In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day today, I suggest cranking up the following selections from Light in the Attic's essential Grammy-nominated box set "Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985, Morley Loon's "Northland, My Land," and Willie Thrasher's "Spirit Child."
(top photo: Quebec’s Sugluk) Read the rest
In an age of decadence, narcissism and shit behavior from well-to-dos that's excused with mutterings of affluenza, it's always nice to be surprised by someone anonymously throwing a large sum of money at a worthy cause.
Before talking about the inherent good that some affluent individual pulled out of thin air earlier this week, we need to talk about The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising. For the uninitiated, it was a brief, ugly piece of American history. The short version of events: The Dakota people were pissed: the United States government had been screwing them out of land, coming up late with agreed-upon shipments of essential supplies and submitting them to unfair trade practices, contrary to what had been signed off on in treaties between the Dakota/Sioux nations and the United States of America. Tempers flared, as they do over issues of trust and sustenance. A group of Dakota killed a party of Minnesota settlers. War between the U.S. Government and the tribes broke out.
38 Dakota men were captured and convicted of war crimes. They were hung in response to the killing of the settlers: it was the largest single day mass execution in American history. By April of 1863, having lost to superior government forces, the remaining Dakota people were forced out of Minnesota as the United States Congress abolished the tribe's rights to their reservations. Hundreds of people on both sides of the war died as a consequence of the conflict.
Fast forward to the present day: a peace pipe with a history that traces back to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 was included in an auction being held in Boston. Read the rest
Some mysteries don't need to be solved. They need to be laid to rest.
In spring of 2017, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game employee was going about his 'do you have a license to hunt that thing' duties, in the wilds outside the city of Mountain Home, Idaho. As he kicked through the grass and dust of the high desert plains, he came upon partially buried human skeletal remains. The Fish and Game employee called in the cops, who in turn, cordoned off the area around the find as a crime scene. The condition of the bones was such that they could have been the remains of a double homicide that'd taken place in recent decades, or old enough to belong to settlers who would have been passing through the area as far back as the 19th century, as part of their trek down the Oregon Trail.
Five days after the bones were discovered, the police returned to where the bones had been discovered. They brought archaeologists with them to assist in the delicate task of extracting the remains from the earth and, since they were there, help look for any other remains that might be hanging around the area.
They found more.
There was no way to identify the bones as belonging to one society or another--not a single cultural artifact was found in the area. With no clues as to who the bones may have belonged to, the cops had the bones shipped off to a lab for carbon dating. Read the rest
For more than a century, the Canadian government was responsible for perpetuating horrendous abuses against native peoples who were unfortunate enough to be living in an area where a imperial colonialist power decided to set up shop. It was government policy for Indigenous children to be separated from their families, the without the permission of their parents or tribal elders, and them into what were known as residential schools: institutions predominantly run by the Catholic Church, along with a small handful of schools that were handled by Anglican, Presbyterian and United Church interests.
Once the kids were secured into these boarding schools, they were taught the 'right' way to live--right being in accordance to western culture. Were the incarcerated children to dare to speak their own language or act according to cultural norms outside of what their white caretakers felt was 'civilized,' they were met with severe corporal punishment. Mortality rates at the schools were high. So were instances of physical and emotional abuse. Children were often buried in unmarked graves or simply disappeared. Even after the last residential school closed in 1998, its legacy of hate and abuse remains.
In 2015, Canada finally confessed to its part in this long-running crime. The nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission looked to the crimes of the residential school system, saying that they amounted to cultural genocide. The commission made 94 recommendations that it felt would go along ways towards righting the wrongs of the past. One those recommendations was that the Pope step forward and apologize for his church's role in the residential school system. Read the rest
I've lived my whole life as a pale, red headed fella. So, I say this, with authority: white people are dicks.
According to Smithsonian.com, white pioneers and archeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries pumped out a bullshit story about Cahokia, once the largest Native American city north of Mexico, as having been built by the Welsh, Vikings, Hindus – anyone but the indigenous population:
The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.
So yeah: it's hard to claim that you're displacing or irradiating a gaggle of savages when they prove themselves to be part of a society with a culture and history that's just as complex as your own.
