July 31, 2014

Fact-checking RedskinsFacts.com

Top 10 Facts Omitted From D.C. Team's New PR Website

Some selections from this file:1. The Washington team name is a dictionary defined racial slur

4. Marshall did not use a racial slur as his team's name in order to honor Native Americans

6. Social science research has documented the continued damage the Washington team is inflicting on Native
Americans by marketing the racial slur

7. Most major Native American and civil rights groups have asked the Washington team to stop promoting a
racial slur as its name

10. Billionaire Dan Snyder has a vested financial interest in continuing to slur Native Americans
Fact checking the new Web site, ‘RedskinsFacts.com’

By Glenn KesslerThe Pinocchio Test

For a Web site that claims to be devoted to “the facts,” the history section leaves out a lot of them, in particular the highly negative connotations—instead of “noble qualities”—that the phrase “redskin” had acquired in the decades before the name was adopted by the football team. Instead, the Web site dwells on the pre-19th century usage, and skips over the fact that one of the team’s longtime assertions—that the name was chosen in honor of the “Indian” coach—now appears to be wrong.

This is one of those cases where individual assertions might have a factual basis, but so much information is missing that a false impression is left in the mind of the reader. We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios, but ultimately tipped toward Three. If you are going to have a Web site supposedly devoted to the facts, you can’t leave out the inconvenient ones.


Washington Football Team Facts

Everything you need to know about why the nickname has to go.The team’s nickname-defending site notes that Smithsonian Institution scholar Ives Goddard published an article in 2005 noting that “the actual origin of the word is entirely benign.”* But the meanings of words evolve. By the early 20th century, the word was most often used in a derogatory context, and sports pages often resorted to “scalping” puns. In 2013, the Native American director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian said it was “the equivalent of the N-word.”

An oft-cited poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center claiming that 90 percent of Native Americans are OK with the name was methodologically flawed, as explained by Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney. In a more recent Washington Post poll, two-thirds of Washingtonians said they wouldn’t change the name. But 56 percent of the people who professed they would keep the name say it “is inappropriate.”

Another poll, by the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at California State University–San Bernardino, found that 67 percent of American Indians believe the “team name is a racial or racist word and symbol.”

The team’s nickname-defending site explains that “[h]igh schools on Native American reservations … continue to embrace and use the [Washington football team] name and logo.” But as Ian Crouch of The New Yorker reports: “Since 1971, nearly two-thirds of professional and amateur athletic teams bearing Native American iconography have made a change.”

The team’s nickname-defending site also claims that “in 1933, four players and then-head coach William Henry ‘Lone Star’ Dietz identified themselves as Native Americans.” The Washington Post, though, revealed that Dietz “served jail time for dodging the draft during World War I because he falsely registered as an Indian.”
Summing it up

Another article summarizes the nickname debate, including the latest developments with RedskinsFacts. Its conclusion is worth repeating:

Washington Redskins name change: A red-hot issue of race, money and politics

Opposition is growing to the Washington Redskins name, while the club have launched advertising and fund-raising campaigns in attempts to sway opinion

By Ian Herbert
[T]he pressure for change is beginning to look irresistible in a nation where baseball’s references to Native Americans–from the Cleveland Indians’ cartoon mascot named Chief Wahoo to the Atlanta Braves’ tomahawk chop gesture–have also earned censure.

The Washington Post’s Mike Wise best captures the prevailing sentiment. “I can see how a lot of people in Washington, including the owner, grew up loving the team and never used the word in a disparaging way towards American Indians,” he says. “I can see that’s part of their history and I don’t think they’re racist because they use it. But why can’t the owner and the most ardent fans of the name put themselves in the shoes of someone else?”

The name has a connotation that “doesn’t make us look civilised” says fan Gene Stevens, leaving the stadium with his family after watching United’s win over Internazionale. “You can find all the excuses and all the people you like to say ‘it’s fine’. But you need to sit down and think about how you look to the wider world.”

Hillary Clinton criticizes "Redskins"

Hillary Clinton thinks the Redskins should change their name

By Nina MandellHillary Clinton became the latest top Democrat to speak out about the Redskins’ controversial name when she said that she thinks “it’s insensitive” in an interview with Fusion TV.

“I think there’s no reason for it to continue as the name of a team in our nation’s capital,” the former secretary of state said. “I would love to see the owners think hard about what they could substitute …”
"Ex-Redskins tight end Clint Didier, a Tea Party favorite," offered this worthless response:

Clint Didier to Hillary Clinton: Redskins’ name honors Native Americans

Meanwhile, the hits keep coming:

CBS NFL Host James Brown Says ‘No’ to Redskins, Cites Civil Rights MovementLongtime CBS sports broadcaster James Brown says the Washington NFL team should “Do the right thing” and change its name. In an interview with CBS News’ live symposium, 50 Years Later: Civil Rights, Brown related the debate to the civil rights movement.

“I know people will engage in an argument and say, Well, it hasn’t been an issue all this time,” said Brown, who hosts the shows The NFL Today on CBS and Inside the NFL. “Yeah, well, the civil rights issue was one where ‘That’s just the way it was’ for a long period of time, right? So that holds no basis and substance to me. Do the right thing. You know, a number of years ago, when I was a kid, there was a restaurant chain called Sambo’s, which, as I understand was the last name of two guys who owned the restaurant chain. But it was offensive to black people, so they changed the name, except for the one franchise in California, I believe it was. Well, so, if in fact it’s offensive to Native Americans—and there doesn’t have to be unanimity on this, and don’t just have a intractable attitude saying, I’m not going to change—that’s wrong as far as I’m concerned. I’ll get in trouble with that, but I stand on principle.”

July 30, 2014

Redskins launch RedskinsFacts.com

Redskins launch new ‘Redskins Facts’ campaign as former players travel to reservation

By Dan SteinbergAmid continuing criticism of their team name, the Washington Redskins have launched a new campaign to defend the moniker, headed by popular former players who traveled to Indian country this week.

Ads for a new site, RedskinsFacts.com, have begun appearing on the web sites of Sports Illustrated, the Washington Times and The Washington Post in recent days. The group’s Web site lists a five-man steering committee of former players—Gary Clark, Chris Cooley, Mark Moseley, Ray Schoenke and Roy Jefferson.

Clark, Cooley and Moseley traveled to the Rocky Boy’s Reservation in Montana on Monday and Tuesday, meeting with Chippewa-Cree tribal leaders and visiting a football practice and a rodeo session, which was sponsored by the team’s Original Americans Foundation.
And:Said Moseley: “There’s a real need here, and [maybe] nothing else comes out of this other than the fact that we’re bringing attention to a real blight in the U.S. that we should be ashamed of: the way we treat Indians, the way we always have.”

Some critics of the name, Moseley said, “don’t know what they’re talking about. They’ve done no research. They’ve never talked to an Indian. They have no knowledge of what Redskins really stands for. They just heard someone say this is like the N-word, and all of a sudden people jumped on the bandwagon and said it’s racist, and that’s ridiculous.

“We know it’s not a racist word,” Moseley said. “It’s not something they’re ashamed of. And at the same time, while doing this we found this need which is out there that we can help with, and so that’s what we’re doing.”
NFL's Redskins Launch Site in Attempt to Quell Racist Allegations

By Paula MejiaWashington, D.C.’s resident football team has been under fire for its name, which—according to most major dictionaries—is a derogatory slur directed against Native Americans. Yesterday the team launched a new site playing up its history and validating its name.

“We at RedskinsFacts.com contend that the name is a self-reference in the context of the football team itself—and in no way should it be considered a slur targeted at a specific ethnic subgroup of Americans,” the site says.

The site features sections dedicated to positive media coverage and favorable facts. Former team members and Native Americans, who claim to not mind the name, appear in videos. The homepage features 2004 study conducted by the Annenberg Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which reportedly found that 90 percent of Native Americans surveyed nationwide about the team’s name didn’t find it offensive. It also notes an Associated Press survey from earlier this year that found 83 percent of Americans wanted to keep the name.

But several questions have been raised. The Annenberg survey fails to specify who participated in the Native American citizens poll: Was it only people who were registered with a tribe, or people who are partially Native American?


Redskins "facts" or spin?

Now that we've seen the Redskins' corporate media spin, here's the reality:

The sad desperation of the “Redskins Facts” site

Who's really behind the "growing online community"?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
This week, ads on the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated sites began trumpeting the new outpost for “a growing online community of passionate Washington Redskins fans and others” and vowing to offer “historical evidence to fair-minded opinion leaders on both sides of the issue so ongoing discussions can be constructive.” That community, however, is so far made largely of its official sponsors, team alumni Gary Clark, Chris Cooley, Mark Moseley, Ray Schoenke and Roy Jefferson. Speaking to Slate Tuesday, team spokesman Tony Wyllie did not directly state how the site was being funded, but declared, “The alumni and the Redskins have a long history of supporting each other and this education effort is no different. So where it is appropriate for the alumni to pay for expenses then they will and when it is appropriate for the Redskins then the organization will. Since it is so early in the education effort there is no easy breakdown available.” Slate also notes the compelling connection between the site and Burson-Marsteller, a P.R. firm that touts itself as one to call on “when the stakes are high: during a crisis, a brand launch or any period of fundamental change or transition.” And Deadspin further finds that among the first followers of the site on Twitter were Burson-Marsteller employees. Smooooooooth.

