August 31, 2013

Trickster skateboards and playing cards

Ravens on Decks: The Art of Trickster Skateboards

By Cristina OldsA couple of innovative young artists are melding the ancient tradition of formline drawing with the hip canvas of skateboard decks. "The demand for Native art skateboards was made very clear by the popularity of my early hand-painted decks," Rico Lanáat’ Worl (Tlingit/Athabascan) of Trickster Company said in a recent interview.

Worl painted decks for himself and his family first, but soon saw the need for an affordable line of manufactured boards sporting his digitized designs. He also paints custom artboards, and says his clientele are split fairly evenly between skaters who actually ride the boards and collectors who hang them on their walls.

"I started painting on decks just for fun, just for myself," Worl said. "It continues to be my canvas of choice while I study the old masters and the new masters of formline design, in the rich history of Tlingit and Athabascan art." Flowing two dimensional formline designs featuring northwestern coastal sea creatures and other symbols have adorned totem poles and house posts for thousands of years.

Formline Playing Cards from Ace Artist Rico Worl

By Sara ShahriariArtist Rico Lanáat’ Worl, Tlingit/Athabascan, designs skateboards and snowboards, but often branches out to other products. His newest design is playing cards that rethink the classic figures through formline, the graphic indigenous art style native to the Pacific Northwest. The only problem was that Worl needed an order of 2500 cards to get printing underway. In search of money to fund that order he turned to Kickstarter, the online fundraiser. "I made these cards to represent our living art of the Northwest coast: its adaptability, resilience, and quality," Worl, who is based in Juneau, Alaska, wrote on his Kickstarter page.

Adding a touch of Native artistry to an everyday item like a deck of cards is a natural step for Worl. "Growing up in a family that is close to the culture ensured the arts would be close by," he says.

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Tlingit Artists Designs Skateboards.

Team USA wins 6th NB3 Challenge

Team USA Claims Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge TitleTeam USA outshot a star lineup of international PGA Tour golfers to win the 2013 Notah Begay III Foundation, NB3 Challenge, hosted by the Oneida Indian Nation at Turning Stone Resort's Atunyote Golf Club in central New York on Wednesday.

Rickie Fowler and Begay's resolute focus, paired with the artful strategy of Gary Woodland and Bo Van Pelt, gave Team USA the competitive edge needed to secure victory in the combined, best-ball event. The sixth annual NB3 Challenge not only attracted thousands of enthusiastic golf fans, but raised funds and awareness to benefit the mission of the Notah Begay III Foundation, NB3F, which addresses the pressing health and wellness issues facing American Indian children.

“Year after year, this event serves as a unique platform to raise awareness for the disparities in resources and support facing Native American communities,” said the fundraiser's host, four-time PGA Tour winner and NBC/Golf Channel Analyst Notah Begay III.

"The combination of humbling support, financial contributions and strategic partnerships with world class golfers, Oneida Indian Nation and loyal fans is so powerful, and truly invaluable, in driving our mission to reverse the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic among Native children. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who helps us with this mission."
Notah Begay III Foundation to Launch New $1.5 Million Diabetes InitiativeThe Notah Begay III Foundation, NB3F, has announced it will launch a new initiative to expand its fight against childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes for American Indian children.

This announcement, which includes plans to lead extensive research and advocacy initiatives while assisting more American Indian communities in developing their own evidence-based health and wellness programs, was made possible through a generous $1.5 million grant to NB3F by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the nation's largest health foundations.

“This is a transformative time for the Notah Begay III Foundation. It's the next step in realizing our vision to empower Native American children nationwide to achieve their potential as tomorrow's leaders,” said four time PGA Tour winner, NBC/Golf Channel analyst and NB3F founder, Notah Begay III–Navajo/San Felipe Pueblo.

"Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes are epidemics in Native American communities. Until we invest the appropriate resources to turn the tide against these preventable diseases, they will continue to overwhelm our communities. There is still much more work to be done but, with the help of the great people at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the ongoing support of all our partners and donors, we've taken a very important step toward accomplishing our mission."
Comment:  For more on Begay, see Begay Joins NBC Golf Team and Notah Finally Wins NB3 Challenge.

Below:  "Notah Begay III Foundation, NB3F, Board of Directors celebrates another successful NB3 Challenge yesterday."

The Deerskins on APTN

From a Facebook posting on the Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN) page:The Deerskins are making their debut in one week! This comedic animated series is about a family forced off the rez and then move to a blue-collar town. What do their new non-Aboriginal neighbors think of them?

Comment:  You can't tell much from these 15-second snippets. But so far the animation, voices, and humor doesn't seem appealing.

For more on Native cartoons, see Black Cat in Space and Animated Stories for NA Heritage Month.

August 30, 2013

Peter King website bans "Redskins"

Peter King’s ‘The MMQB’ No Longer to Use ‘Redskins’ Nickname

By Chris LingebachPeter King’s website, the Monday Morning Quarterback, will no longer publish the name “Redskins,” Robert Klemko told Chris Moore of CBS Sports Radio on Thursday.

“I know that our site, we’ve talked about it, and we’re not going to use Redskins in our writing,” Klemko said on CBS Sports Radio’s MoJo with Chris Moore and Brian Jones.

“We’re going to say ‘Washington football team,’” Klemko added. “And it’s not something we’re going to publicize or write about. We’re just not going to do it.”, an offshoot of Sports Illustrated, is a preeminent source for NFL news, and collectively, its feature writers–made up of Robert Klemko, Greg Bedard, Jenny Vrentas and the site’s founder, Peter King–account for more than 1.2 million Twitter followers. So there’s strength in numbers on this one.
Sports Illustrated’s ‘MMQB’ site apparently won’t use the Redskins name any more, either

By Jay BusbeeSlate made news a few weeks ago by noting that it wouldn't refer to the Redskins by name. But that's a different media outlet, one with little reason to cover an NFL team. MMQB isn't in the belly of the beast, it IS the beast, part of the media machine that keeps the NFL atop the sports news cycle every minute of every hour of every day. If a site with the imprimatur of King, one of the most established voices in the NFL, can make this change, it sends a definitive signal to the team, the league and to fans: it's time to take a hard look at this name.

Regardless of what team owner Daniel Snyder and a vocal group of pro-Redskins-name fans hope, wish or believe, the name issue's coming to a head. Somebody sometime soon is going to ask Robert Griffin III, point-blank, if he supports the use of the name "Redskins." And the way he answers will determine the shape of this story for the immediate future. If he thinks the name should go, it'll eventually go. And if he thinks it should stay? Then Snyder has all the court-of-public-opinion weight he needs to fend off any critics.

This story's not going anywhere, folks, like it or not.
Approaching a tipping point

A Facebook friend and I briefly discussed this development:Don't know if you had seen this, but a pretty significant development in the 'Redskins' controversy. Peter King is about as influential as they come. If SI itself picks this up, I think you'll be able to say the tide has officially turned.Yeah, I saw it a couple of hours ago. But I didn't realized exactly who King was, so I didn't grasp its significance.

I wonder how Dan Snyder thinks this will end. After decades of protests, is he going to repeat the "honor" and "tradition" argument one more time? After a thousand times of dismissing this argument, will every activist, pundit, and publication suddenly reverse themselves?

"Oh, honor and tradition? Now we get it. We're sorry we criticized you so many times over the last few decades. Now that we understand your position, we'll accept the name without any further fuss."

I don't see any scenario in which all the "Redskins" opponents reverse themselves. There's no reason for them to do so--no argument that could change their minds.

This protest can go only in one direction. Namely, increasing pressure on Snyder until he caves in.

What's the over/under on how long he'll hold out? A year? If a publication such as the New York Times or Sports Illustrated changes its position, I'd say he's toast.In the world of sports journalism Peter King could probably be compared to Woodward and Bernstein. A smart move would probably be a barrage of supportive e-mails to Sports Illustrated on this. If they adopt this practice it would be the first domino and many other sports print media outlets are sure to follow. At that point the league would have almost no choice but to address it. This is one instance where honey almost certain to work better than vinegar."Chinks" = "Redskins"

A columnist provides some context:

The ugly truth about our love of ‘Redskins’

By Jonathan ZimmermanIn the 1930s, the good people of Pekin, Ill., decided they needed a mascot for their high school sports teams. Pekin was named for Peking (now Beijing), China, so they gave their teams a related nickname: the Chinks . At the start of every basketball game, a Chink and Chinklette—that is, a boy and girl dressed in Chinese attire—would walk into the center of the court and bow.

As the start of the NFL season draws near, I’ve got a question for you: How is the Chink any worse than the Redskin, the feather-clad mascot of Washington’s pro football franchise?

