October 31, 2014

Cultural appropriation for Halloween 2014

It wouldn't be Halloween without the racist and stereotypical appropriation of ethnic cultures. As usual, Indians noted many examples of people selling or dressing up in inappropriate costumes:

17 Redface Costumes You Can Buy: Walmart Really, Really Doesn't Get ItChange comes slowly, and while many in the United States are waking up to the racism of Native-themed sports mascots and Halloween costumes, it is the lumbering giants of commerce who will probably be the last to see the light. The NFL won't take action on the Redskins until advertisers and the media reach a tipping point. We can analogize that with a big-box mega-lo-mart like Walmart, which isn't likely to do the progressive thing about Halloween costumes until it's the best business decision.

How far out of touch is the U.S.'s largest retailer? Inspired by the "fat girl" Halloween costume fiasco, we rooted around the "Native American/American Indian" costumes and found dozens of stereotypical getups—that was expected. But the product descriptions! It's the voice of white privilege smirking at the quaintness of a minority culture. Were these written in the Mad Men era?

15 People Who Plan to Be a Native American This HalloweenWell, it's nearly Halloween, which means it's that time of year again when cultural misappropriation runs amok; when you end up at a party and some one comes clad in faux Native American garb, i.e. a chicken-feathered headdress and multi-colored racing stripes on his face. Invariably, the man's date comes costumed as a "Pocahottie," and is completely oblivious to the plague of violence against indigenous women in North America. So, folks, here are 15 people who have publicly expressed their interest in dressing up as a Native American this year.

As usual, several postings denounced dressing up as Indians for Halloween and explained why it's wrong. Here's a selection of them:

I am NOT a costume![W]hen you wear an “Indian” or “Savage” or “Native American” costume you are basically stereotyping a culture, you are also making their culture a historical reference that sends a message to everyone: Native Americans no longer exist, only in history books and old western films. You are not recognizing the present day Native people who are professors, doctors, actors, and nurses who still identify with their Native culture and are successfully existing in the modern world.Is your costume racist?‘Indian Squaw’ outfits are almost always sexualised. To wear this is to ignore the fact that for Native American women, the rate of sexual assault is twice that of the national average in the USA. Women of colour are more likely to experience violence and sexual abuse than white women. And if their cultures and traditions are constantly sexualised and objectified, if they continue to be considered ‘exotic’ rather than human, this won’t change anytime soon.What Hazmat Suits, Ray Rice, and the Washington Redskins Have in Common With Human TraffickingIn a study titled "Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots," researchers found that high school students who were exposed to common American Indian images (e.g., Chief Wahoo, Pocahontas, Chief Illinwek) had lower self-esteem and lower sense of worth to the community; and college students exposed to these same images identified fewer achievement-oriented goals. The images and portrayals that society offers marginalized populations may have implications for youth development, and they may invoke a larger discussion of the role that these images play.Halloween: The Season for Culturally-Insensitive FashionThe argument that you can "try on" a cultural identity for a day and then discard it speaks to the ability of being able to return to your special place of privilege. You can take off your headdress and sleep at night, knowing that you don't have to wake up the next morning to confront a history of colonialism and genocide that has left your community living in an impoverished reservation, having to deal with segregation, racism and gross cultural misrepresentation in the form of films, sports mascots and holidays. As the "We're a Culture, not a Costume" Campaign put it, "You wear the costume for one night, we wear the stigma for life."The Perils of Culturally Appropriative Halloween Costumes“Aren’t there bigger issues to worry about,” my Facebook acquaintance asked at one point. Part of my essay addressed this question like this: reducing a minority group to a Halloween costume is only one symptom of the majority culture’s inability to see us as people, and tendency to reduce us to stereotypes. There are other symptoms, many of them more present, more real, more hurtful. But an insult is not painless just because it is not a slap, a kick, a police dog sicced on you at a protest march.Comment:  For more on Halloween, see Gerard Butler's Girlfriend in a Headdress and Party City Stereotypes Indians.

Gerard Butler's girlfriend in a headdress

Gerard Butler and girlfriend are perfectly in sync as a cowboy and Indian while Mel Gibson shirks costume altogether at pre-Halloween party in LA

By Carolyn HiblenHere's hoping his new love has some Native American Indian in her otherwise she'll find herself at the centre of the kind of racially insensitive uproar for her outfit choice so many have faced before her.

The leggy brunette left very little to the imagination as she put her lean and toned physique on display in a tan leather bra, a tan animal skin loincloth-like skirt that was only tied at the sides, revealing her entire legs and thighs.

She wore a bone chestpiece over the top, offering a small amount of coverage, while she added height to her already impressive stature with tan suede peep-toe booties with fringing on the backs and carried a tan leather satchel over one shoulder.

She wore her long locks in plaited pigtails and kept her make-up fresh and natural, with a huge traditional colourful feathered headdress on over the top adding plenty of drama and ensuring she stood out from the pack.
Comment:  It wouldn't matter if the mystery woman had some Native heritage. Nobody should wear headdresses as a costume, and women shouldn't wear them at all.

For more on the subject, see Glenn Beck in a Headdress and Sinitta in a Headdress.

October 30, 2014

Review of Hero Twins

The Hero Twins: Against the Lords of Death: a Mayan Myth (Graphic Myths and Legends)Grade 3-6: Hunaphu and Xbalanque are characters from a Mayan myth in the Popul Vuh. Their special powers include their skills at playing the ball game Pok-ta-Pok. The competitive rulers of the underworld are not happy and challenge the twins to a game, planning to destroy them. After crossing a river of blood and a river of pus (This is so gross, says Hunaphu) to meet the Lords of Death, the young men must survive nights in increasingly dangerous houses, including one filled with razors and one filled with bloodthirsty bats. Readers should delight in the creepy action, especially the final game in which Xbalanque's head is used as the ball. The bright colors and strong lines of the cartoon-style illustrations add to the story's irreverent tone. A narrative of a contemporary boy assigned to read the myth for school begins and ends the story. Though slightly corny, this framing device may draw in readers resistant to the historical or educational theme. Children may not pick this up on their own, but once they begin they'll find much to enjoy. Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

Great book
By Jennifer on May 10, 2013

My seventh graders love it and it is a terrific graphic novel to use to get boys into a new genre.

Grandkids liked it
By jinez on January 8, 2012

Gift for grandkids -- they like visual language and high adventure stories. I like the myths being introduced at such a young age --elementary school ages.

However, reviewer Beverly Slapin notes many discrepancies between the Popol Vuh and Hero Twins. Her conclusion:

Hero Twins Against the Lords of Death: A Mayan Myth

By Beverly SlapinThese discrepancies go on and on. Basically, in the Popol Vuh, the Amazing Twins, their grandmother, the lords of Xib’alb’a, the animals—all have magical powers and all are related. In the comic book, their motivations, for the most part, are individual and unrelated and the subtlety, the complexity, the lessons are all gone. There’s no cultural context for anything.

What clinches this parallel reading for me—perhaps the worst part about this graphic novel—is that Jolley and Witt frame the story with the narrative of a white suburban boy’s having to read the Popol Vuh for school. At the beginning, he’s complaining to a friend about his homework assignment: “Nah, I can’t come over tonight. I’ve got this reading thing.” By the end, however, this white boy is totally stoked. He has read the story of the “Hero Twins,” and, before slamming down the phone, tells his friend to get his own book. Besides the fact that it’s highly unlikely that a young boy would be assigned something as complex and multi-layered as the Popol Vuh as individual reading, using a cultural outsider as a framing device around a sacred Mayan saga treats it and, by extension, the Maya, as “other.”

Glossing over or omitting important details of a sacred text—and editing out all Mayan cultural markers of land and community and group responsibility—seem to have been an easy task for Jolley and Witt.

Full of gory details, creepy action, and irreverent language; and illustrated with strong lines and bright colors, Hero Twins and the other graphic novels in the “Graphic Myths and Legends” series are likely to draw in “reluctant readers.” For this generation of young readers, comic books and graphic novels are a delivery system for information. But in reading Hero Twins, what have these young readers learned? That a people’s sacred stories are fair game, to be mutilated “just for entertainment”? It would seem so. Not recommended.
Comment:  After reading Hero Twins, I tend to agree with Slapin. It really is simplified to the point where a 3rd-grader might enjoy it.

