January 31, 2012

Drew Barrymore in a headdress

Actress Drew Barrymore posted this as her Facebook profile picture for a day:

So much for her sensitivity to the Native POV in the movie Big Miracle.

People shared this pic and it generated a flurry of negative comments. For instance:I am so shocked and saddened by this! So disrespectful and such a clueless act! SHAMEFUL.

When is the minstrel show?

Drew, NOOOOO! what are you thinking? Even this know nothing white chick from the bottom of the planet knows that wearing a Plains headress to be 'cool' is extremely offensive and disrepectful. Please please take this photo down, study up on cultural misappropriation and apologise.

Thanks Drew! Loved you since i was a little "redskin," I almost forgot that Budweiser, headdresses, and racist white women were a part of my DNA.

It is Drew...she isn't known for her deep thinking.

Drew--everyone knows you didn't purposely set out to offend anyone, and I hope you can look beyond the anger of the people you offended, and REALIZE why it is they are offended. Please educate yourself on all that has happened to Native people in this country. You and millions of others are unaware of the true history of Native people and their struggle to survive. Murdering of men, women, and children, boarding schools, sterilization, loss of homes, language and culture. This isn't ancient history, it happened within the last century, and there are still survivors among us. When you have the time, there's plenty of videos on YouTube that will tell you a story or two.
In one case "Cory," who claimed to be Native, defended Barrymore. I didn't see his comments, but I believe he said Barrymore was trying to connect with Natives and critics were overreacting. This generated a few choice responses:I think you should rethink where your loyalties lie! Either you're a Native or you're not brother!!! If you were truly Native, and were walking the Red Road, you'd be calling out these people who are insulting our culture!!!

@Cory....When someone wants to walk the Red Road they watch, they listen and they seek advise from those that know. This is not someone who wants to be connected anymore than someone who wears a shirt that says my Indian name is Runs with Beer.

Over-reacting my butt!!!!
Another hipster headdress

Soon Adrienne Keene weighed in in her Native Appropriations blog:

Drew Barrymore Sports a Headdress and a Budweiser Apron. Really.Dear Drew Barrymore,

You know what? You're a pretty cool chick. You were in ET back when you were little and adorable, and I respect that movie for scarring me for life when I was young and impressionable. You're a female producer, which is bad-ass. You donate lots of money to good causes, and you seem kinda nice in your interviews and stuff. Despite your coolness, you did something totally uncool. And that something totally uncool was posting a picture of yourself in an "Indian headdress"--which is bad enough--but then you went even further and paired it with a Budweiser apron. An apron that has. to. do. with. alcohol.

So some of us are doing this thing where this week we document all the instances of "Stereotypical Indians" we come across in our daily lives, and I think yours might take the cake. For the whole week. And it's only Tuesday. Cause not only do you give us the stereotypical war bonnet, you give us an association of Indians with alcohol, which is probably right up there with the worst possible stereotypes of Native people in the world ever. Nice work.

I know you probably didn't think about it at all, in fact, I really hope you didn't think about it, cause if it was intentional? That's a whole other barrel of monkeys. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and think there was some context here we aren't privileged to know about (like maybe you were shooting a PSA against Native stereotyping? Right?). But the fact that you (or your people, let's be real) not only took this picture, but made it your PROFILE picture on The Facebook Dot Com, and have left it up ALL DAY despite a sh*t-ton of comments telling you it's wrong? That's more than uncool. That ish is straight up oppressive.
For more on what's wrong with wearing a headdress, see Why Hipster Headdresses Aren't Okay.

Inevitably, some people accused Indians of playing the victim card, crying over the past, etc. My response to that:

It's funny that some people don't understand the difference between saying "this is wrong" and "poor us." They're two separate and almost unrelated things.

Is it also playing the victim card to note that 2 + 2 = 4, not 5? Pointing out a problem--a clogged toilet, a hungry child, or a misappropriated headdress--doesn't mean you're crying over it. It means you're trying to fix the problem and thus make the world a better place.


The good news is that Barrymore--or her people--removed the photo within a day or so. Once again, protests work. It's a good guess that she won't appear in a headdress again anytime soon.

For more on the subject, see Top 10 Native Fashion Misappropriations and Racist Costumes = White Privilege.

Stereotypical "Run Wild" fashion shoot

Here's a typical fashion shoot involving the misappropriation of Native cultures. Such things probably happen every week, if not every day. This one is mildly interesting because of the blogger's gushing comments. She seems blissfully ignorant of her stereotypical thinking and the white privilege that permits it.

RUN WILD Photoshoot

Indians (…which i’m sure is not the politically correct thing to call them…but sounds WAY cooler than Native Americans…lol) are the TRUE Americans! Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite holidays b/c for me it’s a celebration of us basically robbing the Indians blind! I don’t want to be a negative Nancy…so what I can say is that Indians and their wardrobes are SUPER CHIC! I want to be a high chief…and have the BIGGEST feather head piece…I would be a GREAT head chief…lol!

ps. I think living in a Tee Pee would be fun!!! Mine would be hot pink : )
And:The headdress and beaded breast plate were made by actual Indians…I am completely obsessed with these and plan to get some for my every day wardrobe ASAP!!And:Indians know magic…they know the power of the earth…they ARE magic! <3

Comment:  The whole thing reeks of the same condescending "respect" people give to Indian mascots. "The noble savage...so wise and brave...too bad he died out a century ago. We can't do anything about Indians now, so there's no point in bothering. Even learning the bare minimum about them is too much work.

"But we can admire the heck out of their dead ancestors. That makes up for robbing and killing them. It makes us feel good about ourselves, and that's what matters."

On top of the cultural theft and stereotyping in the photos and text, there's the whole "run wild" theme. Presumably these people think Indians are like animals, running wild and free like the deer and buffalo. It couldn't be clearer that Indians are colorful objects to them, like museum pieces, not a vital part of today's society.

For a primer on what's wrong with wearing a headdress, see Why Hipster Headdresses Aren't Okay. For more on the subject, see Top 10 Native Fashion Misappropriations and Racist Costumes = White Privilege.

Diversity in comics 2011

Here's a good article from last year on diversity in comic books. It doesn't mention Indians, but its points are applicable to all minorities in comics.

2011's Hot Buttons p.4: Superhero Diversity

By Vaneta RogersDC's 2010 replacement of Caucasian Aqualad with a new African-American character in 2010 was hailed by most fans, which does represent a step forward from reactions seen in the past when new, ethnically-diverse heroes replaced former characters that were white.

"I think what you see from fans sometimes is that people want exactly what they fell in love with over and over again," said Greg Rucka, who's written comics for both Marvel and DC. "They want the same thing except different. But that should have nothing to do with introducing a character’s color, or introducing sexual diversity or religious diversity. That simply has to do with the idea that, 'that’s not my fill-in-the-blank character from 1972.'"

Rucka pointed to the 2003 Marvel comic series Truth, which introduced the fact that an African-American Captain America existed before the current white hero. "I know when Marvel did Truth they received vitriolic hate mail," Rucka said. "But that's not just people disliking change. That's just people who are bigots, when you come down to it. That wasn’t just an issue with messing with a character."

Other times, fans that are sticklers for continuity get upset about story changes that introduce diversity. Winick experienced anger from fans when he introduced the idea that Green Lantern character Kyle Rayner was half-Hispanic, and fans justified their outrage by claiming there was a change made in continuity.
Comment:  The Truth series proposed that the US Army tested Captain America's super-soldier formula on blacks before giving it to Steve Rogers. Because of whiny fans, Marvel retconned this so the black soldiers were tested after Rogers, not before. The mostly white fans couldn't stand the idea that the first Captain America wasn't a white man.

For more on Indians and comic books, see No Indians in X-Men Movies and American Eagle in FEAR ITSELF.

Growth in the "hipster tribe"

Here's an image from Adrienne Keene of the Native Appropriations blog. She tweets:I made this today in response to @freshest33 making a reference to the "hipster tribe." Graph jokes? New high in nerdy. http://pic.twitter.com/tDIgxYyg

Good one! We can apply this to recent postings on the Census:

Natives aren't vanishing in Census
2010 Census brief on Natives

And on hipster headdresses:

Drew Barrymore in a headdress
Stereotypical "Run Wild" fashion shoot

January 30, 2012

Obama holds fundraiser with Indians

Obama holds fundraiser with American Indians

By Ken ThomasPresident Barack Obama, raising money for his campaign among tribal leaders, said Friday he wants American Indians to be "full partners" in the economy.

