June 17, 2016

Scalping in V for Vitamins

"Gilligan's Island": V for Vitamins (TV Episode 1966)
Episode aired 14 April 1966The Professor tells his fellow castaways that if they don't find a way to grow more oranges and other fruits on the island, they risk dying from vitamin deficiencies.The story starts with a blatant stereotype:

Gilligan's Island Script
Episode #66, "V for Vitamins"EXT – CLEARING – DAY

Ginger and Skipper are in the clearing. The Skipper has a tablecloth over his front and Ginger is cutting his hair.

SKIPPER
Please, Ginger, not too much off the top!

Ginger
Just a little bit more, Skipper.

SKIPPER
But I believe you're part Indian...you're trying to scalp me!

Ginger
You're a sailor. Sailors should have crew cuts.

SKIPPER
Well I don't mind a crew cut, but you're trying to remove the entire crew!

June 16, 2016

Savage Indians in The Sweepstakes

"Gilligan's Island": The Sweepstakes (TV Episode 1965)
Episode aired 14 October 1965Gilligan wins a million-dollar sweepstakes and is invited to the Howell's country club. After feeling lonely he issues IOUs to the others so they may also attend. He quickly misplaces the wining ticket and they all get evicted.Comment:  In a "Wild West" dream sequence, Prospector Howell and Marshal Gilligan meet sweet, innocent Mary Ann. The following dialogue ensues:GILLIGAN: Keep your hands where I can see 'em.

MARY ANN: Oh, marshal. it's just me.

MARY ANN: Sweet little warm-hearted girl of the golden west me.

GILLIGAN: Why are you crying, Mary Ann?

HOWELL: Will you have a little drink on me?

HOWELL: Would you like a little drink?

MARY ANN: Oh, dare I say it in front of a stranger?

HOWELL: Well, I'm not a stranger.

HOWELL: I'm a friend of your father's.

MARY ANN: Was.

HOWELL: You mean, he passed over?

MARY ANN: Helped by the Apache.

HOWELL: Well, your mother and me, we were kind of friendly.

MARY ANN: Pushed out by the Cherokee.

HOWELL: Your brother, Tom?

MARY ANN: Sioux.

HOWELL: Your sister, Emily?

MARY ANN: Navajo.

HOWELL: Your dear, sweet, innocent little grandmother?

MARY ANN: Shot by the marshal.

GILLIGAN: Well, you can't win 'em all.
The obvious meaning is that Indians are anonymous and interchangeable savages. As if tribes in three widely separated regions took turns surrounding a cabin and picking off settlers one by one.

The dialogue doesn't explicitly say the Indians killed anyone, but it strongly implies it. No one would get the impression that the Indians kindly "helped" the settlers pack up and move to a better location.

It's a typical example of 1960s stereotyping--trying to have it both ways. The writers might have learned enough not to label Indians as bloodthirsty killers and scalpers. But they wanted to use that racist idea, so they cloaked it in veiled language and slipped it in.

June 15, 2016

Savage Indians in The Little Dictator

Another stereotypical episode of Gilligan's Island:

"Gilligan's Island": The Little Dictator (TV Episode 1965)
Episode aired 30 September 1965A Latin American dictator is exiled to the island, and he immediately declares himself dictator of the island, with Gilligan as his puppet leader in training.A video of the episode:

Gilligan's Island The Little Dictator S02E03

You can see Indians at the 21:32 mark.

The setup is that Gilligan is dreaming about being a Latin American dictator. Everyone shows him glimpses of "his" country through a window, including Ginger aka Secret Agent 0036. The scene goes like this:DICTATOR: And I say the country is in great shape.

GINGER: And I say it's in terrible shape. Take a look.

Gilligan looks at her bikini-clad body.

GINGER: Not at me. At the state of the country.

GILLIGAN: Oh.

He looks out as whooping and yelling fill the air. He sees rampaging Indians on horseback, many wearing headdresses, from an old Western movie.

GILLIGAN: That must be the window facing the west.
So Indians = a country in terrible shape. Chaos and destruction. The decline and fall of civilization.

That's stereotypical.

June 14, 2016

Rain dance in Gilligan's Island

Some Native stereotyping from a popular 1960s TV show:

"Gilligan's Island": Water, Water Everywhere (TV Episode 1965)
Episode aired 2 January 1965The castaways desperately try to find a new water source as they have completely exhausted their current water supply.Gilligan’s Island Transcript
Episode #14, “Water, Water Everywhere”EXT. JUNGLE - DAY

Mrs. Howell wears a headband with a feather in it. Her dress looks vaguely native American, but she has accessorized it with a broach and pearls.

MRS HOWELL
I can't understand it, Thurston. All that nonsense about a divining rod to bring water.

MR HOWELL (O.S.)
Yes, I know. Totally unscientific.

MRS HOWELL
Are you ready?

Mr. Howell enters dressed in a Cherokee ceremonial headdress.

MR HOWELL
Yes, any time you are, my dear. One, two, three.

The Howells perform a "rain dance."

HOWELLS
Ha!

Mr. Howell and Mrs. Howell look to the sky.

MR HOWELL
Rain!

Mr. Howell looks at his dry palm and then back up at the sky.

MR HOWELL (cont'd)
You're not listening.

MRS HOWELL
I don't understand it. It worked last year in Yellowstone Park for the Cherokees.


Comment:  I don't remember the line about the Cherokees. The show may have eliminated it during filming.

The fact that it's in the script makes the stereotyping worse. Clearly the writers didn't know the difference between Plains and Cherokee Indians, or anything.

June 08, 2016

Review of Sikumi (On the Ice)

Sikumi (On the Ice) by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean | Short Film

Sikumi (On The Ice)

Sikumi (on the ice)"An Inuit hunter drives his dog team out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals, but instead, becomes a witness to murder. Winner of the Jury Prize for Short Filmmaking at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival."

Hearing that Sikumi or “On the Ice” had won awards I was very excited to watch this movie. My expectations were really high, what could it be, what could it be. What turned out was a touch disappointing. It’s a nice little movie no doubt, but an award-dinner at Sundance…that can’t be right.
Comment:  I agree with this opinion. I've seen enough Native shorts to say Sikumi is one of the better ones, but the best?

And I believe it won over all films, not just Native films. Best Short Film Shot Under Harsh Conditions, perhaps. But not Best Short Film overall.

For more on Sikumi, see National Distribution for On the Ice and AIFI's 2011 Winners.

June 04, 2016

Review of Grab

Movie Tells Story of Laguna Pueblo’s Grab Day

At Sundance, Tradition Meets Modern World in Billy Luther’s ‘Grab’

SUNDANCE REVIEW: Native Showcase Doc Fails to 'Grab' Audience

Comment:  I don't agree with this review at all. I enjoyed seeing life in the little-known Laguna Pueblo. The ceremony showed us something other than the usual families mired in tragedy or dances in regalia. Shots of a train passing by and animated paper cutouts kept the cinematography fresh.

All in all, I'd say Grab is one of the better Native documentaries I've seen.

May 28, 2016

Persistent stereotype of burial grounds

A posting on the stereotype of Indian burial grounds makes some good points:

'The Darkness,' 'The Shining,' And The Persistent Myth of The "Indian Burial Ground"

Redsploitation Horror has a long tradition in American cinema. Kevin Bacon's new horror flick continues the trend.

