June 30, 2013

Geronimo in a crow headdress?

If Johnny Depp played Geronimo with a crow on his head, would that be okay? Why not, if 1) "it's just a movie," and 2) "Depp is Native"?

"It's just a movie" and "Tonto is fictional" are especially lame arguments. All the Indians in Powwow Highway, Dances with Wolves, Thunderheart, and Smoke Signals were fictional. Why didn't they have crows on their heads? What makes Tonto different from any other fictional Indian?

Really, someone give me a reason why we shouldn't put a crow on Pocahontas, Tecumseh, Sacagawea, Sitting Bull, or Crazy Horse in future movies. Because everyone knows movies are fiction, right? No one takes them seriously as history lessons, right?

Crow-heads for Indians and cowboys too. Why not? They're all fictional characters!

For more on Johnny Depp, see Indians Love Johnny Depp? and Depp to Indians: "You're Still Warriors."

Below:  Tonto's wife? Sacagawea? Wilma Mankiller? Who knows?

OMG, everyone's doing the bird thing! Everyone wants to be an Indian like Johnny Depp!

The nun in Tonto's life

Little-known fact: Tonto was sent to a Catholic boarding school, where he was heavily influenced by a certain nun.

For more on Johnny Depp, see Geronimo in a Crow Headdress? and Indians Love Johnny Depp?

June 29, 2013

Redskins can afford name change

Risk for Redskins in Makeover of Team Mascot

By Scott Cacciola[T]he Charlotte Bobcats of the N.B.A. recently estimated that it would cost them $4 million to become the Hornets (again) in time for the start of the 2014-15 season. When the Washington Bullets decided to call themselves the Wizards in 1997, it was a similarly painstaking process.

“We anticipated needing two years to wipe the slate clean, and it never really is clean,” said Matt Williams, a former Wizards executive who now heads communications for the Washington Animal Rescue League. “You had to change everything, from court design to uniforms to luggage. It was almost like starting up an expansion team.”

One huge caveat is that the Redskins, with their zealous fan base and lucrative revenue streams, are neither the bottom-feeding Bobcats nor the Bullets. The Redskins make a lot of money. Last year, Forbes magazine assessed the Redskins’ annual revenue at $373 million. They ranked third in home attendance last season, behind the Dallas Cowboys and the Giants. Just as important, the Redskins share in the swollen coffers of the N.F.L., which generated $9 billion in revenue in 2012. The league receives more than $4 billion in annual television rights fees, which is split among its 32 teams.

So even if the franchise were to spend $10 million or $20 million to drop its nickname and rebrand itself, how much is that really?

“A drop in the bucket,” said Gabe Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University. Consider that the N.F.L.’s salary cap for the coming season is $123 million.
Comment:  The fact that the New York Times is discussing the nuts and bolts of a name change means it's getting closer to happening. Whether owner Dan Snyder is willing to admit it or not.

For more on the Washington Redskins, see Redskins Poll Reveals Fans' Hypocrisy and Taiwanese Video on Washington Redskins.

Indians love Johnny Depp?

Ecstatic American Indians Praise 'The Lone Ranger'

'Finally Our Story Is Being Told,' Tribespeople SayUpon emerging from an advance screening of the Walt Disney Pictures film The Lone Ranger, representatives of the country’s American Indian population enthusiastically praised the action-adventure comedy Wednesday, telling reporters that they were thrilled to finally see a movie that does justice to the stirring history of the nation’s native peoples. “At long last, we have a tale befitting the long, proud tradition of our tribespeople,” said Douglas Walking Bear Akando, 94, a Potawatomi tribe elder who claimed he was moved to tears by lead actor Johnny Depp’s stoic, thoroughly researched portrayal of the spirit warrior Tonto in the upcoming Jerry Bruckheimer production. “For all of Hollywood’s failed attempts to create something that accurately recounts our glorious past while also honoring the bravery and wisdom of our ancestors, The Lone Ranger does just that. And on July 3, the American people will finally know our story.” At press time, a coalition representing the nation’s estimated 3 million American Indians had released a statement completely forgiving the United States for its systematic butchery and subsequent confinement of their people, saying that the new Lone Ranger movie “had made it all worth it.”Comment:  For more on the subject, see Depp Derangement Syndrome.

June 28, 2013

Redskins poll reveals fans' hypocrisy

A new poll blows the lid off the dubious results of previous polls:

Washington Redskins name: Washington Post poll finds most D.C. area fans support it

By Jon Cohen and Rick MaeseA large majority of area sports fans say the Washington Redskins should not change the team name, even though most supporters of the nickname feel the word “redskin” is an inappropriate term for Native Americans, according to a new Washington Post poll.

The debate over the team’s name has intensified in recent months as members of Congress, activists and media commentators criticized it as offensive to Native Americans and lobbied for change. But most Washingtonians—61 percent—say they like the team’s name, and two-thirds say the team should not change it, according to the poll.

A Washington Post poll found that most D.C. fans of the Washington Redskins support the team’s name, despite increased pressure to change it. The Post Sports Live crew debates whether the name should be changed.

Among Redskins fans, about eight in 10 say the team should keep its name. Also, there’s some evidence that changing it might undermine support from some of the team’s most ardent backers.
Unfortunately, WaPo doesn't quite get the significance of these results. ICTMN helps to explain them:

WaPo Poll: D.C. Fans Know "Redskins" Logo Offensive, Still Like ItA new Washington Post poll of D.C.-area sports fans shows that most (61 percent) like the name of Dan Snyder's NFL Redskins franchise and two-thirds say the name shouldn't be changed. The poll comes as debate increases over the use of the term, considered offensive by many Native Americans, with even Congress involved.

However, among those who want to keep the Redskins name, most—56 percent—say they feel the word Redskin is an inappropriate term for Native Americans. Only half as many—28 percent—consider the term as an acceptable one to use.

"This seems to represent a huge movements in favor of name change, since one would logically expect more support for the team and its name among Washingtonians than among the general population," says George Washington University law School public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

In the new Post poll, 28 percent of all Washingtonians say the team should change its name, far above the 11 percent nationally who said so in a recent Associated Press poll.
It took a WaPo columnist to highlight the poll's key finding:

Poll shows D.C. area is hypocritical about ‘redskin’

By Robert McCartneySo now we know from a remarkable new poll that most Washington area residents are far too enlightened and sensitive ever to insult a Native American by calling her or him a “redskin.” What do you think we are, racists?

But we’re perfectly comfortable preserving the same word as the name of our beloved professional football franchise. It’s tradition and, c’mon, we don’t mean it in an offensive way.

Psychologists have a term for such self-serving intellectual duplicity. They call it “compartmentalization.” It refers to an unconscious defense mechanism used to avoid mental discomfort arising from having conflicting values or beliefs.

The rest of us have a term for it, too. We call it “hypocrisy.” The dictionary defines it as a pretense of having a virtuous character that one doesn’t actually possess.

A Washington Post poll released Tuesday laid out clearly our region’s awkward inconsistency in this matter.

Two-thirds of area adults want to keep the team’s name. Yet those same people agree by a two-to-one margin that the word “redskin” is an inappropriate way to describe a Native American.

To better understand the contradiction, I interviewed 10 poll respondents who shared the dominant view. I asked why they thought the word “redskin” was fine for the team but unacceptable for American Indians.

I heard a muddled mix of explanations. Several said frankly that they couldn’t explain the apparent discrepancy. Others said the word was pejorative but had been the team’s name for so long that Native Americans and other critics ought to just look the other way. Three argued that the issue wasn’t relevant, partly because American Indians, in person or in the team’s logo, don’t have red skin.

The team’s name is “not anything to do with any kind of racial slur toward Indians,” said a 34-year-old woman from Landover. “When I look at the helmet or the jerseys, I don’t see an Indian with red skin. I believe it’s burgundy.”

For individual Indians, however, the woman said she would never use the term. Like others, she likened it to ugly words that disparage African Americans or Latinos. “It’s just not appropriate,” she said.

(The people I interviewed agreed to speak on the record, but I am withholding their names because I don’t want to single them out for criticism.)

A 60-year-old man from Alexandria said he could “dissociate” the separate uses of the term.

“I don’t know that I know any Native Americans, but I certainly wouldn’t refer to them as redskins,” he said. “I have a double standard there, because I think it’s okay to have a football team named that way.”
Comment:  To reiterate the key point:Two-thirds of area adults want to keep the team’s name. Yet those same people agree by a two-to-one margin that the word “redskin” is an inappropriate way to describe a Native American.Wow. 37% of Washington-area adults say "Redskins" is offensive but the team should keep the name anyway. Any poll that doesn't address this "it's offensive but keep it" contingent is a fraud.

In particular, the binary choice of "it's not offensive, keep it" and "it's offensive, get rid of it" is a fraud. And yet, that's what you see in poll after poll.

A large number of people fall into the "I know it's an insult but I don't care" category. This view needs to be explored in depth, not accepted at face value. Polls should ask follow-up questions such as:

  • How would you feel if the team were named the Washington ________ [Niggers, Spics, Wops, Kikes--use the respondent's ethnicity]?

  • What's the difference between these ethnic slurs and "Redskins," if any?

