February 29, 2012

White privilege will end soon

Bill Maher Rips Republicans for Their Unprecedented Disrespect Of Obama

By Jason EasleyThe reality is that Republicans were not just angry that they lost the presidential election. After the economy collapsed, this was expected. No, the right hates President Obama for a different reason. Obama represents something that Carter, Clinton, LBJ, JFK, Truman, and FDR never did. Obama represents a threat to their power as white men.

Every time his conservative foes see President Obama, they are reminded that our nation is changing. When the see the black man occupying the White House they are confronted by their loss of power. The White Republicans feel entitled to the presidency. It is their unfailing belief in their own superiority that is the basis behind their obsession with criticizing Obama as incompetent at every turn. If they can only make America belief that the black president is incompetent then they can be restored to their god given position of lord and master over us all.

It’s not Obama’s dark skin, but what his dark skin represents that evokes hatred without bounds and limits. President Obama’s power of them and the realization that their status as a privileged class is coming to an end are the real reasons why they disrespect President Obama.

Hatred is the fuel of fear, and for white conservatives their hatred of Obama masks the fear attached to the realization that their America is never coming back.
Tim Wise on White Resentment in a Multiracial Society

By Mark KarlinMK: You describe in your open "letter to a new minority," that far from the election of Barack Obama ushering in an era of a post-racial society, it seems to have intensified white racial anxiety. Bill Maher did a riff the other night that Barack Obama has to be the Jackie Robinson of presidents, turning a blind eye to disrespect and racial resentment that directly confronts him. Did his election force the cockroaches of racial animosity to come out of the woodwork?

TW: I think it did. It's not that the election of Obama caused the racism of course, but it certainly gave those with deep seated racial resentments and anxieties a new opportunity to articulate those under the guise of mainstream politics. The election of a man of color challenges the fundamental notions that many whites have long had, about what a leader is supposed to look like. And since this particular president is not only a man of color, but also has a name that seems "exotic" to some, and had a father who wasn't even African American, but rather, straight off the continent of Africa itself, the sense of otherness surrounding him is even greater. He stands as something of a symbol of the transition from the old, white narrative of America to a new, multicultural, multiracial norm - and it's a norm for which many, many whites simply are not prepared and about which they are not pleased.

MK: Why is it that so many poor whites--let's say in Appalachia--feel closer to white billionaires, who care nothing about their economic plight, than poor minorities, who share their economic travails?

TW: First, because they have been subjected to intense racial propaganda for generations, which has sadly left them clinging to what DuBois called the "psychological wage of whiteness," which means the psychological advantage of believing oneself superior to someone, anyone of color, even though you are suffering economically. Unfortunately, when your real wages and working conditions are poor, the weight of the psychological wage intensifies and can become a crutch to which one clings in moments of insecurity. Also, the U.S., more so than elsewhere, has cultivated the notion that "anyone can make it" if they try hard enough. Unlike the feudal monarchies of Europe, where the poor and working class knew full well they were never going to be on top, here, the reigning ideology--the secular gospel if you will of America--is that individual initiative trumps all. If one believes that, then it becomes less likely that one will problematize the rich, or criticize them, or seek to challenge them, because at some level, even the poorest persons hope that one day they will be one of them--or if not rich, at least comfortable. So class consciousness becomes harder in such a place, and yet, when one's class position doesn't rise very much from generation to generation (and for many whites it still doesn't), they content themselves with their perceived superiority relative to persons of color, and settle for that, rather than fighting for a better deal for all workers, white and of color.
One way the whites' fear of a changing America manifests itself:

Is the Era of White Privilege Nearing an End in the US?

By Tim Wise[W]henever someone deigns to mention any of those matters--like the national legacy of enslavement, Indian genocide and imperialistic land grabs--the rebuttal to which we so often retreat is as automatic as it is enraging: “Oh, that was a long time ago, get over it,” or “Stop living in the past,” or “At some point, we just have to move on.”

In other words, the past is the past, and we shouldn’t dwell on it. Unless of course we should and indeed insist on doing so, as with the above-referenced Independence Day spectacle, or as many used to do with their cries of “Remember the Alamo” or “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Both of those refrains, after all, took as their jumping-off point the rather obvious notion that the past does matter and should be remembered - a logic that apparently vanishes like early morning fog on a hot day when applied to the historical moments we’d rather forget. Not because they are any less historic, it should be noted, but merely because they are considerably less convenient.

Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but when millions of us have apparently chosen to affiliate ourselves with a political movement known as the Tea Party, which group’s public rallies prominently feature some among us clothed in Revolutionary War costumes, wearing powdered wigs and carrying muskets, we are really in no position to lecture anyone about the importance of living in the present and getting past the past. All the less so when the rallying cry of that bunch appears to be that they seek to “take their country back.” Back, after all, is a directional reference that points by definition to the past, so we ought to understand when some insist we should examine that past in its entirety, and not just the parts that many of us would rather remember.

Truth is, we love living in the past when it venerates this nation and makes us feel good. If the past allows us to reside in an idealized, mythical place, from which we can look down upon the rest of humanity as besotted inferiors who are no doubt jealous of our national greatness and our freedoms (that, of course, is why they hate us and why some attack us), then the past is the perfect companion: an old friend or lover, or at least a well-worn and reassuring shoe.

If, on the other hand, some among us insist that the past is more than that--if we point out that the past is also one of brutality, and that this brutality, especially as regards race, has mightily skewed the distribution of wealth and opportunity even to this day--then the past becomes a trifle, a pimple on the ass of now, an unwelcome reminder that although the emperor may wear clothes, the clothes he wears betray a shape he had rather hoped to conceal. No, no: the past, in those cases, is to be forgotten.

Vast numbers of us, it appears, would prefer to hermetically seal the past away in some memory vault, only peering inside on those occasions when it suits us and supports the cause of uncritical nationalism to which so many of us find ourselves imperviously wedded. But to treat the past this way is to engage in a fundamentally dishonest enterprise, one that, in the long run (as we’ll see), is dangerous. Unless we grapple with the past in its fullness--and come to appreciate the impact of that past on our present moment--we will find it increasingly difficult to move into the future a productive, confident and even remotely democratic republic.
Comment:  To reiterate, many Americans want to return to the 1950s, or the Gilded Age, or perhaps the antebellum South. In other words, a time when white men clearly ruled and women and minorities knew their place. That's what all the Tea Party talk is about and why so many conservatives hate Obama. He's the living embodiment of the end of white privilege.

For more on white privilege, see Racist Costumes = White Privilege and Whites "Sick of the Race Card."

Conservatives seek return to 1957

Tim Wise on White Resentment in a Multiracial Society

By Mark KarlinMK: You have a fascinating account of an email exchange with a Tea Party member who claims that racial resentment is not a motivating factor in the group. She asserts that lower tax issues are a major goal. But when asked about the year, by you, in which she thought taxes were at an acceptable level she mentions 1957. As you point out, "the top marginal tax rate in the United States was ninety-one percent" that year. So, what do you suspect was really going on in her head?

TW: I suspect her nostalgia for the 1950s has very little to do with taxes or the size of government at that time, since taxes were far higher and government spending was significant and growing too (and government had always been huge for white people). My guess is that this nostalgic vision of the 50's (or really the pre-1960s, let's be honest) is due to the way in which the country in those days seemed to be so clearly white, protestant, straight, etc, and how the 1960s and 70s confronted the nation with its warts, with its injustices, none of which white America wanted to see. They remember those days fondly because it was before they had to share the notion of Americanness with those who were fundamentally different, racially, culturally, ethnically and so on. It was a time of "innocence" to them, even as it was a time of intense racial terror for millions. That's why the cries of "I want my country back" are so clearly about race, at least in terms of their background noise.

MK: Why does the debate about "big" vs. "small" government today have racial overtones?