It isn’t. The only difference is that the Redskin purports to be American Indian, not Chinese. And unlike any other ethnic group, Native Americans remain fair game for bigotry on game day.
And:Most Indian mascots date to the early 20th century, when white Americans worried that modern industrial life was eroding traditional masculine virtues: strength, stoicism and aggression. So college and professional sports teams named themselves after Native Americans, who seemed to embody precisely the qualities that white men had forsaken.

At the same time, though, the mascots also confirmed whites’ sense of superiority. With their headdresses and beads, their tomahawks and war whoops, the Indian mascots seemed like throwbacks.

Consider Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois mascot who made his first appearance at a 1926 football game with the University of Pennsylvania. A white guy in feathers, Chief Illiniwek performed an “Indian” dance and then shared a peace pipe with a drum major playing William Penn, the opponents’ mascot.

But Illiniwek was a warrior at heart. The second man to play him traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where he bought new regalia for the chief from “an old Indian woman” who had allegedly helped mutilate George Custer after the battle of Little Bighorn.

“It was . . . appropriate that Chief Illiniwek, the embodiment of the Red Men who had vanished before the overwhelming waves of White Men, should return to the land of their fathers,” a University of Illinois booster wrote in 1952. “It was proper and pleasing that the Chief should strut his stuff and perform his ancient ritualistic dances . . . before the packed Stadium of contemporary Palefaces.”

There was only one problem: Chief Illiniwek never existed. Nor did Florida State’s Chief Fullabull or Marquette’s Willie Wampum. They were figments of the white imagination, bearing no connection or resemblance to actual Indians.
The same applies to the Redskins' name and logo. These things are about confirming whites’ sense of superiority by making Indians seem like throwbacks. They are not about honoring real Indians.

For more on the Washington Redskins, see Slate and Mother Jones Ban Redskins and Samoan Delegate Denounces "Redskins."

Below:  Peter King.

Saginaw Chippewa tribe named grand marshals

Central Michigan University names entire Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe grand marshals for 2013 homecoming parade

By Lindsay KnakeAn entire Indian nation will serve as Central Michigan University's 2013 homecoming grand marshals.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which calls Isabella County home along with CMU, will lead the Oct. 19 homecoming parade and bless both the CMU and Northern Illinois University football teams with drum songs prior to the 3 p.m. game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

“It is an honor and privilege,” said Dennis V. Kequom Sr., Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe chief. “For the tribe, it’s always a very strong sense of appreciation to be recognized for the work we do and the involvement we have in the community. It’s a very proud distinction.”

George E. Ross, CMU president, said the university's partnership with the tribe has provided educational and cultural opportunities, such as tribal professionals lecturing in classes and sending tribal students to study at CMU.

CMU's athletic mascot is the Chippewas.
Comment:  That's how you honor Indians: by actually honoring Indians. You know, the real live ones, not the white men in phony costumes or the big-nosed caricatures on your uniforms. Few pro or college teams with Native nicknames do this.

For more on the subject, see Chippewas Approve CMU's Nickname.

Standing on Sacred Ground

Documentary Film, Standing on Sacred Ground, Premieres in ReddingStanding on Sacred Ground shares eight stories of indigenous communities around the world protecting their traditional sacred lands from government megaprojects, consumer culture, resource extraction, competing religions, tourists, and climate change. It was produced by the Sacred Land Film Project,, a project of Earth Island Institute.

Pilgrims and Tourists in the Pastures of Heaven focuses on the indigenous shamans of the Altai Republic, Russia, and Northern California’s Winnemem Wintu Tribe who find common ground in defending ancestral burial grounds and protecting their sacred places. In both countries, communities are confronting changes from modernism, recreational land use, and resource development.

Winnemem Wintu tribal members remember the exhumation of their relatives in the 1940s, to make way for the rising waters of Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California. They face an uncertain future and a second flood, if the US government’s plan to increase the height of Shasta Dam is approved by Congress. Dozens of sacred sites and burials would be affected by the increased water storage. Teenage girls grind herbs on a medicine rock during their coming-of-age ceremony on the banks of the McCloud River, as elders protest plans to enlarge one of the West’s biggest dams and forever submerge this touchstone of a tribe.
Comment:  For more on the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, see Winnemem Wintu Oppose "Frankenfish" and Boaters Interrupt Winnemem Wintu Ceremony.

August 29, 2013

Christian adoption groups stereotype Indians

Baby Veronica and Indian Sovereignty 50 Years After the March on Washington

By Jacqueline KeelerThe argument posited by the Capobiancos–the white, South Carolina couple who wish to adopt Veronica–and their support team of PR professionals and lawyers is that ICWA sacrifices the needs of the Indian child to promote those of the tribe, often exposing the child to great harm by leaving them in the care of dangerous and violent Indian relatives. It is in this way, by pitting the helpless child against a vainglorious and ineptly-run tribal system, they have been extremely successful in persuading even moderate commentators like Anderson Cooper and Nina Totenberg of NPR to portray the Capobiancos as the wronged party, Dusten Brown as a deadbeat dad and ICWA as failed policy.

To be clear, the Supreme Court did NOT overturn ICWA, but in the court of public opinion ICWA and Indian Tribes lost a battle and that is something that we, as Indian people should take very seriously.

I have taken a closer look at two organizations that have been funneling substantial funds to the Capobiancos, These two organizations are the Christian Alliance for Indian Children and Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA). I was surprised to learn that each organization had been led by Native Americans at certain points in their history. Roland Morris, a full-blood Chippewa of the Leech Lake Chippewa Tribe in Minnesota, an Upholsterer by trade with Christian Alliance and Scott Kayla Morrison, a Choctaw attorney who once led CERA (both are now deceased: Morris from cancer and Morrison, tragically, from suicide.) They both advocated greater oversight of Indian tribal governments by the Federal government and opposed tribal transfer of lands into trust, federal dollars spent in Indian country and ICWA. They were driven by the troubles they had seen in their communities and in their families (in Roland's case) and had drawn the conclusion that through alliances with both Christian and Republican party members that they could help bring about the end of the suffering on reservations.

The Christian adoption groups' websites and articles are filled with stories about the poverty and abuse of Indian children in Indian country. The Christian Alliance posted this report on its site about the Spirit Lake Nation:

Thomas Sullivan, Regional Administrator of the Administration of Children and Families in Denver, stated in his 12th Mandated Report to the ACF office in Washington DC, February 2013: 'In these 8 months I have filed detailed reports concerning all of the following: The almost 40 children returned to on-reservation placements in abusive homes, many headed by known sex offenders… These children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped on a daily basis. Since I filed my first report noting this situation, nothing has been done by any of you to remove these children to safe placements.'"

But the Brown family (I include the grandparents in this as they were granted guardianship by the Cherokee Nation) seems to have none of these problems. It seems odd that with so many children living in need in Indian country, that they chose this case to challenge ICWA and tribal sovereignty. And it begs the question, are all American Indian families being painted with the same brush?
Comment:  Sure sounds as though American Indian families are being painted with the same brush. How are the problems on the Spirit Lake reservation relevant to the Cherokee Nation, or to any tribe other than Spirit Lake?

Does poverty in the white portions of Fargo, North Dakota, affect adoptions in Oklahoma City? Because those two cities are about as connected as the Spirit Lake and Cherokee Nations.

This is obviously pure stereotyping. The message is that all Indians are poor, criminal, and unfit to be parents--i.e., savage.

For more on Baby Veronica, see Baby Veronica Exemplifies Tribal Resurgence and Capobiancos Send The Locator.

Osage general was highest ranking Native

AF Heritage: Gen. Tinker still honored by native Indian tribe

By Randy RoughtonDuring the early days of World War II, an Army Air Corps major general, who was an Oklahoma native, and member of the Osage Indian tribe, was named to lead the air effort in Hawaii following Pearl Harbor.

Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker managed to stay close to his tribe during his 30 plus years as a military aviator, and today, more than 70 years after his death, is still honored by that tribe.

Even after he became the Army’s highest ranking Native American, Tinker never lost his pride in his heritage, as he sometimes called home to his father George Edward Tinker, just to hear his native language.