By Matt Kim
In truth, these types of stories often frame Native Americans—who rarely appear in horror stories purportedly written about them and their culture—into westernized notions of the supernatural and the afterlife. Ghosts and possessions and the like are more closely associated with European superstitions, while there are simply too many diverse traditions in the indigenous culture to pigeonhole as a unified religion, or set of spiritual practices.And:There is some poetic justice, I imagine, in films which revolve around Native American “curses” destroying the lives of suburban white families. Naive nuclear family units who often overstep their bounds by moving into either a former reservation land, or burial ground, end up incurring the wrath of the vengeful spirits or dormant curse laid down by a people who were themselves laid down by the United States government. There’s an attempt at cultural restitution there, by way of making white American guilt into a literal horror.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Evil Spirits in The Darkness.

May 26, 2016

Review of Cape Horn

Reviews of the graphic novel Cape Horn:

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

By Rich BarrettCape Horn comes from French writer Christian Perrissin and Italian artist Enea Riboldi, who bathes it in authenticity with beautiful, realistic artwork. His landscapes are lushly illustrated and the characters are distinct and real, giving this the feel of a Hugo Pratt or Milo Manara adventure comic. However, American comic readers should be warned that it's less a rollicking adventure and more of a pensive period drama. There is a very deliberate pace to the story but when big things happen it makes them all the more surprising.The Best Comics of 2014

By Seth T. HahneCape Horn is kind of like Manara's "Indian Summer" minus the probably misogynistic treatment of women by the artist and the rampantly cliched vision of preachers and Native Americans and their activities and predilections. The art is as luscious as Manara's, but it's got story and sense to propel it. There's nothing in Cape Horn to push the astute mature reader to reevaluate history or our place in it (the story functions mostly as grand adventure), but it's so well done that one almost can't help but marvel in admiration. A wholly lovely endeavor.The Native aspects

Review Time! With Cape Horn

By Greg BurgasCape Horn, like so much of fiction, is about power. When you introduce a colonial element to it, it becomes more about cultural power, as the frontier of Tierra del Fuego, like the frontier of the West in the United States and Canada or any frontier, really, is about the clash between “civilization” and “barbarism.” Just because Perrissin sets this in a place unfamiliar to most people doesn’t change the paradigm too much.

The natives in the area, mainly the Yamana, have a choice to make–accommodate the Europeans and try to learn their ways, or resist as fiercely as possible and get killed or die out.
And:Ultimately, Perrissin comes down on the same side as most liberal writers–that the natives would have been better off without the “benefits” of “civilization”–but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to show the kindness of people like Bridges, who really do believe they’re working to make the natives’ lives better.

Perrissin offers a macrocosmic version of the “civilizers” versus “savages” idiom, as well, and it puts Cape Horn on a more interesting level than just an adventure story. Without commenting on it too obviously, Perrissin shows the way frontiersmen become marginalized in their turn.
Some background on the Natives of Tierra del Fuego:

Fuegians

Yaghan People

Tierra del Fuego Culture

Rob's review

It's surprising to learn that a "first contact" situation with Indians happened in the late 1800s. I'm used to first contacts happening in the 1600s and 1700s, with tribal independence eliminated by the late 1800s.

But here we have a sad drama unfolding a couple of centuries after it unfolded elsewhere. I guess that's how long it took to settle Tierra del Fuego.

Anyway, Cape Horn followed too many characters to be an unqualified success. Other than that, I agree with the above reviews. It's well worth checking out.

May 23, 2016

Review of The Activist

Review: 'The Activist' suffers from lack of activity

By Gary GoldsteinIt's an intriguing setting—and set-up. But a lack of subtlety in the writing and much of the acting (particularly Circus-Szalewski and Ron Roggé as a pair of good cop/bad cop jailers) mitigate the power of the caged men's plights as well as the movie's intended tension. As the action unfolds almost entirely within the walls of a South Dakota sheriff's substation, the film can't escape a stagy, at times claustrophobic feel.A Story of Becoming Indigenous: A Movie Review of "The Activist" (2013)

By Eric RitskesIn sum: we have a savage Indian warrior and a (dead) Indian princess, the only two Indigenous characters (one dead)--in a film supposedly telling ‘forgotten’ Indigenous history--battling the one bad racist. I won’t spoil the end, in case you enjoy watching White settler colonial dramas masquerading as politically conscious movies, but The Activist is not a movie about Indigenous struggle; rather, it is one that uses the backdrop (and it really is little more than news reports in the background) of the Indigenous struggle at Wounded Knee to mask tired colonial narratives of disappearing Indians and settler replacement through White heroes who are down with the struggle as long as they get to become Indian.A video showing Tonantzin Carmelo as Sacheen Littlefeather.

Rob's review

The good cop and bad cop may have been clichés, but I thought they were the most interesting characters. Certainly more interesting than Marvin, the non-Native activist, and Bud, his Native bud.

As someone who's trying to make my own independent films, I can appreciate a movie set almost entirely in two rooms. But I don't think it succeeds.

In The Activist, Sacheen Littlefeather becomes Anna, who is murdered like Anna Mae Aquash, during the Wounded Knee occupation or the equivalent. This has something to do with the uranium mining also featured in Thunderheart, so the evil Nixon administration wants to declare the rez a nuclear zone or something and take it over.

The conspiracy plot is hard to follow, but the most annoying part is how the government lawyer wants to negotiate with the young white savior Marvin. Because Marvin knows Indians and is a bridge to them, or something.

Moreover, Marvin enlists a pretty blonde lawyer to do his legwork while he's in jail. Because when you're in trouble with the government, a hot babe just out of law school is your best bet.

Meanwhile, Bud (Michael Spears) can only fulminate in the next cell and get kicked around by the racist guard. Once again, Natives are supporting characters in their own story.

The Activist is passable but nothing special. Rob's rating: 7.0 of 10.

May 22, 2016

Lewis and Clark in Saturday Night Live

The May 21 episode of SNL featured another of its comedic classroom experiences. This time, some terrible white actors performed a terrible "educational" skit about Lewis and Clark:



Comment:  In the phony historical "lesson," Lewis and Clark are mostly interested in sleeping with Sacagawea. She isn't opposed to this and at one point does a sexy dance.

The skit within the sketch is definitely racist, with Sacagawea as nothing but a sex object who speaks Tonto talk. The sketch itself is borderline racist as well.

On the one hand, the actors are supposed to be buffonish, so you're not supposed to take them seriously. On the other hand, the teacher encourages them and is moved to tears by their performance. Other than Sasheer Zamata's frowns, no one is really rejecting the lesson.

This leaves viewers unclear about how accurate the lesson is. Obviously Lewis and Clark didn't want to have a ménage à trois with anyone. But was Sacagawea a sexy and savage Indian princess? No, she was a teenage girl with a husband and a baby.

Call it another example of hipster racism. The sketch kind of mocks anti-Indian racism, but also kind of supports it. If you didn't know better, you might swallow some of its points.

Not funny

For fans of SNL, the sketch also was completely unfunny. Whether it was racist or not, it should've been axed for that reason alone.

It's a good bet Fred Armisen had something to do with its creation. He may be SNL's leading purveyor of racist stereotypes in the last decade.

How do stupid things like this sketch get on the air? Because ignorant white people, many of them liberals, control the airwaves.