  • Since you acknowledge the name is offensive, are you in favor of offending minorities?

  • Do you realize that Indians still exist, and that thousands of them find "Redskins" offensive?

  • If anyone can't answer these questions, the pollsters should go back and redo the poll, or throw it out. Any poll that produces contradictory results isn't asking the right questions, and the questions it is asking aren't worth much.

    For more on the subject, see AP Poll on Redskins Is Flawed and Annenberg's "Redskins" Survey.

    Gandhi in Lage Raho Munna Bhai


    I recently watched the Bollywood film Lage Raho Munna Bhai. To woo a woman, a scoundrel pretends to be a Gandhi professor. Then Gandhi's ghost appears and coaxes the rogue to live up to his principles of truth and nonviolence.

    I approve this message!

    It's a clever concept. And how often does Gandhi feature in a movie--even a Bollywood movie? Almost never.

    P.S. Don't miss the previous movie, where Munna pretends to be a doctor!

    Turn the other cheek

    An example from Lage Raho Munna Bhai: Our scoundrel the "professor" is lecturing some old men on Gandhi. Someone asks what you should do if you see a boy throwing a stone at a statue of Gandhi.

    Our man starts to say, "Grab the boy and beat him," but the ghost tells him to say tear the statue down. In fact, tear all the statues down. Remove his face from the walls. Erase his name from public places. If you must remember Gandhi, do so in your hearts.

    The man is initially dumbfounded as he repeats these words. But eventually he starts to get it. India, its government, and its people (including him) have become corrupt, he says. It's not enough to venerate Gandhi in passing while your ignore him the rest of the time. People need to embody Gandhi's principles, not worship them from afar.

    Wow. Imagine if we applied that to Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King--all of whom might agree with Gandhi. If someone told Americans to tear down their crosses and churches and live like Jesus instead, we'd have riots in the streets. People would tar and feather this "radical," or lock him up for terrorism. ("He wants to destroy our buildings just like Bin Laden!") Conservatives would label him the most dangerous demagogue since Hitler.

    This also applies to American Indians. Americans worship the romanticized Indians in their movies and on their sports logos. But if you tell them real honor and respect means helping the people themselves, they look at you like you're crazy. They prefer to "honor" the fantasy, because it doesn't require work or sacrifice, while ignoring the reality.

    P.S. In an American remake, the ghost probably would be Adam Sandler.

    For more on nonviolence, see The Way of the "Orrior" and Happy 140th Birthday, Gandhi!

    Dog Soldier MMA

    Matching martial arts to the culture

    By Brandon EcoffeyMultiple strategies have been employed by neighborhood organizers throughout the years to empower communities.

    For Vaughn Buffalo Bull Lodge, who lives and works the south side of Minneapolis, Mixed Martial Arts is the chosen tool used to keep kids off the streets and protect Native women from the sex trade.

    “There were a number of reasons why we got started, but the biggest was that there was an outcry from the community about the abuse of our women in the city and the high rates of prostitution. It wasn’t necessarily a threat from within the Native Community, but from outside cultures moving in and literally kidnapping women,” said Vaughn. “I had to ask myself, well what can I do as a warrior to step up and make a difference? So with my background in Martial Arts I thought that a MMA gym could be a great place where community members especially our women could learn basic self-defense,” he added.

    The gym that Vaughn runs flies under the banner of Dog Soldier MMA and is located at 2929 4th Ave S, Suite 104 in Minneapolis. In addition to self-defense for Native women the gym now provides multiple programs for all members of the community.
    Comment:  For more on Native martial arts, see Muscogee Creek MMA Fighter and Lakota Black Belt to Teach Self-Defense.

    June 27, 2013

    Two-spirits celebrate DOMA ruling

    Two-Spirit Community Applauds DOMA Strikedown and Dismissal of Prop 8The National Confederacy of Two-Spirit Organizations applauds and celebrates the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by a vote of 5-4 and the court’s dismissal the Proposition 8, making it possible for same-sex marriages again in California.

    "It's a good day to celebrate the decision to overturn DOMA and the dismissal of Prop 8," said Sharon Day of Minneapolis’ Indigenous People’s Task Force. "Perhaps now more of our tribal governments will pass marriage equality laws, after all respect was a value shared by all tribes/Nations observed along with equality between all people including our Two-Spirit people."

    "The Supreme Court's decision," said Harlan Pruden, a leader of the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society, "is an equalizer for today’s Two-Spirit married same-sex couples as it was before the colonizers came to this land. It has now come full circle, and once again our relationships are celebrated and supported as they should have been all along."

    Reactions to the ruling

    Some of the best and worst reactions to this ruling, from me and others:

    DOMA, DOMA, DOMA! So we all have to marry gays now?!

    Gays marrying gays! Cats marrying dogs! Where will it end?!

    Scalia Rages Against Supreme Court’s Gay Rights Ruling

    Also, "Overturning laws is okay when I do it, but not when you do it." And, "Gay sex is icky."

    Scalia is hypocritical on judicial activism but consistent on "original intent": Only whites should vote and only straights should marry.

    Rush is unhappy with the Supreme Court

    Limbaugh is mad because he favors traditional marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, marriage, and divorce.

    Antonin Scalia’s self-pitying, angry nostalgia

    Scalia's rant is the gay-marriage version of the “calling something racist is worse than racism” argument currently so popular among aggrieved white conservatives.

    Get a room, Liberty and Justice!

    For more on gay marriage, see Odawa Gay Couple Invited to White House and Wes Studi Supports Gay Marriage

    Nightline explores Tohono O'odham border

    In Efforts to Secure US-Mexico Border, Ariz. Native Americans Feel Caught in the Middle

    By Byron Pitts"Nightline" spent 48 hours with U.S. Border Patrol agents and the Tohono O'odham reservation police force to get a firsthand look at the battle on the border.

    "The Tohono O'odham Nation is one of our most problematic areas," Arizona Commander Jeffrey Self of the U.S. Border Patrol told "Nightline". "The narcotics smugglers have moved up into the mountainous area. There is not a lot of access."

    While border-crossing apprehensions in Arizona are down 43 percent from two years ago, it is a different, more complicated story on the Tohono O'odham Nation. Drug seizures on the reservation are steadily climbing--nearly 500,000 pounds of marijuana was seized last year, a number that has nearly doubled since 2010. Recently, Tohono O'odham police seized $1 million worth of marijuana in just one week.

    But the Tohono O'odham tribal members are caught in the middle of a war between the Mexican drug cartels coming through their community and the U.S. Border Patrol officers who tribal members say have become more aggressive to stop them.

    In the Tohono O'odham Nation is "The San Miguel Gate," an area on the U.S.-Mexico border considered to be sacred by the Tohono O'odham. It is the only place where Native Americans can freely walk across the border, but there, the only thing separating Mexico and the U.S. is a low fence guarded by a lone border patrol agent and a light pole powered by a generator.

    Verlon Jose, a Tohono O'odham tribal leader whose family has lived on the reservation for generations, and other members of his tribe talked to "Nightline" at "The San Miguel Gate." Jose acknowledged that the Gate carries a myriad of problems.

    "Drugs come through here, migrants come through here," he said. "We see harassment from individuals who are moving contraband north, moving migrants north. Homes broken into, vehicles broken into. It's gotten more aggressive."
    Comment:  For more on Tohono O'odham, see Kitt Peak Observatory on Tohono O'odham Land and Jance's Tohono O'odham Mysteries.

    Below:  "The Tohono O'odham are caught in the middle of a war between the Mexican drug cartels coming through their community and the U.S. Border Patrol officers who tribal members say have become more aggressive to stop them."

    Videos rip Johnny Depp's Tonto

    Comment:  For more on Johnny Depp, see Depp to Indians: "You're Still Warriors" and Depp Keeps His Ancestry Ambiguous.

    June 26, 2013

    Court thwarts ICWA in Baby Veronica case

    Supreme Court Thwarts ICWA Intent in Baby Veronica Case

    By Rob CapricciosoThe U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling drafted by Justice Samuel Alito, has used provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to say that a child, widely known as Baby Veronica, does not have to live with her biological Cherokee father.

    "[T]he parent abandoned the Indian child before birth and never had custody of the child," Alito wrote for the majority that was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer.
    Court rules for adoptive parents in Baby Veronica case

    Little 'Baby Veronica' was adopted for more than two years, but an obscure law preventing the breakup of Native American families had forced her return to her father.

    By Richard Wolf
    A sharply divided Supreme Court sided with a 3-year-old girl's adoptive parents over the legal claim of her father Tuesday in a case that revolved around the child's 1% Cherokee blood.

    In doing so, the justices expressed skepticism about a 1978 federal law that's intended to prevent the breakup of Native American families--but in this case may have created one between father and daughter that barely existed originally.

