difference between a good game and a great one.

Could we see more game manufacturers looking to explore producing Indian titles with an authentic feel? Todd Martens thinks so—as he writes in his review for the L.A. Times, “this game makes it clear that there’s plenty of rich Native American gaming story lines yet to create.”
Comment:  There have been mainstream movies and documentaries that weren't "pandering or offensive." And video games games that starred Native characters. So Assassin's Creed III isn't anything new in that regard.

But it's notable for showing how a Native-themed entertainment product can succeed. It's a big-budget affair that respects cultural and historic accuracy. And it's getting a big marketing push from Ubisoft.

If someone put that much money into a Native superhero, sci-fi, or thriller adventure, it also would succeed. That's how you do it folks: write a good accessible story, give it an authentic look and feel, and pay close attention to details.

For more on Assassin's Creed 3, see Assassin's Creed 3's Mohawk Origin and Assassin's Creed 3's Native Heritage.

Cave of Blue Dolphins woman found

'Island of the Blue Dolphins' woman's cave believed found

A Navy archaeologist and his crew are digging out a cave on San Nicolas Island that seems likely to have sheltered the woman made famous by the 1960 award-winning book.

By Steve Chawkins
The yellowing government survey map of San Nicolas Island dated from 1879, but it was quite clear: There was a big black dot on the southwest coast and, next to it, the words "Indian Cave."

For more than 20 years, Navy archaeologist Steve Schwartz searched for that cave. It was believed to be home to the island's most famous inhabitant, a Native American woman who survived on the island for 18 years, abandoned and alone, and became the inspiration for "Island of the Blue Dolphins," one of the 20th century's most popular novels for young readers.

The problem for Schwartz was that San Nicolas, a wind-raked, 22-square-mile chunk of sandstone and scrub, has few caves, all of them dank, wet hollows where the tides surge in and nobody could live for long.

Year after year, he scoured the beaches and cliffs, drilled exploratory holes, checked the old map, pored over contemporary accounts and conferred with other experts, all in vain. If he could find the cave, he could find artifacts—clues that would flesh out the real-life story that inspired Scott O'Dell to pen the 1960 novel that won the Newbery Medal and became required reading in many California schools. More than 6.5 million copies are in print and teachers frequently assign it between the fourth and seventh grades.

If he found the cave, he might solve mysteries about the "Lone Woman of San Nicolas" and her Nicoleño tribe, which was left devastated by a massacre in 1814 by sea otter hunters from Alaska.

With the help of recently unearthed notes written in a fine script by a 19th century government surveyor, Schwartz now believes he's found it.

"We're 90% sure this is the Lone Woman's cave," Schwartz told several hundred fellow researchers last week at the California Islands Symposium in Ventura. Further excavation is necessary, he said, adding that a crew of students has painstakingly removed about 40,000 buckets, or a million pounds, of sand from a cavern at least 75 feet long and 10 feet high.
Cave that may have housed Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island uncovered

By Cheri CarlsonArchaeologist Steven Schwartz searched for the Lone Woman's cave on San Nicolas Island for 20 years.

The last of the native Nicoleño living on the remote island, the Lone Woman was left there when the others were taken to the mainland in 1835. She survived alone for 18 years—a story made famous in the children's book "Island of the Blue Dolphins," which is taught in elementary schools throughout the country.

Researchers believe she lived in a cave during much of the time. But covered up by decades of erosion, its location became a mystery—one of many explored Thursday at the California Islands symposium in Ventura.

Schwartz, who is with Naval Air Systems Command, searched through old survey maps, uncovered clues and hiked again and again to a spot on the island that looked just right for a cave. But each time he dug into the sandstone, he came up empty.

"I'd get really depressed. I'd go back, think about it, and go, 'No. I got to try again. I got to try again.' This was dozens of times," Schwartz said Thursday during a break at the three-day symposium held by the National Park Service and other agencies and groups.

Two years ago, he got his breakthrough. A professor from Northern California contacted him and had field notes for those 1800-era maps. In them, he found a description of the Lone Woman's cave, right where he thought it had been.

A team of volunteers, backbreaking work and 40,000 buckets of sand later, Schwartz found his cave. The huge space stretches 75 feet back from the entrance and appears to go even farther, he said.
Comment:  For more on Island of the Blue Dolphins, see Bestselling Native Children's Books and Indians in Top 100 Children's Novels.

