"Warfare was our highest art, but Plains Indian warfare was not about killing. It was about intelligence, leadership, and honor." - Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow (October 27, 1913 – April 3, 2016). Historian, Anthropologist, Author, Lecturer, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Tribal Leader, Veteran, Elder, War Chief. [more inside]
Sarah McCarry writes an essay about being called out for inappropriate use of Native American imagery
JK Rowling has been accused of appropriating the “living tradition of a marginalized people” by writing about the Navajo legend of the skinwalker in new story. [The Guardian] [more inside]
“Sometimes, music is the best medicine.” Frank Waln is a 26-year-old Hip-Hop artist; a Sicangu Lakota person who grew up on the Rosebud Reservation, taught himself to play piano as a child, and mixes his own music in his basement studio. [more inside]
There are three main methods for using the trees to find your way. We can look for how the tree’s growth is influenced by the sun and how their shape is altered by the wind. The third method is to use a tree's preferences to work out the nature of the terrain ahead of us.Now let's add a fourth: follow trail marker trees, those trees that were purposely bent by Native Americans as navigation aids. [more inside]
A short film: The winter stories of the Ojibwe are vital narratives that offer a historical and moral guide for understanding the environment and our people’s place within it. One of these stories tells of the first maple sugar gathering. A tree offered its life-force (sap) for use by the people to help keep them alive through a difficult winter when many were starving to death. This tree asked to be cared for in return and to be thanked properly for this gift. Each spring the students at Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School open the school sugar bush with a retelling of this story and an opening feast of thanks.
Three years ago, the people living in the Ochiichagwe'Babigo'Ining Ojibway Nation in Ontario would crowd in each other’s homes and outside the band office to access what little internet the community had. There was dial-up, there was expensive cellular data, and there was some service from an internet provider in a neighboring town; when the network went down, it would sometimes take weeks for a technician to come and fix the issue. The community’s kids—itching to get their gaming systems online and scroll through Facebook on their phones—weren’t having it. [more inside]
About a year ago, the U.S. Justice department issued a memorandum allowing tribal nations to grow and sell marijuana. In June of this year, The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, located in South Dakota, announced plans to open a marijuana resort (See also). The tribe signed a contract with Colorado-based Monarch America to help them with the venture. A member of the tribe is creating a documentary of the process. The resort was slated to open on December 31, 2015. An extensive grow operation was underway to provide more than thirty strains of marijuana in a tightly-controlled environment. As of yesterday, all growth operations have ceased, the plants may have been destroyed, and the future of the Tribe's plans is uncertain.
She didn't actually get expelled...[update in article] History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed, Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course
Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali [New York Times]
President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, restoring an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America. The move came on the eve of Mr. Obama’s trip to Alaska, where he will spend three days promoting aggressive action to combat climate change, and is part of a series of steps meant to address the concerns of Alaska Native tribes. The central Alaska mountain has been called Mount McKinley for more than a century. In announcing that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, had used her power to rename it, Mr. Obama was paying tribute to the state’s Native population, which has referred to the site for generations as Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one.”
“My name is Misty Upham, and someday you will know that name as the best living Native American actress.” This story is about her demise. How she went missing for 11 days. How she was found by folks enlisted by her family, and not by the police. How she was mocked when she most needed help. How she survived rapes. How she inspired kids. And how as an indigenous woman, she was not alone in facing injustice.
Do You Prefer "Native American" or "American Indian"? 6 Prominent Voices Respond "Wherever I go, from the reservation to the city, through the halls of academia, from younger to older, to the grassroots, and in social media, I hear numerous discussions and debates around how people choose to identify with certain references, e.g., which word is the most appropriate: Native American? Native? Indian? American Indian? Indigenous? My task here was to ask several friends and people whom I (and many others) admire what reference they feel most comfortable with."
"The administration of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, in rejecting Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment without demonstrating cause, and in doing so only after the appointment had been approved and courses had been assigned to him, acted in violation of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the university’s own stated policies on the subject." The American Association of University Professors has issued its report on the Salaita case. [more inside]
This was the official inauguration of indigenous futurism. The movement is in part about speaking back to the SF genre, which has long used indigenous subjects as the foils to stories of white space explorers hungry to conquer new worlds. Given these continuously re-hashed narratives of “the final frontier,” it is no coincidence that western science fiction developed during a time of imperial and capitalist expansion. Science/speculative fiction author Nalo Hopkinson, known for her use of creole languages and Caribbean oral stories in her works, writes that people of color engaging with SF “take the meme of colonizing the natives and, from the experience of the colonizee, critique it, pervert it, fuck with it, with irony, with anger, with humor and also, with love and respect for the genre of science fiction that makes it possible to think about new ways of doing things.”