    This posting sums up a key problem with the Court's ruling:

    The Court’s Bizarre 1 Percent Rule

    By Aura BogadoLast week, we were all reminded how little Americans understand this foundational idea about the relationship between Native peoples and the U.S. government. When the Supreme Court ruled on June 25 in a case regarding the adoption of a Cherokee baby, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the prevailing justices seemed to forget tribal sovereignty exists at all. In Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, the very first sentence read, “This case is about a little girl (Baby Girl) who is classified as an Indian because she is 1.2% (3/256) Cherokee.” Through the inherent right of tribal sovereignty, the Cherokee Nation determines its own citizens. The Cherokee Nation doesn’t use the practice of blood quantum, and instead identifies its members through the use of very specific genealogical records. Therefore, the baby at question in the case is not 1 percent Cherokee; she is Cherokee.

    Popular conversation about the ruling followed Alito’s lead. A headline in USA Today declared that the Supreme Court “gives 1% Cherokee girl to adoptive parents.” The obsession with classifying Natives by blood is a contemporary anomaly that society reserves rather exclusively for Natives. USA Today would have never run a headline in 2008, for example, that read, “Voters elect first 50% black President.” We’ve figured out ways to get so much right when it comes to race—but still almost unknowingly accept when so much is wrong, and fundamentally misunderstood, about tribal sovereignty.

    So while it might take some time to tackle the new White House Council’s numerous goals, the language of its opening lines is notable. As I’ve written previously, many people are unaware of the distinct issues that come with being part of a federally recognized tribe in the U.S. While many people are repelled instinctively by racism when it appears in certain cultural venues—say, for example, the Washington football team’s mascot—there’s a lack of understanding among non-Natives about the unique political position that Natives hold, a position which stems from tribal sovereignty.
    Comment:  The second article above was the one that had the offensive 1% headline. USA Today must've changed it after receiving a slew of complaints. But you can still tell the author's bias in the subhead about "an obscure law" and the first sentence.

    For more on the subject, see Media Misreports Native Adoption and ICWA Prevents Child Kidnapping.

    Below:  "Dusten Brown, Cherokee, reads to daughter Veronica at their home in Nowata, Oklahoma."

    Baseball team offers Custer bobbleheads

    Monumental Error: Baseball Team Offers Custer BobbleheadsThis promotion might call for a demotion. Just days after the anniversary of the Battle of the Greasy Grass, also known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Minor League Baseball's Hagerstown, Maryland Suns will be giving away George Armstrong Custer bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans through the gates.

    The Suns game scheduled for Saturday, June 29, will feature the giveaway, which is sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The six-inch-tall bobbling, nodding toy was unveiled yesterday, the anniversary of Custer's death at Greasy Grass, at the Hagerstown Visitor Welcome Center. June 29 marks the 150th anniversary of Custer’s Civil War promotion to the rank of brigadier general.

    Custer, most famous for his "last stand" at Greasy Grass on June 25, 1876, "was very important in the [Civil War] battles of Hagerstown and the surrounding area,” Robert Bruchey II, Suns interim general manager and former Hagerstown mayor told the Associated Press.
    One commenter on this article offered the obvious rejoinder:I'm sure Adolf Hitler is celebrated for his contribution of heroic proportions in some German communities. It doesn't change the fact that he was a psychopathic murderer!Comment:  For more on Custer, see Republican Official Prefers Custer to Indians and They Lied in They Died.

    Muscogee Creek MMA fighter

    Nikki Lowe, Muscogee, enters fighting ring

    By Brandon EcoffeyThe world of Mixed Martial Arts at one point in time was considered to be etched in the likeness of male barbaric hedonism.

    Those times are long gone and today there are more women participating in the sport all across the country. It is not uncommon for mothers, models, and students to turn to the sport to improve their physical fitness and for some to use the sport as a way to quench a primal thirst for competition. It is however unusual when an individual is a mother, model, student and professional fighter at the same time. Meet Nikki Lowe.

    “MMA is an art that is why they call it Mixed Martial Arts because it is about discipline,” said Lowe.

    Originally from Ada, Ok, Lowe, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation with Seminole and Chickasaw lineage as well. She now lives and trains in Albuquerque. The mother of two won her final amateur fight this past weekend at a King of the Cage event at the Ute Mountain Casino in Colorado.
    Comment:  For more on Native martial arts, see Lakota Black Belt to Teach Self-Defense and Navajo Hosts Mixed Martial Arts.

    Leonard Peltier Day proclaimed

    Leonard Peltier Day Honors Imprisoned Native Icon

    By Gale Courey ToensingLeaders of the Oglala Lakota Nation have declared June 26 Leonard Peltier Day in honor of the American Indian Movement activist who has been in prison for 36 years, convicted of murdering two FBI agents in a trial that leading social justice organizations say was unfair and tainted by political influence.

    Peltier (Anishinaabe-Lakota) was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in 1977 for the death of two FBI agents during a confrontation with American Indian Movement (AIM) members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota June 26, 1975. Peltier admits to being present, but denied at his trial and ever since that he shot the agents. Amnesty International calls Peltier a political prisoner.

    Oglala Lakota Nation President Bryan Brewer and Vice-President Thomas Poor Bear issued a proclamation June 24 naming June 26th Leonard Peltier Day.
    Comment:  For more on Leonard Peltier, see The Book that Inspired Beach and Common, Moore Speak for Peltier.

    June 25, 2013

    Wallenda crosses Little Colorado River Gorge

    Before Nik Wallenda's "Skywire" walk:

    Where Evel Knievel Never Soared: A Wallenda Flies Over the Grand CanyonNik Wallenda, scion of the famous Flying Wallendas family and known as “The King of the High Wire,” will traverse the majestic Grand Canyon on a tightrope tonight, without using a harness. And the Discovery Channel is airing the feat live (8 p.m./ET, check local listings), and has a dazzling, dizzying Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda feature on its website (to visit, click HERE).

    Wallenda will tightrope walk higher than he’s ever attempted before at 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River, a height greater than the Empire State Building. In 2012, Wallenda became the first person to tightrope walk directly over Niagara Falls from the U.S. to Canada at a height of 200 feet.

    “The stakes don’t get much higher than this,” said Wallenda in a Discovery press release. “The only thing that stands between me and the bottom of the canyon is a two-inch thick wire. I’m looking forward to showing the audience a view of the canyon they’ve never seen before.”

    Wallenda, 34, said that this latest event will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to walk at such a great height as well as a chance to honor his great-grandfather, the legendary Karl Wallenda, who died after falling from a tightrope in Puerto Rico in 1978.

    The Grand Canyon, one of America’s most visited tourist destinations, provides a spectacular backdrop to the event. The tightrope crossing will take place in a remote section of the canyon operated by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department.

    “We are honored to be a part of this historic event and showcase the beauty that exists on Navajo country,” said Geri Hongeva-Camarillo, media representative for Navajo Parks and Recreation. “The Navajo Nation is home to more than a dozen national monuments, tribal parks and ancestral sites. Many visitors make Navajo Nation one of the top destinations for their travel plans.”
    Wallenda skywire crossing a boon to tribal park

    By Eric BetzIn an international made-for-television event, Nik Wallenda will use a 2-inch cable to walk across the "Grand Canyon" here live on the Discovery Channel this Sunday. And although viewers in other countries might not be able to tell the difference, the location is highly significant to Helen Webster, manager of the tribal park.

    As part of the agreement with the Discovery Channel and NBC, which is producing the event, the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department required that the two-hour television special include information about parks across the reservation and tribal culture.

    More than 13 million Americans watched live as Wallenda walked the same cable across Niagara Falls one year ago. Many others watched the event worldwide. It was touted as the largest audience for a non-sports broadcast in six years.

    Tribal officials hope to cash in on that audience when the majesty of their lands is broadcast around the world.

    False advertising?

    Some people noted the misleading references to the Grand Canyon:

    One Problem With Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon Walk: It Isn't At The Grand Canyon

    By Andrew BenderWallenda’s death-defying deed will take place today east of the park, across the gorge of Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park. It’s on land of the Navajo Nation, near Cameron, Arizona.

    “The event would not have been approved in Grand Canyon National Park,” says Maureen Oltrogge, the park’s public affairs officer. Under National Park Service regulations, she says, “events must not unreasonably impair the park’s atmosphere of peace and tranquility or have an unacceptable impact on the experience of park visitors.”

    That doesn’t make the stunt any less risky or the visuals any less spectacular. Wallenda’s two-inch (5 cm) cable spans 1,400 feet (426 m) across the gorge, 1,500 feet (457 m) above ground; that’s higher than the Empire State Building. Plus, the site is likely to be buffeted with winds up to 30 mph (48 kph).

    Although the tribal park is not in the actual Grand Canyon, they’re close neighbors. Some have called it a “little Grand Canyon,” and the Little Colorado River feeds into the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

    Permitting Wallenda’s walk was not a casual decision, says Geri Hongeva, spokesperson for Navajo Parks & Recreation. “Discovery Channel, NBC Peacock Productions and Nik Wallenda all had to complete a number of clearances and gain proper permits,” including archaeological, biological and environmental surveys, and handle tribal park land use fees and filming approvals. Extreme sports are permitted only rarely on tribal lands.
    High-wire artist Nik Wallenda walks across canyon, but maybe not GrandThe high-wire artist Nik Wallenda has completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter of a mile over the Little Colorado River gorge near the Grand Canyon.

    Wallenda performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet (457 meters) above the river without wearing a harness.