For more on Saturday Night Live, see Anchor Babies in Saturday Night Live and Peyote, "Firewater" in Saturday Night Live

May 21, 2016

Review of Shades of Hiawatha

Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans, 1880-1930 1st Edition

By Alan Trachtenberg"A book of elegance, depth, breadth, nuance and subtlety." --W. Richard West Jr. (Founding Director of the National Museum of the American Indian), The Washington Post

A century ago, U.S. policy aimed to sever the tribal allegiances of Native Americans, limit their ancient liberties, and coercively prepare them for citizenship. At the same time, millions of new immigrants sought their freedom by means of that same citizenship. Alan Trachtenberg argues that the two developments were, inevitably, juxtaposed: Indians and immigrants together preoccupied the public imagination, and together changed the idea of what it meant to be American.

In Shades of Hiawatha, Trachtenberg eloquently suggests that we must re-create America's tribal creation story in new ways if we are to reaffirm its beckoning promise of universal liberty.

From Publishers Weekly
What does it mean to be an American? How was "Americanness" first conceived? In this fascinating study, Trachtenberg (Reading American Photographs) investigates the construction of the "American" by linking the experience of Native Americans in the late 19th century to the experiences of Eastern Europeans in the early 20th century. Ironically, the earliest Americans—the Indians—were first displaced from their own land—making them un-American—and then were offered the opportunity to become Americans by repurchasing that land and conforming to American values such as the ownership of private property. The overly mythologized image of Hiawatha, Trachtenberg argues, crystallizes the ways that American writers and American society made Indians almost invisible. In a similar way, the earliest European immigrants experienced a displacement from their own lands and a requirement to embrace American social and political values in order to become American citizens. In an exceptional final chapter, Trachtenberg juxtaposes the writings of Luther Standing Bear and Hart Crane to show how deeply the idea of being American was contested even in the early 20th century and to call for the inclusion of Native American identity in the ongoing struggle to define what it means to be an American. Although some of these ideas are not new, Trachtenberg's historical depth and lively prose make them extremely vivid.
A review by Paige Raibmon:Trachtenberg's method is to establish something of a taxonomy, holding up a wide array of cultural artifacts for display: poetry, theatre, travelogues, photography, and department store displays to name a few. Many of these were produced by well-known characters from the historical annals of American high culture: Robert Frost, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry James, and Edward Curtis to name a few. Others were produced by figures who will be less familiar to readers: Yehoash, the Russian poet who translated The Song of Hiawatha into Yiddish, and Joseph Kossuth Dixon, who led Indian "expeditions" for the Wanamaker department stores. The book is much more about these non-Indian "stagers" of Indians than about Indians themselves. Trachtenberg's interest lies in the implications of these cultural artifacts for Americanness rather than in their impact on Indian lives.Rob's review

The Shades of Hiawatha title is appropriate. The book is kind of about how Song to Hiawatha filtered into the public consciousness and helped defined who and what was considered American. The six chapters are kind of disjointed, but Trachtenberg tries to link things back to the play and what it represents.

I'm not sure he develops any deep or meaningful thesis--at least not one that I can summarize. But he explores some little-known areas of Native history, including the origins of Song of Hiawatha and the Wanamaker Expeditions. His writing is interesting enough that I give the book an 8.0 of 10, which is good for this kind of material.

May 17, 2016

Cornwallis statue is vandalized

Edward Cornwallis statue vandalized in downtown Halifax

Halifax council discussed this week whether to look into removing his name from city properties

By Cassie Williams
Cornwallis was a British military officer who founded Halifax in 1749 while he was governor of Nova Scotia. He also issued the so-called scalping proclamation the same year, in which he offered a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi'kmaq person.

Some have called for all commemorations of the man to be removed from the city. Others who oppose the move say that's akin to rewriting history.
Comment:  For more on Native-oriented monuments, see Artist Defends Scout Billboard and Quixotic Quest for The American.

May 15, 2016

Review of Hollywood's Indians

Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in FilmOffering both in-depth analyses of specific films and overviews of the industry's output, Hollywood's Indian provides insightful characterizations of the depiction of the Native Americans in film. This updated edition includes a new chapter on Smoke Signals, the groundbreaking independent film written by Sherman Alexie and directed by Chris Eyre. Taken as a whole the essays explore the many ways in which these portrayals have made an impact on our collective cultural life.

Editorial Reviews

"Raises interesting issues and challenges readers to consider the complex realities of American Indian cultures and Indian/non-Indian relations that major motion pictures often fail to communicate." ―American Graduate

"Important and groundbreaking work." ―Bookman News

"Enables readers to construct a cinematic chronology of the Hollywood Indian and to comprehend the larger cultural forces at work interpreting the Indian-white past on screen." ―Choice

"Rollins and O'Connor have skillfully blended a variety of thoughtful viewpoints." ―Chronicles of Oklahoma

"A collection of quality essays, put together by two of the leading experts in this particular topic area." ―Communication Booknotes Quarterly


Comment:  I read Hollywood's Indians and it's a solid academic-style book. Individual essays cover the usual milestones of 20th-century "Native" films: John Ford's movies, Broken Arrow, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Little Big Man, Pow Wow Highway, Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Pocahontas, Indian in the Cupboard, and Smoke Signals.

As with most anthologies, some of its essays are more compelling than others. And of course it doesn't address the independent Native filmmaking that's flourished since its 1999 publication date.

All in all, it's a useful but not essential book on Native-themed movies. Rob's rating: 7.0 of 10.

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

May 13, 2016

Chief Runs With Paws

When "Chief Runs with Paws" is anything but cuteA description of the figurine on The Hamilton Collection's website reads: "Wearing his majestic ceremonial headdress with pride and casting an all-knowing, green-eyed stare your way, this adorable kitty is the chosen guardian of the spirt world."

Paul says these are just a bunch of buzzwords.

"They're using these words to make it sound magical and mystical and beautiful," she says. "They're buzzwords. They're sell-words to buy people into this idea of Native-ness—which is appropriation and not right."

May 06, 2016

Artist inserts himself in ledger paintings

An odd story about non-Native artist Scott Seekins. Among other things, he does ledger-style paintings and inserts himself into the scenes:

Scott Seekins' Great Sioux Uprising series draws ire from Native community

By Erica RiveraOver the weekend, backlash ignited on the show’s Facebook event page, where the header image, drawn in the style of ledger art, features Seekins in his signature white suit, hands raised. He is standing before a Native man on horseback who wears a headdress and is armed with a bow and arrows. A white soldier lies bleeding from the head on the ground, gun in hand.

In the discussion section of the event page, commenters have accused Seekins of cultural appropriation, calling the exhibition “problematic” and “tone-deaf.” Several people have requested via Facebook, email, and phone that the gallery cancel the show.
Gallery under fire over use of Native American imagery

Seekins says his doppelgänger is bearing witness to history. Others say he's glorifying himself at the expense of his subjects.

A couple of weeks later, the criticism continued:

“This is art about genocide” Native community pushes back against Scott Seekins

I agree with the critics. The paintings already "bear witness" to historical events. Seekins's insertion of himself doesn't improve the message or add value. A modern white guy sees a 150-year-old battle...so what?

May 03, 2016

Natives respond to Clinton's "off the reservation"

Some Native responses to Clinton's "off the reservation" remark:

Mark Charles: Presidential candidates haven't learned from our genocidal past

‘Off the Reservation’–A Teachable Moment

By Suzan Shown HarjoDirector Kevin Gover (Pawnee) of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian posted this on Facebook: "Please, everybody, and especially anyone who works with politicians. Could we get them to stop using this phrase?"

