June 30, 2011

White buffalo calf born

Lightning Medicine:  Rare white buffalo calf named

By Linda Stewart BallThousands of people came from miles around Wednesday to see and honor a legend in the flesh—the white buffalo born in a thunderstorm on a northeast Texas ranch.

The rare white buffalo calf, regarded as sacred by the Lakota Sioux, was honored with Native American prayers, religious songs and the solemn smoking of a pipe in a special naming and dedication ceremony at the Lakota Ranch in Greenville, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.

Flag-flying patriotism, a steady Native American drum beat and scorching heat provided the backdrop for the spiritual event that drew about 2,000.

The calf was named Lightning Medicine Cloud—a reference to the thunderstorm that marked the arrival of his birth as well as a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933 named Big Medicine.
The incredibly rare sacred white buffalo who's one in TEN MILLION

By Oliver PickupWhite buffalo are considered to be sacred signs in several Native American religions, and thus have great spiritual importance in those cultures and are visited for prayer and other religious ceremonies.

Yesterday flag-flying patriotism, a steady Native American drum beat and scorching heat provided the backdrop for the spiritual event that attracted a crowd of about 2,200.

Lightning Medicine Cloud, whose name is also a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933, named Big Medicine, is thought--in Lakota Sioux tradition--to be the third of its kind ever born.

In addition, he is thought to be the first male white buffalo calf born in 150 years.
Comment:  "He's the hope of all nations," said Arby Little Soldier. Let's hope that he's the hope. I'm worried that he may not be able to solve all our problems singlehandedly. (Single-hoofedly?)

But he's off to a good start. He's trademarked his name and started his own website.

He also has a Facebook page. No word on a Twitter feed yet.

For more on the subject, see Pendleton's White Buffalo Blankets and White Buffalo = Marauding Indian.

Tribe agrees to Oxford mound's removal

Oxford has go-ahead to restart sports complex and remove stones from nearby moundWith the blessing of an American Indian nation, Oxford can now restart its long-delayed sports complex project and possibly develop a controversial hill behind the Oxford Exchange–as long as certain conditions are met.

After months of negotiations, Mayor Leon Smith signed a memorandum of agreement with the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma as well as the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the Alabama Historic Preservation Office, giving the city permission to restart its sports complex project–possibly as early as next week.
And:As part of the agreement, the city must remove stones from a hill behind the Oxford Exchange shopping center nearby and use them to build a new mound near where the remains were found at the sports complex construction site. Once constructed, the Muscogee are content to allow the city to do whatever it wants with the hill behind the Exchange.

Oxford city project manager Fred Denney said there is a chance the hill could be developed into commercial property, but it would be up to the mayor and the Oxford City Council to make that decision.
Comment:  So the solution is to destroy the site (the mound or pile of stones)? And to rebuild it elsewhere where it has no spiritual meaning or scientific value?

Why not just throw the stones away and drop a random pile of stones elsewhere? Because that's what this "solution" sounds like.

For more on the subject, see Preserving the Oxford Mound and Oxford Mound Is Gone?

Below:  Finally, we have a clear picture of what this story is about. There appears to be a couple of piles of stones on top of the hill. Calling either the piles or the hill a "mound" is confusing since "mound" could refer to either one.

"The stone mound sits atop a hill behind the Oxford Exchange." (Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

The only Native country

The only Native American country, the Mapuche Nation

By Mario SalazarChile declared independence from Spain on September 18, 1810. After an effort by Spain/France to recover the colonies, Chile finally obtained independence in 1821 when the Spanish forces were expelled from its land. Curiously, the leader of the independence movement was Bernardo O’Higgins--a Chilean of Irish descent and the son of a Spanish Viceroy.

For 39 years the boundary dividing the new liberated Chile and the Mapuche remained in place and the treaty conceding the land in the south to the Mapuche was ratified by both Chile and Argentina.

In 1860 the Mapuche nation headed by the troika of Lonkos Kalipan of Gulumapu, Kalfucura of Puelmapu, and Orélie-Antoine de Tounens (a naturalized Mapuche), established a constitutional monarchy on their lands in the Southern Cone of South America. This nation was recognized by several European nations and was for all practical purposes an independent sovereign nation. This new nation was a legitimate free country as recognized by International treaties.

In 1862 the Chilean and Argentinean governments started a war of genocide against the Mapuche nation in violation of International treaties. These treaties included the original one, and one ratified during the years of independence by both Chile and Argentina. The encounters were very bloody and one sided, with Chile and Argentinean forces using superior weapons and having the advantage of numbers. No country in the world came to the aid of the Mapuche Nation. Chile and Argentina finally prevailed in 1865, ending the Mapuche nation as an independent country.
Comment:  I'm not sure other Native nations would agree that the Mapuche formed the only Native nation. But in a technical sense, it may be true.

For more on tribal sovereignty, see US = "Baby Country" and Modoc Nation Rips UN Declaration.

June 29, 2011

"Blacks" showband vs. "Indians" showband

While criticizing "The Indians," some people envisioned a stereotypical Irish band to send a message to the wannabes. I went with a black version to make the ridicule more obvious and universal:

I'm gonna start a band called the Blacks with "Frederick Douglass," "Martin Luther King," and "Maya Angelou." With "Barry Obama" on drums and "Oprah" as lead singer. Good idea?

In our costumes and makeup, we'll look roughly like this Australian group of Jackson 5 imitators:

In honor of the "Indians" and their Wigwam Wiggle, we'll play our first single, The Funky Monkey Chicken Lickin' Zulu Hula Dance. It's sure to be a worldwide hit.

Followed by our second single, Don't Be Jivin', Melon Spellin' (Fo' Shizzle Ebonics Rap).

Since our goal is to have fun and not to offend anyone, I'm sure this will be okay.

Ronnie asked:Um...what will your role be in this band? Manager? <g>The band members' names are just code names, you know. I may be most like Douglass, so I'll put on black shoe polish and a gray wig and be him.

Kathryn added:Make sure everyone knows you'll be performing in blackface, and telling anyone of African heritage to STFU because you are "honoring" them. Make sure you say racist things when when you tell them how much they should be honored. Then you'll approach what's happening with the fans of the Irish "Indians" show band."Barry" takes the stage

Here's "Barry Obama" in costume for his next gig:

Oh, wait...that's not a band costume. It's an example of Tea Party racism widely denounced across the United States. And yet...it's the same thing as the "harmless" Irish showband. Both involve people dressed as stereotypical savages.

Why is one "harmless fun" while the other is deeply offensive to most thinking people? Good question. Ask the racists in the Irish showband, not me.

For more on the subject, see Natives Attack "Indians" Showband and "Indians" Showband Gets Attention.

"Native American tribes" on Jeopardy

As you may recall, Jeopardy featured the National Museum of the American Indian as a category six months ago. Surprisingly, a recent episode (airdate: 6/22/11) featured "Native American tribes" as a category. Someone on Jeopardy seems to like Native topics.

The contestants didn't save this category till the very end, as they did last time. They did avoid it for most of the round, though. And they didn't do very well when they tried it.

Interesting that these educated people know so little about Indians. And scary for what it suggests about less educated people.

The clues

Here's how the category went:

$1200:  "Its subtribes include Chiricahua, Mescalero & Kiowa."

Incorrect guess:  "What is Cherokee?"  [Cherokee...seriously?]

Alex Trebek says:  "They're all Apaches."  [Duh. But the Kiowa and Kiowa Apache are separate tribes, so this question is a bit confusing.]

$1600 (Daily Double):  "'Hau' in this tribe's language is a friendly greeting in both the Lakota & Dakota dialects."

Correct guess:  "What is Sioux?"  [Sioux isn't a tribe, of course. It's a group or family of tribes.]

Simplified question:  Synonym for Lakota.

$2000:  "In 1877 this tribe, including Chief Joseph, was removed from Idaho to Oklahoma for 8 years."

Incorrect guess:  "Who are the Seattle?"

Correct guess:  "Who are the Nez Perce?"

Simplified question:  Chief Joseph's tribe.

