October 31, 2006

It's that time again

National American Indian Heritage Month, 2006

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of AmericaDuring National American Indian Heritage Month, we honor the generations of American Indians and Alaska Natives who have added to the character of our Nation. This month is an opportunity to celebrate their many accomplishments and their rich ancestry and traditions.

America is blessed by the character and strength of American Indians and Alaska Natives, and our citizens are grateful for the countless ways Native Americans have enriched our country and lifted the spirit of our Nation. We are especially grateful for the Native Americans who have served and continue to serve in our Nation's military. These brave individuals have risked their lives to protect our citizens, defend our democracy, and spread the blessings of liberty to people around the world.

Mascot or Halloween costume?

You be the judge.

Beach on Hollywood Indians

Actor takes pride in Iwo Jima roleAlthough the dialogue is improving, Beach said writers are finding it hard to let go of "the old-school Hollywood Indian."

Even more pressing: the lack of authentic faces on screen, let alone Academy Award nominations beyond Chief Dan George from "Little Big Man" and Graham Greene from "Dances With Wolves." Both were nominated for supporting actor and lost.

"The most difficult of all is the percentage of the Indian actors out there working. It's so low, it's like we're .02 percent, which is below ‘Others' on the graph. We're not even in the minority group, and that's what we're trying to change in Hollywood, because we're not accepted in that field. Yet.

"That's why I think we, as a people, have to now start making our own movies and taking steps into producing and creating these stories, because it is limited in Hollywood."

Casino fosters culture

An Undocumented History Made Real

Historic Connecticut: Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research CenterBe prepared for a journey back in time when you visit the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center. Four acres of permanent exhibitions depict 18,000 years of Native and natural history, concentrating on the history and traditions of the Pequot tribe.

Your journey will begin with a visit to the Ice Age and a simulated glacial crevasse. You'll shiver as you step onto an escalator or into an elevator and descend into a glacier, traveling through thick blue walls dripping with water, feel the chilling air and listen to the recorded sounds of an actual glacier, with its creaking ice and whistling winds.

The highlight of the museum tour is a visit to a re-created 1550 Pequot village. Using life-size replications of daily life in the 16th century, the 22,000-square-foot diorama shows daily life over the course of 50 years leading up to European contact. Visitors view Pequots at play, cooking, making baskets and other activities of daily life, enhanced by atmospheric sounds and smells. All figures were cast from Native American models, and the traditional clothing, ornamentation and wigwams were made by Native craftspeople. A portable, digital audio system permits viewing unobstructed by signage.

Metal band is back

Neither time nor distance can keep Native Blood downIn the annals of heavy metal music on the Navajo Reservation, no band has deeper roots than Native Blood.

One of the Navajo Nation’s earliest heavy metal bands, Native Blood has been up and down for two decades. Now it is poised to make a comeback after seven years on hiatus.

October 30, 2006

Dressing up = learning experience?

More on Indian Costumes at Halloween

Un-PC Mom:People dress as Marie Antoinette, don't they? People dress as Vampires. The point is, people dress as things that they find intriguing and actually might want to learn more about. I am very sorry if you find it offensive, but honestly, I find it an opportunity to talk organically with my child about what she finds interesting and then that opens the door to what is there academically. She certainly means no offense, being 6, and I, most certainly do not either. In this day and age, when so little is actually taught correctly about native american indians, I find it a great "in" to talk about everything with my daughter. I am sorry if it offends your sensibilities, but then, that is something for you to deal with. At the end of the day, do you want people to be insinserely NOT talking about Native America Indians, or do you want them to learn, by hook or by crook, what is real?Educator:I’m wondering what resources you and your daughter would use to find information about “Indian” ways of dressing and looking? Without the most accurate resources and careful choices, the result is likely to be a pseudo-historical mélange of styles and inaccuracies that will add to her misinformation about what it means to be Indian, in either the historical or contemporary sense. Even if the costume is 100% authentic/accurate, you still run into the problem of allowing your child to think that "playing Indian" is somehow on a par with pretending to be a vampire or Marie Antoinette, which it isn't.(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 10/29/06.)

Comment:  I guess children are suppposed to learn what's real by looking in the mirror and saying, "Indians sure didn't look like this!"

See Indian Wannabes for more on the subject.

Big fat idiot does it again

Limbaugh:  Natives too "one with the land" to be on Survivor

October 29, 2006

Roscoe Pond responds

A comment from Roscoe Pond on the numbers in his article:A lot of people are discussing my article that appeared on Indian Country Today newspaper. That's great. But....People are arguing about the Percentage of Natives working in Hollywood and whether I'm accurate or not. Well....According to the Screen Actors Guild this year 2006. Natives represented on TV and in FILMS was less than 1%...50 people! And most of that work was GUEST STARRING ROLES. I've counted only 9 on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX and the CW. There are no reoccurring roles, no supporting roles or GOD forbid, lead roles for Natives in Hollywood!

Last year's SAG report was less than 2% because we had more than 500 Natives working on "Into the West" or "Apocalypto" and most were Background Extras! The Census doesn't matter with 4.0 million Indians in this country. What matters is Natives in Mainstream Hollywood!!! We are invisible!!!! And where are the Native actresses? We only had two LEAD FEMALE ROLES last year on "Into the West" and that was only a mini-series and not on a major Network.

Even if it's 2%. It still means we NATIVES are NO-WHERE on Mainstream TV and in FILMS! That doesn't count Independent films which are never seen by the mass public....