That may be too simple for any significant story--not to mention a culture's sacred text. Doing the Popol Vuh in 48 pages is like doing the Bible in 48 pages--difficult to pull off.

Dramatically speaking, the menaces aren't that menacing--even for kids. For instance, the gods send the twins into a Fire House full of flames. Do they immediately burn to a crisp? No. When the gods look in on them, they're sitting on a shelf above the flames. It's like the gods are too dumb to come up with a threat beyond a 3rd-grade level.

I'd say Hero Twins is akin to a children's picture book or cartoon show. I was hoping for something a bit more sophisticated when I got it. I'm not sure how I'd introduce kids to Maya culture, but probably not like this.

Hero Twins is $8.95 for 48 pages. Unless you're a completist for Native-oriented comic books, save your money for something else.

October 29, 2014

Native stereotyping = anti-Indian propaganda

You Think Team Names Are Bad? 12 Images of Propaganda Against Natives

By Christina RoseRacist team names and mascots get their fair share of media play, so why is it still so hard for the mainstream to get it? One look at these historic images makes it clear, the extermination of Native peoples was glorified in toys, books, films, even in the town seal of Whitesboro, New York. The town still uses an image of a Native being bested (they say it’s a wrestling match, but most agree the Native looks as if he is being strangled) by a white dude.

A Wisconsin-based exhibit called “Bittersweet Winds” takes some of the worst historic propaganda and lays it out amidst beautiful items of traditional Native life. Richie Plass, the exhibit’s director, said it helps expose stereotypes for what they are, and allows the viewer to come to that conclusion on their own.
And:According to Coates, when students learn about the way historic propaganda has formed mainstream ideas of Natives, they ask, ‘Did that really happen?’”

“They don’t understand that it was embedding racism and ethnic degradation into white society. It made whites seem like superior beings, and that is exactly what you see in these types of toys,” Coates said. “Students are shocked. After we view his exhibit, it takes us two to three days to get back into our routine. There is so much to discuss.”
Comment:  Mascots are nothing but live-action versions of these propaganda pieces. The message: Indians are savage and thus don't deserve the same rights as "real Americans."

Note: The first image comes from my Blue Corn Comics website.

Choke, I mean wrestle with, that savage!!

October 28, 2014

Why Red Mesa's Redskins don't matter

During the recent anti-Redskins protests in Phoenix, owner Dan Snyder bused in some Navajo students from remote Red Mesa. The reason: Their school nickname is the Redskins.

Critics have made much of the fact that some Native schools have a Redskins nickname and mascot. For instance:

In Arizona, a Navajo high school emerges as a defender of the Washington Redskins

Dan Snyder and the Navajo Nation: It’s complicated

Red Mesa Navajo High School Moniker Erupts In Redskins Favor Amid Debate

Dear Deeply Offended Redskins Haters: Actual Navajo Nation High School Mascot IS REDSKINS

Note: Love how the right-wing "education editor" in the last article thinks he's telling us something. Actually, the Native use of "Redskins" has been part of the debate for decades.

In her Native Appropriations blog, Adrienne Keene tackles the first article by Washington Post writer Ian Shapira. Her main point is that it isn't just the name, but the effects of the name, that mascot foes object to. Things like this:

Keene goes on to explain how Native schools that use the Redskins name aren't fostering the same racist stereotyping:

Missing the point on the Red Mesa Redsk*nsYou would never, ever see any of this at Red Mesa, or at any of the schools they are playing in sports. Because they’re Native. They would be dishonoring and disrespecting their communities and relatives. The name doesn’t have the same weight and urgency, or any weight and urgency, because, to them, it’s self-referential. They have control over the name and image, they have the right and power to do with it what they want. If they want to change it, they can. Clearly, not the case outside of the Navajo Nation.

This is the context that is important. To be clear, I don’t think that any school should have the Redsk*ns as a mascot.* But I respect the decision of the Red Mesa school officials, given the context of their school.

I also hate the constant dichotomy of rez Natives (therefore the “real” ones) and off-rez Natives on the mascot issue. The reason some folks on the rez don’t care as much (which is also a dangerous stereotype, cause many of the lead activists in this, Amanda Blackhorse included, live on or near reservations) is because they aren’t faced with all these examples I showed above on a daily basis. We in the city have to walk down the street and encounter this racism everyday, and we’re separated from the counter-narratives and counter-representations that would surround us if we lived in our communities. Many of us don’t have easy access to our ceremonies, our aunties, our grandmas, our land–the things that show us we aren’t the harmful stereotypes we see at the sports arena. Folks on the rez do have those counter-examples, surrounding them at all times. Additionally, if you only interact with other Native people everyday, no one is going to call you a redsk*n as a slur.

But those on reservations also have deep, real, and life-or-death challenges, that many of us in urban settings don’t have to face everyday. Which brings us to the “bigger issues” argument. Broken record time, for those who read the blog often:

Yes, unequivocally, we have big things to tackle in Indian Country. We have pressing and dire issues that are taking the lives of our men and women everyday, and I am in absolutely no way minimizing this reality. But we also live in a state of active colonialism. In order to justify the genocide against Native peoples in this country, we must be painted as inferior–that’s the colonial game. These images continue that process. The dominant culture therefore continues to marginalize our peoples, to ignore and erase our existence. We are taught everyday, explicitly in classrooms, and implicitly through messages from the media, that our cultures are something of the past, something that exists in negative contrast to “western” values, and something that can be commodified and enjoyed by anyone with $20 to buy a cheap plastic headdress. These stereotypical images like mascots feed into this ongoing cycle, and until we demand more, our contemporary existence (and therefore the “real” problems in Indian Country) simply doesn’t exist in the minds of the dominant culture.

How can we expect mainstream support for sovereignty, self-determination, Nation Building, tribally-controlled education, health care, and jobs when the 90% of Americans only view Native people as one-dimensional stereotypes, situated in the historic past, or even worse, situated in their imaginations?

October 27, 2014

Burial Ridge in Blacklist

In last week's episode of The Blacklist, titled The Front, (airdate: 10/20/14), the FBI team discovers several historical "facts":

  • That the Black Death was caused not by bubonic plague but by the more virulent pneumonic plague;

  • That a priest infected himself with the last sample of pneumonic plague to keep it from others;

  • That the priest fled to the New World a century before Columbus, where he died;

  • That the priest was buried at an Indian site called Burial Ridge on Staten Island;

  • That his bones were moved "31 miles east" to the site of the Trinity Church in lower Manhattan.

  • One reviewer rightly criticized this scenario:[T]he whole secret about a cadre of 4 priests in the 1300s taking the body of a colleague that contained a weaponized virus developed by the Byzantines and the Ottomans in the 13th century and then those priests stashing the body in a Indian burial ground on Staten Island before New York was even discovered (let alone before Columbus' time) is far fetched for even for a Clive Cussler novel, let alone in this show.

    Plus I'm not to sure if the writers really grasp the whole concept of distance and direction, but 31 miles east of anywhere on Staten Island does not put you in lower Manhattan near the Freedom Tower, they should have been looking somewhere several miles east of JFK. Do the writers not think of things like that when they type this nonsense on their Macbooks sitting in Starbucks?
    Native lore

    Yeah, this isn't the show for a Da Vinci Code type of treasure hunt. Even so, I checked and learned some of these things are real:

    Burial RidgeBurial Ridge is a Native American archaeological site and burial ground located at Ward's Point--a bluff overlooking Raritan Bay in what is today the Tottenville section of Staten Island. The first documented evidence of Paleo-Indians using the site is from the end of the Early Archaic Period 8,000 years ago. The burial ground--used by the Lenape dating from the Woodland period until relinquishing Staten Island to the Dutch--is the largest pre-European burial ground in New York City and is today unmarked and lies today within Conference House Park.

    The agents called Burial Ridge the largest burial ground in "New York." If they meant the city, that's correct.

    I don't know if the site's location is supposed to be secret, but FBI and the terrorists knew where to find it.

    The Trinity Church is 29.7 miles from Conference House Park. That's close to 31 miles, but the direction is north-northeeast, not east.