October 27, 2012

Aubrey O'Day as Indian princess

Here's another in the seemingly endless parade of celebrity wannabes in headdresses. From Facebook:

Anyone heard of that Playmate Aubrey O'Day? She is enjoying playing the 'sexy squaw' at the Playboy Mansion party. Another ignorant racist appropriation..."Native culture is not a costume. Please take off the headdress."

Feel free to comment on her profiles!! Some people need a serious education!!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AubreyODay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aubrey-ODay/129159690718
E-mail: Aubreybooking@gmail.com

Other pics, because she's been posting a new pic every hour, like the offense was not enough:

'A powwow': http://instagram.com/p/RUhRWvt4sC
'Native American Princess': http://instagram.com/p/RUYgG_N4nK
'Indian Princess': http://instagram.com/p/RURQ8-t4i9
'Ever Ran with the bulls?': http://instagram.com/p/RUNzeht4hB
'Cowgirls & Indians': http://instagram.com/p/RT_1DCN4lV

People need to be educated, to understand how racist it is. This kind of appropriation goes toward the Native American cultural genocide. Please respect us! Our culture is not funny!
Aubrey O'Day wrote: "I'm a lil Indian girl for the festivities tonight! I made my entire costume, including headdress!" Headdress for girls? What's next?!!

Headdress is part of Native American culture and today is only worn for ceremonies. It is not a costume. It is being worn by men only to show their braveness. Please respect!!

"The bonnet had to be earned through brave deeds in battle because the feathers signified the deeds themselves. Some warriors might have obtained only two or three honor feathers in their whole lifetime, so difficult were they to earn. The bonnet was also a mark of highest respect because it could never be worn without the consent of the leaders of the tribe." (Wikipedia)

If you don't see anything wrong in these pics, then read this article, we all learn along the way: http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.fr/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-hipster-headdress.html

Please share!! Thanks!
Natives and others react

Commenters offered the usual outraged reactions, including these:She doesn't know how to use her brain anyway...just let me think I'm cute...hee hee. Moron.

Unfortunately, people that exploit their own bodies are not likely to stop exploiting other people or their cultures.

You need a serious education Aubrey!

We could all post on her link, she won't get it. She doesn't scream 'rocket scientist' mentality. People like her can be told a million times how disrespectful donning that head dress is, and they don't have a clue.

She's a dumb bimbo, guess we should really just feel sorry for her dumbass.


Very offensive.

Disgraceful, ignorant and rude....
And here's a column that could've been written about Aubrey O'Day:

Don't Make Me Rip Those Chicken Feathers Off You

By Dana Lone Hill[W]hen I see a hipster dressed as a over-sexualized, skanky, little wannabe in a teeny, tiny fake buckskin dress and purple chicken feathers in her hair that are supposed to represent a head dress that only men wear, I want to rip the chicken feathers off her head and give her a piece of my mind.

With Halloween coming up, this seems to be a popular costume. The main claim that "this is not racist" makes me furious.

First off, the excuse that people are cowboys for Halloween does not validate this at all. A cowboy is not a race of people. A settler is not a race of people. To totally excuse the fact that you are mocking and making fun of every woman I have ever looked up to in my life is total disrespect. Nobody says, "Oh, I'm going to be a white person for Halloween, or I'm going to be a black person, or I'm going to be a Jew." If someone did this it would be silly, shocking, and people would be pissed.

So how can hipsters totally disregard us as a people and dress like us in fake feathers, plastic beads, and hooker length dresses and say we are supposed to be honored they chose to represent us?
Comment:  For more on "Indian princesses," see Company Pulls "Sassy Squaw" Costume and Sexy Chief vs. Jana.

Majority of Americans are racist

AP poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks

By Jennifer Agiesta and Sonya RossRacial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some people's more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

"As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time ... it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago," said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too. In an AP survey done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57 percent in the implicit test. The survey on Hispanics had no past data for comparison.
Comment:  You can bet Americans' prejudice against Indians is just as strong.