Let’s take a gander at this “education” effort anyway. In a video on the site, Tony Woods, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and manager of the Team Redskins Rodeo club, says, “I’m offended, really, that somebody’s out there claiming that they speak for me … There are bigger issues to deal with than a name.” The team’s foundation, by the way, sponsors the rodeo club, and has provided iPads for the reservation’s schools. And there’s more. As writer Jesse Berney pointed out Wednesday on Twitter, nothing’s so convincing as “a photo of white dudes yelling and shaking their fists to prove our team name isn’t racist.” I’m fond of the “We’re all Redskins” on game day image—featuring a sea of white arms. And there’s the site’s explanation that “We believe the Redskins name deserves to stay. It epitomizes all the noble qualities we admire about Native Americans—the same intangibles we expect from Washington’s gridiron heroes on game day. Honor. Loyalty. Unity. Respect. Courage. And more.” That sums up Native Americans. In general. Did you know that there are 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives in the U.S.? Did you know that different social and ethnic groups have different traits, or that sweeping generalizations that put separate groups under one label, even when those generalizations are favorable, are still kinda dumb and insulting? The “facts” go on to argue that “the Redskins name is a self-reference in the context of the football team itself—and in no way should it be considered a slur targeted at a specific ethnic subgroup of Americans.” And if you do consider it a slur, you’re wrong! I haven’t seen this much boastful ignorance since HuffPo decided it’d be cool to do a slideshow of “Proof That Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back.”
Who’s Behind the New Washington Football Team Website?

The team wants you to think there's a grass-roots movement in support of its offensive nickname. The site’s source code suggests otherwise.

By Josh Levin and Jeremy Stahl
Who is behind this site, which has a stated mission to present “historical evidence to fair-minded opinion leaders on both sides of the issue so ongoing discussions can be constructive”? The About Us page indicates that it is “a growing online community of passionate Washington [NFL team] fans and others who support the team’s use of its name and logo.” A Washington team spokesman told the local ABC affiliate WJLA that “they know of the site and totally support their effort,” sounding surprised and delighted by this online campaign.

A graphic at the top of the nickname-defending website, though, indicates that it’s “sponsored by” the team’s alumni. In addition, former Washington players Gary Clark, Chris Cooley, Mark Moseley, Ray Schoenke, and Roy Jefferson are listed as the “steering committee.”

When asked who was providing financial support for the site, Washington NFL team spokesman Tony Wyllie was coy. (Though Slate does not print the team’s offensive nickname, we will make an exception here to quote Wyllie accurately.) “The alumni and the Redskins have a long history of supporting each other and this education effort is no different,” Wyllie explained via email. “So where it is appropriate for the alumni to pay for expenses then they will and when it is appropriate for the Redskins then the organization will. Since it is so early in the education effort there is no easy breakdown available.”

While that statement is not dripping with clarity, we do know that Washington owner Daniel Snyder has in the past enlisted mouthpiece-for-hire Lanny Davis to stump for the team's nickname. This new, probably-not-grass-roots website also appears to be part of a PR operation. This one bears the fingerprints of Burson-Marsteller, a communications firm best known for its crisis management services. Burson-Marsteller has done PR work for, among many others, the manufacturer of the Three Mile Island plant, Johnson & Johnson (in the wake of early-1980s Tylenol poisonings), and military contractor Blackwater USA. The firm’s crisis management page also notes “The Lady Gaga Concert Debacle” as a representative case study.


Redskins hire Burson-Marsteller amid fight over name

Burson-Marsteller quickly admitted it was behind the faux "grass-roots effort":

By ReutersThe National Football League's Washington Redskins have hired public relations firm Burson-Marsteller as it battles criticism that its name is a racial slur, a company spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The company, which has long experience handling public relations crises, will run the website redskinsfacts.com. The site was launched this month and is billed as a grass-roots effort to defend the team's contentious name.

"We have been retained by the Washington Redskins and the player alumni association to provide technical and editorial support to distribute information to those who inquire about the team's history and name, which includes the website redskinsfacts.com," said Burson-Marsteller spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan.
Redskins Allegedly Hire Crisis Management Firm to Build ‘Fan-based’ Website

Comment:  I'm not sure the Washington team can do anything but lie. They certainly haven't told the truth about the widespread Native opposition to the dictionary-defined racial slur.

July 29, 2014

Redskins lie about Native opposition

Letter to Dan Snyder takes issue with Redskins message

By Erik BradyLeaders of the National Congress of American Indians and Oneida Indian Nation have sent a letter to Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington NFL club, asking him to disavow suggestions that protests against his team's name are the work of white elites rather than people of color.

The letter, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, notes that recently two of Snyder's employees, past and present, have made such allegations: Former consultant/blogger Ben Tribbett told Buzzfeed that the campaign against the team name is the work of "well-intentioned" elites and "not Native Americans" while Original Americans Foundation director Gary Edwards told the Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe that opposition to the Redskins name is part of a "white, liberal agenda," according to tribal member Kenrick Escalanti, who told USA TODAY Sports.

The letter, signed by NCAI executive director Jacqueline Pata and Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter, calls such notions "demonstrably untrue" while citing major Native American and civil rights organizations--such as the NCAI and the NAACP--that are on record against the team name.

"Ignoring these facts by insisting people of color are not part of the Change the Mascot campaign is an unfortunate, age-old tactic designed to marginalize people of color by pretending our basic existence does not deserve to be acknowledged," the letter says.
Letter to Snyder Says Stop Saying People of Color Aren't Part of Campaign Against RedskinsA letter refuting suggestions that the opposition to the Redskins name is the work of the liberal white elite rather than Native Americans and other people of color was sent to Daniel Snyder last week, USA TODAY reports.

Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, wrote to Snyder demanding that he "distribute it [the letter] to your employees and instruct them to stop claiming that people of color are not part of the campaign to end your organization's use of the R-word. We request, in other words, that your employees express at least a minimal level of respect to the countless number of people of color who are part of this campaign."

"As we continue to debate the damage your use of this racial slur is doing to Native Americans across this country, we hope that you at least agree that your representatives should acknowledge the existence of people of color, even when those people of color vehemently oppose your actions,” the letter said.

According to TODAY, the letter cites specific allegations against Ben Tribbett and Gary Edwards, the director of the team’s Original Americans Foundation. Tribbett, who recently resigned as a consultant for the team, allegedly said that the campaign to change the name is the work of “well-intentioned” white elites and “not Native Americans.”

Nugent: Tribe is "weak & stupid"

Ted Nugent: Native American Tribe That Canceled Concert is ‘Weak and Stupid’

By Allen CliftonNugent finally did deliver some choice words about the Native American tribe that canceled his concert.

The exchange happened last night when one of his fans left a comment on his Facebook page, saying, “Guess you pissed off the tribe in cda Idaho ….. too bad,,,, would love to see Ted in the panhandle. ….”

And wouldn’t you know it, Ted Nugent was kind enough to reply to this fan, saying, “they were weak & stupid to fall for the lies. they will learn sooner or later. I forgive them.”

I guess in Nugent’s mind it’s okay to call a Native American tribe “weak & stupid” as long as you end that statement with “I forgive them.”

July 28, 2014

Review of Undaunted Courage

Back in December 2012 I read this book:

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American WestFrom the bestselling author of Band of Brothers and D-Day, the definitive book on Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, the most momentous expedition in American history and one of the great adventure stories of all time.

Amazon.com Review
A biography of Meriwether Lewis that relies heavily on the journals of both Lewis and Clark, this book is also backed up by the author's personal travels along Lewis and Clark's route to the Pacific. Ambrose is not content to simply chronicle the events of the "Corps of Discovery" as the explorers called their ventures. He often pauses to assess the military leadership of Lewis and Clark, how they negotiated with various native peoples and what they reported to Jefferson.

From Publishers Weekly
Without adding a great deal to existing accounts, Ambrose uses his skill with detail and atmosphere to dust off an icon and put him back on the trail west. History Book Club main selection; BOMC split selection; QPB alternate; author tour.

wow, that was long trip
By Bill Chaisson on November 1, 1999

Ambrose chose a huge sprawling subject and wrote a medium size book that does not sprawl at all. In order to accomplish this he had to write in an almost telegraphic style. This book is largely descriptive with frequent, but brief interpretive asides.