TW: Well, simple. Big government was something that was hugely popular, even among white people, right up until the 1960s. In the 30s, whites (including Southern rural whites) loved big government. It saved them during the depression. It gave them rural electricity, jobs, retirement programs, roads, schools, FHA loans, etc. Of course, those big government programs were also mostly if not exclusively for white people: blacks, for instance were largely excluded from them. Indeed their exclusion from the programs had been a precondition for southern senators supporting the New Deal actually. But as soon as people of color gained access to the same programs that whites had always had access to, that is when we discovered our "inner libertarian," and things like government intervention in labor markets or housing markets came to seen as bad, and destructive, and a cause of laziness, etc. It was very convenient. And as social policy and programs to help the have nots and have-lessers became more and more racialized, support for those efforts dropped. In fact, one international comparison found that the factor that most explains why the U.S. doesn't have the kind of social safety nets so common in other western industrialized democracies, is because whites believe black people will abuse the programs if we have them here. Of course, the irony is that then the programs that millions of whites need, especially in times like this, aren't there for them either.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see:

Republicans want to "Keep America America"
Rubio:  Entitlements "weakened" us
Teabaggers seek white Christian rule
Stossel:  Indians are biggest moochers
Angry white Christians want country back
Why Americans hate welfare
The evidence for teabagger racism

Resisting "special treatment" for Indians

U of S survey reveals resistance to special treatment for aboriginals

By Janet FrenchThe 2011 Saskatchewan Election Study, spearheaded by the Johnson Shoyama graduate school of public policy, hired students to work the phones in the university’s Social Sciences Research Laboratories complex on campus. They interviewed nearly 1,100 Saskatchewan residents in the two weeks following the Nov. 7 election about their voting patterns, political and social beliefs, and behaviours, including five questions targeting aboriginal attitudes and policies.

“There was a general understanding in the public of the considerable challenges aboriginal people face,” said Loleen Berdahl, an associate professor of political studies and member of the election study team. “Even in light of that understanding, there’s still a very strong resistance to anything that might be seen as special treatment.”

In the survey, more than 58 per cent of people agreed with the statement, “generations of discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for aboriginals to work their way out of the lower class.”But spending government money to even the playing field proved unpopular, as 53.1 per cent disagreed that “governments should do more for Saskatchewan’s aboriginal peoples.” Another 71.9 per cent agreed with this statement: “German, Ukrainian and other immigrants to Saskatchewan overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Aboriginals should do the same without any special favours.”

Berdahl said the results speak to a hesitation to treat aboriginal people in a distinct manner, even though First Nations people have a constitutionally recognized relationship with the Canadian government.

“For some people, it’s possible they believe race doesn’t matter. They don’t understand, or they don’t see how racism and racial attitudes are a challenge for aboriginal people,” Berdahl said. “The belief that everything should be race-neutral is fine when you’re in the dominant race.”

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas says the result reflects the belief that anyone who works hard enough and “pulls up their bootstraps” can have a good life. That’s not so easy for a group of people who, 50 years ago, were not allowed to be part of the mainstream economy or leave the reserve without a pass.

“A lot of people think there’s a lot of challenges and they want to help out — but as long as it doesn’t cost them anything,” Thomas said.

Willingness to fund aboriginal initiatives also varied by how the survey respondents voted: 64.4 per cent of Saskatchewan Party voters disagreed governments should do more for aboriginal people, compared with 28.4 per cent of NDP voters and 18.9 per cent of voters who cast their ballots for other parties. Meanwhile, 67 per cent of NDP voters wanted government to do more for aboriginal people compared to 73 per cent of “other” party voters and 31 per cent of Sask. Party voters.

And, the more educated a person was, the more sympathetic they were to aboriginals.
Comment:  For more on "special rights" for Indians, see Andrew Jackson Institute Fights Seminoles and Non-Indians Complain About "Inequalities."

Cherokee Nation builds tribal village

Cherokee Village Near Tahlequah Hopes To Bring The Past Alive

By Craig DayWhen you think of a new million dollar construction project, you might think of a shiny and modern building.

But that's not what is being built by the Cherokee Nation. It's a new, old tribal village being built near the Cherokee Heritage Center near Tahlequah.

Cherokee Nation workers are re-creating a fascinating part of the tribes past. The village is being built with old school materials, like clay mud.

Village Supervisor Tommy Wildcat is excited to be a part of the project to build 18 structures, including both ancient Cherokee summer and winter homes.
Comment:  For more on Cherokee history, see Emissaries of Peace on the Road and Cherokee "History After Dark."

Below:  "Cherokee Nation workers are re-creating a fascinating part of the tribes past."

February 28, 2012

Indoctrinating the religious right

The Republican's Biblical Boondoggle

By Frank SchaefferThe rise of the religious right within religion is designed intentionally to isolate, indoctrinate and "protect" from challenging ideas. Fundamentalist leaders, be they conservative bishops or evangelical leaders, do this because actual true information is no longer helpful to the fundamentalist religious cause. So that cause becomes about controlling the minds of the faithful by cutting them off from other opinions.

Having circled the wagons and gone inward, the American evangelical community and conservative Roman Catholics now speak their own language, have their own culture, and they despise and fear the country they dwell in as virtual strangers. This is a self-imposed exile.

But when general elections come along the evangelical community, Roman Catholic bishops' et al, like some hibernating creature, are forced (as it were) from their cave. For a brief moment they must interact with the larger world in the full light of day.

When the fundamentalist, anti-modern community emerges the rest of the population gets a rare look at how the conservative reactionary "brain" of fundamentalism works. All of a sudden the larger world is reminded that there really are people like the ultra-conservative Roman Catholic bishops who actually think contraceptives are wicked things. All of a sudden the larger world is reminded that right here amongst us are people who believe that Satan is attacking us, that we should attack Iran to make Israel safe for Jesus' return, that a sperm and egg joined 5 seconds ago is a "person", that evolution is a secularist plot, that the Federal Reserve is of the devil, etc., etc.

And the cry goes up (once again) "How could they believe this stuff?"

How indeed?

It takes training for years to reject what is true. That training starts in a million Sunday schools and carries on through home schooling or private religious "education" and is completed in a hundred alternative Christian "colleges." It is sustained by a network of magazines like Christianity Today, World and many more. It has its own celebrity culture with heroes that no one outside the religious ghetto has heard of but who are selling literally millions of books to their followers.

Is it any wonder that a bedrock article of faith in the Republican Party is now that public schools are evil? Is it any wonder Santorum says he objects to President Obama saying all kids should work to go to college? In fact anything public and open to accountability is to be feared. Education is feared most of all.
Comment:  "Having circled the wagons" is an appropriate choice of words. For the last 500 years, Euro-Americans have used propaganda techniques to demonize the "other": Indians, blacks, immigrants, Jews, et al. Now they're using similar techniques against liberals, scientists, intellectuals, secularists, atheists, and so forth. As well as women and minorities, of course.

We've seen their attempts to dumb down education and preserve the status quo many times. Banning novels. Rewriting or censoring textbooks. Eliminating ethnic studies. Cheering Indian mascots. Celebrating Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Etc.

It's all about control, folks. A liberal arts education teaches people to think liberally. That means questioning authority, which is the opposite of what conservatives want. They want people to worship and obey, not to question and confront. They seek to end public education so they can indoctrinate their children in church and at home.

For more on the subject, see What Conservatives Consider "Objective History" and Ethnic Studies Ban Is Political.

"Light beam" from Maya pyramid

Does Mayan photo show a sign from gods ... or iPhone glitch?

One expert technician says it's a classic error—but still, it's 'an awesome image!'

By Natalie Wolchover
When Hector Siliezar visited the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza with his wife and kids in 2009, he snapped three iPhone photos of El Castillo, a pyramid that once served as a sacred temple to the Mayan god Kukulkan. A thunderstorm was brewing near the temple, and Siliezar was trying to capture lightning crackling dramatically over the ruins.

In the first two images, dark clouds loom above the pyramid, but nothing is amiss. However, in the third photo, a powerful beam of light appears to shoot up from the pyramid toward the heavens, and a thunderbolt flashes in the background.
Message or glitch?According to Jonathon Hill, a research technician and mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, which operates many of the cameras used during NASA's Mars missions, it is almost definitely the latter. Hill works with images of the Martian surface taken by rovers and satellites, as well as data from Earth-orbiting NASA instruments, and is fully versed in the wide range of potential image artifacts and equipment errors.

He says the "light beam" in the Mayan temple photo is a classic case of such an artifact—a distortion in an image that arises from the way cameras bounce around incoming light.
Comment:  For more on the Maya, see "Mayan Apocalypse" in Chevrolet Commercial and Maya Excluded from "2012" Tourism.

