July 31, 2015

Town cancels "Indian attack" race

This week's Internet outrage came courtesy of a race in a Kentucky town:

Enter the James Ray 5K to be chased by Native American reenactors

By Larry VaughtIt’s not hard to find a 5K race in this area. Most weekends, especially at this time of year, there is at least one local road race.

However, it’s not every day you can find a 5K—or any race—where American Indians reenactors will chase you to the finish line. Yet that’s exactly what you’ll get Aug. 15 at the James Ray 5K—Indian Attack in Harrodsburg.

“It’s all part of the Pioneer Days weekend,” said race director Terry Wasson.

Last year the event wanted to come up with something to make its 3.1-mile event unique from other races. That’s how the idea of having American Indians reenactors chase runners near the finish line originated, and Wasson said it went over so well that the same plan is in place for this year’s race.

“We’re getting set up for this again,” she said. “The (American Indians reenactors) will chase runners, and it seemed to be something that everybody really enjoyed last year. It was a big hit and came off as unique as we had hoped it would.”

If that’s not enough, Wasson said there will also be a “fort” at the finish line for runners to go into to help portray what it was like for James Ray.

Internet doesn't approve

Ky. festival scraps “Indian Attack” from 5K

By Chris KenningMounting criticism has led a Harrodsburg, Ky. pioneer-themed festival to scrap plans for a 5K run featuring Native American reenactors who chase runners.

An online registration form for the “James Ray 5K--‘Indian Attack’” race suggests runners come in costume and tells them they “can either run or walk, but don’t be surprised if you encounter some obstacles and come under attack when Indians chase you to the finish!”

The Aug. 15 race is to be part of the annual Mercer County Pioneer Days celebration. Race director Terry Wasson did not respond to requests by the Courier-Journal for an interview, but she told the Advocate Messenger newspaper this week that the idea was “a big hit” last year that organizers decided to do it again this year.

But outrage began building online this week. On Thursday, the Indian Country Today Media Network quoted University of Montana Assistant Professor of Native American Studies Theo Van Alst as saying that “in the end, it’s a celebration of the Indian removal of the area.”
Goodbye, Redface Race: 'Indian Attack' Pulled From 5K Run Amid Mounting Pressure

By Simon Moya-SmithSeemingly in response to a tidal wave of opposition, county officials in Kentucky on Thursday pulled a controversial element from its annual 5K race that was widely accosted as racially offensive to Native Americans.

Until Thursday, the “James Ray 5K Indian Attack” race, slated to take place in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, was to include a group of Native American reenactors in redface and dressed in faux Native American garb. The 'Indians' were to chase runners into the safety of an imitation fort at the end of the race, according to reports. The race, which is named for celebrated Indian fighter General James Ray who relocated as a teenager to Kentucky from North Carolina, remains scheduled for August 15.

"All concerns expressed on the James Ray 5K have been heard and the race has been altered accordingly," county officials wrote on its Facebook page. "As stated, we have altered the race to address the concerns brought to our attention. That means there are no Native Americans chasing in the race."

On Thursday, social media was abuzz with responses to the race many considered racist.

Red-face race? “Indian Attack” 5K in Kentucky canceled after Internet clues city in to the sheer awfulness of the idea

Organizers of Harrodsburg's "Pioneer Days" apparently thought this was a good idea, despite it being 2015 and all

Indians on the warpath!

Adrienne Keene explains what's wrong with this event:

James Ray “Indian Attack” 5k: Family fun for everyone!

By Adrienne Keene“General James Ray came to Fort Harrod in Mercer County at age 14 or 15 in 1775 from North Carolina with a party led by Daniel Boone. He served as an Indian spy and hunter for Fort Harrod, served in the campaigns against the American Indians and served several years in the Kentucky Legislature. He also reportedly raced with Blackfish Indian warriors to sound a danger signal to the settlers.”

Question: is this a case of a grammar error or am I correct in reading that James Ray was an Indian hunter? Like, he hunted Indians? Wow. In any case he “served in campaigns against American Indians.” GREAT. LET’S CELEBRATE THAT DUDE.

I just want to break this down for you. A town in Kentucky, which I’m guessing is not a completely Native town, signally how they were physically killed and/or relocated (ie CHASED) out of that land, holds a “pioneer days” festival to “celebrate” that history, complete with a 5k named after a guy who’s job it was to kill Indians…and decided that the best way to “honor” that history was to have white people dress up as the worst Indian stereotypes and chase runners into a fort. And not one single person thought that was a bad idea. In fact, it was so great they did it again!

Speaking of doing it again, here are some choice quotes from the article last year (where the photo at the top comes from):

“Dressed as Native America warriors, Nick Laymon and Kayla Slone giggled as they waited to swoop down with a little extra “fuel” at the James Ray 5K’s finish line. Veins popped out of Laymon’s neck as he and Slone bellowed and shrieked, inspiring more laughter than fear as they chased runners all the way to the finish line.”

Always the “warriors”–what makes them warriors? Like, honestly. Always warriors and princesses. But the “veins popp[ing] out” of his neck? What’s the point of that detail? To make him seem more savage and war-like? Gross.
Comment:  To be clear, the town canceled only the "Indian attack" portion of the 5K. The 5K is still on, as far as we know, but without the reenactors in redface.

Judging by the links below, there's a boomlet of white folks dressing up as Indians in historical pageants. Is this really happening?

For more on redface, see Wyoming Pageant Features Whites in Redface and Ontario Camps Feature Mock Ceremonies.

July 30, 2015

Typical "Wild West" confrontation

Here's a typical 19th-century confrontation in the "Wild West."

1) White settlers move into Native territory and set up permanent residence without permission.

2) Someone, perhaps a young Native warrior, steals a settler's horse.

3) Military commander demands other Natives return the horse. Natives understandably refuse.

4) Commander sends posse of men to arrest Natives for horse theft. Gunfight ensues. Several Natives and one white man are killed.

5) Settlers demand vengeance. Commander sends troops to arrest Natives for the white man's murder.

6) Soldiers massacre 10-20 Native men, women, and children while arresting "killers."

7) Native "killers" are condemned for murder without a trial and hanged.

8) Settlers are finally satisfied that they've received justice for the stolen horse.

Repeat until the Army sends in a massive force to hunt all the Indians in the territory and confine or remove them.

The above scenario comes courtesy of Blood and Thunder, a book I just finished. It offers a revealing look at life on the southern frontier of New Mexico.

P.S. Sometimes just a dispute over a horse race was enough. Unbelievably, a stolen horse was not the worst excuse for a massacre ever.

July 29, 2015

Sammy Sioux and Sally Squaw

Too much energy wasted on 'Fighting Sioux'

By Jane AhlinBack in the dark ages (1967-68), consciousness-raising was big on the UND campus. The Vietnam War–claiming the lives of young Americans at an alarming rate–had caused even conservative, respectful-of-authority North Dakota kids to doubt the wisdom and trustworthiness of American leaders. A new wave of feminism also took root on the prairie, challenging patriarchal laws and double standards for sexual behavior.

Echoes of the Civil Rights movement could be seen in the civil disobedience of demonstrators, in protests and sit-ins. Along with methods of protesting, students had learned to say “black” instead of “Negro” and the “N” word was a no-no. There were rumblings that Native Americans in our state suffered discrimination not unlike that of blacks in the South, but the war and the women’s movement kept that concern from coming to the fore. At the time, the UND newspaper, The Dakota Student, dissed the war, identified with draft resistance, and angered alums, but the moniker was not questioned.

Looking back, the limitations of student understanding for racism–especially concerning Indians–are painfully obvious. Among 1968 yearbook pictures of UND’s 1967 Homecoming is a picture of “Sammy Sioux”–a white kid in a fringed outfit and headdress wearing cool sunglasses. He is standing next to a few participants in the “Sally Squaw” contest. The contestants were fraternity guys in long wigs, headbands with feathers, and “squaw” outfits. Offensive? Yes, but it didn’t stem from intentional spite toward Indians; it was cultural ignorance.

Ignorance, however, could not explain 1972. As part of “King Kold Karnival” (a UND winter festival built around hockey the way homecoming is built around football), an ice sculpture put up by a fraternity was of a topless Native American woman with a sign pointing to her breasts saying, “Lick em Sioux.” A Native American student took after the ice figure with an ax, and there was quite a dust-up.

That’s when the moniker could have and should have been changed. No question it awakened the administration to a festering problem. However, the actual decision made was to end the festival and keep the moniker.
Comment:  This is an excellent example of how Indian mascots = racist and stereotypical thinking. However people position their mascots today, these mascots were originally buffoonish caricatures meant to be laughed at. They were three-dimensional jokes--living cartoon characters akin to Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, or Betty Boop.

Anything since this age of buffoonery is stupid spin. It's a feeble attempt to save the racist caricatures from the dustbin of history. It's much like the Confederate flag, which was an explicit symbol of white supremacy but now supposedly stands for Southern pride. Indian mascots used to stand for white supremacy too, and schools should abandon them for that reason alone.

Below:  Sammy Sioux.