Likewise, Tinker’s family and tribe never forgot him after his death in a mission over the Pacific in 1942–from his descendants to the Osage Nation, who still sing and dance to a song written as a tribute to Tinker, one of their most honored heroes.
Clarence L. TinkerOne-eighth Osage Indian, Clarence Tinker was born on November 21, 1887 near Pawhuska, Oklahoma in the Osage Nation. His maternal grandmother was half-Osage, with both her parents being children of the marriage of Osages with Arcadian Frenchmen from Louisiana. Tinker, the eldest son of George E. Tinker and Sarah A. Schwagerte, received his elementary education in Catholic institutions at Hominy and Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and the Elgin, Kansas public school. While growing up, he worked in the print shop of the Wah-Sha-She News, Pawhuska's first newspaper, which his father founded and published. Beginning in 1900 Tinker attended the Haskell Institute, the famous Indian school in Lawrence, Kansas, but withdrew before graduating.Eventually:After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Tinker was named Commander of the Seventh Air Force in Hawaii to reorganize the air defenses of the islands. In January 1942, he was promoted to Major General, the First American Indian in U.S. Army history to attain that rank. In June 1942, the Japanese began their assault of Midway Island. In the midst of the Battle of Midway, on June 7, General Tinker decided personally to lead a force of early model B-24s against the retreating Japanese naval forces. Near Midway Island his plane was seen to go out of control and plunge into the sea. General Tinker and eight other crewmen perished. His body was never recovered.Comment:  For more on Native military honors, see Warrior Women on CBS and First Female Native General.

Museum closes Sand Creek exhibit

Denver museum closes Indian massacre display

By Associated PressColorado's new state history museum has closed an exhibit on the Sand Creek Indian massacre, one of the state's darkest chapters, after descendants of the slaughter's survivors demanded changes in how it is portrayed and complained that they weren't consulted about the display.

A U.S. Army force led by Col. John M. Chivington (SHIV'-ing-tin) swept into a sleeping Indian village along Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado on Nov. 29, 1864. Troops killed more than 160 Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women, children and the elderly. Officials at the time insisted the attack was to avenge Native American raids on white settlers and kidnappings of women and children.

Dale Hamilton, a descendant of Chief Sand Hill, one of the survivors, said curators of the History Colorado Center museum in Denver didn't consult tribes about the display, which opened in April 2012. The exhibit was closed in June.

Tribal historians found some dates were wrong, excerpts from letters left out crucial details, and the exhibit attempted to explain Native American-white settler conflicts as a "collision of cultures," claimed Hamilton, of Concho, Okla., where he lives with Cheyenne and Southern Arapahoe tribes.

"This wasn't a clash of cultures. This was a straight-up massacre. All we are looking for is respect for our relatives who were murdered," said Hamilton.
Right call (but late) on Sand Creek Massacre exhibit

By The Denver Post Editorial BoardHistory Colorado has made the right decision by closing, temporarily at least, its exhibit on the Sand Creek Massacre while officials consult with the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. We're just sorry it had to come to this.

The clear lesson from this episode is that museum officials should have reached out earlier to the tribes and given them fuller opportunities to voice their concerns.

And their concerns, outlined in reporting by Westword's Patricia Calhoun over the last several months, were many.

First, the very name of the exhibit, "Collision: The Sand Creek Massacre," was offensive to many tribal members, who believed the event was being portrayed as an inevitable clash of cultures rather than an indefensible massacre.
Comment:  For more on the Sand Creek Massacre, see Sand Creek Descendants Sue for Reparations and Sand Creek Called "Collision of Cultures."

August 28, 2013

Quixotic quest for The American

In Oklahoma, Sculptor Has High Hopes for 'The American'

Native Warrior Would Tower Over Statue of Liberty; Tall Order for a Small Town

By Miguel Bustillo
Many Oklahomans remain dubious. Mr. Gray's statue proposal is well traveled at this point: He presented it to Oklahoma City early last decade, then Tulsa, but says he never found the right mixture of public support and available land before settling on Sand Springs.

"Of course it was tremendously expensive—they never did get anywhere in Oklahoma City," says J. Blake Wade, the head of a state authority building an unrelated but also high-price project, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. The ambitious museum, expected to cost $170 million, is under way with state and private financing but remains unfinished as backers seek $40 million from the state to help complete it.

Naysayers second-guess an economic consultant's projection that 1.5 million people per year would visit "The American"—or nearly 40% of Oklahoma's entire population.

Others are simply puzzled. "What is the point of it, are you trying to attract people to a casino?" says Geoffrey Standing Bear, a legislator in the Osage Nation, which ultimately decided not to contribute $2.5 million to the project. "I thought it was a waste of our money."
Comment:  The way "The American" is looking down, this statue seems even less appealing than I remember. A half-naked Indian looking at the ground is offputting as well as stereotypical. Except for the bird, this could qualify as the most unremarkable, least interesting statue of an Indian ever.

For more on the subject, see One Small Step for American Statue and Is The American Still Feasible?

Stereotypical "Indian" in rodeo skit

Unbelievable Public Act of Racism in Rapid City, SD in 2013

By Chase Iron EyesThis can’t be real. Well--we are talking about a rodeo, in the Northern Plains where social evolution is seemingly 30 years behind. On Thursday, August 22nd, 2013, at the Central State’s Fair Rodeo, White people dressed as rodeo clowns, cops and an Indian performed a skit in front of a largely White audience in an attempt at slapstick spoof comedy. I am not unaccustomed to the jackassery of a rodeo clown performance, but this one showcased the level of intelligence (or lack thereof) and ignorance of those who authorized the performance.

To give you an idea of the skit: a rodeo clown enters the arena in an old car making off-hand funny remarks about the rodeo event, soon a cop appears and it is made known that they are in “hot pursuit” of a “lost prisoner” and “the prisoner is now disguised as an Indian” and that they haven’t seen anyone “dressed as an Indian” [around the 2 minute mark]; the clown and the cop mimicking searching gestures, accidentally ignite the car in an explosion at which point a caricatured Indian explodes out of the trunk of the car and the hunt for the Indian is on [at 6:20 of video]. Then the announcer exclaims “LOOK! IT’S THE INDIAN; GET HIM!; GET HIM!” and it doesn’t end there, as everyone breaks into a pop performance of Village People’s YMCA.
Comment:  The so-called Indian is wearing a brown costume, presumably imitating buckskins, and what looks like a toy chief's headdress.

The announcer makes jokes about Brokeback Mountain and Obama, so the performers are aware of racial and sexual orientation issues. In that context, the "Indian" is far from an innocent or thoughtless choice. With a faux Indian as a prisoner, a savage, and a gay performer, they're clearly not taking Indians seriously. Thought the humor is mild if not nonexistent, it's still at the expense of Indians.

Rodeo clowns have been in the news recently because one performed in an Obama mask. Unless that clown ate fried chicken or a watermelon, I wouldn't call his performance racist. I support the right of all Americans to mock their president.

But I would call this skit racist. We're supposed to laugh when a non-Indian dresses as a caricature of an Indian from two centuries ago. How is that anything but a racist stereotype?

For more on the Village People, see Debating Despicable Me 2 and What's Wrong with the Village People? For more on Native stereotypes, see Native Religion = "Spiritual Darkness"? and Aide Calls Indians "Arrow Throwers."

Stereotypes unhealthy for Natives

Aboriginal Stereotypes Can Be Deadly

By Craig and Marc KielburgerWhen Jane walked into emergency to make sure her abdominal pains didn't signal problems with her pregnancy, she rubbed at a speck of dirt irritating her eye. The nurses took a look at Jane and leapt to their own conclusion: a pregnant aboriginal teen with reddened eyes? She must be on drugs or abused. They interrogated her and, ignoring her explanations, called for a social worker. It was hours before anyone even looked into her abdominal pains.

When Anne visited a Vancouver Island hospital for a routine pregnancy check-up, a nurse read in her medical record that she was Métis, and saw a notation from years before about a child welfare issue, long since resolved. The nurse immediately called in child welfare. Anne's routine hospital visit turned into a Kafkaesque drama.

Jane and Anne are made-up names, but their stories are real. They are among those gathered by Sara Wolfe, a registered midwife in Toronto, and Dr. Don Wilson, who practices obstetrics and gynaecology in Comox, B.C. and works with First Nations people from across Vancouver Island. Both Wolfe and Wilson are members of Canada's First Nations, and they have helped the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) update guidelines for providing culturally sensitive health care services for aboriginal women.

Wolfe and Wilson have seen many such examples of the unfair stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings that aboriginal women all too often face in Canada's health care system. Most Canadians walking into a hospital or doctor's office would never face what Jane and Anne did.
Comment:  These are typical cases of how Native stereotypes can cause harm and affect lives. We protest them for this reason, not because it feels good to be "politically correct."

For more on the harm of Native stereotyping, see Native Is Prejudiced Against Natives and Mithlo's TEDx Talk on Stereotypes.

See Taos before you die

Taos Pueblo: See it before you die, Fodor’s says

By Jessica DyerBeen to Taos Pueblo yet?

Maybe it’s time.

Taos Pueblo has made Fodor’s list of the top 20 U.S. places “to see before you die.”

Fodor’s, a popular travel guide publisher, included the Northern New Mexico community alongside the likes of Times Square in New York City, Fenway Park in Boston and the Grand Canyon.
The complete list of places:

20 US Places to See Before You Die

Comment:  I visited Taos reservation once, but it was closed that day for religious reasons. Alas.