    Pneumonic plague is real too:

    Pneumonic plaguePneumonic plague, a severe type of lung infection, is one of three main forms of plague, all of which are caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It is more virulent and rare than bubonic plague. The difference between the versions of plague is simply the location of the infection in the body; the bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system, the pneumonic plague is an infection of the respiratory system, and the septicaemic plague is an infection in the blood stream.I don't think it acts like the plague in The Blacklist, but the show covered itself by saying the terrorists genetically manipulated the bacteria.

    The FBI agents didn't have much time to ponder things during the plague panic. Fortunately, the infected terrorists stupidly put themselves on planes where the authorities could intercept them.

    But I was waiting for the agents to discuss the historical implications of their discoveries. "Europeans discovered the Western Hemisphere a hundred years before Columbus. Everything we know about world history since the Middle Ages is wrong!"

    Alas, that never happened. Maybe another episode will explore the profound consequences of overturning the Columbus "myth."

    Anyway, it was good to see a bit of Native lore in a network TV show. And mostly accurate lore, too.

    October 26, 2014

    Stereotypical Dark Shaman comic book

    "Dark Shaman #1" Comic Review

    By James FergusonThere are all kinds of evil beings within the Grimm Universe. Prepare to meet a new one in Dark Shaman. This time around, we're dealing with an ancient Indian burial ground or rather an evil Native American shaman that feeds on innocent blood for some unknown reason. The four-issue mini-series has Grimm Fairy Tales matriarch Sela Mathers shoehorned at the beginning as she goes shopping and is told of the story behind a strange tapestry.

    The comic then jumps to the story featuring a group of co-eds going on the worst beach vacation ever. Things get a little confusing as one of the girls bears a striking resemblance to Sela. Is she in the story? Is this just something else? Anyway, this Dark Shaman shows up and basically wants to kill people. That's really what's going on. The book is set up like a generic slasher movie with a group of stereotypical twenty-somethings that are meant to be cannon fodder for the villain.

    One of the kids has a tie to the tribe that the Dark Shaman comes from, but it's unclear exactly how they're connected. There's no real reason that this guy is killing people to begin with. I'm sure that innocent blood tastes great, but there are plenty of other options when it comes to a decent meal. Have you tried the Doritos Loco Taco? It's friggin' delicious.

    I wish there was more I could say about this Native American murderer, but there's really not much else to go on. He rises from the depths because of some idiots that got too close to a haunted tree. (This marks the third haunted tree I've seen in comics in the past two weeks, by the way. See also Wytches and Sabrina.)

    Comment:  The Timucua named in the story were a real people who lived in Florida. Some details on them:

    TimucuaThe Timucua were an American Indian people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people.

    By 1700, the population of the tribe had been reduced to 1000. Warfare against them by the English colonists and native allies completed their extinction as a tribe soon after the turn of the 19th century.

    The Timucua were a semi-agricultural people and ate many foods native to North Central Florida. They planted maize (corn), beans, squash and various vegetables as part of their diet.

    Spanish explorers were shocked at the height of the Timucua, who averaged four inches or more above them. Timucuan men wore their hair in a bun on top of their heads, adding to the perception of height.

    Each person was extensively tattooed. The tattoos were gained by deeds. Children began to acquire tattoos as they took on more responsibility. The people of higher social class had more elaborate decorations.
    Florida Lost Tribes--Theodore MorrisThe Timucua Indians were spread across parts of northern Florida and southeastern Georgia. Their territory was large and consisted of many different environments. Beaches, salt marshes, and forests thrived near the Atlantic coast. Rivers, lakes, swamps, and woodlands covered inland areas. The Timucua were not a single tribe, but rather separate groups, who spoke dialects or types of the Timucua language. For example, the Mocama dialect was spoken by the coastal Timucua near Jacksonville, while the Potano dialect was spoken by the inland Timucua near Gainesville.

    Because of Florida’s hot climate, the Timucua wore little clothing. Men dressed only in deerskin breechcloths. Their long black hair was tied in topknots, and their faces and bodies were decorated in brightly colored markings. Some of these tattoos were permanent, while others could be washed away. Women wore skirts of Spanish moss. Their long hair hung loose down their backs. Some women also had tattoos. Both men and women wore bracelets and necklaces of animal bone, teeth, and shell. Colored bird feathers might be placed in their hair during special events. Animal fur capes or robes provided warmth in the winter.
    Below:  Timucua Indians painted by a non-Indian based loosely on the evidence:

    Judging by this review, the comics aren't totally stereotypical. The Timucua were scantily clad with facial markings. They had burial grounds--or at least buried their dead in the ground. There are no Timucua alive today, but other Indians live in the area and may claim descent from them. A few Timucua artifacts may reside in museums.

    But that's about it. The "dark shaman" in Satanic robes on the first cover above is false. In fact, most Indian tribes, including the ones in Florida, didn't have shamans. Moreover, shamans aren't some sort of wizard who practices black magic. We don't know much about the Timucua religion, but I doubt it was involved in anything "dark" such as human sacrifice.

    So the basic premise of this series is false. It's also stereotypical because it's been done hundreds if not thousands of times. Indeed, a revenge-seeking Indian spirit is the most common Native trope in the horror genre. It's so old and clichéd that it's mind-boggling to see someone using it again. Give it up, copycat creators, and do something original for once.

    For more on Indian burial grounds, see Stereotypical Deadskins Video Game.

    October 25, 2014

    Tulalip Indian shoots "Tomahawk" students

    Most reports on the tragic murders at Marysville-Pilchuck High School noted that Jaylen Fryberg was a member of the Tulalips Tribes--an Indian. None suggested that his Indian status was a cause of the shooting spree--except this one:

    Jaylen Fryberg Is Not Your Indian Savage

    By Taté WalkerIf you’ve spent any time among Natives in their own communities, you realize quickly that a Native kid living among his people will invariably grow up learning how to feed his family (whether that’s hunting or farming or gathering). This is normal in our Native societies and an important way we pass down cultural teachings.

    But that explanation doesn’t rate as news precisely because it doesn’t fit into the narrative of Natives the Western world is primed to accept. The image associated with Native men is that of an aggressive warrior or savage. Redskin. Chief. Indian. Brave. Seminole. Fighting Sioux.

    We are mad. We are bloodthirsty. We will stop at nothing to win. We’re told these images of us used by sports teams are honorific. Be proud, we’re told. We’re honoring the only part of you we can accept: The way you looked centuries ago when we defeated you. But, hey, your team wins and gets millions in advertising so let’s just ignore the unrestrained racism on your helmets.

    For those of us who have spent years studying the effects of mascots and Native representation in mass media, it’s no coincidence that Jaylen turned to violence when his own football team was the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks, a nickname that came under fire several times over the past couple of decades as school boards across the country became hip to the fact Native-associated mascots are damaging in ways that utterly dehumanize and erase Native youth identities.

    Claims debated

    Taté Walker aka Missus Wrackspurt seems to be making two claims. One, that the media characterized Fryberg as an Indian warrior or "savage." And two, that Fryberg thought of himself as a warrior or savage.

    I read a lot of the news coverage. I didn't see any sign of the first claim.

    Showing him with a gun is what the media would've done with a shooter of any race. It's not an image tied to his being Native.

    An early posting on Fryberg's background was this one:

    Jaylen Fryberg: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

    It noted he owned guns and was an Indian, but didn't dwell on these facts or combine them into a "warrior" or "savage" meme. I'd say this was the norm for the reporting on this story.

    As for Walker's second claim, it's impossible to know without knowing Fryberg's history and psychology. But it's not uncommon for minority shooters to feel angry because they think society has prevented them from achieving the American dream.

    In any case, Walker's readers criticized her claims and she defended them in the comments:Student
    I knew jaylen, and despite all of your “research” this was not a crime born from racism. Natives are 100% equals at our school, generally being very well liked, as jaylen was. This crime was not the result of bullying as you seem to think. Now, nobody but his family who may or may not have read a suicide note that he may have left knows for sure, but from every knowledgable source I have heard ANYTHING from, this was completely the result of a severe depression from relationship problems. I know that your post was in good taste and had no bad intentions, however I think you are over looking possible serious mental disorders this child may have had and are instead placing partial blame on things such as school mascots. Ask any native person in OUR community and you will see clearly that natives were extremely well respected in our city and one horrible decision/incident does not reflect on us as a whole.

