November 30, 2011

Mascot foes want to destroy Lakota?!

Activist joins nickname defenders

Marilyn Schoenberg plans to help with petition drive, recruiting helpers

By Chuck HagaAs Fighting Sioux nickname supporters at the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux reservations prepare to launch their petition drive to force a statewide vote on the issue, they’re reaching out for help from people like Marilyn Schoenberg, 63, of Hebron, N.D.

The retired teacher and frequent activist on social issues is not American Indian and has no direct connection to UND. But she has been to Standing Rock “about 10 times” in the past two years to confer with Archie Fool Bear and other nickname supporters, most recently about circulating petitions in the southwestern part of the state.

The Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe and its pro-nickname Committee for Understanding and Respect, supported by Fool Bear and others at Standing Rock, announced two weeks ago that they would seek a referendum on the Legislature’s repeal of a law mandating UND’s continued use of the name and logo.

The nickname supporters said they also plan to seek a constitutional amendment to carve the Fighting Sioux name and logo firmly into state law, and they have solicited volunteer and financial help through the committee’s website,
Are you really an activist if you're trying to protect the status quo from change? Anyway, here's more on Schoenberg the so-called activist:She attended State Board of Higher Education meetings, spoke for the nickname during hearings at the Legislature, and drafted and circulated a support petition in Hebron. She also wrote a letter to several newspapers citing “seven reasons to support the nickname.”

First among those reasons, she said, was respect for tradition.

“My mother was a member of the State Historical Society,” she said. “She was of the Germans from Russia, and we had such marvelous reunions because of the pride we have in how our ancestors came over from Russia and left everything behind but made a new life here.

“Now they (nickname opponents) are trying to destroy the tradition and pride of the Sioux people,” which she believes are reflected in and honored by UND’s nickname and logo.
Comment:  The aptly named CUR committee is slinking through the slime of ugly arguments. It's trying to resurrect the dying "Fighting Sioux" mascot by fabricating the motivations of its opponents.

Yeah, hundreds of Native organizations and tens of thousands of Indians oppose the mascot because they hate the Lakota. Not because they've spent decades fighting every kind of racism and stereotyping against Indians, but because they want the Lakota weak, helpless, possibly dead and gone. There's no other conceivable reason, so that must be it.

That must be why these activists spent decades trying to eliminate the University of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek: to destroy the tradition and pride of the Illinois Indians. Even though 1) these Indians no longer exist; 2) their nearest relatives, the Peoria Indians of Oklahoma, opposed the mascot; and 3) the dancing clown in the chief's headdress had nothing to do with Illinois culture or history. Why do these activists hate Indians so much?!

This also explains why activists oppose Chief Wahoo and the Washington Redskins--because they're trying to destroy those venerable traditions. You know, the traditions of the Wahoo and Redskins tribes, two of the 565 federally recognized tribes. The actual Chief Wahoo and a bunch of nameless "dirty redskins" are rolling in their graves over the loss of their pride and dignity.

How stupid can you get? Have I mocked Schoenberg's ignorance and idiocy enough, or shall I go on?

For more on the Fighting Sioux, see NCAA Says No to N.D. Officials and Origin of "Fighting Sioux."


Like many comic-book creators, the multitalented Arigon Starr is eschewing print and taking her series to the Web. Actually, she's been producing it as a webcomic since September 27, 2010, but no one told me about it. She has a few dozen episodes online, so check it out:

Super Indian Comics

For more on the subject, see Sample SUPER INDIAN Covers and Making Progress on SUPER INDIAN.

World won't end in 2012?

New decoding of Mexico glyphs rules out apocalypseThe end is not near.

At least that's according to a German expert who says his decoding of a Mayan tablet suggests a reference to a 2012 date that others have cited as a possible end of the world rather denotes a transition to a new era.
Comment:  For more on 2012, see Maya End Date = Oct. 28 and Mexico Seeks "2012" Tourism.

November 29, 2011

Tipis in the Occupy movement

Occupy Oakland's Battle of the Teepee

By Bob PattersonOn the afternoon of Tuesday, November 29, 2011, Lone Wolf, a Native American, was initially thwarted in an effort to erect a teepee on Frank Ogawa Plaza, site of the Occupy Oakland protest.

After repeated conferences between protesters, a lawyer, police and city officials a permit was issued for a teepee to be erected adjacent to the Plaza with restrictions.
Occupy Lincoln's tipi was a safety concern for city

By Jordan PascaleLincoln police, the city and Occupy Lincoln have smoothed over concerns about an 18-foot tipi erected at the encampment on Centennial Mall last week.

On Saturday, police asked for it to be taken down because they didn't want it to blow over on someone during the gusty weekend.

Police Chief Jim Peschong said he was concerned because of the size.

"We'd hate to have the large wooden poles crash onto a pedestrian or another tent," he said.

The three groups met for a half hour Monday, and Occupy Lincoln assured officials the tipi is safe because it is anchored in the middle and the canvas is staked down.

"It's impossible to tip that cone over," said owner Bill Hawkins, who has set up his tipi at the Nebraska State Fair, schools and other community events. "These things survived prairie winters and plains winds for hundreds of years."
Comment:  I imagine the tipis symbolize the obvious connection between Wall Street controlling the American economy and WASPs controlling the American landscape.

For more on Indians and the Occupy movement, see Occupiers Join National Day of Mourning and Occupy Denver Joins Columbus Protest.

Below:  "Lone Wolf starts work on teepee constructed adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza."

Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run

Today is the 147th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. Here's what's happening to mark this solemn occasion:

A Different View of History

By Carol BerryChief White Antelope Way was a noted Cheyenne peace chief, one of 11 leaders who died November 29, 1864 in a camp on Sand Creek in the high plains grassland of southeastern Colorado that probably looks today much as it did then, historian David Halaas, said.

The encampment was “very much a chief’s camp,” according to Halaas, who said that 11 leaders were among those promised safety by Colorado officials—a promise that proved lethal.

The 13th Annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run began from the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site, near Chivington, Colorado, early Thanksgiving Day to commemorate some 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people—mostly women, children and the elderly—who were killed in a sneak attack by the 700-strong Colorado cavalry under Army Col. John Chivington.
And:In Denver, prayers were offered at a medicine wheel-like sculpture by Cheyenne/Arapaho artist Edgar Heap of Birds that carries the message, “We are always returning back again.” Ceremonies were conducted at places connected to the death of Capt. Silas Soule, 1st Colorado Cavalry, who refused Chivington’s order to fire and who later was killed in Denver, apparently by a Chivington supporter.

At Colorado’s capitol, State Sen. Suzanne Williams represented Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in proclaiming November 20–24, 2011 as Sand Creek Massacre Healing Run/Walk and Remembrance Days. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock proclaimed November 24–26 the 13th Annual Sand Creek Massacre Run/Walk Days and the Medicine Heart Singers sang an honor song for him.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians Left Out at National Parks and The Three Anti-Indian Amigos.

Below:  "In feathered headdress, Reginald Killsnight, Northern Cheyenne, addressed those who attended a ceremony at the capitol in Denver, Colorado at the end of the 13th annual Sand Creek Massacre Healing Run." (Carol Berry)

"Native American foods" on Jeopardy

Jeopardy must have an arrangement with the National Museum of the American Indian. Continuing their collaboration, the game show featured a Double Jeopardy category on "Native American Foods" Monday (airdate: 11/28/11).

For once the category wasn't left till the end. That may be because one contestant, a park ranger who presumably knows about Indians, led off with it.

And surprisingly, the clues weren't all easy. Here's how it went, with my paraphrases of the "answers."

$400:  Indians ground acorns for this purpose.

Answer:  Thickener.

Degree of difficulty:  Medium.