July 28, 2015

Native artifacts aren't antiquities?

Rep. Ron Bishop and The Real 'Bull Crap'

By Dina Gilio-WhitakerOne of the opponents of the Basin and Range proclamation was Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who blatantly referred to it as “bull crap.” Specifically, when asked about the antiquity of the Native artifacts there such as the cave paintings, he said “Ah bull crap. That’s not antiquity.”

If a historical site with artifacts that date back at least 13,000 years can’t be considered “antiquity,” what can?

The statement was so asinine that even Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Az.), bless his heart, wrote a commentary in ICTMN to express his concern about congress’ growing hostility toward Indian country in general, reflected in part by Bishop’s absurd claim.

Rep. Grijalva wrote that congress doesn’t take tribal sovereignty seriously, and that it “is based not on legitimate political differences but on a prevailing attitude that Native American history is important only when it is convenient, Native American economic interests are secondary and Native American land is held by tribes only through the grace and favor of the federal government.”

True enough. If we break it down even more, the workings of the U.S. as a settler society is revealed. Since the goal of the settler society is the elimination of Native populations in order to gain access to Native lands, there is no reason to recognize indigenous sovereignty as a legitimate form of sovereignty, equal to that of state sovereignty. It does, however, pay lip service to Native sovereignty in order to uphold the charade of democracy and implicitly or explicitly deny the genocidal impulse of the state.

Let’s be real. However magnanimous the creation of a national monument at Basin and Range appears to be (in the interest, at least partly in this case, of preserving an ancient Native site), the land is not in Native hands. It is held by the state. By publicly owning a Native site, the state possesses Native history as its own. It says “this is OUR history, OUR heritage.” In this way the settler state erases the Native and stakes its own claim to indigeneity. But I digress.
Comment:  Given his ignorance of the English language, poor Bishop must be a Republican. Let's help him out:antiquity

noun, plural antiquities.

5. Usually, antiquities. something belonging to or remaining from ancient times, as monuments, relics, or customs.
Bishop gets a Stereotype of the Month nomination for treating Indians as a vanished or never-present people. In reality, their artifacts are about the only antiquities native to the Americas.

July 27, 2015

Storefront window shows bound Mi'kmaq women

"We didn't think at the time the images would be painful and upsetting."

Images of bound and gagged Indigenous women make up part of Bathurst, New Brunswick, festival

By Miles Howe
[I]t was with some consternation that two paintings, both centrally situated in town and both prepared by local artists working with the Bathurst Art Society for the Hospitality Days festival, depicted Indigenous peoples in a manner that many folks have since taken offence to.

The first image depicts two Indigenous women in full length buckskin dresses, with their hands bound behind their backs and their ankles tied. It seems as though they are captives on a boat. Their mouths are gagged with something resembling duct tape. They facial expressions appear to be resigned to whatever fate awaits them. One has simply closed her eyes.

The second image shows a priestly-looking individual standing in front of three Indigenous people. In front of the crowd are two treasure chests filled with nondescript items. To the casual observer, it might pass for a sermonizing scene, for all intents and purposes rather paternalistic to boot.

No explanation–rational or otherwise–accompanied the two images in the storefront window in which they appeared.

For the duration of the festival, the images appeared in the Main street-facing window of the former Sportsmen Pub building, which, perhaps to make matters worse, is the site of the unsolved murders of Diane Aubie and Gary DeGrace.
The explanation:Initially, the 'Heritage Days' committee's response to the mounting criticism over the depictions in the paintings was to publicly provide a link to the legend of the 'Phantom Ship'. The legend outlines the story of how “sea marauders” would commonly pillage Indigenous villages on the New Brunswick coastline, ransacking them, stealing furs as well as kidnapping women to later “have their way” with them. The two bound and gagged Indigenous women in the painting, apparently, were two such victims, expecting to be raped and murdered–except that in the case of the 'Phantom Ship' they met up with a crew member of conscience who demanded that they be set free.And the "apology":“We got together and we decided to do the story of the Phantom Ship. On Friday, we learned that our paintings did offend some people, so we did revise it,” says Gates. “We took the two Native people out. And we're really sorry that there was any offence taken...It wasn't our intention to create a misunderstanding or even to negate the Indigenous people. We just didn't think at the time that the images would be painful and upsetting and of course we do respect their culture and stories very much.”A few comments from Facebook:This is terrible. Really, terrible. I can't even comprehend what they were thinking. I just, I can't.

We are not animals.

Even the "apology" has my head spinning. How could someone put these images in a very public place and not expect harm? Not expect rage? Effing incredible.
"We just didn't think" pretty much sums it up. No need for anything more.

July 26, 2015

Rod Stewart's daughter in a headdress

Another white girl, Kimberly Stewart, stigmatizes the Native American people and their traditions

By Dr. Lorena BrownleeKimberly Stewart, the daughter of Rod and Alana Stewart, after leaving the public limelight for four years to have and raise Benicio del Toro’s baby, comes shamefully back into the spotlight wearing nothing but a Native American headdress riding a rickety old rocking horse.

While her fans may be eager for her comeback, her behavior is nothing short of deplorable and exudes her inability to read and learn from those who have made this same culturally disparaging statement in the past.

A headdress is reserved for revered elders who have through their actions earned the right to wear one. The headdress is not merely a cultural piece but also a spiritual one. Feathers and even face paint carry a high spiritual significance in Native American societies bringing honor to both tribes and nations. These practices are earned through selfless and unwavering leadership. This reprehensible act could only be compared to a person stealing the medals of a war hero and publicly wearing them.

Under United States federal law it is a federal misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself as having received any US military decoration or medal. If convicted, defendants might have been imprisoned for up to six months. Wearing an unearned Native American headdress is no different to stealing a US military medal.

July 25, 2015

Is Captain Kirk a conservative?

Some comments on the following subject:

Ted Cruz: ‘Star Trek’s Captain Kirk was probably a Republican

Kirk is militaristic, makes up his own reality, and thinks of women in sexual terms. I wouldn't rule out his being a moderate 1960s-style Republican.

William Shatner shoots down Ted Cruz: Captain Kirk is no Republican

Shatner says Kirk is apolitical? Okay. I could see Kirk as a "rely on yourself" libertarian-leaning type. I.e., don't trust government or anyone giving orders or computers. He might not vote--but if he did vote, he might prefer a moderate Republican.

Spock, McCoy, Sulu, and Uhura would be Democrats, of course. Scotty and Chekov might lean to the conservative side just like Kirk.

Federation politics

It's funny that Star Trek is overtly apolitical--never discussing politics except on alien worlds. Yet the Federation is a utopian ideal and we know it has a president, at least. So it should be championing democracy and elections, not ignoring them.

I presume it's a democracy and people vote, although I suppose a Federation computer could pick officials using its awesome AI. Yet the characters literally never discuss this among themselves. No off-hour chats between Sulu and Chekov or O'Brien and Bashir about whom they're supporting in the next election.

You remember the TNG episode about the game that hypnotized the whole crew? The creators could've made it a political video instead of a game. Candidate X using subliminal messages to win an election and take control of Starfleet. That would've been a bold commentary on our society.Kirk has disobeyed Starfleet more times than MacArthur disobeyed Truman, but with better results. I guess that's not really political, but for some reason seemed an appropriate analogy.Old Vulcan proverb: "Only Nixon could go to China." Kirk is Nixon.

Of course, Kirk would never take Cruz's side in anything. He'd scorn a blowhard like Cruz. He'd treat him like Harry Mudd or Cyrano Jones...as a big fat joke.

Same with Cruz's other hero, Spider-Man. Except the comparison there would be to an egotistical egghead like Dr. Octopus.

For more on the subject, see The Native Spock and The Political Spock.

July 24, 2015

Native woman has white privilege

A light-skinned Native woman talks about whether she has white privilege:

I Am a Native American Woman With White Privilege

By Misty Shipman EllingburgI’ve thought about this more and more in passing weeks. The shooting in Charleston, the death of Sandra Bland, the deaths of many, many more–all of these things have affected me on a deep level. When Mike Brown was murdered, I was so outraged that I immediately became that awkward person, jutting into a conversation not my own, all well-meaning, bumbling passion that needed to learn its place. My place, I now know, during this epidemic of police brutality, violence, and death, is as an ally. I can listen to what my Black friends share and say is their experience. I can believe them because they tell me it’s true. And I can choose to stand with them, encourage them, lift up and amplify their voices by listening, learning, and sharing what they tell me.

And part of what they’re telling me is that there are things I take for granted that I receive as a direct result of my skin color. Because I am Indigenous and I do face a great deal of challenges specific to my nationality, I have often wrongly believed that I don’t have white privilege. That isn’t true, because the larger world views me as a white woman. When I’m out and about in the rural area I live in, white people assume I am their natural ethnic ally. Police officers don’t stop me on erroneous, trumped up charges. In fact, I could, hypothetically, see a police officer, and feel either more safe, or neutral. I can look at a TV and see people who look like me. In magazines, movies, and casting calls, white is considered normal or standard. Avatar actress Zoe Saldana once said that she was turned down for a role because her skin was “too dark.” Said Zoe, “It’s only dark if you’re comparing it to something.”
Comment:  Answer: Yes, she does. Because white privilege is mainly a function of skin color. The whiter you are, the more you benefit from it.