Anyone fascinated by Native American cultures should read this book. It offers a tantalizing look at several tribes either at or immediately following "contact". If you know anything about the later history of the tribes of the Upper Missouri and Pacific Northwest, this book just drips with tragedy and none of it is spelled out in a silly melodramatic way; Ambrose's restraint makes the impact that much greater.

If you don't expect history books to be particularly literary, but just to tell a good story, then you'll think this is a terrific book. If you are looking for a meditation on the ramifications of the L&C expedition with regard to the settling of the American West, then this book is a little sparse on analysis, although it is good about reporting salient information. Having read it, I guess I feel prepared to read more in-depth account about smaller segments of this story.
Rob's reaction

Around that time I posted the following on Facebook:

Reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose about Lewis and Clark. Tumors, boils, dysentery, diarrhea, syphilis, gonorrhea, mosquitoes, fleas, hunger, injuries, rain and snow, manual labor, bear attacks, hostile Indians...who wants to be an explorer? Anyone?

Hard to believe Jefferson seriously thought he could move all the Indians west of the Mississippi, where they'd 1) assimilate into American culture and 2) live unmolested by white settlers. This is a ridiculous fantasy on so many levels. Ambrose criticizes the plan to some extent, but not nearly as much as it deserves.

Hey, let's resolve the Irish problem by relocating them to Cyprus, and the Greek/Turkish problem on Cyprus by relocating them to Ireland. The Cypriots can become Irish and the Irish can become Cypriots. Then everyone can live in peace. What could possibly go wrong?

That's about how dumb Jefferson's plan was. Even if Ambrose stuck to primary sources, I bet he could've found someone critical of it. Saying "here's what Jefferson intended" and leaving it at that isn't enough.

Rob's rating of Undaunted Courage: 8.0 of 10.

July 27, 2014

Albert Einstein at Hopi House

Albert Einstein at Hopi HouseAlbert Einstein made his second trip to the United States in the period between December 1930 and March 1931 to spend some time at California Institute of Technology, one of the institutions that was courting him to join their staff. It was on the return trip across the U.S. by train that the above photograph was taken. There are several striking things about this photograph that deserve mention. It is clear that the headdress that has been placed on Professor Einstein's head and the pipe he has been given to hold have no relationship to the Indians in this photograph. These Indians are Hopis from the relatively nearby Hopi pueblos while the headdress and pipe belong to the Plains Indian culture. The actual location of the photograph is Hopi House, a part of the Fred Harvey concession at the Grand Canyon.



Another posting suggests what Einstein thought about Indians:



But a Google search shows up only one instance of this quote. That suggests it's not real.

July 26, 2014

Ruby Love Joy online store

A blog posting from 2012:

Ruby Love Joy, from squaw headbands to gaia breastplates

By âpihtawikosisânBack in March of this year, I came across an online store called Ruby Love Joy. Based in Australia, this site featured (as you can see in this picture) a lot of men and women in face paint and “warrior inspired” headdresses. You will likely recognise a number of the pictures as they’ve been featured in my Hall of Shame ever since.

She wrote to the company and said:The images of models in ‘war paint’ perpetuates harmful stereotypes about indigenous peoples in North America. Your store embraces and celebrates our cultures as ‘costumes’ and this is deeply problematic and disrespectful of us, and of our symbols. I certainly hope you do not attempt to justify your exploitation of the stereotypes as having anything to do with ‘honouring our cultures’, because they do nothing of the sort.They didn't respond, so she summarized what's wrong with the store:This mythologisation allows people to both loathe and fear us and believe that we are inherently inferior, while at the same time lauding our ‘spirituality and closeness to nature’ and wanting these characteristics for themselves.

As is most excellently pointed out by Andy Smith, this mythologisation is not a small, unimportant thing. When I discuss issues like cultural appropriation, people quite often ask me, “don’t you have more important things to worry about?” To which I am forced to reply, “these portrayals and beliefs about who we are is a major factor in why we have so very much to worry about.
Comment:  The whole website, including the "warrior-inspired" items

http://www.rubylovejoy.com/Products/warrior-inspired

appears to be gone. Perhaps enough people read this posting and sent the company complaints. In any case, good riddance.

July 25, 2014

Savage Arms logo stereotypes Indians

I gather Savage Arms is a company that makes or made deadly weapons with the slogan "One Shot, One Kill." As you can see, their logo is a stereotypical Indian chief. The inescapable conclusion is that Indians were killers just like the guns.





This is exactly as false as Indian mascots and other stereotypical representations. It sends the same negative and arguably racist message: that Indians are primitive people of the past, uncivilized and savage, little more than predatory animals.

For more on the subject, see Native Military Names Assuage Guilt.

July 24, 2014

Can kids appropriate Native culture?

When is it cultural appropriation and when is it just kids playing dress-up?

By Ariel Meadow StallingsLast week on Offbeat Mama we ran a sponsored post for a family photographer, which featured this image.Within a day, we'd gotten two comments about it. The first very articulately raised the issue of cultural appropriation: "I know that other people probably disagree, but the first photo makes me sad. Adrienne says it better than I can." The second comment (from a different reader) was less articulate, snarkily asking the photographer if she "has the kids do hipster blackface as well?"

Both comments were removed (as per our comment policy on sponsored posts), but we also swapped out the photo.

But the issue of cultural appropriation is huge and important, so I sent this follow-up message to the more articulate of the two commenters:About your comment below on Offbeat Mama: the photo you were concerned about has been removed from the post, but I wanted to follow up with you via email. A sponsored post isn't the best place get into a whole discussion about race and cultural appropriation, but I'd love the opportunity to dive into this more.

I'm totally 100% with you on how the hipster trends of cultural appropriation are problematic (it's something we've talked a LOT about on Offbeat Bride), but I'm confused about how a photo of the children reflects this.

So, for starters, we don't know anything about the cultural background of these children—they could be half or a quarter Native. By accusing them of appropriation, there are some serious assumptions being made about people of mixed race backgrounds looking a certain way. For that matter, they could have a non-blood relative or family friend who is Native American who gifted this headdress. We simply have no way of knowing.

That said, even assuming they ARE white and have no personal connections to Native culture, I'm confused at how children involved in imaginative play can be considered hipster-ish cultural appropriation. Children engage in fantasy play all the time, including cultural play like pretending to be everything from Eskimos to French bakers to Aboriginal hunters to Russian spies. By saying these children are somehow guilty of appropriating for fashion or appearance feels like it's suggesting that children are only allowed to play-act their own personal experiences.

Shouldn't we be encouraging children to learn and explore other cultural experiences through play? Where-as status-seeking adults may wear a head-dress out of some sort of ironic fashion statement, it feels like these kids are potentially playing dress up in the same way they would by wearing a sombrero they brought home from a family vacation to Mexico, or a pair of little leiderhosen from Germany. I totally understand the issues of genocide and colonialism—but imaginative play feels like the perfect time to talk to kids about these issues.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Again—we're definitely batting for the same team here, but I'm really struggling with the idea that we're now accusing children of being culturally appropriative fashionista hipsters. Help me understand?
Comment:  Wow, so much wrongness in Ms. Stallings's attempt to under the issues. I think I can help her as much as the commenter did--if not more so.

For starters, why dismiss the other commenter's question: "Has the kids do hipster blackface as well?" Because you don't like snark? Or poor grammar? That's not much of an excuse.

Dressing up like a 19th-century Indian is exactly like dressing up as 19th-century black slave. They were the norm 150 years ago...yet they're both limited if not false representations of an entire race of people.

You're into kids exploring other times and cultures...so would you let them dress up in blackface as slaves? It's a legitimate question and a simple one to answer. So which is: Yes or no?

If your answer is no, how can it be yes in the case of Natives? The two cases are the same. That you may think they're different is indicative of the problem.

As we've said many times before, the children's race is irrelevant. One, even if they're part or all Native, they're unlikely to belong to the few tribes that wear these headdresses. Two and more important, they're not items meant to be worn by children. If being Native is your excuse, your excuse fails, because Native children wouldn't dress like this.

Eskimo race = spy occupation?

Your comment, "Children engage in fantasy play all the time, including cultural play like pretending to be everything from Eskimos to French bakers to Aboriginal hunters to Russian spies," just shows the depth of the problem.

FYI, Eskimos and Aborigines aren't cultures, they're races. Playacting a race you know nothing about is almost certain to be a farce and a mockery. That's why we've invented pejorative terms--blackface, yellowface, and redface--to describe the practice.

Bakers, hunters, and spies are occupations, not cultures or races. As an example, an "Eskimo" can be anything from a baker to a hunter to a spy also. The fact that you've assigned these occupations to other cultures but assumed an "Eskimo" is self-explanatory is exactly the problem. To you, an Eskimo is a parka-wearing, igloo-building, harpoon-throwing savage--not a doctor or lawyer or any kind of modern person.