For more on the Native tourism, see Navajos Protest Wallenda Walk and Alaska Native Voices.

August 27, 2013

Native women sold for sex

The issue of sex trafficking has been in the Native news recently. Here's a good summary of what's going on:

The Horrifying Reality Of What's Happening to Canada's First Nation Tribes

By Nicole PolizziVery rarely do we in North America see glaring evidence of the multi-billion dollar industry that is the international sex trade. It appears in splashes on our news screens in the form of zumba-studio sex rings and documentaries from abroad. But the truth is that it is carried on in our own backyards daily to people whose lives are so often historically invisible.

According to American researcher Christine Stark, for over a decade North American women—Native Canadians of the First Nation clans—have been being bought and sold on board U.S. ships for as little as a bottle of scotch. The First Nations women come from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and have been sold on ships in the harbor at Duluth, Minnesota. The spot is infamous among First Nation women for sex trafficking. Young girls, women and even babies are sold in exchange for alcohol, money, drugs or even a place to sleep.

Native American and indigenous Canadian women are particularly vulnerable to the sex trade because of the ongoing poverty in many Native American communities. According to U.S. census reports, and community surveys, American Indian and Alaskan poverty rates are the highest of all other race groups. At 27%, these indigenous groups have a poverty rate over 10% points higher than the national average (around 14%). This staggering poverty level leads to multifarious community and personal issues including substance abuse and homelessness, causing many women to engage in survival sex in exchange for a place to live or money to feed addiction.

While American researchers and Canadian NGOs like the Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) are working to find out more about this trade and protect native women and children, this issue should be brought up in the context of the incredible poverty rate among Native Americans. In cities all over the country, Native populations experience poverty rates ranging from 16% (the lowest in Anchorage, Ak.) to over 50% (the highest in Rapid City, S.D.).

These are not just statistics. These numbers make Native American women, teens and children an especially vulnerable population, an issue long neglected, that deserves national attention.
Comment:  As someone pointed out, "First Nations clans" is wrong or misleading and "First Nations Tribes" is redundant. The writer's heart is in the right place, but she doesn't seem to know exactly whom she's talking about.

For more on violence against Native women, see Moccasin Tops for Missing Women and Young Native Fashion's "Squaw" Line.

Upside-down flag at Canadian powwow

Custer’s Army Don’t Need No More Scouts

By Matt RemleRecently, ripples were recently sent throughout Turtle Island, when Colby Tootoosis hung the Canadian flag upside down and carried it during the Manito Ahbee powwow’s Grand Entry. Reaction to the upside down flag were varied with many expressing support for his actions to the “to be expected” rants about disrespect of the flag and disrespect of veterans.

Personally, I loved it. It reminded me of the images from our AIM warriors who would fly the upside down United States flag during their rallies and demonstrations. And honestly, it made me wonder why it hadn’t been done before, but this article though is less about the flying of the Canadian flag upside down and Colby’s action, he himself sums it up best at, but rather I would like to explore this skewed notion that we as Native peoples somehow owe any semblance of support for either the colonial governments of the United States or Canada.

It is rather well known that as Native peoples we serve in the Armed Forces at higher rates, per capita, then any other racial or ethnic group on both sides of the border. The standard explanation for this is that we need some sort of outlet to release our inner warrior, which in some cases might be true, but I seriously question this as the sole reason why we enlist at such high rates.

I suspect that poverty may play an equally, if not more so, important factor as one of the reasons why so many Native brothers and sisters enlist. After all, poor people of all races make up the vast majority of enlistees in the Armed services. According to the Department of Defense’s own data, in 2004 nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of recruits to the military were from counties that have average incomes lower than the national median. And we know that poverty in Indian country on both sides of the border runs deep.

But questions about motivations for enlistment aside, the deeper question lies around what does it truly mean to defend our “homelands,” as is so often stated for reasons to go into military service, when the honest brutal reality is that assaults on our traditional lands, natural resources, sacred sites, water ways, and health of our communities (think the locating of hazardous and toxic waste facilities) comes not from some foreign enemy, but from the Canadian and United States governments and their corporate rulers.
Comment:  For more on Native protests, see 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk and Moccasins on the Ground vs. Keystone XL.

Below:  "Cobly Tootoosis and upside down Canadian flag at the Manito Ahbee powwow."

Theresa Spence reelected

Theresa Spence re-elected chief in Attawapiskat

Spence's 2012 hunger strike was criticized by other candidatesTheresa Spence, who went on a six-week hunger strike last winter in an effort to persuade the federal government to take aboriginal concerns seriously, has been re-elected to a second three-year term as chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.

The final vote count is expected to be made public on Wednesday.

Her liquid diet last winter made her a household name, but it also put her at the centre of criticism in the election.
And:Attawapiskat’s financial troubles were also highlighted after Spence's public campaign to raise awareness about her reserve’s housing and health crisis.

The reserve has received $90 million in federal funding since 2005 and the federal government hired Deloitte to conduct an audit in 2011 to find out how that money was spent.

The audit revealed a "serious problem” in the reserve’s financial records, as only about 20 per cent of the transactions were properly documented.

Spence’s supporters said, however, that the reserve’s accounting practices have improved since she became chief, as the transactions that have no issues went from 15 per cent to 33 per cent after she took over.
Comment:  I guess Attawapiskat voters weren't too unhappy with her hunger strike or financial troubles.

For more on Attawapiskat, see Natives Subsidize Canada, Not Vice Versa and Online Hatred Against First Nations.

Western Sky ends payday business

Online Lender Western Sky Shutters Payday Business

By Sean SpositoAmid pressure from regulators, Western Sky Financial plans to close for business early next month.

The prominent online lender was one of several web-based payday loan shops that allegedly flouted New York's usury laws. Western Sky, which is owned by a Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, claims it operates on the tribe's South Dakota reservation.

Western Sky—along with CashCall Inc. and WS Funding—made roughly 18,000 loans to New Yorkers, doling out approximately $38 million in cash, according to the state's attorney general's office.

In a statement given at the time, Western Sky said, "we have complied with applicable laws in our business practices, and we stand behind those practices."

The lender went on to say that its practices "are governed by the laws of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe" and "beyond the purview of state regulation."

However, the Native American Financial Services Association, a group that advocates for tribes that offer lending services, says that Western Sky does not operate under tribal law, nor does it abide by Native American regulatory bodies.
Comment:  There's only one Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, so "a Cheyenne River Sioux tribe" is slightly incorrect.

For more on payday loans, see Western Sky Financial Investigated and Payday Lenders to Stop Deceptive Practices.

August 26, 2013

Superman the Inca emperor

The 15 Worst Batman/Superman Stories Ever Told

By Rob Bricken5) "Superman’s Secret Kingdom!"

When Superman goes missing while searching for a crook in South America, Batman and Robin look for their friend. They are a touch surprised to discover him ruling a primitive Incan tribe after an exploding volcano gave him amnesia (#supermanproblems). The Incans, who had a legend about just this sort of thing, immediately crowned him their king. This in no way explains how the crook has become Superman’s advisor, though, and of course he immediately advises Superman to have the Dynamic Duo killed. Batman and Robin escape and paint a picture of Clark Kent turning into Superman, which is all it takes to restore his memory. (WF #111)
Comment:  It goes without saying that this premise is racist. The existence of a hidden tribe, and its acceptance of a white ruler, serve to "otherize" the Indians.

In reality, Superman and Batman could find descendants of the Inca in the government, the police force, and the rest of Peruvian society. But to comic-book readers, as to most Americans, Indians exist only in remote and primitive tribes untouched by civilization.

For more on primitive South American Indians, see Natural History Museum in Bob's Burgers and Cannibal Indians in Green Inferno.

Green Arrowhead in Indian Braves #1

Green ArrowHead "Trader in Death"He's barechested, shoots green arrows, and had a comic book series...

..but he's not the guy currently on the CW!

This is Green ArrowHead, and this is his first, never-reprinted adventure from Ace's Indian Braves #1 (1951)!
Comment:  You can read the whole story at the link.

This is a typical work of fiction about Indians from 1951. Half-naked savages...Plains stereotypes...misidentified tribes (the Choctaw)...phony names ("Gallant Hawk" and "Green Arrowhead")...unspecified Western location...etc.

Also typical is the changing nature of the Indians, now noble savages...the evil white men who caused the conflict...and the failure to mention the government's genocidal policies. Nothing sets this apart from a thousand other comic books, movies, and TV shows about Indians.

P.S. Since DC Comics created Green Arrow in 1941, how much of this story is meant to exploit Green Arrow fans? A lot, I'd say.

For more on Native-themed comic books, see Superman the Inca Emperor and Hopi in Human Fly #18-19.