Finishing the board

After doing rather poorly, the contestants finished the rest of the board before returning to the last two clues:

$800 (video clue from the NMAI):  "A popular figure in the Southwest, Mudhead is a cultural and spiritual deity specific to this family of Indians, whose western tribes include the Hopi and the Zuni."

Incorrect guess:  "Who are the Navajo?"

Alex Trebek says:  "Who are the Pueblo...Indians?"

Simplified question:  Hopi or Zuni.

$400:  "This tribe was formed in the 18th century from refugee Creeks & and other Georgia Indians who moved into Florida."

Correct guess:  "Who are the Seminoles?"

Simplified question:  Florida tribe.

All the questions were pretty easy. I'm sure Newspaper Rock readers would've gone five for five.

Even an average American should get the Seminole and Sioux questions right. It's kinda lame that America's knowledge of Indians is this thin.

For more on the subject, see Bonus NMAI Jeopardy Questions and NMAI on Jeopardy.

Royal couple to visit Native center

Will and Kate to visit N.W.T. 'bush university'

Moosehide tanning, fireside discussion on royal couple's agendaPrince William and Kate's trip to Yellowknife next week will include a tour of the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a "bush university" that combines academia and aboriginal knowledge in a northern wilderness setting.

The royal couple will travel by float plane to the Blachford Lake facility on Tuesday afternoon, following a packed day of activities in the Northwest Territories capital.

Following their 20-minute flight to Blachford Lake Lodge, where most of Dechinta's programs are offered, William and Kate will be given an opportunity to try moosehide tanning and fish drying, as well as meet with Weledeh Dene elders, according to centre officials.

"We'll start with a language lesson," Kyla Kakfwi Scott, Dechinta's program director, told CBC News.
Comment:  For a similar educational facility, see "Barefoot College" for Venezuela Indians.

Below:  "Students at Dechinta take part in a course on 'writing from the land' during the program's pilot offering in June 2010." (CBC)

June 28, 2011

Natives attack "Indians" showband

Here are some of the comments posted on the "Indians" Facebook page after Natives learned about it:Fáilte, I am an Irish-American who honors my ancestors, but also lives among the American Indians here in the US. I think perhaps because Indians are not real people to you, because you do not share your lives with them, that you are not understanding the hurt and outrage you are provoking. Real Indians have been oppressed, and are still oppressed by pale people like us. We have no right to dress up in outfits that mimic their sacred regalia, or to take the names of their ancestors. I have dear friends who are family members of the ancestors whose names you have taken. They don't think it's funny, or entertaining, and neither do I. Please get some new kit and change your name. Find a new gimmick. If your music is good enough, you won't need a gimmick at all. Slán.

How is this any better than blackface? Shame on you.
Your music can surely stand on its own without this kind of racist nonsense, right?

I do not think you intentionally mean to offend the Indigenous people of N. America who were mistakenly thought to be Indians when an Italian man was lost. Please do not commit cultural theft by mimicking our regalia. Please watch this video and consider ways you can entertain without reinforcing racial stereotypes. We are working hard to heal our historical trauma and unresolved grief.

Wow. Most racist band ever. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.

That's not funny. You guys are from Ireland right? I don't think you'd like it if there was an band of Native Americans who called themselves "The Micks," dressed up in leprechaun suits, then pretended to drink & fight as part of their act.

You're about as funny as you are creative. May the wind knock you on your asses, may the road rise up and slap the shit out of you, and the hurricanes of destiny shred your silly costumes to bits.

Custer died for your sins.

Is this a joke?? This is a racial portrayal of Indigenous people. Do you not understand?

Hey--You don't see us playing white people do ya. It's not a joke, its our culture that is very sacred to us. It's very offensive to my race, my culture, my ancestors, No--we don't understand...play someone else A**hole!

What the fuck is this? You guys are white and exploiting Native Americans names with cheezy ass costumes? And why am I not THAT surprised?

You guys are so terrible at being Irish you had to mock another culture to justify your own sad, culturally depleted, sorry asses, didn't ya?

This is far from humorous. It is a clear act of disregard for the honorable names you have chose to attach to your idiotic, insensitive, spirits. All of you have displayed your ignorance and racist views. You have no honor. You are just a bunch of sorry imbeciles who should be slapped with a stupid stick. Now that you have been brought to attention, you will suffer the consequences of you bigoted routine and be held accountable wherever you show up at. Get ready, we are coming!

You bring dishonor and shame upon your own people with this ridicule. Our ways, our songs, our feathers, our tribes, our chiefs are sacred! I must wonder what kind of folks you entertain with this tasteless misrepresentation!

Native American here. I linked you to a note I wrote about the difficulties growing up Native American with people making racist mockeries of my culture. Please know, it's not flattering or harmless. What you're doing is harmful, ignorant, and if you continue after hearing heartfelt pleas and angry urging, malicious. Please choose a different name and theme for your band.

I'm sure you were raised to have respect for your culture and ways and I'm sure kids are being raised as such also, well it's very difficult as parents to raise our kids with strong self-esteem and confidence when people like you openly disrespect and further oppress a culture by mocking who they are. THINK ABOUT IF THE TABLES WERE TURNED!!!

This is so upsetting. I'm so used to my Irish friends being respectful of my culture. It has been my experience that many Irish people are in solidarity with us indigenous peoples. This is just disrespectful....It brings great dishonour to the relationship between our nations.

Dumbest...shit...ever...you racist fucks...

What an awful way to get attention towards your band!! I hope after reading the many comments of the people your band has offended you will be enlightened!...to change not only your name and the way you are dressing; but also to change your outlook on this proud race and their traditions. Your ignorance towards the Native people and their culture is sickening. And if this is intentional ridicule, and not ignorance, shame on you all! What goes around comes back around, karma will see you fit.

Totally not cool ...nor entertaining...what your so called attempt at dressing in "regalia" and naming band members as such is clearly a demonstration that represents total ignorance based on prejudice and discrimination!!!!

Report all of the pictures, and the page as racist content.

I am totally disgusted. I lived a life of racism. Hasn't time changed!!! This answers my question. There are always some ignorant people out there. What you do will come back on you.....believe me!!

I'm also thinking of starting a new band, I can't find a name for it maybe the honkeys, the niggers, spics or jews? I don't know let me know.

RACIST VERY RACIST I'm 100 percent Ojibwe and I'm outraged at this.

Should be called I stole everything from the Indians even the name the Indians!

I hate that I had to like this page in order to leave a comment. Do y'all think you are honoring American Indians? Do y'all think calling your band The Indians, giving yourselves the names of respected warriors, dressing in fake regalia is showing respect? You're wrong. What y'all are doing is insulting, disrespectful, and borders on identity theft. Think about what you've done. Rename your band. Now, as soon as I hit share, I will dislike this page.

I do not believe this is racist as much as it's ignorant. Yes, your stupidity is inadvertently a form of racism but what really shows is your ignorance. Why didn't you call yourselves "The Klansmen"? Is it because that would be considered in bad taste?
Comment:  It's ignorant and it's racist. Most if not all racism is born of ignorance.

If you think something has to be hateful or malicious to be racist, wrong. Regardless of the intent, if it singles out one race for special treatment, it's racist.

For more on the subject, see "Indians" Showband Gets Attention and Most Racist Musical Group Ever?

P.S. I fixed minor errors in punctuation and capitalization.

"Minimal bloods" = greedy white people?

Someone named Wambli Sina Win published this editorial on Indianz.com a couple weeks ago:

Tribes should protect their Indian bloodlineIf the buffalo have sense enough to stay with its own kind, why is it so difficult for our young Lakota men and women to marry and have children with other Lakota to protect our cultural integrity and to preserve our bloodline from being bred out of us?

Today it’s easy to laugh at tribes who enroll those with ridiculously low blood quantum and it seems that everything is being done to be “accommodating” and to make our tribes non-Indian. It takes courage and leadership to take steps to protect our bloodline. Enrollment based on ancestry or descendancy has to be eliminated to keep us from extinction.