For more on white privilege, see Even Children Enjoy White Privilege and White Men = Winning Tribe.

July 23, 2015

Native ghosts in comic books

A teacher e-mailed me to say she was interested in Native ghosts. For a section of her literature class, she wanted to know about Native ghosts in comic books. I sent her this response:

Native ghosts in comic books...interesting question.

There are a ton of stories in every genre--comics, movies, TV shows, novels, etc.--that feature Indian ghosts, spirits, or demons. Often they arise from an Indian burial ground that's been cursed somehow.

But these are usually throwaway stories. They're not central to the comic book, movie, or whatever in question. So it's difficult to produce a list of such stories. You'd have to search for "Indian burial ground," "Indian ghost," "Indian spirit," and so forth and weed through the false hits.

There are all sorts of variations, of course. I remember an old Tomahawk story where some Brits pretended to be ghosts to scare the Indians. Lots of wacky things like that.

As one approach, I'd suggest perusing my blog on two topics:

Burial grounds

Most of the postings are about movies or TV shows, not comics. But they may spark your interest anyway.

As for particular comics, characters such as Alpha Flight's Shaman, the New Mutants' Dani Moonstar, the Justice League of America's Manitou Raven, and DC's Arak sometimes enter the spirit world or the dream world. That's kind of like being a ghost. You could search those series for individual issues about ghosts. For instance, try "Alpha Flight Shaman ghost." See what it pulls up.

Beyond that, I can think of a few possibilities. Most of them don't involve ghosts in the classic European sense, but they may be close to what you want:

  • Desperadoes: Buffalo Dreams. I don't remember this mini-series well, but it may involve actual ghosts.

  • Ghostdancing. Dancing through different realms or dimensions--kind of like being a ghost.

  • Muktuk Wolfsbreath. Entering the dream world--again kind of like being a ghost.

  • I Am Coyote (Epic). Coyote shifts into a phantom state, which is kind of like being a ghost.

  • Timespirits. I don't remember this series well, but the characters go traveling through time and space. I wouldn't be surprised if they entered a ghostly state too.

  • New Mutants: The Demon Bear Saga. Dani Moonstar faces a spectral demon, which is kind of like a ghost.

  • As you can see, there are many suggestions about characters like a ghost. I don't know if that helps, but it's about all I can think of.

    As for buying them, I sell just my own comics and a few others. I'd try Mile High Comics at http://www.milehighcomics.com. They have a huge inventory--possibly the biggest online.

    From what I've seen, it's about 50-50 whether they have Native-themed comics such as the ones I've mentioned. But the prices for lower-quality items are reasonable.

    I trust that helps!


    P.S. In a follow-up message, the teacher said she was also interested in Native spirits, demons, and related supernatural beings. That would increase the number of relevant comic books immensely.

    July 22, 2015

    Review of Allen's Pocahontas

    Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, DiplomatIn striking counterpoint to the conventional account, Pocahontas is a bold biography that tells the extraordinary story of the beloved Indian maiden from a Native American perspective. Dr. Paula Gunn Allen, the acknowledged founder of Native American literary studies, draws on sources often overlooked by Western historians and offers remarkable new insights into the adventurous life and sacred role of this foremost American heroine. Gunn Allen reveals why so many have revered Pocahontas as the female counterpart to the father of our nation, George Washington.

    From Publishers Weekly

    In what is presented as the first study of its kind by an American Indian scholar, Allen (The Sacred Hoop) offers a corrective to the romantic story of Pocahontas told initially by Capt. John Smith of the Virginia Company and most recently by Disney Studios. Euro-American historical accounts of Pocahontas's brief life, asserts Allen, typically depict her as a lovelorn and tragic character (she died in 1617 in the aptly named river port of Gravesend, England, at the age of 20 or 21). Allen's Pocahontas, by contrast, is a real visionary, a prodigiously gifted young woman fervently devoted to the spiritual traditions of her people: a loose-knit group of Algonquin tribes known as the Powhatan Alliance, or Tsenacommacah. When the English colonists who began establishing Jamestown in 1607 invaded the Tsenacommacah, Pocahontas immediately identified it as the fulfillment of a prophecy that foretold the end of their world and the beginning of a new one, argues Allen. It was "world change time," she writes, and Pocahontas (also called Matoaka, Amonute and finally Lady Rebecca Rolfe) was nothing if not mutable--as implied by the book's subtitle. Still, notwithstanding Pocahontas's significant role in American history, Allen's claims that Pocahontas "set in motion a chain of events that would," among other things, "liberate the starving and miserable peoples of Europe and beyond" can seem overstated. More persuasive are Allen's comments about the cultural similarities between the English and Algonquin and the idea that each group changed the other. When casting Pocahontas as "the embodiment of this dual cultural transformation," her role, and the book, are at their clearest, and are made manifest by Allen's often lyrical and powerful writing.
    Allen's take on Pocahontas

    Some statements from Paula Gunn Allen's "Sendings" from Pocahontas: Engaging with an Unusual Reality show how Allen reinterpreted Pocahontas's life:Before Pocahontas is born, the elders receive a vision from the Manito. The Manito reveal that an influential child "possessed of a high-order of spiritual identity" will be born into the Powhatan peoples (235). That child is Pocahontas.

    Pocahontas is an "adept"—one who is highly educated in Dream-Vision disciplines (21). She was granted this skill before birth by the Manito, so she could communicate more proficiently with supernaturals throughout her life.

    Because of Pocahontas's Dream Vision, wherein she saw Smith's façade float to shore, Smith will be initiated into the Powhatan Alliance to be an ambassador between the English and the Powhatans; to maintain a peace; and aid the Powhatan peoples in the time of transformation.

    Allen declares that Pocahontas boarded ship with Argall because "it was the occasion she was waiting for," it was "a continuance of her duties as spy and perhaps as emissary ... and the council needed eyes and ears within the [English] enclave" (131).

    Pocahontas married John Rolfe, not because of "romantic impulses" (90), but because marrying him would insure the "spirit of tobacco would find a home in the new world" (235).

    Pocahontas's intentions in going to England were quite different from Rolfe's. Her Manito-directed mission was to exchange "arcane knowledge" with the English occult and to deliver this knowledge back to the Native Elders (284).

    Pocahontas ... successfully built a bridge between "Manito and Faerie," she introduced the shamanistic herb tobacco to the world, and "she was the mother of a new race"—there are three million mixed-blood descendants of English and Powhatan stock (305).
    More reviews

    Some reviews from Goodreads:Meg rated it 3 of 5 stars

    This book was intriguing at times, maddening at other times. I really liked the way the author just laid it out there at the beginning that she was going to mix up traditional Western linear biography narrative with a cyclical-time-based spiritual understanding of history. Her opening chapter describing this is really brilliant. While reading the rest of the book, I felt that (on the one hand) she had some super insightful ways of envisioning Pocahontas' history. It never would have occurred to me that Pocahontas was a spy but it makes total sense when put in this perspective. On the other hand, I wanted to be more clear about when she was giving known historical (Western linear etc etc) fact, when she was looking from a more cyclical-time lens, and when she was speculating. And sometimes she got really too into the whole trip of Native Americans having a unitary philosophy/way of seeing things. As a side note, I loved how she made parallels between Native American spiritual worlds and the pagan English alternative spiritual world (alchemy, ceremonial magic, fairies, etc). That was fun and unusual.

    Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars

    Although this book is supposed to be a biography of Pocahontas, it is unlike any biography I have read before. Rather than recount what few facts we know about her life, (and, as Allen points out, most of those facts are filtered--several times--through a foreign lens), Allen seeks to provide a context for Pocahontas, to flesh out the world she came from, so that we can reinterpret who she was and what her life meant. And as far as that goes, I though Allen did a fantastic job. In fact, the context of Pocahontas' world turned out to be far more interesting to me than the woman herself, at least as described by Allen. Sometimes the book becomes quite repetitive (Allen says she does it on purpose, as repetition in the oral tradition is meant to emphasize important points), and sometimes she makes what seem to me to be long leaps of logic (though she says she is writing from a perspective outside of the world of rationality). Nonetheless, this book is well worth the read if you're interested in learning more about what a Native American worldview might have been like during a time when tribal cultures were still strong and intact throughout the continent
    Comment:  These postings give you an idea of what the book is like, but it's hard to pin down.

    I'd say Allen's claims are provocative and compel you to see Pocahontas in a new light. But they're speculative more than persuasive. You may end up thinking none of them are true.

    Allen's Pocahontas may be a must-read for Pocahontas aficionados. But I'm not sure anyone else will enjoy it. Especially if they're not interested in Native subjects in general. Rob's rating: 7.0 of 10.

    For more on Pocahontas, see Fever Sexualizes Pocahontas and "In Defense of Pocahontas."