$800:  The third of the "three sisters."

Answer:  Squash.

Degree of difficulty:  Medium.

$1200:  A war was named after this "meat and berry staple."

Answer:  Pemmican.

Degree of difficulty:  Medium.

$1600:  Salmon is cooked on a plank of this wood.

Answer:  Cedar.

(This is the second time they've asked a question involving salmon. Either they're fond of it or they lack imaginations.)

Degree of difficulty:  Easy.

$2000:  Couscous substitute grown in the Andes.

Answer:  Quinoa.

Degree of difficulty:  Medium.

Four medium-hard questions doesn't sound like much, but the previous shows had questions that were almost all easy. So this is the best Jeopardy yet in terms of quality questions.

For more on Jeopardy, see NMAI on Jeopardy and "Native American tribes" on Jeopardy.

Foxwoods partners with Mystic Aquarium

Foxwoods and Mystic Aquarium Partner in Marketing Deal

By Gale Courey ToensingTwo of the most famous tourist attractions in southeastern Connecticut have entered a unique partnership that will help raise awareness—and, it is hoped, the number of visitors—to each facility and to the area.

Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mystic Aquarium announced in a press release Nov. 22 that they have entered an innovative sponsorship agreement, The agreement will focus on marketing, co-branding and “mutually beneficial cross-promotion,” the release says.

The agreement will give Foxwoods prominent branding and signage at the aquarium, with Foxwoods gaining naming rights to the Mystic Aquarium’s 1,200-seat Marine Theater. The Mystic Aquarium will also feature Foxwoods in its marketing, advertising and media outreach initiatives.
Comment:  For more on Foxwoods, see Spider-Man Pays Off for Foxwoods and "Foxwoods Final Five" Advertising Deal.

PEACE PARTY political cartoon:  Twilight

Comment:  For more on the Twilight, see "Multi-ethnic" Jones on Twilight and Gyasi Ross on Breaking Dawn.

November 28, 2011

Robinson speaks for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters Draft Basketball Star Tahnee Robinson as Spokesperson

By Brian DaffronMany recognize Tahnee Robinson for playing guard for the University of Nevada and for being the first American Indian to be drafted by the WNBA. However, these accomplishments may not have happened if it wasn’t for her coaches and parents serving as her mentors. Now, Robinson has a chance to serve as a mentor by being the official spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).

“Mentoring is about putting a child on a path to success and giving kids the power to believe that they can achieve their dreams,” Robinson said in a statement released by BBBS. “While I was fortunate enough to count my parents as my true mentors, I will always do whatever it takes to make sure kids have the mentorship and tools they deserve, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization does that better than anyone.”

Comment:  For more on Tahnee Robinson, see Tahnee Robinson Is Sullivan Award Finalist and WNBA Drafts 1st "Full-Blooded" Native.

PEACE PARTY political cartoon:  pepper spray

Comment:  For more on the Occupy movement, see Occupiers Join National Day of Mourning and Occupy Toronto Exposes Anti-Indian Racism.

Americans support tribal sovereignty

Zogby Poll Finds Support for Tribal Sovereignty

By Rob CapricciosoResults from a new poll by the IBOPE Zogby International polling firm indicate that an overwhelming majority of the American public supports tribal sovereignty—the well-established concept that tribes have the right to govern themselves.

The poll, released in mid-November, found that 88 percent of the U.S. public supports a component of sovereignty for Native American tribes. The survey found that the overwhelming majority of respondents supported honoring longstanding treaties between the government and tribes.
Comment:  The survey was commissioned by the Native American Lending Alliance (NALA), which represents tribal payday loan companies. These companies are in trouble with the law for (mis)using sovereignty to shield themselves from scrutiny. That makes the survey's findings a little suspect.

For more on tribal sovereignty, see Cherokee Nation Risks Everyone's Treaties and "Rent-a-Tribe" Payday Loan Companies.

November 27, 2011

"Alien" skull may be deformed Indian's

"Alien Skull" Found in Peru is Most Likely a Hoax

By Julie KentThe so-called "alien skull" recently discovered in Peru might not be so alien after all. The skeletal structure features an oversized, triangular-shaped skull nearly as large as the being's small body, which have led many to conclude that it is not human and must therefore be an alien being from another planet. But even the man who discovered the remains insists that it is a human child with some type of deformity and not extraterrestrial life.
And:The scientific community has long hypothesized that if alien life exists, it is unlikely to look similar to humans. Critics of the "alien skull" theory say that the skull could be that of a hydrocephalic child or a tribal member that underwent tribal rituals that involved skull modification, an ancient practice dating back thousands of years.

Artificial cranial deformation has been practices as far back as 45,000 BC when it was seen in Neanderthal skulls. It's also been traced back to the Proto-Neolithic Homo sapiens from the 12th millennium BCE. Ritual cranial deformation typically begins just after the birth of a child and over the course of the next few years until the desired shape is reached or the child rejects the apparatus used for modification. The practice was generally done to signify group affiliation or to demonstrate social status.

The recently discovered Peruvian skull has some similarities with skulls from the Andean Paracas culture. These skulls were deformed artificially.
Comment:  People want to believe that indigenous cultures are "alien." It frees the believers from 1) treating the cultures as equals and 2) feeling guilty over their past and present destruction.

For more on the subject, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom.

Below:  "Artificially deformed skulls from the Andean Paracas culture."

Adam Beach's defining role?

Arctic Air flies into CBC-TV winter season

Comedian Gerry Dee, Dragon Kevin O'Leary featured in new shows

By Susan Noakes
In Arctic Air, Beach plays Bobby Martin, part owner of a small, family-run airline that serves communities in the North.

"He's very much a real guy that's trying to do good, but gets himself in these predicaments that build chaos," Beach said. Bobby crashes a plane in one episode and tries to sell one to raise some cash in another.
And:Beach's previous roles have included films such as Flags of Our Fathers and Cowboys & Aliens, as well as TV shows like Law & Order: SVU and Big Love. However, he's put his career in Los Angeles aside for now. He embraced the Arctic Air role when Ian Weir, producer of the Asian gang miniseries Dragon Boys, approached him with the project.

"This probably will define my career, because of my character, because of me being from Canada and a show that is going to be nationally accepted and viewed as a new demographic for Canadian television," he said.
Comment:  For more on Adam Beach, see Beach's Inspiring Spirits Tour and Adam Beach in Arctic Air.

Below:  "Adam Beach, shown in the foreground alongside co-star Pascale Hutton, has put aside his Hollywood career to work on Arctic Air." (CBC)

PEACE PARTY political cartoon:  costumes

Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party" Canceled and "PocaHotAss" Party Canceled.

November 26, 2011

"Thick dark fog" = PTSD

New Documentary Tracks Cultural Genocide of American Indians

By Rose AguilarA new documentary, "The Thick Dark Fog," shines a light on the traumatic boarding school experience through the telling of personal stories. The film focuses on Walter Littlemoon, a Lakota who was forced to attend a federal government boarding school on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the 1950s. Littlemoon says his culture, language and spirituality were brutally suppressed.

"The government school had tried to force me to forget the Lakota language and I wouldn't do it," he says in the film. "We had a deep sense of preservation for our culture, so we would go and hide in order to speak Lakota. If we got caught, they were allowed to beat us with whatever they could, but we took that chance. The Lakota language is something that comes from deep inside of you. It comes from how you look at things and how you see things."

"The Thick Dark Fog" profiles Walter's healing process and attempt to reclaim his heritage. "It wasn't until my sixtieth year that I began to realize that there was more to me. Something was missing. It was like I was a nonbeing," he says. "I didn't know the medical words of multigenerational trauma or the complex post-traumatic stress disorder, so I called the problem what I felt it to be: the thick dark fog."