Cahokia's collection of earthen mound structures aren't the only ones said to have been created by a mysterious group of builders. Similar sites can be found all over Ohio, the Mississippi Valley and well into the Southeast. Read the rest
Political art collective INDECLINE (previously) create provocative works. Their latest repurposes a gold ore processing facility on the Mojave National Preserve that was closed in 1994 and declared a Superfund site. Read the rest
Babbling Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke somehow feels native tribes people have a deep love and respect of the Confederacy. The United States must keep its Confederate memorials for the sake of the natives!
Employing racism to excuse racism, Zinke referred to first tribes people as "native Indians" and attempted to draw a false equivalency between Union commanding officers and Southern ones. Americans should remember both Grant's heroic work as an extremely drunk General in our Civil War, AND the fact he ran the most corrupt administration in American history... right up until about that time Orange Julius appointed Ryan Zinke.
I do not see how these folks who may well never have been to India benefit from the display of memorials to people who invaded Pennsylvania.
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“Where do you start and where do you stop? … If you’re a native Indian, I can tell you, you’re not very happy about the history of General Sherman or perhaps President Grant,” Zinke said during an interview with Breitbart Sunday, referencing the Union generals’ monuments around the U.S. despite their roles in creating federal policy that caused great harm to native Americans.
While Zinke has maintained this opinion about Confederate monuments since at least July, tensions over memorials for Confederate soldiers has risen significantly since August when a counter protester was killed at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in the city.
Zinke said removing the statues will inhibit the U.S.
Ryan Holiday's Ego is the Enemy is available from Amazon.
A few months ago, Chief Medicine Crow, one of the last remaining links to the Native American tribes of the Wild West died at age 102. He had grown up hearing stories about George Armstrong Custer from his grandfather, who'd been a scout for the doomed general at Little Bighorn in 1876. A soldier himself in the Second World War, Medicine Crow was one of the last Crow people to ever accomplish the four deeds required to be considering a war chief (command a war party, steal an enemy horse, touch an enemy without killing him and taking an enemy's weapon). Read the rest
After initially denying Liseanna Yazzie's request to wear ceremonial Navajo moccasins during her commencement, the Salpulpa Public Schools have changed their mind.
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After initially being denied the chance to wear her ceremonial Native America moccasins, one senior is now being allowed to attend her graduation ceremony with the Navajo moccasins.
Last week, Liseanna Yazzie spoke with 2 Works for You a bout how she was denied her request to wear the ceremonial Navajo moccasins during her commencement ceremony. Yazzie was told that the ceremonial shoes “did not meet the dress code” because they hit at the calf of her leg.
Originally Sapulpa Public Schools stood by its decision, but now, the school is prepared to bend the rules for Yazzie.
In a statement sent out Sapulpa Public Schools says, “After careful consideration and reflection Sapulpa Public Schools has decided to make an exception to previous restrictions regarding footwear. Native American clothing, especially ceremonial attire (as in this case), can and should be considered appropriate for inclusion in our graduation exercises.”
After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all.
Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted to study them.
Five Pacific Northwest tribes pressed the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the bones, to hand them over in accordance with a federal law on the repatriation of remains. However, a group of scientists sued to block the handover, arguing that the skeleton was not associated with a present-day tribe.
Federal judges sided with the scientists, and as a result, the corps retained custody of the skeleton and made it available for study. Now that the studies are finished, the 380 bones and bone fragments are locked away in Seattle at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Some scientists suggested that Kennewick Man might have been a visitor from the Far North, Siberia or perhaps someplace even more exotic. But when geneticists compared DNA from a hand bone with a wide range of samples, they found that the closest match came from members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
The burial site will be a secret, so we can have this fight all over again in a few thousand years. Read the rest
Photographer Gertrude Käsebier received permission from Buffalo Bill Cody to photograph the native tribes people in his Wild West Show. This collection, from the Library of Congress, is wonderful.
Read the rest
Famed author JK Rowling has been in the news of late. Her recently released History of Magic in North America stumbles over a number of insensitive cultural hot points, not least of which is her characterization of Native Americans.
Simon Moya-Smith, culture editor at Indian Country Today, explains why the conversation is important, but he couldn't care less about JK Rowling's fiction, because it is fiction. Moya-Smith reminds us that our public school textbooks spread deeper lies.
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What matters here, folks, in this debate over J.K. Rowling’s latest work is the language society uses – the language that is still taught to kids in schools today about Native Americans and our spiritualities.