Indian village at Super Bowl XLIX

Football and Hogans: Super Bowl XLIX Will Feature Large Indian Village

By Lee AllenSeeking to take advantage of a captive audience, all 22 tribes in the state of Arizona are expected to be represented at an American Indian Village as part of the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix. Even though it’s two years out, planning by the Arizona American Indian Tourist Association is already underway.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to get the Indian country message out to the thousands who will attend the football championship,” says Donovan Hanley (Navajo), current Tourist Association president. The Village, one of the association’s largest collaborative efforts, showcases the sights, sounds and flavors of Native dance, music, arts and crafts, and food—a slice of tribal life.

“We set up an Indian Village during the 1996 and 2008 NFL Super Bowls in Phoenix and drew 20,000 attendees,” said past AAITA President Rory Majenty (Yavapai). Another 8,000 visitors enjoyed the experience during the 2012 Centennial.

Although plans are not yet in place for 2015, much of the color and pageantry of last year’s Centennial should re-appear at the Super Bowl—displays like a replica of a Navajo hogan, a traditional Hopi house, and a Salt River Pima-Maricopa round house; demonstrations of traditional piki bread-making; performances by gourd singers accompanied by aboriginal instruments; dancers performing the Pal’hik Mana (Water Maiden) and the Eagle Dance; artists who will show how pottery is made from the collection of the clay to the finished product—everything is on the table in current discussions.
Comment:  For more on Indians marketing themselves via football, see Ak-Chin to Sponsor Arizona Rattlers and Oneida Nation Sponsors Packers Gate.

August 25, 2013

Jindal's stupidity about race

Conservatives are still saying stupid things about race in America. Here are two idiotic claims from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

Jindal: Racism persists because minorities cling to their heritage

By David EdwardsJindal accused minorities of placing “far too much emphasis on our ‘separateness,’ our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few.”

“Here’s an idea: How about just ‘Americans?’ That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our ‘separateness’ is a step backward. Bring back the melting pot,” the governor opined.
Yeah, that's an "idea" if you missed the last several centuries of American history.

Here's another idea. How about if we forcibly convert the world's "savages" into civilized Christian people? If I'm a conservative, no doubt this strikes me as an original and noteworthy idea.

Racism happened for several centuries during and because of forced assimilation. But now multiculturalism is the problem and forced assimilation is the solution? Okay, if you say so, Bobby!

Sounds like Jindal is still a cheerleader for the Party of Stupid. Is this his plan to recruit minority voters: telling them they're responsible for the racism against them?

Wow, that's brilliant. Such deep thinkers in today's GOP!

Assimilation means "be white"

How stupid is it that Southerners, who seceded and still want to secede from the Union, are the biggest proponents of the "one America" myth? They want everyone to be the same, but if other Americans don't agree, they'll leave the country in a snit? Yeah, they're committed to America--as long as it remains white.

Imagine if our Anglo ancestors had said, "Here's an idea: How about just 'Brits'? Let's stop thinking of ourselves as separate groups: British Americans, British Africans, British Indians, etc. Let's start thinking of ourselves as one big British Empire."

That would be ridiculous. Members of the British Empire rejected forced assimilation because they had profound political, economic, and cultural differences with the "mother country." Remaining in the Empire meant remaining second-class citizens under the heel of their British masters.

Nobody would say the "one size fits all" solution is ideal anymore. Nobody, that is, except conservatives like Bobby Jindal. These people are trying to perpetuate a racist system with whites at the top and minorities at the bottom.

Bobby Jindal Claims that GOP Obama Racism is Ok because Democrats Did It To Bush

By Jason EasleyDavid Gregory asked Gov. Jindal about Colin Powell’s opinion that there is a dark vein of intolerance within the Republican Party. Jindal answered by comparing the Republicans’ Obama racism to Democratic treatment of George W. Bush.

Jindal said, “Well, I have a lot of respect for General Powell. I think our party at its best, its core principles looks at people and treats them as individuals, not as members of special interest groups. Talk about specific examples, impeachment, for example. Look, I reject that kind of talk. The reality is I didn’t like it when the left spent eight years trying to delegitimize President Bush. I don’t think we should be doing that to President Obama. The reality is one of the great things about this country is we have a peaceful transfer of policy. I disagree this president’s policies, but instead of talking act impeachment, let’s have a legitimate debate, try to repeal his policies, repeal Obamacare, fight for school choice, fight against war and debt spending.”
Easley continues:Barack Obama has been elected to the presidency twice by large majorities, but some Republicans spend every waking moment trying to delegitimize the Obama presidency. George W. Bush was twice elected to the presidency by the margin of what many would call two questionable outcomes in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, and won the 2004 popular vote by 3 million in 2004. Obama won the popular vote by more than 5.5 million votes in 2008, and 5.5 million votes in 2012.

Republicans have no grounds on which to question President Obama’s legitimacy, but they continue to do so.

Bobby Jindal can’t admit that the Republican delegitimization of Obama is based on race, because they would be forced to deal with reality that he is dreaming of running for the presidential nomination of a racist party that will never nominate him.

This is why Jindal had to hide behind the flawed and worn Republican talking point that Democrats did the same thing to Bush that they are doing to Obama.
Jindal might have a point, except the attacks on Bush weren't based on his race, his country of birth, or whether he was a "real American" who "shares our values." The delegitimization of Obama is qualitatively different and worse than anything liberals did to Bush. The question is why.

Why did conservatives suddenly start protesting federal deficit spending, which soared under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush? Or the insurance mandate, a conservative idea successfully implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts? Not to mention all the talk about Obama's being a Kenyan Muslim socialist. All the insults directed at Michelle Obama and their children. Etc., etc., etc.

A: Conservatism racism. Hatred of a black man occupying the office supposedly reserved for white men. No other explanation fits the facts.

For more on conservative racism, see Anti-Government Extremism = White Supremacy and Conservatives Deny "Black Jesus," Genocide.

Natives want to name "Scout" statue

Aboriginal artists in Ottawa want traditional name for 'Scout' statue

Controversial bronze of kneeling navigator was moved from Champlain statue after complaintsA group of aboriginal artists in Ottawa wants to rename the controversial statue of a First Nations scout that sits tucked away in a corner of Major's Hill Park.

The bronze sculpture, known as Anishinabe scout, was created in 1918 by Hamilton MacCarthy, to go next to the statue of Samuel de Champlain at Nepean Point.

The statue was intended to show how aboriginal peoples helped the explorer navigate the Ottawa River. The figure was originally supposed to be kneeling in a canoe, but the citizen's group who commissioned the statue lacked the funds for the canoe, so it was placed kneeling beside the Champlain statue in 1924.

In the 1990s, the Assembly of First Nations took issue with its stereotypical image and what looked like a subservient position to Champlain, so the National Capital Commission responded by moving it to Major's Hill Park.

Now some members the aboriginal community in Ottawa want to reclaim the statue.

Artist and Filmmaker Howard Adler is part of a group spearheading efforts to rename it.

"It hasn't had a name for 100 years, other than unknown Indian, or Indian scout, or Anishinabe scout," said Adler. "So I think it's important to give this statue a name, and to say Indigenous have names, and we're people too. We're not just stereotypes." Adler's group asked Algonquin elder Annie Smith St. Georges to give him a new name in a ceremony.

She decided on "Gichi Zibi Omaami Winini Anishinaabe"—a traditional name for the Algonquin people.
Comment:  Statues of nameless Indians--"The Brave," "The Warrior," "The Chief," etc.--are extremely common. So are statues of Indians kneeling beside or standing behind white figures: missionaries, explorers, Lady Liberty, etc.

These statues represent how we view Indians: as a herd horde of anonymous, animal-like savages. A barbaric, "lost," and worthless people until we "discovered" them and gave them "civilization."

For more on Indian monuments, see One Small Step for American Statue and Stereotypical Whistling Warrior Statue.

August 24, 2013

Review of Lone Ranger: Vendetta

The Lone Ranger: VendettaThe Masked Man in a brand-new adventure! From out of the past comes a mysterious killer systematically murdering anyone with a connection to the Masked Rider of the Plains former identity. When all signs point to Butch Cavendish, a man long dead, The Lone Ranger finds himself trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the life of his faithful Indian companion hanging in the balance!Some reviewsThe single best Lone Ranger story ever!, May 23, 2012
This book is amazing. Simply amazing. Long-time Lone Ranger fans will appreciate that Mr. Hopkins keeps the characters intact here, while putting a more adult spin on the legend. This is what the movie should be like. Sadly, Howard is no longer with us, but this book is, arguably, his crowning achievement in his excellent body of work. I encourage anyone who loves a good Western and the character of The Lone Ranger to go purchase this book immediately!