One of the film's more haunting moments provides a montage of excerpts of interviews with Indians describing their boarding school experiences:"We had all our clothes taken from us."

"I remember always going to bed hungry."

"We were being punished, but none of us really knew why."

"It wasn't punishment. It was beatings. You'd put your hands down and they'd slam the desk down on your hands. They'd take you downstairs and make you kneel down on either a broom handle or a pencil."

"Soap. That's what she used to wash my mouth. I'll never forget the burning, the choking, the helplessness, the fading out that I went through."
American Indian Film Festival Honors ‘The Thick Dark Fog’

By Stephanie WoodardAn important part of Littlemoon’s journey was figuring out why he experienced alternating flashbacks and sensations of numbness—which he called the “thick dark fog.” After consulting a Harvard Medical School psychological-trauma expert, Littlemoon learned he was suffering from Complex Post Traumatic Stress, which arises from childhood ordeals. Once his fear had a name, he could fight it and win, he said. Littlemoon hoped others would take courage from his discovery and wage their own battles against the debilitating effects of the residential institutions.

“Several younger people told me seeing the film helped them better understand their parents or grandparents,” said Littlemoon. “One guy was crying after the panel discussion and saying he now realized it was his boarding-school experience that had caused him to fight so much with his parents.”

The revelations weren’t confined to the Native community, according to Littlemoon: “A Japanese man who’d been imprisoned as a child in World War II concentration camps told me he could now explain to his children how that affected him. I felt the film had impact. We got our message out, and it felt good.”
Comment:  This shows how laughable the "get over it" school of thought is. Indians have suffered a long series of injustices, of which being kidnapped, brainwashed, and tortured in a boarding school is just one example. This produces stress akin to the stress suffered by US soldiers in Iraq, who are committing suicide in record numbers. Is anyone telling the soldiers to "just get over it"? Then why would anyone say that to Indians?

For more on intergenerational trauma, see Subtle Racism = Psychological Torture and Intergenerational Trauma = PTSD.

Below:  "Director Randy Vasquez, left, and Walter Littlemoon, Oglala Lakota, the subject of Vasquez's new film on the Native American boarding-school experience, shown at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, where the movie won Best Documentary Feature."

Black Hills billboard in Los Angeles

Black Hills Mural Going Up Today in Los AngelesToday, November 26, a mural about the violation of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty will be installed in Los Angeles on the famous “Barracuda wall” wall at the corner of Melrose and Fairfax. The image is a Shepard Fairey illustration based on a photograph by Aaron Huey, part of Huey’s Pine Ridge Billboard Project.

If you’re in L.A., the artists invite you to come by to see the project going up. For more information, visit Aaron Huey’s website, and to learn more about the history of broken promises, visit
Comment:  Once again I'm not crazy about Huey's billboard.

The image is striking, which is a start. But remember that people will see this at a glance from their moving cars. They may get that the central figure is an Indian boy. They may read and absorb the Black Hills message. They may think the circle of red rays has something to do with the Japanese. Or they may not.

What they won't get is anything else. What's the significance of the Black Hills? Where are these hills? Who's selling or not selling them and who's trying to buy them?

Also, how are you supposed to feel about the situation? Why should you care about it? Where can you go for more information?

I trust you see what I mean. The image doesn't convey much information, and doesn't move you to feel or act. If you printed the words in black on a plain white background, they might be just as effective. In other words, you might be intrigued enough to seek more information.

What does the structure on the left or the horsemen on the right have to do with the Black Hills? Who knows? The Indian boy appears before a relatively uninteresting background with no hills in sight. The message this sends is muddled at best.

For more on Huey's billboards, see Billboard Advocate Seeks Donations and Billboards to Raise Awareness of Indians.

Houma radio station

Houma Indian station hits airwaves

Tribal leaders see it as a way to communicate with members, especially during hurricanes.

By Nikki Buskey
United Houma Nation members can now turn their radio dials to a station of their own.

The American Indian tribe has launched a project years in the making, going on-air with its first radio station aimed at providing a place members can go for news during times of disaster, said Kirk Cheramie, station manager.

“It’s awesome,” said United Houma Nation Chief Thomas Dardar. “It’s going to give us the opportunity to reach our citizens with information and updates during a hurricane.”

The station went on the air three weeks ago as KUHN 88.9 FM, Voice of the United Houma Nation, Cheramie said. The signal, broadcast from the United Houma Nation tribal office in Golden Meadow, can only reach about 6 or 7 miles now, and residents of south Lafourche from Larose to Fourchon can pick it up, as well as residents of Pointe-aux-Chenes and Lafitte.

But tribal members anywhere in the world can also listen to the radio station online at the United Houma Nation’s website,
Comment:  For more on Native radio, see Thundercloud Radio and Native Voice 1 Celebrates 5th Anniversary.

PEACE PARTY political cartoon:  tax cuts

November 25, 2011

Occupiers join National Day of Mourning

In solidarity, Occupy group joins with Native Americans

By Brian R. BallouAbout 30 Occupy Boston protesters traveled from their encampment in Boston’s Financial District to join the National Day of Mourning here yesterday, lending their support to a Native American demonstration held each Thanksgiving.

The organizers of the event recognized the Occupy members, telling them Native Americans are participants in the same struggle.

“When a hand is reached out in friendship like that, we want to support in-kind,” said Mahtowin Monroe, an organizer with the United American Indians of New England who spoke to a crowd of about 200 assembled on Cole’s Hill, overlooking the Plymouth Rock tourist attraction.

“Their cause is really straightforward, as is ours: One percent of the population holds [much] of the wealth in this country, and people’s benefits are getting slashed and people are losing their homes,” said Moonanum James, co-chairman of the United American Indians of New England. “On our reservations, we are mired in the deepest poverty. The idea is to have some equality in this country . . . economic equality.”
Comment:  We've seen Indians and Occupiers find common cause in Occupy Denver Joins Columbus Protest. And Indians criticize Occupiers in Occupiers Aren't Decolonizers. I hope Indians continue to join the protests while critiquing them as needed.

For more on the Occupy movement, see Occupy Toronto Exposes Anti-Indian Racism and Indians Occupy Umatilla Tribal Center.

Below:  "Jeremy Harper (center) was one of a group of about 30 protesters from the Occupy Boston encampment who marched with the Day of Mourning gathering." (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

Occupy Toronto exposes anti-Indian racism

Occupy Toronto Opens Up Vein of Native Backlash

By Krystalline KrausSo the Canadian myth that we're all loving and polite people gets exposed again if you're non-white, non-Western or Indigenous.

I would say I have not been taken aback from the spate of anti-Indigenous commentary coming from the detractors of Occupy Toronto. It ain't pretty but it's real.

Not only does the #OccupyToronto Twitter stream get filled with comments from the trolls like @dannyswitzer who tweet of the willing First Nations participation in the Toronto movement as, "What else do you expect with Indians there? Has to be booze."

And that's one of the tamer comments, trust me, I simply don't have the heart to post the rest.

But here the public bears witness to the Indigenous backlash still overtly popular among the right-wing and covertly defended by a society that does not stand up to racism.

Think I'm worrying for nothing over words?

These words reflect a greater public trend of racism and neglect of care towards First Nations communities.

If Canadians want to proclaim that racism has been abolished and all is polite and well in Canada, then I ask why the Chief of the Attawapiskat reserve is currently begging the Ontario government to evacuate them from the "Third World" conditions they have been forced to live in for the past two years despite living in Canada.

Families there have been living in makeshift tents and shacks without heat, electricity and indoor plumbing; using buckets as washroom facilities.