I suggest you call SAG and get the percentages. It won't be pretty. WE are Nowhere and if we are it is only in Westerns or Period Pieces! 100 years of filmmaking and WE are not modern Indians in 2006 on TV or Films!
For news on the annual diversity reports issued by minority coalitions, see Diversity Lacking in Television.

Native vs. non-Native humor

A Very Special “Occasion”:  Breaking Bread With Drew Hayden TaylorCQL: Do you notice a difference in what Natives and non-Natives find funny?

DHT: As Native humorists, we aren’t reinventing the wheel. What makes me laugh, will probably make you laugh, and what makes you laugh, will make me laugh. I go home at night and watch the Simpsons and have a good time. Funny is funny. Many people think Native humor is a lot different, but really it isn’t that different.

Humor is exceedingly cross-cultural. Ninety-five percent of the people who come to my plays are non-Native. For my comedies to work, the humor has to be universal. Let me give you an example: you have tandoori chicken, chicken cacciatore, you have McChicken. It’s all chicken, but it’s the spices you use to cook that chicken that give it its cultural uniqueness.

CQL: Please explains what you mean by the “Ladder of Status” and how this applies to what is socially acceptable when one ethnic group tells jokes about another…

DHT: In essence, I break it down into the world of geometry. Humor works from the bottom up; racism works from the top down. We can make jokes about people higher up on the ladder than we are, whereas people higher in the culture, white people, cannot. That’s racism.

Indian killer = hero?

Colonial woman lionized for scalping Abenakis while fleeing

Another stereotypical video game

Video game:  "Mohawk Mayhem...When Apaches Attack"

October 28, 2006

NY Times reviews Thirteen Moons

Trail of TearsLike “Cold Mountain,” then, “Thirteen Moons” is a book with grand, bordering on grandiose, ambitions. At its best, Frazier’s writing achieves an almost Virgilian level of polish, expressed in elegant similes: a pair of dueling pistols in a velvet-lined case look “like lovers coupling in a canopy bed.” A scene of looters at work during the Cherokee evacuation might have come straight from the sack of Troy: “Sometimes the rabble fell upon a place so soon after vacancy that the owners could look back and see them trying to straddle a plow mule or struggling to lead away a reluctant hog by a rope around its neck or flailing about in the farmyard chasing old big-breasted and flightless hens that ran squawking with their wings trailing in the dust.” This beautifully drawn scene is especially poignant because the animals’ masters have also just been ignominiously herded off their farms.

How, then, to explain the much more frequent patches of bad—really bad—writing in “Thirteen Moons”? This starts with the book’s very first sentences, which are so awful that they beg to be read aloud: “There is no scatheless rapture. Love and time put me in this condition. I am leaving soon for the Nightland, where all the ghosts of men and animals yearn to travel.” To be sure, there were plenty of passages like this in “Cold Mountain”—of prose that somehow managed to be simultaneously portentous, folksy and cloying, like banjo music on the soundtrack of a Ken Burns documentary. But the volume in “Thirteen Moons” has been cranked up considerably.

American Indian Film Festival

American Indians find voices in filmWhen the American Indian Film Festival opens Friday in San Francisco, it will be 31 autumns old. And like the season it is celebrated in, the festival showcases films that fall from a world warm with history while facing an industry that can be cold and cynical.

"It used to be if you were dealing with homelessness or alcoholism, you might get some support from foundations and government grants. But if you're talking about media, arts and culture involving American Indians, people who could help always found that hard to grasp," says Michael Smith, who founded the nonprofit American Indian Film Festival in Seattle in 1975 before moving it to San Francisco two years later. "At one point there were white arts groups getting funded for work on Indian arts projects. But our Indian groups wouldn't be given a chance to do things on our own."

That has changed in recent years, as Indian tribes with lucrative casino enterprises realized that they could give back to their communities by helping fund Indian arts groups like Smith's American Indian Film Festival.

Dime-store Indian vs. stuffed bunny

“The Last Great Hunt” Satirical Short Takes a New Look at Old StereotypeWhat's this? A film that stereotypes Indians...made by Indians ??!

You got it. But it's not what you might think. The Last Great Hunt, by Shonie and Andee De La Rosa of Sheephead Films, is a comedy that takes some of the most ingrained images of Natives–and turns these stereotypes right on their head in this seven minute parody.

Take a look-see for yourself. (Gotta watch that rabbit. He's a scary one:)

Disenrollment = murder?

Macarro, "henchmen" decimate Pechangas "with...prejudice"

Reporter misstates tribes' motivation

Morain:  Greedy "Casino Tribes Try to Keep Entire Pot"

October 27, 2006

Two pea-brains in a pod

The Great White Woman Speaks

Dr. David Yeagley interviews Ann Coulter.

No good Native movies?  Wrong

This is the Year That Is…Who Says There Ain’t No Good Native Cinema? (Not Me)Maybe it’s not nice. But I’m gloating right now.

This is for you, dear cynics. All of you, each and every one, who say there are no quality Native produced films. This is for you, dear cynics, who dismissively pass off such enthusiasm as naïve and snort that an audience doesn’t exist for Indigenous cinema—after all, who cares about Indians if they aren’t carrying tomahawks?

You’re wrong. Here’s proof.