Remember the Sand Creek Massacre. "The 1864 murder of 200 innocent Indians is still largely forgotten. Many people think of the Civil War and America’s Indian wars as distinct subjects, one following the other. But those who study the Sand Creek Massacre know different." The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More. "The opening of a national historic site in Colorado helps restore to public memory one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated on Native Americans." [Previously]
Tacoma Art Museum has just opened an entirely new wing devoted to a single collection of Western American art [depicting Native Americans and created by Europeans and Euro-Americans]. Because the work presented is culturally problematic, the museum has taken the unusual step of commissioning a handful of Native American people to write labels responding to the art. What results in the galleries can be frustrating, but it also breaks open the complexity of what's really going on both in the art and in the institution of the museum in 2014.How Tacoma Art Museum Criticizes a Collection Without Angering the Donors, by Jen Graves.
"Mushak calculated that for each day in the desert that she drank 3 liters from the pits, she was exposed to uranium at levels nearly 100 times the federal maximum… She also received a dose of radioactive alpha particles that was probably 10 times the safety threshold for pregnancy or more. When Lois drank from the pits, she pumped ‘a witch's brew’ into her womb." [more inside]
Rebel Music: Native America looks at the lives of four Native American and First Nation activist-musicians, and the causes they support, from the impacts of oil extraction to the epidemic of missing and murdered Native women. [more inside]
Francie Diep on why natural history museums are taking down their indigenous cultures dioramas—and what can take their place.
Visitors and museum staff say that by displaying American Indian cultures alongside dinosaur fossils, gemstones and taxidermied animals, dioramas make their subjects seem less than fully human. And because they depict a culture in a freeze-frame moment in time—often during the seventeenth century, around when many tribes first contacted Europeans—they make children think that all the American Indians are dead.
Wyoming Indian High is located in Ethete, a tiny town of about 1,500 residents, in central Wyoming. The school itself is composed of approximately 200 students, mainly from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes on the Wind River Reservation. Given the hoops mania, though, the gym is the largest in the state, capable of holding 3,000-plus rabid fans. That’s right. A bunch of Native American kids from the rez are the basketball kings of Wyoming. If you haven’t heard of this dominant team, you might know the area itself—the subject of consistently negative, reductive and often false representation(s) in the media, where life on the reservation is depicted as nothing but a sad, grim blight; and has served to reinforce all of the old prejudices about Native Americans."
One of the greatest upsets in Olympic History happened in Tokyo in 1964: Billy Mills came from behind to win the 10,000m gold (YT: race edited down to 4 minutes). Mills, a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux, remains the only American to win this race in the Olympics. Here he is talking to Here and Now on NPR about how he ran the race (it's riveting), the name of the Washington, DC NFL franchise, and in an extra on this page, about Native American history.
"Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, Canada — and for 16 of the past 33 years, it has also been the country's murder capital. The prairie city is home to just under 800,000 people, about 10 percent of whom are Aboriginal, meaning Winnipeg boasts the largest urban Aboriginal population in Canada. Largely impoverished and facing continual discrimination, the community has given rise to violent Aboriginal street gangs." Vice reports (17 mins).
In the spirit of this post, about Frederick Douglass's classic speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", what is Independence Day for the Native American? Some folks have powwows on this day and/or march in parades, proudly wearing the uniforms of the US Military. NPR's 2008 story on the topic is worthwhile.
Never Alone is an upcoming puzzle adventure game featuring a young Iñupiaq protagonist and her arctic fox companion, whose breathtaking trailer has been causing some buzz. It is the debut production of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council's Upper One Games, the first Native American owned games company. The game draws on Alaskan folklore and was developed in collaboration with elders, storytellers, and E-Line Media, a Seattle-based publisher of educational games.