The Government of Ontario, while acknowledging the state of emergency that Chief Theresa Spence declared on October 28, 2011, has no plans in place to renovate or build more housing, or as a last resort, temporarily evacuate residents to safer accommodations.
Comment:  For more on the Occupy movement, see Indians Occupy Umatilla Tribal Center and Will Rogers on Wall Street.

Indians oppose Buffalo Soldiers plates

Indian group objects to Buffalo Soldier plates

By Gary ScharrerFew of the specialty plates are controversial. Who could disparage the Texas bluebonnet?

A recent proposal to put a Confederate battle flag image on a license plate, however, provoked enough public backlash that the Department of Motor Vehicles board unanimously voted to reject it.

The board did approve a specialty license plate to recognize the Buffalo Soldiers, which formed in the late 1800s as part of the U.S. Cavalry that helped push this country's western expansion. The all-black cavalry helped fight Native Americans in the Indian Wars from 1867-1888.

Many Texas African-American leaders strongly opposed the Confederate flag license plate while supporting the Buffalo Soldiers recognition. The president of the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston sees considerable irony in African-American leaders appealing to Gov. Rick Perry to oppose the Confederate specialty plate, which they warned would remind black Americans of a legalized system of involuntary servitude, dehumanization, rape and mass murder.

"I feel the same way about the Buffalo Soldiers. When we see the U.S. Cavalry uniform, we are forced to relive an American holo­caust," said Steve Melendez, a member of the Paiute Nation of Pyramid Lake and president of the American Indian Genocide Museum. "I think they are well-intentioned, but the message they are giving to me is offensive."
Comment:  Texas's "God Bless America" plate is also objectionable since it violates the First Amendment prohibition against government establishing religion.

For more on license plates, see Oklahoma Plate Violates First Amendment? and California's Indian License Plate.

PEACE PARTY political cartoon:  Occupy

Comment:  For more on the Occupy movement, see Occupiers Join National Day of Mourning and Occupy Toronto Exposes Anti-Indian Racism.

November 24, 2011

42nd National Day of Mourning

First Thanksgiving an idyllic myth, Native Americans say

By Mike ClaryAs tens of millions of Americans prepare to stuff themselves silly Thursday to mark one of the year's major holidays, some Native Americans see the day as an idyllic myth meant to cloak outrageous acts of cultural imperialism.

"I don't think most people understand what they are celebrating," said Cherokee descendant Danielle Tschuschke, 19, who heads a Native American student group at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. "It is not a happy day for everyone."

Some Indian tribes around the nation mark the day as Un-Thanksgiving. In Massachusetts, where the Wampanoag greeted the colonists with tips on cold weather survival, the United American Indians of New England will hold its 42nd annual National Day of Mourning. The day is designed to "shatter the untrue glass image of the Pilgrims and the unjust system based on racism, sexism, homophobia and war."

About 100 FAU students learned that reality in a bait-and-switch history lesson last week sponsored by the Multi-Cultural Program. At the door of the student union meeting room, students lured in by the promise of a free Thanksgiving dinner were asked to sign what organizer Kristina Fritz said was a "food waiver." In fact, the waiver was a four-page document, written in an obscure Indian language, in which the signers gave up their property rights.

Once that was done, Fritz explained what each had signed. "There is a lot of sorrow in this holiday for Native Americans," she said, before adding, "and by the way there is no food."

When the students groaned, Fritz asked them how they felt. "Bamboozled," said Simone Hyman, 21, of Fort Lauderdale.
Comment:  Complaints about the "idyllic myth" of Thanksgiving are old hat by now. Which is why I haven't posted many this year.

But the "bait-and-switch history lesson" is an interesting experiment worth reporting on. As with many thought experiments, it helps make the historical problemz obvious to non-Indians.

For more on the subject, see Addams Family Values Thanksgiving and 41st National Day of Mourning.

Addams Family Values Thanksgiving

Comment:  This is a timely reminder of the stereotypes inherent in our semi-fictional Thanksgiving celebration.

The scene is an outdoors Thanksgiving pageant. A white "Pilgrim" woman introduces the arriving Indians as "Chippewas" and makes condescending remarks about them. I guess the tone is comedic enough to signal that her remarks are facetious, but it's a close call. I bet a lot of people, especially children, viewed this scene uncritically.

Several faux Indians--a Plains chief, braves, and a maiden--arrive for the celebratory feast. The girl calls herself Pocahontas, though Pocahontas had nothing to do with the Pilgrims. Perhaps she was the inspiration for Bedlam's "PocaHotAss" party.

Then "Pocahontas" denounces the Pilgrims for stealing Indian land and the scenario shifts. The Indians transform from primitive children into bloodthirsty savages. They shoot arrows, burn down the village, and--in the worst case--roast two captives on a spit over a fire. The clear implication is that they're cannibals who plan to eat the Pilgrims.

In case you don't get the message, a montage helpfully compares the Indians to brutal killers--e.g., Rambo and the Terminator--from other movies. Included in the montage are vicious attack dogs. Yes, the Indians act like a wild pack of dogs.

About the only time they act like genuine human beings is when "Pocahontas" first speaks up. In the real world, that's when Indians began negotiating complex diplomatic solutions--peace treaties--to protect their lives and cultures. In the movie, they go on a rampage. Because that's how America views Indians--as brutes and barbarians who can't think or act like civilized Europeans.

For more on the subject, see Robotic's "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party" and Thanksgiving Pageant in New Girl.

Oneida float in Macy's parade 2011

Oneida Indian Nation’s “The True Spirit of Thanksgiving” Marks its Fourth Year in Macy’s Day ParadeThe Oneida Indian Nation’s iconic float, "The True Spirit of Thanksgiving," once again will tell its incredible story as it moves through Manhattan today. The Oneida Nation has had a float in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City every year since 2008. "The True Spirit of Thanksgiving" was the first float to be sponsored by an American Indian nation in the parade’s history. This year marks the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which will be broadcast nationally, per usual, with the parade starting at 9 a.m.

“It is this spirit of peace, thanksgiving and generosity under one of the greatest gifts of the creator, which is the gift of peace to mankind, that marked the first special thanksgiving that we celebrate in our Macy’s Thanksgiving Day float,” stated Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, in a Oneida Nation press release. “This holiday we celebrate today in America is about the harvest ceremonies of Indian people that were first shared with the newcomers to this Land and the thankful hearts of the Indian people as they shared all of their blessings with the struggling pilgrims.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Chamberlain Joins Oneida Thanksgiving Float and Oneida Float in Macy's Parade 2010.

Below:  "The Oneida Indian Nations Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, The True Spirit of Thanksgiving, with Oneida Nation Representative and CEO of Nation Enterprise Ray Halbritter standing by the turtle's foot."

Thanksgiving dinner in Suburgatory

I watched only the first two episodes of the new sitcom Suburgatory, so I didn't see this. But in the Thanksgiving episode (airdate: 11/23/11), Dallas (Cheryl Hines) apparently hosts a Thanksgiving dinner. In an odd twist, she dresses as a sexy "Indian maiden" while her guests dress as Pilgrims and Indians. Judging by the photo, the faux Indians wear dark wigs with braids, headbands, and clothing resembling buckskins.

Once again, dressing as Indians is akin to performing in blackface. And the typical Thanksgiving feast, like the typical Thanksgiving pageant, misrepresents what happened. The Pilgrims invited only Chief Massasoit. He brought some 90 Wampanoag Indians with him bearing food for the incompetent Pilgrims. So the Wampanoag, all men, outnumbered the white men something like two to one.

So it wasn't a Pilgrim feast with a few Indians as guests. It was a Wampanoag feast with a few Pilgrims as guests. The Thanksgiving story turns the starving welfare recipients into heroes and the millions of Indians who ruled the land into sidekicks.