It is only right that economic benefits reflect the blood quantum with full bloods receiving the maximum benefits. One who is 1/100th should receive benefits in accordance with this minimal blood. This was a choice by the minimum blood’s ancestors to breed the Indian blood out and to diminish the bloodline.

Accordingly, these descendents should live with the consequences. Instead of “banishing” tribal members, why not raise the blood quantum? As a sovereign, a tribe is within its authority to increase the blood quantum requirements for enrollment. Any real Indian tribe would seriously consider this to preserve the economic resources of the tribe for Indians and it would also encourage tribal members to marry other Indians.
I shared it on Facebook and got a lot of negative feedback, as I expected. I was going to ignore it, but then Wambli Sina Win doubled down with another column defending the first one:

Pretendians--the hostile takeover of tribesAs I have said in the past, “the truth hurts.” Why aren’t the minimal bloods proud of their majority European ancestry? Economics, of course! After all, there is gold in the Black Hills.

Since the turn of the century and most recently because of the profitability of gaming, it has been economically beneficial for the white man to trace Indian ancestry back a hundred years or so ago to some lone Indian. It’s called “genealogy” research. As I have said before, if a person is 1/100th Indian, they are 99% something other than Indian. Who are they trying to fool? What part of the person is the tribe giving benefits to? The 1% Indian or the 99% non-Indian?

A leader personifies who and what their people are. If a so called “Chief” or “Governor” is 1/100th Indian, who is he or she representing? Will his or her loyalty be to the majority of his or her ancestry? Think very carefully about who you elect and the requirements for leadership positions. Do you have an Indian Chief or Custer representing you?

I recall my Grandfather’s words of caution, “Never trust a white man. He’ll choose frog skins over redskins every time.” As a lawyer, I know this to be true. When tribes contract with non-Indian lawyers to represent them in court, the Indian always seems to come up on the losing or the “settlement” side.
And:Recently I took my Native American grandchild to an IHS clinic and I saw that it was overrun by white people. How much do these people of minimal blood contribute culturally or financially to any tribe? The Indian has been bred out of them and all that remains is a greedy disgruntled white person with their hands out. Haven’t they taken enough?

It is a great injustice when a person can go back 100 years to find the “Indian in the cupboard” or use DNA testing to push their way onto tribal rolls. This will eventually be the undoing of tribes who allow this. Mark my words.
And:One may call a person who is interested in protecting their identity, racial integrity and culture a “supremacist.” And if that is the case, I am a supremacist. I believe in the perpetuation and continuation of my race, language and culture.Wow. It's not that often you hear someone admit she's a racist. A supremacist is a kind of racist, of course.

Taking Wambli to task

Someone named James responded on Facebook:[S]he's confusing two very separate issues. One is cultural (mis)appropriation with a misguided notion of racial purity. While it's true that many people of dubious lineage have tried to coop American Indian culture, many mixed bloods have either legitimate cultural ties or just want to know more about their ancestral culture. If you apply her criteria, Sequoyah himself would pass the muster being of mixed blood parentage himself. While those that are looking to somehow cash in on having indigenous American ancestry and rightfully deserve scorn (though, trust me, I've never found that particular cash cow and seriously doubt most other mixed bloods have either) most others have as much a right to their own cultural heritage as they do to their, say, Irish, English, German, Mexican, or whatever heritages.

While I'll agree that being 1/100th anything is pretty dubious, not every mixed blood of substantially more ancestry is out for nefarious purposes. The whole idea of "Indian" is really just a agglomeration of literally hundreds, if not thousands of separate cultures in the same way that say, Italians and Swedes are "white." Mixing of different cultures is not just the American way, but the human way. If prehistoric people's of the Americas had never mixed, we would not have the tribes we have today. Similarly, the cultures of Europe and Asia were largely formed by the mixing of various peoples. I'm surprised that her son, a Lakota, is making a Shawnee lodge. Does she not see the irony? The truth is that we are all the human race.
Another way of putting this is that tribal membership has always been cultural, not racial. Tribes freely adopted Indians from other tribes, blacks, and whites. These people became full members with all the rights and responsibilities that entailed. They were Indian by culture even if they weren't by blood.

John Ross vs. Major Ridge

Possibly the best example of this was Cherokee chief John Ross:John Ross (October 3, 1790–August 1, 1866), also known as Guwisguwi (a mythological or rare migratory bird), was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866. Described as the Moses of his people, Ross led the Nation through tumultuous years of development, relocation to Oklahoma, and the American Civil War.Mike Kohr adds:John Ross was the principle leader of the Cherokee Nation during Andrew Jackson's "removal" policy. He was 1/8th Cherokee by blood. Major Ridge who signed the treaty that was used by Jackson to force this death march, hoped in good faith it would lead to the survival of his people and culture. Ridge, a full blooded Cherokee, was killed by his own people for what they regarded as a betrayal. John Ross died in exile from his people in Washington DC still fighting for their rights and interests. Who was the true "Indian" here? They both were. Both connected and active in their culture. Both died with the best interests of their people foremost in their minds.John Ross presumably proved himself to the Cherokee over time. As some have said, tribes could require such proof today. Require people to know the culture and language before granting them membership. Make them live on the rez and help with government and religious functions.

Apply these standards to everyone whether they have the "blood" or not. Americans have to pay taxes, sit on juries, serve in the military if drafted, etc. This would be the tribal equivalent of that.

For a couple of people who seconded Wambli's conclusions, I wrote:It's easy to cheer full-blooded Indians and denounce 1/100th blooded Indians. But if you believe blood matters--which many Indians don't--where's the cutoff point? 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, or...? Tell us the dividing line where someone stops being an Indian "by blood."So far, no one has been brave enough to answer the question. 'Nuff said.

For more on the subject, see Thoughts on IndiVisible, WNBA Drafts 1st "Full-Blooded" Native, and Indian Identity Matters to Indians.

Below:  John Ross, Cherokee principal chief and 7/8 white by blood.

"Indians" showband gets attention

About a year ago I posted on the Irish showband called "The Indians":

Most racist musical group ever?
Battle of the bands:  Gays vs. Indians
Irish band is just harmless fun?

As you may recall, they dress up like this:

And describe themselves like this on their Facebook page (mistakes included):This "The Indians “BIG CHIEF” (Raymond Kelly), is lead singer and his stage name is GERONIMO. He is one of the finest vocalists in the business. Other members of the band are Eamonn (Sitting Bull) on keyboards, Kevin (Long Arrow) on drums, Brian (Crazy Horse) on bass guitar, and Tommy (Dull Knife) on lead guitar.I promptly forgot about them, but they're back in the public eye.

"Indians" hit the mainstream

The subject arose Sunday when Native America Calling, the Native radio show, posted this video on its Facebook page:

Soon after that the NativeCelebs page, where I contribute, also posted this video. Both postings garnered some negative comments, but nothing noteworthy.

I found that the "Indians" had a Facebook page with the text above. About 300 fans had posted the usual fan comments: "You're great!" "Loved your show!" Etc. I posted the link to my wall and asked what my Native friends thought of the band's using the names "Geronimo," "Sitting Bull," and "Crazy Horse."

People began reposting the link on their walls while expressing their disbelief. Even better, they went to the "Indians" page, "liked" it, and began posting comments. Here are some of them:

Natives attack "Indians" showband

The conflict continues

I found that the "Indians" had a second page with even more fans, so I posted the link to that too. People began sharing that, going to the page, and posting more comments.

Since it was late at night in Ireland, these comments went unanswered for hours. When 8 or 9 am rolled around in Ireland, the page operators presumably woke up, saw the comments, and deleted them. The same thing happened Monday. The comments accumulated in the afternoon and evening while the Irish slept, and they deleted them Tuesday morning.

Finally the page operators caught on that the protests weren't going away. We believe they restricted the pages so only people in Ireland and the UK could see them. In other words, they banned the Indians from commenting on the "Indians."

That's where the matter stands now. A wide swath of Indian country, including members of AIM, are now aware of the "Indians." They can expect criticism and protests for, well, the rest of their existence.

Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about a band that tours only the British Isles. I suggested writing a letter to Ireland's Human Rights Commission, with copies to any local indigenous groups similar to AIM and the media. Including the major outlets and any websites or bloggers who might be sympathetic. We'll see if that happens and does any good.