This poll confirms several things I've said. That racism is far from a thing of the past. That many Americans still harbor prejudice against minorities. That conservatives are more prejudiced than liberals. That racism goes beyond what people explicitly say to their unstated and unconscious feelings. That a huge amount of the antipathy toward Obama--the Tea Party movement and the Romney campaign--results from this racism.

Same with the so-called "honor and respect" of Indian mascots, leathers 'n' feathers costumes, and advertising images. Much of this activity is fueled by unconscious racism. You don't use someone you respect--Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Ronald Reagan, or your mother--as a tool. Turning an Indian into a one-dimensional marketing gimmick is inherently demeaning. It necessarily misrepresents and trivializes an entire race.

For more on the subject, see:

"Stupid Indians" Criaglist posting
"Too sensitive" about Del Rey's headdress?
Transgendered Natives face more discrimination
GOP America = strivers vs. parasites
"Prairie Niggers!" in SDSU bathroom

Mapuche bar-code tapestries

Mapuche tribal traditions embedded in bar-code tapestries

For 'Encoded Textiles' at a Pasadena museum, Guillermo Bert distilled tales into 'QR' code, which was then woven into textiles that can be scanned and read.

By Hugh Hart
Who knew ancient pictograms used by a Chilean tribe of hunters and gatherers would dovetail aesthetically with bar code graphics that store information for drivers licenses, plane tickets and hospital bracelets? Artist Guillermo Bert, that's who. "The pixelation, the geometric pattern, the black and white repetition that you find in bar codes is very similar to traditional South American textiles made by the Mapuche tribe in the south of Chile," Bert says. "The similarities really blow my mind."

Bert, a Chilean native who moved to the United States in 1981, showcases this unlikely synchronicity at the Pasadena Museum of California Art's "Guillermo Bert: Encoded Textiles" through Feb. 24. The exhibition features blankets that render tribal lore as contemporary "QR" code.

Framed by astronomical iconography and X-shaped symbols representing the healing canelo plant, each textile piece centers on a story by one of the Mapuche villagers that Bert interviewed during a series of visits to southern Chile two years ago. He then condensed each transcript and scanned the resulting 20-word story into a device that turns text into bar codes. Blown up and printed out, those checkerboards-on-acid served as templates for Chilean weaver Anita Paillamil, who re-created the abstract patterns on blankets approximately 4 by 8 feet. (The pieces will go on sale after the exhibition finishes its run.)

Bert, who produced murals for the NoHo Arts District, has used Universal Product Code patterns as the basis for his own paintings. With "Encoded," he's working with bar code in a different way by exploiting its data-storage capability to preserve tribal traditions.
Comment:  For more on the Mapuche, see Musical Tribute to Mapuche Resistance and The Only Native Country.

Below:  "Guillermo Bert literally weaves ancient folklore into tapestries with the help of Chilean weaver Anita Paillamil." (Ronald Dunlap)

Company pulls "Sassy Squaw" costume

Company pulls 'Sassy Squaw' costume, apologizes

U.S. company says it chose kids' costume name because it was catchyA U.S. company is pulling a children's Halloween costume it called "Sassy Squaw" after CBC North made inquiries about its name.

The costume for young girls featured a hide dress, feather hairband, beaded necklace and pink leggings with what look like ancient cave drawings. It was being sold at Sears.com and on Amazon.ca.

The costume was designed and manufactured by a San Diego-based company called Incharacter. Their other costumes based on aboriginal culture include Cheeky Cherokee, Indian Brave and Maiden and the gruesome kids costume Spirit Warrior.

The designers said they chose the name "Sassy Squaw" because they thought it was catchy.

Yellowknife resident Gail Cyr said with ongoing campaigns to try and reduce the high numbers of missing and murdered aboriginal women, “This kind of stuff does not help.”

“It gives a primitive view of what aboriginal girls and women are all about,” she said.

“There’s a lot of change to try and get away from the basic standard stereotype which we have been subjected to all this time, and this stereotype is actually dangerous now because it's affecting our aboriginal women and girls.”
Comment:  That's one costume down and thousands, perhaps millions, to go.

Apparently the company pulled only the "Sassy Squaw" costume, and only because of its name. There's no evidence it pulled the other stereotypical costumes.

Still, it's good that the company responded without a lot of whining about how innocent and fun its costumes are. That alone is a step forward.