For more on the subject, see Robotic's "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party" and Thanksgiving Pageant in New Girl.

PEACE PARTY political cartoon:  Thanksgiving

Back in 2000-2001 I did some PEACE PARTY political cartoons. Recently I've been talking about political cartoons again. So it's time for their return. Once again, Billy and Drew of PEACE PARTY comment on the day's issues.

Comment:  For more on Thanksgiving, see Addams Family Values Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Dinner in Suburgatory.

November 23, 2011

"Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party" canceled

It's almost becoming predictable. A few hours after news of Robotic Wednesday's "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party" went viral, the organizers canceled the party. Once again, the people made their voices heard and shut down an offense against Indians.

One of the protesters sent me this message from James Vu, who apparently was a party organizer or host:Formal statement from management of Kamps: We are well aware of the Pilgrims & Indians flyer and have acted swiftly to get it removed and taken down from all websites such as facebook and twitter. We do apologize and in no way, shape, or form were trying to be derogatory towards Native Americans. We have a great respect and admiration for Native Americans and deeply apologize for the flyers that were posted on social media. Again we have acted swiftly regarding all matter. This was just brought to my attention today ie I"ve been out of town. Sorry for the negligence and have taken the necessary efforts to alleviate this situation. I've spoken with Legislator Melissa Langley and explained my sympathy towards Native Americans. Being in the asian district we know that we have to be sensitive to everyone.Another protester contacted Vu directly and said he would protest outside the party unless it was cancelled. He posted his exchange with Vu on Facebook. Here is Vu's response to him:We cancelled the theme party 6 hours after the flyer went up.

You should be focusing your attention more on the professional teams and institutional schools. I see way more people dress up for that all year long. We had a thanksgiving theme party (dress anything pertaining to thanksgiving). Washington Redskins (DC), Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Redhawks, You hear chants every day and see people dressing up and yet no facebook posts or rants about that. Again we did not do this to be derogatory or demeaning towards any race or culture. We changed the flyer and theme. Sorry if you viewed us as being inconsiderate. We weren't trying to be.
Comment:  Vu's comments about mascots shows he still doesn't get it. Fortunately, I'm here to explain things to him.

  • First, I did a Facebook search for "Indian mascots" and got about 14 hits. If I used other terms, I'd undoubtedly find more groups. And there are many groups opposed to racism and stereotyping in general, which includes Indian mascots. Hundreds if not thousands of them, I'm sure.

  • So Vu's view that nobody is protesting mascots on Facebook is flatly wrong. So is his presumption that people are picking on him for no reason--that they really don't care about Indian mascots or people dressing up as Indians.

  • Second, why limit yourself to Facebook? Many Natives aren't on Facebook but protest events in "real world." The evidence that they object to mascots is voluminous. For instance:

  • Great Plains tribes oppose mascots
    Background research on Native stereotypes
    Wisconsin kids oppose Indian mascots
    Supreme Court upholds Redskins trademark
    Most Indians oppose "redskins"
    Native orgs that oppose mascots

  • Third, the idea that you can't protest both Indian mascots and offensive parties is ridiculous. In fact, protesting both is ridiculously easy. For example, you create a Web page like my Team Names and Mascots. While people are finding and reading that online, you protest short-term offenses like the party. Duh.

  • It's called multitasking, folks. Try it some time if you've never heard of the concept. Write an article, make a video, or create a Facebook page; you'll find it works even while you're asleep!

    Bigger targets need longer protests

  • Fourth, if you don't think anyone is paying attention to this "small" protest, think again. My blog item got reposted on and mentioned on Indian Country Today Media Network (Oklahoma City Establishment Touts ‘Pilgrims and Indians Theme Party’). That's two of the three biggest sources of Native news. ( is the other.)

  • So tens of thousands of people in Indian country saw the protest. And I don't see anyone defending the party or denouncing the protesters. The best bet is that the vast majority agreed with the protest--because they've spent their careers fighting such stereotypes.

  • Fifth, Vu has missed an obvious point: Protests against mascots and parties are interrelated, not isolated and separate. When people protest a party like this one, they're also protesting Indian mascots. They're sending a message about mascots and other stereotypes in general.

  • The message? That Indians still exist, obviously. That they're modern-day people like everyone else. That they refuse to be defined by centuries-old stereotypes of them as savage and uncivilized. That they'll kick your butt if you try to peg them as chiefs, braves, and maidens--i.e., primitive people of the past.

    The only difference between a mascot protest and a party protest is that a party is one-time event with no historical record. In contrast, a professional, college, or high-school sports team has decades of history and thousands if not millions of supporters. Not to mention millions or billions of dollars of corporate and media backing.

    If a party has 100 fans and a sports team has 10 million fans, it's going to take roughly 100,000 times longer to reach and persuade everyone. Seriously. A 6-hour response time for a party x 100,000 = a 68.5-year response time for a major sports team.

    That's the right ballpark for changing an Indian mascot like the Stanford Indian, the University of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek, or UND's Fighting Sioux. If it takes 75 or 100 years to change the remaining offenders--Chief Wahoo and the Washington Redskins--that's to be expected. They'll all be gone eventually because they're racist.

    For more on the subject, see Racist Costumes = White Privilege and Hipster Racism.

    Below:  Offensive portrayals of blacks and Indians--all racist for the same reasons.

    "Multi-ethnic" Jones on Twilight

    Julia Jones:  “It’s very exciting for us to have a contemporary Native American culture be portrayed in ‘Twilight’”

    By Brandy“I’m very proud to play a Quileute; the tribe is incredible. I’ve been there to the reservation,” she said during the recent press day for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn–Part 1” at the tony Four Seasons Hotel.

    “I think it’s very exciting for us to have a contemporary Native American culture be portrayed in the ‘Twilight’ movies. I think it’s done amazing things.”
    And:“I’m part Chickasaw and Choctaw, but I’m a multi-ethic person. That’s just a part of my identity. I’ve been playing Native roles for a long time, a very long time. And it (‘Twilight’) has been a really rewarding experience in a lot of ways, because there’s a lot to show. It’s an opportunity to portray a group of people who are not portrayed very frequently and very accurately at all in the media. And I cherish that. I think that there should be more roles for Native actors in contemporary pieces, and it’s an important part of who I am,” she said.

    “That’s the beauty of these characters who happen to be Native American. These characters are so multi-layered and multi-dimensional, it’s about their struggle and it’s about who they are as people and their essence, as opposed to primarily falling into these stereotypes of what people think Native Americans are. And that really hasn’t been done very much.”

    She doesn’t think it’s fair to say that mainstream movie-goers are only interested in American Indian characters if they are supernatural heroes.

    “They haven’t had enough exposure to Native American characters to say ‘I’m only interested if they change into wolves,’ and I think that’s too bad,” she said. “I think there are wonderful stories, and it’s an incredibly important part of our history as a country. And they’re just not told because there’s so little presence in mainstream America.”
    Comment:  A few things here:

  • One, The Twilight Saga barely presents any "contemporary Native American culture." The movies have given us a clan of werewolves who tell stories around a campfire. Stories that are fabrications of Quileute history and culture with hardly an ounce of truth.

  • From what I've seen and read, the werewolves don't do much except rush to Jacob's defense and attack vampires. Do the movies show anything of the Quileutes' government, business, education, social programs, or religion that isn't fabricated? Not that I'm aware of.

  • Two, her last statement contradicts her first one. The contemporary portrayals in the Twilight movies have done "amazing things"...but movie-goers are interested only in supernatural Natives because they haven't seen anything else. So the "amazing things" apparently don't include changing anyone's perceptions of Indians.

