Archive for the ‘Native American’ Category

Cultural Appropriation Photo Scavenger Hunt

The Kahnawa:ke Youth Forum is hosting a scavenger hunt.

Although I can’t officially participate in the actual scavenger hunt contest, I do see a pinterest board in my future…



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The Washington Redskins change the name debate continues.

Letter To Everyone in our Washington Redskins Nation” from Dan Snyder,  Owner and Chairman of the Board, Washington Redskins. Excerpt:

Several months ago I wrote you about my personal reflections on our team name and on our shared Washington Redskins heritage. I wrote then – and believe even more firmly now – that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.

So over the past four months, my staff and I travelled to 26 Tribal reservations [Editor’s math: 26 tribes = less than 5% of native nations*] across twenty states to listen and learn first-hand about the views, attitudes, and experiences of the Tribes. We were invited into their homes, their Tribal Councils and their communities to learn more about the extraordinary daily challenges in their lives.

I’ve listened. I’ve learned. And frankly, its heart wrenching. It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more.

As loyal fans of the Washington Redskins, I want you to know that tomorrow I will announce the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

*[Editor’s note: there are more than 500 federal recognized native nations, not including state recognized nations, nor tribal communities without official US government recognition. See 500Nations.com and Bureau of Indian Affairs.]


Meanwhile in Indian Country, discourse continues.

Gyasi Ross’s “Hush Money and Ransom: An Open Letter to Dan Snyder, the Idiot” on Indian Country Today. Excerpt:

Here’s the thing: I, like a lot of other Natives, don’t give a damn about the Washington Redskins or mascots or any of that. There are absolutely MORE IMPORTANT things to worry about that MOST of the Natives who constantly complain about the Redskins and mascots (yet don’t live amongst other Native people or work in our communities) don’t see. That’s because MOST of those adamantly anti-mascot Natives don’t live within our communities (of course there are SOME who do live in our communities, but in our home territories, there are plenty of Native-themed mascots that a lot of us Natives love very, very much. We are proud of them and those folks who want to get rid of all Native mascots definitely don’t speak for us).

Adrienne K. (Native Appropriations) response to Gyasi Ross’ article. Excerpt:

…I don’t understand why we have to create the divide between “real Indians” who don’t care about mascots and those of us who do. The reason why many of us off-reservations (which is over 60% of Indian Country) care deeply about representations is because we are forced to deal with them everyday. Because we aren’t in our communities we can’t turn and see hundreds of counter-narratives and counter-representations in our aunties, cousins, our community events, or our ceremonies. What we see instead are the majority of Americans who think we’re fantasy creatures or extinct. They don’t know that our communities are full of joy and strength, because they don’t think we’re real.

Additionally, mascot issues, halloween costumes, and themed frat parties are things that happen on college campuses, so it’s often our Native students who are forced to confront them–and telling them that they’re somehow “less Indian” or “less connected” for caring about how their peoples are represented is the last thing they need as they already struggle far from home.

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Crow is as Crow does.

An MTV Artist of the week,  SupaMan, is an Apsáalooke fancy dancer, drummer, singer and Crow-Hop Hip-Hop artist from Crow Nation Reservation.

Check out more on SupaMan on PolicyMic.com and MTVIggy.com.

Proof that artists build nations. [drops mic]

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I’m SOoooooOOoo glad Avatar did NOT win best picture at this year’s Oscar’s.


I couldn’t stand Avatar. In the words of Men on Film: “Hated it.” I was (and still am) mad that we splurged to see it at a high-end lux level cinema, paying $50 for the privilege (not to take away from the comfy chairs, 21 and over policy, and direct-to-your-chair waitstaff service that I adored). I’m mad that my ticket counted towards its revenue, making it the top grossing film of ALL TIME. Because:

  1. It lacked a creative plot line. There are SO MANY artists in the world who would love to have money to produce their artistic visions. This film felt like a regurgitation of every Dances with Wolves- Pocahontas plot line methodology. The only plot twist was that the natives won in the end. Whoo hoo. But you know this is just a set up for the inevitable Avatar 2. With the amount of resources and talent James Cameron has access to he could show some creativity instead of being formulaic. 3D glasses do not an art film make.
  2. It panders to, but doesn’t address, white guilt. We get it. The rainforests are being torn down, animals are recklessly killed, brown and black people are often oppressed by the majority, and people prefer materialism over spirituality. Problem is, this film uplifts rather than flips stereotypes. It’s promoting sympathy and pity when it could have promoted empathy. Now everyone’s going to run out and pretend to have a Burning Man moment in their backyard and think they’ve changed the world and themselves.
  3. Indigenous people don’t read, they understand everything by nature-based osmosis? Guess those Cherokee, Maya, and Egyptian written languages were flukes…
  4. It portrays all Marines as insensitive lunkheads. Really? Just a few moments spent doing character development research they may have actually found that all military men are not greedy, uncaring, and stupid. [sidenote: this is one of the reasons why I heart Harvey from Celebrity Fit Club]
  5. It exotifies brown and black people. All of Na’vi have blue-black skin, are tall, muscular, beautiful and don African or Native American inspired hairstyles and outfits (okay loin clothes). Ya gotta love that the Sigourney Weaver’s character, Dr Grace Augustine, chose not to dress her avatar in traditional Na’vi clothes, but instead wore more covering American style gear which reads VERY old world missionary.
  6. It steals from every indigenous culture the writers/director ever came in contact with. I spent the whole film having flashbacks to tons of PBS, BBC and National Geographic documentaries I’ve seen over the years featuring the “cultures” of the world. It’s like James Cameron walked into a supermarket o’culture and said, “I’ll take one of these, and one of these, and one of these.” [side note: This is why I refuse to bungee jump. I saw a BBC special about a tribe’s rites of passage for their young men. A few years later, a commercialized version of their ritual appeared as bungee jumping at Six Flags.]
  7. Neytiri “rides b*tch” behind her man. Neytiri is a warrior. She trained HIM in their warrior ways. Yet, what happens at the end the film? She climbs behind Sully on the back of his dragon-like Toruk. Thankfully, she eventually does manage to find her inner warrior and mounts her own toruk. (Does that make her a ride or die chick?) If she weren’t barefoot in the film, I’m guessing she would have tripped in the forest while running in heels. [I hate the term riding bitch, but it seems only fitting to pair one stereotype with another.]
  8. The two lead male warriors in the film, die. The chief, Eytucan, and the heir to the throne, Tsu’tey, are killed in battle, leaving the women folk to carry on the Omaticaya civilization. (Didn’t see that one coming [wink]). If it were a horror movie, they’d have been dead in the first ten minutes, but, since it wasn’t, the martyr savage plot is applicable.
  9. BIG sigh: the John Smith-Pocahantas stereotype lives, again. Corporal Jake Sully falls in love with Neytiri and mates with her, even though she was happily betrothed to Tsu’tey. But it had to happen, right? I mean Harry Met Sally scientifically proved that men and women can’t be friends. And, besides, who can resist a hot animalistic Ebony chick?
  10. It implies that wheelchair bound people lead unfulfilled lives. Many people view the fictionalized Pandora as the ideal world. Everyone on Pandora is perfect. Yep, that’s the world I want to live in. A world where we are all alike.

I’m not alone in my sentiments. A friend sent me this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, “The Messiah Complex,” that criticizes Avatar. Thank Eywa. There is someone else out there who didn’t believe the hype.

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After a 30-year court battle, the Shinnecock Indian Nation (located in the Long Island, NY region) met criteria to be a federally recognized nation.

Read about it in the NY Times.

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