After Trump’s “wild” Indians remark, Gover posted: “See how easily, how casually, the discourse devolves to racist stereotype? Clinton says ‘off the reservation’ and Trump talks about ‘wild’ Indians. It's late in the day for this kind of race talk.”
Plus more analyses of the phrase:

‘Off the Reservation’ Is a Phrase With a Dark Past

Should Saying Someone Is 'Off The Reservation' Be Off-Limits?

Comment:  For more on "off the reservation," see Is "Off the Reservation" Offensive?

UNM seal protests continue

The student protests of the University of New Mexico's seal continue:

Abolish the Racist Univ. of New Mexico Seal

Native American students hold rally, demanding UNM’s seal be abolished

Protesters confront UNM leader over seal

Finally, university officials respond to the controversy:

University president doesn't see seal that excludes Native people as racist

Protest of UNM official seal attracting attention from administrators

Meanwhile, myopic Latinos refuse to acknowledge the indigenous part of their heritage:

Latino students at N.M. University upset over possible revision of Spanish seal

Because having a European or white heritage is better, I guess.

April 29, 2016

California rejects "John Wayne Day"

John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in California debate

Was John Wayne Racist? California Democrats Refuse to Honor Film Star Because of White Supremacy Views

By Cristina SilvaAn effort to declare May 26 John Wayne Day in California was defeated in the Assembly Thursday after lawmakers denounced the international movie icon as a racist. Several members said the state shouldn't honor the film star famous for his roles in Hollywood Westerns and war movies because he made racist comments about minority groups and supported the anti-Communist House Un-American Activities Committee and John Birch Society.Comment:  For more on John Wayne, see America Changed with Davy Crockett and "I Thought John Wayne Killed You All."

Clinton's "off the reservation" remark

Hillary Clinton went off-script with an off-the-cuff remark about Indians:

Hillary Clinton’s “Off the Reservation” Comments Raises Eyebrows Among American Indians"I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak," said Clinton.Because she's the presidential frontrunner, reactions came swiftly:

Sanders Supporter Nina Turner: Hillary Used 'Terrible' Term When She Said 'Off the Reservation'

Trump Has Gone 'Off the Reservation,' Clinton Says; Sanders Campaign Calls the Comment 'Disappointing'

An explanation of why the phrase is bad:



Comment:  For more on "off the reservation," see Is "Off the Reservation" Offensive?

April 25, 2016

Webb defends Jackson's genocidal actions

Following up on the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, former senator Jim Webb tried to defend Andrew Jackson.

Jim Webb claims uninformed 'political correctness' used to denigrate Andrew Jackson

By Meteor Blades

Webb's claim:Robert Remini, Jackson’s most prominent biographer, wrote that his intent was to end the increasingly bloody Indian Wars and to protect the Indians from certain annihilation at the hands of an ever-expanding frontier population.The reality:As for Jackson’s alleged desire to protect the Indians from clashes with whites, it should not be forgotten that the forcible cession of millions of acres of Indian land was one of Jackson’s claims to fame. He did it to make space for white settlers throughout the South and for his personal profit in the real estate boom that followed the Indians’ ceding of land at gunpoint.

When the Tennessee River Valley in what is now Alabama was ceded, Jackson and his favored pals took 45,000 acres for themselves. As Steve Innskeep pointed out last year, “Jackson both created and scored in the greatest real estate bubble in the history of the United States up to that time.”

Indians who had allied themselves with Jackson in the so-called Red Stick Creek War were much praised by him, but when they later sought government payment for losses incurred in their support of Jackson, he told the secretary of war that their claims were a “complete tissue of groundless falsehood.”
Comment:  Give Webb a Stereotype of the Month nomination for his ignorance of the definition of genocide, and for minimizing Jackson's genocidal actions. Removing the Indians was about stealing their land and eliminating them, not keeping them from harm.

Republican: Natives "predisposed to alcoholism"

'I Am Very Sorry': House Rep. Apologizes for Comment About Native Americans, Alcoholism

By Simon Moya-SmithA Republican in Oklahoma who made headlines last week when he said Native Americans are "predisposed to alcoholism" emphatically apologized Monday, and said his statement was based on "outdated information."

House Representative Todd Russ made the controversial comment on April 21 during a debate on a proposed expansion of liquor and strong beer sales at grocery and convenience stores in the state.

In an email to ICTMN on Monday, Rep. Russ recalled a torrent of pain and loss alcoholism has caused his family, and as consequence of that he said, "I let my emotions cloud my thoughts and words."

April 20, 2016

Tubman replaces Jackson on $20

The news that the US would place Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill and move Andrew Jackson to the back triggered a variety of responses.

Predictably, racist conservatives cried over the loss of one of their white male icons:

“We need Trump to stop all the PC crap”: Right-wing reaction to the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is (another) new low

Trump on Tubman: "pure political correctness." Trump on Jackson: "tremendous success."

The Best Conservative Reactions To Tubman Bumping Jackson From $20 Bill

Ann Coulter needs to stop: She and the rest of the clueless conservatives need to quit moaning about replacing Jackson with Tubman on $20 bill

Non-racists weigh in

Meanwhile, anyone with a cursory knowledge of history explained why Jackson should be banished:

Andrew Jackson was a slaver, ethnic cleanser, and tyrant. He deserves no place on our money.

Why Andrew Jackson never should have been on the $20 to begin with

Harriet Tubman to Share $20 Bill with President Who Called for Some Abolitionists to 'Atone ... With Their Lives'

Tubman’s In. Jackson’s Out. What’s It Mean?

Stop clinging to the Founding Fathers: The Andrew Jackson/Hamilton/Tubman debate is really about honest history

While others challenged the conservatives' blatant racism:

They only want to honor white men: The pathetic conservative meltdown over the Harriet Tubman $20 bill exposes the right’s petty identity politics

5 Questions for People Who Are Outraged Over Harriet Tubman on our $20 Bill

Natives approve

Natives overwhelming applauded the downgrading of the infamous Indian killer:

Native Americans applaud removing Jackson from $20 bill
4/21

But some wondered why Jackson wasn't paired with a famous Indian chief--since he's perhaps best-known for instigating the Trail of Tears:

A Native American Chief Should Have Replaced Andrew Jackson on the $20

For more on the subject, see Stanford Cancels Bloody Jackson Play and Indians on US Bank Notes.

Lottery ad portrays uninhabited Oregon

Coquille Tribe slams 'Lewis and Clark' campaign for Oregon LotteryThe Coquille Tribe is calling on the Oregon Lottery to stop running a Lewis and Clark-themed advertising campaign.

The spots depict explorers Lewis and Clark, and even an animated bear, "discovering" gaming machines in the wild. Chairwoman Brenda Meade said the ads falsely portray Oregon as a place devoid of tribal people.

"Amid Oregon's natural splendor, they encounter video lottery machines, which are described as 'native' to Oregon," Meade wrote in a a letter on Tuesday. "But this fictional Oregon is land without Indians--an empty wilderness, ripe for economic exploitation, with no competition from indigenous people."
A couple of follow-ups:

Lewis and Clark discovered—video gambling?

Oregon Lottery ad campaign pulled following criticism from Coquille Tribe

April 18, 2016

Pow Wow Fried stereotypes Indians

Bandon's Pow Wow Fried name causes controversy. Should it?