For more on harm of stereotypes, see Conservatives Use "Language of Savagery" and Grinding Indians into the Ground.

Below:  Three stereotypes in one logo...impressive!

June 27, 2011

Asian Indian cast as Navajo

Luna?  Who is Luna?  Inside True Blood Reveals

By LividityThe too sexy Janina Gavankar plays Luna, the new shapeshifting character in True Blood season 4. Gianna, over at the HBO’s Inside True Blood blog tossed around a little Q&A. Check it out:

Gianna:  Can you tell us about your role on the show? Who are you? Where do you come from? What’s in store for your character this season?

Janina:  I play Luna. I grew up on Navajo Nation, and I’m now a schoolteacher.

Comment:  I imagine the Luna character is supposed to be a Navajo skinwalker. That's only been done a hundred or so times, so what's once more?

I guess Tinsel Korey wasn't available? She would've been perfect as an Asian Indian pretending to be a Navajo.

Natives rip casting decision

This posting generated the following comments on Facebook:Not the first time. Seems vampire films love East Indian female leads to play Native American.

Ugh. Terrible....



ANOTHER HUGE FAIL IN CASTING!!! Ugh! Dammit!!! WTH with these people. I'm trying to stop this!!

How messed up is that.

Yeah W T F ????

Sooo not cool. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Hollywood obviously thinks all brown people are interchangeable. Or they don't know the difference between Asian Indians and American Indians.Typical. I like the way Edward James Olmos said it best. Hollywood is all dollars and no sense!

"Theres a old saying about Hollywood, that they will do anything for money."
Actually, as we discussed here:

Minorities buy more movie tickets

Hollywood won't do anything for money. Specifically, it won't make films starring minorities. Even though many minorities buy more tickets than whites.

So the "bottom line" argument is misleading if not false. Hollywood is racist, not just money-oriented. If it were money-oriented, it would make more movies with indigenous characters like Avatar or the Twilight movies.They would never cast white actors as black slaves in a Civil War epic, how can they even think that this is right, or acceptable?

First whites, usually Italians playing Indians, now this. Get rid of these impostors wherever they maybe.
For more on the subject, see (Asian) Indians Get TV Roles and Fox Eliminates Diversity Department.

Judge:  "Go Native" = "huge violence"

Defendant Loses Appeal Based on Judge’s ‘Go Native’ Remark

By Debra Cassens WeissA Native American has lost his bid for a new sentence because of the judge’s “go native” remark.

The South Dakota Supreme Court said the judge’s comment, used to describe the defendant’s pattern of behavior when drinking alcohol, was “ill chosen” but there was no bias. The June 22 decision (PDF) affirmed an 18-year sentence for the defendant, Ivan Good Plume.

Good Plume was convicted of aggravated assault based on allegations he hit his former girlfriend's new boyfriend with a shovel. At sentencing, the judge noted “35 or 40 criminal entries in a five-year span” and said he assumed all were linked to drinking.

“I don’t doubt you are extremely bright,” the judge said. “I don’t doubt you have a great many good qualities. And unfortunately, when you drink—and this was not my term. It was used by a young Native American in extremely violent circumstances—and he said go native. Now I am not sure what it means but it smacked of huge violence. And that’s absolutely descriptive of the event that went down that night. Absolutely descriptive of the events that brought you here. And I attribute it to nothing more than your inability to control raging anger when you are under the influence of alcohol.”

The court said the transcript shows the judge’s remarks were based on facts and events rather than racial stereotypes or prejudice.
Comment:  "He said go native. ... It smacked of huge violence." That's a fact-based description of an event? And not a description based on racial stereotypes or prejudice? Hmm...could've fooled me.

I wonder what the judge would've had to say to trigger someone's racial radar. "He said go native," and:

  • "It sounded like he was going on the warpath."

  • "It smacked of a savage Native uprising."

  • "The defendant rightly feared to be massacred by this murderous Indian wielding a shovel like a tomahawk."

  • Sounds like the judge was prejudiced to me. Just a little bit, perhaps. Not necessarily enough to declare a mistrial. But I wouldn't have whitewashed his comment the way the South Dakota Supreme Court did.

    Which isn't to say that Good Plume wasn't guilty. Or that he didn't deserve the punishment he got. The question of whether the trial was fair is a separate one. No one should be convicted in a trial with a judge who's biased.

    For a case that shows the same basic bias, see Indians, Terrorists = US Enemies. For more on racial bias in general, see Stereotypes as Mental Maps and Americans Refuse to Acknowledge Prejudice.

    Natives suffer the most violence

    Natives Targeted Most for Hate Crimes

    By Valerie Taliman“We know from hearings in Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota that hate crimes are continuing to happen against Native Americans, mostly in border towns near our reservations,” he said, citing a soon-to-be released report developed by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that compiled testimony in 2009 about hate crimes from hundreds of Americans Indians.

    The report follows up on the 2005 Department of Justice report that showed the overall violent crime rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 100 per 1,000 persons, meaning that one out of 10 American Indians has been a victim of violence.

    The study also found that “American Indians are more likely than people of other races to experience violence at the hands of someone of a different race,” with 70 percent of reported violent attacks committed by non-Indians.

    “Nevada was always known as the ‘Mississippi of the West’ for its rampant racism. Up until the late 1950s, Indians had to be off the streets by sundown or face arrest,” said Melendez. “Reno was a very racist place, but over the years it’s become more diversified as more Hispanic people moved into the area. Sadly, that’s not the case in many rural communities where there’s still a lot of good ‘ole boy attitudes.”
    Comment:  As usual, it's difficult to disentangle factors such as poverty, crime, and substance abuse. But I maintain that racism and stereotyping are a huge part of this problem. Non-Native see Natives as inferior--as bums, drunks, whores, losers. I.e., as remnants of a race of primitive savages and squaws.

    We've spent 500 years stoking a righteous, "civilized" hatred of Natives. This happened before many Indians became alcoholics, were herded onto reservations, grew dependent on government handouts. So I don't think we can point to any particular social cause such as poverty.

    No, white Christian Euro-Americans have hated Indians since the beginning. Indians reminded them that their lives were controlled by monarchs, lords, popes, bishops, and other wealthy aristocrats. I.e., that they weren't free to believe and act as they wished. Indians were the "other" who revealed the lies and hypocrisies of Western civilization, so they had to go.

    For more on violence against Natives, see Hip-Hop Culture in Alaska and Reviews of The Silence.

    Below:  An inviting target for "good ol' boys" bent on proving their manhood.

    "Jokes" without punchlines are racist

    The Racialicious blog reports on a joke a female doctor told on a new FX comedy:

    Heard on FX’s Wilfred:  “Not Asian-American…Real Asian!”

    By Latoya PetersonYou had a rough morning? Try prying twin boys out of a tight little Asian gal. She wasn’t Asian American, Ryan, she was REAL ASIAN!

    Whenever I get around to writing about Archer, I’ll talk about the difference between writing a joke that involves race and writing a racist joke. But, in essence, this is the Kate Rigg rule:When someone tells a joke about Asian people and there’s no actual joke--the joke is the Asian people. The joke is [racist-comic voice] the funny way they talkie-talkie! “They don’t use proper diction! Only verb and noun! Verb and noun!” I just heard a comic that I respect doing that fucking joke the other night. An Asian comic. And I was like, “Dude! Write a punch line or you’re just being racist!”I apply this rule all over the place, as did Carmen back when she wrote about how to respond to a racist joke. The joke only works with the implicit acceptance of a certain stereotype. If the stereotype isn’t there to play on, the joke falls apart. (Hence Carmen’s advice to play dumb, and try to get the joke teller to explain exactly why that joke is funny.)
    Comment:  Naturally, this applies to Native-oriented humor too. Indeed, you can apply the rule to any joke that claims to be satirical.

    For instance, the Dudesons episode on MTV. Without the stereotypes, there was no humor. No reason for the bits to exist. Without the stereotypes, the show would've been about 10 minutes of setups and transitions, not 30 minutes.

