Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NDN humor on NS-NV

Indians are funny. I know we got a reputation as bein' all stoic, but Indian humor is some of the slyest, silliest, downright outrageous humor around. You can never be sure when Indians are making fun of you (almost always), and you can always be sure they're makin' fun of themselves. So if you're not that familiar with NDN humor, or you never get tired of frybread jokes, check out Native Sounds - Native Voices this week.


"Native Sounds - Native Voices special edition packed full of NDN Humor, so tune in to learn about counting coup on the highway, frybread songs, and powwow skits from the popular powwow group Tha Tribe and much more on Native Sounds - Native Voices" with your host "Kutchiak" John Gregg (Hopi/Inupiat)."

Feed Dates and Times (All Times are ET):
Tuesday - 8/30/05: 10am, 4pm, 10pm
Wednesday - 8/31/05: 4am
Saturday - 9/3/05: 5pm
Sunday - 9/4/05: 6am, 5pm
Monday - 9/5/05: 6am

Click here to listen.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

V.O. in the spotlight

Seems Virgil Ortiz is the man of the fashion hour, and with good reason. His fashions graced the cover of the Native American issue of New Mexico Magazine. His fashion show, staring such celeb models as Eddie and Michael Spears, was the place to be for Indian Market. And, best of all, he's Pueblo (Cochiti). Check out his stuff and put Indigene on your list of must haves for hipsters.

Step aside P. Diddy, V.O's got the spotlight now.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

An Indian Lawyer's Creed

*Yawn* Good morning, all.

These are the words that get me up on a Saturday morning and make me drag myself to the library. The duty is kicking in, so that I may be worthy of the honor.

An Indian Lawyer's Creed

I am an Indian Lawyer, a briefcase warrior. I stand between Indian people and those who would do them harm. The warrior’s role is a duty and an honor.

I defend the few resources that have not been taken from us so Indian people may survive.

I defend the land and air and water on and off the reservations so all people may learn to live in harmony with the Creator’s work.

I defend the right of Indian people to govern them, worship as the choose, and return their dead to the earth.

I will not use my skills against Indian people no matter how wrong I believe them to be. We suffer enough without causing each other to suffer.

I will not use unethical methods in the practice of law because that would dishonor the people I represent.

I will not accept fees from Indian people beyond my needs. If I receive fees from other people beyond my needs, I will remember that a wealthy Indian is one who can quickly forget duty and honor.

Whether I practice or teach of hold office, I will always remember the duty of an elder to share knowledge with young men and women who aspire to be warriors.

I am an Indian lawyer, a briefcase warrior. I stand between Indian people and those who would do them harm. When I do this, I being honor to my tribe, my clan, and myself.

- Steve Russell, Asst. Prof. Of Criminal Justice, University of Texas at San Antonio, President of Texas Indian Bar Assn.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Prairie Mary

I'm swamped this week with law school starting up, so I invite you to read a new blog I just discovered (thanks Chas for passing it on).

Prairie Mary

Mary lived on the "Blackft" Rez for 10 yrs and has some interesting things to say. Go take a look

Monday, August 08, 2005

All You Out of My Way

Hanta Po--All You Out of My Way

Dick Bancroft--A Photographic Retrospective of the American Indian Movement," at Ancient Traders Gallery (1113 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis) through August 13.

Photo: Warriors, The Longest Walk, Tom LaBlanc, John Blue Bird, and Stacey LaBlanc, In Front of the FBI Building, Washington, D.C., 1978.

From, George Slade writes:

Dick Bancroft [the photographer] acknowledges that one reason he committed so much of his energy over the past 35 years to photographing Indians—from South and Central America as well as North America—was because of the strong personalities he encountered in their midst. The gusto, drive, wit, and charisma of leaders like Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt, William and Russell Means, Dennis Banks, and Leonard Peltier cemented Bancroft’s interest in serving history and telling the story of this fundamentally American encounter between dominant and indigenous cultures.

Photo at Right: Dennis Banks, Leech Lake, Takeover of the NSP Dam, Lac Courtes Orielles, Wisconsin, 1971.

These photos are amazingly powerful. I don't have much to say. I'll just let them speak for themselves.

If you don't know much about the American Indian Movement(AIM), I suggest:

Indian Power, Rick St. Germaine, Takeover of the NSP Dam, Lac Courte Orielles, Wisconsin, 1971.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Why Indian Mascots Matter

I am sure that by now most people have heard about the semi-ban that the NCAA has passed on Indian Mascots in college sports:

"The presidents and chancellors who serve on the NCAA Executive Committee have adopted a new policy to prohibit NCAA colleges and universities from displaying hostile and abusive racial, ethnic, and national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery at any of the 88 NCAA championships."