Obama met with 70 to 75 supporters from Native American tribes. Democratic officials said the fundraiser would benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Tickets started at $15,000.

Obama told participants that he has worked to include American Indians in his administration and wants Native Americans to be "full partners in our economy." The president noted that he had signed laws to improve health care for Native American tribes and pushed for better educational opportunities and more improvements to tribal economies.

"We want new businesses and new opportunities to take root on the reservations," Obama said. Attendees included Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.
Our Readers Weigh In: Tribal Leaders Should Not Have Paid to Attend Obama Fundraiser

By Levi RickertObviously, there are varying degrees of participation in the American political system. Clearly, the 75 American Indian leaders felt they should participate by contributing to President Obama's campaign.

By reading the reactions from our readers to Saturday's article, there was not one positive comment about the tribal officials paying at least $15,000 to attend President Obama's fundraiser.

Here is a sampling of the comments:

  • "With the on-going suffering and a lack of any meaningful apology from the US Government for the past 500 years, it's difficult to understand why tribal leaders would pay $15,000 to listen to President Obama!"

  • Why doesn't he free Leonard Peltier? Now. This is his chance if he wants my vote!

  • "Should have taken the money and put it somewhere on the reservation where it would have done some good to the people that needed it instead of flushing it down the drain."

  • "$35,800 could do a LOT of good in most Native communities!!!!!!"

  • The following comment came via an email to me late Sunday night from Los Angeles:

    "Sovereign nation leaders, tribal elders and Obama refers to them as 'you guys'? Is this how he addresses the governors or other leaders at the United Nations? The 75 'guys' giving $15,000 to sit with Obama was a waste of money. Is this the payment of money he got by hosting three tribal leaders meetings?"

    I am sure the 75 American Indian tribal officials would argue this is how American politics is played. They would argue you have to give big money in hope of something in return.
    Comment:  I'd call this fundraiser a necessary evil for tribal leaders. Obviously, $15,000 a ticket doesn't look good on the surface. But leaders are buying the opportunity to influence Obama's policies. If they persuade him to increase Indian services by, say, $100 million, the million-dollar fundraiser would be a good investment.

    Meanwhile, the chances of Obama's pardoning Leonard Peltier are slim to none. I wouldn't even waste time asking him about it. If you get a few minutes to talk with Obama, you should concentrate on jobs, healthcare, and law enforcement, not one possible pardon.

    For more on the positive side of Obama's relationship with Indians, see Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline and Obama Signs Cobell Settlement. For more on the negative side, see Funding Cuts for Tribal Justice and Obama Breaks Promise to Indians.

    Navy sonar threatens marine mammals

    Groups Sue Over Navy Sonar Impacts on Marine Mammals

    By Dan BacherA broad coalition of conservation groups and American Indian Tribes on January 26 sued the Obama administration for failing to protect thousands of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions from U.S. Navy warfare training exercises along the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.

    Earthjustice, representing the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the San Juans, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and People For Puget Sound, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s approval of the Navy’s training activities in its Northwest Training Range Complex.

    “The lawsuit calls on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to mitigate anticipated harm to marine mammals and biologically critical areas within the training range that stretches from Northern California to the Canadian border,” according to a statement from Earthjustice.

    “These training exercises will harm dozens of protected species of marine mammals—southern resident killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises—through the use of high-intensity mid-frequency sonar,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney representing the groups. “The Fisheries Service fell down on the job and failed to require the Navy to take reasonable and effective actions to protect them.”

    The groups said the Navy uses a vast area of the West Coast for training activities, including anti-submarine warfare exercises involving tracking aircraft and sonar; surface-to-air gunnery and missile exercises; air-to-surface bombing exercises; sink exercises; and extensive testing for several new weapons systems.

    “Since the beginning of time, the Sinkyone Council’s member Tribes have gathered, harvested and fished for traditional cultural marine resources in this area, and they continue to carry out these subsistence ways of life, and their ceremonial activities along this Tribal ancestral coastline,” said Priscilla Hunter, chairwoman and co-founder of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. “Our traditional cultural lifeways, and our relatives such as the whales and many other species, will be negatively and permanently impacted by the Navy’s activities.”

    “Both NMFS and the Navy have failed in their obligations to conduct government-to-government consultation with the Sinkyone Council and its member Tribes regarding project impacts,” Hunter emphasized.
    Comment:  For more on Indians and whales, see Native POV in Big Miracle and Whales vs. Ocean Pollution.

    Lansing mayor insults Indians

    Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero called tribal spokesperson 'Chief Chicken Little,' used racial slurs at fundraiser, tribes allege

    By Angela WittrockMayor Virg Bernero used racial slurs and profanity to describe the spokesperson of two Native American tribes opposing his plans for a $245 million downtown Lansing casino, the tribes alleged in a press release Monday.

    The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi say Bernero made the remarks at his annual State of the City preview breakfast, held Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Lansing Center.

    "The man walked on stage with a target on his back," Frank Cloutier, a spokesperson for the tribes said. "He was saying some pretty disparaging things about Native American culture, and he referred to our coalition spokesperson, James Nye, as Chief Chicken Little."

    Nye is the spokesperson for a coalition of tribes and casinos opposed to the proposed Lansing casino, which would be owned and operated by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

    The Saginaw tribe is the only tribe in Michigan that refers to its highest authority as chief.

    "Historically, the word chief honors our ancestors and those who came before us. Mr. Bernero disrespected our whole culture and history," he said.

    The Detroit Free Press reported Bernero referred to the bull's-eye on his back and said he was the target of "bows and arrows" for championing the Lansing casino.
    Lansing mayor offers apology in wake of American Indian remarksNye said the remarks, at a Thursday morning mayoral fund-raiser, were “inexcusable.”

    “I’ve been in a lot of debates but never been personally attacked,” he said. “This is embarrassing … pretty disgusting.”

    Bernero was not available to comment. But his office issued a statement at midday Monday saying the mayor disagreed with his critics.

    "My passionate support for Lansing and our casino project may have gotten the better of me, but none of my remarks were directed toward Native Americans, and nothing I said can fairly be construed as a racial slur,” he said. “I make no apologies for using strong language against our opponents … but I do offer my heartfelt and sincere apology to any and all who were offended by my choice of words.”
    Comment:  Actually, it's quite easy to construe Bernero's remarks as racial slurs. And to construe his "heartfelt and sincere apology" as a political gambit.

    For more on the subject, see Conservatives Use "Language of Savagery" and The Last Acceptable Racism.

    Alexie on Tucson book ban

    Sherman AlexieLet's get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I'm pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I'm also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world. In the effort to vanish our books, Arizona has actually given them enormous power. Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.Comment:  For more on Tucson's book ban, see Tucson's Books Censored, Not Banned? and Tucson Bans Native Books, Shakespeare Play. For more on Alexie, see Alexie and Erdrich Deserve Nobel Prizes and School Reverses True Diary Ban.

    January 29, 2012

    The Hopi's "newspaper rock"

    Tribes join forces to save petroglyph site

    By Pauline ArrillagaIn the far reaches of northern Arizona, where city sprawl gives way to majestic canyons and a holy place is defined not by steeple and cross but rather by earth and sky, lies a monument to a people’s past and a symbol of the promise of peace between two long-warring Indian nations.

    The Hopi people call it Tutuveni (tu-TOO-veh-nee), meaning “newspaper rock,” and from a distance this place is just that–a collection of sandstone boulders set on a deserted swath of rust-stained land outside of Tuba City, some 80 miles from the Grand Canyon and a four-hour drive north of Phoenix.

    It is only when you step closer that you begin to understand what Tutuveni really is: a history of the Hopi Indian tribe carved into stone.

    The site contains some 5,000 petroglyphs of Hopi clan symbols, the largest known collection of such symbols in the American Southwest. According to researchers with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, the many etchings on the boulders of Tutuveni date as far back as far back as A.D. 1200.