    Wallenda took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and kneeling twice and murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He stepped slowly and steadily, but jogged and hopped the last few steps.
    But:Before the walk, a group of Navajos, Hopis and other Native Americans stood along a nearby highway with signs protesting against the event.

    The stunt was touted as a walk across the Grand Canyon, an area held sacred by many Native American tribes. Some local residents believe Wallenda has not accurately pinpointed the location and said the Navajo Nation should not be promoting the gambling of one man's life for the benefit of tourism.

    "Mr Wallenda needs to buy a GPS or somebody give this guy a map," said Milton Tso, president of the Cameron community on the Navajo Nation. "He's not walking across the Grand Canyon. He's walking across the Little Colorado River Gorge on the Navajo Nation. It's misleading and false advertising."
    'Skywire': Nik Wallenda Completes 1,500-Foot High-Wire Walk Near Grand Canyon Live On Discovery Channel

    Navajo Leadership Congratulate High Wire Artist Nik Wallenda

    By Levi RickertThe Navajo Nation received some exposure on television last night as Nik Wallenda walked across the Little Colorado River last night.

    Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim were on hand to congratulate high wire artist Nik Wallenda after he successfully walked across the Little Colorado River Gorge on a two inch steel cable on Sunday evening near the Grand Canyon.

    Wallenda's tightrope walk, which was near the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, was broadcasted live on the Discovery Channel to 217 countries throughout the world.

    "I want to congratulate Nik on his successful walk. I want to thank the Discovery Channel, NBC and all the workers who made this event successful. This is an example of what can happen when we work together.

    "I am pleased that the Navajo Nation was a part of this project and that we helped Nik achieve one of his lifelong goals. It was exciting to Nik walk on the tightrope with windy conditions and I am happy that he was successful.

    "The worldwide audience was able to see the Navajo Nation and now we invite you to come Navajo land. Come see the pristine landscape for yourself, with your own eyes, you won't regret it.

    "We invite travelers near and far to come experience Navajo land," President Shelly said.

    President Shelly, Navajo First Lady Martha Shelly and Vice President Jim sat together near the edge of the Little Colorado Gorge and watched Wallenda walk across the gorge.

    President Shelly gave a bolo tie to Wallenda after the walk and Vice President Jim presented Wallenda a silver and turquoise belt buckle.

    Vice President Jim said Wallenda's success is about achievement.

    "I want our Navajo children to know that they can dream big and have big success. Just like Nik dreamed about walking over the Grand Canyon, our young children can dream big about their goals in life and they can achieve them.

    "We can use each success and build upon that. Each success builds for bigger dreams and larger successes.

    "We can accomplish that for the Navajo Nation."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Tightrope Walk Over Grand Canyon Planned.

    Below:  "Natalie Morales, NBC News; High Wire Artist Nik Wallenda; Navajo President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim."

    One small step for American statue

    Sand Springs City Council Moves Forward On Plans For 21-Story Statue

    By Tess MauneA 21-story monument that's been making headlines for nearly a decade is one step closer to becoming reality.

    The Sand Springs City Council met Monday night and voted on a measure that will essentially get the ball rolling on "The American" statue.

    The council unanimously approved of a $48,500 engineering study that would determine the amount of infrastructure needed for the property that's been donated to the project.
    And:Rogers said a study showed the statue would bring up to 2 million visitors, and their money, to the town each year.

    He said the statue's home has been secured. The Charles Page Foundation has offered to donate 40 acres, just north of town in Osage County.

    Gray said the foundation has also agreed to sell 600 surrounding acres of untouched land to the project.
    Comment:  In a previous posting, I discussed the study about how many visitors the statue would attract. The news here is the infrastructure study.

    Note that the study hasn't produced any results yet--results that might say the project isn't feasible. All they're talking about is launching the study.

    So the creator and the city have taken perhaps the 10th or 20th step on a 100-step journey. Let us know when they're more than a fraction of the way to completion, okay?

    For more on the subject, see Is The American Still Feasible?

    Saginaw Grant plans Eagle Lake

    Film brings Native philosophy to mainstream

    By Christina RoseActor Saginaw Grant, Meskwaki, is in the rare position of sharing the limelight with Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger and beginning work on another Hollywood film, “Eagle Lake,” which will explore the wisdom of a respected Native elder.

    Making films has given Grant an outlet to share the wisdom he received from his own grandparents and his personal experiences. “When I was growing up, I never imagined myself to be doing what I am doing now, but it happened in a way that gives me a way to talk to people. And some people listen to you, and some retain what is said.”

    “Eagle Lake” is now in the earliest stages of pre-production after eight years of planning.

    “The new film project has universal themes; its basis is bringing people, both children and adults, back to the basics of listening to our elders and remembering traditions,” casting director Lani Melisa said. “When they asked me to be the casting director, the script brought my attention to the story, that family it is so important. It’s about trying to bring people together and coming from Native philosophy of an elder.”
    Comment:  For more on Saginaw Grant, see Hollywood Indians in Idle No More PSA and Blogger Attacked for Criticizing Depp.

    The Honouring and The Road

    Native-inspired performances at Fort York mostly hit the mark with melancholy subject matter

    By Paula CitronWhat could be more surreal than a tomahawk-wielding Iroquois war party in full regalia with Toronto skyscrapers as a backdrop? Such was Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s stirring new site-specific work, The Honouring, choreographed by Santee Smith.

    The Honouring was part of the Indigenous Arts Festival @ Fort York, a celebration of the First Nations’ contributions to the War of 1812 presented by the City of Toronto. Also receiving its world premiere was the ambitious play The Road, written and directed by Herbie Barnes. While the dance piece took place outdoors, the play was presented in the Blue Barracks.

    On the zeitgeist level, one came away from the performances with a sense of melancholy. The Honouring touches on the fact that 10,000 Haudenosaunee warriors died for the British cause against the Americans. (Haudenosaunee is the Aboriginal name for Iroquois.) The Road deals with the aftermath of the war and the trail of broken promises.

    As Smith points out in her program notes, the native warriors took part in the war as “sovereign nation allies,” in other words, on equal footing with the British. But, as The Road depicts, what followed was an attempt at a systematic destruction of First Nation culture. What the audience takes away from these performances is, perhaps, an understanding of the Idle No More protest, whose roots go back 200 years.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see 1812 Survivors Take The Road.

    June 24, 2013

    Reviews of Winter in the Blood

    Winter in the Blood: LAFF Review

    By David RooneyThe Bottom Line

    An honorable if only intermittently satisfying attempt to access a journey that takes place almost entirely inside the protagonist's head.

    Chaske Spencer of "The Twilight Saga" stars in twin brothers Alex & Andrew Smith's adaptation of Native American writer James Welch's 1974 novel.

    There’s no questioning the profound personal investment and deep connection to the wide-open spaces of Montana that grace Alex & Andrew Smith’s Winter in the Blood, the twin brothers’ first feature since their brooding 2002 coming-of-age drama The Slaughter Rule. But in remaining true to the spirit of Native American writer James Welch’s landmark 1974 novel, they have not succeeded in solving the central problem of how to render in emotionally involving narrative terms a fundamentally page-bound, internalized story.

    An obvious labor of love, this hand-crafted film is beautifully made–photographed, scored and edited with a grubby lyricism that makes its shortage of plot momentum all the more frustrating. However, admirers of Welch’s books about Native American life, exploring the struggle to maintain cultural, ancestral and physical ties to the past while navigating a way forward, will find rewards in the drama’s cumulatively affecting final stretch.
    LA Film Fest 2013 Review: WINTER IN THE BLOOD Captures The True Western Spirit

    By Dylan SharpThe film taps into the mythology of the Plains Indian to subvert the generic Western. This Indian's a cowboy who'd rather hide than conquer. He spends the whole movie looking for his broken gun. The mind's frontier may be more dangerous than the range, but at least he has tradition (the 'chock cherries' he provides for the elders to smoke out of long pipes) to bring a sense of peace.

    Between the nostalgia and the tragedy, you'd be forgiven for feeling a little stifled. Welch's novel came out in 1974. This film, for all intents and purposes, could have come out in 1974 as well. It uses that era's sweeping aesthetic and tragic, freedom-seeking characters to create an experience that feels old--and not in an entirely pleasant way either. I found myself asking throughout the film, "But what about now? Has anything changed?" Perhaps in Montana things haven't changed that much. But the themes of our stories have changed slightly and these days there's something about the source material that seems to portray tribal misery in a romantic manner that's slightly uncomfortable. The film version does little to update the story and as a result, some of its vitality is sacrificed. There's something very Montana about this project--kind of backwards and a little old fashioned. It works in that odd paradoxical way that it doesn't.

    It seems the Smith brothers set out to make a very specific type of western--one in which nearly all of the thrills of the traditional western are either withheld or turn out to be fantasies. What's left is a portrait of a forgotten individual on a lonesome landscape. Not completely pleasant and not totally real, Winter in the Blood isn't the kind of movie with much of a shot at getting a major theatrical release. But true aficionados will want to track this down. There simply aren't many true Westerns out there these days--and while it may be a little inverted, this is nothing if not a true Western.
    'Winter in the Blood,' a Review by Sonny SkyhawkMy final verdict? On a scale of one to three feathers, with three being excellent, I give Winter in the Blood two feathers.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Winter in the Blood Premieres in LA and Filming Winter in the Blood.