    Missus Wrackspurt
    Student: I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers to you, your family and community.

    Nothing about my commentary was in any way related to who Jaylen was as a person, positive or negative. Obviously, I don’t know him. Will never know him. His motives were his own and unknowable, as they are for all individuals.

    That said, I am constantly looking at the intersections of race and society, especially as those issues relate to Indian Country, because I work with Native youth and understand the struggles they face, even if they might not know some of the *systemic* causes themselves. If you are willing to learn more, please check out the links toward the end of my piece. This “research” is scientific, nonpartisan, and proved over and over again. In this scenario, systemic racism IS mascots, IS the media’s portrayal of Jaylen, as a teen, as an outdoorsman, and as a tribal citizen. We must address these issues and have these conversations if we want things to get better. As a mother, this is of the utmost importance to me.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

    OUR community not yours! this is not a native issue. Do not let it become one

    Missus Wrackspurt
    I’d normally trash a comment like this, because it adds nothing to the conversation. But since you’re the millionth person to say this to me in the last two days (and since you didn’t call me a derogatory word – thanks), I’m putting it up to say it is indeed a Native issue. You are part of the problem in erasing Native identity with comments like this. Do better, Anna, which for people like you means shutting up and listening to the many marginalized voices trying to tell you how to make things incrementally better.
    Comment:  Without knowing anything, I'd speculate that the warrior mentality prevalent in Native cultures did influence Fryberg. Being a football player, a homecoming prince, and a Tomahawk all may have contributed to a toxic sense of entitlement.

    That is, he may have felt he was an alpha male who deserved the girl (his girlfriend). When he didn't get her, that may have shattered his "warrior" pride and led to the shootings.

    For more on the subject, see Santa Barbara Shootings Show America's Pathology and Dunn Trial Shows America's Pathology.

    October 24, 2014

    Non-Cherokee tattoos honor Cherokee ancestors?

    Santana Moss explains his new Native American-themed tattoo

    By Dan SteinbergSantana Moss got a new tattoo on his leg. It’s kind of large. And pretty evocative.

    “S/o to my Boi @tattzbyd for coming up to bless me wth this Cherokee mural representing my ancestors,” Moss wrote on Instagram.

    Chad Dukes asked Moss for further details this week on his 106.7 The Fan program.

    “I’ve been wanting to do another tattoo for like the last 10 years,” Moss explained, mentioning his Miami-based tattoo artist, tattzbyd. “He does great work. So I’ve been like ‘I want him to do something for me, i just don’t know what.’

    “And one day it just clicked,” Moss went on. “You know, I’ve heard so much about my mom’s side—she [has] a lot of Cherokee Indians in the family, starting back with my grandmother and her mom and their mom—so I just wanted to do something honoring them. And it came about, and I told him what I wanted—look up some chiefs, look up this and that. And he just put a little mural together for me and he went to work on my leg.”

    I heard about Moss’s tattoo because @RedskinsFacts—the team-funded name-defense organization—tweeted about it approvingly. And that will obviously have some people wondering if Moss’s tattoo relates to the NFL franchise. Dukes asked Moss if he was worried about people making that connection.

    “Don’t bother me; I won’t bother you,” Moss said.

    Comment:  Adrienne Keene of Native Appropriations tweeted the following in response:

    Dr. Adrienne K. ‏@NativeApprops
    Hey Santana Moss, this ish isn't even REMOTELY "Cherokee": http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/10/22/santana-moss-explains-his-new-native-american-themed-tattoo/ … WILL IT EVER STOP? Plains stereotypes =/= Cherokee.

    Dr. Adrienne K. ‏@NativeApprops
    Absolutely hilarious this was promoted on @redskinsfacts. So typical of their "facts"...claiming respect/honoring but lacking basic research

    And a comment from Dinah on Facebook:Really? He 'pays tribute' through images that aren't remotely Cherokee? THIS is why we fight this crap!His instructions were: "Look up some chiefs, look up this and that." Glad he's so deeply committed to researching and understanding his supposed Cherokee ancestors.

    The stereotype here, of course, is that all Indians are interchangeable or the same. Wrong.


    From what we can see, the images may have come from romanticized paintings by non-Natives. For instance, by Kirby Sattler, who is infamous for inspiring Johnny Depp's crow head.

    I say paintings because modern Indians generally don't paint stripes on their faces. And old photographs usually aren't this detailed and aren't in color.

    There's also a painted horse, which undoubtedly comes from a Plains tribe. The Cherokee don't have any tradition of painting their horses.

    I'd have been impressed if the tattoos included Sequoyah, John Ross (in suit and tie), Will Rogers, Wilma Mankiller, et al. Because these are among the most famous Cherokees in history.

    But they didn't wear feathers and leathers, didn't paint their faces. They don't look primitive or uncivilized. They wouldn't suggest how "cool" and "tribal" Moss is. And that was Moss's real goal: not to honor actual Cherokees, but to link himself to savage warriors.

    He may have Cherokee blood--although everyone from Elizabeth Warren to Johnny Depp claims that and they're usually wrong. But I'd still call him a wannabe. He's trying to become Indian just as a mascot lover does--by appropriating and imitating someone else's culture.

    October 23, 2014

    "Honoring" savage Indians since 1933!

    Check Out All This Cool Vintage Redskins Gear!!!


    By Jack Shepard
    I found this super cool vintage Redskins sweatshirt in the back of my closet today and I thought it would be fun to have a look at all the awesome vintage Redskins gear that’s out there!

    Comment:  Who knows? Maybe the first image is supposed a red-skinned potato.

    On the bright side, it appears the team was an early supporters of gay rights, judging by the rainbow flags.

    Here we see exactly what the Washington team has "honored" since it adopted the "Redskins" name in 1933. Namely, the stereotypical idea of Indians as half-naked, warlike savages.

    With their menacing spears and tomahawks and scowls, they'll go on the warpath and kill anyone who opposes them. "Scalp 'em, swamp 'em, we will take 'em big score!"

    This message is in the team's original fight song and it's in their merchandise. The whole concept of "Redskins" is racist and has been from the beginning.

    October 22, 2014

    Killing "terrorists" = killing Indians

    Why do we ignore the civilians killed in American wars?

    By John TirmanWhy the American silence on our wars’ main victims? Our self-image, based on what cultural historian Richard Slotkin calls “the frontier myth”—in which righteous violence is used to subdue or annihilate the savages of whatever land we’re trying to conquer—plays a large role. For hundreds of years, the frontier myth has been one of America’s sturdiest national narratives.

    When the challenges from communism in Korea and Vietnam appeared, we called on these cultural tropes to understand the U.S. mission overseas. The same was true for Iraq and Afghanistan, with the news media and politicians frequently portraying Islamic terrorists as frontier savages. By framing each of these wars as a battle to civilize a lawless culture, we essentially typecast the local populations as the Indians of our North American conquest. As the foreign policy maven Robert D. Kaplan wrote on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page in 2004, “The red Indian metaphor is one with which a liberal policy nomenklatura may be uncomfortable, but Army and Marine field officers have embraced it because it captures perfectly the combat challenge of the early 21st century.”

    Politicians tend to speak in broader terms, such as defending Western values, or simply refer to resistance fighters as terrorists, the 21st-century word for savages. Remember the military’s code name for the raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound? It was Geronimo.

    The frontier myth is also steeped in racism, which is deeply embedded in American culture’s derogatory depictions of the enemy. Such belittling makes it all the easier to put these foreigners at risk of violence. President George W. Bush, to his credit, disavowed these wars as being against Islam, as has President Obama.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians, Terrorists = US Enemies and Bin Laden Codenamed Geronimo.

    October 21, 2014

    Party City stereotypes Indians

    It's that time of year again: Halloween, when faux Indian costumes fly across the Internet. Here's a typical example:

    What's that word again when you single out one race for its qualities?

    Oh, yeah...racism.

    Amazing how people think nothing of mixing occupations and fantasy figures with an ethnic group.

    But only one ethnic group. Can you imagine blackface costumes for "African Americans"? Or masks with big noses and beady eyes for "Jews"?