Below:  "El Castillo, a Mayan temple on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, with a mysterious 'light beam' emerging from the top."

Raccoon Earns His Stripes

Family Heritage

SOU professor turns American Indian stories from childhood into musical

By Mandy Valencia
While Brent Florendo was growing up on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon, his mother would tell stories of their Wasco heritage to help others understand American Indian culture.

Now the Southern Oregon University Native American Studies instructor is continuing that tradition with a musical he's written based on his mother's stories.

Called "Raccoon Earns His Stripes,"the musical will open Friday, Feb. 24, in SOU's Center Square Theatre and continue through March 11.
Comment:  For more on Native theater, see Not One More Foot of Land and AIM Play Stirs Controversy.

Below:  "SOU sophomore Godfrey rehearses a scene in the show."

Treasurer mocks Natives "in fun"

Panel: Treasurer’s Words ‘Inappropriate’

By Dan McKayBernalillo County Treasurer Patrick Padilla says it’s all in fun—mimicking a Native American accent with one employee and allegedly referring to others as “stupida.”

But a three-person panel that reviewed an investigation’s report into harassment allegations against Padilla determined that he made statements “that were inappropriate, as outlined in the county anti-harassment policy,” said Tia Bland, a county spokeswoman.

The panel also recommended that Padilla and Treasurer’s Office employees “receive additional training to cover all relevant policies adopted by Bernalillo County,” Bland said.

Several witnesses said Padilla made inappropriate, unprofessional comments in the workplace, according to the independent investigation.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Racist "Jokes" Are No Jokes and "Lighthearted" and "Humorous" Stereotypes.

February 27, 2012

Blackface at the Oscars

And the Oscar for Most Racist Host Goes to Billy Crystal in Blackface?

By Jorge RivasDuring the opening sequence of the Oscars on Sunday night a blackface-clad Billy Crystal revived his Sammy Davis Jr. impression.

The worst part is the blackface appearance showed up at the same time Justin Bieber made a surprise cameo—perhaps the only moment during the Oscars that could attract a younger audience.

When Octavia Spencer won supporting actress for “The Help,” comedian Paul Scheer tweeted her win “shows just how far we’ve come since Billy Crystal performed in Blackface.”
All Things Old Hollywood: Blackface At The Oscars

By Kendra JamesAnother Monday, another post-awards show morning, another day of waking up and asking myself if I really just saw what I thought I saw. Because there’s absolutely no way that I really saw Billy Crystal in blackface on national television the night before.

And for all I know, maybe I didn’t. No one’s talking about it. It didn’t seem to have made any morning news show headlines. I didn’t hear Kelly Ripa and Neil Patrick Harris mention it and I missed seeing what the women of The View had to say, but given Whoopi’s track record with the hot topics of the day I’m guessing I wouldn’t have been impressed.

Oh, but wait, a quick dive into the comments section at Jezebel (why do I do this to myself?) confirms that I did not, in fact, dream up what I saw last night. Not only did it happen, but it seems to have already been rationalised by the general public. You see, blackface is apparently no longer offensive, especially if it’s not being done to intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. We’re in post-racial America! These things no longer carry the weight they once did. There’s no need to analyse it to death. It was just a sketch!


Here are some defenses offered by blackface lovers. Not coincidentally, they're the same defenses offered by redface lovers. You know, the people who defend Indian mascots and hipsters in headdresses.“Nothing was meant by it,” viewers from last night might say; or in the case of Crystal and Sammy Davis Jr, “It’s just one Jewish man imitating another Jewish man.” (So would they be alright replacing Billy Crystal with Al Jolson then?) It seems if racism isn’t accompanied by white hoods and burning crosses, it’s not racism. You’re overreacting and taking offense to something that hasn’t meant anything for years. Blackface on national television? Yes, fine. A brown woman gives middle finger at the Superbowl a month earlier? Dear God in heaven, the horror. No one appears to be forcing Crystal to give the apology MIA was pushed into.

I haven’t over-analyzed anything (“over-analyzed” being the favorite term of some of my white friends) if my immediate gut reaction is revulsion and discomfort. That doesn’t come after hours of reading or thinking on the topic, but rather the innate knowledge that this is wrong and no one is going to do a thing about it. It’s literally getting to the point where, as a black person, I can’t enjoy the things I love without being consistently confronted with racist imagery.
Academy Awards 2012: Putting Blackface in Context

By Marissa LeeIn our society, to be “too sensitive” is a bigger sin than “doing something that has a racist impact” or “defending something that has a racist impact.”

Why? Because being sensitive is what people who are at an disadvantage do. (Hence sensitivity being a negative trait attributed to women and minorities who just want respect. Note that in our culture, “being a pussy” is taken as an insult to men and “having balls” is taken as a compliment.)

In contrast, cultural bullying is something that people with privilege do. People with agent status are lauded for making “gutsy” jokes and expressing their free speech without caring about responsibility or impact (that would make them “too sensitive.”) The entitlement is such that the “overly sensitive” feelings of the people they are disrespecting shouldn’t matter. Meanwhile, people with targeted status are expected to “take it,” as in, docilely receive and accept it.

Being perceived as “too sensitive” (read: weak) suddenly becomes a concern for anyone (gutsy enough) to speak out.
Comment:  For more on lame excuses for racism, see Ignorance or Malice? and The Magical Power of Intent.

Below:  The same idea...a white guy dressed as a minority.

Indians protest Carmel Misison stamp

New stamp upsets local tribe

Amah Mutsun say picturesque Mission Carmel postage stamp leaves out brutal reality

By Blair Tellers
When sightseers tour the centuries-old Spanish mission tucked off Highway 1 in Carmel-by-the-Sea, it’s likely they’ll admire the red-tiled roofs, the chapel’s aesthetic facade, the prominent dome bell tower, the exquisite gardens or the vast collection of liturgical art.

For Louise Ramirez–a former Gilroy resident and Tribal Chairwoman of the Monterey-indigenous Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation–the landscape is far from romantic.
And:Citing “discomfort and concern with the unveiling of the stamp” in a Feb. 16 letter addressed to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahue, Ramirez isn’t the only one who feels the mission is undeserving of a positive limelight. Her concerns are echoed by Valentin Lopez, 60, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.

While the Mutsun tribe is principally associated with Mission San Juan Bautista and the surrounding areas of Gilroy and Hollister, Lopez explains the Carmel Mission, “like the other Franciscan missions in California, was actively involved with the massacre and genocide of California Indians.”
The interesting part is the different interpretations of the stamp's significance:As of Monday, Ramirez and Lopez said the postmaster had not responded to their letters. In attempts to contact Donahue, the Dispatch was referred to Augustine Ruiz, postal spokesman for the Bay Valley District who said the concerns expressed by Ruiz and Lopez are “perfectly understandable.”

However, the U.S. Postal Service has no plans to halt the stamp’s release, he said.

“I understand it; I can empathize with it,” he said. “Anytime anything is introduced, there’s some element of controversy that’s usually attached to it.”

Ruiz reached out to the OCEN tribe in preparing for today’s ceremony. As tribal spokeswoman, Ramirez was invited to offer a blessing and prayer for her ancestors, followed by a speech in remembrance of her people.

Despite some opposition from her fellow OCEN members–many are practicing Catholics and did not approve of Ramirez “speaking against the missions”–Ramirez still accepted.

“I’m going to try, and hopefully I can get (the audience) to understand what we’ve been through, and what the missions have done to us,” she said. “It’s important that people know that we’re here. And if we refuse to attend these things, they’re never going to know we were there.”

In this particular case, Ruiz explained the stamp is meant to commemorate the Carmel Mission (formally known as Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo) for its architectural beauty and iconic place in California’s roster of historic buildings. It is the second oldest of California’s 21 missions and is often described as the most beautiful, Ruiz said.

The focus on architecture is elaborated in a U.S. Postal Service press release, which highlights the stamp’s colorful illustration depicting the church’s attractive façade. An earlier announcement released by the U.S. Postal Service Feb. 21 describes the mission as a landmark in California’s Spanish heritage.