For more on "squaw," see "Squaw Bury Short Cake" and Tomahawk Tassels Stereotypes Native Women.

October 26, 2012

ICWA prevents child kidnapping

In a previous posting, people noted how Dr. Phil's show on Baby Veronica was unfair and upsetting. Here's a more rational critique of his presentation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA):

NICWA responds to Dr. Phil's coverage of S.C. ICWA caseOn October 18, 2012, the Dr. Phil show aired an episode that focused on a disputed custody case involving an American Indian child, Veronica. The case pits a loving father’s attempts to parent his daughter against a non-Indian couple from South Carolina–the Capobiancos–and their attorneys who orchestrated an illegal attempt to adopt Veronica. The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is gravely disappointed in the heavy slant toward the Capobiancos’ recounting of the situation and interpretation of the legal issues in the case.

Veronica’s father, who has been relentlessly vilified in the media as a “deadbeat dad” is, in fact, a loving parent and a decorated Iraq war veteran. Rather than acknowledge his right to protect his daughter from a media firestorm that has proven deeply biased, the Dr. Phil show instead allowed personal attacks on his character and speculation on his parenting–from those who admittedly have had no contact with him–to continue unchallenged. We find these attacks unsupported by court records and unacceptable.

Veronica’s pre-adoptive placement was kept secret by her mother and attorneys representing the Capobiancos. Her placement with them was not revealed to Veronica’s father for four months–just days before he was sent to Iraq. Upon learning of his daughter’s proposed adoption, the father quickly moved to affirm his rights to parent Veronica. After three decisions supporting his rights in the South Carolina courts, he has been parenting her since January 2012.

Dr. Phil and several of his guests ignored the fraudulent process attorneys representing the Capobiancos used to help them gain custody of Veronica during their unsuccessful attempt to adopt her. That Veronica is American Indian was known by the Capobiancos and their attorneys, as was the fact that any adoptive process involving her would be covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Instead of delving into why the Capobiancos were advised to circumvent the law, putting Veronica at high risk, Dr. Phil instead chose to rebuff the two guests with the most knowledge of this case and experience in such matters, Assistant District Attorney of the Cherokee Nation Chrissi Nimmo and Les Marston, attorney and tribal judge.

NICWA understands this case is emotionally-charged and has attracted worldwide attention. Nonetheless, we must reject the subjective definitions of what is in Veronica’s best interest that Dr. Phil disappointingly reinforced. Not only did the discussion of Veronica’s “best interest” completely discount the importance of her cultural identity and rights as a tribal citizen, it more shockingly ignored the significance of her being raised within a loving home with her father, sister, stepmother, and loving grandparents–and among a community that includes extended family and tribal members who love her. As Nimmo correctly stated, if Veronica was a non-Indian child, existing state and federal laws would have afforded the father an opportunity to seek custody of her and not reward those who violated the law.

Furthermore, NICWA firmly believes that Veronica’s best interest is not served by the continued negative media campaign currently pursued by the Capobiancos and their public relations firm. We have no doubt they love Veronica, but in this case, the ends they hope to accomplish certainly do not justify the means. Dr. Phil’s portrayal only serves to put Veronica at further risk.

The show’s characterization of ICWA was also filled with misinformation and inaccuracies. ICWA is a law that has helped protect thousands of American Indian children and keep them with their families. Veronica’s story illustrates the clear ongoing need for federal protections like ICWA for American Indian children who continue to be the victims of questionable, and sometimes illegal, attempts to adopt them out.

To learn more about how you can support the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s efforts to strengthen protections for American Indian children and families and to access more information on this case, please visit our website at www.nicwa.org.
Kidnapping past and present

Here's some background on why the ICWA was and is needed:

Dr. Phil and the Real Purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act

By Donna EnnisI recently became aware of a group that is called Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families. On the surface that sounds legitimate but upon further investigation it turns out to be another group attempting to diminish the sovereignty of our tribes and undermine the structure of the Native family. There have been over 200 years of federal policy aimed at the extermination of Native American people. Some of these attempts have been subtle and others more blatant.