    On the dark desert varnish of the boulders are rows of bear paws, corn stalks, spiders, coyotes, kachinas, clouds, cranes. Some of the symbols represent various aspects of Hopi cultural life, but most are the markings of the Hopi clans, or family systems, which are usually named for animals or other natural objects.

    The Hopi made these engravings during ceremonial pilgrimages from their land to the Grand Canyon to mark the passage into adulthood for Hopi young men.

    “They would stop at Tutuveni and camp there, and they would peck their clan symbols on those rocks to mark their participation in that pilgrimage. And they did this for four or five centuries at least,” said Wes Bernardini, an archaeologist and professor at the University of Redlands who has been studying Tutuveni for years. “When people from the same clan would visit the site, they would put their symbols next to the previous symbol that somebody had left earlier. There’s no other site that we know of like that, that shows these repeated visits.

    “It’s a very important place.”

    It is also a place threatened by modern-day vandals who view Tutuveni not as the sacred site and archaeological treasure that it is, but rather a canvas for their own graffiti.

    Scattered among the many ancient impressions are the markings of lovers, history buffs and random visitors looking to leave their mark with etchings such as: “Aaron Myrianna 07,” “The Victor 10-20-85,” “Van.B,” “Ramon Albert,” “Ariz. Hy. Dept.” Even: “1969-Man Land on Moon.”

    On one rock is a carved image of the two World Trade Center towers, with a plane heading for them. Elsewhere, clan symbols have been chiseled away or spray-painted over.
    Hopi Petroglyph SitesSite Description

    Tutuveni is an important site along the Hopi pilgrimage route to Ongtuvqa, also known as the Grand Canyon. The site lies west of the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, and within the neighboring Navajo Nation. Meaning Newspaper Rock in Hopi, Tutuveni contains 5,000 petroglyphs of Hopi clan symbols and is the largest known collection of clan symbols in the American Southwest. Among Tutuveni's 150 sandstone boulders are the records of more than 1,000 years of Hopi history and culture.

    Hopi clan petroglyphs completely cover the sides and tops of a number of towering sandstone blocks up to 5 meters tall and are found sporadically on the surfaces of smaller boulders along the base of a small mesa that forms part of the Echo Cliffs. The style of the petroglyphs at Tutuveni is remarkably consistent: iconic symbols, typically of recognizable animals, plants, or cultural items, and of moderate size (about 10x10cm). Unlike most large petroglyph sites, the symbols at Tutuveni rarely overlap. Even more atypical is the fact that the symbols appear in rows of repeated images--up to 20 or more in a line--representing repeated visits by members of the same clan.


    The concentration of clear-cut clan symbols at Tutuveni, corresponding to known historic and extinct Hopi clans, is absolutely unique in the American Southwest. The site was a stopping point on a pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon undertaken by male initiates of the Hopi village (kitsoki) initiation ceremony, the Wuwtsim. Traditionally, all Hopi men underwent Wuwtsim initiation between adolescence and marriage. Ceramics associated with the site, the dating of ancestral Hopi villages in the surrounding area, and the very heavy repatination of the petroglyphs at Tutuveni point to the use of the site by ancestral Hopi populations beginning in at least the 1500s, and perhaps as early as 1200 CE. As a record of clan activity over the past several centuries, the Tutuveni site is vital in educating younger generations of Hopis about the traditional cultural history of the tribe.


    Considering their age and relatively close proximity to well traveled roads, the Tutuveni petroglyphs survived in a remarkably well-preserved condition into the mid-twentieth century. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, the site has suffered from increasing vandalism, including painting, scratching, and chiseling of petroglyphs. The sheer number of petroglyphs present at Tutuveni means that most of the site is still intact, but a recent study indicates that up to 10% of the symbols have been damaged. Analysis of datable graffiti shows that almost 80% of the vandalism at Tutuveni happened recently, between 1980 and 2005. In 2010, Arizona Public Services funded the installation of a fence to surround and protect the site. Fortunately, two relatively complete sets of photographs from the 1930s and 1970s allow most of the site to be digitally reconstructed back to its pristine, early 20th-century condition using the highly accurate 3D model and high-resolution photographs generated by CyArk.
    Comment:  I used to read the Hopi Tutuveni newspaper every week. That was years before I started my Newspaper Rock blog. But I didn't realize the name "Tutuveni" meant "newspaper rock."

    I was thinking of the more famous Newspaper Rock in southern Utah when I named my blog. I knew there were other "newspaper rocks," but I didn't know the Hopi had one. It's a small world after all!

    For more on rock art, see Red Rock Vandal Sentenced and "Not Cool" to Deface Rock Art.

    Below:  "Photograph of the petroglyphs along Boulder 17's north face."

    Winddancer called a "cultural thief"

    You're a cultural thief! Ten year feud over Native American 'fraud' who performs at heritage festivals (and sells his ancestral chants on MySpace)

    Ed Winddancer, 55, changed his name in 1992With his majestic headdress and fearsome warpaint, Ed Winddancer appears to be carrying on the proud traditions of his Native American ancestors--but according to a long-standing enemy, he is nothing but a fraud in feathers.

    Winddancer, 55, traces his roots to the Nanticoke and Cherokee tribes, and often appears in full dress at heritage festivals to play the flute, regaling crowds with ancient stories. He sells CDs of his music through his MySpace page.

    However his performances are now often accompanied by the presence of Sal Serbin, 48, who has taken to appearing at Winddancer's gigs holding up signs reading 'Liar' and 'Cultural Thief'.

    Mr Serbin, from Sarasota, Florida, claims that not only is Winddancer a fraud--but his practices are downright dangerous.

    He told the Herald-Tribune: 'Our ancestors fought and died to preserve and protect our culture, not for these people to wake up one day, put some feathers in their hair and decide to be Indian.

    'It would dishonor my ancestors if I didn't get out there and do something.'

    Mr Serbin, has Sioux lineage and says his grandfather fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. He said that Winddancer is not alone in his allegedly false claims to be Native American--which is against federal law.
    Comment:  Everything about Winddancer smacks of wannabeism: the made-up name, the Plains-style regalia, the warpaint, the flute music, etc. I'd bet that he has a tiny amount of "Nanticoke and Cherokee" blood at most and knew little about his "roots" until adulthood.

    But we can't tell how much "blood" Winddancer has from this article. Nor do I know enough about the Nanticoke and Cherokee cultures to say his costume and dance are totally stereotypical. So we can't say definitively that he's a fraud.

    "Wannabe" is probably a better term than "fraud." There's no evidence that Winddancer is misrepresenting himself. He seems to be stretching his Native heritage to the breaking point, but that isn't necessarily a crime.

    For more on Indian wannabes, see Top 10 Native Fashion Misappropriations and Mythical Indian = "National Mascot."

    A week's worth of stereotypes

    A Week in the Life of the Stereotypical Indian

    By Vincent SchillingWhen Kevin Costner came out with Dances with Wolves, the attempt at political correctness with the portrayal of Indians was at least regarded and refreshing. But we are in 2012 now, and I don’t feel like we have much progressed. Unless you consider Indians are now at least as cool as the werewolves portrayed in the Twilight movies.

    So over the course of one week–I decide to pay very close attention to the stimulus that entered my brain regarding the definition of an American Indian person. I don’t know if it was coincidence–much like if you have ever ridden in a VW bug and you suddenly notice all of the other VW Bugs on the freeway–but I was absolutely amazed at what I experienced from all visceral fronts.

    It started with television, of course. I was watching an episode of Storage Wars, when the auctioneer is talking with the other guy that has purchased a unit of Native American artifacts. I was frustrated that ancestral property was being sold for a few hundred bucks but then fuel was added to the fire; unsurprisingly within 30 seconds the comments about scalping started. And so began a telling week.

    In my car driving all over Hampton Roads in Virginia, the NFL team adopted by the region is the Washington Redskins. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, jackets, sweatpants, window decals all made their way into my brain for what seemed a hundred times a day. I have been tempted many times to hire a graphic artist to create a giant decal of other “skin-color”–Skins characters alongside the Redskins logo–but then I fear coming across as racist. Truth be told I don’t want to offend another ethnicity–but why is it okay that we are still portrayed this way?