The film festival season is in full throttle. Festivals, festivals, festivals: the well funded and well publicized, the grass-root, college-run and those teeming with glitterati. Take a look. Carefully.

Calling Indians "Indians" offends "Indian"

People from India are HINDU, not "Indian."I am offended by this confusion in modern day America, confusion which is created by the abundant presence of Hindu people referred to as "Indians." This, in effect, is yet another and very serious assault on the identity of the American Indian.

Thus, the typical modern headline in American papers: Indian Communisty Burgeoning in America. Of course, the article has to do with Hindus, not American Indian. And recently there appeared this entry on the blog, aboutbloginfo.com: "Fact about India." It is a strange collection of information about American Indians (Seminole), and it has my name and a name of one of my articles (It's the Casinos, Stupid). It has nothing to do with India, or Hindu people. Yet, is listed as "Fact about India."

Tribes = casinos, again

Tribes "most often formed to promote casino development"

Equality means no Native nations?

Republican:  Indians "treated equally" can't own Red Lake

October 26, 2006

Jefferson admired Indians' freedom

Newcomb:  On the North American Indian tradition of libertyAs "[i]mperfect as this species of coercion may seem," said Jefferson, "crimes are very rare among" the Indians. Jefferson then posed a most interesting question: Which "submits man to the greatest evil," "no law, as among the savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized Europeans"?

Jefferson answered that "one who has seen both conditions of existence would pronounce" that too much law as among the civilized Europeans submits man to the greatest evil: "and that the sheep are happier of themselves, than under the care of wolves." It is because large societies cannot exist without government, said Jefferson, that the Native societies "break themselves into small ones."

What I believe Jefferson was noticing is the North American Indian tradition of liberty: a truly free way of life, without monarchs or despotic leaders who could dictate their will. Such societies were regulated from within; not by written laws, but a code of honor, respect, honesty, and an abiding appreciation of the sacred web of life. The result was a sense of liberty in the beauty of a natural setting that is now difficult for many of us to comprehend let alone imagine being able to live as a way of life.
For more on the Indians' belief in freedom, see Indians Gave Us Enlightenment.

No love scenes for Indians

Hey Hollywood, Black, Asian, and Latino Men Do Fall In Love!I saw this great post on the All Things Considered Blog about love scenes in the top grossing movies. The author, Steven Barnes, reviewed love scenes in the 350 films that have earned more than $100 million dollars. Barnes found that 50 of these movies had loves scenes, which he operationalizes as scenes that insinuate sex, but not one of those scenes included a male actor who was not white.

I think one of the primary ways that groups are marginalized is through control of their sexuality. The control can be exercised directly through sexual violence (i.e. rape), forced breeding, and coercion. It can been done indirectly through stereotyping and erasure. I think one of the primary ways that Black, Asian, Latino, and American Indian sexuality is controlled today is through what Patricia Hill Collins calls controlling images. Popular movies, TV programs, music, and almost every other major form of popular culture contribute these controlling images when they avoid showing African Americans in intimate, loving relationships. Not only are people of color not shown in loving relationships, we also rarely see intimate family relationships.

Washington chopped down cherry trees

Exhibit uncovers Ithaca’s pastIt’s a little known fact that George Washington chopped down more than one cherry tree, according to Jack Rossen, associate professor and chair of the anthropology department.

In 1779, General John Sullivan was ordered by Washington to destroy the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois, for their loyalty to the British. The campaign destroyed 43 communities, including Peachtown, a Cayuga Indian village located 30 miles north of Ithaca, known for its 1,500 peach, apple and cherry trees.
For more on Washington's dealings with Indians, see Fun Fourth of July Facts.

Kingsolver's books worth reading

A little about KingsolverThe Bean Trees is the first of Kingsolver’s novels. It is the story of Taylor Greer, who left Kentucky because “being barefoot and pregnant wasn’t my style.” Traveling to Arizona in a beaten-up old Volkswagen that would only start on a hill, Taylor ironically ends up with a child. The child, a Cherokee, is given to Taylor at a gas station/restaurant. Taylor soon learns that the child has been abused. Because she doesn’t speak and clings to Taylor, Taylor names her “Turtle.” The adventures of Taylor and Turtle and their friends are a delight. There are also refugees from Central America, and a store called “Jesus is Lord Used Tires.”

A follow-up book is Pigs in Heaven, more or less the continuing saga of Turtle. Taylor discovers that Turtle is lactose intolerant, as are many native Americans, and this problem sets up the conflict between Taylor’s guardianship of Turtle and the rights of her Cherokee tribe. Taylor’s mother appears in Pigs in Heaven, a refugee from her new husband, who thinks that spraying everything with WD-40 is all it takes for a good marriage.

Uniting nature, culture, and spirit

Restoring Earth new role for NativesHow do you restore the Earth?

The concept is at odds with indigenous peoples, who find themselves at an unprecedented crossroads.

Tribal people never had to think about restoring Mother Earth on a global level because it was inconceivable anyone would wantonly destroy the Earth and sky.

But images of a crying Earth appear each day. We have stinking rivers, melting ice caps, dwindling rainforests and polluting oil refineries.
For more Native views about the environment, see Ecological Indian Talk .

October 25, 2006

Genocide causes suicide?

Expert says past genocide linked to suicides in Native AmericansHistorical trauma is the intergenerational post traumatic stress that is the result of the genocide perpetrated on American Indians, Brave Heart said. The resulting "cumulative group trauma" was aggravated by the boarding school system imposed on Indian children by both the United States and Canada, robbing them of their traditions, language and families, she said.