You continue, "Shouldn't we be encouraging children to learn and explore other cultural experiences through play?" Perhaps, if they're exploring how today's Native people can be poets or brain surgeons or rocket scientists. But that's not what you have in mind, is it? You're talking about reinforcing racist stereotypes from a couple of centuries ago. There's no "culture" today where Natives dress up like half-naked savages.

And there's no value in pretending to belong to the tiny subset of Natives who dressed like this centuries ago. This is a fantasy of another culture, not an actual culture. You're perpetuating a lie by letting kids act as if this is a true representation of the myriads of Native cultures that once lived across the continent.

The only part you got right is this one: "I'm really struggling with the idea that we're now accusing children of being culturally appropriative fashionista hipsters." "Hipster" isn't the right word for children who innocently ape the adults who stereotype Natives. Adults let them dress this way and surely didn't educate them about why it's problematical. The kids' actions are wrong but it's their parents and teachers who are to blame for it.

Another posting:

Helpful hints for would-be anti-racist, Indigenous Solidarity activists, by Josdadalv

helps make the point visually. These kids are as close to *a* Native culture--remember, there are thousands of these cultures--as this cat is to a deer. Even if the chose the best deer costume available and sincerely believes it represents a deer, it doesn't. It's a joke and an insult to anyone who knows real deer.



For more on the subject, see SF Giants to Ban Headdresses? and Why Pharrell's Headdress Was Wrong.

July 23, 2014

Tribes drop Nugent over racism

The following news item caused a flurry of activity:

CdA Tribe Books Controversial NugentThe Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians—itself a target of a recent racism—has booked racist rocker Ted Nugent for a public concert next month at the tribe’s landmark North Idaho casino. The decision is stirring controversy for a tribe that has proudly involved itself in human rights causes and contributed thousands to fight racism. Nugent sometimes wears an Indian headdress on stage, coming close to ridiculing American Indian culture, and mocks those campaigning to change names of sports teams that use words like Redskins and Savages. The legendary rocker, who also is on the board of the National Rifle Association, has a “long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language,” Media Matters reported earlier this year. That came after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and referred to him as a “chimpanzee”/Bill Morlin, SPLC HateWatch.The invitation didn't last long once it was publicized:

Idaho Indian Tribe Drops Ted Nugent Citing Rocker’s Racist Legacy

By Bill MorlinLess than seven hours after being asked about the racist legacy of rock entertainer Ted Nugent, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians this evening cancelled a scheduled performance next month by the controversial performer.

Tribal officials sounded completely caught off-guard earlier in the day when Hatewatch called and asked why the tribe–with a sterling record of combating hate and standing up for equal rights–had booked Nugent.

Heather Keen, the public relations director for the tribe, announced the decision that Nugent’s scheduled for Aug.4 was being abruptly cancelled.

“Nugent’s history of racist and hate-filled remarks was brought to Tribal Council’s attention earlier today” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Keen said in a statement e-mailed to media outlets.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights–for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” the statement said.
Native American Tribe Cancels Ted Nugent Concert Over Unbelievable Racism

By John PragerA Native American tribe, which had booked Nugent at a casino, says it was not thinking about Nugent’s bigotry when the booking was made. “Unfortunately, when we booked him, we were looking at him from an entertainment perspective, as an 80s rock ‘n roller, who we thought folks might enjoy,” Laura Stensegar, executive director of marketing for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Cour d’Alene Casino, said.“We take the comments and concerns of our community very seriously and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the idea that we would promote these kinds of attitudes. We will do our best to avoid such mistakes moving forward.”

“We adamantly do not want our casino to be used as a venue for the racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses,” Stensgar said.

Chief Allan, Chairman of the tribe, said “We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way,” in a one-sentence statement.

Heather Keen, the public relations director for the tribe, told Hatewatch that, “Nugent’s history of racist and hate-filled remarks was brought to Tribal Council’s attention earlier today” by numerous outlets. “The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights–for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity.”


Poopy Pants dislikes "unclean vermin"

Naturally, Nugent didn't appreciate being canned:

Ted Nugent lashes out at ‘unclean vermin’ after Idaho Native American tribe cancels his concert

By David EdwardsConservative rocker Ted Nugent on Tuesday responded to the news that an Idaho Native American tribe had canceled one of his upcoming concerts by lashing out at the “unclean vermin” who made it happen.

“The Motor City Madman” had been schedule to perform for Coeur D’Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho on Aug. 4 until the Southern Poverty Law Center caught tribal officials by asking for a comment on Monday. Later that day, the performance had been canceled.

“I take it as a badge of honor that such unclean vermin are upset by me and my positive energy,” Nugent told Gannett Wisconsin Media on Tuesday. Put your heart and soul into everything you do and nobody can stop you. Sometimes you give the world the best you got and you get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you got anyway.”

“By all indicators, I don’t think they actually qualify as people, but there has always been a lunatic fringe of hateful, rotten, dishonest people that hate happy, successful people,” he continued. “I believe raising hell and demanding accountability from our elected employees is Job One for every American. I am simply doing my job.”
Nugent: His Haters Are 'Unclean Vermin' Who 'Don't Qualify as People'Natives and others offended by Nugent's comments have taken to the rocker's Facebook page and are giving him an earful:

"I'm Native American. I listened to your music in high school. I've seen you in concert many times. My son, who was five at the time, and I met you at the Traditional Bowhunters Show twelve years ago in Kalamazoo, MI. You bent down to talk to him and gave him a pick. I am very offended and am so disappointed in you --- I'm one of those 'unclean varmin' you spoke of. I will no longer attend your shows, or listen to your music. I'm sure my son, who is now 17, will be disappointed in you as well since you've been an influence when it comes to playing guitar and hunting."

"If this page is something that Mr. Ted Nugent can read, I would say to your face that if all of the stupid quotes attributed to you actually came from your mouth, that it should be stapled shut. Children don't need another example of how ignorant, hateful, vain, and reprehensible adult citizens of this country can be...play your music, but leave out your half-baked commentary."

"Ted should just play guitar and sing. Leave his personal political views to himself. He also needs to remove that tacky, cheap warbonnet replica that he wears during his shows. The warbonnet is a very spiritual part of our culture where the privilege to wear it is earned. It is offensive when a person outside of our culture wears one ... disrespects it. Our culture is not a costume."
Ted Nugent fires back at 'vermin' who want Oshkosh show canceled

Start of a trend?

Other tribal gaming enterprises are starting to join in:

Tacoma casino cancels Nugent shows, citing racismEmerald Queen Casino will cancel two Ted Nugent concerts that were scheduled August 2 and 3 over allegations of racist remarks by the singer.

Puyallup Tribe officials said the decision came after learning that Nugent has said racist remarks.

"The first amendment gives people the right free speech, but I think racism is intolerable and not acceptable here," said Puyallup Tribal Council Vice President Lawrence W. LaPointe. "We’ve been getting lots of complaints from the community and other organizations."

"I don’t want to take away his right to say what he wants to say, but we don’t need it here."
Ted Nugent’s Upcoming Shows at American Indian Casino Face Scrutiny after Idaho Cancellation

By Bill Morlin“[The] decision by the Coeur d’Alene suggests Nugent may need to double-check his standing in Indian country,” the Indian Country piece said.

Devin Burghart, the Seattle-based Vice President of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR), applauded “the courageous decision by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to cancel” the performance. He said his group was encouraging “all other venues to follow the lead of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and think twice about allowing Mr. Nugent to use their stages to promote his snarling brand of hatred and bigotry.”

But Burghart stressed that the “burden of addressing racism and bigotry shouldn’t fall onto the tribes.” He said it falls on everyone, “particularly the white fans of Mr. Nugent and the many predominantly white-owned venues where he is scheduled to perform” to challenge his racism.
Yep, he's a racist

Ted Nugent’s most-enduring record a monotone of racism and hatred

By Shawn VestalHe compared his hometown of Detroit to “Return of the Planet of the Apes.” He said Barbara Boxer “might want to suck on my machine gun.” Nugent has called Hillary Clinton names I can’t print here. He once said, when asked if he knew any hard-working black Americans, “Show me one. Show me one.” He called rappers “big uneducated greasy black mongrels.”

His record of bigotry is so vast–and so frequently given a media microphone–that it was surprising to hear the Coeur d’Alenes had booked him. If nothing else, there was a clear failure to Google. But the tribe and casino corrected course quickly, and they’re putting their money behind it: they’re refunding ticket buyers’ money. The tribe will also presumably have to pay a fee for the cancellation, though that’s still being worked out, a tribal spokeswoman said.

Perhaps the cable news channels could follow the tribe’s lead and uninvite The Nuge now and then. No one who is so bigoted consistently gets such a large and approving public megaphone, and though Nugent–like all good self-pitying zealots–considers himself a media victim, the truth is that he gets an enormous amount of more or less respectful coverage because he’s such good copy.
Comment:  Most of the articles didn't mention Nugent's wearing of a Plains headdress in his concert. That alone shows how ignorant and dismissive he is of Indians.