While considered a bastion of California’s architectural landscape, “Spanish heritage” resonates differently for present day Native Americans.

For individuals such as Ramirez and Lopez, the phrase evokes a bitter reality of life beneath the Spanish Catholic regime; a subservient existence indigenous peoples were subjected to when European colonization of the Pacific coast began in the 1770s.
Comment:  I can see both sides of this conflict. On the one hand, the Spanish occupation was a terrible time for Indians. And the missions are symbols of the Euro-American onslaught. On the other hand, so are Columbus, Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers, cowboys, wagon trains, Mt. Rushmore, the national parks, and so forth and so on. I don't think we can exclude everything that has negative connotations for Indians or there'd be nothing left.

I'd say the Postal Service did okay with its revised press release. Don't celebrate Junipero Serra or the mission system because their primarily goal was to pacify and "civilize" the Indians. But go ahead and commemorate individual missions, on occasion, for their architectural and historical significance. Be sure to cover the bad as well as the good in the accompanying press materials.

For more on the missions, see Salinan Violin Stolen from Mission and Indoctrinating Students About Missions.

BlackBerry article shows primitive Indian

BlackBerry Season

By James SurowieckiFive years ago, Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, was one of the most acclaimed technology companies in the world. The BlackBerry dominated the smartphone market, was a staple of the business world, and had helped make texting a mainstream practice. Terrifically profitable, the phone became a cultural touchstone—in 2006, a Webster’s dictionary made “CrackBerry” its word of the year.

These days, it seems more like the SlackBerry. Thanks to the iPhone and Android devices, R.I.M.’s smartphone market share has plummeted; in the U.S., according to one estimate, it fell from forty-four per cent in 2009 to just ten per cent last year. The BlackBerry’s reputed addictiveness now looks like a myth; a recent study found that only a third of users planned to stick with it the next time they upgraded. R.I.M.’s stock price is down seventy-five per cent in the past year, and two weeks ago the company was forced to bring in a new C.E.O. The Times wondered recently whether the BlackBerry will go the way of technological dodoes like the pager.
Nothing wrong with this article except the illustration:



A letter written in response:

Re: BlackBerry SeasonAs a Cherokee citizen and avid social-media user, I was disappointed by the illustration accompanying James Surowiecki’s recent article on the BlackBerry’s failure to adjust to consumer demands (The Financial Page, February 13th & 20th). Illustrating that message with a cartoon image of an Indian sending smoke signals perpetuates the stereotype that Native Americans are stuck in a time warp, when in fact many tribes are technologically savvy. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has its own immersion school where students communicate entirely in Cherokee and often use their iPads or iPhones to do so. Cherokee is one of only fifty or so languages that Apple includes in its O.S. Not surprisingly, Apple doesn’t include smoke signals. May I suggest using Polybius with his torches to illustrate an article about outdated technology?

Talia E. Myres
Tulsa, Okla.
Comment:  The problems here are obvious. Using a racial stereotype to illustrate primitiveness. Within the primitive context, showing the Indian as less knowledgeable than someone else. So this Indian is primitive-squared: primitive compared to 21st-century tech users and primitive compared to his own contemporaries.

It would've been easy to reverse this image. Say a cowboy is struggling with smoke signals on one side of a mountain. "I can't figure out this durn technology," he says as he sends up misshapen blobs of smoke. Meanwhile, an Indian on the other side of the mountain sends the advanced smoke signals as shown. Message: Indian smart, white man stupid.

That didn't happen because it didn't fit with the editors' preconceived mindset. To them, Indians are primitive savages ignorant of technology. Never mind that (some) Indians knew more about astronomy, agriculture, and medicine than their European contemporaries. Or that today's Indians are just as tech-savvy as anyone else.

For more on the subject, see The Last Acceptable Racism and Indians Shoot Arrows in New Yorker Cartoon.

Williams Memorial Totem Pole

New totem pole is raised in honor of slain carver John T. Williams

Family and friends raised a memorial to John T. Williams at Seattle Center after carrying the 34-foot totem pole through downtown Sunday

By Amy Martinez
After several hours, the 34-foot monument was raised into place at Seattle Center near Fifth Avenue North and Broad Street, just yards from the Space Needle.

The event, which occurred on the eve of what would have been Williams' 52nd birthday, followed Native tradition, with the pole carried to its final destination amid singing and dancing to drums.

"To me, it was a healing and a blessing," said Roger Miller, 48, who traveled from his home on the Muckleshoot reservation to carry the pole. "We stopped here and there, but we had determination."

Williams, a First Nations woodcarver, was fatally shot by Seattle police Officer Ian Birk in August 2010 when Birk saw him walking with a knife near downtown.

Birk later resigned from the force after a review board found the shooting unjustified.
From Tragedy Comes Beauty: Memorial Pole Erected for John T. Williams

By Richard WalkerOn February 26, a 34-foot totem pole was raised at Seattle Center, near the city’s famous Space Needle.

Through it all, Williams’s brother, Rick, was a standard-bearer for peace. He devoted his time to creating a monument to his brother that will, after the players in this drama are long gone, tell of what happened in Seattle in 2010, how an injustice brought people together. “Anger doesn’t serve anything,” Williams said one chilly December morning on the Seattle waterfront. “They took something beautiful from my family. I want to give something beautiful back.”

The John T. Williams Totem Pole Project features the main totem pole that was carried from Waterfront Park to Seattle Center and raised at a spot between the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project. Jay Westwind Wolf Hollingsworth, Mohegan, chairman of the project organizing committee, said a minimum of 64 people will be needed to carry the pole; according to the Seattle Times, 90 people lent a hand on Sunday. Some of the volunteers carried stands that the pole could be set on during rest periods, and helped raise the pole using ropes. According to Williams, ten chiefs had committed to attend. A second memorial pole carved by Williams family members and others will be erected later at Seattle’s Victor Steinbrueck Park, northwest of the famous Pike Place Market; a third pole will be erected at a site yet to be determined.

John T. Williams was intimately familiar with the streets his poles will loom over. His ancestors were too; his family has been in the Seattle area since the early 1900s, Rick Williams said. It’s fitting that the Native imagery of the main pole was be carried down these streets, home to Native peoples now and since time immemorial, a history and a future that cannot be erased with a bullet.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Leschi Play Mirrors Woodcarver's Killing.

Below:  Space Needle and Memorial Totem Pole. (Victor Pascual/DigitalNavajo.com)

February 26, 2012

Cannibals in ALL-STAR WESTERN #6

Comic Book Review: ‘All-Star Western’ #6

By Scott West‘All-Star Western’ #5 left bounty hunter Jonah Hex and his unlikely partner, Doctor Amadeus Arkham, trapped in a cave beneath Gotham City. Hounded by a cannibalistic tribe of natives and facing monstrous subterranean creatures, all will be lost if the pair can’t find their way back to the surface.

As the issue opens, Hex is facing off against the enormous prehistoric bat that attacked at the finale of last issue. The vicious killer makes short work of the flying rodent. His victory earns him the respect of the cannibal tribe and the natives lead Hex and Arkham back to an opening to the surface.
Confirming that the "natives" are Indians:

ALL-STAR WESTERN #6Jonah Hex fights a giant bat to the death! But even with his winged foe slain, will he and Amadeus Arkham survive being trapped in a cave with the lost tribe of Miagani Indians?Comment:  How many stereotypes can we find in these brief descriptions?

1) A lost tribe of cannibal Indians. Not in Central America but (presumably) in the New York area where Gotham City is located.

2) Living underground because they're creatures of darkness and mystery. Like, well, bats. Unlike people, I guess the "Miagani" don't need the surface with its food and sunshine.

3) Probably fearing and worshiping the giant bat. You know, the way natives supposedly worshiped King Kong, volcanoes, and anything else they didn't understand. Because they're ignorant and superstitious--unlike civilized white men.

4) From the cover, it appears they're half-naked and wearing bat hoods. Because barbaric cannibals wouldn't think of climbing out of their holes and joining the world of 2012 with its cars and computers. No, they're happier living in perpetual blackness and eating people.

Sheesh. How come it's never a sophisticated Indian with technology and a PhD who discovers a primitive race of Caucasians? Oh, yeah...because that would contradict our dominant American narrative and make white people uncomfortable. Never mind.