    For more on the subject, see Okay to Stereotype in "Satires"? and Racist "Jokes" Are No Jokes.

    Below:  It's "funny"...because that's how Natives supposedly used to dress. As half-naked savages in feathers. Look at the comical white man pretending to be a comical Indian...ha ha!

    June 26, 2011

    (Asian) Indians get TV roles

    A recent posting on the NativeCelebs page in Facebook:Parks and Recreation, The Office, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, Community, Sanctuary, Covert Affairs. What do these have in common? An Indian on the core cast. No, not a Native American, but someone with ancestry from India. Native Americans? If you don't count APTN and [Canadian shows such as] Blackstone--are there any right now?Not to mention Outsourced, House, The Human Target, Heroes, Lost, Numb3rs, and ER in recent years. For more on the subject, see:

    Beyond Apu

    Why are there suddenly so many Indians on television?

    By Nina Shen RastogiWhy are there so many Indians on TV all of a sudden?

    In part, it's a simple matter of demographics. Immigration from the subcontinent didn't begin in earnest until the late 1960s. So it's only now that U.S.-born Indians—who make up about half of the current crop of South Asian performers—are starting to gain a critical mass both in front of and behind the camera.
    And:Why are Indians suddenly the "it ethnicity," as Ravi Patel put it to me?

    This, too, is at least partially a function of changing demographics. More Indians in the fabric of American life means we're more likely to be a source of inspiration for non-Indian writers, like the two Jewish guys from suburban New Jersey who wrote Harold and Kumar—the title characters are based on their friends.

    But according to Karen Narasaki, who heads the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the rise in primetime Asians is also the result of advocacy. Her organization and its partners have been working with the networks to develop diversity initiatives for the past decade, ever since 1999's infamously "whitewashed" primetime season, in which not a single freshman show had a leading minority character.
    Checking the numbers

    All that talk of demographics is nice, but let's see what the actual numbers are:

    Indian American--DemographicsAccording to the results of the 2010 U.S. Census released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Asian Indian population in the United States grew from almost 1,678,765 in 2000 to 2,843,391 in 2010: a growth rate of 69.37%, the highest for any Asian American community, and among the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.Meanwhile, as I reported before, there are 5.2 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the 2010 Census.

    It should be obvious where I'm going with this. Natives have been here for, well, forever, not just 50 years. They outnumber Indian Americans by roughly 2-1. At least a dozen TV shows have featured Indian Americans in supporting roles in recent years. But with a few minor exceptions, none have featured Natives.

    Since the US Indian and "Indian" populations are similar, there's no good reason to have a dozen Indian Americans but no American Indians. I'd say it's happening because studio executives know the former group but not the latter. They're prejudiced for the people they're familiar with.

    Indeed, executives are so comfortable with Asian Indians that they're casting them as American Indians. Tinsel Korey, for instance. Better a "nice" Asian Indian than an American Indian who may be drunk or violent or a troublemaker, right? Who knows whether a Native actor will show up with a head shot or a tomahawk?

    Network TV sends message

    All these TV shows are worth mentioning, but the network shows are especially telling. They have bigger audiences because they're universally available. And because they're advertiser-supported, they can't take as many risks. With casting or anything else. They're the best example of what Americans as a whole will accept as mass culture.

    And what we're seeing is that Asian Indians are becoming acceptable. Perhaps on the way to becoming another "model minority." Which is odd because blacks are possibly the only minority that has reached parity in Hollywood. Latinos, Asians, and American Indians still are underrepresented.

    I don't begrudge Asian Indians their success. I've seen a lot of Bollywood stars who seem more attractive, appealing, and charismatic than most Hollywood stars. I'd build some shows around them if I were an executive.

    But I'm sure there are just as many American Indian actors who could carry a movie or TV show. Hollywood just has to give them a chance.

    For more on the subject, see Asian Indians Slurred as American Indians and Minorities Aren't Quite American.

    Is it racist to talk about Natives?

    Whites who work on Native issues sometimes get accused of racism. There's usually no good reason for these accusations. It's simply a way for Natives to vent their anger at whatever they're upset about.

    Someone asked me about this problem recently:Explain to me--why are White people racists, the moment a Native American is angry with them?They don't accuse me of racism. Usually they accuse me of being arrogant, paternalistic, egotistical, a know-it-all, etc. Which is what others say too, strangely enough. <g>

    The argument goes like this: If you talk about them, post about them, etc., you're telling their stories for them. Which means you're acting as if you're in a superior position--as if you know more about them than they do.

    You could be that way with everyone, which would mean you're arrogant, paternalistic, egotistical, a know-it-all, etc. But they suggest you're that way with Natives in particular because you're a racist.

    In short, talking about them = drowning them out = silencing them = disliking them = racism.

    I'm not saying this chain of "reasoning" is valid. Far from it. I'm just saying this is the way some people think.

    For more on the subject, see Why Write from Indigenous Viewpoint? and Checklist for Friends of Natives.

    Study:  Poverty kills people

    How Many US Deaths Are Caused by Poverty and Other Social Factors?  About the Same as Deaths from Heart Attacks and Stroke, Study FindsThe investigators found that approximately 245,000 deaths in the United States in the year 2000 were attributable to low levels of education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality, and 39,000 to area-level poverty.

    Overall, 4.5% of U.S. deaths were found to be attributable to poverty--midway between previous estimates of 6% and 2.3%. However the risks associated with both poverty and low education were higher for individuals aged 25 to 64 than for those 65 or older.

    "Social causes can be linked to death as readily as can pathophysiological and behavioral causes," points out Dr. Galea, who is also Gelman Professor of Epidemiology. For example, the number of deaths the researchers calculated as attributable to low education (245,000) is comparable to the number caused by heart attacks (192,898), which was the leading cause of U.S. deaths in 2000. The number of deaths attributable to racial segregation (176,000) is comparable to the number from cerebrovascular disease (167,661), the third leading cause of death in 2000, and the number attributable to low social support (162,000) compares to deaths from lung cancer (155,521).
    Comment:  This study confirms the claims made in Poverty Makes People Sick.

    Tiguas buy El Paso Diablos

    Tiguas buy El Paso Diablos:  Tribe, LaBranche own 59% stake in team

    By Bret BloomquistFor 12 years, one of the biggest complaints about the El Paso Diablos baseball organization was that it was controlled by out-of-town interests.

    When the American Association approached General Manager Matt LaBranche about assembling an ownership group to buy out the Wisconsin-based Ventura Sports Group Inc., his goal was to find a group native to El Paso.

    He did, in the most profound sense of the word "native."

    The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, or Tiguas, and LaBranche bought a 59 percent share of the Diablos franchise, and LaBranche is now the managing partner and club president.
    Comment:  For more on Native sports team owners, see Akwesasne Warriors in Federal Hockey League and First Native Team Owner.

    June 25, 2011

    Minorities buy more movie tickets

    Another posting demolishes the "Hollywood cares only about money" argument we've heard over and over. For instance, in Jet's Film Financing Story and No Bottom Line for Native Movies?

    Minorities At The Movies Fill Seats, But Not Screens

    By Karen Grigsby BatesA recent BET study says blacks go to exactly the same kind of features as their white counterparts, with one surprising difference, according to Barnhill:

    "We see movies 21 percent more often than the general market, and we're 22 percent more likely to have multiple repeat dealings of a movie."

    "Simply put, blacks spend more money on movies," says Marlene Towns, a professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. "We consume what the mainstream consumes, as African-Americans, but we also consume things that are particular to us as a segment."
    And:It's not just black audiences who get short shrift on theater screens. Several recent studies also have shown that Latino audiences buy a lot of movie tickets. They might buy even more if Hollywood could go beyond its one-size-fits-all approach to reaching various segments of the Latino market.

    "It's sort of like comparing somebody from Texas to somebody from New York," says Ivette Rodriguez, president of American Entertainment Marketing.

    AEM specializes in marketing and promotion to the several Latino communities that Hollywood often lumps into one. Rodriguez says Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans may all speak Spanish, but they're different.