    The week continued, I went to a local thrift store–admittedly a guilty pleasure of my wife Delores and myself–and once again I was surprised at the amount of American Indian “education.” In the first glass case sat a large plastic Indian chief next to Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus and a few aisles over was a cheap dream catcher in a plastic bag with a 99 cent tag. I also saw a lunch bag with Indian markings and found in a stack of comic books Daffy Duck with an Indian headdress standing next to a tipi on the front cover.
    Comment:  I'd do this weeklong test myself, but I rarely go out and I monitor the media constantly. Anything I see would be unrepresentative of the whole.

    For more on the subject, see "Little Things" Have Big Consequences and Natives Experience Racism Every Day.

    150th anniversary of US-Dakota War

    150 years later, war's wounds still cut deep

    Minnesota is divided on how best to commemorate the U.S.-Dakota War, which left hundreds dead and ended in the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

    By Curt BrownA 150-year-old loop of rope, knotted into a hangman's noose, sits in a climate-controlled case in the underground archives of the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

    Some say it should be burned, buried or returned to the hands of the Dakota people.

    Others argue it should be displayed, like piles of shoes at Holocaust museums, as a powerful artifact to help people confront the grim story of the U.S.-Dakota War, which erupted in Minnesota in 1862 and ended with the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

    The noose, and just what to make of it, is one sign of the historical reckoning looming this year as Minnesotans wrestle with how to mark the 150th anniversary of one its ugliest, yet often overlooked, episodes.

    "This will be a very challenging year--the wounds are still deep," said Republican state Rep. Dean Urdahl, a longtime history teacher whose Grove City home is three miles from where the war broke out. His great-great-grandfather buried some of its first victims. "It was our state's greatest tragedy."

    Dozens of commemorative events are planned, from a major exhibit at the Minnesota History Center to programs in classrooms across the state and cellphone tours along the Minnesota River, where the war raged for six weeks. Yet, in the shadow of it all are deep rifts over how to best observe the war's sesquicentennial.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Annual Ride for Mankato 38 and Dakota Music Tour.

    January 28, 2012

    Hopkins on Conan's syphilis skit

    Columnist Ruth Hopkins reacts to the syphilis joke on Conan O'Brien:

    Is It Okay for Me to Laugh at Conan O’Brien’s Columbus Skit?

    By Ruth HopkinsI watched the clip with an open mind, determined to reserve judgment. What’s my conclusion? While I didn’t find it very funny, I wasn’t offended. Sorry to disappoint you. However, this situation brings to bear a myriad of questions asked internally by modern-day Indigenous Peoples concerning the use, or abuse, of their perceived identities in mainstream pop culture.

    As Native woman, should I have been offended? While memorialized by mainstream society as the explorer who discovered America, we Natives have a very different view of Christopher Columbus. There’s ample evidence showing that Columbus was a mass murderer involved in not only the genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas, but also the monstrous practice of capturing indigenous women and children and making them sex slaves. Not funny, at all.

    However, Conan’s skit does acknowledge that Columbus wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and that he was promiscuous. Yes, they don’t point out that the sex Columbus had with indigenous women was likely not consensual, but Conan’s a comedian, not a historian. Also, it might be helpful if I told you that Conan’s original Columbus joke was premised on recent scientific studies that concluded that Columbus and his crew of scary miscreants were more than likely infected with syphilis in the New World, and took the disease back to Europe with them, where it spread like wildfire. Karma for smallpox? Who knows.

    Artists poke fun at everyone, all ethnicities included. Should Natives be exempt? Maybe the difference is that Natives are a minority by involuntary diminishment, i.e. we’re a minority population because we’re the survivors of genocide at the hands of European immigrants. Not to mention, Natives have been through so much since Columbus landed. The traumatic legacy of colonization, termination and assimilation continues to this day.

    Still, the issue remains. Do we take things too seriously? Should Natives never be included in public discourse or entertainment unless we give permission? If so, who gives permission? Who’s the PC chief? Do we take a vote? Are we to attend monthly meetings? I don’t think I’d go unless there were door prizes. Wait, that’s General Tribal Council meetings.

    As Natives, we continue to face this situation again and again. Do angry, knee-jerk reactions to seeing anything Native-related in popular culture take away from the recognition and acknowledgement of legitimate acts of ignorance and racism that do occur and should be dealt with, like those things that profane the sacred or abuse, denigrate, or even kill Native people who are alive today? I’m just a girl from the rez, but I can’t help but feel my ancestors would be more concerned about whether or not I’m helping my relatives stay warm, have clean water to drink, get an education, or preserve our mother tongue than if I’m capable of sustaining outrage over a 30-second Conan O’Brien sketch.
    Comment:  A couple of problems with Hopkins's response:

    1) Her "offended/not offended" judgment addresses only the emotional side of the issue. There's also the "right/wrong" intellectual side. People can criticize something as stereotypical and thus wrong even if it doesn't offend them. I do it all the time.

    2) Her "Do we take things too seriously? Should Natives never be included in public discourse or entertainment unless we give permission?" is a straw-man argument, since no one is arguing that permission is required. What I'm arguing is that humor about Natives should be done right, without stereotyping or racism. The "Radiant Syphilis" names aren't funny, portray Native women badly, and have no redeeming or critical value.

    3) Similarly, people weren't and aren't reacting to "seeing anything Native-related in popular culture." They're reacting to stereotypical depictions of Natives. Funny that Hopkins misstates or misses this basic point.

    4) Hopkins concludes that noting stereotyping and racism is a waste of time. That we should spend our time on things that "denigrate, or even kill Native people," instead. Stereotyping and racism do that, missy. Woodcarver John T. Williams was shot because a police officer saw him as knife-wielding savage. Frank Paul was left in the snow to die because the police deemed him a drunk Indian. Missing Native women are ignored in Canada because officials consider them worthless "squaws" and sluts. Etc.

    No link between thought and action?

    The last example is especially relevant here. You don't think Native women are beaten, raped, and killed in large numbers because Euro-Americans have treated them as sex objects for centuries? Just as Conan's skit did in its own small way? Then why are they beaten, raped, and killed in large numbers?

    Prove that there's no connection between how our society perceives Native women and how it treats them. Good luck with your answer...you'll need it.

    If stereotyping and racism don't matter, I guess Hopkins could argue that a few missing or dead Indians don't matter either. After all, tens of thousands of Indians need food and shelter, so why bother about one or two of them? If someone with racist beliefs harms an Indian, who really cares?

    You can see the slippery slope here. There's no clear dividing line between "this racism is harmless" and "that racism is harmful." All aspects of racism are connected; they reflect a mindset that expresses itself in matters large and small. The person who shouts an epithet like "Redskin!" may well deny a job, a vote, or a helping hand when an Indian needs one.

    Corine Fairbanks addressed this point in "Little Things" Have Big Consequences. I've addressed it many times in postings such as Solving Problems with Critical Thinking, Rob Should Fight Poverty?! and Protesting Mascots = Victimhood?! I've yet to hear a good answer to these arguments.


    No one's suggesting that Hopkins or anyone should "sustain outrage over a 30-second Conan O’Brien sketch." As I said, the problems with the skit were relatively minor. Most people would have to think about this as much as I did to get its negative implications.

    Indeed, Hopkins's column on the subject took more time to write than my posting did. I'd say I gave it the proper amount of attention. She's giving it more attention than it deserves.

    Again, the point of my posting was to note the skit's inaccuracy, not its offensiveness. It's about encouraging people to think critically about Native representations in the media. If you know what's right and wrong in the news and the movies, you're better equipped to help Indians with everything from poverty to treaty rights.

    As for Hopkins's PC-related questions--"If so, who gives permission? Who’s the PC chief?"--I think that would be me. Just kidding, sort of.

    For more on Conan O'Brien's attitude toward Indians, see Burial-Ground Joke on Tonight Show and Indian Casino Joke on Tonight Show.

    Below:  A harmless stereotype that isn't worth worrying about while Indians are hungry and homeless?

    Swarm teaches lacrosse to Native kids

    Swarm connects with Native American roots

    The Swarm is halfway into a two-year initiative at the Prairie Island reservation to help kids re-connect with the game their ancestors played.