    Obviously not. Yet Native costumes are not only conceivable, they're ubiquitous. Which is nothing short of mind-boggling.

    October 20, 2014

    Berlin play features "naked savages"

    Naked Faux Savages and Neo-Racism in Berlin

    By Red HaircrowAt the Ethological Museum’s Humboldt Lab in Berlin, the play Captain Jacobsen recently premiered, featuring a performance by the group Das Helmi that culminated with brightly painted and masked dancers provocatively presenting what was supposed to be Natives of the Northwest during a potlatch feast. The dancers writhed intertwined and rode on each other’s backs in what was described as “a naked orgy of naked savages“ by the museum’s outraged former curator of the North American Collection, Peter Bolz (who retired in 2012). Males wore socks that covered their genitalia but most of the young female dancers were naked as they playfully simulated sexual wildness before an audience that included small children.

    The play is about the ethnologist Adrian Jacobsen, who traveled to the Northwest Coast to trade with the Kwakiutl, Haida and other tribes, and much of his acquired booty is still at the museum to this day. At its premiere in September, the recreation of his adventures received mixed reviews.

    “Part of the audience saw it as an innovative experiment, and part saw it as a form of neo-racism against Native Americans,” said Bolz. “Imagine if representatives of these Indigenous Peoples had been present in the hall. They would immediately leave Berlin under protest and never come back!”

    Other opinions were even more harsh. “Lacking in every respect; coarse, anarchic, ironic, absurd” and “stereotypical and done with low skill” said the review in the The Berliner Zeitung. It said the show was representing “the vulnerability of traditional Indian cultures through contact with the ethnologist (Jacobsen), which was interpreted with anarchic humor by Berlin puppet theater, Das Helmi, whose core brand is ‘Nothing is sacred.’”
    Comment:  For more on stereotypical plays, see Cry, Trojans! in Redface, Play Portrays Ishi as Rapist, Murderer, and Racism in Bloody, Bloody Jackson.

    October 19, 2014

    Stereotypes in Little Golden Books

    From Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature blog:

    Stereotypes of American Indians in Little Golden BooksIn 1942, Little Golden Books was launched. Among them are several with stereotypes of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

    There are 18 Indians shown on these covers (two on the Bugs Bunny one; none on the Roy Rogers and Little Trapper books). Only 2 are female. One of the two females is... umm... Howdy Doody's "Princess."
    Dueling comments on this posting:Ruth
    I agree with Anonymous. With our eyes and minds of today those books vlrstly show stereotypes. But in those times, it was not viewed / considered this way. Nobody asked themselves if they were stereotyping American Indians or not. Nobody asked if bokks by Countess of Segur were showing stereotypes against little girls. At the time, it was not the case. Your pictures are beautiful and remind me of my childhood. Thank you very much.

    Ruth, Another concern with the argument that those depictions were not considered stereotypes "back in the day" but not now is that some people DID recognize the inaccuracies and stereotyping back then, but their perspective was not considered important by the authors and publishers. Their actual voices were silenced even though they were frequently depicted--but they (the Native Americans, Africans and African-Americans, Asians, girls and women, etc.) often did consider those depictions to be problematic.
    Comment:  For more of Reese's analyses, see Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.

    October 18, 2014

    Racism involved in Upham search?

    Misty Upham's Family Claims Racism Involved In Lack Of Police Action To Search For Missing Actress

    By Oulimata BaMisty Upham's family has accused Washington authorities of racism and neglect for ignoring their pleas to find the missing Native American actress, who was found dead on Thursday by a search party coordinated by friends and family.
    Upham's body was found at the bottom of a 150-foot ravine near a river in a wooded area of Auburn, Washington.

    Tracey Rector, a friend of the family and their spokeswoman, told The Washington Post that relatives feel they were blown off by Auburn police and that long-standing racial tensions between local Native Americans and police may have played a role in their lack of concern.

    "The family pleaded for the police department to look for her; they pleaded for dogs," Rector said of Upham, who was reported missing by her father, Charles, on Oct. 6. At the time police said they did not consider the "August: Osage County" actress to be "endangered," The Post reported.

    "Unfortunately, it feels like 1950's racism in many ways," Rector added. "The family is concerned that Misty was considered just another Native person and treated as such. Even that is unacceptable. Native lives matter. It doesn't matter what her skin color was."
    Was she murdered? Family friend of Django Unchained star Misty Upham claims she may have been the victim of 'foul play' after Juliette Lewis says actress 'feared she would be targeted'

    Relatives say uncle Robert Upham organized search party
    Believes that she did not commit suicide, suggesting it was an accident
    Source, known as Harry, said police were 'derelict' in their search
    Her father already posted on Facebook saying police were not helping
    Others claimed she may have been the victim of 'foul play'
    The 32-year-old was found dead in Seattle woodland by her uncle
    Police claim 'no evidence of foul play', she was missing since October 5
    Didn't respond to comments that they didn't do enough to look for her
    Lewis insists 'this is not a suicide' and calls for investigation into death
    Her family claim she fell, they insist she 'would not commit suicide'

    By Mia de Graaf and Wills Robinson and Victoria Cavaliere
    A spokesman for the family released a statement on Friday evening saying: 'The family wants to make it clear the Auburn police did not help in the investigation or the finding of Misty at all. It was her uncle, Robert Upham, who organized the search party that found Misty.

    'The family is concerned that if the police had actually taken their concerns seriously within those first few hours of the report that perhaps she would have been found.

    'We are now just waiting on the coroner's report.'

    Asked if family and friends could trust the coroner's report, she responded: 'The family has concerns. We are waiting to hear what is stated in the coroner's report but there is a long history of police harassment between the Auburn police and the Native community.

    'There's a lot of distrust. And that's founded in the historical trauma experienced by the Native community at the hands of the police.

    'And you know, Misty has also experienced harassment at the hands of police so you know, the family is concerned about the circumstances surrounding what happened and why police chose not look for Misty.'
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Misty Upham Dies.

    October 17, 2014

    Jor-El's lucky Superman guess

    This cartoons raises a good point. Jor-El sent the rocket to Earth and assumed the super-baby would grow up to be a wise and benevolent hero. I.e., that the maxim "absolute power corrupts absolutely" wouldn't apply in this case.

    In other words, he gambled the fate of an entire world on his understanding of an alien race's psychology. He wasn't an anthropologist and he studied us only through a telescope, but that was enough info for him.

    This seems like history's luckiest guess to me. Jor-El's arrogant assumptions could've gone wrong in so many ways. The cartoons suggests a likely outcome.

    The equivalent would be if I watched a documentary on a primitive South Seas tribe, then sent them Christianity or television or credit cards to "help" them. My intent was good, so what could possibly go wrong?

    At least Abin Sur could claim his ring probed Hal Jordan's mind and determined he was noble and selfless. Although the whole Parallax storyline calls that into question. But Jor-El didn't have any such mind-reading or future-predicting powers.

    For more on Superman, see Racist Superhero Comics in Cracked and Superior Powers Don't Change Society.

    October 16, 2014

    Misty Upham dies

    I tweeted about the disappearance of Misty Upham over the last week. Here's the sad outcome:

    Coroner’s Office Confirms Body of Native Actress Misty Upham Found

    By Levi RickertFriends and family of Misty Upham gathered on Thursday night after the county coroner’s office confirmed the body found earlier in the day was that of the 32-year-old actress.

    Charlie Upham, father of the actress, was asked to identify his daughter’s body and he did so.

    A search party discovered her purse, which contained her California driver license, about 1:00 p.m.–PDT Thursday afternoon within walking distance of the apartment Upham left on the evening of Sunday, October 5, 2014.

    The three-person search and rescue party, which included her uncle, Robert Upham, then tied a rope to a tree to climb down a 150-feet ravine and discovered her body near the White River in Auburn, Washington. The two others in the search party were Robert J. Kennedy and Jeff Barehand.

    The party then called 911.

    Upham left her sister’s apartment on her own freewill and vanished into the night. Even though Upham’s family wanted the Auburn Police Department to exert more effort in finding her, the police department did not mount an effort in finding her since she left on her own freewill.

    So the family mounted their own search and rescue parties find Upham. By Thursday some two dozen members of the American Indian community, including three tribal council members of the Muckleshoot Tribe, formed small groups to attempt to find her.