  • That's because the Twilight movies have reiterated decades of Indians stereotyped as magical shamans and shapeshifters. And more subtly, decades of Indians as secondary characters and sidekicks--antagonists rather than protagonists. If you're looking for a movie that stars Indians and portrays them as real human beings, try Dances with Wolves or Smoke Signals. Because the Twilight Saga isn't it.

    Who's an Indian, again

  • Three, note that Jones correctly refers to herself as "multi-ethnic," not Native. Which she's done in at least one other interview. But then she tries to fudge the issue by talking as if she's a Native actress.

  • Unless I'm mistaken, Jones is only a tiny bit Chickasaw and Choctaw. That puts her in the same position as everyone else I've criticized. Twilight's non-Native actors:Taylor Lautner, Julia Jones, Boo Boo StewartOther non-Native actors--e.g.,Johnny Depp, Brandon Routh, Lynn CollinsOther non-Native singers, models, and starlets--e.g.,Miley Cyrus, Jessica Simpson, the KardashiansFor new readers, I'll repeat the criteria I outlined in "Actual Indian" Defined. You're an Indian if:

    1) You're enrolled in a federally recognized tribe. That trumps any amount of "Indian blood" you may have. Indeed, a tribe may enroll someone who's pure white or black by "blood."

    2) You have a significant amount of "Indian blood"--at least 1/4 and preferably 1/2 or more. Which happens to be the minimum amount required by most tribes. When you get down to the Johnny Depp level--1/8 or less--you're talking about a single great-grandparent who probably had no influence on your life. That makes you a non-Indian with a small amount of Indian blood, not an Indian.

    3) You grew up or live in a Native community that accepts you as one of their own. I'm talking about a real Native town, village, or reservation, not a made-up community such as "Hollywood Indians in Los Angeles." A place where you've learned enough of the culture and history to fit in with the others.

    As far as I know, everyone listed above fails these tests, including Jones. Therefore, I consider them all non-Indians with a small amount of Indian blood, not Indians. When I say I want Native actors in Native roles, I mean people who meet these criteria, not people like Depp, Lautner, or Jones.

    For more on Breaking Dawn, see Gyasi Ross on Breaking Dawn and Truth vs. Twilight.

    2011 South Dakota Festival of Books

    Native Sun News:  Festival of Books focuses on Indian authors

    By Jesse Abernathy and Karin EagleAs the proverbial dust settles from the 2011 South Dakota Festival of Books, the offerings of the authors addressing the event’s thematic focus this year on American Indian cultures remain to unsettle–and tempt–readers.

    Featured as the keynote speaker was Joseph Marshall III, who wrote the 2011 South Dakota One-Book award winner The Journey of Crazy Horse, which is the history of Tasunke Witko based on the storytelling Marshall heard growing up in the Lakota tradition on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
    And:A panel of six Native American women authors addressed the topic of “Native Voice: A Female Perspective.” It exposed the importance female authors place on the words of their grandmothers, or “the ones who preside over the sacred kitchen table,” as Standing Rock Dakota Sioux panelist Susan Power phrased it.

    A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Power received the PEN-Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction for her 1995 novel Grass Dancer.

    On the panel with her were Native Sun News columnist Delphine Red Shirt, who is a Native American Studies Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona; longtime author and Rosebud Sioux tribal member Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, whose new book My Christmas Coat reflects reservation holiday experiences; Rosebud native performing artist Larissa Fasthorse; Kansas storyteller and filmmaker Diane Glancy, whose most recent nonfiction The Dream of a Broken Field was published by the University of Nebraska Press; and international award-winning poet Allison Hedge Coke, who punctuated the end of her presentation with an activist slogan: “Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.”
    Comment:  For more on Native literature, see Indians as Werewolves and Spacemen and Modern-Day Coyote Tales.

    Below:  "2011 Festival of Books in Deadwood features authors Diane Glancy, Delphine Red Shirt and Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, among others."

    Emissaries of Peace on the road

    Museum to take Cherokee story to wider audience in 2012The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will take its story on the road in 2012, holding a series of new programs showcasing Ostenaco’s and Henry Timberlake’s journey to each other’s countries 250 years ago in a traveling exhibit called ‘Emissaries of Peace.’

    The museum will celebrate this story and explore the two cultures—Cherokee and British—with seven events in four states.

    “We are looking forward to these exciting events, and taking this story of two cultures to a wider audience,” said Ken Blankenship, executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and an enrolled tribal member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

    In 2006, the museum created the exhibit, “Emissaries of Peace: 1762 Cherokee and British Delegations.” It was designated a “We the People” exhibit by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This designation is awarded to projects that encourage and strengthen the understanding of American history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.

    During 2012, seven events and a public television broadcast will tell this story to new audiences. A battle re-enactment, festivals with 18th century Cherokee living history, scholarly symposia, a television broadcast and a trip to London will take place from Memorial Day through November.
    Comment:  Henry Timberlake may be the ancestor Justin Timberlake referred to in Timberlake's Cherokee Golf Course.

    For more on Cherokee history, see Cherokee "History After Dark" and Ancient Cherokee Days.

    November 22, 2011

    Robotic's "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party"

    'Tis the season for offensively themed Halloween and Thanksgiving parties. Another one is raising a stir in Oklahoma, the heart of Indian country.

    The ad reads: "Special Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party!!" It's accompanied by a photo of a young woman, apparently non-Indian, in a Plains headdress, wearing a slinky dress, and smoking a cigarette. Apparently that combination makes her the epitome of cool.

    An alert went out on this party Monday on Facebook and the response was immediate. Some reactions:OMG. That's terrible. Right here in Oklahoma too.

    What a bunch of insensitive jerks. Who are the promoters? I think I need to make some phone calls tomorrow. Hey ya'll don't just spread the word, CALL, EMAIL and then SHOW UP! Mvto

    Uuuuigggghhhh, really!?!?

    Holy butt crack they must be crazy in Oklahoma to do this.

    Woh! I'm speechless!

    ugh. UGH.
    Regular readers already know why this is offensive. The misappropriation of honored headdresses usually reserved for chiefs. The sexualization of Native women and non-Natives pretending to be them. The homogenization of the Wampanaog Indians, who met the Pilgrims, and all other Indians. The ignorance of the cruelties done to the Wampanoag by the Pilgrims soon after the first Thanksgiving.

    What are they going to do for the party's big finish: reenact the Mystic River Massacre of 1637? Good times!

    This is very much like holding a Nazis and Jews party. Would that be acceptable if it were set in the time before Kristallnacht and Auschwitz? I don't think so.

    To reiterate the obvious:

  • The Wampanoags didn't dress like Plains Indians then. Now they wear shirts and pants like everyone else--not headdresses, buckskin outfits, or loincloths.

  • Many Indians have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. They rightly see it as the beginning of the Anglo-American genocide against their people.

  • Any party that ignores these points is grossly insensitive and arguably racist.

    The response so far

    People have begun e-mailing and calling the organizers. So far they seem to be rude and unresponsive. My thoughts on that:

    Alerting the organizers doesn't necessarily work. They get defensive about their "rights"--i.e., their "right" to be racist.

    Trying contacting the bar owners and the sponsors (the five logos listed at the bottom). Also try contacting the local media and public officials, especially if there's a human rights commission.

    Let everyone know you're calling them out on their racism. Often some or all of them can't take the public pressure and will fold.

    To contact the offenders:

    Kamp's Bar
    1310 NW 25 Oklahoma City, OK 73106
    (405) 524-2251

    550 Monica Circle, Suite 201
    Corona, CA 92880
    Phone: 866-322-4466 Ext. 585

    For similarly offensive parties, see:

    "Drink like an Indian" at Station 280
    UC Irvine's "Pilgrims and Indians Party"
    Bedlam's "PocaHotAss" party

    Below:  More hipsters dressing up in redface pretending to be Indians acting as if they're cool.