The children of the massacre survivors, the boarding school survivors, passed on this trauma to their descendants, Brave Heart said. Hope for Native American children lies, Brave Heart said, in recognizing that this historical trauma exists and reclaiming traditional culture and spirituality through the power of the tribal community and "grass roots healing."
Domestic violence:  The view from a Navajo counselorNative Americans trying to overcome learned behaviors may have more difficulty because of historical trauma or intergenerational trauma, said Clifford Jack, community educator for the Home for Women and Children. Jack also facilitates a men's group to help offenders overcome issues regarding domestic abuse.

"There is a backlash of forced assimilation—boarding schools, experiences of attempted extermination. All those backlashes lead to social ills," he said.

"Super Indian" premieres

Native Voices premieres three new stage playsWhat if German entrepreneurs were to descend on a Canadian reserve to build the world's largest Native theme park, complete with bumper canoes and a dream catcher Ferris wheel? Ojibway playwright Drew Hayden Taylor of Canada explores the comedic results in his latest play, “Berlin Blues,” performed as part of a festival of new works by Native playwrights at the Los Angeles-based Autry National Center's “Continent of Stories” on Nov. 3-5.

Also premiering in November is the comedy “Super Indian,” by Kickapoo/Creek writer and performer Arigon Starr, which features an unassuming bingo hall janitor who transforms into a reservation superhero when bad guys come to town; and the thriller “Plymouth Dodge DeSoto,” by Diane Glancy, Cherokee, about a man who seeks revenge after his family is killed in a car accident.

Chocolate Indian art

Artist's chocolate masks a sweet dealIf you don't have thousands of dollars to buy artwork from the Roxanne Swentzell Gallery at the Tower Gallery in Pojoaque Pueblo, you can buy Roxy's Chocolates, which are masks made of chocolate.

Roxy's Chocolates are the newest creation of the famed Santa Clara Pueblo artist and are going for $15 each or $25 for two. Swentzell has been selling them since September and is already behind in orders.

"She started making them in our kitchen at home in September," Tim Star, Swentzell's husband, said. "The only problem is they're so beautiful no one wants to eat them."

Giant Indian head found!

This iPod user rocksGoogle Earth spotters have discovered a strange rock formation in the prairies of central Canada that resembles a native American in headdress listening to an iPod.

The rock formation is in Alberta, Canada about 300km southeast of Calgary, near the border with Saskatchewan.
Comment:  Were the "ancient astronauts" responsible for this too?

See it for yourself in Google Maps.

Dissing David Yeagley

Is Yeagley Truly Indian?  Actual Comanches Say No

Did Yeagley Have Plastic Surgery to Look "More Indian"?


October 24, 2006

Super-Chief lives

DC has just revived Super-Chief. To learn about this 45-year-old character, who may be the Silver Age's first Indian superhero, see Super-Chief Lives.

Native superheroes made easy

You too can create a Super-Chief, American Eagle, or Red Wolf. Just follow these 12 easy steps:

Create Your Own Native American Superhero!!!In honor of DC's "Relaunch Native American Superheroes" Month, we present a handy guide so you, too, can create an original Native American Superhero just like REAL comic book writers!

Think tanks rethink Indians

Language is crucial to garnering support, leaders say“The neoconservative movement has used cognitive linguistics successfully over the years to advance its political agenda with such words as 'tax relief' and 'family values' because these terms frame their message in ways that persuade their audience to support them,” said Parker. “We, too, need to know how to frame our message of tribal rights and values to win the support of the American public.”

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr., a regular at the table, said, “We need these 'think tanks' all around the country. Our people are beginning to be identified as 'casino Indians' and not as the people of the land or of the salmon. The casinos help us economically but they are not who we are. We are our languages, we are our culture, we are our natural resources, we are our spirituality and we are our prayers.”

Film fest avoids anything "Indian-y"

Never To Suffer…On How To Run a Native Film FestivalOne of the primary goals of the First Nations Film and Video Festival is to protect Native American first-voice. For so long the control of Native imagery has been out of the hands of the Native film makers themselves. That contemporary Native perspective that is consistently absent from modern films is tied to Native first-voice. Also, giving a venue to any Native film maker’s voice by simply providing a venue for their works. Seems almost too simple really.

That contemporary Native perspective, away from the beads and feathers of that romanticized past of the “Old Times”, is what the FNFVF wants connect to and promote. To show Native Americans as living, breathing, evolving, and yes, flawed participants of America’s modern society is crucial in cultural preservation. Native Americans never forget who they are. Indeed, most people will never let them forget. But, to not show people who we are now lends to being lost forever, like the ghosts of Alexie’s poem.

Wounded Knee just a mistake?

And not a crime? Read about this and much more in

Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? "The violent collision between whites and America's native population was probably unavoidable."

October 23, 2006

Rainmaker returns

If you don't know the history of the GEN¹³ comic book and its bisexual Apache superheroine, read all about it in Rainmaker Returns.

Flags flags

After Weak ‘Flags’ Debut, Studio May Face Costly Oscar BattleClint Eastwood’s World War II movie “Flags of Our Fathers” lumbered ashore this weekend weighted with the expectations of a studio needing to win big. Looking for Oscars and a payoff on the film’s $90 million budget, Paramount, its distributor, put the film in nearly 1,900 theaters, and still plans to add hundreds more as early as this week.