Food truck owner threatened with lawsuit because name could be offensive to Native Americans

By Amy Moss Strong
A woman in Port Orford, who is not Native American, drove by and the name and logo struck her. The logo depicts a child in a Native American headdress and clothing, standing next to a teepee. The words "Pow Wow Fried" are woven into the artwork.

The woman who complained, Sarah Molloy, thought it might be perceived as offensive to Native Americans, so she went on Facebook, found a group for Native Americans and posed her question: "Pow Wow Fried is a food truck run by a white woman who ate fry bread tacos at a pow wow and started her business recently. The name strikes me as not so respectful to natives and her logo seems rather stereotypical."
And:Klein said she only means to honor Native Americans by making delicious food. Though her family's background is European, she spent many years in Reno near the Washoe Tribe and drove school bus for the Washoe County School District. After several years in the district, a Native American friend taught her how to make fry bread.

"What have I done to hurt anyone?" Klein asked. "I'm not making fun of them. It was never my intention to do anything derogatory to Native Americans. I just opened a business and what they are trying to do could put me out of business. It would cost a lot to replace all my signage and flyers."
Comment:  A tiny tot in a headdress is an honor? And not derogatory? Guess again.

Klein learned from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada, but she's "honoring" them with phony symbols from the Great Plains, a thousand miles away. That makes sense only if she stupidly thinks all Indians are the same.

As my comments suggest, I think the artwork is the problem, not the name. If Klein hadn't gone with the stereotypical images, I doubt anyone would care about the name.

Winged monkeys = Indians?

Winged MonkeysAccording to some writers, the Winged Monkeys of Oz represent Native Americans in the West in the late 1800s. Baum himself had clear attitudes toward American Indians and some of his earlier writings about Indians are very similar to his descriptions of the Winged Monkeys found in Oz. These selections included on this page are all from Ritter’s 1997 article about Oz.

When they are introduced in the book, the Winged Monkeys appear as a fierce fighting band that destroy the Scarecrow, damage the Tin Woodman, and capture Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion. Later, when the monkeys are no longer under the control of the Witch and are helping Dorothy and her group, the king monkey explains their origin to Dorothy:

“Once,” began the leader, “we were a free people, living happily in the great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit, and doing just as we pleased without calling anybody master. Perhaps some of us were rather too full of mischief at times, flying down to pull the tails of the animals that had no wings, chasing birds, and throwing nuts at the people who walked in the forest. But we were careless and happy and full of fun, and enjoyed every minute of the day.”
Another posting sees the analogies differently:

Indian-Hating in “The Wizard of Oz”

By Thomas St. JohnThe Winged Monkeys are the Irish Baum’s satire on the old Northwest Mounted Police, who were modelled on the Irish Constabulary. The scarlet tunic of the Mounties, and the distinctive “pillbox” forage cap with the narrow visor and strap are seen clearly in the color plate in the 1900 first edition of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Villagers across the Dakota territory heartily despised these British police, especially after 1877, when Sitting Bull retreated across the border and into their protection after killing Custer.And:The Wicked Witch of the West is illustrated in the 1900 first edition as a pickaninny, with beribboned, braided pigtails extended comically. Baum repeats the word “brown” in describing her. But this symbol’s real historic depth lies in the earlier Puritans’ confounding of European witches with the equally heathen American Indians.

The orphan Dorothy’s violent removal from Kansas civilization, her search for secret and magical cures for her friends, her capture, enslavement to an evil figure–and the killing of this figure that is forced on her–all these themes Baum takes from the already two hundred year old tradition of the Indian captivity narrative which stoked the fires of Indian-hating and its hope of “redemption through violence.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Indian-Oz Connection.

April 13, 2016

Natives = last category on Jeopardy

A tweet from April 12 that I and many others retweeted:

Retweeted Martie Simmons (@msimmons444):
Last category on @Jeopardy b/c no one knows ‪#‎Indigenous‬ ‪#‎history‬ ‪#‎iblamethehistorybooks‬ https://t.co/Et2ISLm2X3

Someone took her photo of the TV screen and made it into a meme:



Easy questions

A Facebook friend reported on the episode, which I didn't see:I saw that episode. Too bad I was only playing from home.

None of the questions were terribly difficult. I don't remember the exact phrasing of the questions, but I do recall the answers.

One referred to the Trail of Tears (answer: the Cherokee); one referred to the largest US tribe (Navajo); another referred to a eyewitness to an 1876 event (I don't remember if they referred to it as a battle, or more properly as a massacre, but in any case it was Little Bighorn); one referred to and described the equipment used in Native stickball--so I sat there saying stickball, but the answer turned out to be "lacrosse" which annoyed me a bit; and finally a passage from Longfellow's poem, and the answer was Hiawatha.
Good to know.

As usual these days, the Jeopardy questions sound ridiculously easy. You often can boil them down to a couple of words:

1) Tears tribe.
2) Largest tribe.
3) 1876 battle.
4) Stickball.
5) Poem.

The questions aren't tough for the smart contestants the show usually has. What it shows is a sort of public fear: of looking ignorant about a minority. Or worse, of saying something stupid and looking racist. Better to avoid the category altogether.

P.S. Little Bighorn was only a massacre for Custer's troops after they foolishly attacked a camp of 10,000 Indians. Unlike Wounded Knee or Sand Creek, it was a real battle.

For more on the subject, see "Native American Foods" on Jeopardy and "Native American Tribes" on Jeopardy.

April 09, 2016

Trump and his supporters are racists

Donald Trump has dropped the GOP’s mask: Conservatism and racism now officially the same thing

Post-civil rights GOP is our largest white identity group. Maybe we should thank Trump for making it so obvious

By Chauncey DeVega
Political parties are a type of “brand name” that voters associate with a specific set of policies, ideas, personalities and moral values. Consequently, the types of voters who are attracted to a given political party also tells us a great deal about how it is perceived by the public. And in a democracy, the relationship between voters, elected officials and a given political party should ideally be reflected by the types of policies the latter advances in order to both win and stay in power.

By these criteria, the post-civil rights era Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization, one in which conservatism and racism are now one and the same thing.
The GOP’s gross Adam Sandler primary: Donald Trump, penis jokes and the pathetic state of conservatism

Trump's hands. Mitt on his knees. Cuckservatives. What the party's junk obsession says about 2016 Republican Party

By Chauncey DeVega
Donald Trump threatens the Republican Party’s elites because he has unmasked the racism, white supremacy, nativism and xenophobia of the modern GOP. Trump will not be silenced because he and his public have little if any use for racist “dog whistles” in their full-on assault against “political correctness” and “the establishment.”

Trump’s proto fascist right-wing producerism is also a threat to Republican Party orthodoxy. Like the type of “socialism” practiced by the Nazis, Donald Trump wants to ensure that the in-group has access to resources from the State (healthcare, jobs, improved infrastructure) that are denied to the Other. The Republican Party’s elites want to destroy the social safety and government support for most Americans (the white middle and working classes will be given some resources only as a means of leveraging their anxieties against people of color and the poor). Trump offers a different vision: He will maintain the submerged state and other benefits for whites, and those others he identifies as “real Americans” and “deserving,” while unapologetically denying them to those individuals and groups whom the “Trumpeteers” want to dominate and abuse with impunity.
The payback candidate: Trump’s campaign is for conservatives seeking revenge on everyone they think disrespects them

Trump's running to get revenge on everyone who laughed at him, and that's why his supporters identify with him

By Amanda Marcotte
A lot of his support comes from people who see themselves in him: People who believe they—white conservative Christians who shun city life—deserve to be at the center of American life and culture, but look out and see a world where the president is a black man from Chicago, the charts are ruled by Rihanna and Beyoncé, and Lena Dunham is a celebrity.