    Misty Upham Confirmed Dead: Family Identifies Body, Meryl Streep and Melissa Leo Express Grief

    By Scott FeinbergUpham's cause of death has not yet been determined. On Oct. 10, her father told THR that Upham suffered from bipolar disorder and was off her medication when she disappeared, leading him to believe that she may have been suicidal. On Thursday night, however, Rector said the family felt differently: "The family has stated that, after seeing the body, they still do not feel that Misty Upham committed suicide."

    Rector also indicated that the family is enraged at the Auburn Police Department for what they say is a lack of assistance in the search to locate Upham. "First and foremost," she told THR, "the family wants everyone to know that the Auburn police did not help with this situation at all. They refused to help. When she disappeared on Oct. 5, the family knew something was seriously wrong—it was out of character for her to be gone so long without being in touch—and they repeatedly went to the police, who insisted there was no cause for concern."

    There is apparently a history of hostility between the Auburn police and the Muckleshoot Reservation, on which several thousand Muckleshoot reside, that falls largely within Auburn. According to Rector, "Robert Upham led the search with the help of the Muckleshoot tribal community."

    Auburn police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    In the hours after the news broke, there was a huge outpouring of grief via social media from Upham's friends, fans and colleagues. Additionally, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively obtained comments from two of Upham's most prominent costars, August's Meryl Streep and Frozen River's Melissa Leo.

    Streep, who played the matriarch of the family for which Upham served as a caretaker in August: Osage County, wrote, "So so sad to hear this news—all our thoughts are with her family and with her beautiful spirit." Leo, whose character collaborated with Upham's to smuggle illegal immigrants from Canada into America in Frozen River, wrote, "Such a loss... so sad, so so sad."
    Comment:  As you may know, I wrote a few articles about Misty and her movies. We were casual friends, and I attended one of her Hollywood events with her.

    She called me "Grinch" and I called her "Grinchette," since she could be as contrary as I was. Good-bye, Grinchette.

    October 15, 2014

    Ban "Redskins" at Vikings game?

    Native Americans plan to mount largest-ever Redskins protest at Vikings game

    By John Woodrow CoxNext month, the Washington Redskins will fly to a state with a governor who has called their mascot racist, drive to a university with a president who wants their moniker changed, arrive at a stadium built with the help of a multimillion-dollar tribal donation and be greeted with what organizers hope is the biggest-ever protest of the team’s name.

    Minnesota Native American leaders, student organizations and other activists have been preparing for weeks to stage demonstrations outside the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, where the Redskins will play the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 2. Organizers say Native Americans from at least seven states intend to join.

    The game will probably draw even more attention after Native Americans on both sides of the issue made public appearances at Sunday’s game in Arizona. Before kickoff, more than 100 protesters marched outside the stadium as, not far away, a pregame party was held for Native Americans who support the Redskins. The team tweeted a photo of a Zuni family dressed in Redskins gear, and, during the game, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly was shown on TV wearing a Redskins cap as he sat next to team owner Daniel Snyder.

    Snyder has vowed to keep the name, which he contends honors Native Americans. The team has cited polls showing that a majority of Americans—and even a majority of Native Americans in one 10-year-old survey—do not find the team name offensive.

    Opponents of the name hope the Nov. 2 protest will be much louder.
    Minneapolis investigates banning Redskins name

    The city’s attorney will say whether Minneapolis can prohibit the team’s name and mascot

    By Ethan Nelson
    After shaking up University of Minnesota administrators and other policymakers, the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins has moved downtown to City Hall, where elected officials are mulling a ban on the NFL team’s name.

    Because of a City Council vote earlier this month, the city attorney will investigate whether Minneapolis has legal authority to ban the football team’s name and logo when it plays the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on Nov. 2.

    Though the attorney’s office will provide its opinion by next Wednesday, some city leaders aren’t confident they can take legal action.

    “I have my doubts,” said Cam Gordon, who represents the University and surrounding areas on the City Council.

    He said there might be issues with the ban violating freedom of speech. And at a council committee meeting late last month, the councilman called the issue a “minefield.”
    Groups press U to take on NFL, ban DC team's mascot from stadium

    By Alex FriedrichThe University of Minnesota isn't using all its legal leverage to block the use of the Washington Redskins' name and logo at the university's stadium, say critics who have been pressuring the franchise to change its name.

    St. Paul attorney Larry Leventhal, a board member of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, contends that the team's use at a Nov. 2 game between the Minnesota Vikings and Washington at TCF Bank Stadium violates the university's stadium lease agreement with the Vikings.

    "What we're observing is an apparent effort by the university to kind of give lip service to what the contract says," Leventhal said.

    University officials have said they can only ask the Vikings not to use the controversial name and logo in connection with the game.

    But Leventhal said the lease does give the university officials some legal power.

    He said use of the logo and name "Redskins" violates this section of the contract:The Vikings shall not take any action or use any language in its use of the Facilities that might reasonably be expected to offend contemporary community standards, such as use of words regarding sexual acts, defamatory language, or language that might denigrate any class or group of people.Coalition members say many Native Americans and others find the "Redskins" name racially offensive and therefore subject to the clause.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Navajo President Sits with Snyder and Natives Protest Redskins in Phoenix.

    October 14, 2014

    FedEx pressured to drop Redskins

    Tribal chief: No FedEx until Redskins change team name

    By Eliott C. McLaughlinA Native American chief has asked all tribal employees to refrain from using FedEx until the Washington Redskins changes its team name.

    "Until the name of the NFL team is changed to something less inflammatory and insulting, I direct all employees to refrain from using FedEx when there is an alternative available," Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear penned in his directive to all employees.

    The tribe also issued a news release saying that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder "chooses to stick with a brand which dictionaries define as disparaging and offensive. FedEx chose to endorse that brand through their sponsorship of Mr. Snyder's organization."

    It concludes, "The Osage Nation chooses not to use FedEx services. We encourage other tribal nations to consider similar actions."
    VizExplorer, a gaming company that does business with tribal casinos, is also halting its use of FedEx in Indian country.

    Then there's this:

    FedEx Votes Down Proposal To Drop Sponsorship Of ‘Redskins’ Stadium, Citing Some B.S.

    By Eric GoldscheinOne major sponsor has finally made its collective feelings about the name public, via a motion at an annual shareholder’s meeting. Via Bloomberg:FedEx Corp. (FDX) shareholders rejected a proposal from the Oneida Indian tribe to “drop or distance” its ties to the Washington Redskins, including sponsorship of the team’s stadium.

    The motion involving the National Football League was presented from the floor of the shipping company’s annual shareholder meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, today after FedEx won the right from federal regulators to omit it from its proxy materials. The Redskins have been under pressure to change their name from a group of Native Americans who argue it’s offensive.
    The vote wasn’t even close, with 228.6 million shares against the proposal to change the name and 203,521 shares for it. Though FedEx would neither confirm nor deny whether this vote was for a binding proposal, the author of the Bloomberg article told SportsGrid that this “wasn’t a non-binding proposal.”
    The column's conclusion:Sponsors can put as much distance between themselves and the name as they want, but until they cut ties altogether, they are complicit in continuing the usage of a slur for a football team. They might not have to stand up and defend it for themselves like Dan Synder does, but their implicit support should not go unnoticed.Comment:  For more on the subject, see FedEx Criticized for Sponsoring Redskins and FedEx Targeted for Sponsoring Redskins.

    October 13, 2014

    Navajo president sits with Snyder

    Deadspin was the first to report perhaps the most interesting aspect of Sunday's Redskins game:

    Disgraced, Soon-To-Be-Former Navajo Nation President Attends 'Skins Game

    By Barry PetcheskyAs part of his campaign to convince you that his team's name isn't racist, Dan Snyder took in today's game with Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation. Once again, Dan probably should have done a little more research.

    Shelly is technically still president, but not for much longer. He got absolutely trounced in August's primary election, finishing seventh.

    Shelly's a lame duck, and he'll be out of office on Jan. 14 when the new president is sworn in.