    Crow Creek Sioux boycott Chamberlain

    Crow Creek Sioux Boycott Border-town Businesses Over Banned Honor Song

    By Stephanie WoodardCrow Creek Sioux Tribe chairman Brandon Sazue is willing to drive an hour across the rolling central South Dakota grasslands that separate his reservation from Pierre, the state capital, in order to buy sneakers for his kids. He has declared a personal economic boycott of Chamberlain, the reservation border town that’s a half-hour closer to his house.

    Chamberlain is where he and other tribal members have long shopped and done their business. However, its high school wouldn’t allow a Sioux honor song to be performed during its recent late-May graduation—even though about one-third of the student body is Native, and there’s a petition signed by staff and students requesting it. The song was eventually presented, but outdoors, across the street, rather than inside at the ceremony.

    The tall, strapping chairman is still fuming. “Their refusal is ringing in my ears,” Sazue said.

    The tribe’s history has been especially painful, and opportunities to celebrate are valued. Fort Thompson, where most of the 3,000-member tribe lives, was originally a prison camp. Most tribal members are descended from Dakotas exiled there from Minnesota following the Dakota–U.S. War of 1862. The journey was so grueling that many, including hundreds of children, died of starvation and disease, writes Mdewakanton Dakota author Diane Wilson in Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life.

    Sazue isn’t requiring anyone to join his boycott, and it’s not known how many individuals have followed his lead. But one prominent business is joining the boycott: the tribe’s Lode Star Casino, in Fort Thompson. The casino’s board of directors voted in early June to begin purchasing goods and services—from beverages to air-conditioner repair—from non-Chamberlain suppliers, Sazue said.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Tribe Threatens Boycott Over Honor Song.

    June 23, 2013

    Superficial treatment in Silver Linings Playbook

    I watched Silver Linings Playbook recently. I didn't know "bipolar" meant delusions, paranoia, and violent rage. I would've thought these symptoms suggested some other mental disorder.

    The movie seems to want to have it both ways. He's "bipolar," which means the state can release him to his daffy parents because he merely has "mood swings." But he's dangerously psychotic because he nearly beat someone to death and still flies into a rage at the slightest provocation.

    If the movie diagnosed him correctly, I don't think he'd get released after a mere eight months by fake-taking his meds. He seems to have a long-term problem he may have inherited from his father.

    But if he wasn't released, we wouldn't have a cute romance movie where both parties say and do inappropriate things. So he's "bipolar," not psychotic.

    Others agree it's a mess:

    Is Silver Linings Playbook Really About Mental Illness?

    Silver Linings Playbook: Treating bipolar disorder a la Hollywood is not funny

    'Silver Linings Playbook' OK on Mental Illness?

    What I learned from Silver Linings Playbook: Dance competitions cure mental illness; football victories cure gambling addiction and OCD.

    How Silver Linings Playbook is like Hollywood's Native movies. 1) All illnesses and Indians are the same. 2) Good feelings cure the problems. 3) Just acknowledging them is enough to excuse the mistakes and stereotypes.

    I'd say Argo was better than Lincoln, and both were better than Silver Linings Playbook. Rob's rating: 7.5.

    For more on mental illness, see Negative Reviews of Jimmy P. and Mental Health Services Needed.

    Sanna: Goddess of the Sea

    Here's an interesting project on Indiegogo:

    Sanna: Goddess of the Sea

    It's the stuff of Inuit Legend!Welcome!

    My name is Ryan, and I would like to share with you a short comic book project I've been working on over the last year. It's based on the Inuit legend Sedna, or alternatively named Sanna: Goddess of the Sea. The story is a coming-of-age tale about a young Inuit woman who refuses to marry a mysterious suitor and her journey of personal and physical transformation.

    This project is important to me because it is my first serious attempt at crafting a story through the medium of comics. I think it is especially important to Canada and the world that this aboriginal story be shared. My art directors have helped me through the hardest part of the process; visual development, layout, pacing, and penciling. Now I hope that you will back me for adding the inks, colors, and text. If you can help meet our financial goal you will help in bringing this project full-circle. Please check out the comic in the gallery.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Why Indigenous Literatures Matter" and Nanook Iluak in NORTHERN GUARD #1.

    Metatron in Supernatural

    I haven't watched the TV series Supernatural, but someone told me of a Native aspect, so I looked it up. Here it is:

    MetatronMetatron is an angel and the scribe who recorded The Word of God on a series of tablets. God, having decided to leave Heaven, chose him to write down instructions related to his creations. After he left, the Archangels began to plot to take over the universe themselves. Realizing that they needed the tablets and him, Metatron also left Heaven. He fled to Earth where he lived amongst a Native American tribe. In return for them telling him stories, he gave them longevity. Metatron has been entirely cut off from Heaven, with no knowledge of the Apocalypse of surrounding events. He spends all his time reading.Comment:  For more on the supernatural on TV, see Cannibal Indians in My Ghost Story.

    June 22, 2013

    Johnny Cash's Indian education

    The bitter tears of Johnny Cash

    The untold story of Johnny Cash, protest singer and Native American activist, and his feud with the music industry

    By Antonino D'Ambrosio
    Cash never pretended that music could stay immune from social, but he tried his best to “not mix in politics.” Instead he talked about the things that unite us like the dignity of honest work. “If you were a baker,” he told writer Christopher Wren in 1970, “and you baked a loaf of bread and it fed somebody, then your life has been worthwhile. And if you were a weaver, and you wove some cloth and your cloth kept somebody warm, your life has been worthwhile.”

    Raised in rural poverty on the margins of America, Cash empathized with outsiders like convicts, the poor and Native Americans. But his identification with Indians was especially deep—even delusional. During the depths of his early ’60s drug abuse, he convinced himself, and told others, that he was Native American himself, with both Cherokee and Mohawk blood. (He would later recant this claim.)

    At the Gaslight, once he had listened to “Ira Hayes’ and La Farge’s other Indian protest tunes, including “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow” and “Custer,” Cash was hooked. “Johnny wanted more than the hillbilly jangle,” Peter La Farge would write later about meeting Cash at the Gaslight. “He was hungry for the depth and truth heard only in the folk field (at least until Johnny came along). The secret is simple, Johnny has the heart of a folksinger in the purest sense.” In fact, Cash had written an Indian folk protest ballad of his own in 1957. “I wrote ‘Old Apache Squaw,’” Cash later explained to Seeger. “Then I forgot the so-called protest song for a while. No one else seemed to speak up for the Indian with any volume or voice [until Peter La Farge].”
    And:In the two years since Cash had first met La Farge and listened to “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” Cash had educated himself about Native American issues. “John had really researched a lot of the history,” Cash’s longtime emcee Johnny Western recalled. “It started with Ira Hayes.”

    As Cash explained, “I dove into primary and secondary sources, immersing myself in the tragic stories of the Cherokee and the Apache, among others, until I was almost as raw as Peter. By the time I actually recorded the album I carried a heavy load of sadness and outrage.”

    But Cash felt a special kinship with Ira Hayes. Both men had served in the military as a way to escape their lives of rural poverty longing to create new opportunities. Plus, both suffered from addiction problems; Cash and his pills and Hayes with alcohol. He decided to anchor the album with “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.” And since the song had provided the spark for Cash’s vision, it just felt right that he should learn more about the song’s subject.

    Cash contacted Ira Hayes’ mother and then visited her and her family at the Pima reservation in Arizona. Before Cash left the Pima Reservation, Hayes’ mother presented him with a gift, a smooth black translucent stone. The Pima call it an “Apache tear.” The legend behind the opaque volcanic black glass is rooted in the last U.S. cavalry attack on Native people, which took place on Apaches in the state of Arizona. After the slaughter, the soldiers refused to allow the Apache women to put the dead up on stilts, a sacred Apache tradition. Legend says that overcome by intense grief, Apache women shed tears for the first time ever, and the tears that fell to the earth turned black. Cash, moved by the gift, polished the stone and mounted it on a gold chain.

    With the Apache tear draped around his neck, Cash cut his protest album. He recorded five of La Farge’s songs, two of his own, and one he’d co-written with Johnny Horton. All were Native American themed. “When we went back into the studio to record what became ‘Bitter Tears,’” Cash bassist Marshall Grant says, “we could see that John really had a special feeling for this record and these songs.”
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Rereleasing Cash's Bitter Tears.

    Below:  "Johnny Cash touring Wounded Knee with the descendants of those who survived the 1890 massacre in December of 1968."

    Upper One Games

    Indigenous-owned game company making titles on culture

    By Greg ToppoAs they searched over the past few years for investment opportunities, members of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council of Alaska checked out everything from real estate to funeral homes. But each time she heard the details, President and CEO Gloria O'Neill would say to herself, "That's just not doing it for me. We have to do something really connected to our youth."

    This week at the annual Games for Change Festival, they revealed where they're putting their money: video games.