Anyway, let's hope this is the start of a trend. Nugent may have played his last concert at an Indian casino.

For more on Ted Nugent, see Nugent "Tomahawk Chops" Mascot Critics and Nugent's Implied Death Threat.

July 22, 2014

Mascots create hostile learning environment

Missing the Point

The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth

By Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips
Much of the recent debate has centered on issues such as economics. Many fans and media commentators have debated the cost of changing the name for the team and the league. Others have focused on the “legacy” and memories that fans will lose with a new name. And perhaps the most referenced issue is the team’s supposed lack of racist or derogatory intent. But too much of the debate misses the point. It is not just about a name, a logo, a business, or a matter of intent. Racist and derogatory team names have real and harmful effects on AI/AN people every day, particularly young people.

AI/AN students across the country attend K-12 and postsecondary schools that still maintain racist and derogatory mascots. Research shows that these team names and mascots can establish an unwelcome and hostile learning environment for AI/AN students. It also reveals that the presence of AI/AN mascots directly results in lower self-esteem and mental health for AI/AN adolescents and young adults. And just as importantly, studies show that these mascots undermine the educational experience of all students, particularly those with little or no contact with indigenous and AI/AN people. In other words, these stereotypical representations are too often understood as factual representations and thus “contribute to the development of cultural biases and prejudices.”

These are some of the many compelling reasons why major professional organizations have already weighed in. For example, the American Psychological Association called for the “immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations” nearly a decade ago. Similarly, the American Counseling Association passed a resolution in 2011 calling on their members to advocate for the elimination of these stereotypes where they are employed, and the American Sociological Association called for the elimination of AI/AN names, mascots, and logos in 2007.

The need to eliminate these derogatory representations and stereotypes is urgent and long past due. Racist team names and mascots provide a misrepresentation of AI/AN people that masks the very real and continuing hardships that these communities endure today. For example, AI/AN communities struggle with poverty at nearly double the national rate, have some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country, and suffer from extreme health disparities. Perhaps most disturbing, suicide is the second leading cause of death for AI/AN youth ages 15 to 24—a rate that is 2.5 times higher than the national average.
How Washington's Football Team Creates A Hostile Environment For Native American Students

By Amanda TerkelMuch of the debate over whether to keep the Washington football team's name has centered around whether it's actually offensive to Native Americans. Owner Dan Snyder has searched high and low to find American Indians who aren't put off by the term "Redskins" as justification for keeping it.

But according to Erik Stegman, an author of a new report on Native mascots and team names, that discussion misses the point.

"This entire debate is being spun in the wrong direction, and it doesn't really matter whether or not one Native person you talk to supports or doesn't," Stegman said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "When you have kids in schools who are getting harassed, who are feeling a lack of self-worth because they themselves have become a mascot for someone else, I think that's really what the point is all about. We need to stop having this debate over which Native people are offended because it's a ridiculous debate."
And:Native students face more challenges starting out than non-Native individuals. For Native young adults ages 15 to 34, for example, the suicide rate is 2.5 times higher than the national average. These communities also have some of the country's highest rates of poverty and poor health and lowest educational outcomes.

"So they're starting from a really challenging place," said Stegman. "And when they have to go to school every day and see their culture and their communities boiled down to a logo or a mascot, and when ... those are actually used against them in negative ways, it's pretty hard to understand how that contributes to their ability to learn successfully."
One student verifies what the research says: that mascots cause harm.

If You Want To Understand Why Mascots Like ‘Redskins’ Are A Problem, Listen To This 15-Year-Old Native American

By Travis Waldron“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always gone to my high school football games, and once I got into high school, it made it that much more fun being on the field,” Brown said Tuesday. “But there has always been one game I dreaded going to. One of our school’s biggest rivals is the Calaveras Redskins. Calaveras has always had an obscene amount of school pride, but little do they know how damaging their routines are, not only to the Natives in attendance, but most likely to the Native Americans who attend their own school.”

Brown, a 15-year-old Native American student from California, told the story of playing against Calaveras High School in a powerful speech about the effects of Native American mascots and imagery in sports during an event on the subject at the Center for American Progress (full disclosure: I participated in a panel discussion at the event; the Center for American Progress is the parent company of this site).

Calaveras games feature stereotypical behavior, Brown said: war paint, drums, buckskin outfits on cheerleaders, and faux-Native chanting. Calaveras’ opponents can be even worse, Brown said, using the “Redskins” nickname to justify all sorts of behavior that makes Native American students and players like him more than uncomfortable.

“All of these actions, along with many more, hurt my heart. With so many around me, I feel ganged up on,” he continued. “At the same time, all of these screaming fans don’t know how offensive they are. Or that they are even in the presence of a Native. Most of the time, they don’t even know that Natives still exist.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and Evidence.

July 21, 2014

Betty Boop in Rhythm on the Reservation



This cartoon has the usual compendium of racist stereotypes. The worst may be the Tonto talk, the teepees, and the complete ignorance of modern life. This cartoon was set in 1939, when Indians were wearing Western clothes, working in factories, and enlisting in the military. They weren't dressing in buckskins or blankets and beating tom-toms.

July 20, 2014

Burgas reviews Drums Along the Mohawk

Comic-book critic Greg Burgas reviews Drums Along the Mohawk--the original novel, that is, not the movie made from it. Some excerpts:

Trade Paperbacks, Older Editions, and Miscellaneous for October 2012

By Greg BurgasDrums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds. 592 pgs., Little, Brown, and Company, 1936.

This has to be one of the earliest examples of a popular book being quickly turned into a movie, as John Ford’s adaptation of it (with Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert) came out in 1939, just three years after publication.

It’s a pretty good book, remarkably modern, and pretty exciting. Edmonds has a keen eye for the detail of the Mohawk Valley in New York, probably because he was born in upstate New York.

Edmonds is good with a large cast, too–Gil and Lana are the stars, but there are plenty of others, too, showing the many different kinds of people who lived and worked during this traumatic time.
He includes a summary of the Native portrayls:Similarly, you can’t really write a book about the Mohawk Valley and not write about the natives in the area. Edmonds does a pretty good job with this, too--one of the main characters, Blue Back, is an interesting and complex character. In fact, Edmonds is even-handed about the Indians throughout--yes, they’re the main villains in the book, and the characters speak of them in disparaging terms, but Edmonds himself takes a fairly neutral tone--some Indians are allied with the settlers, after all, and Edmonds realizes that each of them has their own motivations. He even gives us a character who is raped by a Tory and later flees into the woods, where she’s found by an Indian, who takes her home and marries her. He treats her well, so when the soldier later reappears and promises to marry her, she basically tells him to fuck right off. The worst part of Edmonds’ writing about Indians is that he always, without fail, describes them as greasy and foul-smelling. He explains why they’re greasy and foul-smelling, but he really hammers home the point whenever he can. It’s kind of frustrating, because it’s weird to read fairly nuanced portrayals of the Indians’ personalities and characteristics while Edmonds is writing about how much they stink. I suppose that Edmonds could be a bit modern, but he was still a product of his times.Comment:  Burgas's final rating for the novel is 7 of 10 stars.

I've seen the movie but haven't read the book. You can read my review of it here.

As I said, the movie also offers Native portrayals that aren't black and white. I gave it an 8.0 of 10.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

July 19, 2014

Dislike of immigrants = Manifest Destiny

Who Is the Refugee? Native Americans and Mexicans Lived in California First

By Mark KarlinThose on the buses fleeing for their lives and for food to survive were mostly youth and primarily from Central America. The protests in Murietta continued, with the support of the mayor, for days, even though the individuals in humanitarian need were just temporarily being processed in Murietta and then being moved on to other facilities.

As part of a series for Truthout that I have been working on, I have been researching the origins of anti-immigrant mania in the US and its relationship to colonization. After all, one of the egregious ironies of a fever-pitched cry to "secure the border with Mexico" to keep out non-US citizens is that the United States is composed of land seized from its original inhabitants–Native Americans. Moreover, as the US pursued its drive across the continent, its lodestar was a philosophy of "Manifest Destiny," born of a belief in the superiority of the white race.
And:To those who protest the meager humanitarian relief granted to young people running for their lives from Central America and Mexico, one can ask if the hatred would appear if the immigrants were white Anglo-Saxons? Because that is what the tectonic war over democracy in the United States has been about for nearly 50 years.

Is the United States only a "democracy" for the kind of people who founded this colonial state (descendants of anglo saxons)? Does it exclude the very people who lived on this continent before it was "discovered" by Europeans–and then seized through near-genocide and opportune purchases by the US?
Comment:  This commentary makes its point implicitly. I'll make the point explicit. The recent hatred directed at immigrant children is racist. It's based on the same fear and loathing behind the "American holocaust" of Native peoples. Euro-Americans have hated brown-skinned people ever since 1492 and they still hate them with a passion.

For more on the subject, see Conservatives Fear Minorities and Republicans: White People Own America.