    July 21, 2015

    America the biggest loser

    “The U.S. often goes to war very overconfident about how the war will turn out”

    We've lost four of our last five wars, despite being the superpower. Dominic Tierney explains why this happens

    By Michael Schulson
    Since the end of World War II, the United States has fought five major ground wars—one in Korea, one in Vietnam, two in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan. By many measures, we’ve lost four of them (the first Gulf War is the one clear exception). The U.S. may be the world’s dominant military power, but we seem to have lost the ability to win.

    Dominic Tierney’s new book, “The Right Way to Lose a War,” begins with a depressing premise: the United States will probably lose again. “We live in an age of unwinnable wars, where decisive triumph has proved to be a pipe dream,” he writes. For Tierney, a professor at Swarthmore College and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, the solution is not just to prepare to win wars. It’s to develop clearer plans for how to cut our losses and run when the situation demands it, instead of becoming bogged down in a protracted, fruitless conflict.

    In our era of ambiguous, stateless wars, Tierney argues, “losing the right way is a victory.” He argues that the military needs to be ready to surge (adding more troops, briefly), talk (spin the narrative) and then leave (before it’s too late). The strategy, Tierney suggests, is less about pride, and more about pragmatism—and saving lives.

    Over the phone, Tierney spoke with Salon about ISIS, nation-building and why the military destroyed all its counterinsurgency notes after the Vietnam War.

    You’re talking about losing wars. I’m an American. Why does this make me feel so uncomfortable?

    American culture is very much a victory culture, a culture of competition and winning. The notion of cutting losses or dealing with an unwinnable situation might seem vaguely unsettling and un-American. But the reality is that four out of five wars that the U.S. has fought in recent decades have become unwinnable. Although it might make us uncomfortable, I think it’s necessary for us to think seriously about the question.
    Comment:  I've talked about this subject often--especially after 9/11. The whole premise of invading Afghanistan and Iraq was to get even for the terrorist attack. Bush didn't consider any alternatives and didn't have any fallback plan. It was all schoolyard machismo: Muslims hit us hard so we'll hit them harder.

    For more on the subject, see America's Cultural Mindset.

    July 20, 2015

    Adam Sandler defends Ridiculous 6

    Adam Sandler: ‘Ridiculous Six’ Racism Controversy Was ‘Just a Misunderstanding’

    By Alex StedmanAdam Sandler is finally addressing the controversy that surrounded his Netflix project “The Ridiculous Six” after about a dozen Native Americans walked off the set of the movie in April.

    The actors complained of racist jokes against Native Americans, but, finally speaking on the issue at the premiere of his upcoming movie “Pixels,” Sandler said he wasn’t trying to offend anyone.

    “It was just a misunderstanding and once the movie is out will be cleared up,” Sandler told the Associated Press.

    The comedian also called “Ridiculous Six” a “pro-Indian” movie.

    “I talked to some of the actors on the set who were there and let them know that the intention of the movie is 100% to just make a funny movie,” he told ScreenCrush. “It’s really about American Indians being good to my character and about their family and just being good people. There’s no mocking of American Indians at all in the movie. It’s a pro-Indian movie. So hopefully when people see it—whoever was offended on set and walked out, I hope they realize that, and that’s it. It was kinda taken out of context.”
    A partial rebuttal of Sandler's claims:

    Adam Sandler’s insulting “Ridiculous 6″ defense: Being “pro-Indian” looks nothing like this

    "It's really about American Indians being good to my character" doesn't exactly redeem this ill-advised project

    By Paula Young Lee
    Could Sandler’s P.R. problem get any worse? Of course it could. Yesterday, Sandler dug himself into a hole by affirming that “The Ridiculous 6” was a “pro-Indian” film. He explained: “It’s really about American Indians being good to my character and about their family and just being good people.”

    Alas, poor unhappy Gilmore, we hardly knew ye understood so little about the medium that made you so very rich. To explain, let me begin by making three observations. First, “Me smoke peace pipe, Kemosabe”-style jokes don’t only reduce First Peoples to stereotypes, they also mindlessly reinforce every negative stereotype Hollywood has manufactured about them.

    Second, the “White Savior” trope goes like this: Clueless white person stomps all over Noble Savages who fight against Regular Savages, and then receives Enlightenment for which he is eternally grateful (but will never share credits, profits or royalties), for he has already rewarded the Noble Savages with the greatest of all gifts: the opportunity to help him.

    Third, when the White Savior film is “historical,” it can even be sanctified with an Oscar nomination for best picture—an Oscar that “Dances With Wolves,” 1990, actually won.
    My thoughts

    There's no mocking, says Sandler...in the unlikely event he removed every joke reported in the press. I wouldn't bet a dime on that.

    The Indians raise Sandler's character...which proves they're good? Not if the jokes mocking them are still in the movie. All sorts of characters can be good and kind yet still treated as idiots and savages. In fact, the idea of Indians as big-hearted but comical buffoons is an old tradition in movies.

    Repeating jokes that might've appeared in old comedies isn't mocking them. You mock movie conventions by having Indians laugh at other people, not by having other people laughing at them.

    I bet the debate will come down to this:"Adam Sandler feels that when audiences finally see his upcoming Netflix comedy, 'The Ridiculous Six,' they will realize he wasn't trying to offend anyone."No, you stupid ass. The issue isn't whether you were trying to offend someone. It's whether you did offend someone despite your ignorant and ill-considered intent.

    Only a few movies in Hollywood history were trying to offend Indians. But the fact is that several thousand of them did offend Indians with their racist and stereotypical depictions. How do you not understand this distinction, Sandler?

    More trashing of Sandler:

    Why Adam Sandler should retire immediately

    Why No One Likes Adam Sandler Anymore

    For more on Adam Sandler, see Adam Sandler's History of Racism and Sandler's Racist Ridiculous 6 "Jokes."

    July 19, 2015

    "Restoring America's greatness" = Disneyesque dream

    Those Who Advocate "Restoring America's Greatness" Are Living in a Mythology

    By Mark KarlinThe United States has been, for years, on the cusp of either returning to the fantasy of a privileged elite or moving forward to achieve the creative possibilities of an actualized democracy.

    Those politicians and individuals who advocate "restoring America to its greatness" are living in a Disneyesque dream, guided by the image of a Norman Rockwell portrait of a white-ruled United States that is the "greatest nation in the world." The underlying message here--which helps explain Donald Trump's appeal to an overtly racist sector of the population--is that only the continuation of white dominance in the electoral process can "save" the country. It is a vision of the United States that looks backward through a fractured, distorted lens.

    The late Eduardo Galeano wrote about the European-descended ruling class at the end of the last century. He focused on South and Central America, but what he wrote in his brilliant book Open Veins of Latin America equally applies to the US:Veneration for the past has always seemed to me reactionary. The right chooses to talk about the past because it prefers dead people.... The powerful who legitimatize their privileges by heredity cultivate nostalgia. History is studied as if we were visiting a museum, but this collection of mummies is a swindle. They lie to us about the past: they mask the face of reality. They force the oppressed victims to absorb an alien, desiccated, sterile memory fabricated by the oppressor, so that they will resign themselves to a life that isn't theirs as if it were the only one possible.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Confederate Flag Must Go and Rubio Ignorant of US History.

    July 18, 2015

    Wyoming pageant features whites in redface

    Wearing ‘red face’: A changed perspective

    By Caitlin TanUnfortunately, there is one other event that makes the entire Green River Rendezvous Days controversial. The last day a play is put on called the “Pageant.” Basically it reenacts the meeting and trading of the mountain men and Native Americans.

    The controversial part is the cast is made up almost entirely of white Pinedalians. The mountain men simply dress-up in buckskin hide outfits and fur hats; however, the Native American actors not only wear buckskin outfits, but their faces are painted a deep brown, almost red color, and they either wear black wigs or dye their hair crispy black.

    I regret to say I have worn the latter costume in past years.

    My only defense is I grew up in the town, submersed in the culture and simply did not know better. The entire town participates and people see the event as a fun, innocent celebration, and in some ways it is, but the ‘red face’ is simply taking it a step too far.

    Even worse, Rendezvous involves excessive drinking; thus, many people painted-up in ‘red face’ are running around drunk, “playing” the roles of Native Americans.

    Again, I painfully have to admit I used to do this.
    Her conclusion:Therefore, white people dressing-up like Natives–painting their skin dark and attempting to reenact the culture–is simply a sad disgrace.

    Changing my standards on this issue was incredibly difficult–I feel like I am saying goodbye to a part of myself forever; however, it is liberating to now stand for something that is morally correct and sensitive to another culture.
    Comment:  Good for her!

    For more on redface, see Ontario Camps Feature Mock Ceremonies and Sandler Crew "Bronzed" Native Actress.

    July 17, 2015

    Moonshot comics anthology debuts

    Native Characters and Creators Thrive in 176-Page 'Moonshot' Comics Anthology

    By Stephanie WoodardExcitement crackles off the pages of Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, a handsomely produced book just out from AH Comics. The striking art and captivating stories by Indigenous authors and artists will appeal to adults in addition to the typical adolescent comic-book reader. Moonshot has a place in colleges, schools and libraries, as well as on individual bookshelves.