The federal government began sending Native children to off-reservation boarding schools in the 1870’s, when the United States was still at war with Indians. An Army officer, Richard Pratt, founded the first of these schools. Pratt believed that the Indian Wars weren’t extinguishing the culture fast enough and so he came upon the idea to separate the children from their parents. Children as young as 4 or 5 were forcibly taken from their homes and brought to the boarding school where they were stripped of their language, culture and family ties. It was many years before the era of the boarding schools was over and by then irreparable damage was done to Native people and the ripple effects are still felt today as evidenced by the historical, intergenerational and cultural trauma that we see in our people.

In 1978, the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act was passed to remedy the disproportionate number and widespread removal of children that were being taken from their homes. After the Boarding Schools were over, but before the passage of the federal law protecting Native children, they were again being forcibly removed from their families and placed cross-culturally; away from their language, culture and family ties. Sound familiar?
Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families

By Laura Sullivan and Amy WaltersNearly 700 Native American children in South Dakota are being removed from their homes every year, sometimes under questionable circumstances. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is largely failing to place them according to the law. The vast majority of native kids in foster care in South Dakota are in nonnative homes or group homes, according to an NPR analysis of state records.

Years ago, thousands of Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools, where the motto of the schools' founder was "Kill the Indian, Save the Man." Children lost touch with their culture, traditions and families. Many suffered horrible abuse, leaving entire generations missing from the one place whose future depended on them—their tribes.

In 1978, Congress tried to put a stop to it. They passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, which says except in the rarest circumstances, Native American children must be placed with their relatives or tribes. It also says states must do everything it can to keep native families together.

But 32 states are failing to abide by the act in one way or another, and, an NPR investigation has found, nowhere is that more apparent than in South Dakota.

"Cousins are disappearing; family members are disappearing," said Peter Lengkeek, a Crow Creek Tribal Council member. "It's kidnapping. That's how we see it."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Dr. Phil's Horror Show and Baby Veronica Case on Dr. Phil.

Below:  "Derrin Yellow Robe, 3, stands in his great-grandparents' backyard on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. Along with his twin sister and two older sisters, he was taken off the reservation by South Dakota's Department of Social Services in July 2009 and spent a year and a half in foster care before being returned to his family." (John Poole/NPR)

Depp gives back to Navajos

Johnny Depp Donates $25K to Navajo Nation for ScholarshipsActor Johnny Depp has given the Navajo Nation a $25,000 monetary gift for scholarships for Navajo students.

The blockbuster actor is playing Tonto in "The Lone Ranger." Filming for the movie began this past February in New Mexico. The movie is due to be released in the summer of 2013.

He was made an honorary member of the Comanche Nation, based in Lawton, Oklahoma, earlier this year. Last month he served as the grand marshal of the 21st Annual Comanche Nation Fair parade.

As a formality after President Ben Shelly accepted the donation, the Navajo Nation's Health Education and Human Services Committee voted to accept the $25,000 gift so it can be appropriated for scholarships.
This follows an earlier and less substantial effort:

Tonto remembered them

Forgotten People get water systems, courtesy of Depp fans

By Cindy Yurth
Volunteers are installing gravity-flow water systems for five families in the former Bennett Freeze this week, thanks—in a roundabout way—to Johnny Depp.

In honor of Depp’s birthday, members of the actor’s fan website Johnny Depp Zone, and Depp himself, contributed $7,750 to Project Pueblo, a California-based non-profit that connects college-age volunteers with service projects on the Navajo Nation.

“It’s the largest single donation to one of our projects we’ve ever gotten,” marveled Sean Wycliffe, who founded Project Pueblo with his brother Ryan in 2009.

Every year around June 9—the date Depp was born in 1963—Johnny Depp Zone starts fundraising for its annual Johnny Depp Birthday Project, explained Natalie, the webmaster for Johnny Depp Zone (like others behind the site, she keeps her last name secret to avoid becoming a target of “hackers and haters”).

Every year, the group targets a different charity. Natalie said that this year, Johnny Depp Zone was looking for a project on the Navajo Nation since the actor’s recently filmed movie “The Lone Ranger” was partially filmed here.

“Theresa’s (another Depp Zone member) diligent research tracked down Project Pueblo, and we were immediately impressed by their work, and by the fact they were working with people who had basically been forgotten and left to cope with the most horrendous conditions with no help at all,” Natalie said. “What happened with the Bennett Freeze area was totally unknown to all of us, and so shocking!”