The Ket from the Lake Munduiskoye (2008, 30 min.) The Ket people are an indigenous group in central Siberia whose population has numbered less than two thousand during the past century. Although mostly assimilated into the dominant Russian culture at this point, a couple hundred of them are still able to speak the Ket language, the last remaining member of the Yeniseian language group. Recent scholarship has proposed a link between Ket and some Native American language groups.
The genome of the Anzick child, who died 12,600 years ago at the age of three and was buried with ceremony in the American Rockies, has been fully sequenced. The results shed an incredible light on the history of the peopling of the Americas: his people seem to have been direct ancestors to most tribes of Central and South America, and close relatives of the Canadian tribes. The discoveries have had an emotional impact on Native Americans, and the boy's remains will be reburied with great respect. Still, tribal belonging is about much more than genetics, as anthropologist Kim Tallbear reminds us. You can see replicas of the heirloom artefacts left in the boy's grave here, or visit the collection at the Montana Historical Society if you're in the area.
Jorge Luis Borges called the stories of Craig Strete “shattered chains of brilliance.” Salvador Dali said, “like a new dream, his writings seizes the mind.” First published in1974 and then again in 1977, [The Bleeding Man] has its foreward written by none other than the great Virginia Hamilton who dubs him “the first American Indian to become a successful Science Fiction writer” and says that “the writing is smooth and unassuming, and yet the fabric of it is always richly textured.” The Bleeding Man and many other out-of-print titles by Strete are available in eBook format[s (PDF, PRC, ePUB)] for free. [more inside]
"These are not trophies to have on one’s mantel; they are truly sacred works for the Native Americans. They do not belong in auction houses or private collections." Despite protests by the US Embassy on behalf of the Hopi and San Carlos Apache, a Paris auction house continued with the sale of twenty-five katsinam (sacred masks). Surprisingly, the US based Annenberg Foundation bought twenty-four of them for $530,000 to return to the tribes. (Previously on a similar auction)
Matika Wilbur is journeying across the United States to record and share the essence of contemporary Native Culture with the world. There are at least 562 Tribal Nations recognized by the US Federal Government.
On March 22, 1621, a Native American delegation walked through what is now southern New England to meet with a group of foreigners who had taken over a recently deserted Indian settlement. At the head of the party was an uneasy triumvirate: Massasoit, the sachem (political-military leader) of the Wampanoag confederation, a loose coalition of several dozen villages that controlled most of southeastern Massachusetts; Samoset, sachem of an allied group to the north; and Tisquantum, a distrusted captive, whom Massasoit had brought along only reluctantly as an interpreter. Massasoit was an adroit politician, but the dilemma he faced would have tested Machiavelli. About five years before, most of his subjects had fallen before a terrible calamity. Whole villages had been depopulated. It was all Massasoit could do to hold together the remnants of his people. Adding to his problems, the disaster had not touched the Wampanoag’s longtime enemies, the Narragansett alliance to the west. Soon, Massasoit feared, they would take advantage of the Wampanoag’s weakness and overrun them. And the only solution he could see was fraught with perils of its own, because it involved the foreigners—people from across the sea.
The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school. But that wasn't enough to save them In addition to providing a beautifully written account of what happened, the article does something subtle but incredibly cool in using a Native centered perspective that really illuminates how dramatically silenced and othered Native voices are in other accounts.[more inside]
"I did not see the appeal of a wife. We had never had one before. She would not be half as interesting as our buffalo." Read a lengthy excerpt from Catherynne Valente's Six-Gun Snow White, an adaptation of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 709 fairy tale as a campfire story set in the American west.
For your culinary enjoyment, I present NativeTech's collection of recipes, which you can browse by recipe category, regions, types of dishes, and alphabetically (the site is pretty vast, and you can find recipes throughout the site). For more manageable lists, here is a mixed collection of Native American Recipes, from Apache acorn soup to Zuni corn soup (there's more listed than soups, I promise). One Feather has shared some favorite recipes, and then there's the Native Food blog, with recipes and more information.