The modern conservative movement is filled with people who believe they are due deference from the rest of us but are getting mockery instead. The conservative media has stoked this narrative of cultural resentment for decades, too. “Liberal elite” is a common catchphrase on the right. Some might think that term is an economic one, but in reality, it’s a cultural one. The “liberal elite” is mostly composed of people who belong to the middle class: Journalists, college professors, artists, even lawyers, most of whom are not millionaires. Meanwhile, the right absolutely hero worships conservative billionaires like the Waltons, the Kochs, and yes, Donald Trump.

No, the “liberal elite” is a term of cultural resentment, rooted in a thwarted sense of conservative entitlement. It’s backed by this narrative that there once was a time when America was “great” because the culture was controlled by white Christians, but at some point, usually the 1960s, the undesirables—hippies, artists, people of color, secularists, feminists, gay people—started taking over. This sense that something has been stolen and needs to be taken back is the organizing narrative of conservative populism.

Trump is tapping into the same narrative that propelled Richard Nixon into the White House, fueled the “Disco Demolition” night of straight white men burning records associated with said “others,” helped start the Moral Majority and the Christian right, and is the engine that drives right wing talk radio and the relentless rage machine of Fox News to this day. And while it’s trendy, especially amongst those who believe the white working class is one pamphlet on democratic socialism away from leaving the Republicans, to say that it’s based on economics, the fact is these flare-ups aren’t quite as pegged to economic trends as one might think but can quite easily be linked to white conservative anger over cultural moments that remind them they are not the actual owners of American culture. With Obama to leave office soon in triumph, his legitimacy as not just the first black president but one of the greater American presidents secured, the anger is boiling over.
Fear of labeling racists

Hideous, disgusting racists: Let’s call Donald Trump and his supporters exactly what they are

Media wants to call them "economically anxious working-class whites." There's a clearer, more honest name to use

By Chauncey DeVega
Donald Trump’s voters are racists; Donald Trump is a racist. The rise of a dangerous proto-fascist movement has been aided by how too many members of the political chattering class have for too long avoided stating such facts.

Moreover, Conor Friedersdorf’s claim is an example of a very perverse and twisted phenomenon in post-civil rights era America, where to call a white person a “racist” is somehow worse than the harm that racism, white supremacy, and white privilege does to the psychological, material, and physical well-being of black and brown people.

This dynamic has also prevented many in the commentariat from directly describing today’s Republican Party as the United States’ largest white identity organization, one that reflects an ideology where conservatism and racism is one and the same thing.

As I have written about here at Salon and elsewhere, “Trumpism” is not an aberration or outlier, something that is alien to, something outside of, or distant from the Republican Party. The popularity of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential primaries, with his unapologetic racism, bigotry, and nativism, are the uncensored id of the Republican Party
#Notalltrumpvoters: The media’s new big lie lets racist Donald Trump backers off the hook

Trump's fueled by white resentment, racism and nativism. Why does the media mistake that for working-class anxiety?

By Chauncey DeVega
As I explored in an earlier essay here at Salon, Milbank’s caveat is part of a larger pattern among the American commentariat where too many of its members are afraid to publicly (and correctly) label Donald Trump and his supporters as racists.

Why this anxiety? Why are so many members of the chattering class dancing around the clear and obvious truth that Donald Trump’s political movement is largely driven by white racial resentment, overt racism, bigotry and nativism?

Part of this answer lies in how telling the truth about white racism in the post-civil rights era is considered worse than the harm it does to people of color. Moreover, to suggest that a given white person is a racist—or alternatively, that white people as a group either benefit from institutional racism or are active racists—is an indictment of both their personal character and the various myths (meritocracy; American Exceptionalism; individualism; equality, etc.) that the country’s political culture rests upon. Together, these answers form a type of electrified third rail in American political discourse that few members of the chattering classes are willing to stand on. This is a profound failure of moral leadership.

The unwillingness by Milbank, Friedersdorf and others to plainly and directly state that Donald Trump and his supporters are part of a racist political movement is an example of what sociologist Robin DiAngelo has described as “white racial fragility” on a massive scale.
Poll confirms racism

Racists love Trump: This is what they mean by “taking the country back”—yet another poll confirms racial and cultural resentment is driving Donald Trump’s rise

72 percent of Trump supporters said government has gone too far in assisting minority groups

By Sean Illing
A new Quinnipiac poll is the latest in a string of polls to clarify what’s really animating Trump’s campaign. American voters were asked if they believed “America has lost its identity?” The answers from Republicans and Democrats in general are revealing: 79 percent of Republicans agree that America has lost its identity, while only 36 percent of Democrats agree. If nothing else, this is a reminder that the GOP has a race problem, the roots of which are traceable to its adoption of the “Southern Strategy” over forty years ago.

The “highest level of agreement” with this notion that America has lost its identity is expressed by Trump supporters–a staggering 85 percent. 91 percent of Trump voters also say their “beliefs and values are under attack,” again the highest of any candidate. There is a kind of persecution mania operating here. “Many American voters, especially Republicans, are dissatisfied with their own status and the status of the country,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, “but by far the most dissatisfied are Donald Trump’s supporters, who strongly feel that they themselves are under attack.”

Lest you think this isn’t about race, note that the Quinnipiac poll asked respondents if they believe the “government has gone too far in assisting minority groups.” Predictably, 72 percent of Republicans agreed compared to 18 percent of Democrats. Among Trump voters, however, the number was 80 percent. These numbers align with a recent American National Election Study (ANES) and Washington Post/ABC News poll, both of which show that support for Trump is positively correlated with racial animus.

“America has lost its identity” is an ambiguous phrase, but let’s not pretend we don’t know what it means. The people who think America has lost its “identity” are the same people who believe we have to take the country back. Yes, many Trump supporters are suffering from an economy in which they have no place. And there are legitimate concerns about free trade and a corrupt establishment. But what distinguishes the typical Trump is his or her propensity to project their frustration on brown or black people.
And a few weeks later, a Native perspective:'The Good Old Days' Were Only Good for Whites

By Harlan McKosatoThe unspoken mantra among many white people is they long for the days when they, and only they, ruled the roost. Civil rights, Native rights, Gay rights, Women’s rights – dammit, what about White rights? That’s when America was great and we can make America great again, by God. Black lives matter, well white lives matter more. It says so right there in the Holy Scriptures.

The problem with white privilege is that when that’s all you know and you’re comfortable with it; then you’re confronted with an equality movement that you didn’t necessarily see coming, you probably do feel like you are being discriminated against. Trump has tapped into that emotion, although we all know white privilege is not going away anytime soon.
Comment:  For more on Donald Trump, see Conservatives Enraged at Losing Power and Trump's Death Wish Fantasies.