His fans’ generosity did not go unnoticed by Depp, who kicked in some funds (Wycliffe wouldn’t reveal how much; Depp said he wanted his fans to get the credit) and wrote a letter to Natalie and her fellow “Zoners” from “The Lone Ranger” set in Creede, Colo., on June 16.
Comment:  Water systems for five families...scholarships that might pay one student's tuition for a year...better than nothing, but not exactly overwhelming gifts. Since he's profiting off of Indians, I was thinking more of a bequest in the million-dollar range.

Depp is rumored to be getting $75-90 million for a fifth Pirates movie. That gives you an idea what his salary range is. How about donating 10% of his Tonto salary to the Indians he supposedly respects and cares about?

For more on Johnny Depp, see Lone Ranger Trailer and Images and Johnny Depp in Comanche Nation Parade.

Below:  "Johnny Depp at Comanche Nation Fair."

Greatest Photographs of the American West

Explore 125 Years of National Geographic Photos of the American West at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western ArtNational Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West, a collection of iconic Western images, gathered by National Geographic over a span of some 125 years, will open at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis and nine other museums across the country on Saturday, October 27. The opening is noteworthy both for bringing together for the first time this remarkable collection of photographs and for being the largest such simultaneous photography exhibition ever for the United States. The exhibition will be on display at the Eiteljorg Museum through February 10, 2013.

The exhibit features the best images of the West published by National Geographic over its 125-year history, and includes works by nearly 80 different photographers. It also reveals some surprises from the National Geographic Image Collection. Many of the images will be instantly recognizable for their subjects; others less so. Arrayed together, they tell a story about imagination, spectacle, adventure and surpassing beauty, together with startling views into the daily struggles of people and animals in a vast and often intimidating territory.

Participating museums in the National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West, include:

  • Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, Georgia
  • Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming
  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • National Geographic Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • Rockwell Museum of Western Art, Corning, New York
  • C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana
  • Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas
  • Comment:  I wonder if the photo below is the only one featuring Indians.

    Odd that the show isn't appearing anywhere farther west than Wyoming. It's excluding most of the West. I guess these museums are members of a Western consortium, and the locations are limited to them, but still.

    For more on the National Geographic, see Lakota Stories on National Geographic Website and Navajo Cops Hypes the Supernatural.

    Below:  "American Indian Beauty Pageant winner Acosia Red Elk waits for a parade at the tipi village, a part of the Pendleton Round-Up rodeo since its 1910 inception." (William Albert Allard/National Geographic)

    Flo Rida's stereotypical football uniforms

    Rapper Flo Rida Donates Innovatively Offensive Indian-Themed UniformsUse of American Indian characters and imagery by sports teams is an issue we’ve discussed quite a lot here—but today we have news of an unusual side skirmish in the war against them. Hip hop star Flo Rida has given his high school, Miami-Carol City, a set of new football uniforms, and the Internet is offering its opinion:

    Ugliest. Uniforms. Ever.

    The outfits to be worn by the Carol City Chiefs starting with the 2013 football season feature a design on the helmet that resembles a sacred feather headdress and an Indian head logo on the, er, front of the pants. You could say the crotch. Many have.

    And for those of you keeping track, the Indian head in this case is the noble, stoic kind (à la Washington Redskins, University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, and Florida State Seminoles) and not the cartoony kind (still going strong in Cleveland).
    Comment:  The uniforms certainly are ugly. And the headdress on the helmet and the chief on the pants are horribly stereotypical. The school should discard them as soon as possible.

    But I think the designer could make this uniform into something acceptable. Design-wise, the helmet isn't bad. If you turned the feathers into abstract streaks, like tiger stripes, I think the black-and-orange color scheme would work.

    The biggest problem is the pants. If the designer turned the grotesque chief into another abstract stripe-like pattern, it might work. Do that and get rid of the clashing colors (white, gold, copper, two shades of orange, brown, etc.) too. Make the rest of the uniform a simple black and orange with white trim, as in the first uniform.

    For more on Indian mascots, see Research Proves Mascots Are Harmful and 1491s on Redface and Blackface.