    Industry executives might understand these differences better, says Rodriguez, if they had more meaningful peer interactions with Latinos.

    Blacks and Latinos do buy more movie tickets than their white counterparts, but studio execs are going to have to better school themselves on how to reach these important, lucrative audiences. If Hollywood manages to do that, it might profit from those ethnic audiences that are going to be discriminating about how they spend their movie money.
    Comment:  Blacks and Latinos buy more tickets but star in fewer movies. There goes the "bottom line" argument that Hollywood cares only about making money.

    Fact is that studios are biased against minorities in general and ignorant about Indians in particular. White executives make movies about white people because that's who they know. Which is another way of saying the system is racist.

    In other words, "better school themselves" is code for "get over their racial bias for white people like themselves and see our multicultural country as it really is."

    Many minorities on TV?

    "Justin" posted this comment on Facebook:I dont know. I guess I agree about the Latin not being represented but it's been along time since I've seen a movie or television show without black people and black American culture represented.It's true that most movies and TV shows include minorities, Justin. That's a measure of how far we've come. But minorities are 36% of the US population, but take only 20-25% of the acting slots. And virtually none of the starring roles. That's a measure of how far we have to go.

    Especially when it comes to Native actors, of course.

    For more on the subject, see "Bottom Line" Argument Is Racist and Patel's Struggle Shows Hollywood's Racism.

    Latin American Native children's films

    Here's an impressively long list of movies, cartoons, and videos. The annotations are excellent, and the reviewer isn't afraid to say what's good or bad. Based on the few items I've seen, you can trust the reviewer's opinion.

    Below are some capsule reviews of movies you may be familiar with:

    Cartoons and Kids' Movies featuring Indians of Central and South AmericaThe Emperor's New Groove  [four arrows]

    This entertaining comedy could have taken place anywhere, and at any time--or at least, wherever there is a bratty emperor threatening to demolish peasant lands to build a royal swimming pool. John Goodman is the peasant Pacha who befriends the emperor (David Spade) who has been turned into a llama. The film shows very little of Incan culture except for the wonderful backgrounds, which creatively play upon motifs of Incan art and architecture. Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton also provide voices, and Sting wrote an original song for this film, which came out the same year as the very similar The Road to El Dorado. The sequel, Kronk's New Groove (2005), besides showing the usual decline in quality you'd expect from a sequel, sheds the Incan theme altogether--it could pass for an episode of The Flintstones.

    The Road to El Dorado  [three arrows]

    Tulio and Miguel are a couple of Spanish con artists (played by Kevin Klein and Kenneth Branaugh) who flee from the police by jumping on a boat which takes them to the New World. There they try to convince the locals that they are gods, aided by the curvaceous theif Chel (Rosie Perez). Taking advantage of tensions between the emperor (Edward James Olmos) and the religious leader (Armand Assante), the two rogues manage to put an end to human sacrifice while also scoring a treasure of gold. The humor works principally through an annoyingly contemporary sarcasm, expressed through Tulio and Miguel's cliche buddy-banter. The voices, facial expressions, and gestures are all reproduced with slavish accuracy to 1990s pop culture, leaving little screentime for Mayan culture. However, the background artwork sumptuous--the architecture, artifacts, jungles, and costumes are all so beautiful that no one should mind the historical inaccuracies. And the special effects (if that is the right term when discussing animation) used for the magic sequences are also impressive. This film came out the same year as Disney's The Emperor's New Groove. Although Disney's Incan cartoon is funnier, Dreamwork's Mayan adventure sports better artwork, and will probably appeal more to fans of Indian culture.

    Machu Picchu Post  [five arrows]

    A boy and his llama wait for the postal airplane to arrive in Machu Picchu. When the airplane wanders into a cloud, it comes under the control of the boy's imagination. A French production, but without words. Available on its own website or on Youtube.
    Comment:  Many of these are available online. Others are on DVD in Spanish or English. Check them out if you have a chance.

    For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies and Native Videos and Cartoons.

    Cornwallis school to be renamed

    Aboriginals Jubilant as Halifax School Deletes ‘Cornwallis’ from NameHe founded a town and then put a bounty on the Mi’kmaq. Now, more than 250 years later, aboriginal students will no longer have to attend a school bearing his name.

    In 1752 Edward Cornwallis, one of the founders of Halifax, Nova Scotia, issued an order that all Mi’kmaq people be scalped and killed in response to Native attacks on European settlements in a “veritable genocide,” according to Postmedia News. And on June 22 the Halifax Regional School Board voted unanimously to choose a new name, to be chosen by the community at a later date.

    The change was proposed by Mi’kmaq school board member Kirk Arsenault, who said, “Edward Cornwallis is deeply offensive to members of our Mi’kmaq communities and to Nova Scotians generally who believe school names should recognize persons whose contributions to society are unblemished by acts repugnant to the values we wish our schools to embody and represent,” according to Postmedia News. He called the board’s vote “an exercise in healing and of education.”

    However, not everyone saw it as a plus. Jack Granatstein, a historian with the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute, told the Canadian Press that the move devalues history.

    “It’s inevitably rewriting history,” he said. “It’s saying, ‘Our values today are the only ones that should apply, therefore we can’t use the name of someone who had different values 300 years ago.’”

    But Mi’kmaq elder and author Daniel Paul, who started pushing for name changes throughout town 25 years ago, called the move proactive, The Chronicle Herald reported, since those ‘different values’ were that Cornwallis offered to pay 10 pounds for every Mi’kmaq scalp.
    Comment:  Granatstein questions whether "our values today are the only ones that should apply." Really? Why wouldn't you apply today's values when naming today's schools? Should we name a school for Genghis Khan or Vlad Tepes (Dracula) because their contemporaries approved their actions.

    For more on the subject, see Removing the Cornwallis References.

    Below:  "Cornwallis Junior High School will be renamed so that its moniker will not reflect the Halifax founder, who put a bounty on Mi'kmaq scalps in the 1700s."

    Bears player speaks to Passamaquoddy kids

    Chicago Bears player shares stories with Passamaquoddy children

    By Sharon KileyDozens of Passamaquoddy Tribe families gathered in the reservation’s community building to hear Levi Horn, a 6-foot, 7-inch, 315-pound guard with the Chicago Bears talk about drug and alcohol abuse and perseverance.

    Horn’s appearance was part of an effort by Passamaquoddy Gov. Chief Joseph Socabasin and his council to provide positive role models for the reservation’s 200-plus children under age 18.

    “One hundred percent of our children here have been affected in some fashion by drug and alcohol abuse,” Socabasin said Friday night. Socabasin’s own father, who died when the chief was just 8 years old, was an alcoholic, he said. “You can go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting here on the reservation and find at least 60 people—and those are the ones that are recovering.”

    Horn, who is of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, is from Spokane, Wash. Horn signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Bears just before players were locked out by NFL owners this year. He was raised by his mother and said his father was an alcoholic.
    Comment:  For more on football players and Native kids, see Native Vision Sports Camp in Shiprock and San Carlos Apache ASU Football Camp.

    June 24, 2011

    Bigfoot part of Indian country

    Looking for Bigfoot in Indian Country

    By Michelle TiradoLong before this elusive creature became part of popular American folklore—we’re talking hundreds, if not thousands, of years—his presence had been accepted by North American tribes. Most had a name for him. The Lakota called him “Chiye-tanka,” the Chippewa, “Djeneta” and the Seminole, “Ssti capcaki.” Then, of course, there is “Sasquatch,” derived from the Salish in the Pacific Northwest. Depending on the tribe, he was regarded as a physical being, as real as any human, or a spirit that often manifested on Earth as a friend, never a foe, to mankind.

    David Paulides, executive director of North America Bigfoot Search in Los Gatos, Calif., and author of the book Tribal Bigfoot, says Bigfoot has a firm place in many tribal cultures as “Keeper of the Forest” or “Keeper of the Earth.” “It’s someone that they’ve always revered, respected, admired and at times even traded with,” he says.