    By Michael RandPromotions are the lifeblood of pre-game and halftime entertainment at sporting events. Objectives can vary greatly--from quick laughs to an attempt at education--but few would seem to have the depth as the one being offered this weekend at Xcel Energy Center.

    The Minnesota Swarm pro lacrosse team has its home opener at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Buffalo Bandits. In conjunction with that, the Swarm is promoting Native American Heritage Night. Native American kids will play lacrosse pre-game. Local tribal communities will be honored. Halftime will feature a traditional lacrosse match--the version originally played hundreds of years ago by Native Americans.

    The bigger picture, however, extends beyond just one night. The Swarm is halfway into a two-year initiative at the Prairie Island reservation to help kids re-connect with the game their ancestors played. Swarm representatives travel southeast of the Twin Cities multiple times a week to give instruction and lead games.

    "And it's not just lacrosse," said Swarm co-owner Andy Arlotta. "We've incorporated all kinds of things into the program. We're dealing with accountability, getting good grades and goal-setting sessions. The kids are really grasping hold of it."
    Comment:  The article didn't quite note the irony of non-Natives teaching Natives how to play lacrosse. So here's the irony.

    For more on Indians and lacrosse, see Indians in A Warrior's Heart and Crooked Arrows Announces Lacrosse Team.

    Navajo undergrad studies climate change

    Diné student gains fame for research

    By Cindy YurthFor the 23-year-old junior in environmental science, who is Bitterwater born for bilagáana, the launch pad was two consecutive summer internships at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

    The first year, Sifford developed a way to use data from global imaging systems to monitor fluctuations in snow and ice fields.

    That garnered him a lecture tour on the climate change circuit, and he was also able to parlay his newfound knowledge of GIS into a contract position mapping cultural archeology sites for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon.

    "I work out of my home and on my own time, so it's ideal for a college student," Sifford said.
    Comment:  For more on climate change, see Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change and Morales:  Obama Takes Vengeance Against Indians.

    January 27, 2012

    Native POV in Big Miracle

    Drew Barrymore's 'Big Miracle' movie is a home run for greens

    The story about the 1988 grey whales rescue is perfect for Valentine's Day.

    By Starre Vartan
    I'm going to warn you right now that this review is a total rave, as I have nothing but positive things to write about Drew Barrymore's new movie, Big Miracle.

    While I'm an unabashed and longtime fan of Ms. Barrymore, I liked the film for plenty of reasons other than her always-radiant presence. And while I'm not usually a fan of kid's movies, this is one that I enjoyed thoroughly (it's a movie most grown-ups would like with or without a child in tow, so head to a later night screening if you want to avoid the wee ones' probable oohs, ahhs and sobs).
    And:But the most remarkable thing about the story, and the one that makes it both educational for kids and a movie adults will enjoy, is how some very divergent human interests work together for the whales. From an oil-drilling Good Old Alaska Boy (played to the hilt by Danson), who 'volunteers' an ice-breaking barge (mostly to bolster his reputation), to one changemaking official in the Reagan administration, to the National Guard, and the local people of the small town of Barrow, Alaska, everyone helps out. The most fascinating, and difficult-to-navigate POV was that of the native Inupiat people, who are best known for their fight to be allowed to hunt whales. Writers get the kudos here, as the audience sees how the tribe makes the decision to help the rescue effort, instead of eating the whales, a deft piece of storytelling about native people's choices and challenges, and one we almost never see in Hollywood movies.

    Of course, it wouldn't be a Drew Barrymore movie without romance (and a great soundtrack; there's one of those too). And so where a sea of single people starts the film, two couples come together by the time the credits roll. A very relatable native boy and a focus on the kids, like me, who watched the drama unfold on the nightly news keep it interesting for the younger set.
    Big Miracle: One Alaskan's review

    By Michelle SparckFrom a Native’s perspective, I was curious to see the scene Kotzebue resident John Chase spoke about shooting with Drew Barrymore. In that moment, cultures would clash over the value of the whales. I tensed when it came up, since I knew Barrymore’s Greenpeace character was going to have to be, shall we say, a little insulting and insensitive to the whaling culture. And she was. John’s character, the whaling captain Roy, was rightfully testy but delivered an impassioned rationalization for hunting, along with a lesson that there is a relationship between the Inuit and the whales that can’t be taught or relatable in glossy environmental pamphlets.

    John Pingayak, pulling off a thoughtful and respectful leader, showed throughout the film that whalers consider the spirit and well-being of the marine mammals even when outsiders just see the ‘take’ in consumption.
    And:When Drew Barrymore came out following our test screening, she seemed tiny and sweet. Her hair was the same as in the movie but she wasn’t as au natural, she looked like the Cover Girl she is.

    I jumped up at the opportunity to be the first to say something, and that was to make sure and thank her for her efforts to do as much business and filming in Alaska as the project called for. She said she felt it was important for authenticity and that she was glad she did it. If only Dermot Mulroney’s upcoming film with Liam Neeson, “The Grey,” did the same.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Big Miracle Trailer and Inupiat Extra in Everybody Loves Whales.

    "Shit People Say to Native Americans"

    Following the "Shit White People Say" video, people have made myriads of videos lampooning one group or another. Here are two videos showing what ignorant non-Indians say about Indians:

    And an explanation of how the first video came about:

    Video Co-Producer of “Sh*t People Say to Native Americans” Responds, Comments and Shares

    By She the Bear (Britt Reed)It is always a constant uphill battle on Tumblr, as in life, to see accurate representations of ourselves and to have non-natives see us for who we believe we are instead of the caricatures. We have and will continue to do our best to battle the racism and ignorance thrust at us in our daily lives.

    As part of our process, we came together one night as a community and began listing off the things that we have personally had directed towards us or have been directed towards people that we know. The Cherokee rolls/bread was a particular favorite that someone had said to someone. The list was part of a larger effort to get people to realize the kinds of ignorant things they often say.

    Ali had been gracious enough to pull together the things that we had all listed and put together this video. Going along with the current meme at hand, i.e. the target of oppression dressing up as the agent of oppression and listing off the b.s. directed at them, she agreed to be the face for us on this video as she is aware that she is passes as white, though she is Blackfeet.

    We never expected this video to get big outside of Tumblr (considering all that was going on and our fight to have folks realize that not all native people fit the stereotypical image that the Americans and Canadians have of us).
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Pepper Ann Dances with Ignorance and Truth vs. Twilight.

    Guatemalan dictator charged with genocide

    Efraín Ríos Montt: Guatemala human rights groups welcome genocide trial

    Judge rules that Guatemala's former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt must face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity

    By Rory Carroll
    Human rights groups celebrated on Friday after a court in Guatemala ruled that the former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who presided over one of Latin America's bloodiest civil wars, will face trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

    Members of the Ixil tribe, which suffered horrific atrocities at the hands of the army, said they had waited decades for this moment but expressed disappointment that the retired general was placed under house arrest rather than jailed.

    After a day-long hearing, Judge Carol Patricia Flores Blanco ruled on Thursday that there was sufficient evidence linking Ríos Montt to the massacre of 1,700 indigenous people during his 17-month rule in 1982 and 1983.

    The judge agreed with prosecutors who said the 85-year-old, as head of the government at the time, should answer for the armed forces' actions. It was one of the more brutal phases of a 36-year conflict which ended in 1996 after claiming 200,000 lives. The trial's preliminary hearing was scheduled for March.
    Comment:  ‎"The Reagan administration armed and supported Ríos Montt, calling him a bulwark against communism," the article adds. Can we put Reagan on trial posthumously for his crimes against humanity?

    I guess we've tried political and military leaders for genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda. And Milosevic for "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans. But I'm not sure we've ever tried a head of state for the genocide of indigenous people.

    In any case, this is a shift in the right direction. Perhaps a paradigm shift. Never again will tyrants be able to kill their own people without fearing the consequences.

    For more on the subject, see Racism Against Guatemala's Indians and Reagan Aided Atrocities Against Indians.

    Below:  Cowboy helped kill Indians...same as it ever was.