    The title comes from a poem by superstar Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. In her poem, published in the book, she rejoices in the visionary framework of indigenous storytelling: “Off into outer space you go my friends / we wish you bon voyage / and when you get there we will welcome you again.” Sainte-Marie pokes fun at the false expectations and stereotypes often assigned to indigenous people: “I know a boy from a tribe so primitive / he can call me up without no telephone.”

    The book’s Native contributors and others (some indigenous storytellers are paired with top non-Native comic-book artists) have no problem smashing tired stereotypes. In Moonshot’s 176 pages, you won’t find any of what award-winning Caddo comic-book author and historian Michael Sheyahshe calls "fringe-and-feathers Indians"—sepia-toned sidekicks for non-Native characters who are somehow better at being Native than their indigenous buddies. Instead, Moonshot’s stories feature complex Native characters, exhilarating action and thought-provoking lessons threaded through with humor.

    The 13 comics published in Moonshot slip-slide along a continuum that arcs from the mythic past through the present to a sci-fi future. The storylines are either little-known or invented—“to help break down ideas of what Native spirituality and culture ‘should be,’” according to editor Hope Nicholson in a foreword to the volume. Importantly, she says, the book emphasizes the diversity of Native cultures.
    Comment:  For more on comics anthologies, see Review of Trickster.

    Below:  "A panel from 'Water Master,' one of the tales in 'Moonshot.' Courtesy AH Comics."

    July 16, 2015

    More festivals ban Native headdresses

    More Festivals To Ban 'Native American' Headdresses Following David Guetta Video

    By Peter RubinsteinTwo more music festivals have just been added to the list of those that will not allow attendants to bring in Native American war bonnets. First, Montreal-based Île Soniq took to Facebook to voice their opinion on the cultural disrespect of such clothing items. An issue that was brought to the limelight earlier today with David Guetta‘s new, racially charged promotional video for his upcoming club residency.

    Heavy Montreal and Osheaga has also decided to disallow headdresses from here on out.
    Some follow-up postings:

    Why music festivals are banning First Nations headdresses

    By Sheena GoodyearThis follows similar moves last year by the Bass Coast festival in Merritt, B.C., the Tall Tree Festival on Vancouver Island and the Glastonbury Festival in the United Kingdom.

    "First Nations Headdresses have a spiritual and cultural meaning in the native communities and to respect and honour their people, Osheaga asks fans and artists attending the festival to not use this symbol as a fashion accessory,” reads a post on the festival's Facebook page on Monday.

    Believed to have originated with the Sioux Indians and other tribes in the Great Plains regions, the feather headdresses, or war bonnets, are worn only by chiefs and warriors, with each feather indicating an act of bravery or heroism, according to the American Indian Heritage Foundation.

    In An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses, Montreal Métis blogger Chelsea Vowel compares wearing a headdress for fun to sporting a war medal you didn't earn or faking a university degree.
    Why wearing a pseudo-indigenous headdress is not OK at Calgary Folk Fest

    By Roger KingkadeAmongst the Instragramage and the Pinterest boards, you’ll see some “Indian” Headdresses of varying degrees of ornate embellishment.

    And, friend… that’s not OK. And if it’s not OK at Coachella, it’s not OK at Calgary Folk Fest.

    What is OK, is to go ahead and hear why it’s not OK, so that you can understand the issue a little better.

    But please heed this: If you currently think a Native American headdress is kitschy attire, nobody is calling you racist, demanding you explain yourself, or going out of their way to be offended. You’re not on trial here. Just as having a fraudulent PhD is offensive to lots of doctors, and wearing unearned military medals is offensive to lots of veterans, wearing a headdress is offensive to lots of indigenous people.
    Osheaga's headdress ban shows festival's zero tolerance for cultural appropriation

    The Montreal music event’s decision to ‘respect and honour’ First Nations people was praised for taking an uncompromising stance toward the ubiquitous offence

    By Calum Marsh
    The First Nations headdress was much-discussed last week when a young white woman donned one at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. (She also sported a bit of vaguely aboriginal face paint, as if to double down on the offence.) A few surreptitious snapshots circulated on social media, arousing a maelstrom of outrage and indignation and within hours, the festival had issued a statement denouncing such gestures of cultural appropriation and insisting that the organisers consider banning headdresses from future events. They ultimately decided against an outright ban but said they would “certainly be asking patrons not to wear headdresses” in future.

    The incident has effected more substantive change elsewhere, as music festivals across Canada continue to speak out against appropriation and impose hardline bans. The Edmonton Folk Festival revealed on Facebook earlier this week that at “this time of greater awareness” it would like its attendees “to respect First Nations cultures and to not wear any type of First Nations headdresses during the festival,” adding that these items would in fact “be confiscated by festival security” should anyone opt to bring one anyway. The Calgary Folk Festival, following Winnipeg’s precedent, has publicly implored its patrons to leave headdresses at home but won’t officially forbid them.

    Osheaga, which attracts upwards of 40,000 people to its grounds each day, is the highest-profile music festival to ban headdresses in order to “respect and honour” the First Nations people. The Facebook announcement got more than 12,000 likes in only three days–and provoked serious conversation online and in the media about what can be done about cultural appropriation. The comments lurking under the post, of course, are rife with the expected discontent and hand-wringing about political correctness. But for the most part the reaction from indigenous people and non-indigenous people alike has been thankful, even celebratory.

    Caroline Audet, manager of public relations at Evenko, Osheaga’s promoter, feels the response has been “very positive.” “Once people understand the meaning of it and the reasons,” she says, “they are very happy with the decision.” But no specific incident was the catalyst for the change in policy. “The First Nations headdresses have a spiritual and cultural meaning in the Native communities,” Audet explains. “We saw more and more fans wear these at other festivals and we just don’t want this to happen at our festival.” That A Tribe Called Red, a First Nations electronic group from Ottawa, is set to perform this year made it “even more important to make this decision out of respect for them.”
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see David Guetta's Racist Pocahottie Promotion and Simpson and Boyle Wear Headdresses.

    July 15, 2015

    Newspaper apologizes for "sobriety" ad

    Joyce Murray, First Nation newspaper apologize for sobriety grad ad

    Ad congratulating aboriginal high school grads referred to sobriety as key to success

    By Laura Payton
    Liberal MP Joyce Murray and the First Nations Drum newspaper are both apologizing after publishing an ad in which Murray congratulated aboriginal high school graduates and seemingly referred to sobriety as a key to success.

    Both the newspaper, Canada's largest First Nations paper, and the Liberal Party say the ad copy was written by a salesperson at the newspaper and approved by one of Murray's staffers. They both say Murray never saw the copy.

    The First Nations Drum newspaper and Murray both say a salesperson wrote the ad copy and it was published without Murray seeing it.

    The ad features a large photo of a smiling Murray, next to copy congratulating "all 2015 aboriginal high school graduates."

    "Sobriety, education and hard work lead to success," the next line says.
    First Nations newspaper apologizes to B.C. MP for ‘inappropriate’ ad

    By Ian BaileyRichard Littlechild, the general manager of the paper, a monthly with offices in Toronto and Vancouver that is celebrating its 25th anniversary, described “sobriety” as a “very loaded” word.

    He blamed the text on an ad salesperson who came up with the wording and ran it without the approval of Ms. Murray’s office after her office and the newspaper agreed, in principle, to run the ad.

    “They never got to see a proof,” Mr. Littlechild said from Toronto. “The salesperson himself came up with the slogan. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch it. I guess that makes us guilty also.”

    He said the paper will run an apology online on Thursday, print an apology in the August issue and run the ad again without the offensive text.

    He added that the salesperson, who has been employed by the newspaper for about 18 months, will be losing their job over the incident.

    Ontario camps feature mock ceremonies

    Chief insulted by mock Indigenous ceremonies at two Ontario summer camps

    By Julien GignacTwo southwestern Ontario summer camps catering to non-Indigenous boys aged seven to 16 conduct Indigenous-themed rituals, which include dancing around fires wearing headdresses, painted faces and bodies.

    Kilcoo Camp in Minden, Ont. and Camp Ponacka situated near Bancroft, Ont. are privately owned and operated camps for boys which cost roughly $4,000 a month.

    Neither shy away from taking part in practices that could be considered off-colour to Canadians according to pictures lifted from their websites that reveal campers and camp directors themselves donning headdresses and Indigenous regalia.

    Some have painted their bodies red. Others can be seen standing stoically around towering fires.

    Chief Lance Haymond of the Eagle Village First Nation in Kipawa, Quebec finds it offensive.

    “Redface to them may be a sign of respect for our culture, but to me it’s an insult,” said Haymond. “I think there are two options: stop doing it, or bring in First Nations people who are close to the camp and work with them to bring in a cultural component that does not make a mockery of our culture.”