    Paulides, a retired police officer, spent two years on the Hoopa Valley Indian Tribe’s reservation to investigate Bigfoot sightings. His work there, published in a book titled The Hoopa Project, entailed talking to hundreds of witnesses, people from three different tribes in the region and people who had to sign affidavits before recounting their experiences. He brought in the best forensic artist he could find—Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho) with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation—who generated what Paulides describes as a “stunning” sketch based on the witnesses’ accounts.

    Paulides came away from the Hoopa reservation with the conclusion there was something very real there, not any form of myth. “Everyone we talked to said it was human, and they related it as a type of tribal group. It was someone that they communicated with.”
    Comment:  The arguments against the existence of Bigfoot are obvious. Where are the bodies and bones? The droppings? The refuse from meals? The footprints? The traces of blood and hair? The sightings on the ground? And from the air?

    Sure, people have claimed to find some of these things. But there should be hundreds if not thousands of examples from recent history. What's the explanation for this missing evidence: that Bigfoot is clever enough to hide its existence from 300 million Americans and their cutting-edge technology?

    The Patterson-Gimlin film (below) has generated reams of analyses by itself. On the one hand, some people who knew Patterson have called him a liar and a conman. A costume company has claimed it provided a gorilla suit and a man claimed he wore it. On the other hand, some scientists say a human couldn't have moved the way Bigfoot did. And some filmmakers say they couldn't duplicate the film without a great effort.

    For more on the subject, see Sasquatch Exhibit in Washington Museum and Bigfoot in Popular Culture.

    Below:  "This is a scene from the controversial Patterson-Gimlin film of a sasquatch, or bigfoot, taken in 1967 in California. Many critics called the film a hoax despite the fact that leading special effects experts were unable to figure out how the film could have been so brilliantly faked. Protracted analysis of the film has shown that no human being could possibly duplicate either the proportions of the film's subject or its specific patterns of movement. Footprints found at the scene were so deep and far apart over rough terrain that they could only have been made by an agile, powerful animal weighing six hundred pounds. The Indians of the Pacific Northwest have known of sasquatch for many generations: a pre-Columbian sculpture of a sasquatch foot from Lillooet, B.C., conforms closely to modern forensic footprint evidence. While no living specimen has been collected by western scientists, the preponderance of biological and carefully analyzed photographic evidence makes it clear that an undiscovered two-legged giant primate stalks the Pacific forests of North America."

    Lakota photo mural in NYC

    Native American Mural Goes Up at Houston Street Wall

    By Patrick HedlundA mural paying tribute to Native American culture went up at the famed Houston Street graffiti wall Thursday, marking the latest artistic iteration to grace the massive canvas.

    The piece, a poster entitled "Lakota, North Dakota," is the work of French street artist JR as part of his Inside Out Project, a participatory exhibition that encourages people to paste large-scale black-and-white portraits in public places.

    The mural depicts a massive black and white close-up of a person's squinting eyes with paint daubed on the forehead, temples and cheeks.

    The new work aims to highlight the Standing Rock and Pineridge Native Reservations, "some of the most important Native American reservations whose impoverished and forgotten communities have suffered unspeakable hardships," according to a statement.
    Comment:  Last time I talked about the Inside Out Project, I praised its approach. Namely, a mix of old and new photos, set in the context of the reservation.

    This photo mural isn't like that. It's a single image, so you have to discern its meaning from it alone. The New York setting doesn't suggest the Standing Rock or Pine Ridge (not Pineridge) reservations. The paint doesn't look like typical warpaint; indeed, my first impression is that someone slathered it onto the mural.

    All in all, this image doesn't say "Indian" to me. I'm not sure if the person is alive or dead, with his eyes open or closed. I'd call it a failure--even worse than the poster-style billboards I criticized.

    Peruvian actress sings in Quechua

    Rise of Indigenous Actress Marks Change In Peru

    By Annie MurphyIn 2009, when the Peruvian film The Milk of Sorrow won top honors at the Berlin Film Festival, lead actress Magaly Solier did something surprising—she chose to accept the award by singing a song in Quechua, a common indigenous language of Peru.

    Indigenous people make up more than half of Peru's population and about half of Peruvians live in poverty, yet it has long been run by a small elite. But that's beginning to change as Solier and others with indigenous roots move into the cultural and political spotlight.
    And:In The Milk of Sorrow, Solier plays a young modern day Peruvian woman affected by the same rural violence Solier grew up with. The plot centers on the belief of some Peruvians that campesina—or peasant—women who were raped during Peru's armed conflict could pass their fear on to children through their breast milk. Solier's character is one of those children.

    The role catapulted Solier into a successful international career, and her singing in the film led to a professional career in music.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

    June 23, 2011

    Disasters = imbalance in nature?

    Disasters signal imbalance in the natural world

    By Alastair Lee BitsoiTraditional Navajo medicine people view the world's most recent natural disasters, including the human-caused Wallow Fire and other raging wildland fires throughout the U.S., as Mother Nature's warnings of the imbalanced state of the natural world.

    "One of the things that are important to life is being in balance with nature," said Avery Denny, a traditional Navajo practitioner and faculty member at Diné College, who also identified the exploitation of natural resources as one of the main reasons for the natural world's imbalance.

    "In the natural world, we have the Holy People," Denny said. "The four elements of life--fire, air, water and earth are the Diyin Dine'é. We have to learn to respect them or else a natural disaster occurs."
    Comment:  Only problem with this belief is that there's been a steady stream of natural disasters since the beginning of time. Including several mass extinctions, meteor strikes, ice ages, and so forth. I'm pretty sure those weren't caused by humans starting fires, chopping down trees, or digging up the earth.

    I think scientists believe global warming has increased the volatility of hurricanes and other storms. On the other hand, I think we've had a quiet couple of decades in terms of volcanic eruptions. And we're overdo for a big earthquake in California.

    Remember Krakatoa in 1883? If you count the number of natural disasters, I'm not sure things are any worse than than they were 10, 50, or 100 years ago. I'm guessing they're about the same.

    For more on the subject, see Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change and Review of Koyaanisqatsi.

    Below:  "A mule deer looks for forage to eat as flames light up the night June 9 in Greer, Ariz." (Donovan Quintero/Special to the Times)

    Scalia ignorant of Indian law

    A Conversation with a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

    By Steven T. NewcombAt a reception, I had an opportunity to talk with Justice Scalia. After saying hello and telling him my name, I asked: “I wonder if you might have ever read my law review article ‘The Evidence of Christian Nationalism in Federal Indian Law.’”

    “No, what’s it about?” he responded.

    I told him my article is about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh from 1823, a decision in which the Court said that the first “Christian people” to “discover” lands inhabited by “natives, who were heathens” have the right to assume the “ultimate dominion” over and title to the lands of the so-called “heathens.”

    Given that Johnson v. M’Intosh was decided on the basis of the doctrine of discovery rather than the U.S. Constitution, I asked him how his guiding legal philosophy of “Constitutional Originalism” would relate to the Johnson decision. I asked him if the Court might ever consider overturning the decision.

    Scalia said it was impossible to imagine an issuing ever coming up that would require the Court to address such a ruling; he also claimed in the same breath, however, that he had never heard of Johnson v. McIntosh. “I’ve never heard of it. I’ve never read it,” he said. He also said he’d never heard of the doctrine of discovery.
    Comment:  Wow, this is revealing. Scalia seems to be totally ignorant of the foundations of Indian law. I gather he's cribbing his "reasoning" from elsewhere or making it up out of thin air.

    Now that he's admitted he's ignorant of Indian law, will he recuse himself from any case involving Indians? Don't count on it.

    For more on Scalia's stupidity, see Scalia Demands Written Records and Antonin Scalia:  Supreme Court Doofus.

    Ray gets "spiritual comeuppance"

    Verdict in self-help guru's sweat lodge trial stirs reaction among Native Americans

    By Jessica RavitzAmong those disappointed by the verdict is Valerie Taliman, a Navajo who serves as the West Coast editor for Indian Country Today Media Network.

    “He deserves to pay for the lives he took. Our prayers go out to the families who lost their loved ones because of his greed and wrongful exploitation. He had no right to create the false illusion that he had any connection to Native ceremonies,” she said in an e-mail sent Thursday. “He is a worst case example of charlatans selling spiritual snake oil.”