Last week the NPR Ombudsman made a series of posts about problems with the investigation and framing of a 2011 story on foster care among Native American children in South Dakota. [more inside]
The various Star Wars movies have been translated into at least 39 languages (as also seen here in a set of 16 international logos for Attack of the Clones), but the Navajo Nation is set to be the first Native American tribe to officially dub the original Star Wars film. [more inside]
Only about 36 hours after the State Of the Union Address, National Congress Of American Indians president Jefferson Keel gave today the 2013 State Of The Indian Nations address before the NCAI. The address was followed by a response from Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who was recently appointed the new Chairwoman for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The entire program runs for 1h13m. Text of the speech. NCAI's Securing Our Futures report [pdf]. [more inside]
This is probably one of the most unusual and creative dub records you're ever likely to hear. Imagine typical bottom-heavy, bass-filled Jamaican dub reggae -- complete with horns, percussion, the whole nine yards -- mixed with traditional Native American vocal music (don't ask how it works, just believe that somehow it does). Now add spoken word samples from Native American, black, Russian, women's lib, and other sociopolitical leaders discussing the effects of colonial imperialism and totalitarian governments on the common man (and, of course, woman), and what you get is this radically inventive album. [more inside]
Environmental and Native American activists in Flagstaff, AZ face federal charges for allegedly "interfering with a forest officer" after a protest action in which they "quarantined" the Coconino National Forest Service lobby to protest a decision permitting the expansion of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort onto the San Fransisco Peaks – a site regarded as sacred by the Navajo, Hopi, and Havasupai people. The proposed expansion entails the use of treated sewage effluent, aka reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking operations. These events occurred on the same day that the USDA and Forest Service issued a final report (pdf) which outlines recommendations for working more closely with Native representatives surrounding sacred sites issues.
Throughout the west, prospectors and settlers clashed with native people, diminishing the populations of tribes greatly reduced by disease. By the 1850s, it was believed that all Native Americans were "civilized," before those in the young field of anthropology were able to record first-hand accounts of native people in their own elements. In 1853, a lone native woman was found on a remote island off the coast of southern California, but she contracted dysentery and died after she had been on the mainland for only seven weeks. Then in 1911, a bedragled native man was found in a farmer's slaughter house corral in rural Northern California. He was the last of his people, and he lived to share a glimpse of an ancient way of life, in his five years spent living amongst anthropologists, doctors, and linguists. He was Ishi, the last Yahi (Snagfilm; also on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant). [more inside]
A film made in 1920 with an all Native American Indian cast has been restored and will soon be released on DVD and blu-ray by the Oklahoma Historical Society, which now owns the original. [more inside]
The Oglala Sioux tribe of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have just filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch, InBev, SABMiller, Molson Coors, MillerCoors and Pabst, along with the four off-licences in Whiteclay, seeking $500m (£310m) in damages for their alleged encouragement of the "illegal sale and trade in alcohol" to members of the tribe. Touched upon briefly in early comments, Whiteclay (pop. 11) has been long known for its disproportionate volume of liquor sales, with over 5 million cans of beer sold each year, while Pine Ridge, who outlawed drink on its property, and has a population of 20,000, suffers from a disproportionate percentage of families with at least one alcohol dependent adult member (no less than 85%).
Why are Indian Reservations So Poor? Forbes writer John Koppisch says it's because of a lack of individual property rights. In a detailed response, the executive director of non-profit organization Village Earth says: "I find it ironic how academics and journalists try to come up with new theories to explain poverty on reservations but fail to take into account the obvious. The government owes Native Americans at least 45 Billion dollars yet, in the settlement offered by the Obama administration, they are being compensated for less that .06% of that." [more inside]
Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of this boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender. (previously)
Pete Standing Alone has come full-circle in his dedication to preserving the traditional ways of his people on the Blood reserve in Southern Alberta. His 50 year journey from cultural alienation to pride and belonging has been uniquely captured by the NFB in the Pete Standing Alone Trilogy. [more inside]
The National Congress of American Indians is holding its 68th annual conference in Portland, Oregon this week. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud program talked today with Jefferson Keel, president of the NCAI and with others about food sovereignty on tribal lands. [more inside]
"Because you know most babies don't cry ..." "In South Dakota, Native American children make up only 15 percent of the child population, yet they make up more than half the children in foster care. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is removing 700 native children every year, sometimes in questionable circumstances. "
A modern day pow wow is a Native American social gathering for dancing, singing, and honoring customs and traditions. [more inside]
Here, the intellectual and political dispute centers around federal policy regarding First Nations in Canada, a debate that’s been controversially re-ignited by the book Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation. Among the book’s core arguments: the assertion that on-going “native problems” have a “cultural basis.” [more inside]