July 18, 2014

Marshall's daughter: "Change the name"

Op-Ed: Marshalling One Key Vote On An NFL Team Name Change

By Leonard ShapiroAt a tailgate party during the Middleburg spring races, a woman walked up and introduced herself, wondering if I was the same reporter who used to cover the National Football League and the local pro football team for The Washington Post.

The answer was yes, at which point, long-time Washingtonian Jordan Wright told me she was the granddaughter of George Preston Marshall, the original owner of the Washington (pardon the derogatory expression) Redskins when he moved the team here from Boston back in 1937.

We had a perfectly pleasant chat, recalling that many of the same people who used to work for Marshall were still on the job for the team when I covered it in the 1970s. Finally, though, I couldn’t help myself. I had to ask. What about this whole team name controversy, I wondered, fully expecting she’d be soundly in favor of the status quo.

Not so.

“They need to change the name,” she said. “In this day and age, it’s just not right.”
Comment:  Let's see. In the last few days:

  • The blogger who uncovered George Allen's "macaca" joined the team, then quit after his own ethnic slurs were revealed

  • Activists called for a boycott of Redskins sponsor FedEx and tried to raise the issue at a shareholders' meeting

  • Sonny Sixkiller, a major Native pro athlete, called the Redskins name "racist"

  • The Quechan tribe rejected a donation from Redskins OAF, calling it a bribe

  • Musician Drake joked about the Redskins' racism at the ESPYs awards ceremony

  • CBS's people may be the first of many on-air announcers to avoid the Redskins name

  • George Preston Marshall's granddaughter, who should know the original owner's thinking as well as anyone, says the name should go

  • I'm sure glad the Redskins think they're winning the PR battle. If I were them, I'd be thinking of heading for the hills with my tail between my legs.

    Seven major PR hits in a couple of weeks. And that's after the Patent and Trademark Office ruled against the Redskins trademark. If that's winning, I'd hate to see losing.

    In reality, this looks like one of the biggest PR debacles in modern business history. It's a textbook example of how you can suffer bad PR day after day until you're the joke of the industry. In other words, a laughingstock.

    Since he's embracing it so eagerly, this must be Dan Snyder's goal. For some reason, he wants to be known as the biggest racist since his predecessor Marshall. Okay, Dan...you've got your wish.

    CBS announcers may skip "Redskins" name

    CBS Announcers Can Choose To Stop Saying ‘Redskins’ During NFL Broadcasts This Season

    By Travis WaldronEven as the debate over whether the Washington Redskins should change their name continues to escalate, the team has had at least one mostly safe space in which the word Native Americans say is a “dictionary defined slur” is still merely the name of a football team: the broadcast booth. With one notable exception, the league’s broadcast partners—CBS, NBC, ESPN, and FOX—have remained out of the fray about the name.

    Could that change this season? Asked about the issue in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said that the network hadn’t talked to announcing teams about using the name during broadcasts, but he indicated that during the upcoming season individual announcers and production teams could make their own decisions about whether to say it, and that the network is cognizant of the ongoing controversy.

    “We haven’t talked to (our analysts) yet,” McManus told THR. “Generally speaking, we do not tell our announcers what to say or not say. Up to this point, it has not been a big issue for us. Last year, it was simmering; now it’s reaching a hotter level. But we probably will not end up dictating to our announcers whether they say Redskins or don’t say Redskins.
    CBS Sports chairman confirms 'Redskins' stance in front of Roger Goodell

    By David Leon MooreCBS Sports chairman Sean McManus again told the media that CBS announcers and production teams will likely be allowed to not use the name of the Washington NFL club this season if they so choose.

    Interestingly, however, this time he said it while sitting on a panel discussion along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

    July 17, 2014

    Tribe rejects Redskins OAF "bribe"

    Quechan Skate Park Project Turns Down 'Bribe Money' From RedskinsThe Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF) paid a visit to the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe in Winterhaven, CA, and the reports relayed to ICTMN describe a meeting that was both bizarre and insulting.

    The Quechan have been planning a skate park for some time; designs are posted to Facebook and some fund-raising activities have been held. An OAF delegation, led by Executive Director Gary Edwards, had come to town to offer funding to complete the project.

    "We respectfully listened to their presentation," said Kenrick Escalanti, President of Kwatsan Media Inc. "But when Gary Edwards referred to himself as a 'redskin' in front of our Nation’s officials, I knew that their visit had ulterior motives."

    The OAF crew presented renderings of the park using a color scheme of burgundy and gold--the Washington Redskins' team colors.

    The OAF essentially offered the Quechan a blank check, proposing to fully fund the skate park. Additionally, the organization would give every Quechan child an iPad for the purpose of learning their Native language. Edwards told those present that accepting the money and gifts would not be portrayed as an endorsement of the name. "You don't even need to say we gave you anything," he said. The OAF added that it has 147 projects in the works, with cooperation of over 40 tribes.

    The Quechan didn't like the sound of any of it.

    "We say no," Escalanti says. "There are no questions about this. We will not align ourselves with an organization to simply become a statistic in their fight for name acceptance in Native communities. We’re stronger than that and we know bribe money when we see it."
    American Indians Refuse Original Americans Foundation Money for Skate ParkIn the meeting, OAF representatives OAF Executive Director Gary Edwards and OAF Director Karl Schreiber claimed they have 147 projects lined up across the country and 40+ in partnership with tribes. He listed amongst OAF supporters the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and claimed they had a number of projects being funded there. This despite of a Navajo Nation Council bill adopted on April 10, 2014 opposing the use of the name Redsk*ns. They also referenced the tractor they helped purchase that was mocked on the TV show The Colbert Report by host Stephen Colbert.

    They denied that any of these tribes were required to support the name, a dictionary-defined slur that newspapers like The Oregonian (since 1992) and most recently, The Seattle Times refuse to print instead using the descriptor the “Washington DC team.” Also, on June 14, 2014 the United Churches of Christ, Central Atlantic Conference passed a resolution calling for a boycott of the Washington Redsk*ns by their 40,000 members.

    Mr. Edwards, who claims Cherokee heritage repeatedly referred to himself proudly as a Redsk*n and claimed that, “The opposition is creating the old assimilation policy now being enacted today.” Escalanti said that Edwards appeared to believe that opposition to the slur is purely from White Liberals, despite the persistent opposition of organizations like the National Congress of American Indians which represents the majority of tribal members in the United States and first issued a resolution opposing the name in 1969. And the Native plaintiffs that filed the successful Trademark including lead plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse (Navajo). This trademark case was organized by Suzan Shown Harjo (Muskogee Creek) long-time advocate for changing the name who filed the first trademark case in 1992.

    Edwards final thoughts at the meeting on the threat of white people to the Redsk*ns moniker, “we [Native Americans] need to get stronger because if we don’t THEY will annihilate us! That is my sincere heartfelt belief.” He appears to feel that only by being a mascot for a $1.8 billion team can Native Americans continue to exist in this country.


    Indian tribe rejects Snyder's offer to fund a skate park

    By Erik BradyKenrick Escalanti's description of the two meetings, which together lasted nearly an hour, open a window on the nonprofit announced by Snyder in March to help Native American causes. Foundation reps told the tribe that they have 147 projects lined up involving about 40 tribes across the country. Escalanti said the reps added that about 100 tribes, including his, have participated in a survey concerning their needs.

    Escalanti said no dollar amount was mentioned, but he said the budget for the planned Quechan Memorial Skatepark is $250,000 and "they offered to build it, like a blank check." Kwatsan Media Inc., a nonprofit that runs a radio station, is accepting donations for the skate park, which will be dedicated to suicide prevention in Native youth.

    "When we told them the skate park would be dedicated to fallen Native youth, you could see their eyes open up big, like they could smell good PR," Kenrick Escalanti said. "And that really irritated me."

    The first meeting with tribal leaders, including three council members, lasted about 20 minutes and the second with Kwatsan Media about 30 minutes, according to Escalanti, who attended both.

    One council member asked foundation reps why the team cares about Native American causes now, Escalanti said. "Edwards said they always cared and this is not an issue of the (team) name," Escalanti said. "He said the reason it comes up now is the team and the NFL have a diversity policy and they are trying to live by that."
    Arizona Native American Tribe Rejects Dan Snyder's Offer to Build Skate Park

    Comment:  They've always cared, but they've never done anything about it until now? Okay, sure. Can you say "hypocritical"?

    Just say no

    Adrienne Keene gives us some background on and analysis of the story:

    Kwatsan Tribe refuses Dan Snyder’s “Blood Money”In the Wednesday meeting, the Executive Director of OAF, Cherokee (WHY do they ALWAYS gotta be my tribe?!?!) Gary Edwards basically offered Kwatsan Media Inc. (Kenrick’s organization) a blank check, saying that they could fund the park, and had partnerships with developers who could build it as well. They brought in one such developer, who showed Kenrick digital renderings of parks, all done up in signature burgundy and gold. While they insisted that they didn’t want anything in return from the community, that OAF didn’t even have to be affiliated, they constantly brought up the fact that they have “147 projects” occurring in “over 40 tribes” throughout Indian Country, and mentioned, again, that damn backhoe that they helped buy for Omaha. Clearly, they do want the recognition.