    The council's homegrown startup, Upper One Games, LLC, will produce commercial and educational titles "to engage young people in fresh, vibrant ways" using games that teach about culture. Upper One will be the first indigenous-owned video game company in the USA, its founders say.

    Its name a play on "The Lower 48," how Alaskans refer to most of the rest of the USA, Upper One will partner with New York-based E-Line Media, with plans to release its first two titles next year: a commercial "cinematic platform" game and a digital history curriculum modeled after Historia, a series of tabletop games developed by a pair of Texas middle-school teachers.
    Comment:  For more on Native-themed video games, see Native Values in Assassin's Creed 3 and Kachina Video Game.

    June 21, 2013

    Return of the Jeep Cherokee

    When Cars Assume Ethnic Identities

    By Glenn CollinsComing to a showroom near you for 2014: the first sport utility vehicle in its class equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s also the first to offer a parallel-parking feature. And, in 4-wheel-drive models, the rear axle disconnects automatically, for fuel efficiency.

    Oh, yes: its name is the Jeep Cherokee.

    Hold on—wasn’t that model name retired more than a decade ago? Wasn’t it replaced by the Jeep Liberty for 2002?

    Yet now, in a time of heightened sensitivity over stereotypes, years after ethnic, racial and gender labeling has been largely erased from sports teams, products and services, Jeep is reviving an American Indian model name. Why?

    “In the automobile business, you constantly have to reinvent yourself, and sometimes it’s best to go back to the future,” said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, a brand and corporate identity consultancy.

    Jeep, a division of the Chrysler Group, explained that its market research revealed a marked fondness for the name. The 2014 version, said Jim Morrison, director of Jeep marketing, “is a new, very capable vehicle that has the Cherokee name and Cherokee heritage. Our challenge was, as a brand, to link the past image to the present.”

    The company says it respects changed attitudes toward stereotyping. “We want to be politically correct, and we don’t want to offend anybody,” Mr. Morrison said. Regarding the Cherokee name, he added: “We just haven’t gotten any feedback that was disparaging.”

    Well, here’s some: “We are really opposed to stereotypes,” said Amanda Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. “It would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least.”

    But, she added, the Cherokee name is not copyrighted, and the tribe has been offered no royalties for the use of the name. “We have encouraged and applauded schools and universities for dropping offensive mascots,” she said, but stopped short of condemning the revived Jeep Cherokee because, “institutionally, the tribe does not have a stance on this.”

    So far, marketing materials for the 2014 Cherokee model have eschewed references to, or portrayals of, American Indians and their symbols. That’s a far cry from the excesses of past years, when marketers went beyond embracing stereotyping to reveling in it. Indeed, Chrysler’s restraint seems an indication of just how much things have changed.

    For decades, American Indian tribal names have helped to propel automobiles out of showrooms. Return with us now to the era when Pontiac’s sales brochures carried illustrations comparing its 6-cylinder engines to six red-painted, feathered cartoon Indian braves rowing a canoe.

    Or review Pontiac’s marketing copy, which proclaimed that “among the names of able Indian warriors known to the white race in America, that of Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas and accepted leader of the Algonquin family of tribes, stands pre-eminent.” Of course, the visage of the chief was appropriated as a hood ornament.

    Comment:  This posting led to a brief discussion with a Facebook friend:My theory is that if the vehicle is any good the appropriation won't be as offensive. The Cherokee, especially the second-generation unibody one AMC and then Chrysler manufactured, was a well-regarded SUV. Meso-Americans in general, however, should still be up in arms over the Aztek.

    With the exception of the Studebaker Scotsman and General Motors' Viking brand, I cannot think of any non-Native American ethnicity/nationality used on any motor vehicle.
    Good point on the lack of other ethnicities. Cars are named for occupations (Ranger, Scout) and animals (Impala, Cougar). And Indians.

    It's just like the problem with mascots. It incorrectly conflates a race with occupations and with animals.Then what about names like Chiefs, Braves and Warriors, which are all professions?Warriors is a profession with no racial emphasis. Chiefs and Braves are specific to Indians--at least in the context of sports mascots. No team has ever used a fire chief or a chief executive officer as its mascot. And "brave" means "Indian brave":


    "A warrior, especially among North American Indian tribes."

    For more on the subject, see Military Craft, Cars, and Liquor and Indian Nicknames for Military Craft.

    Below:  "1928 Pontiac Indian head mascot."

    Native media limited at Lone Ranger premiere

    Disney courts Indian Country, ignores Native media

    NAJA supports inclusion of diverse media in coverage of "The Lone Ranger"The Native American Journalists Association was informed that press junkets associated with the premiere of the movie "The Lone Ranger" have been well attended by journalists but not by Native journalists.

    While Disney has attempted to reach out to Native American audiences with the film, they have curiously forgotten to invite media from Indian Country to cover it.

    National Native News, a national Native American radio program based in Albuquerque, N.M., made several requests for access to a press event in Santa Fe, N.M., June 19, however, these were not granted. Disney did issue a response to NNN at the conclusion of the event.

    A large portion of the film was shot on the Navajo Nation. While some Native media groups were contacted about attending the film's premiere in Oklahoma, the New Mexico premiere has Native media groups that should have also been included in press events. New Mexico is home to 22 tribes, nations and Pueblos, as well as many NAJA members and Native reporters.
    Native media deserves more than sidekick role

    By Sarah GustavusIt has been widely reported that Johnny Depp, in his role as Tonto in the new film “The Lone Ranger,” wants to challenge stereotypes about Native Americans, but Native media was limited to the role of sidekick to other media outlets this week.

    The staff of Native America Calling and National Native News, produced by Koahnic Broadcast Corporation (a New Mexico In Depth partner), have reported on the progression of the film in recent years. In the past month, our staff went through the proper channels to request interviews with the cast and crew for our coverage of the official release of “The Lone Ranger.” Our repeated requests were either passed on to other Disney contacts or received no response.

    It was a complete surprise to learn on Monday that a major press junket was taking place only an hour from our studios, in Santa Fe. We were not invited, but immediately requested press credentials. Our staff received a response from Disney after the press conference saying we could not be accommodated for the event because it was over.

    Our staff also requested access to the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. An exclusive event tied to the premiere will raise funds for the American Indian College Fund, but our requests for media access were not immediately granted.
    Comment:  Simon Moya-Smith, a columnist for Indian Country Today, was at the premiere. As far as I know, he was the only Native journalist there.

    This is for a movie starring a Native character, remember. Do you think Disney would limit the black media at a movie about a black scientist, sports hero, or slave? I doubt it.

    For more on Johnny Depp, see Depp Keeps His Ancestry Ambiguous and Skyhawk: Depp Is A Charlatan.

    June 20, 2013

    Depp to Indians: "You're still warriors"

    Depp to Native Youth: 'You're Still Warriors, Man'And so the magazine-cover onslaught is underway. Expect to see Johnny Depp's Tonto-fied face (and bird-ified crown) all over your local newsstand—today, it's Rolling Stone. In the extensive cover story, Depp ruminates on his Hollywood success and his future, and addresses the role at hand: Tonto in The Lone Ranger.

    ON THE COSTUME: "I wanted him to be no joke. ... First of all, I wouldn't f*** with someone with a dead bird on their head. Second of all, he's got the f***ing paint on his face, which scares me."

    ON MOTIVATION: "I wanted to maybe give some hope to kids on the reservations. ... They're living without running water and seeing problems with drugs and booze. But I wanted to be able to show these kids, 'F*** that! You're still warriors, man.' "
    Depp's warrior hope for Ranger roleStepping out on the red carpet at the film's world premiere at Disney's California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, the 50-year-old said he has always felt a connection with the role.

    "It's something that has felt dear to my heart since childhood. I remember my parents talking about how we had some degree of Indian blood in us and it was a great point of pride even as a little kid.

    "If this version of the Lone Ranger can help kids on the reservation, kids off the reservation to say I am a warrior, I can get through this, I want to keep my language alive then great."
    Depp is sending a consistent message, but it's not the one he thinks. He obviously sees Tonto as a scary savage warrior. The personification of Tonto's Giant Nuts, his rock band.

    This is no different from the last 10,000 examples of savage Indians. You can see the same traits in Sleepless Entertainment's racist "tribal cosplay," the stereotypical Whistling Warrior statue, the half-naked drummer dressed as an "Indian," and on and on.

    These traits center around a lack of depth--a lack of culture, history, and religion. All these stereotypical savages are one-dimensional caricatures of real Indians.

    Depp confirms his stereotypical thinking in another article:

    Johnny Depp: I have been adopted by Native Americans ... my name is Mah-Woo-Meh“Being adopted, what it means and what it’s meant since that day, has given me so much in my life.

    “I’m not a particularly spiritual person myself the only church I have ever seen that makes sense to me is the sweatbox. I do smoke a peace pipe as often as possible, because I like peace... ”
    Others agree

    Others have noted the same thing:

    Johnny Depp Wants to Fix Racism With TontoJohnny doesn't just want to make sure he's not only being culturally sensitive, he wants to change the way things are for Natives in film. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Depp said he wants to take his role in The Lone Ranger and make it an inspiration for young Native Americans:

    I wanted to maybe give some hope to kids on the reservations. They're living without running water and seeing problems with drugs and booze. But I wanted to be able to show these kids, "Fuck that! You're still warriors, man."