Now note that this is a semi-ban, because you don't have to actually get rid of your hostile and abusive mascot, you just can't bring it to the playoffs. Bowl games are fine, 'cause the NCAA doesn't oversee them. And, of course, what would a home game be without a little Native mistrel show and some white alumni whoopin' like savages? It warms the heart.

Now I know most of you who are non-Native are wondering what the big fuss is about. What's the harm? It's only sports.

Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that there is indeed harm and the issue has nothing to do with sports.

Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, in his article Why Educators Can't Ignore Indian Mascots, says:

" [The American Indian Mental Health Association of Minnesota], as a group of mental health providers,[states that] we are in agreement that using images of American Indians as mascots, symbols, caricatures, and namesakes for non-Indian sports teams, businesses, and other organizations is damaging to the self-identity, self-concept, and self-esteem of our people. We should like to join with others who are taking a strong stand against this practice."

You can read more about the psychological aspects here.

Rob Schmidt, over at Blue Corn, says the biggest problem facing Natives today is invisibility. He is seconded by such notables as Vine Deloria. How does this apply to mascots? Well, Rob says:

"If we "honor" Indians by painting them as warriors of the past, we mislead people about their present lives. Millions of Americans think Indians vanished or are vanishing--and therefore don't need social justice--precisely because of stereotypes.
The mascot and stereotype issues have a lot to do with how people perceive Indians, which has a lot to do with how much respect people pay to Indian rights and sovereignty.
If you think of "other" people as less than human, then you feel free to exploit them. So how we perceive them relates directly to how we treat them."

I'm a huge sports fan (expect for pro hockey - the NHL has earned my scorn). I am particularly fond of college ball, both football and basketball. But the issue of Native mascots has nothing to do with sports. It has to do with eliminating racism. A racism so insidious most people think "what's the harm". But imagine having to explain that jumping whooping white guy dressed in turkey feathers to your little son or daughter and why that's OK in our culture. That's what one grad student at the University of Illinois had to do, and it prompted the making of the documentary "In Whose Honor?".

The harsh reality is that Rob at Blue Corn is right. Indians as people in the year 2005 are pretty much invisible in popular culture. Yes, we've got Into the West and yet another Pocahontas movie, but where is a movie about Indians living in the here and now, working, loving, laughing and just being humans? (see: Dancin', Dreamin' Prayin' and Fightin')

My point is that sometimes all people get is mascots. We have a limited and marginalized presence in the mainstream and mascots and the like just reinforce all those negatives. It's about time the NCAA did something, even if it was a little half-assed. Now I'd like to see the Washington Redskins follow suit.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm a Brat Camp NDN

Did anyone see the most recent episode of the ABC reality show Brat Camp?

For those that don't know, the show follows a handful of troubled teens as they go through an Outward Bound type camping experience to try and overcome their homelife problems with the help of the camp couselors. It's actually pretty good, and you come away grateful that you are no longer a teenager.

Anyway, I hear that last night's episode, which I did not see, had the kids go through what they called an "Indian Naming Ceremony" where they painted their faces with random symbols and received medicine pouches. What? Did these kids and couselors suddenly become Indians when I wasnt looking??

Now ABC, on their website, says the kids "receive their own special Earth Names in a mystical Naming Ceremony". They don't specifically say "Indian" (although we all know "mystical" is code for Indian). And I hear from other Indians that they did indeed call it an Indian naming ceremony on the show and they did receive medicine pouches. And yes, they painted their faces, you know, Indian style.

But here's my question. What makes white people think that they can have an Indian Naming Ceremony without any Indians? No culture to back it up, no history to explain the reasoning, no elders to show you the tradition. As someone in an online Native Community that I am a part of said: "Can you see the counselors holding a group bar mitzah, handing out yarmulkes, and giving each of the kids a "real Jewish name"? Or maybe they could have given the kid's authentic priest and nun garb, passed out crackers and grape kool-aid for a "communion", and renamed them with names from the Bible while dousing them with holy water?"

Not only is this insulting to Native traditions, but, and this is most important to me, it perpetuates stereotypes and ignorance. It diminishes and belittles Native practices and helps to undermine the legitimacy of our spirituality.

I hate to be so blunt, but ABC..what a load of irresponsible crap.