By Monday morning, however, the studio and its partners found themselves facing a costly fight to save their showcase awards entry, as “Flags” took in just $10.2 million at the box office—a relatively tiny beachhead that did not match expectations or its mostly strong reviews. The picture had failed to excite enough older viewers who could remember, readily identify or relate to its subject, the bloody battle for Iwo Jima, to make up for its lack of appeal to younger audiences and paucity of recognizable stars.

Why Indians like The Searchers

Assuming they do, that is. Here's an exchange on subject with correspondent Khan. It's a response to the negative review of The Searchers I linked to in July.The writer found it strange that they seemed to identify with the cowboys, and not the actual Natives in the film, who were stereotypes.Many Indians have identified with the cowboys rather than the Indians in Westerns. See The Harm of Native Stereotyping:  Facts and Evidence for examples. And why not, since everyone loves a winner? Why would an upstanding Indian want to associate with the murderous savages in a typical Western?

Indians could've loved The Searchers for several reasons. Because the Indians in the film came off better than the John Wayne character. Because the film exposed the racism inherent in our culture. Or simply because they finally saw themselves on the screen in any role, no matter how unrelated it was to their actual lives.

None of this has anything to do with the quality of The Searchers, which was the writer's point. Regardless of its racism, the film is highly overrated.

Grammy for an Indian?

Arigon Starr:  Oklahoma’s own makes it in first round for the Grammy AwardsOklahoma has been responsible for producing many talented musicians over the years. We are known for our country and western talent, as well as, numerous musicians in various fields of blues, classical and rock-n-roll.

But try to fit Indian Country’s Arigon Starr in a category and you may have a bit of a problem. She’s known as a performing actress, folk artist, female country vocalist and playwright.

October 22, 2006

The Lone Ranger rides again

Dynamite Comics is publishing a new Lone Ranger comic book. This time the Lone Ranger is barely out of his teens and Tonto is his adult savior and mentor. This Tonto looks like a wild Conan the Barbarian, not a tame Jay Silverheels.

I glanced at LONE RANGER #1-2 but didn't buy them. Although the story seems a little light, John Cassady's artwork looks gorgeous. Here's what the Lone Ranger Fan Club thinks of #1:The story is told in a very minimalist way without a lot of narrative and dialog. It flows quickly. The artwork is very detailed and edgy. The flashback scenes appear like worn and scratched images. The comic has a wonderful blend of earth tones accented by vibrant colors when needed.

There are many details that are faithful to the established character mixed with new elements, such as the father. There is some course language that is questionable for a character of the Lone Ranger’s integrity. At one point in the story Tonto makes an appearance and does something that is way out of character. It’s the biggest disappointment in an otherwise superb story.

Over all, the creative team has done an exceptional job blending tradition and new storytelling in a comic that will be pleasing to a wide range of readers from the older Lone Ranger fans to the young comic book connoisseurs. We eagerly await the next installments of this episodic adventure!
One interesting note:  At the end of #1, Tonto finds young John Reid after desperadoes leave him for dead. On page 1 of #2, Tonto greets the boy with "How." But on page 2, he finishes the sentence by saying "How are you alive?"

This is a clever bit of humor. Writer Brett Matthews (and Tonto, since he's the one speaking) is smart enough to use a stereotype only to subvert it. It's an example of laughing with Indians, not at them.

October 21, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers debuts

Flags of Our Fathers premiered Friday. I haven't seen it, but the preliminary reviews were apparently on the mark. Here's the consensus view:

'Flags of Our Fathers' Salutes The Men Behind The Moment"Flags of Our Fathers" stands with the best movies of this young century and the old one the preceded it: It's passionate, honest, unflinching, gripping, and it pays respects. The flag-raising on Iwo might have indeed become a pseudo-event as it was looted for maximum profit, but there was nothing pseudo about the courage of the men who did it.
But a few reviewers have noted imperfections:

Deconstructing myths in 'Flags of our Fathers'It is when the narrative shoots all the way forward to the present day, showing author James Bradley interviewing the old men who fought beside his father, that "Flags of our Fathers" starts to lose its footing. The horrible "old man flashback" framing device that Steven Speilberg used to bookend "Saving Private Ryan" should have been warning enough, but Eastwood plows ahead with several conversations between an actor we can barely see and don't care about and some elderly gentlemen who are not easily identified by their young counterparts in the island scenes. It brings the movie to a standstill every time.

Billy Jack revisited

One Tin Indian… “Billy Jack”—The Legend; the Wannabe. He’s BackThirty-five years ago actor Tom Laughlin and his unadorned wife Delores became minor phenoms when their low-budget, cliché clogged, stereotype teeming, screamingly poor acted, hideously written piece a crap of a movie made loads of money and too much press by being identified as a metaphor for the little guy standing tall against the establishment.

The name of the movie was The Legend of Billy Jack. Except one thing. Billy Jack aka Tom Laughlin who’s a white guy playing a "half-breed" Indian, ain’t no legend. Beyond his and his unadorned wife’s dreams, that is.

Pop quiz!

How well do you know Native Americans? Take the quiz on my American Indian Heritage Month page...please! No peeking at the answers at the end of the page until you're done. If anyone can get even half the answers right, I'll be impressed. (I didn't know the answers either until I looked them up, so I'm not bragging.)