    You're still warriors… man? Are you kidding me? If it wasn't so painfully steeped in an ignorant understanding of the modern Native American struggle, Depp's mission to "help" the Natives could be a hilarious comedy about how white dudes see the non-white world. If only.

    This is just another case of white dudes solving the brown world's problems, problems that they think they've got figured out. "What are some Native American issues?" thought Depp. "White-dominated media tells me it's alcoholism and drugs. I want to change that by dressing up like a member of Kiss meets Navajo gift shop." And to top it all off, he wants to encourage those reservation kids to find their inner warriors, to hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon, to paint with all the colors of the wind.

    If Depp's version of Tonto was meant to "take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it its head," as Depp stated as his hopes for the role, he's turned it at a full 360 degrees and fallen back on the same binary depiction of Native Americans as alcoholic reservation kids on one hand and feather-sporting warrior braves on the other. What's worse is, even if Depp and Disney did the political correctness song and dance, thousands of kids will still be dressing as Tonto for Halloween and in their heads they'll say, "I feel like a warrior, man."
    Annotating the racism of Johnny Depp's Tonto

    The mystical bird-headed man

    By Liana Maeby
    We've all always suspected that Johnny Depp's portrayal of the pidgin English-speaking wildman Tonto in 'The Lone Ranger' might be more than a little racist, but now that we have an abundance of official images to go on, we can say conclusively that yep, this character is offensive as hell. Even better, Johnny-as-Tonto graces the cover of the new issue of Rolling Stone in full-on American Indian caricature mode. How how, paleface!

    Exactly how cartoonish can this character get? Here are just some of the offenses of Johnny's Tonto.

    It seems Depp sees most Indians as victims, but he wants them to be warriors. So his view is binary: Indians are either winners or losers. They can either get drunk, fall down, and die or put on a scary costume, pick up a tomahawk, and fight back.

    This binary thinking suggests how shallow his knowledge of Indians is. It suggests he has no understanding of the complexities of Native history and culture. No awareness that Tonto's contemporaries were going to schools, becoming educated in the white man's ways, and challenging the status quo with words and ideas, not bows and arrows.

    It's also condescending. "I'm a role model for you," Depp seems to be saying. "Why can't you be a tough guy like my super-scary Tonto? Don't you understand that your people were warriors and can be warriors again?"

    For more on Johnny Depp, see Depp Keeps His Ancestry Ambiguous and Skyhawk: Depp Is a Charlatan.

    Poarch Creek student avoids fine

    Poarch Creek Student Not Required to Pay Fine, Receives Diploma

    By Vincent SchillingAfter nearly a month of not knowing her fate, Chelsey Ramer, of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and her family have been informed by Escambia Academy officials that she would not have to pay a $1,000 fine for wearing an eagle feather on her cap during her graduation ceremony in May. (Related story: “Poarch Creek Student Fined for Wearing Eagle Feather at Graduation”)

    Escambia interim headmaster David Walker was not able to comment with any specific details about the matter, but he did confirm that Ramer would receive her diploma and would not pay the copy,000 fine.

    “The young lady has her diploma; she received it yesterday. She did not have to pay a fine,” said Walker. “The decision was made before graduation. Chelsey has done everything she needed to do to fulfill her graduation requirement.”

    Even if Ramer had been made to pay the fine, enough money was raised by an online campaign to cover the cost, so the family wouldn’t have to pay it. The “Chelsey Ramer can’t graduate because she is proud to be Native American” campaign was started by Dan Morrison, communications director at First Peoples Worldwide, and has raised $1,127 that will now go to Chelsey’s education.
    Comment:  This story played out about as I expected. There was no way the school district was going to enforce the fine. It would've been a PR nightmare.

    For more on the subject, see Christian Prayer Yes, Native Prayer No and Student Fined for Wearing Feather.

    Below:  "Pictured is the Ramer family, from left, Jamie Ramer, Chelsey’s father; Chelsey Ramer; and Debra Ramer, her mother, at Chelsey’s graduation."

    June 19, 2013

    Navajo t-shirts make a statement

    Engineering student turns fashion designer with statement Ts

    By Shondiin SilversmithJared Yazzie started out his college career with the intent of becoming an engineer. In fact, he received several scholarships to help him along the way at the University of Arizona.

    After two-and-a-half years of working toward his degree, Yazzie, 24, made a drastic change: he switched his major to graphic design.

    In the fall of 2009 Yazzie started designing his own T-shirts.

    "I was just doing my own design work," Yazzie said.

    That is when he developed the brand OxDx for his designs. It stands for "Overdose." He said the name came from how he sees the world because everyone is overdosing themselves with unnecessary things.

    "I always thought of a T-shirt as billboarding," Yazzie said. "I just want a way to interact with people, and I think T-shirts are the most interactive tool. I call it a walking billboard."
    Comment:  For more on Navajo fashion, see Paul Frank Announces Native Collaboration and Navajo Nation Sues Urban Outfitters.

    Navajo metal band Obsolete

    Kayenta's two-member band has sound of orchestra

    By Shondiin SilversmithIt is often thought that in order for one to experience an energetic musical performance, the band should have at least four to five band members.

    When it comes to Kayenta, Ariz.'s metal band, Obsolete, two sounds just as good.

    "Obsolete goes on stage as two, but delivers a performance that a full band gives," according to Leon Boone, 19, of his observation of fans' reactions over the past two years. "We just want to be different and we want to stand out. We put a lot of work into our band."

    Obsolete is made up of Boone, drummer and lead vocals, and Damon Zonnie, 20, who plays guitar.
    Comment:  For more on Navajo musicians, see Navajo Musician in The Voice and Navajo "Anime-Core" Band.

    Taiwanese video on Washington Redskins

    Must-See Video: Taiwanese Animators Take on the Racist RedskinsThe Taiwanese company Next Media Animation, which skyrocketed to pop culture cult status with its infamous 2009 Tiger Woods video, has turned its sights on Dan Snyder's NFL Washington Redskins. The resulting animated video, titled "Redskins name is racist against Native Americans and a disgrace to NFL," is, well, something that must be seen to be believed. NMA made some minor noise in Indian country last year with a Super Bowl preview cartoon, but the new anti-Redskins effort takes things to an entirely new level.

    Comment:  Black, brown, and red skins to the left, white skins to the right.

    Good video. And it's interesting that a Taiwanese company is tackling this subject. Many people still don't know or care about the Redskins controversy, although that's changing.

    For more on the Washington Redskins, see NFL Commissioner Defends "Redskins" Name and White House Gets Redskins Question.

    June 18, 2013

    Responses to Sleepless Entertainment's tribal cosplay

    As you may recall, I criticized Sleepless Entertainment's Racist "Tribal Cosplay" in a recent posting. Perhaps foolishly, I shared the link with Sleepless's fans on their Facebook page. I got a slew of angry responses.

    Here are some of their comments and my replies:wow.... you have GOT to be one of the biggest MORONS for writing this garbage... you MUST not have much of a life ...seriouslyI earn my living writing and disseminating news about Indians. I've been invited to speak in schools and museums. My work is quoted in books and articles. If that's "not much of a life," I'll take it.

    Terminology, mascots, and pollsALSO you look quite ignorant calling native americans "indian"

    You keep using the word "Indian" which is almost derrogatory.
    I've been writing about Indians for 20-plus years, bright boys. Unless you have more experience than that, you should keep your mouths shut.

    You're ignoramuses if you think Indians don't call themselves Indians. Check out the thousands of tribes and tribal organizations with the word "Indian" in their name.

    Here, educate yourself on the subject so I don't have to:

    "Indian" term dying out?
    "American Indian" vs. "Native American"
    "Indian" vs. "Native American"

    Heck, check out the comments by the so-called Reservation Rats (quoted directly below). Why don't you two groups debate whether "Indian" is proper or not and get back to me with your answer?The obsession with protesting mascots and names like Redskins is an obsession of white Indians. They protest mascots, children dressing up on Halloween and other silly things because it makes them feel Indian. It lets them scream racism.It's funny to see the Rats, who admit being a nearly defunct group of Indians, call other Indians "white." Especially since the Rats want Indians to stop protesting mascots and accept the white man's position. It's hard to be "whiter" than agreeing with the white majority.

    As for the Rats' arguments, check out the hundreds of tribes and tribal organizations that have denounced Indian mascots. From my e-mail exchanges with the Rats, I've learned that's one fact they can't or won't touch.

    Native orgs that oppose mascots

    The pro-mascot polls are biased or misleading, as many of us have explained before. Read up on the subject rather than regurgitating what the mainstream media tells you.

    Online Redskins poll demonstrates bias
    AP poll on Redskinsis flawed
    Annenberg's "Redskins" survey

    And this posting isn't about mascots, so stick to the subject. Next time you post a bunch of irrelevant comments, I may delete them.

    Fire-twirling and tiki masksIt is funny how you don't realize the disrespectful way you have presented tribal cultures aside from Native Americans.