For more on the subject, see BATMAN INC. #7's Cover and Anthro in RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #1.

"Chief Ron" to be evicted

Back in 2009 I posted about an Indian wannabe named "Chief Ron" Roberts. Supposedly Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment were going to make a casino comedy about him.

Here are the postings:

Chief Ron lies about gaming
The facts about "Chief Ron"

Now the phony "chief" and his "tribe" are being evicted from their phony "reservation." Amazingly, a newspaper reported on it without once noting the huge controversy surrounding Roberts.

According to the previous reports, he "pleaded guilty to federal charges of submitting false documents and perjury." How do you report on his eviction without noting that the government considers him a fraud?

Mind-boggling. Anyway, here's the latest on "Chief Ron":

Mohegan Tribe to be evicted by court-ordered sale

By Eulene InnissAfter decades of maltreatment in their homeland, history is repeating itself in a case against Native Americans.

The federal government allows indigenous people to live on reservations, parcels of land, that they sold to them. Native Americans thought, no doubt, that this act would guarantee a degree of freedom from the entanglement of broken promises. However, for the Mohegan tribe in Ulster County, N.Y., it's déjà vu. Sherriff Paul J. Vanblarcum has given tribal leader Chief Ronald Roberts a notice of eviction with an execution date of March 15.

Vanblarcum will be conducting a sale of the Western Mohegan tribe's land, buildings, museum, goods, chattel and all their possessions on March 15. This sale will displace the Mohegan women, children and elderly, creating a homeless tribe.

In a telephone conversation with Chief Don Ryan of the Sheriff of Ulster County's office, Ryan stated, "The sale will proceed unless there is a court order against it."
Comment:  For more on Indian wannabes, see Winddancer Called a "Cultural Thief" and Mythical Indian = "National Mascot."

Below:  "Chief Ron" Roberts in a headdress from a Plains culture 1,000 miles from New York.

Banks receives lifetime achievement award

Dennis Banks Receives Living Legends Award

By Levi Rickert Dennis Banks, Ojibwe, will receive the Living Legends Award tonight in Washington DC for his contributions as a co-founder of the American Indian Movement and his ongoing committed to the well being of the American Indian community.

This year's theme of the awards ceremony is "Am I My Brother's Keeper?"

“We seek to honor people who have made contributions to bettering humanity,” said Doreen Hines, the executive director of Human Symphony Foundation, the non-profit organization that gives out the awards.

Past awardees include: Congressman John Lewis, journalist Juan Williams, Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith, peace activist Leymah Gbowee and several others.

“We purposely sought out an American Indian to honor,” commented Markus Williams, artistic director of Living Legends Awards.

“After I did research on Dennis Banks, I knew he deserves this honor.”

"So much of what was taught about civil rights involved black and white issues, obviously there were other groups in this country that needed their civil rights. Dennis Banks did that for American Indians," continued William.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Longest Walk 3--Reversing Diabetes and Means Receives Lifetime Achievement Award.

February 25, 2012

Apologies for Menominee language incident

More on the story of the girl punished for speaking Menominee:

Sacred Heart, diocese send apologies

School's action satisfies Washinawatok family

By Tiffany Wilbert
Sacred Heart Catholic School and the Diocese of Green Bay have apologized to the family of the seventh-grade girl who was benched from a basketball game last month for speaking the Menominee language in class.

Letters of apology dated Feb. 22 were addressed to the family of Miranda Washinawatok and the Menominee Nation.
And:Miranda's mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, said she was satisfied with the apologies.

"It did take a month, but I know the letters helped with the closure of the incident that happened," she said. "We can move forward now with the diversity training and cultural events that they hope to bring into the school."

In his letter, Principal Dan Minter said he was "deeply sorry for any personal or collective hurt" that he caused Miranda, her family or the Menominee Nation.
Offender doesn't apologize

The mother was satisfied until she read the teacher's letter, it seems:

Menominee Language Incident: Teacher Offers Letter of Justification; Faults Miranda

By Levi RickertThis week her mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, received four letters from four different people associated with the Sacred Heart Catholic School in this small town, located six miles south of the Menominee Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin.

The letters came from the Dr. Joseph Bound, director of education for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay; Dan Minter, principal of Scared Heart; Billie Jo DeQuaine, assistant girls basketball coach and Julie L Gurta, teacher.

The Native News Network obtained copies of all four letters. Three of the letters were letters of apology.

The differing letter came from the teacher of Miranda, Miss Julie L Gurta. She is the one person who has direct contact with Miranda on a day to day basis. She did not offer an apology for slamming her hand on the desk and embarrassing the 12 year old for speaking her native language. She offered a letter of justification.

The letter differed in another way as well: Miss Gurta's letter was not written on official letterhead as were the other three letters. Her letter contained one paragraph that was 21 lines long.

Miss Gurta writes:

"In an academic setting, a student must be respectful of all of the other students--language and behavior that creates a possibility of elitism, or simply excludes other students, can create or increase racial and cultural tensions."
Comment:  So the actual offender still doesn't think she's done anything wrong? That outweighs the sincere apologies from everyone else.

The teacher doesn't seem to understand that others are apologizing for her bad behavior. I guess someone needs to say it explicitly: Miranda was right and Miss Gurta was wrong.

For more on apologies, see Why Wounded Knee Matters and No Apologies Without Remedies.

Below:  7th-grader Miranda Washinawatok.

Navajo karate black belt

A Young Master: Meet Navajo Black Belt Alfred Duchaussee

By Lee AllenWalk softly…and carry a big 3rd degree black belt.

That works for 26-year-old Navajo Karate expert Alfred Duchaussee, currently a psychology student at the University of New Mexico.
And:Physically and mentally he challenged himself to improve focus, self-discipline and overall physical conditioning. In striving to be his best, he gained invaluable insights about life and in the process amassed a wall full of accolades: he won England’s Karate World Cup; took the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate International World Championship in his weight class nine times; he was the first American Indian ever to win a World Cup Golf Medal in Dominican Republic competition, and won one of the largest Karate tournaments in the United States last year, the prestigious Ozawa Cup Tournament in Las Vegas.

Duchaussee, who trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, is also recognized by the Native American Sports Council, as one of the Top Ten Native American athletes of the present day. That small and exclusive group includes Joe Hipp (Blackfeet), the first Native American to challenge for the world heavyweight boxing championship; Notah Begay (Navajo/Pueblo), PGA’s first native American pro golfer; Seattle Mariners pitcher Bobby Madritsch (Lakota), and pro baseball player Kyle Lohse (Nomlaki Nation).
Comment:  For more on Native martial arts, see Native Pankration Champion and The Origin of Yaomochtia.

Indians suffer toxic stress

Science explains some of the world's poverty and crime. This applies to poor Americans in general and poor Indians in particular.

A Poverty Solution That Starts With a Hug

By Nicholas F. KristofThis month, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a landmark warning that this toxic stress can harm children for life. I’m as skeptical as anyone of headlines from new medical studies (Coffee is good for you! Coffee is bad for you!), but that’s not what this is.

Rather, this is a “policy statement” from the premier association of pediatricians, based on two decades of scientific research. This has revolutionary implications for medicine and for how we can more effectively chip away at poverty and crime.

Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. It could occur in a home where children are threatened and beaten. It might derive from chronic neglect—a child cries without being cuddled. Affection seems to defuse toxic stress—keep those hugs and lullabies coming!—suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector.

Cues of a hostile or indifferent environment flood an infant, or even a fetus, with stress hormones like cortisol in ways that can disrupt the body’s metabolism or the architecture of the brain.

The upshot is that children are sometimes permanently undermined. Even many years later, as adults, they are more likely to suffer heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other physical ailments. They are also more likely to struggle in school, have short tempers and tangle with the law.
Comment:  We know the long list of "ills" that afflict Indians and others who are poor or disadvantaged. This posting suggests why the cycles of poverty and crime keep repeating themselves.

For more on the subject, see Review of Older than America and "Thick Dark Fog" = PTSD.

February 24, 2012

"Two wolves" story is phony

Almost everyone on the Internet has seen the "two wolves" story that supposedly comes from a Native legend. If you're like me, you see it a couple of times a month.