Comment on Juaneño photos

From correspondent Bonnie:The sequence of pictures, "Padre explains Bible to Indian" followed by "Indians build mission" and "Indian baby gets baptized" got me thinking, maybe the first caption should read, "Padre explains to Indian that the Bible says he's supposed to build the mission and that he should baptize his baby so it won't go to hell when it dies of smallpox." :-P

Blog is racialicious

RacialiciousRacialicious (formerly known as Mixed Media Watch) is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves newsflashes.

October 20, 2006

Indians know immigration

Listen to the Native AmericansMany people don't know that there are over 20 tribes that live in the border area who are suffering the consequences of the immigration crackdown.

Federal agents violate tribal land without any regard to the rule of law set by treaties. When on tribal lands, agents invade homes at gunpoint, and demand papers.

In addition, the proposed border wall would cross through tribal territory, including sacred burial grounds, also in violation of the treaties. Migrating animals would be drastically affected by the wall as well.

"We are directed under our law to go to the aid of others and not just sit back and watch the devastation," said Mohawk Mark Maracle, representing the Women Title Holders. Maracle added that the proposed border fence would upset nature. "If this fence goes up, this nation will see natural disasters like it has not seen before. It will disrupt the natural order."

Bill Means, a member of the Indian Treaty Council went farther and called the proposed fence another "Berlin Wall" that would violate federal laws such as the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act and American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

The current proposal for a wall, as well as the need for Indigenous people to migrate to the United States, have one thing in common: they result from the continuous disregard and disrespect of Natives since the European colonization.

Policy is never ever drafted with Native people's interests in mind and favors only the interests of the colonizers.

Criticism of Zagar mounts

Bud Light ads celebrate white superiorityI know that I shouldn’t expect too much from beer commercials but these Bud Light ads, featuring the uh, comic duo of Steve and Zagar, really sink to a new low. Watch them yourself here.

I can’t even count all the stereotypes these ads contain: cannibalism, eating domestic animals, spear-chucking, squatting, etc.
The broader context:What’s sad is that this isn’t an isolated incident. If anything, the whole Savage vs. Civilized dichotomy is one of the mainstream media’s favorite cliches. It pops up time after time after time.

The underlying message in all of these representations is the smug celebration of the supposedly inherent superiority of whiteness and “Western” culture. It’s unbelievable to me that this still flies unchecked in 2006. I guess just because Zagar is light-brown and doesn’t have a bone through his nose, it didn’t racist enough to raise a red flag at theAnheuser Busch headquarters.
Comment:  This posting came after my blog entries and article in Indian Country Today. I wonder if they triggered it.

The "Zagar and Steve" website is down, so the campaign may be over. But the criticism continues!

Money for nothing

A look at 'The Color of Wealth'Americans have always had easy explanations for minority poverty, often involving alleged behavior factors such as laziness, unmarried motherhood and debt brought on by irresponsible spending. Lui used an anecdote of J. Paul Getty, one of America's first oil millionaires, to dismiss the mythic discredit poured on the poverty of minority groups. Getty revealed his "three little secrets" for getting rich, Lui said: work hard, rise early, and find oil--or in other words, get lucky.

Getty's message was that without luck, you can do everything else it takes to get rich and still not get rich. Lui, though, was pointing out that without the property unmentioned by Getty--without the asset, land that yielded the oil--even luck wouldn't have done it. The larger message here was that people of color have been deprived of assets they owned, or on other occasions excluded from owning them, throughout U.S. history.

Getting ready for AI month

Resources Offered for American Indian Heritage Month

Blue Corn Comics Provides Quiz, Articles, Contest

It's that time of the year again: American Indian Heritage Month, when Americans celebrate Native people in all their diversity and complexity. To that end, Blue Corn Comics has gathered several of its resources for the media, schools, and the Web in one handy spot. Editors, teachers, and bloggers can come here for content they can use to acknowledge the country's first inhabitants.

PBS documentaries scheduled

PBS Explores the Lives of the First Americans During American Indian Heritage MonthPBS salutes American Indian Heritage, traditionally celebrated during the month of November, with both new programs and repeats of some of the popular programs that explore the lives and culture of the first Americans. Native-American culture--too often invisible both on television and in American society at large--is at a crossroads, and PBS' special programming provides a provocative and surprising look at how communities are changing, adapting and enduring.

October 19, 2006

Flags an eye-opener

A chance to live historyBeach said his portrayal of Hayes in the Clint Eastwood-directed epic, which opens Friday, proved to be an eye-opening experience not only for him but for his fellow actors as well.

“One of the actors, Ryan Phillippe, pulled me aside and said, ‘You know, Adam, I’m seeing native people in a different light because I’ve always thought of them as stoic and here you are presenting them as a human being with human emotions. You’re crying, you’re angry and it’s nice to see that.’

“When I thought about that, I was like, ‘Wow, we are now pursuing a different look at native people.’”
From the Washington Times, 10/18/06:

Roller coaster of emotionsIn one of the movie's most powerful and disquieting scenes, the corporal meets the mother of his slain squad leader, Mike Strank. It is a moment that pulls back the ideological curtains to reveal the fallacy inherent in creating heroes. In the end, they're mortal men, born to mothers just like Mrs. Strank. Upon seeing her, Mr. Hayes is overcome by the burden of the sergeant's death, and he grips her so tightly and for so long that one senses he might fall off the face of the earth if he let go.