    Many other news outlets picked up this curiosity and ran with it:

    Daniel Snyder watches Redskins-Cardinals with the Navajo Nation president

    Controversial Navajo Nation president and his wife join Washington Redskins owner in his VIP box at NFL game--as protesters gather against 'racist' name outside

    Snyder is currently in a legal battle with the U.S. Patent office which cancelled his trademark last June calling it 'disparaging to Native Americans'

    Before Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, about 100 gathered outside of University of Phoenix stadium to protest the Redskins team name

    Shelly finished seventh in August's presidential primary elections, and will be vacating office in January

    By Ashley Collman
    Shelly's decision to back Snyder makes him a minority in his tribe, which voted last April to formally oppose the Redskins name, 9-2.

    Shelly has faced controversy ever since he entered office in 2011, when he was accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the tribe to benefit himself and his family members.

    Those charges were eventually dropped when Shelly agreed to pay back the $8,250 he was accused of taking.

    He also went behind tribal leaders backs to partner with Snyder previously, to sponsor a golf tournament with the NFL team owner's Original Americans Foundation (OAF).

    When other Native American groups found out about OAF's sponsorship the day before the event, a few pulled out.
    Not just a mascot

    But Shelly wasn't just slouching in his chair looking embarrassed to be a sellout:

    Shelly says he talked business with Snyder

    By The Associated PressNavajo Nation President Ben Shelly says he talked business with Redskins owner Dan Snyder at Sunday's NFL game and not about the ongoing debate over the team's name and logo.

    Shelly said Monday that he and Snyder spoke about expanding an agreement the tribe made with the team earlier this year.

    The Redskins entered into a licensing agreement with Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise for the sale of tribal jewelry, rugs, sand paintings and other items at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

    Washington waived the licensing fee for the tribe and is working to open the agreement to the other 31 NFL teams.

    Shelly talked to Snyder about other possible initiatives, including construction of an indoor sports pavilion on the reservation and funding for the Navajo Code Talkers Museum.
    A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Navajo President Explains His Game Time Activities

    By Levi RickertPresident Shelly met with Dan Snyder to discuss expansion of the licensing agreement to the other 31 NFL teams across the country.

    “We have an enormous opportunity to bring more business to Navajo craftsmen and artisans,” President Shelly said. “This licensing agreement with the NFL has opened the door for new jobs and economic development for the Nation.”

    “We were there on a mission,” President Shelly said, adding that the meeting between the Navajo Nation and the Washington NFL team was about more than football.

    Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, Albert Damon, has worked on the licensing agreement between the Navajo Nation and the Washington NFL team from the start of negotiations.

    “This licensing agreement allows for growth of the Nation’s cottage industry for developing arts and crafts,” Damon said. “The Redskins offered first and the NFL issued the licensing agreement.

    “Now we’re after the other teams,” he added.
    Mocking Snyder's efforts

    But people aren't buying the Shelly administration's spin:

    The Redskins are trying really hard to convince you the team name isn’t racist

    By Big SandayYou guys, the Washington Fightin’ Snyders are really, really trying hard to convince you that their team name isn’t racist. In fact, some of their best fans are even Native Americans so, you know, NOT RACIST! This new, odd push comes at a time when the outrage over the team name still simmers but remains in the background thanks to Roger Goodell’s ineptitude and other recent revelations over domestic violence in the league. But there’s the team, right there, making a big push during today’s game at Arizona to convince that you’re wrong about that team name.

    Even though the Navajo Nation joined the fight to make the team change their name six months ago, television cameras caught Gun Slinger Snyder hosting Ben Shelly, the president of the Navajo Nation, in his box at the game. But before anyone thinks this is some sort of breakthrough, the Redskins invited various Native American groups to a pregame tailgate and Shelly has faced criticism from many in his own tribe for his seeming indifference to the team name controversy and even stirred up a feud when a Native American gaming group withdrew from a golf tournament meant to raise scholarships because the Redskins were a primary sponsor.
    And more:

    A cartoon by Ricardo Caté of "Without Reservations":

    And one by Jack Ahasteen, political cartoonist for the Navajo Times:

    Critics also had a field day with the photos of Snyder and Shelly in the owner's box. My effort below was one of several:

    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Natives Protest Redskins in Phoenix and Redskins Fans Show Their "Respect."

    Natives protest Redskins in Phoenix

    Protesters March Against Redskins; Snyder Still Wooing Natives

    By Jacqueline KeelerAt least 150 protesters, led by Amanda Blackhorse--the lead plaintiff in the trademark lawsuit that led to the cancellation of billionaire NFL owner Dan Snyder’s trademarks on the Washington football team’s name--gathered to protest the name Redskins in Glendale, Arizona, during Sunday’s NFL football game, Cardinals vs. Redskins.

    The protesters began with a prayer led by Tohono O'odham elders and marched to University of Phoenix Stadium where luminaries like poet and writer Simon Ortiz (Acoma) spoke to the crowd about racism, colonization and against the use of Native people as mascots.

    When Blackhorse spoke to the crowd, she said, “We are not here to fight amongst ourselves. We are not here to call them names or anything like that. We are here to raise awareness."

    ICTMN reported in an earlier story that Zuni Tribal Governor Arlen Quetawki Sr. would attend Sunday’s game as Snyder’s guest. Quetawki was allegedly given at least 250 tickets by Snyder for tribal members to attend, including Navajo students and staff from Red Mesa High School (whose mascot is also the Redskins).

    Tears of Protest at Redskins Game and How Dan Snyder Caused Them

    By Nicolet Deschine ParkhurstAs protesters marched on Maryland, a street north of the UOP stadium, game attendees were walking towards the stadium. The group chanted sound bites such as “Humans are not mascots,” “What do we want? Respect. When do we want it? Now,” “Hey-hey-ho-ho, redface has got to go,” “Game over for racism,” and “R-word is a dictionary defined racial slur.” This is because cognitive dissonance can shake up a person’s preconceived notion with new information that they may not have considered before, making a person rethink and potentially challenge their own position and way of thinking.

    During the rally, the speakers–including Blackhorse and renowned Acoma poet and writer Simon J. Ortiz–touched on different aspects of the mascot issue, including the current legal environment surrounding the team’s trademark, and the history behind the 40-year fight and national efforts to educate the public.

    Dennis Welsh, a councilman from the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Arizona and California, and treasurer of the National Congress of American Indians, explained how the issue is deeper than the team’s name.

    He drew the links to racism, colonialism and the structure of oppression, and emphasized the negative impacts on the self-esteem of Native youth, and protecting Native culture and identity.

    Our goal was to raise awareness, and we did, on national television to millions of viewers as reporters took note of the protest and controversial name.There were fans from the Cardinals and Washington teams who gave fist bumps, thumbs up, and spoke words of encouragement. One particular Washington fan engaged in a civil, educational exchange with advocates and later said he supported the cause, but that he wasn’t aware of the controversy until recently.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Navajo President Sits with Snyder and Redskins Fans Show Their "Respect."

    Free stuff on Columbus Day!

    As I tweeted:

    A Columbus Day sale would make a good stunt for a Native performance artist. Tell a sales clerk that it means stuff is free for the taking.


    In the great man's "honor," here's my annual reposting of my soon-to-be-classic posting from 2009: Columbus tweets about his 1492 voyage and "discovery":

    Columbus twitters

    Also, my 1994 essay from the early days of my Native interest:

    This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco: A Columbus Day Rant

    October 12, 2014

    Rise of Indigenous Peoples' Day

    Why Columbus Day is becoming Indigenous Peoples' Day:

    Taking the Columbus Out of Columbus Day

    By Rev. David FeltenAny claim that one might have to Columbus having been a noble explorer worth honoring with a Federal holiday is eclipsed by the reality of the inhumanity he visited upon his fellow human beings. It's long overdue that more of us get serious about doing something different with Columbus Day. Of course, any attempt at removing it from the roster of federal holidays would literally be making a federal case out of it--and retailers would likely cry foul over a lost opportunity to offer their wares at "Blowout Columbus Day Prices!" Along with those who, despite reality, can still deny the holocaust and those who would howl over historical revisionism, there are many challenges. Accusations of anti-Italian racism, anti-Catholic bigotry, and treasonous un-American activities are sure to be heard. But how does celebrating a fabricated and corrupt idol benefit the cause of Italians, Catholics, or the integrity of Americans' shared history?