Think about it: How in the living hell can a child differentiate alleged fact from fiction if schools continue to teach students that Native Americans practiced magic? Note I used the past tense of ‘practice.’ There are very few lessons in grade schools that provide any information on contemporary Native American societies. Super sad, but super true.
And let me leave you with this, home skillet:
Twitter turns 10-years-old this month. Facebook is 12-years-old. Social media, then, is prepubescent. It’s still trying to figure out why the hell hair is growing down there. But it’s through this peach-fuzzy platform that people are only now learning that Native Americans ARE STILL ALIVE. Seriously. Previous to the ubiquity of social media, propelled by the proliferation of the Web, people thought Indians were either dead or living in teepees.
Unsurprisingly, the occupied Malheur Wildlife Refuge buildings contain over 4000 native artifacts, belonging to the Burns Paiute tribe. The militant rebels are not making the native Americans feel good about their occupation, and apparently call the natives "savages."
The Burns Paiute Tribe is rightly demanding the United States live up to treaty obligations, and prosecute any damages to their artifacts and archaeological resources.
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Occupation leader Ammon Bundy, from Arizona and son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher involved in a standoff with the federal government over copy million in unpaid grazing fees on public land, has offered to meet with the tribe but the tribe says he has no right to hold their history hostage and have refused to grant him even the appearance of such authority by meeting with him.
“Some of the members of the community were open to them,” Roderique says, “when they first came but now the county chained and locked everything up and said no you can’t have your meeting in town.”
Harney County officials have stated they will not allow the militants to use any county-owned building for fear of more takeovers of public property.
“They tried to ask us for our gathering center and our facility was booked up. We just kind of laughed and said they want to use our 'savage' facilities?”
Roderique was referencing a “Harney County Committee of Safety” website made by supporters of the takeover who profess to exist “to secure the property and lives of the association members from threats from the savages.”
The residents of the small New York village of Whitesboro voted last night to keep this emblem that appears to show a man choking a Native American. From the Associated Press:
In a non-binding vote Monday night, residents voted 157-55 to not change their current seal, according to Patrick J. O'Connor, mayor of the Village of Whitesboro.
Whitesboro's website says the emblem dates to the early 1900s and depicts a friendly wrestling match between village founder Hugh White and an Oneida Indian. It says White won the match and the lasting respect and goodwill of the Oneidas...
After a notice of claim was filed in the 1970s calling the picture offensive, a new version was drawn with White's hands on the Indian's shoulders instead of on his neck, (village clerk and historian Dana) Nimey-Olney said.
"New York village votes to keep logo that shows man choking Native American" (AP) Read the rest
Caroline Ward Holland and her son Kagen toured all 21 California missions, on foot, this summer. They took this walk "in order to protest the Junipero Serra canonization, to honor their ancestors and 'to tell the truth.'" reports Mark Day, at Indian Country Today.
The adventure sounds grueling, while at the same time restorative, saddening, and highly informative. What Caroline and Kagen found should come as no surprise. While the history of the missions and missionaries are glorified, the native people they enslaved and killed, through overwork and disease, are forgotten.
From Sonoma Caroline and Kagen walked three days to Mission San Rafael. “It was tough, she said, “but I thought about the ancestors’ walks. They had been removed from their land. Their children had been taken from them. They had little food or water, and they didn’t know where they were going.”
She described a plaque at Mission San Rafael with a message from a friar recounting the number of baptisms, but with no mention of burials. And when she inquired about the mission cemetery, a park official said the Indians were buried “under the parking lot.”
This would be a constant theme as they made their way south. At most missions, little care was given to Indian burial sites that are often paved over.
I was educated in the California public education system. We were taught the native people welcomed the missionaries and pretty much thanked them for destroying their way of life. Clearly, this is not true. Read the rest
The cost of changing from a racist high school team name and mascot to one that isn't can be high. Read the rest
Sponsored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, today California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB30, a bill barring schools from naming teams or mascots "redskins."
NBC News shares:
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The state Assembly overwhelmingly approved the California Racial Mascots Act in May, about a month before the Obama administration went on record telling the Washington Redskins that they would have to change their name before they would be allowed to move to a stadium in Washington, D.C., from their current home in suburban Maryland.
In a joint statement with the nonprofit group Change the Mascot, the National Congress of American Indians praised California for "standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state's schools."