    Natives aren't vanishing in Census

    Adrienne Keene writes about the 2010 Census brief on Natives in her Native Appropriations blog:

    Complicating the 2010 US Census Native DataThe lead headline for the census press release is "2010 Census Shows Nearly Half of American Indians and Alaska Natives Report Multiple Races." I already, right there, see that as problematic, wrought with assumptions, and loaded with colonial underpinnings. But we all know I think that about most things. Ha.

    To "over-sensitive" and "easily offended" me, the headline is a commentary on the "realness" of the American Indian population, loaded with western/colonial conceptions of blood quantum and racial purity as markers for belonging and identity. This, to me, screams "Real Indians are disappearing!!!" But since we have been "disappearing" for 500 years, despite our growing population numbers, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The real number is 44% identify as more than one race, which is different to me than "nearly half." They could have just as easily said "56% of AI/AN population identifies solely as Native!" which tells a very different story. The majority of our peeps still identify as only AI or AN. We are not disappearing.

    Reading the report (which is available in PDF and I highly recommend flipping through), there are many, many things they could have focused on, like the fact the Native population has increased at a rate much greater than the overall population, or that the ability to self-designate tribal group for the first time created new tribal categories (like "Hopi" being counted outside of "Pueblo"), but they instead focused in on the racial categories.
    Adrienne also notes something I've noticed before: the use of "tribal groupings" such as Cherokee, Choctaw, and Mexican American Indian. She writes:I also have some problems with the groupings erasing individual tribal identities--"Chippewa" is both an antiquated term as well as not a tribe, same with "Iroquois" or "Sioux."Comment:  As I said before, I agree that the headline and focus on the multiple-race issue is a little weird. I'm still not sure what the message is, although "Real Indians are disappearing!!!" could be it. "The percentage of people who checked more than one race is intermediate, about what you'd expect," isn't much of a hook.

    For more on the 2010 Census, see and States with Most, Fewest Indians and Oklahoma's 2010 Census Numbers.

    January 26, 2012

    New South Dakota flag proposed

    Lawmaker promotes adoption of S. Dakota flag design; Rep. Hunhoff says it would unify state

    By Veronica ZaragoviaAt least 80 South Dakota lawmakers say it's time the state fly more than just its official seal. They want a separate design for a flag.

    Rep. Bernie Hunhoff announced Thursday that he's sponsoring a bill aimed at adopting a flag design that would differ from the state's seal. It would still use the Texas' Lone Star flag as its inspiration.

    Hunhoff says the Texas design is "a source of unity and pride."

    "I believe a flag can do the same thing for South Dakota," he said.

    Artist Dick Termes of Spearfish drew the design, which has a Native American medicine wheel surrounded by yellow rays of sunshine on a sky-blue background. He made the artwork at least 20 years ago.

    Termes said he posted an image of the 23-year-old flag design on his Facebook page a few months ago. Since then, talk of a redesign has been resurrected.
    Below:  "This undated image provided courtesy of Rep. Bernie Hunhoff shows the design he would like to be adopted for the South Dakota state flag. The Native American-inspired design, created about 20 years ago by Spearfish artist Dick Termes, sparked debate when it was unveiled Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012." (AP Photo/Courtesy Rep. Bernie Hunhoff)

    New State Flag Doesn't Fly With Most

    By Don JorgensenWe asked our viewers what they think of the proposed flag.

    "It doesn't say South Dakota kind of boring and it looks like something from a video game," Autumn Remington said.

    "At first glance it seems like avery religious type of symbol to me," Tye Ochsner said.

    "I don't think it makes any statement about South Dakota at all it's just a damn sun shining in the sky, that don't mean anything to me, this means something to me," Don Runge said.

    "I like the flag that we have I think represents South Dakota in a very positive way I think people when they see that flag they think of South Dakota, the new flag they won't really understand what it's about," Marie

    But, some say the proposed flag stands out and has real meaning.

    "Actually you know since there's such a strong native population in our state I'm not opposed to it this state has made good ground in relations with our Native American population withe the change of the name of Columbus Day, and I think this would be another great step," Glenn Williamson said.

    Those positive comments are far and few between. Last night on KELOLAND News at five, we asked for your opinion on our KELOLAND News Facebook. More than a 100 of you responded, and just a handful of those comments were in favor of changing South Dakota's flag.
    Comment:  I have to vote with the nays on this one.

    First, the present flag's design and color and design aren't bad. The main problem is the use of the state seal, which is hard to decipher and unoriginal.

    The proposed flag has a few problems:

    1) The so-called medicine wheel could be a Christian cross or a a kitchen sink drain. The whole point of a medicine wheel is its four colors and directions, so a solid orange wheel doesn't cut it.

    2) The five colors--orange and yellow against three shades of blue--don't blend well. In fact, orange and blue is usually a terrible combination.

    3) A bright sun and blue sky are totally generic. They don't suggest South Dakota in particular or anywhere else.

    4) The design looks like something from a detergent box. That may be great in a supermarket, where you want your product to stand out. It's not great on a flag.

    Rob's design

    Something like this might work better:

    Shift the image down, remove the words, and add a sun symbol in the upper left. You'd have an original and impressive flag that actually says "South Dakota."

    Of course, Indians would protest the glorification of the dead white men and the theft of the Black Hills. So this design wouldn't fly for political and cultural reasons. But aesthetically speaking, I think this design is far superior to the others.

    For more on Indians and flags, see US Should Fly Tribal Flags and Native Origin of Alaska's Flag.

    2010 Census brief on Natives

    2010 Census Shows Nearly Half of American Indians and Alaska Natives Report Multiple RacesThe U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census brief, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, [PDF] that shows almost half (44 percent) of this population, or 2.3 million people, reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. This multiracial group grew by 39 percent from 2000 to 2010.

    Overall, 5.2 million people, or 1.7 percent of all people in the United States, identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, either alone or in combination with one or more races. This population grew by 27 percent from 2000 to 2010. Those who reported being American Indian and Alaska Native alone totaled 2.9 million, an increase of 18 percent from 2000 to 2010. The multiple race American Indian and Alaska Native population, as well as both the alone and alone-or-in-combination populations, all grew at a faster rate than the total U.S. population, which increased by 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.

    More Than Three-Fourths Live Outside Tribal Areas

    A majority of the American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination population (78 percent) lived outside of American Indian and Alaska Native areas. At the same time, most counties with relatively higher proportions of American Indians and Alaska Natives tended to be in close proximity to reservations, trust lands or Oklahoma tribal statistical areas. This was especially evident in counties throughout the West and in Oklahoma.

    Majority Live in 10 States

    The 10 states with the largest American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination population in 2010 were California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Washington, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan. Among these states, Texas, North Carolina and Florida experienced substantial rates of growth in this population at 46 percent, 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively. The American Indian and Alaska Native alone population experienced growth of at least 20 percent in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and New York.

    The multiple-race American Indian and Alaska Native population increased by more than 50 percent in 18 states. North Carolina, Delaware and South Dakota experienced the most rapid growth in this population at more than 70 percent. In all but three states, the multiple-race proportion of the American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination population increased from 2000 to 2010.

    Tribal Groupings

    The largest number of people who identified with an American Indian tribal grouping, either alone or in combination, identified as Cherokee (819,000). The Navajo tribal grouping had the largest number of individuals who identified with one tribal grouping and no other race (287,000).

    Among the largest American Indian tribal groupings, Blackfeet had the highest proportion who reported more than one tribal grouping or race. Seventy-four percent of Blackfeet individuals reported an additional race and/or tribal grouping.

    The largest Alaska Native tribal grouping, either alone or in combination, was Yup'ik (34,000), followed by Inupiat (33,000). Yup'ik also had the greatest number of people who identified with one tribal grouping and no other race (29,000).

    Among all Alaska Native tribal groupings, Tlingit-Haida had the highest proportion who reported more than one tribal grouping or race. Forty-two percent of Tlingit-Haida individuals reported an additional race and/or tribal grouping.
    Comment:  Media reports about this release keyed on the multiple-race finding. But I'm not sure why everyone's treating it as big news. I think it came out in the initial reports last year: 5.2 Million Indians in 2010 Census. And a partial explanation, too: More Latinos Identify as Native.