April 08, 2016

Ralphie May backtracks and apologizes

Continuing our look at Ralphie May's Rant Against Indians and No Excuse for Ralphie May's Rant. After blaming everyone but himself, May began backtracking and apologizing:

EXCLUSIVE: Ralphie May Talks About Indian Rant: “I Never Meant to Hurt Anyone”

Comedian responds to backlash over Native American rant

Ralphie May Releases YouTube Video Apologizing to Native Americans

UPDATE: Ralphie May agrees to meet with Fargo activists

Activist Walter Ruiz added this note on Facebook:UPDATE ON THE RALPHIE MAY ISSUE...i just got this email from Ralphie Mays publicist! i really hope they keep their word...Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. As I said on the phone, comedian Ralphie May will be announcing tomorrow that he is postponing his shows in Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Minneapolis this week.

In a statement from Ralphie, he says “I am postponing my shows in Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Burnsville out of respect for the Native American community and safety for all parties. A video that surfaced on YouTube hurt and offended many people and I am truly sorry. I thought that I was a well-read, educated man. I know nothing. I’m a product of mass media and the US public school system. I have learned so much this week and I want to learn more. My eyes are open and I hope to be a conduit for things that we are not taught.”

Details are still being worked out with Ralphie’s travel, but please let me know if you would be able to speak with him by phone if an in-person meeting is not possible. Ralphie wants to do whatever he can to make this right. His beliefs and opinions are not portrayed in that video and as his publicist and friend for 20 years, I can promise you that Ralphie is not a racist person and he truly does have a heart of gold.

Regards,
Stacey Pokluda
Criticism continues

After May's rant and his attempts to apologize, he was still facing trouble:

Calls to boycott Ralphie May in Sioux Falls

City Hall Supports SMG Decision To Allow Ralphie May Concert At Orpheum

Comedian Ralphie May forced to postpone or cancel more shows

Three Ralphie May Shows Postponed After Death Threats Surface

Comedian Ralphie May tries to turn Indian joke controversy around

Finally, a "defense" that noted the key problem:

Whitney: In defense of Ralphie MayIt’s pretty obvious that May missed the mark with his decade-old “Dances with Wolves” routine. It wasn’t funny or insightful. It was a mean-spirited assault on a culture that has been discarded and disregarded too often by mainstream society. By all accounts, it is no longer part of his act.

April 07, 2016

No excuse for Ralphie May's rant

A Facebook discussion of Wreck-It Ralphie's diatribe against Indians. It occurred before we knew exactly what May had said:

I'm waiting to hear the context that makes this acceptable.

Sounds like he adds a coda at the end of his rants. Maybe something like, "But really, folks, hating people is bad. Don't be like the people who say these things." That's not nearly enough "context" to make the previous rants okay.

You can't have a stereotype-to-explanation ratio of 5-1 or 10-1. If anything, it should be the other way around. You can repeat a stereotype if you spend enough time explaining why it's wrong.That is basically what he is saying on twitter, he is saying that the entire joke is him imitating racist people who were mad about goodfellas losing to dances. I have seen his act before, and i can actually accept this because blatant racism isn't usually part of his act. However, he still needs to own those other comments that are just as ignorant.Okay. Sounds a lot like hipster racism to me. Like, "Someone else is racist, and I'm just repeating what they say. Ironically, that is, to mock them. And I had to go on ranting for three minutes to show how racist they are."

Why it's still wrong

Who cares who won the Oscar 25 years ago? It's not relevant to anyone today. It's ancient history.

May chose to build a routine around racist beliefs. He provides a fig leaf of an excuse, then spews a bunch of racist comments. And his cover is, "That's what someone said 25 years ago."

As you said, his Twitter comments show how he really feels. His real beliefs aren't far from his "ironic" beliefs--if there's any difference at all. He sort of understands that something bad happened to Indians, but that was long ago and now they're to blame for their problems.

And after his so-called apology:

As I said before, a single punchline is no excuse for what comes before that. He didn't even say he was imitating others who were upset at Dances with Wolves. Rather, he said he was upset about it.

So again, how does this 25-year-old "grievance" justify a racist rant? A: It doesn't.

Some questions for Ralphie

When Delores Schilling sought questions to ask May on her Native Trailblazers radio show, I e-mailed her the following:

1) May says he's been doing his Dances with Wolves joke since 1992. This so-called joke sounds like a pretext to do a racist rant about Indians.

If the subject of the 1992 (actually 1991) Oscars isn't outdated and irrelevant already, when does it become so? In 50 years? A hundred? Why shouldn't listeners assume what I just said: that May is inventing an excuse to vent his spleen against Indians?

2) Has May heard of hipster racism? It's defined as doing or saying something racist, then claiming it was ironic, satirical, or a joke. How is this any different from what May does?

"Indians are drunk losers," he seems to be saying, then "Ha ha, just kidding." Well, why should we take the "just kidding" part more seriously than the "drunk losers" part? Racists have a long history of dressing up their beliefs as fiction or humor. Why shouldn't we assume May is telling us what he really believes in the guise of comedy?

3) If May's so-called jokes depend on his reaching the punchline, isn't that a comedic failure? The jokes are insulting, insulting, insulting until the punchline, which magically renders them not insulting? What if listeners feel the punchline doesn't work? Or they miss the punchline because they leave in anger?

Isn't May's "thinking" here rather shallow and stupid? Isn't it like saying, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it"? Does he seriously claim he has to sling horrible vulgarities to show how others sling horrible vulgarities? Is he such a pitiful comedian that he can't think of another way to make his point?

4) May's tweets indicate he's still blaming Indians for the poverty and alcoholism they suffer. Which is just about what he said in his racist rant. Why should we believe there's a difference between his "jokes" and his beliefs when they're so similar?

Rob Schmidt

April 06, 2016

Ralphie May's rant against Indians

A round-up of articles about Ralphie May's anti-Indian rant:

Comedian Ralphie May Creates Twitter Firestorm After Rant on IndiansThe extracted audio clip of May’s comedy routine is from a CD entitled "Stealing the Sun Back." from the hip hop group Savage Family. In the video/audio clip, posted on YouTube, May goes into a rant about Indians.

“F--k a bunch of Indians. I am sick of hearing about it. Are we supposed to boo hoo over goddamn Indians that sh-t that was 120 years ago? F--kin’ get over it. Nobody 150 years ago was making you drink now. Dry up’ you buncha alcoholics and go get a real f--kin’ job.”
And:May further explained on Twitter that the comedic rant was extracted out of context and that the rant was based on the fact he was angry that Dances with Wolves beat Goodfellas for the best picture Oscar in 1992.

Sanford Center taking heat for booking comedian after video surfaces

Bemidji cancels gig by shock comic Ralphie May
YouTube rant against Indians is cited as the cause.

Ralphie May's Bemidji concert officially canceled despite apologetic video from comedian

April 02, 2016

Malheur standoff = white supremacy

A good analysis of Ammon Bundy's occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January:

White Supremacy and Property Rights: Tamir Rice and the Oregon Standoff

By Anne Bonds[T]he significance of recent events in Oregon extends beyond this obvious example of the differential treatment of racial groups by the state. We argue the events at the Oregon wildlife refuge are representative of what Arlo Kempf describes as a “colonial moment,” one that bolsters white supremacy and violence against people of color, as well as the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples in the U.S. settler state.

The concept of settler colonialism emphasizes the ongoing occupation and privatization of Indigenous territories and the systems of race necessary to sustain the displacement and marginalization of Indigenous peoples. From this perspective, colonization is not an event of the past, but rather an enduring process that continuously unfolds across the landscape. Colonial moments normalize white domination and the racial status quo by obscuring histories of racial violence and exploitation and by reinforcing largely unquestioned assumptions about white settler property ownership and entitlement to stolen lands.