The story's ending and lesson goes like this:The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I always figured this story was phony. Now blogger âpihtawikosisân (Chelsea Vowel) confirms it:

Check the tag on that “Indian” storyWell recently a tumblr blogger Pavor Nocturnus did the world an enormous favour and dug into the real origins of this ‘Cherokee wisdom’, providing some excellent sources.This story seems to have begun in 1978 when a early form of it was written by the Evangelical Christian Minister Billy Graham in his book, “The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life.”"This kind of thing is harmful"

âpihtawikosisân goes on to explain what's wrong with this seemingly innocuous legend:These misattributed stories aren’t going to pick us up and throw us down a flight of stairs, but they do perpetuate ignorance about out cultures. Cultures. Plural.

Not only do they confuse non-natives about our beliefs and our actual oral traditions, they confuse some natives too. There are many disconnected native peoples who, for a variety of reasons, have not been raised in their cultures. It is not an easy task to reconnect, and a lot of people start by trying to find as much information as they can about the nation they come from.

It can be exciting and empowering at first to encounter a story like this, if it’s supposedly from your (generalised) nation. But I could analyse this story all day to point out how Christian and western influences run all the way through it, and how these principles contradict and overshadow indigenous ways of knowing. Let’s just sum it up more quickly though, and call it what it is: colonialsim.

And please. It does not matter if this sort of thing is done to or by other cultures too. The “they did it first” argument doesn’t get my kids anywhere either.

The replacement of real indigenous stories with Christian-influenced, western moral tales is colonialism, no matter how you dress it up in feathers and moccasins. It silences the real voices of native peoples by presenting listeners and readers with something safe and familiar. And because of the wider access non-natives have to sources of media, these kinds of fake stories are literally drowning us out.
Comment:  This legend is harmful for the same reasons a romantic painting is harmful. It teaches people that:

  • All Indians are the same--that their legends are interchangeable.

  • They're all wise and spiritual, which isn't necessarily good. If you're a touchy-feely "wisdom keeper," you're implicitly not sharp and tough enough to be a lawyer, engineer, or politician.

  • They're oriented toward a simple life of nature and animals. Which is another way of saying they're backward and primitive. If a modern person told this story, he might say, "You have two Terminators in you: a good one and a bad one." Or, "You have two Aliens in you." You know, something that today's youth could relate to.

  • As âpihtawikosisân notes, even the lesson isn't Native in style. A typical Native lesson would be more like, "There's good and bad in each of us. You need to balance both halves to achieve harmony." Which is markedly different from the Christian dichotomy of black and white, good and evil.

    For more on Native values, see Western vs. Native Education and Europeans Hated Indians' Virtues.

    Below:  Good wolf and bad wolf.

    Contemporary expression in Beat Nation

    Beat Nation: Aboriginal art that breaks boundariesEven when the beat isn’t audible it’s present in the rhythm of ideas in a major exhibition on contemporary aboriginal art at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

    Called Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop, and Aboriginal Culture, the exhibition brings together 27 aboriginal artists from around North America. The exhibition has been designed so that hip hop, electronica and traditional music spreads beyond the boundaries of several works. Rather than something heard only in private on headphones, sound becomes public and serves to link the works on the second floor of the gallery.

    One of the shared characteristics of all the works is how they represent a contrasting beat of ideas between honouring cultural traditions and giving them contemporary expression, according to Tania Willard, the co-curator of Beat Nation.

    “We’re creating links with everything that’s come before us,” said Willard, who is also an artist and designer. “For all of these artists, it’s all about acknowledging their history and heritage and where they’ve come from but interpreting it in a way that makes sense to them and their experience now.”
    Some examples of the exhibit's art:One of the most striking works in the exhibition is the clothing and regalia worn by Reece in her persona as Raven on the Colonial Fleet. It’s comprised of a curvaceous bustier covered in vertical Northwest coast designs and an apron with figures whose outstretched arms are reaching above their heads for AK-47 machine guns.

    There are several works from the series Prototypes for a New Understanding by Brian Jungen whose work transforming everyday consumer goods into art has been a huge influence on other aboriginal artists.

    Like Jungen, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas isn’t directly inspired by hip hop but he too is working to adapt traditional forms to a contemporary setting. His Haida manga combines Northwest Coast imagery and formline with Japanese comic style.
    Aboriginal artists shine at the VAG

    Beat Nation at the Vancouver Art Gallery

    Comment:  For more on modern Native art, see French Surprised by Native Diversity and Two New England Art Shows.

    Below:  Skeena Reece's regalia as Raven on the Colonial Fleet.

    Spencer joins NBC Western pilot

    'Twilight' Alum Joins NBC Western Pilot (Exclusive)

    Chaske Spencer will play a cook who cares for his aunt in "The Frontier," the drama about a group of travelers who follows their dreams and heads West from Missouri across the unchartered country in the 1840s.

    By Lesley Goldberg
    NBC is adding a Twilight werewolf to its Frontier pack.

    Twilight's Chaske Spencer--best known as Sam, the leader of Jacob's wolf pack in the franchise--has boarded the NBC Western drama pilot The Frontier, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

    The project, from writer/exec producer Shaun Cassidy, revolves around a group who follows their dreams and heads West from Missouri across the unchartered country in the 1840s.

    Spencer will play Eli, a cook who's traveling with his mentally unstable aunt, Luisa. He's described as an optimist who's trying to be patient with his aunt's real and imagined fears who ventures off with part of group to search for others.
    Comment:  For more on Chaske Spencer, see Actors Turn Out for Breaking Dawn and AIFI's 2011 Winners.

    Mark Wahlberg as Billy Jack?

    Mark Wahlberg Attached To Two More: ‘Billy Jack’ and ‘When Corruption Was King’

    By Germain LussierBilly Jack was a very popular 1971 film co-written, directed and starring Tom Laughlin which, according to The Tracking Board, had a remake originally set up at DreamWorks with Keanu Reeves set to star. However, the remake rights reverted and Wahlberg and company swooped up to grab them. The film is currently a free agent.

    Out of the two of these projects, it’s pretty easy to picture Wahlberg starring in either. Billy Jack, though, is part of a series and could potentially spawn a franchise.
    Comment:  This news is from April 2011, but it's still worth a mention.

    Will this version of Billy Jack be part Native? If he is, should Wahlberg play him? Or should the role go to someone who's, you know, part Native?

    For more on the subject, see The Origin of Billy Jack and The Best Indian Movies.

    February 23, 2012

    Not One More Foot of Land

    Theater Review: “Not One More Foot of Land” Triumphs at the Secret Rose Theatre

    By Annemarie DonkinAnyone interested in Native American History will be engrossed by Al Shulman’s fascinating and well-researched play “Not One More Foot of Land” at the Secret Rose Theatre in NoHo.

    Beautifully directed by Kristina Lloyd, the historical epic recounts 50 years in the life of Cherokee leader Major Ridge, who is primarily known for signing the Treaty of New Echota in 1835 that led to the tragic “Trail of Tears.”
    And:Overall, this is a high-energy epic and one of the most amazing historical theatrical productions I have seen in a long time, incorporating authentic Cherokee dress, dancing and traditional music.

    In fact, it is a great way to introduce kids to some incredible, relevant yet tragic episodes in American history.
    New play tells story of Major Ridge, Trail of Tears“I am technically an outsider to Native American culture, without much prior exposure to Native Americans. But I’ve learned a lot from those associated with the production, as well as from my research,” Shulman said. “The Native American actors don’t treat me as an outsider. They are appreciative that a play has been written about how Native Americans were treated back then, not just the Cherokee, but many other tribes as well.”

    Shulman added the play could not have been done without the contributions of many people including Hanay Geiogamah of the University of California at Los Angeles Department of Theater who was once head of the school’s Indian Studies Department.
    Comment:  For more on Cherokee theater, see Cornbread and Cornbeads and Cherokee Nominated for Grammy.

    Below:  "From left, Cynthia Bryant, Joseph Runningfox as Major Ridge and Ayanery Reyes in Not One More Foot of Land, at the Secret Rose Theater in North Hollywood."