    Gyasi Ross on Breaking Dawn

    Gyasi Ross offers some snarky comments about Breaking Dawn in his first column for Indian Country Today Media Network:

    Breaking Dawn on a New Series for Indians

    By Gyasi RossWhat better way to start off a new column in Indian Country Today Media Network than to talk about an Indian boy who is hopelessly for—against the weight of supernatural forces, no less—the love of a white girl? What can be more “Indian” than that?

    It’s about as natural as an Indian turning into a werewolf (he probably should’ve turned into a little poodle because I think white girls love carrying those around in their purses and petting them heavily).
    And:Still, I replied, “If I really wanted to see some Indians running around without their shirts on fighting over women and turning into wild animals, I would go to one of the bars surrounding the host hotel at one of the large fancy Indian conferences. You wanna see real theatrics and tension—go there!” That was just an excuse, of course—I just don’t know how a straight man could justify watching that many consecutive minutes of pretty men walking around looking intense. What’s really scary—definitely not the vampires or the werewolves—is the prospect that I might really like the gratuitous amounts of abdominals—that would cause so much confusion to my sense of self!And:More, there are real, actual Indians in the movie (and a few fake ones too)—a rarity, and certainly something to be thankful for and to support. GO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDIAN ACTORS!!! Still, if the makers could make this movie slightly less, well, estrogenic, I’d love to go support the actors in this movie. As it is, I’d have to wear a trenchcoat and sunglasses and fedora to watch it lest someone think that I’m into movies about teenage necrophilia/bestiality.Comment:  Nice to hear some original thoughts beyond the usual "How wonderful that Native actors are getting a chance to play savage beasts modern-day Indians." Oops, I made a snarky comment too! <g>

    For more on the subject, see Taking Issue with Rene Haynes and Actors Turn Out for Breaking Dawn.

    Chamberlain joins Oneida Thanksgiving float

    The Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain Will Join Oneida Indian Nation’s “True Spirit of Thanksgiving” Float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day ParadeNew York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, Winnebago, will be joining the Oneida Indian Nation’s spectacular True Spirit of Thanksgiving float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this Thursday. Chamberlain, who Indian Country Today Media Network interviewed for a feature article this past April, is a man who knows all about being thankful. As we reported in our piece, Joba’s father, Harlan, was born on the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska and contracted polio as a baby, which forced him into long hospital stays. Still, despite the crippling disease that left him unable to walk, deaf in one ear and with diminished use of his left arm, he raised Joba and Tasha (Joba’s sister) as a single parent. Joba has told of his dad still playing catch with him—with one arm—and of the entire neighborhood playing baseball at the Chamberlains’ home.

    This marks the fourth year that the Oneida Indian Nation’s float, True Spirit of Thanksgiving, will be making its way from Central Park to Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan. This year marks the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which will be broadcast nationally on NBC, per usual, with the parade starting at 9am.
    Comment:  For more on Joba Chamberlain, see Chamberlain Pleads Guilty to DUI and Joba Goes to Disney World.

    Ellsbury finishes 2nd for MVP award

    Navajo Jacoby Ellsbury Finishes 2nd in American League MVP ContestRed Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury finished second in the overall voting for baseball's Most Valuable Player in American League. Jacoby is the first Navajo baseball player to reach Major League Baseball.

    Ellsbury finished second to Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, who became the first starting pitcher to receive the honor since 1986. Verlander won with 280 total points. Ellsbury was second with 242 points.
    Comment:  For more on Jacoby Ellsbury, see Ellsbury Wins Golden Glove and ZinfandEllsbury Wine.

    November 21, 2011

    NCLB leaves Native children behind

    Educator in Navajo Nation Grapples with ‘Savage Inequalities’ in Reservation Schools

    By Brittani K. RoyIn my experience, the students attending schools on Indian reservations, much like their inner-city counterparts, are handicapped by, as author, educator and activist Jonathan Kozol calls them, “savage inequalities.” Indian reservation schools, like inner-city schools, serve mostly low-socioeconomic and culturally marginalized students who typically struggle on the standardized tests mandated by the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). There are many factors contributing to this sorry record of underachievement:

    • there is less per-student spending by state and federal agencies;
    • there is a very high teacher turnover rate due to the unique challenges of teaching on a reservation;
    • teachers are teaching to the test rather than focusing on student progress;
    • there are pronounced deficiencies in resources for students labeled English Language Learners (ELLs);
    • a lack of teacher training for working with ELLs;
    • lack of computers and books at home;
    • lack of electricity in many homes makes it hard for students to do homework after dark;
    • dirt roads that prevent students from attending school regularly due to mud and other resulting conditions.

    These challenges, which have been largely eliminated in most parts of the country, unfairly detract from the quality of education that many American Indian students receive. As a result, the dropout rate for American Indians is 8.4 percent, compared to the Anglo dropout rate of 2.7 percent. While 62 percent of all U.S. high school students go to college (according to the American Indian Education Foundation), only 17 percent of Native American high school students do so.
    And:[S]chools that serve underprivileged students often enter into the deadly cycle of “failing” on the NCLB tests and having their funds cut. A study conducted by the Education Trust discovered that “poor and minority students tend to be segregated in the most overcrowded and underfunded schools” and that the United States spends approximately $900 less per year on each student in the schools with the poorest students than in the school districts with the fewest poor students.

    The biggest predictor of college success is performance in rigorous high school courses. As Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities rightly observes: “Money does matter, especially in lower-income communities (such as on the Indian reservations) that lack the staffing to offer the rigorous courses needed for colleges.” Furthermore, ELL students are particularly segregated as the language services they require entail additional funding. As a result, the cycle of underperforming schools not receiving the necessary funding to adequately provide for their students feeds on itself. Without sufficient funding, schools struggle to increase their students’ authentic learning because of a lack of resources. Due to the lack of resources and subsequent lack of authentic learning opportunities, these schools continue to be labeled as “failing” as they are not able to sufficiently prepare their students for the testing standards. The big-picture effect of NCLB: More and more marginalized students and schools are being left behind.
    Comment:  I posted something on Kozol's book back in 2009. Check it out: Savage Inequalities in Our Schools.

    Compare this with the conservative rhetoric that we're in a post-racial world where everyone has equal opportunity. As Kozol persuasively argues, minority schools deserve more money than average to make up for past shortfalls. Yet they get less money than average--much less.

    This is structural racism in action. No one "intends" to keep minorities in their place, but the lack of funding ensures they'll continue at the bottom indefinitely. Even if a few exceptions like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey rise to the top.

    For more on Native education, see Cherokee Nation in JA BizTown and Native Science Nerds.

    Indian cultural center at Alcatraz

    American Indian Occupation Gets Permanent Exhibit At AlcatrazSome forty years after a group of protesters—which swelled at one point to 800 people—occupied the island of Alcatraz for 19 months to protest the unfair seizing of Native American lands, a room in the prison's basement is getting a permanent exhibit including video and sound recordings about the occupation. The occupation ended in 1971, after protesters had hoped for almost two years to turn the island into an American Indian university or cultural center.And:The new American Indian cultural center and exhibit will become a permanent part of the tour of the island. As one occupation alum puts it, "we did get our cultural center after all. It just takes time."Comment:  For more on Alcatraz, see Alcatraz Inspired Nixon to Act and "Swim for Life" from Alcatraz.

    November 20, 2011

    Ted Danson inspired by Indians

    Danson's nephew wrote a book about Danson's father to raise money for the Museum of Northern Arizona's Edward B. Danson Chair of Anthropology Fund.