    Additionally, Mr. Edwards is super confused about who is “the opposition” to the name. He seems to think it’s only white people, and that “we” as Natives are all like him, “proud” to be a “Reds***” (which he called himself repeatedly). He told Kenrick, “The opposition is creating the old assimilation policy now being enacted today,” and even made a reference to The Lone Ranger (definitely the epitome of Native knowledge, right?), “In trying to annihilate our image its like that new Lone Ranger movie with the White Man point a gun at the Indian saying It won’t be long until its forgotten your kind ever existed on this continent.”

    Right, dude, “the opposition” is trying to “annihilate our image”? What about the hundreds of Native peoples passing resolutions against the name? or the fact that Suzan Harjo (a Native woman) has been fighting your trademark since 1969? Or the fact that I have a running list of over 4000 Native peoples against the name? “Our image” if you’re speaking for the white, outsider-created image of American Indians. That is what we’re seeking to destroy.

    But let’s go back to the money, and let’s think about the choice here–a choice that Native peoples in this country have had to make over, and over, and over throughout our history. We have deep and pressing needs in our communities. We have tribal members freezing to death, we have students unable to learn because their schools are falling apart at the seams, we have suicide rates 3.5 times higher than national averages. Because of centuries of colonialism, our communities have limited options. We are bridled by geographic location, federal red tape and bureaucracy, poverty, and any other number of factors. Then, outsiders come in. They offer us cash, in exchange for natural resources, for land, for mining rights, for oil–and our leaders and communities are faced with a lesser-of-two-evils choice.

    Do we take the money even if it is tied to politics and choices that may negatively affect our people further down the road? Of course we would like to think “no”–but it’s not that easy. And it’s a choice we shouldn’t have to make.

    In Kwatsan’s case, this skate park isn’t just about having a place for kids to skateboard. It’s tied into suicide prevention and awareness, creating a space for the community to reflect and talk about the issue as well. So here’s a billionaire (Edwards mentioned in the meeting that Snyder is a “billionaire over again”) offering to build the park now, creating that space immediately, saying they don’t need their named tied to it or even to be mentioned.

    But Kenrick said no. They escorted the OAF team off the reservation quickly, not letting them hang around, not welcoming them, not letting them feel they were doing something “good” for the Indians. That act is one that needs to be applauded.

    Drake "jokes" about racist Redskins

    Drake takes a shot at the Redskins name in ESPYs monologue“Now look, some rough words in football this year,” Drake said. “Riley Cooper said some things. Richie Incognito said some things. I just want to stress that there’s no room for racism in the NFL—unless you own a team in Washington, D.C. Then it’s a go.”Drake Jabs at 'Racist' Washington Redskins Name While Hosting ESPYs

    July 16, 2014

    Stereotypical Studi in Planes: Fire and Rescue

    The reviews for Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue all seemed to agree on one thing:

    The most WTF moments of kids' flick Planes: Fire & Rescue Windjammer (Wes Studi), an Apache helicopter, speaks in a broad, Native American accent and, fireside, tells a confounding legend about coyotes and a car that ate its own tires. The insensitivity of the stereotype aside, does this mean that at some point in Cars/Planes history, a bunch of imports chased the native vehicles off their own land?Planes: Fire & RescueThere’s a female air tanker named Lil’ Dipper, and a character that surprised me to see. He’s called Windlifter, an old fire truck that does this Native American broken English voice. It’s strange that we keep talking about the Washington Redskins changing their name because it’s offensive, but there’s a character like this in a Disney movie.REVIEW: "Planes: Fire & Rescue"Windlifter’s pseudo-Native American mumbo-jumbo comes across as distatefully stereotypical.Comment:  I gather the helicopter's name is Windlifter, not Windjammer.

    For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

    July 15, 2014

    Ralph Lauren's fetishistic Native collection

    Earth to Ralph Lauren: American Indian Iconography is a Hotbed for Scandal

    By Abe Sauer[T]ailing the football team is a wagon train of scandals involving celebrities and brands criticized for recently using Native American headdresses as fashion accessories. These cases make Ralph Lauren's ongoing obsession with using Native American headdress iconography all the more confusing. Is the brand just begging to be added to the criticism?

    Those who have found themselves apologizing for the misuse of Native headdresses include music icons Pharrell and Gwen Stefani. Chanel "deeply apologized" after its headdress scandal and Victoria's Secret "sincerely apologized" after a similar event. Even lesser-knowns have come under fire, such as the daughter of Oklahoma's governor.

    One would think that after all of the media attention, it would be common sense to avoid a fashion statement that clearly is an insult to a large group of people. But apparently Ralph Lauren doesn't read the news, because the brand has a whole new collection so heavily reliant on American Indian iconography that it almost seems fetishistic.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Kanye's T-Shirts Feature Indian Skulls and Humboldt Republic's "Chief Life" T-Shirts.

    July 14, 2014

    Update on Indigenous Narratives Collective

    A Native American Comic Book Industry

    By Rich JohnstonINC Comics was founded by Arigon Starr and Teddy Tso at the Phoenix Comic Con in 2011, along with several other Native American comic book artists and creators. They wanted to get a group together to collaborate and strengthen the presence of Native people in the comic book world/industry

    In 2012, Lee Francis came on board as publisher and they produced their first collaborative publication, INC’s Universe. This past April, they released their first teaser issue, Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, a preview of their 70-page graphic novel featuring 6 original stories of Native American Code Talkers, from World War One to Korea. They will release this in October of this year and expect to produce two additional titles before the end of the year: Pueblo Jones and Kaui (Indigenous Fairy Tales).

    They are currently working with a number of Native American artists and creators and are currently developing a number of other titles for 2015.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see INC's Universe #0 and Indigenous Narratives Collective.

    July 13, 2014

    Myth of the level playing field

    Conservatives often claim that racism is a thing of the past. That all races today are playing on a "level field." Here's a good takedown of that myth.

    The level playing field myth

    By âpihtawikosisânFirst, this [level playing field] argument invariably begins by acknowledging Europeans behaved very naughtily towards Indigenous peoples and that racism has certainly factored into that behaviour. Clark even mentions provincial and federal governments, so he does not contain these bad things in the distant past directly following Contact. Starting with this position allows one to recognize the racism and abuse inherent in the Residential School system, for example, while ignoring how contemporary Aboriginal child welfare policies are linked to that system.

    However, in acknowledging the past but cutting it off from the present, there is a strong implication that at some point, Canada got itself sorted out and began dealing fairly with Indigenous peoples. The exact date of this occurrence is never mentioned, so the driving events that led to ‘the change’ vary greatly in the opinions of those making this claim. The idea is that policies and actions taken in the past were driven by inexcusable racism, whereas policies of today, if they fail Indigenous people, fail because of incompetence rather than malice or structural design.

    This is a central pillar of the western liberal myth of a level playing field: recognizing that Indigenous peoples have legitimate grievances stemming from awful things that were done in the past, but that the advent of a modern democracy means that we are now all equals and we have an obligation to behave as such.

    What this part of the argument always relies upon is the implicit notion that any remaining problems faced by Indigenous peoples stem from an inability for people living in Canada to commit to a standard of “equal citizenship and equality before the law.” This charge will be levied at First Nations leadership and Canadian politicians both. There is little need then to understand how historic injustice has molded and shaped conditions today, and continue to find structural expression within the Canadian context. There is even less need to deconstruct how ongoing injustices are inextricably rooted in that history. Instead, a bright line is drawn between the past and the present we could all be living in if only everyone embraced liberal democracy wholeheartedly.
    Another posting has a complementary theme: how "human" or "equal" rights are different from indigenous rights. In other words, how Natives don't necessarily want or need a level playing field.

    Human rights or Aboriginal rights?

    Reflections on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    By Peter Kulchyski
    When I did read it closely, I found that the UN DRIP is a seriously flawed legal instrument. While it offers some specific language around Aboriginal rights issues, the DRIP reflects a notion that all this time Indigenous peoples around the world have been looking for human rights rather than Aboriginal rights. And the difference between these is not merely academic. Human rights, a product of the late 18th-century Enlightenment, are rights and freedoms that human beings enjoy inasmuch as they are human. They tend to be used to protect individuals and tend to be invoked in urban contexts. Everyone, on principle, has access to them. They reflect a universalizing notion of humanity and involve equal rights and freedoms that, at a minimum, all humans should enjoy. This includes Indigenous peoples inasmuch as they, too, are human.