What the new movie should be, but most assuredly won't, May 28, 2012
This book was amazing! An earlier review described the tone of this story very well, so I won't belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that the tone works extremely well. Now, die-hard fans might be bothered by the fact that Tonto doesn't speak in broken English, but I personally think I would've been more bothered if he had. It may be true to the source material, but it has such negative overtones that it would have been a distraction.
But:Good, but ending was rushed, March 12, 2013
Great theme and good reading. However, after a consistent pace, the ending was way too rushed. Too mature for children.

Hi YO So So !!, March 5, 2013
In an attempt to take away some of the straight shooter, super clean heroics of the original, the character becomes somewhat pointless to the story. I found myself at the end of the story asking what the Lone Ranger really did here and the answer is not much.

A pleasant read but unsatisfying to a true fan.
Rob's review

I'll have to go with the negative reviews on this one. Vendetta was mildly enjoyable but ultimately unsatisfying.

The villainness was the most interesting character. She was the kind of sociopathic serial killer we see in modern fiction, but not in Westerns. She'd sleep with anyone, then kill him (or anyone) if he looked at her wrong.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto seem two-dimensional to me, at best. At least Tonto is more or less a full partner to the Ranger, not a sidekick. Still, it's the Ranger's story, so Tonto gets less exposure, as usual.

Apparently this Tonto is the original Potawatomi version. He does have a couple of good moments.

At one point, they're sitting by a campfire at night. The Ranger asks Tonto what he sees in the flames, leading to this exchange:TONTO: I see ghosts, Kemosabe.

RANGER: Ghosts?

TONTO: The ghosts of the Bodéwadmi, the keepers of the fire. They ride with frozen thunder across the black sky forest, the way they once rode the trails and plains. Proud. Free. The world closed in on them and now they are nearly gone. I feel their isolation, their separation from the soil and the lands. They scream their silent pleas to Kichimanido.
This may be the longest speech Tonto has ever uttered. It's also the first time I recall his referring to his particular culture, not a generic culture. It's noteworthy for both reasons.

Tonto's background

A posting explains that Bodéwadmi is the Indian version of the Anglicized name "Potawatomi." So Tonto is really talking like a Potawatomi, for once.

“Bode wad mi” PotawatomiThe Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” are one of the three original tribes of Michigan. The Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” along with the Odawa/Ottawa and the Ojibwa/Chippewa are known as the people of the Three Fires. They call themselves Anishinabe. The Potawatomi “Bode wad mi” are the “Keepers of the Fire.”

On August 29, 1821, the Bode wad mi, Odawa and Ojibwa ("The People of the Three Fires") held council with representatives of the United States government and signed a treaty, which left them only five reservations, and certain land grants in Michigan. Many were moved to Oklahoma and Kansas territories. Those who would not leave were driven out by military force or hid away from the government. Small bands traveled to Northeast Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Canada.

All of the Anishinabe (Bode wad mi, Ojibwa and Odawa) lived in the eastern part of North America. After various wars and migrations, the tribes moved to the Great Lakes Area. The oldest brother, Chippewa (Ojibwa), was given the responsibility of Keeper of the Faith. The middle brother, Ottawa (Odawa), was the Keeper of the Trade, and the youngest brother, Potawatomi, was responsible for keeping the Sacred Fire; hence the name, "Keeper of the Fire."

Long ago, the Potawatomi depended on nature to survive. They lived a nomadic life. They hunted, fished, grew crops and gathered food to eat. After they were forced onto reservations, they lived through years of poverty. At times during the early 1900s, they hardly had enough to eat.

The early Potawatomi people were a part of the Eastern Woodlands group of Native Americans. By many accounts, the people were fairly short with a stocky build. They were a fun-loving people who enjoyed practical jokes. Women were modest in both the clothes they wore and in their actions. The men and women both normally wore their hair long. During times of war, the men shaved their heads except for a small scalp lock on top. Women usually wore their hair in a single braid down their backs.

The Potawatomi’s love of nature and family was at the center of their way of life. This is evident throughout their early history, through their spiritual lives, and in all other areas of their village life such as their food, clothes, homes, tools, and transportation.

The Potawatomi people wore clothing that was very simple. During the summer, the men often wore clothes made out of red or blue cloth. In the winter some wore decorated buffalo robes. To keep warm during the winter, men wore leggings made of buckskin or cloth. They also wore these for special dances. When playing games like lacrosse, men wore breechcloths and deerskin moccasins.

After the hunters returned with the animals they had killed, the hides would be removed and then women would prepare the hides so that clothing could be made from them. Much of the Potawatomi clothing was made from these hides.

Women wore knee length dresses with petticoats underneath. They sometimes wore bonnets or scarves on their heads. They made their skirts and sleeveless dresses so that they draped over their shoulders and were held in place by a belt at their waist. If they needed to sew pieces together, they used thread made from plant fibers or strips of hide tied in place. These clothes were often decorated with different designs using porcupine quills or beads.

Men and women greased their hair and painted their skin for special occasions. Men tattooed their bodies with different designs.

You can see that Tonto doesn't look much like this description of Potawatomi men. But the main point is that the Potawatomi have a distinct culture that isn't Lakota, Apache, or anything else. And for the most part, the original Tonto and this Tonto aren't wildly inconsistent with Potawatomi culture.

The Great Spirit

As for Kichimanido:

Legendary Native American Figures: Gitchi ManitouTribal affiliation: Ojibwe, Algonquin, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Menominee, Kickapoo, Sauk-Fox, Mohican, Mohegan, Shawnee, Cree

Alternate spellings: Gichi Manidoo, Gchi Mnidoo, Kichi Manido, etc.

Gitchi Manitou is the great creator god of the Anishinaabe and many neighboring Algonquian tribes. The name literally means Great Spirit, a common phrase used to address God in many Native American cultures.

As in other Algonquian tribes, the Great Spirit is abstract, benevolent, does not directly interact with humans, and is rarely if ever personified in Anishinabe myths--originally, Gitchi Manitou did not even have a gender (although with the introduction of English and its gender-specific pronouns, Gitchi Manitou began to be referred to as "he.") It is Gitchi Manitou who created the world, though some details of making the world as we know it today were delegated to the culture hero Nanabozho. "Gitchi Manitou" (or one of its many variant spellings) was used as a translation for "God" in early translations of the Bible into Ojibway, and today many Ojibway people consider Gitchi Manitou and the Christian God to be one and the same.

Gitchi Manitou is the great creator god of the Anishinaabe and many neighboring Algonquian tribes. The name literally means Great Spirit, a common phrase used to address God in many Native American cultures.
I'm not sure Tonto has ever referred to the "Great Spirit" or "Creator" before. I'm pretty sure he's never referred to Gitchi Manitou before. So that's another first.

There's even a partial explanation for what Tonto is doing in Texas. His people were driven into Oklahoma and from there he roamed the Southwest. None of this is in the Lone Ranger mythos, but we can imagine it.

That one paragraph is about all the culture Tonto expresses, so it isn't much. But compared to other versions of Tonto, it's a step forward.

Tonto talk

As you can see from the quote above, Tonto's speech is more or less normal. Later, he notes how he speaks "Tonto style" intentionally--to fool the white man into thinking he's dumb. That's a brilliant explanation of Tonto's speech pattern. All future creators of Lone Ranger stories should adopt it immediately if they feel the need to make Tonto sound "tonto" (Spanish for "dumb").

Unfortunately, the villainess captures Tonto and uses him to lure the Ranger. It isn't Tonto's fault; he's rescuing someone in a hotel room when she stumbles across him. But we end up in the same place as so many other Westerns--with the white man as the hero who has to save his Native friend, sidekick, or maiden.

In short, I'd give this book about a 7.0 of 10. Unless you're a Lone Ranger fan, you can safely skip it.

For more on Tonto, see Skyhawk: Depp Dishonored Indians and 33 Tonto Comic-Book Covers.

August 23, 2013

Natives subsidize Canada, not vice versa

What if Natives Stop Subsidizing Canada?There is a prevailing myth that Canada's more than 600 First Nations and native communities live off of money--subsidies--from the Canadian government. This myth, though it is loudly proclaimed and widely believed, is remarkable for its boldness; widely accessible, verifiable facts show that the opposite is true.

Indigenous people have been subsidizing Canada for a very long time.

Conservatives have leaked documents in an attempt to discredit chief Theresa Spence, currently on hunger strike in Ottawa. Reporters like Jeffrey Simpson and Christie Blatchford have ridiculed the demands of native leaders and the protest movement Idle No More. Their ridicule rests on this foundational untruth: that it is hard-earned tax dollars of Canadians that pays for housing, schools and health services in First Nations. The myth carries a host of racist assumptions on its back. It enables prominent voices like Simpson and Blatchford to liken protesters' demands to "living in a dream palace" or "horse manure," respectively.