    July 14, 2015

    David Guetta's racist Pocahottie promotion

    David Guetta Releases Highly Racist Video Promo for "F*** Me I'm Famous"

    By Matthew MeadowIt wasn’t even a week ago (3 days to be precise) that deadmau5 called out Pacha Ibiza and David Guetta for bringing a live horse into their club, endangering not only the horse, but the patrons who could have been injured were the horse sensitive to loud noises. It seems that wasn’t enough to keep the island tourist destination and Parisian DJ on their toes, as Guetta’s signature “F*** Me i’m Famous” residency just released an extremely racist depiction of Native American culture.

    This video goes far beyond the already tired argument concerning war bonnets at music festivals. People, we presume, are now aware that it’s wrong–they just do it anyway to remain “fashionable,” and that’s a completely separate issue. The issue in this video is the actual depiction of Native American cultural practices, rather than attire.

    The video depicts women carrying a totem pole (not the raving kind) on the beach, while enacting war cries and wearing face paint. That doesn’t even begin to describe the racist stage decorations within Pacha itself, or the dressed up women hanging from adorned horseshoes wearing pasties.
    The aforementioned horse stunt:

    David Guetta Subjected a Live Horse to His Native American Themed Club Party

    Swift backlash

    Natives and their allies quickly responded:

    F*** Me I'm Famous videos receive backlash from indigenous community

    Spanish nightclub being called out for racist images of First Nations women

    By Kim Wheeler
    A nightclub in Spain is getting a lot of buzz from Canada on its Facebook page.

    Videos that were released on July 1 to promote the F*** Me I'm Famous DJ shows featuring David Guetta at the Pacha nightclub in Ibiza, Spain, are being criticized for their racist and stereotypical images of indigenous women.

    The scantily clad women in the video are shown wearing headdresses, face paint and other indigenous-inspired designs while doing "war whoops."

    Ojibwe hip-hop artist Cody Coyote has started his own Facebook page called End F*** Me I'm Famous.

    "I started the group because after seeing the images and videos posted on their page, I felt offended," Coyote said in an interview.

    "For this kind of stuff to exist, it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach, and it frustrates me knowing that some people think it's OK to do this kind of thing."

    This Ibiza Nightclub's Native American Theme Parties May Be Worst We've Ever SeenOn the Mediterranean party island of Ibiza, off the coast of Spain, a nightclub and famous French DJ are perpetrating a display of tasteless cultural appropriation, trivialization, and female sexualization that may rival any other we've seen in recent years.

    David Guetta is the headliner of "F**k Me I'm Famous," a summer-long series of parties at the Ibiza club Pacha that are using a Native American theme that incorporates face-painted models in buckskin bikinis and headdresses (often called "warbonnets") and male models in similar outfits. Props hanging on the walls in Pacha include huge dreamcatchers and a pearl-handled revolver; in a photo shoot conducted on a beach, faux-Native models planted a mock totem pole in the sand to the sound of war whoops.

    As if this mockery of Native culture wasn't enough, Guetta and Pacha have outraged animal activists as well with one stunt that was posted to YouTube (scroll to the bottom of this article to see it). During a loud, chaotic dance-music set, a faux-Native model rides a real horse out onto the stage, subjecting the animal to a noise level that many humans would deem painful.

    For those unfamiliar with dance music: Guetta is one of the most famous DJs in the world. Wikipedia states that he has sold over 9 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. Billboard magazine named his 2009 single "When Love Takes Over," made with Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child, the greatest dance-pop collaboration of all time.

    Reaction to these antics has been intense. On the YouTube page hosting the video and the "F**k me I'm Famous" Facebook photo galleries hosting the dozens of photos, Natives and other concerned parties are calling the DJ and nightclub out as racist and condemning the smiling participants as idiots. Here's one choice response:

    F*** Me I'm Famous? More like F*** Me I'm Racist and Misogynist!!!! DJ culturally appropriates sacred regalia and objects and organises an event which will be little more than a huge piss-up involving the worst common denominator of all kinds of mindless, soulless trash in Spain. I'm sure Ibizans are sick of this as well. Now, to literally wipe your white supremacist ignorant arrogance over all over 500+ years of genocide and genocidal misogyny... that takes a whole new level of wilful ignorance, because I doubt that someone marketing himself as "hip" and "edgy" is unaware of the issues. Bravo, David Guetta!!!
    Visit the link above to see many of the offensive images.

    Here's another typical response from Facebook:Here' what I posted on his page... I absolutely love your music ....but I am fkg furious at your racist and misogynistic usage of MY PEOPLE'S SACRED REGALIA! Shame on you! Please be better...how many more Native and First Nations women have to be raped and killed and our kids committing suicide... before Americans & Europeans stop sexualizing and demeaning our culture! Wasn't 2 million dead ENOUGH for the bloodlust? 500 yrs of this crap...never ends FFS! ‪#‎StopNativeAppropriation‬ ‪#‎NotYourMascot‬ ‪#‎NotYourCostume‬

    The inevitable outcome

    A day later....

    David Guetta deletes offensive promo video after massive fan backlash

    By Nick JarvisDavid Guetta’s ‘Wild West’-themed F**k Me I’m Famous residency at Pacha Ibiza has received a whole lot of coverage in the past week, but not for a good reason. The mainstage star has been soundly chastised by the internet for two major faux pas.And:The culturally-offensive promo video has since been quietly removed from Facebook, while the gallery from the Thursday 2 July FMIF party shows that the club seems to have dropped the cultural-appropriation angle in favour of ‘Sexy Cowgirl’ costumes, so that’s something. FMIF continues its weekly residency until Thursday 27 August, with guests like Showtek, R3hab and Chuckie still to come.Based on FMIF's latest photos, the Wild West theme continued with gun and dreamcatcher signs, plus a few sexy cowgirls, but nobody in faux Indian costumes. Good enough.

    July 13, 2015

    Simpson and Boyle wear headdresses

    Jessica Simpson Wears the Controversial Native American Headdress

    By Raechal Leone ShewfeltJessica Simpson spent her 35th birthday Friday kicking back and relaxing with family and friends on a two week-vacation in St. Barts. But it wasn't all cocktails and bikinis.

    Among the Instagram shots she shared was a black-and-white one of her in a feathery headdress that angered some of her followers. "Native American traditions are not fashion statements," one posted. "My culture is not your costume," wrote another. Then there were comments that people were just being too sensitive about the subject. It got kind of ugly.

    Simpson wasn't the only one who sported the controversial look over the weekend. On Sunday, British singer Susan Boyle wore a similar headdress as she attended the T In The Park music festival in Perthshire, Scotland.

    Both women must have missed Pharrell's fiasco last summer, when he was photographed for the July 2014 cover of Elle U.K. wearing a headdress. The "Happy" singer's photo shoot spurred a hashtag of #nothappy on Twitter, and he eventually apologized. "I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture," he said. "I am genuinely sorry."
    I think Simpson claims to have a Cherokee great-grandma, so it's okay.

    Simpson Really an Indian?

    No, it was a great-great-grandma, but Simpson said only "Native," not Cherokee.

    Susan Boyle wears feathered Native American headdress for eccentric T in the Park outfit

    Note that Boyle is making pseudo-Native gestures: a "woo-woo" sound, a "How!" greeting, and a "My people" or "Great spirit" type of opening. Pure stereotyping, yet this article doesn't call her out for it.

    Jessica Simpson, Susan Boyle Wore Feather Headdresses Over the WeekendOn Saturday, Jessica Simpson shared a photo of herself wearing a Plains Indians-style feather headdress, sometimes called a "warbonnet," with her 1.7 million Instagram followers. According to Yahoo News, the snap was taken at her 35th birthday celebration in St. Barts. The picture has sparked a comment war on the Instagram page. While many of Simpson's fans are all too happy to rush to her defense and bemoan "political correctness," some more sophisticated voices have managed to get a word or two in edgewise.

    "Wearing a headdress like this is like wearing military medals and a uniform you didn't earn," said one recent commenter. "It's racist."
    And:Boyle and Simpson might both benefit from Rick Mora's recent statements about the sacred regalia they're treating as accessories.

    "Women wearing headdresses? Not okay," Mora told members of the New Zealand press. "Never okay."

    July 12, 2015

    Andrea Smith the white savior

    Tribes Blast ‘Wannabe’ Native American Professor

    The Cherokee Nation is denouncing scholar-activist Andrea Smith for falsely claiming to be a member of the tribe. Beyond untrue, the ethnic fraud is a painful reminder of their past.

    By Samantha Allen
    In her public statement, Smith downplayed the fact that she is not enrolled in the Cherokee Nation: “My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for Native communities.”

    But according to Patti Jo King, a Cherokee historian and Interim Chair of American Indian Studies at Bacone College who says she privately conversed with Smith about her claims of Cherokee identity in 2007, it is Smith’s deception—not her enrollment status and not her advocacy—that constitutes the central issue.

    “She’s trying to switch the argument around here,” King told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. “We are not talking about her scholarship here. We are not talking about her commitment to Indian people.”

