April 11, 2011

Grinding Indians into the ground

Excerpts from a new book hint at the pervasive racism faced by Indians:

Indian Voices Excerpted:  Loud and Proud!

By Alison OwingsFor Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, author Alison Owings journeyed across America—east to west, north to south, and back again—to document what Native Americans from 16 tribal nations—including Pawnee, Ojibwe, Navajo, Hopi, Lakota and Tonawanda Seneca Indians—had to say about what it is like to be a Native American in the 21st century. Owings conducted long, intimate and sometimes shockingly candid interviews that touched on many topics, from adultery to haircuts to politics, but often circled back to the often staggering ignorance of non-Natives, some of whom do not realize that Native Americans still exist, much less speak English, have cell phones, use the Internet, and attend both pow wows and power lunches. It is no coincidence that the book is being published on the anniversary of the 1879 trial in Omaha that stood to determine whether Indians were people under U.S. law.

Here are a few small “sound bites” from some of those vibrant voices:

A Mixed-Up Crowd

Curt Locklear (Lumbee)

In a 1973 interview, the late Lumbee historian and poet Lew Barton asked Curt about an inferiority complex affecting “our people,” and Curt turned the question back on Barton. “I mean, being completely honest with yourself, When did you start thinking that you was good as white man? Have you always thought you was good as a white man?”

After Barton said, “No, not really,” Curt laughed and said he hadn’t either.

It’s All Good

Marcus Frejo, aka Quese IMC (Pawnee-Seminole)

He put down his hazelnut latte as he recounted a childhood memory. “When I’d be walking to school, maybe in kindergarten, as the white ladies would drive by, they’d put their hand up by their eyes like this—” He held one hand flat against the side of his face as if to screen his eyes. “Imagine what that does to a kid at three, four, five years old. In the morning, before the school bus would pick me up, I’d light all the white people’s trash cans on fire, and run.”

Create Something Meaningful

Karen Artichoker (Lakota)

Even when I graduated from high school 11th in my class and the school counselor was encouraging me to go to cosmetology school because the home ec teacher liked how I did somebody’s hair. It never occurred to me that this cosmetology thing had do with [me] being female. At that point, to start thinking about being an Indian and being a woman, and that they were both who I am, was an awakening. I started hearing sexism everywhere. I remember being really angry. Of course, I was always angry as an Indian, but now I was angry as a woman.”
Comment:  As I've said before, it's not about being beat up or denied a job because one is an Indian--although those things happen too. It's about the constant barrage of microaggressions that Indians suffer every day. You know, the words and images that tell Indians they're primitive, savage, or dead.

Unless you're extraordinarily empathetic, you can't know what this is like if you haven't gone through it yourself. Therefore, don't bother telling us that Indian mascots and other Native stereotypes are harmless. These things are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Indeed, they're the superficial symbols of a 500-year-old regimen of religious and cultural oppression. Of a hate-filled environment designed to grind Indians into the ground. If Euro-Americans couldn't kill the Indians outright--all those pesky laws and moral codes against mass murder--they'd make sure Indians were eliminated as a threat to the Great White Way.

All the stereotype postings in this blog--e.g., Whites "Play Indian" in Swamplandia!, Tribe of Arrows Reality Show, Schlock-lahoma!--are part of the same cultural propaganda. The message is: "Get out of here, you heathen savages. I.e., you non-white non-Christians. We won and you lost. This is our land now.

"Your continued existence is a threat to our narrative of God-blessed success, and we can't allow that. Nothing must challenge the self-invented mythology of Western civilization--i.e., the greatness of capitalism, Christianity, and Caucasians. We will attack, denigrate, and marginalize you to maintain our power and privilege."

For more on the subject, see Trahant Agrees About Termination Agenda and Indians "Win" Oppression Olympics.

Below:  Real Indians...

...and America's preferred Indians: the savages who deserved to lose their land.


bonfire of my vanity said...

this post brought tears to my eyes. thanks.

Jaine said...

unfortunately it's not just 'white' Americans. Some months ago a Korean Am friend deleted a thread on Facebook where I took his white American 'friend' to task friend for their assumptions regarding Thanksgiving and Indians. I'm not American so it is only an outsider pov, but as a Kiwi I find it hard to believe that issues facing Indigenous people from the Artic to the South Pacific are all coincedence and some how their own fault is offensive. His friend was particularly racist (in my opinion) but my friend only saw him as "insenstive". I don't understand why people with reasonable analylis regarding racism do not apply it to other groups, including the limitations and damage done by sexism. It seems women and indigenous (and possibly non-heterosexuals) are the lastions bastions of hate.