    October 25, 2012

    Russell Means was a fighter

    After Russell Means's death, many people reminisced about his life. The following postings typify what they said:

    Russell Means: By No Means a Perfect Man, Yet He was Our Strong Voice

    By Levi RickertThough he walked on early Monday morning from complications of cancer, the tenacious spirit he possessed will live on in many modern warriors who still have a lot of work to do to make this country a better place for American Indians.

    Make no mistake about it, Means was a confrontational American Indian warrior. He was one who did not like to back down. Sometimes in leadership, circumstances dictate action. Such was the case when the American Indian Movement arrived at the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington with the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan with a twenty-point position paper. Having been promised a meeting with BIA officials, they felt double-crossed when there would be no meeting. Late in the afternoon, Means and Dennis Banks decided to "occupy" the building when they were told the police were on the way to remove the American Indian Movement members. The confrontational occupation drew national attention to living conditions of American Indians and broken treaties.

    The fight inside of Means became his calling card. The tenacity Means possessed led the Washington Post to call him the "…biggest, baddest, meanest, angriest, most famous American Indian activist of the late 20th century."

    This same tenacity allowed him to fight cancer vigorously after he was first diagnosed in July 2011. Perhaps, a person with lesser will would have given up earlier, as do many people. Even while living with a life-threatening illness, Means realized there is still much work that needs to be done to improve American Indians lives - even with the advent of casinos and other tribal enterprises. There are still way too many American Indians suffering in the United States. Russell Means understood this to the end of his life on this earth.

    This sheer fight he had on the inside is what made Means great and perhaps will become his lasting legacy.
    Indian Country Reacts to Russell Means’ PassingMichael Mann, director of “Last of the Mohicans”

    The Wall Street Journal did an interview with Mann and asked him: What were your thoughts when you found out he had passed away?

    “Well, I knew it was coming about a week ago. Because there had been an email exchange with his wife. He wanted to get back and die at Pine Ridge…First of all he was way too young. 72 is young. Way too young to pass away,” Mann told the Journal. “He’s an iconic person. He’s lived through so much…What this guy stood for, the courage he had, and who they took on, in the 60, 70s and 80s—[American Indian activist Leonard] Peltier is still in prison. It’s a struggle that’s 400 years old. And Russell was fighting that battle every day of his life.”

    Robert Chanate, a member of the Kiowa Nation

    Says Means “led from the front and took the same risks as anyone else. Whether that meant going to jail, standing vigil in uncomfortable weather or carrying out tasks while exhausted, Russell Means wasn’t one to skip out on us. Many times we’d complete a rally and Russell would jump in his van to travel to a different state so he could fulfill another request for his support.”

    Glenn Morris, of the American Indian Movement of Colorado

    “In recognition of one of the primary, visionary leaders in beginning the contemporary work of international indigenous peoples’ liberation, of which we are all beneficiaries. Without Russell, it is doubtful that many of us who do this work would have had the honor of continuing to defend our peoples in this way. Indigenous leaders, ranging from Rigoberta Menchu Tum, to Subcomandante Marcos to Evo Morales, have said that their work was inspired and motivated by the words, actions and example of Russell Means. May we all remember the historic contributions of Russell Means to the freedom and self-determination of all indigenous peoples, everywhere.”
    Russell Means, Lightning and Sexiness: The Toughest Indian in the Whole Wide World

    By Gyasi Ross regardless of questions about his approach, he was a warrior that worked diligently and passionately for the betterment of Native people. He loved Native people profoundly. He knew that we deserved better, but we had to demand better.

    I see Russell Means as the Indigenous equivalent of Malcolm X. See, the truth is that Native people needed (and still need) the fiery doppelganger of thoughtful, mainstream organizations like National Congress of American Indians in the same way that Martin Luther King, Jr. needed Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Whereas National Congress of American Indians speaks politely and eloquently, using big words and paperwork to demand that the United States give Native people our just due, Russell Means was the person with the chip on his shoulder that would simply smack those dirty thieves in the mouth and take as much of that “just due” as he could. The truth is that these approaches need each other—they are not at odds. Neither approach is perfect, but both approaches are needed for Native peoples’ success and survival.

    Symbiotic. Both necessary. Complementary.