    But there are signs of change: this year marks both Portland schools and the City of Seattle's decision to celebrate "Indigenous People's Day" on the same day as Columbus Day. They join the cities of Berkeley, Minneapolis, and other municipalities across the country who have either replaced Columbus Day altogether or introduced an alternative Indigenous People's Day. These trail blazers are the first step in what will likely be a prolonged effort toward redefining an observance that needs way too many asterisks and footnotes to justify why it is still celebrated.

    "Columbus Day" may very well be with us for yet another eighty years and beyond, but that's not to say that, over time, it can't be transitioned into a new kind of observance, a teachable moment of repentance and wide-eyed honesty about our shared past and hope for the future.

    Indigenous People's Day (formerly known as Columbus Day) is likely to be a threat to those who claim the ideology of American Exceptionalism as their doctrine and faith--but what is more exceptional than honesty, repentance, and committing to a future of treating others with the dignity and respect due every human being? America might not be grown up enough to handle it, but hopefully, before another 80 years passes, Christopher Columbus will be a footnote to Indigenous People's Day (and not the other way around).
    Salt in the wound: Why it’s time to move on from Columbus Day

    By Joe GousseFor the vast majority of Americans, Columbus Day is a day to which they look forward. It’s a day off. A much needed reprieve. But for native people, it’s a solemn reminder of the great cost at which our present existence has come. It’s reminder of a history steeped in bloodshed and atrocity—after all, Columbus wrote freely in his diaries about the peaceful nature of the first natives he encountered and how “easily” they might be enslaved.

    While the rest of us celebrate a day to watch Monday night football, or get some extra yard work in before the first frost, native people are left to consider the weighty reality of this nation’s history.

    So where does that leave us as a society? Does it even matter? Should we do away with Columbus Day in its entirety? The answer, surprisingly, is no. A cogent solution is to reappropriate Columbus Day as “Indigenous Peoples Day”—which a number of cities across the U.S. observe—or “Native Americans Day.”

    Honoring native people and culture in place of Columbus isn’t a cure-all. It doesn’t come close to healing gaping, historic wounds. But then again, nothing can. What observance of this day does do is properly refocus the spirit of the holiday. It creates something of utility from which we can stand together and honor the traditions of a people who have called these lands home since time immemorial.
    Some details on how the designation came about in Seattle:

    The Rise of Indigenous Peoples Day

    By Matt RemleOn October 6, 2014, in a packed Seattle city hall council chambers room, the Seattle city council voted unanimously to rename the second Monday in October, the federal holiday Columbus Day, to Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the city of Seattle. The room erupted in emotion with loud cheers, the sound of drums and the sight of overjoyed, smiling and crying faces followed by an impromptu singing of the AIM song in the halls of Seattle city hall.

    The Seattle city council vote followed the previous weeks unanimous vote by the Seattle school board to both establish the second Monday in October as a day of observance for Indigenous Peoples’ and to make a board commitment to the teaching of tribal history, culture, governance and current affairs into the Seattle public schools system.

    The origins for both the Seattle city council and Seattle school board resolutions date back to 2011, when I was attending an Abolish Columbus Day rally in downtown Seattle. As I was listening to the beautiful songs of a local canoe family, I started thinking about South Dakota and their successful effort to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. That night I decided to contact members of the Seattle city council, as well as, my local State Legislatures to see if they might be willing to do something similar on either the City or State level.

    To my surprise, the following morning I got a phone call from Washington State Senator Margarita Prentice and proceeded to have a long conversation about the genocide brought by Columbus to our Native relatives in the Caribbean and how she would love to sponsor a resolution on the State level. She simply asked that I draft a resolution and seek support from area tribes first before she would sponsor the resolution.

    Elated, I immediately contacted Theresa Sheldon and Deborah Parker from Tulalip, who were both policy analyst for the Tulalip Tribes at that time, and whom currently sit on the Tulalip Board of Directors, to let them know the news. They agreed to take the resolution to the 2011 Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians annual conference and put the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution before the conference for a vote. The resolution was unanimously approved, and although the resolution ultimately did not succeed on the State level, the seeds of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution for Seattle were sown.
    Comment:  For more on Columbus Day, see Obama's Columbus Day Proclamation and Winning the War on Columbus?

    Redskins fans show their "respect"

    As usual, Redskins fans showed how they "honor" and "respect" Indians:

    As one critic put it:My hometown football team sure loves to honor Native Americans. Our fans are so respectful of Native American culture that some of them showed up to the game in Arizona today in traditional red face and headdress. Indigenous people must feel so honored by this display. I am so glad we honor Native Americans like this right before Columbus Day. Native Americans should be thanking us for honoring them like this instead of complaining about REDSKINS.My version of this image:

    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Navajo President Sits with Snyder and Natives Protest Redskins in Phoenix.

    October 11, 2014

    Tulare Union's stereotypical Redskins mascot

    Here's the kind of mascot story that has appeared since the Washington Redskins controversy took off:

    Tulare Union High School stands by Redskin mascot amid national firestorm

    As controversy over Redskin mascot grows stronger than ever, so does Redskin pride at Tulare Union High School

    By Dan Kukla
    A statue of Chief Seattle, the epitome of Tulare Union High School's depiction of its Redskin mascot, evokes a myriad of reactions depending on the eye of the beholder.

    Where some see beauty and dignity, others see ugly racism.

    The school views the centerpiece of its campus and Redskin Pride Park as a masterpiece portraying honor and respect.

    "This park is where the pride starts," said Mark Hatton, Union's director of student activities. "This is literally the heartbeat of the campus."

    ASB president David John Macedo comes from a family rich with Redskin legacy. His grandparents met and fell in love at Union. Now he feels a deep sense of pride in living out that legacy as a Redskin himself.

    "It's definitely a lesson to be learned when you're a Redskin," Macedo said. "It's a lesson in stewardship and courage and most of all community."

    This profound reverence for the Redskin way of life manifests itself in the school's depiction of the Redskin mascot.

    You will not find any animated Indian cartoons on campus or letterman jackets. Over time, Union decided to phase out the use of weapons from its imagery and the word "war" from its vernacular. The physical mascot itself is not a big-headed costume, but rather a human likeness of an Indian Princess that Ingram describes as "beautiful" and "gorgeous."

    Indeed, from Chief Seattle to the many murals, signs and displays featured around campus, a walk around school grounds turns up nothing but positive and respectful portrayals of Native Americans.

    Comment:  This particular example of mascotry set me off for a couple of reasons:

    1) The school uses a real-life individual--Chief Seattle--as its mascot. The only other example of this that I can think of is FSU's "Chief" Osceola.

    2) The photos are so obviously stereotypical, yet writer Kukla claims he sees only positive portrayals.

    In response to this article, I posted the following comment:"A walk around school grounds turns up nothing but positive and respectful portrayals of Native Americans"...are you serious? Seattle lived in Washington and had nothing to do with California. He did not wear a headdress from the Great Plains or have sexy maidens who did. As Snopes explains, the speech quoted on the statue is a well-known phony from a 1972 film.

    Chief Seattle

    So every Tulare Union depiction of Seattle is false and stereotypical. That isn't what I'd call "positive and respectful." Falsifying someone's history and appearance is the epitome of disrespect.
    I don't know if the girl in the photo is supposed to be "the human likeness of an Indian Princess." Whether it's her or someone else in a costume, Native women don't wear headdresses or dress in sexy buckskin skirts.

    Then there's the fact that the school "phase[d] out the use of weapons from its imagery and the word 'war' from its vernacular." Given the remaining stereotypes, this isn't some great achievement.

    Moreover, it shows the school's underlying belief: that Indians did nothing but fight wars. That's why it chose the word "redskins": because it embodies the Indians' warlike savagery.

    Finally, here's the real Seattle:

    Does Seattle look anything like the Plains chief in the logos and statue? No.

    Note the woven hat he's holding, which is typical of the Duwamish and other Pacific Northwest tribes. Woven hat, not feather bonnet. Not all Indians come from the Great Plains, silly Tulare Union.

    To reiterate, Tulare Union's mascot is false and stereotypical. Worse, the school is arguably racist for ignoring the protests and implying that all Indians fit its Plains chief/Seattle/"Redskin" mold. This is yet another Indian mascot that should bite the dust, and quickly.