    She hopes that when jurors convene to pass down the sentencing, they’ll go as far as they can.

    “He took something we hold sacred and broke every rule we go by, then sold his desecrated version of our ceremonies to people that he actually profited from, then killed. I hope they make an example of him and give him the maximum sentence," Taliman said.

    "According to our teachings, what he’s done to these people will come back on him over a lifetime," she added. "Let’s see how spiritually grounded he is now.”
    Comment:  Other Natives in the article said similar things. And I heard similar things on Facebook. But Taliman said it best, so I'm quoting her.

    For more on the subject, see Ray Guilty of Negligent Homicide and Ray Misused Native Teachings.

    SEEK to warn against New Agers

    Nonprofit to serve as voice of sweat lodge victim

    By Felicia FonsecaIn hindsight, the family of a woman who died in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony said the red flags were obvious--nearly $10,000 for a weeklong retreat with no refunds led by a self-help author who employed high-pressure sales tactics and had people sign away the risk of serious injury and death.

    Kirby Brown's family wants to make sure no one else is put in that situation again. They have formed a nonprofit group to help others avoid the kind of tragedy that unfolded at a 2009 retreat nestled among the Red Rocks of Sedona.
    And:The group that Brown's family formed, called SEEK, or Self-help Empowerment through Education and Knowledge, cites market studies in estimating that the self-help industry generates $10.5 billion a year. Its intent is to educate people on how to choose a self-help guru, a motivational speaker or a coach through basic questions: What's the refund policy? What are the leader's credentials? Are safety measures in place for physical activities?

    Ray used free seminars to lure people to more expensive events such as the five-day "Spiritual Warrior." He conducted the sweat lodge for several years in Sedona, the center of the new-age movement where practitioners believe they draw energy from the surrounding Red Rocks and various vortexes to heal others.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Ray Guilty of Negligent Homicide and Ray Misused Native Teachings.

    June 22, 2011

    US condemned Indians to diabetes

    I've talked before about how forcing Indians onto reservations resulted in poverty, crime, and disease. Most of the time this connection is nebulous, since no one kept good statistics on Indians until recently.

    But here are some modern cases where the linkage is direct and clear. The US destroyed centuries of health and nutrition habits and basically compelled Indians to eat poorly. The results were predictably bad.

    A Dam Brings a Flood of Diabetes to Three Tribes

    By Lisa JonesHerbert Wilson arrived on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota in 1954. A Vermont-bred 33-year-old, fresh from Harvard with a tour as a bombardier in World War II and a stint in the Coast Guard, Wilson arrived in the tiny town of Elbowoods to serve as the sole doctor for three tribes that had spent the years since white colonization the same way they had spent the preceding centuries—raising corn, beans and squash in the fertile floodplain of the Missouri River. “Very few people were overweight,” recalled Dr. Wilson. “There was no welfare, no commodity food, and did I mention there was no diabetes?”

    But even as Wilson and his wife unloaded their four small children and cat from their 1946 Hudson sedan, the disease that has become the scourge of Native American health was on its way. It was coming in the form of water—the recently constructed Garrison Dam was destined to flood that town and seven other Native communities strung along a 30-mile stretch of the Missouri River, which meant the resident Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people had to move to high, barren ground, processed food and a five-decade descent into obesity, hypertension, kidney disease and diabetes. Ironically, the flood would drown the only hospital the reservation has ever had.

    As dramatic as it is, their story differs from that of other tribes only in the details. Native Americans in the United States have become 2.2 times more likely to develop diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. And they have all gotten there in pretty much the same way—they lost their land, became sedentary, consumed cheap and unhealthy food, and received worse health care than any other group of people in the country.
    And:Set against the bleak statistical landscape of American Indian health, the diabetes upsurge on Fort Berthold isn’t unique, severe or even surprising. Nationwide, 16.3 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives are diagnosed with diabetes and are three times more likely to die of diabetes than non-Indians. Researchers opened their eyes to the phenomenon back in 1963, when a group of them traveled to the Pima reservation in Arizona looking for data on rheumatoid arthritis and stumbled upon an “extremely high rate of diabetes,” according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. So they returned to study that instead.

    The Pima Indians thrived for centuries on corn, beans and squash they raised on the banks of the Gila River. They also gathered a huge variety of wild plants, and trapped game and birds. In the 1860s, they grew enough wheat that they could sell—5 million pounds to the U.S. government for the Civil War effort, according to Gregory McNamee, author of Gila: The Life and Death of an American River. A few years after that, white farmers upstream, especially the Mormon colony at Safford, diverted their water supply so much that by 1872 the Pima couldn’t feed themselves. The tribe appealed to the farmers without success, and then went to D.C., to talk to President Ulysses S. Grant. He suggested that the Pima move to Oklahoma. They declined.

    In 1900, there was perhaps one recorded case of diabetes among the Pima. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Gila was altered by more dams and diversions to funnel water into growing cities like Phoenix, and the Pima’s already depleted farming enterprises shrank further. And the people got fat. Really fat. They are, in fact, among the fattest people in the world.
    Comment:  If these actions don't qualify as genocidal, they're not far from it. The US acted with depraved indifference to the Indians' health. It didn't care if they lived or died. If their lifespans were shortened by 10 or 20 years, well, so what?

    Government supersized Indians

    It's roughly like condemning someone to the diet in the documentary Super Size Me:Spurlock dined at McDonald's restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the chain's menu. Spurlock consumed an average of 20.92 megajoules or 5,000 kcal (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment.

    As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 24½ lbs. (11.1 kg), a 13% body mass increase, a cholesterol level of 230, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation in his liver. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his experiment with a special vegan detox diet supervised by his future wife, who was a chef specializing in vegan dishes and gourmet.
    To reiterate the outcome, it took a highly motivated individual 14 months to undo one month of bad eating habits. It required a chef specializing in vegan dishes to prepare a special vegan detox diet. Needless to say, most Indians don't have access to gourmet chefs.

    For more on the Fort Berthold situation, see Al Jazeera to Visit Fort Berthold and Review of Waterbuster. For more on health issues, see "Res-Love" = Abuse and Alcoholism and Spirit Level Is Low in US.

    Below:  "Lake Sakakawea, created when the Garrison Dam was built in the 1940s and 1950s, flooded the towns of Elbowoods, Sanish and Van Hook, as well as the rich farmlands surrounding them. Signs near the dam show the lake and its relationship to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation."

    Ray guilty of negligent homicide

    Self-help guru convicted in Arizona sweat lodge deaths

    A jury finds James Arthur Ray guilty of negligent homicide in the 2009 deaths of three clients. One victim's family plans a watchdog group to monitor the self-help industry.

    By Nicholas Riccardi
    A jury in Arizona convicted a bestselling author and self-help guru Wednesday in the deaths of three clients during a sweat lodge ceremony in 2009 that was intended to help participants overcome adversity to reach their full potential.

    After hearing four months of testimony, the eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for fewer than 12 hours before finding James Arthur Ray guilty of three counts of negligent homicide.

    The panel acquitted Ray of the more serious charges of manslaughter.

    Wearing a dark jacket and dress shirt in the Camp Verde courtroom, Ray sat silently during the televised proceedings, his face breaking into relief when the manslaughter charges were rejected. He became grimmer when the clerk announced that the jury had convicted him of the lesser charges.

    Prosecutors argued that Ray was criminally negligent in subjecting Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman and James Shore to life-threatening conditions, and that he deserved prison for their deaths. They played a recording of him urging participants to ignore their bodies' signs of distress during what he called a "hellacious" event.
    Comment:  As Nelson says on The Simpsons: "Haw haw!"

    Ray got what he deserved. I was thinking manslaughter, but it's hard to get around the signed waivers. Negligent homicide sounds good too.

    My main wish was to take Ray out of circulation and warn people against other New Age charlatans. This verdict does that.

    For more on the subject, see Sweat Lodge Trial Begins and Ray Charged with Manslaughter.