Thursday, July 28, 2005

Misusing Native Symbols

Ever wanted to buy some Indian jewelry or crafts but didnt know what was appropriate or how something should be used? Were you dying to get a Native symbol for a tattoo but didn't know if you would offend an entire nation of people with that Thunderbird on your...arm?

Well, Native America Calling is here to help you out.

Friday, July 29, 2005 - Misusing Native Symbols:
Dream Catchers, Kokopelli, Totem Poles…you name it and you’ll probably see these items or symbols on sale in any number of stores or swap meets. Quite often the purpose of the item or symbol is lost on the buyer or they get limited information about the true traditional nature of the item. What does the Dream Catcher really stand for and how was it used in the past? Why won’t some Native people consider hanging a picture of Kokopelli in their home? The use and misuse of Native symbols may offend some Natives but it remains big business for many shop keepers. How does it impact you? Guests include Jodell Meyer (Mille Lacs Ojibwe) Assistant Site Manager/Mille Lacs Indian Museum & Trading Post.

Native America Calling Airs Live
Monday - Friday 1-2pm EST
You can listen on your computer here:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Outsourcing to the Rez

Next time your computer breaks and you call support, you might be calling Indians in Pine Ridge instead of Indians in New Delhi. That's right. Some jobs have come back from overseas, not just to America, but to Native America.

Karlene Hunter is the founder and president of Lakota Express, "an experienced, full-service direct mail and telemarketing company with a proven track record" that happens to be located on the Pine Ridge Reservation. While her company employs 18 people now, they are expecting to expand staff to 150 soon. That is incredibly significant in a play where unemployment runs at 84%.*

So be nicer to those Customer Service people. They might be Indians.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Basic Skills Caucasian American Workbook

Sometimes parody is much more effective than all the well-meaning lectures in the world. Found at

Beverly Slapin and Annie Esposito invite us to read the Basic Skills Caucasian American Workbook and 10 Little Whitepeople. The reviews are in, and the experts are impressed:

Slapin, Beverly, and Annie Esposito, Basic Skills Caucasian Americans Workbook.1994, b/w illustrations.

"Profound scholarship."
–John J. Knucklebones, Ph.D, The Sacred and the Profane: Studies in Ancient White Art

"Slapin and Esposito have caught the magic of the Caucasian. May their 'talking leaves' take you into the Caucasian world of mystery and beauty." –Doris M. Seale, Former Curator Emeritus, Museum of the American Caucasian

Slapin, Beverly, and Annie Esposito, 10 Little Whitepeople. 1995, b/w illustrations.

"[T]eachers looking for picture books that cut across the curriculum will find this a good way to combine a unit on Whitepeople with counting."

"Hurray! At long last primary school educators and lovers of children's literature have an accurate Caucasian American book written for primary children."
The Five Porcupines

I don't believe Slapin and Esposita mean to offend; I think they mean to enlighten. If these books sound ridiculous to you, then good. Similar books featuring Indians sound ridiculous to us.

These books are for sale at, along with others on how to look for bias against Indians in children's books.

Friday, July 15, 2005

How to Spend a Saturday

Here's where I'll be tomorrow.

The Annual Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show.

"A bustling Native American festival with a dazzling spectrum of visual arts, music, dance and food [..] Start with the idea that Native Americans themselves - not art gallery directors, not collectors, not museum people - organize and operate the event. Stir in about 300 of the nation's most talented Native American artists working as jewelers, potters, sculptors, painters, wood carvers and more. In addition to visual attractions, visitors will find an exciting program of traditional Pueblo dances, the haunting rhythms of Native American drums, and the delicious enticement of traditional Pueblo food."

It's OK to want to be there, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Good TV

Being disconnected from the world this past week has been great, but I am back none too soon. There are some noteworthy TV shows of interest to Natives and everyone else on this week.

Guns, Germs and Steel on PBS

In this TV version of his Pulitzer-prize winning book, Jared Diamond explores the deceptively sinple question of why some cultures have advanced at a faster rate than other cultures. Why has the Whiteman grown to dominate the world economically? Diamond proposes an answer that might startle you.

This Monday's episode: In Part 2 (of three), Jared Diamond explores reasons why Spanish Conquistadors conquered the Incas in 1532 "instead of the other way around."

Airing Mondays 7/11,7/18 and 7/25 at 10/9 central, but check local listings to make sure.

Lewis and Clark and the
Journey of Sacagawea on PBS

Ken Burns takes on Lewis and Clark, followed by an hour on Sacagawea: Recalling the young Native American woman who traveled with Lewis and Clark through tribal oral histories, along with Lewis's and Clark's journals.

Wednesday, July 13, 10:00pm

And don't forget to watch the conclusion of Into the West and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Summer Hiatus

It's that time of the year for NDNs. Ceremony time. So I am on summer hiatus for a few days, up in the Taos mountains with family, far away from the internet.

I should return to blogging next week. Until then, keep reading and enjoy the summer.