    Aboriginal rights, by contrast, are rights that only certain people, Indigenous peoples, have, by virtue of being Indigenous. In effect, Aboriginal rights reflect a notion of cultural particularism. Indigenous cultures have become threatened as colonialism left many Indigenous peoples as a minority in their own homelands. We do not all have Aboriginal rights, nor should we. Aboriginal rights stem from the struggles of Indigenous peoples. In a way, they could be seen as a specific form of customary rights, rights that developed over time through repeated practice of an activity, rather than abstract rights that reflect a notion of how all people are the same. Aboriginal rights have tended to be asserted in rural contexts and to emphasize social collectives.

    This distinction is an important one, as human rights can be used in justifying attacks on Aboriginal rights. We saw this happen in 1968-69 with the White Paper, a set of policy proposals developed by the federal government that would have done away with the Aboriginal and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada by ensuring that they would become “equal” with all other Canadians. A human right to equality became the battering ram that threatened to destroy Aboriginal rights. Indigenous peoples in Canada fought a bitter but eventually successful struggle, momentously defeating the White Paper (at least as an official policy).
    Kulchyski adds:In fact, most of the speeches that celebrated the passing of the DRIP tended to discuss it as an “extension” of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Extending universalism is tantamount to assimilation: it is the precise approach that Indigenous peoples have been fighting against for hundreds of years.Comment:  Natives are the original owners of the land, not a Johnny-come-lately minority that needs to embrace the Euro-American system of "equality." They belong to political entities that have government-to-government relationships with the US and Canada. As such, they have additional rights beyond a mere equality under the law.

    It's wrong to pretend these political relationships don't exist, especially since they're enshrined in the US Constitution. If you don't like what the Constitution says, go ahead and amend it. Otherwise, keep your ignorant opinions to yourself.

    For more on tribal sovereignty, see End Race Based Law Inc. and GOP Activist: "Sovereignty Is Bunk."

    July 12, 2014

    Debating the "Redneck Olympics"

    The news item below sparked a lively debate on Facebook last year:

    Former Redneck Olympics under way in MaineDespite being forced to changes its name, the event formerly known as the Redneck Olympic Games continued its tradition Saturday of holding unorthodox competitions like lawn mower races, mud runs and tire burnouts.

    A full day of events was on tap during the Maine Redneck "Blank" Games. Organizer Harold Brooks changed the name under pressure from the International Olympics Committee, but noted that "everyone knows what the 'blank' stands for."

    Friday's events included a wedding and a demolition derby. Other events over the weekend included bobbing for pigs' feet, toilet seat horseshoes and a greased watermelon relay race.
    Brad began it with the following comments:OK Rob, I know this isn't racism, but if members of a class demean and stereotype themselves is that acceptable?

    And two notes to this guy:

    1) Greece IS part of the INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee.
    2) The ancient Greeks did not speak English.
    A Latina named Cx responded:The word "Olympic" might be trademarked, but there are other uses of the word. So the guy is right about that. It's the word OLYMPIC in contention here, not the word redneck.

    "A redneck can make fun of himself.." Exactly.That's what I was trying to tell you about the PARODY that was Redneck Day at the highschool in Arizona, and like that Duck Dynasty show. If a person or group identify with or as "redneck," who do non-rednecks think they are to impose their whatever on this (or any) cultural or ethnic or racial group? Trying to impose that redneck is about racism & nothing but is big time ignorance and oppression--by people who accuse others of being "oppressive." See the futility? Round and round it goes. *Yawn.
    Let the debate begin

    With that we were off:Brad
    I see what you're saying, however this is a RADICALLY different situation than that one.

    And I think you missed the point that I was only using this story to frame a discussion about the larger issue of self-degradation which wasn't the problem in the previous story.
    I dunno. I wouldn't encourage the Redneck Olympics, but I'm not sure it's worth criticizing. If people want to label themselves "rednecks," "white trash," or whatever, it's their problem.

    What about the Nerd Olympics? Same problem as the Redneck Olympics?Cx
    Self-Parody isn't necessarily self-degradation, Brad, a big picnic and games with foods of common use in that area of the country. Doesn't the image of toilet seat horseshoes crack you up? I mean cmon. And greased anything is silly fun. Neither of those things are exclusively redneck now are they. Harmless, silly fun.

    Brad
    Maybe it isn't in THIS case, but you're still fixating on the "redneck" thing. There's a broader question that relates back to one Rob asked the other day, whether a Native who stereotypes himself is beyond outside criticism. While few people are going to object to white people putting themselves down, I'm going to guess that there are some who do or don't fit the stereotype who aren't going to appreciate being labeled in this way.

    I get that THIS event is totally protected by the 1st Amendment the same as an NAACP or Klan rally would be. However, imagine if a group of real Native people decided to throw a "hipster" pow wow with neon colored headdresses, war paint, sweat lodges, and "Indian" themed activities and invited the public to attend. Who would or wouldn't be allowed to get upset? I kind of see this event the same way to a lesser degree.
    It's true that this event casts aspersions on "rednecks." A member of academia or high society in redneck territory might find these stereotypes offensive and harmful.

    In the case of Natives, we know they don't appreciate people from other cultures appropriating their headdresses. That presumably includes other Native cultures.

    I don't know that about the rubes and bumpkins in Alabama or wherever. But if they want to protest the Redneck Olympics, I'll support them.

    P.S. I'd venture to say that nothing is totally harmless. We know Barbies encourage sexist attitudes. I bet Star Wars toys encourage black-and-white thinking about good and evil. This event seems more likely to cause harm than many things we could name.Cx
    Twisting things into something they're not from one's "academia" or outsider view. Speaking of "they don't...," when it comes to "they," people can speak for themselves. Not for all natives. Not for all rednecks. Not for all academics.

    Opinions and beliefs differ in subgroups. You prefer to push a certain subgroup's opinion, that's your choice and shows what you prefer to believe to suit yourself, not THE final word on a topic. I take it you're neither redneck, nor native, nor did you play with Barbie dolls. As if analysts and academia get the privilege to define for others. *smh at how pitiful that is.

    Bottom line: Leave people to define themselves and LEARN something. Quit stereotyping.
    Rob rips Cx

    "Opinions and beliefs differ in subgroups."

    I don't know about rednecks, but in the Native field, appearances and clothing are reasonably well-documented. It isn't an "opinion" to compare a stereotypical costume to the reality and say they don't match. It's a fact...they don't match.

    The Native concern about stereotypes is also well-documented and occurs throughout the population. Indians pretty much agree that non-Indians stereotype them and it's a problem. So if you mean "most Indians" when you say "subgroup," you've got it.

    "I take it you're neither redneck, nor native, nor did you play with Barbie dolls."

    I don't need to have played with Barbie dolls to understand the research on the subject. You know, the research I posted that you weren't able to address? Your anecdotal experiences are irrelevant compared to the findings of researchers, many of whom also played with Barbies.

    And you're sure quick with opinions about Native headdresses and Arab parade floats considering you don't belong to either group either. Not to mention what leads men to abuse and rape women--something you can't know unless you're a man, according to your "logic." Using this logic, how about if you stay out of any debate that doesn't involve Latinas, okay?

    "As if analysts and academia get the privilege to define for others. *smh at how pitiful that is."

    Analysts and academics who deal with Native and women's issues usually include Natives and women. I'm reporting what they say, not making up and imposing my views on theirs. If you don't understand this key point, keep rereading it until you get it. I repeat and reflect what Natives themselves say about Native stereotypes.

    Bottom line: Cx is a hypocrite

    "Bottom line: Leave people to define themselves and LEARN something. Quit stereotyping."

    I've learned something after 20+ years in this field. Now I'm sharing what I've learned. Native stereotypes are wrong. Natives say so.

    It's still not clear to me that you know what stereotyping is. I'm not stereotyping anyone when I report the facts. Native stereotypes don't match the Native reality...fact. Most Natives prefer not to be stereotyped...fact. I'm repeating the facts, not making stuff up...fact.

    There's nothing stereotypical or wrong about what I'm doing. Which is why I have thousands of Native readers, I work at Pechanga.Net, I write for Indian Country Today, etc., etc. I've proved I understand these issues well enough to report on them. Natives themselves--thousands of them--say so.

    But it's fascinating how you turn every debate into an attack on me. Why is that, I wonder?

    I didn't say you have no business talking about rednecks because you aren't one. But I'll say it now. You're a hypocrite for chastising me for having thoughts about Natives when you've commented repeatedly on rednecks, a group you don't belong to. Stop being so hypocritical.

    In related news, I don't need to be the president to comment on presidential politics. I don't need to be a pro athlete to comment on pro sports. I don't need to be a master chef to comment on cooking. I don't need to be an astronaut to comment on space travel. Etc.

    Duhhh.

    I ask again, Brad. Should Latinas stick to Latina issues, Natives to Native issues, whites to white issues, males to male issues, rednecks to redneck issues, etc., etc.? What do you think?

    For more on the subject, see Should Non-Natives Write About Natives? and Rob = Moral Police?