    There are no revelations in this data, but the "where they live" figure is interesting. For years I've been saying the proportion of Indians living off-rez was around two-thirds or 70%. The 78% figure tells us how well-integrated Indians are into society. All the ancient stereotypes--e.g., that they live in tipis--and modern stereotypes--e.g., that they're poor welfare recipients--are that much less true.

    Americans imagine Indians living out in the wilderness somewhere, usually in a desert with buttes and mesas. But reservation Indians are the exception, not the rule. While people are daydreaming about buckskin-wearing savages, real Indians are right next to them--at the office, at school, or at Starbucks.

    For more on the 2010 Census, see and States with Most, Fewest Indians and Oklahoma's 2010 Census Numbers.

    23-foot arrows on Comanche trail

    23-foot arrows point to area's Comanche history, legacy

    By Russell AnglinSculpture artist Charles A. Smith hopes to preserve a fragment of Native American history with each 23-foot Comanche arrow he sets in place to mark the Quanah Parker Trail.

    “That is the main reason for developing this Quanah Parker Trail, is not to let (Comanche history) die and just fade away like so much of our history in the Texas Panhandle has,” said Ada Lester, Texas Plains Trail regional director. “They need to be remembered as being a part of this.”

    The arrow sculptures link cities and counties with a connection to the famous Comanche chief who roamed the Panhandle and South Plains and fought commercial buffalo hunters and other settlers until finally surrendering and being relocated to a reservation in 1875.

    A few dozen people gathered Thursday to watch Smith and other volunteers place his 27th arrow Thursday at Boot Hill Cemetery in Boys Ranch. The sculpture’s arrowhead pierces the ground as if had been shot from a bow.
    Comment:  The arrow is somewhat stereotypical, of course. But I'm not sure what else would work for this endeavor.

    For more on Native tourism, see Maya Excluded From "2012" Tourism and Navajos Split on Grand Canyon Flights.

    Girl punished for speaking Menominee

    Using Menominee words at school gets girl benched

    Diocese looking into incident

    By Tiffany Wilbert
    Parents of a child at Sacred Heart Catholic School are upset about the school's decision to bench the girl for "attitude issues" after she spoke a few words in the Menominee language at school.

    The seventh-grader's mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, said her daughter, Miranda, was not allowed to play in the basketball game Jan. 19 after being reprimanded that day for using the Menominee language during a homeroom supervised by teacher Julie Gurta.

    "A conversation was had between my daughter and two other Menominee children that go to school at Sacred Heart," Washinawatok said. "My daughter interpreted two words and then added one word; the words were hello, I love you, and thank you."

    "The teacher came in and told my child, 'You are not to be speaking like that. How do I know you're not saying something bad and how would you like it if I spoke Polish and you didn't understand.'"
    Comment:  The boarding-school mentality lives!

    For more on the subject, see Language Whipped Out of Indians.

    January 25, 2012

    List of stereotypical Indian labels

    Speaking of "little things" and the harm of Native stereotyping, a Mohawk provides a comprehensive list of labels used to describe Indians:

    The Indian Lists: Sh*t They Call Us and Sh*t We Call Ourselves

    By Alex K. JacobsLos Indios (The Indian List)

    (This is what they call us)

    Los Indios, Indio, Indian, Indianner, injuns, Americans, American Race, redman, redskin, redstick, redbone, Peaux-rouge, salvage, savage, sauvage, salvaticho, skraelings, wildmen, pagan, heathen, infidel, primitive, barbarian, cannibals, Caliban, new world man, sons of another adam.

    Red devil, tawny devil, tawnies, darkies, darklings, brownies, greasy heathen, copper-colored, copper-skins, copperhead, red nigger, backward, undeveloped, obstacle to progress, stoic, the plight of the Indian, Indian giver, Indian coffee, sly as an Indian, Indian lover, praying Indians, friendlies, hostiles, renegades, red line of cruelty, bloody border warfare, Indian Country, Indian menace, Indian peril, savage barrier, vanishing Indian, Lo! The poor Indian, Mr. Lo, poor Indian, blanket ass, feather head, le plume, lazy Indian, dumb Indian, playing the dumb Indian, wooden Indian, cigar-store Indian, Indian princess, Indian summer, Indian camp, firewater, debased, debauched, downtrodden, scalp, scalp-lock, scalp-knife, cruel, bloodthirsty, massacre, bury the hatchet, smoke the peace pipe, red children, visit the great white father, the Indian question, the Indian problem, Indian law, American Indian Law, you can not change an Indian, the only good Indian is a dead Indian, nits make lice.

    Siwash, chollo, chief, brave, buck, squaw, papoose, gut-eater, dog-eater, puppy-basher, scalp-lifter, hair-lifter, wagon-burner, teepee creeper, wahoo, yahoo, wild as an Indian just off the reservation, working harder than an Indian, ugly as an Indian, meaner than an Indian, Indian Joe, Indian sidekick, Tonto, kemo-sabe, Indian scout, Geronimo, Hiawatha, Kawliga, Minnehaha, Pocahontas, Hollywood Indians, walk Indian file, read Indian sign, Indian head, Indian head-dress, Indian wrestling, Lamanites, Lost Tribe of Israel, el fatalismo del indio, give it back to the Indians, warpath, warpaint, war pony, warrior, timber nigger, prarie nigger, save a fish-spear an Indian, Indian mascots, Indian gurus, spiritual advisors, Indian spirit guides, witch doctor, medicine man, shaman, shamaness, shaman poet, new age Indian, new age tribe, wannabes, wopahoes, gone injun, jumped the reservation Injun, they’ve all gone Indian, my grandmother was an Indian princess, I was an Indian in another life.

    (& This is what we call ourselves…)

    Metis, mitchif, mestizo, mestizajes, coyotes, lobo, creole, zambo, sambahigos, gente de razon, californiano, gibaro, guajiro, campesino, la raza cosmica, breed, mixed breed, mixed blood, halfblood, halfbreed, half people, owl eyes, full blood, bloods, hoops, skins, chips, joes, 24 hour Indian, pure boy, pure girl, rez bunnies, mongolian tourists, red power, red muslims, AIM guys, AIMSTERS, assholes in moccasins, apples–red on the outside, white on the inside–malinchista, uncle tomahawks, tomahawk rock, heya-heya music, yatahey boys, antelope legs & buffalo hips, rez-mama, rez sisters, FBI’s–Full Blooded Indians–Billy Jacks, peyote eaters, jerky pounders, frybread eaters, scones, bush scones, rez scones, city scones, sconage, (lookin’ jake, pretty goot, Aaaa, buh, weh, CHOWUR, O-WAH), buckskinners, cornplanters, buffalo chasers, rabbit chokers, ghost dancers, sage burners, bingo dabbers, the Casino Clan, Mohogs, Mohacks, man-eaters, Indian cowboy, tourist Indian, government Indian, treaty card Indians, status Indians, non-status Indians, Indian Act Indians, I’m just a poor Indian, I’m just a dumb Indian, commodity Indian, commod bods, skinjins, roas allowance people, leave the blanket, buckskin curtain, corporate Indian, New Deal Indians, sell-outs, progressives, traditional, Real Indians, Euro-Indians, Amerinos, indigen, indigenes, indigenous, autochtones, naturals, Natural Americans, native, Native Americans, Native North American, Native North American Indian, American Indian, Amerindian, aboriginal, abos, OP’s, original peoples, original inhabitants, Original Americans, American Originals, First Americans, First Nations, Fourth World. It’s turtles all the way down.
    Comment:  I gather Jacobs considers this a poem, though it doesn't exactly read like one. But it's a good list regardless of which genre it belongs to.

    For more on the subject, see Conservatives Use "Language of Savagery" and Grinding Indians into the Ground.

    Below:  "Shoot me, I'm a savage! I deserve it!"

    Republicans want to "Keep America America"

    I covered most of these points in Racism in the Republican Primaries, but here are a few worth mentioning:

    The 10 Most Racist Moments of the GOP Primary (So Far)

    The Republican Party is digging deep into the old bucket of white racism, using the politics of fear, hostility and anxiety to win over white voters.