    Huppenthal won't ban Native classes

    Arizona Superintendent Promotes Native CultureArizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal may be taking flack for cutting the Mexican American Studies program at the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), but he spent February 21 and 22 telling educators and students on the Navajo Nation that the state of Arizona wants to help them teach language and cultures.

    Huppenthal held two town hall meetings, one in Chinle at the Chinle Wildcat Den and the other in Kayenta at the Monument Valley High School Student Activity Center.

    He told the gathered participants at Chinle that Native language and culture classes would not be banned like Mexican American Studies has been at TUSD.

    “We don’t anticipate any fallout to other cultural studies programs,” Huppenthal said, according to Navajo Times. “The challenges associated with that (Mexican American Studies) program are isolated to that program, that school district and that environment.”
    Comment:  It would be interesting to know Huppenthal's motivation here. Does he genuinely think there's nothing wrong with Native studies? Or does he think Indian students and schools are too poor and isolated to pose a threat to Arizona? The latter, I'm guessing.

    After all, he's already banned one book--Rethinking Columbus--used in Native studies classes. I'm sure the lessons in that book are part of what students learn in these classes. If Huppenthal knew what was going on, I bet it would upset him.

    For more on Arizona's ethnic studies ban, see Educators Protest Tucson Book Ban and Alexie on Tucson Book Ban.

    Below:  "Members of a song and dance troupe from Many Farms Elementary School gather around Arizona Superintendent of Schools John Huppenthal for a photo Tuesday after a town hall meeting in the Chinle Wildcat Den."

    Attawapiskat seeks Queen's assistance

    Attawapiskat Chief Seeks Assistance of Queen Elizabeth II in Addressing Dire Circumstances

    By James MurrayThe shipment of the modular homes for Attawapiskat is not complete. John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, announced today that all 22 of the modular homes purchased with funds provided by the Government of Canada for affected residents in Attawapiskat First Nation have been delivered to the community. “The arrival of these modular homes demonstrates our Government’s commitment to the residents of Attawapiskat First Nation,” said Minister Duncan.

    Attawapiskat First Nation has requested the assistance of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in addressing the dire circumstances experienced by the First Nation and its members. In a letter to be delivered to the Queen through her representative, Governor General Johnston today, Chief Spence calls to Her Majesty’s attention the actions of Crown officials in imposing third party management on the First Nation, in an apparently punitive response to the First Nation’s request for assistance to deal with its housing crisis.

    The letter outlines the chronic underfunding experienced by the First Nation, the imposition of third party management, and the withholding of money for any government services by the third party manager.

    Chief Spence requests the Queen’s assistance in encouraging Crown officials to act honourably by respecting the autonomy of the First Nation, and ensuring that the First Nation receive the support for infrastructure, government and administration that is available to all other Canadian communities, First Nations or otherwise.
    Comment:  For more on Attawapiskat, see Attawapiskat Triggers Welfare Stereotypes and Blaming the Victim at Attawapiskat.

    February 22, 2012

    Western vs. Native education

    Little Bear tells teachers to rethink education in native frame

    By Robin PoonIn his speech, Little Bear described the differences he sees between how natives and westerners view the world.

    “The western way is very linear,” he said in an interview with the News following his address. “Time is a good example. We go from A to B to C to D and so on.”

    Little Bear said that this linear way of thinking extends to the hierarchical school system.

    “If you’re in Grade 1, you’ve learned that and let’s move on.”

    By contrast, the native approach to learning focuses on repetition and renewal, as can be seen in annual rituals and customs, he said.

    “Things happen over and over again. We tell the same stories every year.”

    Little Bear disagreed when asked if reviewing the same concepts repeatedly would make it difficult to introduce new material.

    “Even the idea of new…is from this linear notion, this dichotomous notion. In Blackfoot and other types of language, there are no words for new and old.”

    Another difference is that western education emphasizes specialization while native learning prizes “being a generalist rather than a specialist,” said Little Bear.

    Little Bear added that native learning is based on “knowing a bit about everything.” It also explores the “relational networks” connecting humans with each other, animals, plants, and so on.

    He called on teachers to recognize those differences and account for them in the classroom.
    Comment:  For more on Native education, see Inuit Students Talk with Astronaut and Aztecs Favored Universal Education.

    Below:  "Leroy Little Bear speaks to participants at the Lower Nicola Indian Band networking conference on native education at the Lower Nicola Band School Friday." (Robin Poon/Merritt News)

    French surprised by Native diversity

    Native Americans in Paris: Oklahoma Painters Make Historic Trip

    By Dominique GodrecheThe eleven Native artists had come to the City of Light for an art show titled “Oklahoma Painters,” part of the sixth annual “Art en Capital” event at the massive Grand Palais. Skye and ten other Native artists were exhibiting watercolor and acrylic paintings in the Salon du Dessin et de la Peintre a l’eau (Salon of Drawing and Watercolor Painting) one of five legendary annual exhibitions drawn together at the Grand Palais. (The other four are the Societe des Artistes Independants, Societe Nationale des Beaux-arts, Comparaisons, and the Societe des Artistes Francais.) The exhibit was set up by curator Russell Tallchief, Osage, who is Director of Arts & Exhibitions at the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum in Oklahoma City, at the request of Ginette Adamson, a painter and former French Literature professor who divides her time between Strasbourg and Oklahoma.

    For a Parisian public largely unfamiliar with contemporary Native American art, the opportunity to view the works and meet the artists was unprecedented. French ideas about American Indians, like those of many people around the world, remain associated with the “romantic” vision derived from Hollywood movies and the photos of Edward Curtis: Feathers, leather and face paint. Many visitors were taken aback by the display of modern Native creativity. “I am surprised by the great diversity,” said one. “These works are all grouped under the label ‘native.’ I am looking for a common touch in the paintings, and I don’t see one. Coming to this show, I had a simplistic vision, a fantasy of a single unified culture. But I see a wide variety in this art; these painters are drawing on their culture’s past, yes, but from modernity and classicism as well.”
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Two New England Art Shows and Jetsonorama's Larger-Than-Life Art.

    Below:  "Artist Yatika Fields in Paris."

    Romney woman as Indian maiden

    Halloween With the Romney ClanBuzzfeed blogger McKay Coppins delves into the “mommy blog” of Mary Romney, daughter in law of Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. On the blog, titled “Me & My Boys,” Mary presents stories from family life—at least, that’s how McKay Coppins describes it. Access to the blog seems to be restricted at the moment—we had no luck accessing maryromney.com. There are also pictures, several of which Coppins managed to snag.

    Gawker has honed in on this one, which is of interest to us as well, with a post titled “What is Mary Romney Dressed Up as in this Picture?” and goes on to speculate:

    A brief survey of the Gawker office yielded the following guesses:

    Pocahontas

    • “Girl who lives in Williamsburg circa 2009″

    • Mountain Meadows massacre participant

    • Native American

    Something from a Stephenie Meyer novel

    • Brunette hippie (Mary is usually blonde)
    Comment:  We're slowly getting an idea of what Republicans in general and Romney in particular thinks about Indians.

    For more on the subject, see Republicans Want to "Keep America America" and Romney Associates with Bigot Fischer.

    February 21, 2012

    UND foes chant "Smallpox blankets!"

    College hockey: Duluth fans again warned over 'offensive' chants

    For the second time in three years, fans' chants at Bulldog hockey games draw complaints. This time, North Dakota players are targeted.

    By: Christa Lawler
    Student season-ticket holders for University of Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey games were warned last week to clean up their acts after complaints to the athletic department about racist chants during UMD’s series against the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux on Feb. 10-11.

    “There were some reports on some chants coming from the student section that certainly would have been considered inappropriate,” Athletic Director Bob Nielson said. “We decided it was an opportunity to reinforce our policy … to focus on cheering for our team and avoid comments that are considered inappropriate.”

    Nielson sent the students a letter dated Feb. 17 that warned “any profane, racial, sexist, or abusive comments or actions directed at officials, opposing players or teams will be grounds for removal from the arena” and could result in a forfeiture of season tickets.