When asked about his thoughts during the scene, Mr. Beach says, "It's crying. It's remembering. It's letting go. It's healing. It's almost like a child wanting his own mother. There's so much."
Comment:  Indians have human emotions? Wow!

Get a friend Flicka--cheap

From the Yakima Herald:

'Flicka' could be a friend to Yakama horse programWith this week's release of "Flicka," Twentieth Century Fox's retelling of a beloved children's story of a child's love for a horse, the Yakama Nation is hoping to release some horses of its own.

The film opens Friday, and the tribe and the studio are using the occasion to team up in promoting the Yakamas' wild-horse adoption program.

Fox representative Janet Wainwright said Fox will use the movie's animal conservation theme to help preserve the 5,000-head Yakama herd, which has been difficult to manage. Wainwright contacted radio stations in Yakima, Seattle and Portland to publicize the adoptions.
A Hollywood ending for Yakamas' wild horses?The unlikely partners were brought together by Janet Wainwright, a Seattle publicist who represents the studio in the Northwest. Wainwright remembered reading a Dec. 28, 2004, story in the P-I chronicling how the Yakama cherished the herd as a cultural icon.

"The article mentioned the problem they were having with overpopulation of the herd," she says. "And I learned from the tribe's Web site that, to avoid having to put down the overflow, they were trying to get tribal members to adopt them--with not enough takers.

"So I figured that if I could go to the Yakama and convince them to open up the herd to adoption by non-Native Americans, and use the visibility of the movie to promote the program, it would serve the good causes of the movie, the Yakama and the horses."

Deep secrets about boarding schools

County, reservation to be backdrop of 'Older Than America'Carlton County and the Fond du Lac Reservation are about to step forward into a new and important role in bringing history to life. The area will play host to the filming of the independent movie, “Older Than America,” that tells the story of how the American Indian boarding school experience of the late 1800s and 1900s has influenced subsequent generations of the Indian culture.

The movie, directed by Native American director and actor Georgina Lightning and produced by established local producer Christine Walker, is described as “a Native American thriller set in a small Minnesota town once home to a Native boarding school.”

“Deep secrets about the school and its dark past come to light when an earthquake threatens to attract undue attention to the area,” the movie overview goes on to explain.
And how does the past affect the present?Lightning said she believes that many of the issues Native Americans are struggling with today are a product of what has come out of their past.

“I believe that’s a direct result of several generations in a row having to go to Indian boarding schools,” she related. “They got out and there were no parenting skills, no relationship skills. It’s a really harsh environment to grow up in.”

Inside Indian country today

“Indian Country Diaries” to Premiere on PBS this NovemberINDIAN COUNTRY DIARIES, a new two-part PBS series, goes inside modern Native American communities to reveal a diverse people working to revitalize their culture while improving their social, physical and spiritual health. Co-produced by the Native American Public Telecommunications and Adanvdo Vision, the series discusses some of the biggest issues facing contemporary Native Americans, including:

How has new-found casino wealth changed the fortunes of Native Americans?

How are tribes coping with the influx of Indian wannabes, eager for a piece of the pie?

How can Native American parents teach their children their tribal history when they were not taught it themselves?

Can Christianity and traditional Native American spiritual beliefs co-exist?

Is there any perfect middle ground between assimilation and isolation?

Time-traveling boy meets codetalker

From a press release on the children's book Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame:

Navajo CodeTalkers are Forgotten Heroes of Iwo Jima, Says Author Michael ClassIn the chapter on World War II, Anthony sees six marines raise the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The six marines are the subject of the current motion picture, Flags of Our Fathers. Class recommends that parents take their high-school students to see the movie.

But, Anthony also witnesses something else on Iwo Jima.

"I was just in time to see six marines raise the American flag in the rocky ground of Iwo Jima's dormant volcano, Mount Suribachi," reports Anthony. "When the flag went up, the marines on the mountainside and the beach below gave a loud cheer, the U.S. Navy ships anchored offshore blasted their horns, and a coded message crackled on the radio of a marine standing near me. The message was: 'Ni-he da-na-ah-taj ihla.'"

The coded message that Anthony heard was in the Navajo language. The Navajo words meant: "Our flag waves."

October 18, 2006

On the indigenous frontline

'Whispering in the Giant's Ear' looks at Native challenge in BoliviaIt used to be referred to as Oblivia, a small landlocked country ruled by a typically corrupt elite. About three years ago, however, news from Bolivia started creeping toward the front pages of our press as large groups of Natives began to protest the longstanding discrimination against them. Since almost two-thirds of Bolivia’s population is composed of indigenous peoples, the largest of any country in the hemisphere, this movement is no small matter. Its main tactic was the nonviolent blockade of roads to and from the most important cities. It culminated in December of 2005 with the election of Evo Morales, the first indigenous head of state in Latin America.Comment:  As usual, Gandhi and ML King knew best. Score another victory for nonviolent action.