It's true that Canada's federal government controls large portions of the cash flow First Nations depend on. Much of the money used by First Nations to provide services does come from the federal budget. But the accuracy of the myth ends there.

On the whole, the money that First Nations receive is a small fraction of the value of the resources, and the government revenue, that comes out of their territories.
And:From the days of beaver trapping to today's aspirations of becoming an energy superpower, Canada's economy has always been based on natural resources. With 90 per cent of its settler population amassed along the southern border, exploitation of the land's wealth almost always happens at the expense of the Indigenous population.

Canada's economy could not have been built without massive subsidies: of land, resource wealth, and the incalculable cost of generations of suffering.

Overall numbers are difficult to pin down, but consider the following: Canadian governments received $9 billion in taxes and royalties in 2011 from mining companies, which is a tiny portion of overall mining profits; $3.8 billion came from exports of hydroelectricity alone in 2008, and 60 per cent of Canada's electricity comes from hydroelectric dams; one estimate has tar sands extraction bringing in $1.2 trillion in royalties over 35 years; the forestry industry was worth $38.2 billion in 2006, and contributes billions in royalties and taxes.

By contrast, annual government spending on First Nations was $5.36 billion in 2005 (it's slightly higher now). By any reasonable measure, it's clear that First Nations are the ones subsidizing Canada.
Comment:  For more on Indians as welfare recipients, see Online Hatred Against First Nations and Top Three Native Stereotypes.

Below:  Graham Greene in Skins.

Ghost Hawk tells both sides

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper–review

Two sides of the same story are told through the eyes of a Native American boy and a young English apprentice

By Marcus Sedgwick
I recently came across a remarkable pair of graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang, collectively called Boxers & Saints. One book tells the story of the Boxer rebellion from the point of view of the indigenous Chinese and the other from that of the Christian westerners. It's a simple yet great idea, and I was reminded of it when reading Ghost Hawk, which explores the period of European settlement of what is now New England.

The book falls roughly into two halves; the first brings us straight into the world of a Pokanoket boy as he embarks on the ritual that will make him a man; the second half focuses on an English boy, John Wakeley, who is sent away to become an apprentice cooper after the death of his father.

Little Hawk, the 11-year-old Native American, must survive three months alone in the winter wilderness in order to come of age. His father takes him into the forest blindfolded, spins him around and leaves him to survive on his wits and a couple of tools. The tools themselves paint a picture of the book's central theme. Little Hawk's tomahawk was made by allowing the twisted twin stems of a sapling to grow tightly around the axe head over many years; and yet he also owns a steel knife, bartered from the white settlers by his father and given to Little Hawk as he embarks on his adventure. This knife alone is a hint of things to come.

Susan Cooper allows us time to savour the soon-to-disappear world of the Native American with a sequence of unflinching episodes, beginning with Little Hawk's fight with a hungry wolf. But it's as the young Pokanoket warrior returns to his family that this novel really becomes great, for Cooper does something with the narrative that had me holding my breath until I was sure she was really going to go through with it. I won't give the game away, but I will say that I whispered a silent "thank you" to a writer bold and clever enough to do something so daring.
Comment:  Sounds interesting. I may have to get it.

For more on Native-themed books, see Empire of the Summer Moon's Accuracy and Mark of the Mississippians E-Book.

August 22, 2013

Native is prejudiced against Natives

I Admit It: I Hold Racist Views About Native People In Canada

By Lou JamesI admit it. I have deep-rooted and ugly prejudices about native people in Canada. When I think of native people, I immediately think of alcoholic, jobless and homeless people who abuse themselves and others in every imaginable way. For all of my life I have seen these images and I continue to see native people this way.

Here's the catch: I'm native.

I grew up in a small native community. My home was stereotypically native: abusive relationships dominated my younger years and permeate every aspect of my life today. My family, friends, and community have seen, and continue to see, disproportionate levels of murder, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, prostitution, alcoholism, drug addiction, emotional abuse, homelessness, and poverty and the criminality that follows from all of this.

We feel the intergenerational effects of residential schools, dislocation, and many other policies designed to civilize and assimilate us at best, and to exterminate us at worst. Every native person I know has, to varying degrees, lost his or her language, traditional knowledge, and sense of identity and belonging as native people.

I grew up in a town, province, and country that reinforced this as the dominant narrative about native people, except when we parade out a few traditional-looking natives to show off an integral part of the rich tapestry of the Canadian identity and imagination, and then congratulate ourselves for being so tolerant and multicultural.

When I moved to an urban centre to attend university, I noticed that the native people I saw in the city fit the stereotype: they were homeless, jobless, hopeless.

Not me.

I was healthy, studious, goal-oriented, ambitious, and eventually I achieved my goals. Successful, I guess you could say.

As a result, I denied to others and to myself that I was native. It was the only way that I could process the cognitive dissonance that arose when I contemplated my success as a native person and the thought that in order to be a real native, I had to be all of those ugly things.

People around me reinforced that "success" and "native" were mutually exclusive concepts. Some said that despite my native heritage, I was a darn good student. A credit to my race! They were the well-meaning ones. The less sensitive people belittled me by making mean jokes about native people. In either case, they reinforced the idea that to be native, I could not be healthy, successful, and well-adjusted.

One of the hardest things for me to realize is that I have internalized these deeply-rooted prejudices about native people, and that I have to fight myself to shake them off. When I see a healthy, well-adjusted and successful native person, not only do I think that this is exceptional--I find it hard to believe. Due to my internalized prejudices against my own people, I find it very difficult, and perhaps sometimes even impossible, to see excellence in native artists, academics, advocates, and even parents. One way to make sense of it is to conclude that these individuals are not "really" native. It's hard for me to realize and admit this.
Comment:  This posting proves the powerful and pernicious effects of stereotyping. If an intelligent and successful Native, who can look at himself and other successful Natives, still falls for the stereotypes, what hope does an ignorant non-Indian have against them?

For more on the harm of Native stereotyping, see Mithlo's TEDx Talk on Stereotypes and Pocahontas Poster Shows Movies' Influence.

"Shaman" filmed for Sleepy Hollow

Stars, scorpions on the set of 'Sleepy Hollow' at EUE Screen Gems

By Ashlea KosikowskiA scorpion crawls up its handler's arm. Nearby, a shaman is surrounded by mysterious potions in a tent made from handwoven Native American blankets. The floor is covered in straw and furs hang from the ceilings. Welcome to the set of FOX's new show, Sleepy Hollow.

Inside a large sound stage at EUE Screen Gems in Wilmington, lights, cameras and more than 60 crew members surround the tent. Tom Mison, who plays Ichabod Crane, and Nicole Beharie, who plays his police officer partner do several takes for the third episode as cameras roll.

Both are buzzing about the next scene, in which they will have a live scorpion crawling on them.
And:Both Mison and Beharie said the show has something for everyone. It's a mystery adventure that retells the Washington Irving classic, Ichabod Crane, with a modern twist. In the show, Crane, a Revolutionary War soldier, wakes up 250 years into the future to find that the world is on the brink of destruction. When he awakes, so does his enemy, the infamous Headless Horseman, whose head he chopped off all those years ago.

The Headless Horseman is only the beginning though and Crane and Mills team up to save the world.
Comment:  I'm pretty sure there are no shamans in Native cultures in the North Carolina area. This is undoubtedly another phony version of Native religion. Usually the "shaman" is a sorcerer type who utters prophecies and cast spells.

The "mysterious potions" and furs hanging from the ceiling reinforce the idea of Native religion as a "dark art" akin to witchcraft. All we need is some "eye of newt" in a bubbling cauldron to complete the picture.

If this magic man is responsible for a plague of scorpions, that's worse. Native religions aren't about summoning creatures or spirits or demons any more than Christianity is. Things like vision quests, sweat lodges, and dances are just another way of praying to and communicating with a god.

The hints in this article suggest that Indians are involved in unsavory or unholy practices. Like Darth Vader and the Force, they may have gone over to the dark side. If so, that would be stereotypical.

And this bit is presumably set in the present, which would make it even worse. Does this "shaman" use a computer, cellphone, or cash register in his practice? Don't bet on it.

For more on stereotypical Native shamans, see Scooby-Doo Meets Navajo "Shaman" and The Legend of Industrial Ghost-Wolf.

August 21, 2013

Hopi in Human Fly #18-19

My good buddy Ron Joseph posted this to the Blue Corn Comics page on Facebook

This comes from Human Fly #19 (March 1979), the last issue of the series.

I bought the first few issues of Human Fly, but quit before Human Fly #18-19, which apparently was a two-parter featuring Indians.

You can see Indians and a pueblo in the cover of #18 below. The Hopi had homes like this once, but now I believe you can see them only at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.