    "The fire-twirling and tiki-style mask aren't part of any American Indian culture, although they might qualify as Native Hawaiian. In any case, they're exotic customs not practiced by civilized people. Barbaric people wear strange costumes, do strange dances, and worship strange gods."
    Apparently you weren't clever enough to realize I was conveying Sleepless Entertainment's message, not my own. Here, I rewrote the passage so even a child couldn't misunderstand it:

    Sleepless Entertainment is telling us all indigenous people are the same. The company's view is that they're barbaric people who wear strange costumes, do strange dances, and worship strange gods.ONE WHO PERFORMS FIRE KNIFE is a Polynesian, including Samoans, Tongans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Marquesans and Māori, are genetically linked to indigenous peoples of parts of Southeast Asia including those of Taiwan.Which is why I wrote:

    The fire-twirling and tiki-style mask aren't part of any American Indian culture, although they might qualify as Native Hawaiian.

    What part of this statement do you disagree with, Angry Tahitian? In what way is it wrong to say these things aren't Native American?It is so easy for you to judge the mockery of Native Americas... But you are blindingly disrespecting and limiting my culture to that of the Americas... any True educated person would know very few Polynesians are Native to Hawaii.Do you know what "might"--as in "they might qualify as Native Hawaiian"--means? It's a conditional claim, not an absolute. You can't disprove it unless you prove no fire-twirling and tiki-style masks exist anywhere on the Hawaiian Islands.

    Polynesian culture came with the Polynesians who first colonized Hawaii. If they didn't bring fire-twirling and tiki-style masks, later Hawaiians appropriated these things from their Polynesian ancestors. However these things came to Hawaii, I'm pretty sure they're part of Hawaiian culture now.

    If you think I said Polynesian culture is not part of America's melting pot, you're wrong. To reiterate, Polynesian culture isn't part of any American Indian culture. Sleepless's tribal cosplay falsely implies it is.

    Criticizing racism is racist?!The ONLY ones that are coming off racist here is you and the people who are following you and your groups that you belong to.It's almost inevitable that racists who don't like being called "racist" hurl the term back at their critics. This is stupid beyond belief, since I didn't say anything about the race of Sleepless's founders or performers.

    Go ahead and tell us the definition of "racist" so we can laugh at how far off the mark you are. I'm betting you can't do it. You're crying (reverse) racist when you literally don't know what it means.Cosplay is dressing up AS ANYTHING.So the hell what? Halloween and make-believe are "dressing up as anything" also. This doesn't inoculate people from charges of racism. The intent is irrelevant; only the outcome matters.

    Racism occurs when you dress up, imitate, and mock one particular race. Your reasons for doing so are irrelevant. People who engage in cosplay or Halloween or make-believe are all guilty of racism when they discriminate based on race...period.The owner of Sleepless Entertainment who created this theme is actually 100% Native AmericanIs she? What's her name? What tribe is she a member of? Etc. Until you provide details, this claim is worthless.

    Heck, it's worthless anyway. Native people can be guilty of stereotyping themselves--as we see with Native fans of the Washington Redskins. Therefore, the ethnicity of the owner and everyone else at Sleepless Entertainment is irrelevant.Posting this has made her and her family ASHAMED to share the same race as you because of how non-peaceful and racist YOU GUYS are.I'm the only person here, dummy. There are no "you guys."

    And I'm not Native--as most people know, and some of the newcomers figured out. If the owner is Native, she and I are of different races.

    Rob ignores other stereotypes?!?

    Again, you clearly don't understand what "racist" means. You also don't understand what "non-peaceful" means. In case you haven't heard, "Names will never hurt you." Pixels on a screen cannot harm you physically--unless you call eye strain "violence."

    Nor have I advocated any kind of violence. I haven't advocated anything; I've informed you of your racist behavior. Period.

    Fact is, you don't like being criticized, so you've labeled peaceful comments "non-peaceful." Well, go suck your thumb and hug your security blanket if you can't take criticism without crying. If you can't take the heat, you big babies, stay out of the kitchen.Sleepless Entertainment are accepting of ALL PEOPLE and to say they are making a mockery of your culture.. well you might as well start protesting at EVERY elementary school.. because come thanksgiving guess what? THEY ARE ALL HAVING FAKE STORE BOUGHT INDIAN COSTUME PARTIES! OHHH MYYY GODDD AHHH!!!! And what about Football teams? If anything they should be mockering your "barbaric" ways."Mockering"? No such word.

    What, you think I haven't protested Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving pageants, and Indian mascots? I have whole pages devoted to these subjects, you dumb bunny.

    It's hysterical how ignorant you are of my 20-plus years of work. How stupid do you have to be to spout off without knowing a thing about me? Pretty damn stupid.FIRST OF ALL this event even says that it was not limited to ANY one native tribe. It was a collaboration of all things tribal themed... and sorry to be the barer of bad news here.. but heres a wake up call... YOUR NOT THE ONLY "TRIBAL" CULTURE THAT EXISTS!I said Sleepless Entertainment used the Native word "pow wow" and Native accouterments such as the Plains headdress. These are specific to American Indians. Stamp once if you understand this, twice if I need to explain it again.

    If you didn't catch this point, learn to freakin' read. Acting as if Indians are part of some global tribal village is part of the problem. It suggests that all indigenous people are the same. You've taken thousands of distinct cultures from around the world and merged them into one.

    Again, you're stereotyping Indians as primitive people of the past. And you're suggesting that "Samoans, Tongans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Marquesans and Māori" are equally primitive. According to Sleepless's cosplay, they're all half-naked savages.

    Batting 1.000% so far...of course you weren't at the event so I wouldn't expect you to know that along with 90% of the other bullshit you made up just to make a post.So far you ignoramuses haven't found a single flaw in my arguments. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.You know what.. If they were to do that kind of event.. i'm sure those people would have better things to do with their lives than posting it on the internet.See comments above about how I earn my living with 20-plus years of work. And let's note your obvious avoidance technique. You can't address my arguments so you attack me instead. Pathetic.You are a disgrace to your own kind who were once sought upon as "peace making" people, and you are just making yourself sound equally as dumb talking about something you have NO IDEA what you are even talking about.Again, I'm white. But I love the vaguely insulting phrase "your kind."

    If I were Native, other Natives wouldn't necessarily be "my kind." That's the point, dumbass. In contrast to your stereotypical cosplay, which portrays one big homogenized mess, every indigenous culture is different.

    And again, you haven't identified a single problem in my posting. All your carping amounts to: "We don't like to be criticized, so stop it! Waaaah!"Why don't you focus next on all of the Halloween costume manufactures that are making sexy Indian outfits?Why don't you click on the search terms Halloween, princess (as in sexy Indian Pocahotties), and savage Indians and see how many times I've blogged about them? Then you can apologize for your profound ignorance.I am sure the " America's 566 federally recognized tribes " Really don't give a eff. I am sure they are all living it up on Casino money and Federal Paychecks.You're sure Indians don't care about racist stereotypes? Wrong:

    NMAI symposium on racist mascots
    Indians testify about negative images
    Legal briefs files against Redskins

    I'll give you a bonus point for getting the number of federally recognized tribes right. But I have to take it away for the racist stereotypes that follow. "Living it up on Casino money and Federal Paychecks"? Thanks for demonstrating the ignorance your tribal cosplay has promoted. "Savages" like Sleepless's performers are too crude and primitive to hold jobs, so they get by with handouts.

    The legal issueAs the photographer of these images i do NOT grant you the permission of using my photos for your blog. They are copy written and you don't have any rights to use them. Remove them asap.

    Please give me the contact information of your lawyer, I'll have a field day.
    This is a good time to note Sleepless Entertainment removed its "tribal" album from public view on Facebook. What are you afraid of, chickens? If you're convinced you're right, why would you remove the album? Could it be because you finally realized how racist this performance was?

    I'm already having a field day laughing at your ignorance of copyright law. But I'll tell you what. Find a lawyer who's equally ignorant of the law. Have the person write me a letter explaining why you think the fair-use exception doesn't apply. E-mail me the letter.

    If it's not a complete joke, I'll forward it to one of my legal colleagues. That lawyer will explain fair use to you and your lawyer, since you clearly don't understand it. If you're not embarrassed to pieces, and still think you have a case, we'll proceed from there.

    Go head, crybaby. I'm calling your bluff. Pay a lawyer to write me a letter, or shut the hell up and take my criticism like an adult.


    With your whining about how stereotypes aren't important, "Indian" is derogatory (wrong), I'm a moron, etc., etc., none of you have actually addressed the issues. So let's do that now.

    For starters, are the tribal costumes stereotypical: yes or no? Go ahead and answer that, anonymous cowards, and then we'll discuss it.

    If you can't or won't answer, get lost. Who cares if your feelings are hurt? Not me. The racism you're perpetuating is infinitely more important than your "freedom" to portray indigenous people as savages.

    Finally, freedom of speech protects this posting too. If you don't like it, go cry somewhere else, you bawling brats. Your juvenile name-calling and lack of intelligent arguments are a waste of everyone's time.

    For more on the subject, see Top Three Native Stereotypes and Mithlo's TEDx Talk on Stereotypes.