    King also shared more details about the 2007 conversation in which she and Richard Allen, a Cherokee policy analyst, met with Smith to discuss her claims of Cherokee identity. During that conversation, Smith told King and Allen that her mother had told her that she was Cherokee. According to Cornsilk’s timetable, however, Smith would have already received confirmation that she was not Cherokee twice by that time.

    King added that Smith was “very humble” during that meeting but now seems determined to continue claiming Cherokee identity in spite of the criticism she has received in the past week.

    “This infringes on our rights of self-determination, self-identity, and sovereignty,” King said. “We are the best experts of our own culture and we have the sovereign right to decide who our members are, just like any nation.”
    Cry Me a River, Andrea Smith

    By Terese Marie MailhotWatching two Native academics come to a consensus about Andrea Smith is like watching two eagles fight. No, wait, I mean egos. After Andrea Smith was outed for the second time as being non-Native, several Native academics leapt to save her from scrutiny. “Focus on more positive things,” they said. “Let’s not criticize her, because she’s done so much good for the community.” I’m done with that discourse. It’s time to be upset. White people can all-to-easily say they’re Indian, while claiming to be black is a cultural anomaly, ala Rachel Dolezal. It is with this in mind that I can say Andrea Smith is far more insidious a character than Dolezal.

    For years Smith has been conjuring her fake spirit animal to cry wolf, acting like she’s one of the many Indian women who face violence and subjugation. It’s a little too generous to say Smith was led to believe she was Indian. I mean, good lord, nobody told me I was an Indian. When my mom found out we were part Irish, she read a bunch of Irish literature, we made soda bread, and then called it a day. We couldn’t get in touch with our Irish roots, because by lineage, blood, and community, we were too Indian. So Indian my mother put the Irish flag on regalia. So Indian, my mother argued Irish people should be called Indigenous because, just like us, they were exploited by the Europeans. How was Smith lead to believe she was Indian? Did she grow up in an Indian community? Nope. Are either of her parents Indian? Nope. She, like most white people who think they’re Indian, was told she was part Indian. She took that and ran with it. Ran hard. Like, took that loose mouthed claim to lineage, and made a career out of it.

    Trust me, I empathize with people removed from their culture. The sixties scoop is a real issue for many Native people throughout North America. If you’re unfamiliar, it was a period in which the government could scoop up Indian children from their communities, then place them up for adoption in Canada and the US. That’s real: for the people disconnected from their cultures, and for the people who could not find their real parents. I empathize with Native people shut out from their culture, but don’t confuse their stories with that of Smith. She’s hella white, and she tried to save us. Can we call her what she is: a white savior.

    Native academic communities are far too kind. I’ve seen endless blog posts and editorials empathizing with Smith. Even defending her, saying she’s done so much good. No. Her deceit affected the ethos of every institution she worked for. Her criticism of government funding was coming from a dangerous space, where she never had to rely on government funding to feed her children or protect her sisters. She’s a fake. Her work was based around her identity, and scholars have the audacity to say how she identifies isn’t worth noting.
    Andrea Smith and the battle over sovereigntyIn the book, “Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century” by Circe Sturm, anthropologist Michael Lambert, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians described Cherokee identity politics as a “battle over sovereignty”:

    "One of the terrains on which this is being fought is that of how we define “Indian.” The current effort to define Indian as a racial/cultural group is an effort to extinguish Indian sovereignty. The only way for Indian nations to defend and expand their sovereignty is to make exclusive claim to defining who is Indian and what it means to be Indian. If Indians have sovereignty, then culture, behavior, and belief should have nothing to do with who is or is not Indian. After all, we wouldn’t deny someone’s Germanness because they hate sauerkraut, nor would we have the audacity to recognize someone as German simply because they love it. German is what German does. Indian is what Indian does…

    What does this have to do with non-enrolled Cherokees identifying as such? I see the basis of claims to Indian identity to be political acts. This is, and has been, a battle over sovereignty. One who bases their claim to Indian identity on any basis other than sovereignty is not taking a pro-Indian position.”

    By rejecting the idea that enrollment or citizenship in an Indian Nation is a factor in who is or is not Indian, Andrea Smith is taking an anti-Indian position. That is a direct attack on tribal sovereignty. No matter what Smith says, she is not acting in our best interest. She is not our friend and she is not seeking justice for us. Instead, she's forced us to a national stage where we must defend our tribal sovereignty, and once again, battle to protect one of the only things we Cherokees have left--our identity.
    Comment:  Andrea Smith is really the same issue as mascot lovers, German hobbyists, and hipsters in headdresses. These people proclaim themselves Indians so they can become wild, savage, and free. So they can be tribal and indigenous rather than corporate or processed or homogenized. It's all about feeling different and special rather than the same as everyone else.

    The problem is that if everyone's an Indian, no one's an Indian. It washes away the actual history of tribal sovereignty and government-to-government relations. It turns generations of subjugation and oppression into a feel-good party of rainbows and fairy dust.

    This is why people have complained about the "melting pot" metaphor. Wannabes are helping Natives melt into a homogenized stew of white gruel with bits of flavoring. The result is a bland "we're all Americans but some of us have funny names and costumes," which is vastly different from thousands of unique Native cultures with millennia of history.

    For more on the subject, see Cornsilk: Smith "Is Not a Cherokee" and Andrea Smith Defends Herself.

    July 11, 2015

    Review of Trickster

    I posted several items about the Trickster anthology when it was published in 2010. Now I've finally read it.

    Below are some dueling perspectives on it. First, the good news:

    Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic CollectionTricksy
    By E. R. Bird on November 23, 2010

    Nowadays, you can read through a big publisher's full catalog for the upcoming season and not find a single solitary folktale gracing their lists. It's sad really. Maybe that's part of the reason that Trickster, as edited by Matt Dembicki, appealed so strongly to me. This isn't just a graphic novel and it isn't just a pairing of smart writers and great artists. Dembicki has come up with a way of collecting a wide variety of Native American folktales into a single source, done in such a way that kids will find themselves enthralled. When was the last time a book of folktales enthralled one of your kids anyway? It's remarkable. Not that it's a perfect collection (there are a couple things I'd change) but generally speaking I hope Trickster acts as a sign of good things to come.

    Trickster is a great example of the graphic storytelling form...
    By Donald M. Wood on May 31, 2010

    Trickster has a great variety of artists that fit well with each of the different stories. I also think that this book is a great example of how graphic storytelling can reach a greater audience than just the core comic reader.

    Each of the stories showcase a different aspect of the trickster persona that makes up a great deal of Native American lore and cautionary tales. The stories vary from cartoony versions of characters, storybook style illustration and fully painted tales.

    The production quality of the book is beautiful,the artwork is well represented here. I highly recommend this book!

    A Very Lively and Readable Book
    By GraphicNovelReporter.com on June 21, 2010

    Folkloric stories are powerful. They can be emotional, funny, uplifting, or scary. But they always have pull to them, and that's why they continue to haunt and entertain people.

    While there are special classes in school that teach mythology and folklore, it isn't always easy to find a class on Native American stories. Unfortunately, these stories are often pushed aside just as Native American culture and history can so often get left out of textbooks. Trickster: Native American Tales--A Graphic Collection is a unique remedy for this. In the form of a comic book, it tells 21 Native tales about tricksters. The tales range in style and emotion: Some are straightforward, some are humorous, some are frightening. All of them are interesting.
    More glowing reviews:

    Trickster's starred reviews
    Journal Sentinel reviews Trickster

    On the other hand

    Then there's the bad news. Readers on the Goodreads site gushed less and opined more:

    Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic CollectionMiriam rated it 2 of 5 stars

    On the one hand, I feel a little guilty giving this collection only 3 stars, because it is fabulous that they collected all these native american tales together and got various artists to illustrate them and paid for a high-quality heavy-paper glossy publication.

    On the other hand, I feel a little guilt giving this collection as much as 3 stars, because man, it was pretty effing boring and the retellings were uninspired and most of the art was stunningly weak and cartoonish.

    I am far from being an expert and I could easily come up with a more diverse, complex and interesting set of trickster tales. And I could relate them in a more interesting voice. Hell, I could even illustrate them better than most of these artists bothered to do. And since they actually make careers out of this I can only assume that the artists or the editor thought this over-simple, silly tone was appropriate to the subject matter. Wrong.

    Seth Hahne rated it 1 of 5 stars

    I frequently remark at the necessarily uneven tone of anthologies, with one story trumping another and the next falling far short of the bar set by the former. I expected this. What I hadn’t expected was for the bar to be set so low and for it to remain low for the book’s duration. These stories were almost* universally uninvolving and trite, offering no compelling reason to read further. It was only a personal need to perform my due diligence that pressed me to continue. Never a good recommendation for a book.

    Almost exclusively, the writing in the book was limp. These stories of the Trickster (usually a coyote or rabbit or raccoon) were simply uninteresting. Perhaps they make a better oral tradition than a written one, but my feeling is that almost any of the stories could have been made more compelling with a steadier author’s hand. Many of the tales take forms similar to Kipling’s Just So Stories. How the alligator got his skin, how the rabbit got his tail, how the raccoon got short and fat, how the beaver stopped being an unbridled killing machine, et cetera. There’s meat there for some decent stories. Or at least some lame stories told interestingly. But it just never coalesces.