    Russell Means was loud. And eloquent. And flawed. And dangerous. And sexy. He made the image of a huge Native male being politically active something acceptable, even ideal. He wasn’t a bookworm that people could easily ignore—he spoke loudly, and powerfully—so much confidence in himself that those that were threatened by him just wished that they’d hear some bad news about him someday so they could stop hearing about him. “Y’know that Russell Means was in a plane crash…” Never happened; heck, he even whooped cancer for a long time. Sexy. Long hair, leather jackets, brown skin—he was the image of a Native person that all of us have, whether it’s politically correct to say so or not. Men wanted to be him, women wanted to be with him—the Indigenous James Bond. At a time of lagging self-esteem for Indigenous people, where we were taught to believe, after 500 years of ugly genocide, forced assimilation and conquest, that everything “Native” was ugly, dirty, evil, stupid, he made “looking Indian” cool again.

    He made being Native sexy. Imperfect, but a start to reclaiming our collective sense of self-worth.

    Every single Native person on this continent owes him a debt of gratitude. Thank you Russell Means—the toughest Indian in the world.
    Comment:  For more on Russell Means, see Means Has Cancer Again and Means Releases New Book Online.

    Russell Means's funeral

    Family of Russell Means sing on horseback in 12-hour memorial for the American Indian activist and star of Last of the MohicansIn the company of more than 1,000 mourners chanting and singing for their fallen Native American hero, a riderless horse escorted the remains of Russell Means to his first of four memorials on Wednesday.

    Carried to a 12-hour service at South Dakota's Little Wound High School, the smell of burning sage, sweetgrass and cedar wafted through the air as a spiritual cleansing and healing, honouring the 72-year-old chief.
    And:Invitations to his memorial written by family described him as an 'Oglala Lakota patriot and freedom fighter.'

    'Prayers were offered outside with a drum and honor songs, then he was escorted in with his wife, Pearl and all his children and grandchildren,' Mean's sister-in-law Natalie Hand told Indian Country Today. 'The ceremony will go on into the night. After that, his family and close relatives among the Oglalas will be carrying his ashes up to the Black Hills and scattering his ashes at Yellow Thunder Camp.'

    Russell Means Farewell: Son Cradles His Father on Final JourneyThis moving image from yesterday’s honoring ceremony for Russell Means shows one of his sons, Tatanka Means, carrying his father’s urn into the Little Wound High School in Kyle, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

    The 12-hour service was attended by more than 1,000 family members, friends and supporters. The ceremony was led by Sundance Chief Leonard Crow Dog, who was with Means when he walked on. He said Means’ soul would travel over four days to the spirit realm, known in Lakota tradition as Happy Hunting Grounds.
    Comment:  For more on Russell Means, see Russell Means Was a Fighter and Russell Means Dies.

    Below:  "Tatanka Means, a son of Russell Means, carries the urn with Means' ashes into Little Wound High School in Kyle, South Dakota on October 24." (Aaron Rosenblatt/Rapid City Journal)

    Native presence in New Mexican balloons

    Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Is a Southwest Spectacular

    By Jack McNeelThere is a Native presence in ballooning throughout the region and Native Americans are seen mixed throughout the crowds which number upwards of 100,000 viewers. Two balloons carry Native designs. One is the Zia Sun symbol which is also the New Mexico flag and the second carried a corn maiden design from the Acoma Pueblo.

    A visit to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum shows a strong Native influence. A large pot standing four or five feet tall and painted like a Pueblo pot rests outside the main entrance to the museum. It has geometric designs of pueblo pottery but also four large circles around the circumference with scenes painted showing hot air balloons above the scenes.

    Inside the museum one spots a display of five items made by Native people: two pottery pieces made by Fio and Lee Vallo of Acoma in the shape of hot air balloons, a balloon fiesta pot over Sandia Pueblo by Robert Tenorio of Santo Domingo and another of his with a design of a bird on a pot shaped like an inverted balloon. The fifth item is a Zia horse hair dance bustle made by Calvert Chapo and Jackie Platero and the center is shaped like a balloon with the Zia Sun symbol.

    There’s a poster titled Acoma Sunrise with numerous balloons, plus various small pottery pieces depicting balloons and sold as ornaments by potters from Acoma, Jemez, and the Navajo Nation. Another horse hair bustle is for sale made by Lillian Romero, Laguna, and Marlene Petero, Navajo. It’s shaped like the one on display but has several bright colors on the balloon.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Balloon Festival in Monument Valley.