    Ted Danson and wife raise money for archeology chair

    Museum chair to help preserve American Indian culture

    By Rae Owen
    Danson's father Edward was the second director of the MNA, and the book is a outline of his life and how when he came to this area he and his family fell in love. While it is hard to guess at why a person loves something Danson imagines it was the beauty and history of the area the drew his father in.

    "I think he loved if for the same thing that many people love, its dark beauty," said Danson. "Even from the scientist point-of-view you can go from above timberline, to the one of the deepest places on earth in just about an hour. So you have every plant life and geological formation, you have all the different indigenous people, and it's this gold mine of history. From the heart point-of-view you get to, if your lucky, to rub shoulders with people that have been here for centuries. Like the Hopi have been there on those mesas in those houses and danced in those plazas for centuries. So you get to see a people relate to their spiritual life as they have for centuries and that's astounding."

    Danson's father was very involved with the many cultures that surround the area, but it wasn't just him that fell in love, his wife Jessica felt the same.

    "My father was the director of the museum, and that's a strenuous job, my mother was the hostess to the museum which was an overwhelmingly huge job," said Danson. "So I think what she considered her reward for all the dinner and cocktail parties she had to throw was going out to the mesas. To be able to go on the collecting trips for the Hopi and Navajo and to visit the villages and to go into the homes and see the friends they had made, that was her treat."

    Ted's parents were not the only one effected by the area and the people, but Ted became moved as well.

    "I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go out and play in the villages with some of my friends as a little boy in amongst the dances," said Danson. "I got to be exposed to so many different cultures and ways to express spiritually and it obviously had a huge impact on me."
    Comment:  When you go beyond the well-known celebrities like Marlon Brandon, Johnny Cash, and Kevin Costner, you find people like Gary Cooper, Bea Arthur, and Beau Bridges were touched by Indians in some way. They work behind the scenes or leave money to help Native people.

    Then you get people like Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, and the Kardashians, who are inspired to wear headdresses and feather outfits. Who apparently know nothing else and don't care to do anything except parade their ignorance. That's the difference between inspiration and "inspiration."

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

    Below:  "Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen held an event at The Orpheum to raise money for the Museum of Northern Arizona."

    Lots of Lover's Leaps

    Days Gone By:  The story of Lover’s LeapNearly every cliffed town, along nearly every river has a Lover’s Leap, and the legend behind the name of the high-topped bluff is nearly always the same. Hannibal is no exception.

    The myth or legend of Hannibal’s Lover’s Leap was written by a man named Aurthur O. Garrison, who claimed that he obtained the details from “ancient inscriptions and a birch bark manuscript.”

    No one seems to know who Garrison was. The clipping of his story has vanished and none know what newspaper or book it was taken from or when it was published.
    The article's conclusion:Such quaint but tragic legends are known up and down the Mississippi, and probably have at least slight basis in fact, but Indians are as expert at fairy tales as the whites that followed them into the land. Only the least romantic of men would question their legends, however. And only the most cruel would attempt to prove or disprove the existence of such unrecorded tribes as the Kirgluou and the Holrois.Comment:  This article confirms what I thought: that multitudes of lover's leaps exist. You'd have to be a fool or a racist to believe any of them are real. Indians commit suicide en masse when their loves are thwarted and hearts broken? Yeah, right.

    These myths aren't as harmless as the author thinks. Rather, they're stereotypical and as harmful as other Native stereotypes. They convey the idea that Indians were weak, impulsive creatures of passion. That everything about them was romantic, sad, and tragic. That they were destined to vanish because of their own failures--not because of America's genocidal policies against them.

    And most of all, that they're primitive people of the past. You'll never hear that someone leapt after graduating from a university, translating the Bible into a Native language, or winning a court case. Like Indian mascots, hipster headdresses, and Thanksgiving pageants, these stories are about keeping Indians in the past. If we can make everyone forget our crimes against them, we don't have to redress their ongoing grievances.

    For more on the subject, see Debating Frog Woman Rock and Legend of Lovers Leap.

    November 19, 2011

    Indians as werewolves and spacemen

    If natives can play Twilight werewolves, why not spacemen, too?

    By Drew Hayden TaylorFirst of all, the natives are the werewolves, who conveniently provide a roadblock (or blockade, for cultural accuracy) for the young lovers, Edward and Bella. The werewolves want to kill the vampires, making them essentially the enemies, the black hats (or furs, as the case may be). The vampires and the werewolves are the Capulets and the Montagues from Romeo and Juliet, or the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story.

    There's a particularly shocking scene in the previous movie where one of the werewolf braves hugs his girlfriend and we see she has a large gash down the side of her face–evidently due to her out-of-control boyfriend.

    The same character, in full werewolf mode, later attacks our heroine Bella, who is saved at the last moment by Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Ten minutes later, when they meet again, the young native man just shrugs, grins at her and says, “Sorry.” For obvious reasons, this image concerns me a little.
    And:Still, in keeping with the changing face of the public aboriginal person, I have for years been trying to get an anthology off the ground–a collection of native science-fiction stories, from the best aboriginal writers in the country. But I always get the same response: “Native science fiction? Isn't that an oxymoron?”

    The public believes that native people are mired in the past. It's Indians and buckskin, not natives and rocket fuel; Plains Cree and buffalo, not Haida and black holes. Other than Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager, who else can they see dreaming that impossible dream?

    Yet my friends who are aboriginal writers are all excited by the idea–Joseph Boyden, Lee Maracle, Richard Van Camp, Eden Robinson, etc. I even had a brief conversation with famous U.S. Chippewa/M├ętis author Louise Erdrich several years ago about it, and she told me that she had written a science-fiction story once but was unable to sell it. The market evidently thinks that native people don't write science fiction, but we heartily disagree.
    Comment:  Glad to see Taylor echoed a point I've made before: that when Twilight's werewolves oppose Edward the heroic vampire, they're essentially villains. Or at least anti-heroes. Defending their own people and attacking the bad vampires doesn't make up for interfering with Edward and Bella.

    For more on the subject, see Are Good Native Werewolves Okay? and White Vampire Yes, Indian Werewolf No.

    "No Natives in science fiction" seems to be Drew Hayden Taylor's pet peeve. He wrote about this in an article I posted in No Natives in Science Fiction? Alas, he was wrong then and he's still wrong. Things aren't as bad as he makes them out to be.

    Metal bands at Exposed Music Festival

    Bloodline aids effort to promote local bands

    By Jan-Mikael PattersonLoren Anthony and his heavy metal band Bloodline are looking to raise some money so they can continue to hit the road showcasing their brand of metal music and talents.

    The band is headlining a show tonight at The Juggernaut Hookah Lounge and Performing Arts called the "Exposed Music Festival."
    And:"Because of our Web sites and fan base we're categorize in this region as the number one group and that's how they started working with us," Anthony said.

    The ranking is based solely on the band and Anthony's constant outreach to the band's loyal fans through social mediums like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter.

    "The thing about it for us is that we make sure we maintain that connection with our fans on a consistent basis," Anthony said, noting that he devotes a lot of time to social networking to promote the band.
    And:The bands listed to perform include Dying Tribe, Incide, Tribus, Shadow Remain, The Creeping Puppets, The Broken Circle, Morbid Justice, Heavy Metal Blood Drive, Bear Paws, Funerary Beliefs and Rose Beneath.

    "A lot of the bands that are coming out are going to be scouted...for potential artist development deals and record label deals and touring stuff," Anthony said. "So I thought I would get the bands I thought that need that spotlight, that need that something to give them that extra push even if they don't go out on tour."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Navajo Metal Band Salvation's Lost and Metal-Punk Concert at Navajo Fair.

    Below:  "The band Bloodline is headlining a show tonight at The Juggernaut in Gallup called the Exposed Music Festival."