For some, the Bundys–both Ammon and his father Cliven–have become folk heroes for their efforts to reclaim federally owned and regulated land and for resisting the overbearing, ‘tyrannical’ federal government. However, as the chairperson of the Burns Paiute Tribe, Charlotte Rodrique, has explicitly stated, the Paiute peoples had been living on these lands for thousands of years prior to the arrival of white settlers. Deep ironies abound as the militia members demand that the federal government return the land to ranchers, loggers, and miners after claiming the federal government had usurped their rights.

Though it’s quite easy to dismiss the Bundys, their followers, and other white militias in the American West as a “radical fringe” group with a poor understanding of U.S. history, we believe that to do so would be ill informed. Not only is the Oregon standoff part of a much broader political, economic, and social movement rooted in individual private property rights and undergirded by white supremacy, the event–and popular reactions to it–sustain particular understandings of whiteness and land ownership that render invisible the displacement and exploitation of people of color that enabled white settlement and the acquisition of federal lands in this area in the first place.
Comment:  For more on the Bundy bunch, see Malheur Occupation Shows Toxic Masculinity and Bundys Hold Paiute Artifacts Hostage.

April 01, 2016

"Hostile tribes" illustration in Portland Monthly

An Apology From Portland Monthly

The combination of an illustration and a headline in our April issue caused justifiable offense.

By Zach Dundas
Recently, Portland Monthly published a short essay on the subject of school choice, accompanied by an illustration that adapted the standard school-crossing sign to show its stick-figure humans armed with arrow-like weapons. The headline—written by editors, not the freelance writer who contributed the body of the article—used the phrase “hostile tribes” to describe the social tensions arising from the issues discussed in the piece that followed.

Since the illustration and the article title appeared in our April issue and on our website, we have heard from numerous readers and Native American community leaders that this combination of words and images is offensive and derogatory, evoking negative stereotypes of Native Americans.

We erred in publishing this image and title, particularly in combination. We did not intend to offend any person or community, but in this case intention is beside the point. We have heard clearly that we caused pain, anger, and confusion among readers and communities we care about, and we are sorry.

As a first step, the image has been removed from the online version of the article, and the online headline has been changed. We’ll address the situation in print at the first opportunity afforded by our publication schedule, which will be our June issue.


Some thoughts from SorryWatch (!) on how well the Portland Monthly apologized:

Against all odds, another excellent apology, good heavens

March 31, 2016

Students protest UNM seal

Protesters: Native American-made seal not native enough

  • The students are accusing the school of racism because the seal shows a frontiersman and a conquistador, but not a Native American.

  • The seal was designed by Theda Douglas Rushing, a Native American.

  • By Anthony Gockowski
    Students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) are protesting their school’s official seal because of its implicit discrimination against Native Americans even though the seal itself was created by a Native American artist.

    UNM’s student activists are accusing the school of racism because the seal depicts a frontiersman standing alongside a conquistador but fails to portray their historical counterpart—indigenous people.
    And:“The UNM [official seal] celebrates genocide and conquest—both are violations of basic human rights and belong in a museum of a bygone era,” said Nick Estes. “It’s 2016 and UNM is still celebrating crimes against humanity—colonialism and genocide—and Natives are still underrepresented at all levels at the University.”

    However, UNM awarded Native American artist Theda Douglas Rushing a Meritorious Service Medal in 1994 for her outstanding contributions to the school, among which was the creation of the school’s now discriminatory seal.

    Discussion

    A Facebook discussion of this key point: Students protest a UNM seal that shows a frontiersman and a conquistador, even though a Native woman designed it.

    I wonder if she was given free rein or a strict mandate. Kind of hard to believe someone thought a frontiersman and a conquistador were great ideas in the 21st century.

    Apparently the redesign was back in 1980. I can understand that some people, including Natives, might not have thought about the problems much back then.

    But I'm surprised it hasn't been protested out of existence since then. A frontiersman and a conquistador don't have anything to do with education. If anything, they're anti-education.

    The message is nothing but, "Europeans founded this state and school. Europeans made us great." How is that not glaringly obvious to everyone--not to mention embarrassing?

    They're even holding a gun and a sword. It's a pure conquest message--with Indians and their land as the implied booty. There's no educational message whatsoever.Yes. All that's missing is an equally in your face motto. "We exist because these guys spilled blood."Oddly, their school motto is "Lux Hominum Vita (Life, the Light of Men)." I guess because "Veni, Vidi, Vici" was taken?

    For more on government seals, see Whitesboro Issue Increases Awareness and Flipping the Whitesboro Script.

    March 28, 2016

    Powwows are "magic" at Dictionary.com

    Dictionary.com: A Pow Wow Is An Event Where Indians Practice 'Magic'

    By Simon Moya-SmithDictionary.com, a popular website of definitions and synonyms, defines a pow wow as an event where Native Americans—wait for it—practice "magic," ICTMN discovered Monday.

    In its official definition, the website writes that a 'powwow' is "[among North American Indians] a ceremony, especially one accompanied by magic, feasting, and dancing, performed for the cure of disease, success in a hunt, etc."

    The discovery of the curious definition comes weeks after a heated debate surrounding author J.K. Rowling's latest series, "A History of Magic In North America." In it, fictional Native Americans practice witchcraft and wizardry. Rowling is the author of the widely-successful 'Harry Potter' series.

    Sarah Ortegon, a jingle dress dancer who is currently studying fancy shawl, told ICTMN Monday that although the beauty of pow wows can "cast a spell" on viewers, it is not magic in its official definition.
    After a couple of days of online complaints, the problem was solved:Dictionary.com Agrees to Drop 'Magic' From 'Powwow' Definition

    By Simon Moya-SmithOn Monday, ICTMN reported that Dictionary.com, the world's leading digital dictionary, defines “powwow” as an event where Native Americans practice “magic.” Since then, Native Americans and others have taken to social media to express their disapproval over the antiquated definition.

    Within 24 hours, officials at Dictionary.com responded to ICTMN stating they will change their definition of “powwow,” and that they will effectively remove the word “magic.”

    “The word ‘magic’ does not appear in our revised definition,” Stephanie Cooley, spokesperson for Dictionary.com, said in an email.

    “After reviewing the entry for ‘powwow’ we concluded that the definition did not reflect the history and usage of the term, and so we’ve drafted changes to reflect this. We plan to reach out to a professor of Native American Studies as part of our editorial process. With almost half a million entries, sometimes outdated or erroneous definitions can go overlooked and we depend upon our dedicated users to let us know if they come across any entries in need of review that we’ve missed,” she wrote in an email.
    Comment:  Why would anyone think a social event like a powwow had "magic" dances? Because non-Natives think all Indian dances are meant to call spirits or whatever.

    According to the prevailing stereotype, Indians aren't normal like other people. They're otherworldly, with supernatural powers that let them talk to animals, control the weather, or summon demons.

    Needless to say, the definition is silly. Not only because of the "magic" reference, but the whole thing. Curing disease, insuring a successful hunt...these are ceremonies done within a tribe on religious occasions. Not dances done among tribes on social occasions. Other than the concept of Indians dancing, the two have little or nothing in common.

    For more on the subject, see Fictional Potterverse vs. Real Native Religions and Rowling Colonizes and Vanishes Indians.