    North Dakota fan Chad Czmowski said he was adjacent to the student section during Saturday night’s game when students began chanting “smallpox blankets” and what he described as other racist phrases and actions directed at the university’s mascot. Czmowski said other derogatory statements were specifically directed at the goalie’s mother.
    Three days later:

    Duluth hockey fans make public apology for chants, take vow of good cheer

    By Kevin PatesRepresentatives of the University of Minnesota Duluth student cheering section for men’s hockey games say they’re working to improve their image after stepping over the line of good taste two weeks ago in games at Amsoil Arena.

    Racist chants directed toward UMD’s opponent, the University of North Dakota, which has Fighting Sioux as a nickname, were officially admonished last week by UMD Athletic Director Bob Nielson in an open letter to the students.

    UMD junior Eric Fastner, 21, a political science-economics major from Woodbury, Minn., helped craft a letter of apology Wednesday and helped set up a web site where students could sign a pledge, agreeing to not use foul, sexist, racial, obscene or abusive language at UMD games.

    “We understand we crossed the line with our chants and that that wasn’t right,” said Fastner, who has had UMD student season hockey tickets for three years. “We thought an apology would be a good place to start to let the community know how we feel.
    Comment:  Thanks for proving the NCAA right, idiots. Mascots create a hostile and abusive environment and this is it.

    You're publicly advocating the death of a race. This is why Americans think of Indians as pests to be exterminated, not as people with meaningful lives and rights.

    For more on the Fighting Sioux, see "Sioux Suck" and Mascot Foes Want to Destroy Lakota?!

    Below:  Not the UND mascot, but roughly what UND's opponents have in mind.

    Santorum blind to America's sins

    This posting is worth quoting in full:

    The Real Problem with Rick Santorum's "Satan" RemarksIn 2008, Rick Santorum gave a talk at Ave Maria University about Satan’s efforts to undermine America. A lot of attention has focused on Santorum’s comments on mainline Protestant churches—but that’s not the really notable part of this speech. Here’s how Santorum opened his discussion of Satan in America (emphasis mine):If you were Satan, who would you attack, in this day and age? There is no one else to go after, other than the United States. And that’s been the case for now almost 200 years, once America’s pre-eminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers. He didn’t have much success in the early days—our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes away even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so, by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality…Let’s think back to what America was like almost 200 years ago. Slavery was legal, indeed enshrined in our Constitution by our Founding Fathers. The federal government was forcibly removing American Indians from their lands, leading to thousands of deaths. Women couldn’t vote and were limited in their rights to own property. And yet, Santorum sees Satan wielding more influence and having more success in America today than he did then.

    The issue is not that Santorum favors slavery or Indian removal—if prompted, I’m sure he would agree strongly that these were great evils. But how does somebody look at the history of American society and see a country that was more Godly under Andrew Jackson than it is today? The answer is by focusing only on the rights and treatment of white, Christian men. When some conservatives and libertarians make paeans to a lost period of American greatness, they are treating the perspectives of women and minorities as if they don’t exist, or don’t count.

    Two years ago, David Boaz wrote a great piece for Reason called “Up from Slavery.” You should read the whole thing, but the subhead is a good summary: “There’s no such thing as a golden age of lost liberty.” Of course, Boaz is a libertarian and Santorum is not, but the distinction shouldn’t matter here: both Boaz and Santorum subscribe to value systems that should treat slavery and Indian removal as two of the greatest injustices in American history.

    By contending that America has fallen from grace relative to 200 years ago, Santorum shows major blind spot for injustices committed against out-groups. That, not his take on mainline Protestants, is the really troubling component of his remarks at Ave Maria.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Republicans want to "Keep America America" and What Conservatives Consider "Objective History."

    Kaw/Creek jazz saxophonist

    Jim Pepper’s jazz infused with Aboriginal heritage

    By Miles MorrisseauJazz saxophonist Jim Pepper grew up immersed in the traditional music of his people. His father was a member of the Kaw nation and his mother was a Creek. The Oregon-born Pepper’s mixed Native American heritage, along with his having to adapt and succeed within mainstream America, seems to have inspired his musical work.

    The role of Native American music in the creation of jazz is difficult to define, although one expert considered the connection to be fundamental. Duke Ellington’s sister, Ruth, once said, “All the credit’s gone to the African for the wonderful rhythm in jazz, but I think a lot of it should go to the American Indian.”

    For Jim Pepper, the fusion of both was his life’s work and his legacy.

    Pepper is credited with forming the first jazz-rock fusion ensemble with his group Free Spirits. His willingness to open up his mind to all the musical influences around him was the foundation of his sound.
    And:Pepper died in 1992 from cancer. In the years since his death, he has received numerous posthumous honours. In 1999, he was awarded the Lifetime Musical Achievement Award by the First Americans in the Arts and in 2000 was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame. His saxophone is now part of the permanent exhibit on the Music of Native Americans at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Hard Rock Promotes Native Musicians and Inside Up Where We Belong.

    February 20, 2012

    Best and worst presidents for Indians

    This Presidents’ Day, We Highlight the Best Presidents for Indian Country

    By Rob CapricciosoRichard M. Nixon: He’s the president who’s not usually on anyone’s best list, but for Indian country, he was a champion. Changing course on many of the policies that had driven so many Indians into bleak poverty, Nixon, with the guidance of his Mohawk Indian affairs leader Louis R. Bruce, endorsed a self-determination plan for tribes, ushering in a new era for Natives.

    Barack Obama: It’s taken this “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land”–his adopted Crow name–just three years to show that he’s seriously committed to taking action on Indian issues, brokering passage of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorization, the Tribal Law and Order Act, and the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: His New Deal will never be forgotten. For Natives, it included the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which ended the sale of tribal lands and restored ownership of unallocated lands to Native American groups. The policy helped reverse the Dawes Act’s infamous privatization of communal holdings of tribes, while returning to tribal self-governance.

    Bill Clinton: He set a model for Obama, hiring Natives to work in his administration, and holding meetings with tribal leaders at the White House—both areas that the current president has taken the ball and run with. And he made some memorable commitments.

    Ulysses S. Grant: This blast from the presidential past reminds us that good intentions were sometimes present in American history toward Indians—but that good federal intentions were and are not always the best for tribal interests.

    Worth noting:

    George H.W. Bush: When he signed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act into law in 1990, it was a pretty progressive move, especially when compared to his son who would later leave most things Indian alone.

    John F. Kennedy: JFK and his brothers, Bobby and Teddy, are remembered fondly by many Natives due to their push for Indian education initiatives, as well as Bobby’s campaign visit to Pine Ridge Reservation in 1968 just before his assassination.

    Jimmy Carter: He signed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act into law in 1979, saying, “It is a fundamental right of every American, as guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution, to worship as he or she pleases.”
    Indian-Killer Andrew Jackson Deserves Top Spot on List of Worst U.S. Presidents

    By Gale Courey Toensing and ICTMN StaffAndrew Jackson: A man nicknamed “Indian killer” and “Sharp Knife” surely deserves the top spot on a list of worst U.S. Presidents.

    Andrew Jackson “was a forceful proponent of Indian removal,” according to PBS. Others have a less genteel way of describing the seventh president of the United States.

    Dwight Eisenhower: President Dwight Eisenhower, the World War II hero who served as President from 1953 until 1961, was an early advocate of consultation. On August 15, 1953, he signed into law H.R. 1063, which came to be known as Public Act 280, because he believed it would help forward “complete political equality to all Indians in our nation.”

    George W. Bush: While George W. Bush was one of three presidents since 1995 to issue proclamations designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month, his understanding of tribal sovereignty is limited.

    Abraham Lincoln: The majority of the United States knows Lincoln as the president who “cannot tell a lie,” and as the leader of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, if you were to ask Native Americans their perception of the great president, the image would be much darker.

    Ulysses S. Grant: Grant made it on our ‘Best’ Presidents list as well. Mostly because his intentions were in the right place and something that hadn’t been seen in that time. But those good intentions can’t save him from the fact of the matter.
    Andrew Jackson--The Worst President The Cherokee Ever Met

    By Christina BerryThe title of worst US president is hotly debated and is most often awarded to Andrew Johnson or Warren Harding. Many polls and studies rank Andrew Jackson in or near the top 10 best presidents. However, to many Cherokees Andrew Jackson is without a doubt the worst US president.Comment:  For more on the presidents, see George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.