Another page provides an idea of the story:This time, the Fly and crew are at a Hopi Indian reservation, and the tribal elders are all drunks under the thumb of the local bar owner (hey! *i* didn't write this!).

The Elders are shaken out of their stupor when a member of the tribe uses a movie projector to display the Hopi Gods on the clouds during the Human Fly's stunt.
See the first image.


Sotuknang is the name of the chief Hopi deity--akin to the "creator." But I think he's an abstract force, not a god in a human form. Spider Woman does appear in human form sometimes, but I think she's more of a holy being than a god. She might be akin to an angel in Christianity--i.e., someone who intervenes on behalf of the gods, but isn't a god herself.

Traditional Hopis did wear scarves around their heads, but not narrow headbands. I'm pretty sure they didn't wear hats with feathers. By 1979, their clothing was almost totally Western.

The plot sounds phony. The Hopis' reservation is in the middle of nowhere. I don't think they permit alcohol on the rez, and there are no local bars just outside the boundaries.

The Hopi "elders" live in three villages separated by 15 or 20 miles. This is in a tribe that must've had 5,000-plus members in 1979. The point is that one white man couldn't control or even reach all the elders. And if somehow he did, there would be thousands of other Hopis to contend with. Not to mention the tribal government, the tribal police, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and so forth.

The "projected gods"

I don't know how the plot unfolds, but based on the clues, I can guess. Cha'tima is an earnest or angry young Indian who opposes the bar owner. She tries to rally the others, but no one will listen to her. In desperation, she projects images of the Hopi gods in the sky.

Seeing and perhaps hearing these "gods," the other Indians gain courage and resolve. They throw away the booze and confront the bar owner. With the Human Fly's help, they toss him in jail or kick him off the rez.

If this isn't the exact plot, it's the plot of many similar stories. Let's take a minute to see why it's flawed.

For starters, many Indians have converted to Christianity. Perhaps even a majority. On the Hopi rez, I believe Mormonism is predominant.

True, the traditional gods and beliefs coexist with the Christian God. But as I indicated before, there's no standard representation for Hopi deities. I don't think there's even a standard list of gods everyone agrees on. Different villages, clans, and societies have different beliefs.

Between Christianity and the lack of uniform beliefs, I doubt most Hopi would recognize the projected images. They'd say, "Who's that supposed to be?" Or, "Whoever that is, it's not Jesus."

But let's say everyone recognized the images. Perhaps the "gods" announced themselves with projected voices. Would that be enough to spur the Indians to act?

Well, if Jesus appeared in the clouds and ordered white Christians to confront a bar owner, would they? Some might, but many would recall recent movies such as Star Wars and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They'd probably realize the stunt was a cinematic special effect, not a genuine apparition.

There's no reason for Indians to react differently. So let's hope they realized Cha'tima was manipulating them but rallied anyway. If they rallied because they believed the projections were real, that's bad. It would imply Indians are more gullible and superstitious than non-Indians.


Human Fly #18-19 seem like typical comic books from the 1960s and 1970s. The Indians are good--"noble savages" of a sort--while white men are the villains. The stories avoid Plains stereotypes and cliché, but the Indians are isolated, primitive, and easily manipulated. There's no hint that they're modern people who go to school and work, drive cars, watch TV, etc.

The writer's intent was as noble as the Indians he wrote about, I'm sure. He wanted to explain why they were downtrodden and lost--because of the white man's oppression. And to show them rebounding and taking charge--with the help of a white savior. It probably didn't occur to him that they were already doing okay: electing officials, signing agreements for water and coal, hiring lawyers, arguing with their Navajo neighbors, lobbying for help in Washington, etc.

People need to get over the idea that a reservation means a few dozen Indians huddled in a small village. Living as they did at the beginning of the 20th century with no technology except maybe trucks and guns. Having no contact with the outside world except when white men come to exploit or rescue them. That's simply wrong.

For more on Native-themed comic books, see Yakari the Noble Savage and Scooby-Doo Meets Native "Shaman."

Why don't minority comics sell?

I gather Alan Donald surveyed comic-book professionals to answer the title question. Below are two of the best answers.

Why Don't "Black Books" Sell?

By Alan DonaldCraig Lemon: "Why aren't there more black-superhero books? Because they don't sell. Why don't they sell? The same reason that female-led superhero books don't sell very well. Because the primary audience for superhero is white males. And the main way you can get female-led superhero books to sell is to plaster them with cheesecake art-step forward Greg Horn and Michael Turner. I also believe that most white males are closet racists-even if just subconsciously...oh, you could argue that someone reading a superhero book puts themselves in the place of the hero, and white males cannot identify with black heroes for some reason...I would venture that that reason is racism. Why are there few Arabic superheroes in US comics? Why are there few Hispanic blah blah blah? The answer is the same.

Why are there no black superheroes fronting big-name books? Because all the iconic heroes in existence today (with the exception of Wolverine) were created between the 1930s and the 1960s, when black characters were taboo, or poor caricatures at best (see the early stories of The Spirit to see how even Will Eisner didn't escape this attitude). There have been pitifully few successful superheroes created in the last twenty years, black OR white. So new books with predominantly black casts don't sell...but neither do new books with predominantly white's not just The Crew that was cancelled recently, but The Eternal too.

Why are there no successful black characters in "mainstream" (i.e. Marvel & DC comics)? But there are. Look at 100 Bullets. Look at Gotham Central. Minority groups represented in quality comics, bought by a vast range of purchasers. And why do these work-because of the Star Trek factor...they feature an "ensemble," a large group of characters from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

You could say why are there no major supporting black characters in Spider-Man? But I think you'd find that beyond the original set of characters created in the 60s, there have been no NEW supporting characters of any colour for a consistently long period of time. It's the same with Superman, with Batman, with whoever...superheroes created in 1960s and earlier had no black characters due to the situation that existed at that time (which is where the racism angle comes back in) and these superheroes haven't changed in the intervening time-the supporting casts have remained the same throughout the decades.”
And:Alonzo Washington: “Why aren't there more mainstream titles that feature minority characters in prominent roles? The answer is quite obvious.

RACISM!!!!!!!!! Although, the attitudes are complicated to explain. Most White people are uncomfortable with people of color gaining power. That's why affirmative action & immigration are always controversial topics in America. Therefore, the concept of a super hero of color is an uneasy thought to most White Americans. Moreover, the image of a super hero is one of perfection & morality. For years the mainstream media has always force fed the American public with the most negative & immoral images of Black people (murderers, gang bangers, thugs, pimps, video tramps, whores, rapists, gangsta rappers, criminals, etc.). Therefore, the concept of a Black super hero is almost a joke in the minds of most White people. That's why a number of Hollywood films are made with a Black super hero as a comedy release (Under Cover Brother, Meteor Man, Pootie Tang & Blank Man). I have turned down a number of Hollywood producers who want to make a MOVIE WITH MY BLACK SUPER HEROES AS A COMEDY. Moreover, most of the creators in the comic book industry (not all) are White nerds. What do they know about Black people or any other people of color? These guys are creating a fictional world where they are all powerful and quite frankly they don't want Black people in it or anybody who is not White. Have you ever wondered why the two most popular super hero icons (Superman & Spider-Man) are former nerds in their secret identities. Most of the time when a Black character (The Falcon, Storm, Green Lantern, Agent J, Captain Marvel, Cyborg, Pete on Smallville, etc.) emerges in the world of mainstream comic books he or she are simply a watered down side kick or a modern day slave to the White characters in the comic book. The Black characters have no agenda of their own. Storm in the X-MEN movies might as well had been a maid with the few lines she received. The Black characters that stand on their own are normally super stereotypes like Power Man (Cage) the ex-con or the monster heroes like Blade & Spawn. Most White comic book creators & collectors like monsters more than people of color. Comic Books are filled with monsters and barely people of color. The comic book community is basically White. I attended Comic-Con this year with my wife & six small children. Everywhere I went security hounded us like we were not supposed to be there and our passes were clearly displayed upon us. They acted like I could put the Comic-Con in my pocket. I think it is the same scenario exists for Black super heroes & super heroes of color in mainstream comic book titles. Many White creators don't feel like they are supposed to be there.

Why don't Black Comic Books sell? Most White people don't want a Black savior. Super Heroes are saviors. Unlike African Americans & other people of color who accept White super heroes as their own. Most White people think a BLACK SUPER HERO IS ONLY FOR BLACK PEOPLE AND THAT IS RACIST. I remember I was doing a presentation at the public library and a White kid asked me if my Black character (Omega Man) was for people like me (Black). I answered his question with a question. I said "is Super Man & Bat Man only for people like you"?
Comment:  These points also apply to comics about Native and other minorities, of course.

For more on the subject, see Racism in the Comics Business and Okay to Stereotype in Noir Comics?