Where X-Indians dwell

The X-Indian Chronicles
The Book of Mausape

Author:  Thomas M. Yeahpau
Illustrator:  Bunky Echo-HawkMausape, a young "X-Indian" man dreams he's about to compete against the King of All Fancy-Dancers--who, it turns out, is Elvis Presley in full Las Vegas regalia. Another teenage boy, concerned that he's not a real warrior, seeks confirmation behind the liquor store from Grandma Spider, a wise, obese old creature with the torso of an elderly woman and the eight legs of a spider. In stories and poems mixing magical realism with unflinching reality, a young American Indian author offers a raw, graphic view of life on a reservation, a place where bitterness toward the white man lingers, where the enemy often appears in liquid form, where misogyny often raises its ugly head, and where a new generation's pop culture infiltrates ancient beliefs. A standout voice in the anthology NIGHT GONE, DAY IS STILL COMING, Thomas M. Yeahpau explores the place between native culture and contemporary America where X-Indians dwell.Note:  Thomas Yeahpau is a Kiowa writer/filmaker/musician. Bunky Echo-Hawk is a Pawnee artist and a big supporter of Blue Corn Comics.

The gay-Indian connection

Heard an interesting fact on Conan O'Brien last night and found it on Google today. Scientists have identified 1,500 species of animals with homosexual traits. Did these animals opt to be gay as a "lifestyle choice"? I'm guessing not.

How is that relevant to this blog? Conservative Christian Americans were just as sure that Indians were deviants and blasphemers as they are about gays. And they're just as wrong now as they were then. The objective evidence, such as that found in this posting, proves they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

October 17, 2006

The Fifth Horseman

Cover illo for FIFTH AND LAST HORSEMAN by Michael "Huzo" Paddlety.

Russ Bates explains:  You are seeing the emergence of "The Fifth Horseman" from the circle of existence brought about by the four previous horsemen, and in fact you are looking from above him so that you see the top of his head and that of his horse. Lovely thing, that....

Tribes losing their roots

It's time for Native peoples to take a standI challenge you as I challenge myself to practice your traditions, learn your language, study your tribal history and learn how to subsist off the land and sea. Go to your elders and make an effort to find out your tribe, family crest, clan and house. You will find an enlightenment phase of your life. Knowing who you are is power and a sense of being.

We don't have to give up anything. We can still keep our jobs, eat at McDonald's, shop at Wal-Mart, use cell phones, drive our cars, watch HDTV and live in a house. We don't have to go live the old ways without the modern conveniences that make our lives easier. Our people adapt. If they had electric sewing machines or cars back in 1867, they would have used them.

White people don't get it

Our view:  It's not just a nameWhite elected officials, such as Kootenai County Commissioner Rick Currie and state Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, don't get it.

It doesn't matter what they think the word "squaw" means. Or if they use the word in the best manner possible when they refer to geographical place names in North Idaho. Or if they're tired of name changes. Or if the name has a debatable background. In the 21st century among American Indian tribes--including the Coeur d'Alene, Nez Perce and Kootenai of the Idaho Panhandle--the term is universally regarded as a derogatory reference to female genitalia.

Cherokees pleased with Thirteen Moons

Novel taps into history, romanceTurning his research and style from the Civil War setting of "Cold Mountain," Frazier found inspiration for "Thirteen Moons" in the often tragic history of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

"The Eastern Band is very pleased that such a notable author as Charles Frazier has undertaken the daunting task of conveying intricate stories typical of our 'Removal Era' history," says Principal Chief Michell Hicks in the tribe's official statement on the book.

"I read 'Thirteen Moons' and begin to crave more and more Cherokee history," Hicks says.

October 16, 2006

PEACE PARTY joins MySpace

Check it out here.

Culture at casinos

Statues near the Agua Caliente Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, California.

Carpet in the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California.

Statues outside the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California.

Indians = Palestinians?

Give Virginia Indians a fair dealI am so tired of hearing that all we want is a casino and the "evils" that are associated with it. How two-faced the forked-tongued white man is!

We have legal gambling in this state, with the state-owned lottery and horse racing. No tribe has plans for a casino. What we want is the legal recognition that we have been denied and the respect associated with being recognized.

My tribe--the Chickahominy (I am an enrolled member)--had a reservation, but that, too, was taken from us in the 1700s.

We are the Palestinians of Virginia, a people in their homeland without legal recognition.

June-July Stereotype of the Month loser

The loser:  "Zagar" ads show Indian sacrificing animals, shooting people

Dishonorable mention:  YouTube videos show models with feathers, face paint, bones

Update on "squaw"

Squelching the S-Word

October 15, 2006

Are you a dreamcatcher?

Are You a Dreamcatcher? No.I can't think of anything more annoying or degrading than a huge billboard sign with the allusion of ladies gambling and a huge caption over it reading, "Are You a Dreamcatcher?"

Amazingly, this eyesore of a sign can be viewed right before one takes a little journey on Highway 49, into a beautiful, quaint valley with a historic significance all its own. I suppose the only more annoying thing would be a Home Depot plopped within the view shed of historic Jackson.

The popping up of American Indian casinos all over the nation is causing a slow, inevitable death of real Native American culture and tradition--a tragedy, for sure, almost as tragic as the genocide of Native Americans themselves. Quite frankly, I wish more cared. Billboard signs like these don't help.

America's first multicultural village?

Discoveries let Jamestown museum give equal play to Colonists, Indians, AfricansEvidence at the fort site made it clear that Jamestown was a trading community tied into the worldwide economy, he said.

This idea clashes with earlier notions. Around the time of the last Jamestown anniversary--in 1957, when this museum was created--the settlement was envisioned as a rural English village transplanted to the New World, Davidson said.

"What we're now seeing is Jamestown as an example of a new thing--a trading post/commercial center that is analogous to the kinds of establishments being set up in Asia and Africa by the Dutch and Spanish and Portuguese."