    By Chauncey DeVega
    5. In keeping with the class warfare narrative, and as a way of proving their conservative bona fides, Republican candidates have crafted a strategy in which they repeatedly refer to the unemployed as lazy, unproductive citizens who would “be rich if they just went out and got a job.” In fact, as suggested by Mitt Romney, any discussion of the wealth and income gap in the United States (and the destruction of the middle class), should be done in a “quiet room,” as such truth-telling stokes mean-spirited resentment against the rich. Conservatives have an almost Orwellian gift for manipulating language. The financier class is reframed as “job creators.” Programs that workers pay for such as Social Security are equated with “welfare.” Americans who are victims of robber baron capitalism and structural unemployment are painted as dregs who want nothing more than to “live off of the system.” Despite all evidence to the contrary, unions are painted as bastions for the weak, the greedy, and those who hate capitalism.

    Race is central here: Conservatives seeded this ground with their assault on the black poor. The invention of the welfare queen by Ronald Reagan became code for lazy, fat, black women who game the system at the expense of hard-working whites. The Right uses the same framing in order to attack immigrants as people who want to destroy the country and steal the scarce resources of “productive” white Americans.

    Efforts to shrink “big government” are closely related to the Right’s observation that the federal government employs “too many” blacks. The Republican Party refined its Ayn Rand-inspired shock doctrine and disaster capitalism through decades of practice on black and brown Americans. The racist tactics that were once used to justify the evisceration of programs aimed at helping the urban poor are now being applied to white folks on Main Street USA during the Great Recession.

    6. Mitt Romney wants to "keep America America." The dropping of one letter from the Ku Klux Klan’s slogan, “Keep America American,” does not remove the intent behind Romney’s repeated use of such a virulently bigoted phrase. While Mitt Romney can claim ignorance of the slogan’s origins, he is intentionally channeling its energy. In the Age of Obama, the Republican Party is drunk on the tonic of nativism. From remarks about “the real America,” to supporting the mass deportation of Latinos and Hispanics, a hostility to any designated Other is central to the 21st-century know-nothing politics of the Tea Party-driven GOP. Romney’s slogan, “Keep America America” begs the obvious question: just who is American? Who gets to decide? And should there be moats and electric fences to keep the undesirables out of the country?
    Comment:  The list is really 10 points DeVega wants to make about Republican racism, not 10 racist incidents. It amounts to the same thing, but the organization is a bit off.

    The list also includes Bachmann's attempts to rewrite history. And conservative teabaggers are still at it, as shown in Tea Party Wants Teachers to Find Good in Slavery. As well as in the Arizona contretemps chronicled in Tucson Bans Native Books, Shakespeare Play.

    It's all about maintaining white power--over the government and ultimately over people's minds and souls. That's why conservatives lie so often about economics, science, and history--because the facts prove them and their white-power ideology wrong.

    For more on the subject, see:

    Mean Republicans love mean Gingrich
    Gingrich cheers killing of Indians
    Open letter to Obama haters
    Ayn Rand, racist
    Republican Jesus™

    January 24, 2012

    "Little things" have big consequences

    I've talked about the harm of Native stereotyping--the subtle racism and microaggression against people--before. Now a Native woman writes about why it's important to fight these "little things" rather than let them go.

    Every Day Little Issues and the Infestation of "Egothoids" in Indian Country

    By Corine FairbanksThere are countless examples of how dominant society views us as objects for entertainment instead of the dignified human beings that we are. The stereotypes and cultural mockery is limitless, ludicrous and all of them insidious.

    Seemingly harmless marketing logos of unhappy stoic looking chiefs, to international broadcasting in television and film, such as, MTV's "Cowboys and Findians" episode of the show "The Dudesons in America," using of Jim Crow-era racial stereotypes and next the "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," where American Indians get cast only as werewolves, which only perpetuates the myth of Native werewolves running around bare-chested and in cut off shorts while everyone else, including the vampires, wear clothes implying somehow we posses a "wild sensuality" and are less civilized.

    Numb colonized-minds think that these are small infractions and they are tolerable, yet, how we are portrayed in the media is ultimately how we are perceived universally.
    Here are two examples:

    "Get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun and enforce the law," was what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said to then New York Governor David Paterson on how to collect sales tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations in August 2010.

    "In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of Native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil."

    --American Family Association leader Bryan Fischer
    The common theme with all of these examples is that these incidents portray Indians as primitive people of the past, savage, villains, evildoers, and terrorists. Apathoids and Egothoids are unable to "connect the dots" in how these "little issues" are the building blocks to the larger problems we face in our communities.

    Standing up for the respect and dignity of our people is a necessary ACT in addressing all of the issues in Indian Country--because they are all connected; from poverty, foster care, faulty legal systems, third world living conditions, to substance abuse, domestic violence, violence perpetuated against us, and violence against each other.

    These "little issues" do nothing to build the dignity or self respect of our communities and especially our children. If a person does not have a strong sense of self worth as part of their foundation, what do they do? They self mutilate and act out in self destructive ways.
    Comment:  Corine Fairbanks is a friend of mine, and she sent me this column before she published it. I suggested she rewrite the ending and she did.

    This excerpt is the ending, and discerning readers can see my influence. In particular, I think this sentenceThe common theme with all of these examples is that these incidents portray Indians as primitive people of the past, savage[s], villains, evildoers, and terrorists.is a direct quote from my comments to Corine.

    Naturally, I agree with her conclusions. We see the connection between "little things" and "big things" all the time. The best example is how conservative racists stereotype blacks and Latinos--Indians too--as welfare cheats and leeches. They use this to justify cutting taxes for the rich and services for the poor. The claim that minorities aren't "real Americans" and don't pull their weight leads directly to federal spending decisions.

    For more on the subject, see Natives Can't Be Professors?! and Stereotypes Justified "Extreme Measures."

    Syphilis joke on Conan O'Brien

    I assume this skit appeared 1/24/12 on Conan O'Brien's show. I didn't see it because I don't get cable, but a NativeCelebs fan posted these comments about it:Tonight on "Conan" they did a skit about Christopher Columbus and how he brought syphilis to North America, in the skit it showed Columbus at his doctor and the doctor asked about his "partners" and Columbus named off "Little Cloud" "Small Rainbow" and various "Indian" stereotypical names. One of the most offensive things I've seen on his show.

    He was also suggesting Native Americans were the ones who originally had the STDs and gave them to the settlers.

    Comment:  Actually, the four "Indian" names "Columbus" mentioned were Little Cloud, Dancing Rainbow, Laughing Gonorrhea, and Radiant Syphilis.

    The skit refers to the uncertain origin of syphilis. Some experts say it came from the New World via Columbus:

    Syphilis--historyThe exact origin of syphilis is unknown. Of two primary hypotheses, one proposes syphilis was carried to Europe by the returning crewmen from Christopher Columbus's voyage to the Americas, the other proposes syphilis existed in Europe previously, but went unrecognized. These are referred to as the "Columbian" and "pre-Columbian" hypotheses respectively. The Columbian hypothesis is best supported by the available evidence.Even if this origin is true, I can see why people would consider the skit offensive.

    1) The phony, stereotypical female names. Especially the last two, which imply that being disease-ridden is what Native women were known for and all they were good for.

    2) The cavalier way Columbus talks about sleeping with Native women. For all we know, he may have raped four Native women. The show didn't have to treat this intercourse as a happy-go-lucky lark with no consequences for the Natives.

    3) Omitting the fact that the Europeans gave much more disease to the Indians than vice versa. Not that there's anything immoral about transmitting disease unintentionally, but it makes the transmitter look bad.

    In this case, the skit reinforces the idea that Indians were dirty savages. In reality, the Indian were cleaner and perhaps healthier than the Europeans, who wallowed in disease in their filth-ridden cities.

    All this is in addition to the basics: the false assertion that the Indians gave Europeans gonorrhea and the possible false assertion that they gave Europeans syphilis.

    I wouldn't say this skit is a big deal. The references to Natives are relatively minor and oblique. They're worth noting only for what they tell us about America's cultural mindset. Namely, that Indians are fair game for belittling "humor."

    For more on Conan O'Brien's attitude toward Indians, see Burial-Ground Joke on Tonight Show and Indian Casino Joke on Tonight Show.