    Samrat rated it 2 of 5 stars

    Meh. I really wanted to like this, what with my fondness for native folklore and my work with a number of tribes, mostly in the northern Plains. It may be the graphic novel format alone, which I don't think I care for, or something else I can't put my finger on.

    It felt shallow. This book could have really used a forward with information on the traditional role of the trickster and especially contexts with each story, at least a mention of the contributing tribe or region. A few of the comics just seemed inappropriately cartoonish and I wonder if the artwork was fully vetted--quite a bit of it seemed like Disney-Indian. (Much of the art and graphic design just wasn't to my personal taste, too. YMMV.) A tougher editor could have helped shape up some of these stories for the graphic novel format. There are just so many great collections of stories out there (for academic and popular audiences) that this one seemed like a hollow mish-mash with an adorable cover.

    Raina rated it 3 of 5 stars

    A collection of trickster tales from native tribes all over amerika.

    I struggle with this one. On the one hand, it's a neat looking package. An awesome cover, glossy color images inside, with stories contributed by native americans and illustrations by comic artists. As an artifact, I think it's valuable in society.

    But I'm not sure it's entirely effective. Many of the stories are extremely text heavy, and it's often hard to see the benefit the illustrations lend to the telling. Also, there's no extra information about where the stories come from, which areas of the country, what tribes, any kind of a context. There was one story set near Celilo Falls (on the Columbia River), and the dwellings were teepees. Maybe I'm ignorant, but I didn't think northwest Native Americans used teepees.
    Rob's review

    As you can surmise from my inclusion of negative reviews, I wasn't that crazy about Trickster.

    I think I've read a book of Native trickster tales before. As with most anthologies, those tales were all over the map in terms of enjoyment. Same with these tales.

    I'm not sure I can pinpoint the problem. In some cases the art was too childish or cartoonish. One reviewer complained about the "Ren-and-Stimpy style," which I'd concur with. In some cases the writing was too flat or uninspiring. Some stories were not begging to be told, or could've been told in a couple of pages rather than a dozen.


  • A good Indian bets a bad Indian that he can build a bridge before the crow caws at dawn. The bad man cheats by showing the crow a burning torch.

  • How did the alligator get its mottled skin? Rabbit lit his home on fire and he got burned.

  • Coyote summons the eligible women to choose a bride, but one isn't a virgin so he turns them all to stone.

  • Those might be three-page stories in text form. They aren't necessarily improved by making them 3-4 times longer.

    Indeed, I would've tried to make the stories as short as possible. Three pages of text condensed to one of illustration might've been a quick but enjoyable read.

    For anyone who's read multitudes of fairy tales and fables, it's relatively easy to visualize an animal-based story. It isn't like a superhero or sci-fi saga where the visuals are almost required. Trickster's drawings are sometimes better than what you might imagine, but sometimes worse.

    Diverse or generic?

    I'd disagree with those who said Trickster's stories showcase the breadth and diversity of Native cultures. Most of the human figures are generic half-naked Indians in buckskins or loincloths and feathers. Few of the stories use more than a couple of Native words or concepts. Most could've taken place anywhere with coyotes, rabbits, wolves, ravens, raccoons, and so forth--which was most of America, originally.

    I think trickster tales are supposed to be universal in nature, and Trickster's stories generally are. So they're more like Aesop's Fables or Just So Stories than Native myths and legends. That limits their appeal to aficionados of Native literature.

    This is where introductions might've helped: by giving the stories some context. What was this particular culture like? Why was this animal a trickster and not that one? What was the point of the story? How did it resonate with the people who heard it?

    Summing it up, I'd probably recommend Trickster only to fans of Native-themed literature and comics. Rob's rating: 6.5 of 10.

    July 10, 2015

    Cornsilk: Smith "is not a Cherokee"

    An Open Letter to Defenders of Andrea Smith: Clearing Up Misconceptions about Cherokee Identification

    By David CornsilkIt appears the Andrea Smith apologists are doing everything they can to divert attention from the one thing about her that is important right now, whether or not she is Cherokee. They want to make it about her work, not so. They want to make it about her complexion, not so. They want to make it about blood quantum, not so. Some have even suggested it is about jealousy, not so. The factual basis of all grievances against Andrea Smith, and others like her, begins and ends with whether or not she can prove Cherokee ancestry.

    These people don’t know real Cherokees, our history, culture, language and genealogies. They cannot speak intelligently to the question of her authenticity because they have no baseline, which is why they use diversionary tactics. Why would they know real Cherokees when all they see are fakes?

    In the 1990s, Andrea Smith sought me out as a Cherokee genealogist, on two separate occasions, to see if she had any connections. My research into Smith’s ancestry showed that her ancestry was not connected to the Cherokee people. In the subsequent years, many have challenged her identity including representatives of the Cherokee Nation. In those ensuing years, she has had ample opportunity to come forth with proof of her Cherokee claims. Instead, she has admitted to not being Cherokee or promised to stop claiming Cherokee; but perhaps because the foundation of her work as a ‘woman of color’ depended upon making others believe her claim she would back paddle and like a drug addict, fall off the truth wagon. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed in the evidence of her ancestry that would lead me to believe she is or even might be of Cherokee descent.

    Smith’s supporters don't like to be shown so lacking in knowledge of all things Indian; unwilling to admit they got duped by Smith. They are fully invested in her web of lies that they are willing to throw tribal sovereignty and self-determination under the proverbial bus. If they adore Smith's work, more power to ‘em. But do not let your love of one person's work blind you to the dangers false claims of Indian identity carry within it. Andrea Smith and all those like her are nothing more than the latest incarnation of settler colonial violence. Their apologists and collaborators are nothing new either.
    And:When I say someone has no Cherokee ancestry, it's not just that they or their ancestors are not enrolled. It's much more complex than that. In my past job as a Cherokee genealogist, I would look at the rolls and documents of course. But I also examine the wider extended family to see if there is any kinship to Cherokees on the roll during the ancestral time frame and in the tribe now.

    When Cherokees left the tribe or chose not to enroll, that was a decision at a specific moment in time. They would be on previous rolls. And most importantly, other members of the extended family, aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, grandparents and cousins would be among the tribal members and on the various rolls and records. Just like white Americans find kin in Europe whose ancestors remained, real Cherokees who can't enroll today have relatives in the tribe. Andrea doesn’t. Not a single Cherokee citizen living today claims her or her family. Either she emerged as a fully formed Cherokee Indian and we must recalibrate our creation story; or the reality is, she isn’t Cherokee.

    Andrea Smith isn't just missing from our tribe, but every generation back to the genesis of America, all of those relatives I mentioned are also MISSING.

    That fact speaks loud and clear that not only is Andrea Smith not enrolled, SHE IS NOT A CHEROKEE!
    Not Honoring Her AgreementsDespite her agreements with Richard Allen and Patti Jo King in 2007 and with Steve Russell in 2008 (all Cherokee citizens) to no longer publicly identify as Cherokee, Andrea Smith has continued to accept speaking engagements and PR as a “Cherokee intellectual” and has continued to identify herself in her publications as an Indigenous, woman of color scholar and activist. It is possible that in some cases a host institution, department, or program, or a press, has copied her bio material from an outdated website. But a simple email or phone call from her would have clarified matters. Here are a few of the dozens of examples since 2008.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Andrea Smith Defends Herself and Native Scholars Demand Academic Integrity.

    July 09, 2015

    Andrea Smith defends herself

    My Statement on the Current Media Controversy

    By Andrea SmithTo the academic and social justice organizing communities which I have been part of for many years, and to whom I am indebted:

    I have always been, and will always be Cherokee. I have consistently identified myself based on what I knew to be true. My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for Native communities.

    There have been innumerable false statements made about me in the media. But ultimately what is most concerning is that these social media attacks send a chilling message to all Native peoples who are not enrolled, or who are otherwise marginalized, that they should not publicly work for justice for Native peoples out of fear that they too may one day be attacked. It is my hope that more Indigenous peoples will answer the call to work for social justice without fear of being subjected to violent identity-policing. I also hope the field of Native studies might attend to disagreement and difference in a manner that respects the dignity of all persons rather than through abusive social media campaigns.

    Out of respect for the dignity and privacy of my family, and out of concern for the damage that these attacks have had on my students, colleagues, and organizing communities, I will direct my energies back to the work of social justice.
    A right-wing site helpfully parses Smith's language:

    Alleged fake Native American prof responds to charges (sort of) in blog post

    By Dave Huber“I have always been, and will always be Cherokee,” Smith writes. “I have consistently identified myself based on what I knew to be true. My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for Native communities.”

    The “consistently identified myself” sounds a lot like what Rachel Dolezal said. And note the use of the past tense: “what I knew to be true.”
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Scholars Demand Academic Integrity and Smith's Defenders Denounce "Identity Policing".