JR Redwater: More Natives Succeeding

Editor’s Note: This dude is hilarious. I don’t know Jr. at all, but I’ve been an admirer for awhile. That’s right Mr. Redwater, you have a stalker. A big Blackfeet stalker. Scary. Change your locks. Hide your woman (ayyyeezzzz!!!!)

The truth is that there are a lot of Native comedians on the come up–obviously the legendary Charlie Hill and (less obviously) the silly Colville Vaughn Eaglebear come to mind, amongst many others. God bless all of them! Achieve those dreams! JR, however, is my favorite (for now!!! I’m fickle and always willing to change for cheap flattery!!)–he has a storytelling style that I’ve always appreciated from my favorite comedians: John Leguizamo, Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, George Lopez. That storytelling style is the “old man’s” perspective–not “let’s run down the hill and make love to a cow,” instead it’s “let’s walk down to the hill and make sweet, passionate love to ALL the cows.”

That’s JR Redwater. He wants to make sweet, sweet Lakota-style love to all the cows. In a good way (I think).

He doesn’t rush a punchline. He doesn’t impatiently wait for people to “get it.” The humor is in the totality of his delivery and his story, not a single punchline.

He is funny incarnate–heck, I think if his jokes DIDN’T have a punchline (which, sometimes they do not), they would STILL be funny.

I’m not going to slobber all over this Standing Rock man’s microphone too much longer. I just felt that it was important to point out yet another Native person succeeding on a big level. It’s going to become an even bigger level. Promise. Thanks for following your dreams, JR (and all other Natives succeeding)!!!

Published in: on June 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm  Comments (10)  

Repost: Litefoot an Example of Natives Succeeding

From Nativetimes.com

Editor’s Note: It seems like, so many times, the only thing that we celebrate in Native communities is the BAD stuff–the historical wrongs, the dysfunction, etc. etc. Yeah, all of us can claim those reasons/excuses as the reason that we don’t succeed. Still, there are so many examples of beauty and success within our Native people–I can run down a list of names off the top of my head! So I truly appreciate folks who go out of their way to NOT let those excuses get in the way of them achieving. There’s many examples of success within our communities–on my behalf, I’m gonna try to do a better job of celebrating those. Litefoot is but one of those examples.

Litefoot expands brand

Native American Hip Hop Artist/Activist/Entrepreneur/Actor Announces New Footwear Line, CD, Book, Film Company, College Lectures and Much, Much More

SEATTLE, Wash. – The year 2010 has been a busy one for hip hop artist/entrepreneur/motivational speaker/actor Litefoot. Litefoot, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has an array of new projects.

He will debut his new abORIGINAL FOOT wear line, the “Litefoot” sneaker this October. With the launch of the “Litefoot” sneaker, Litefoot becomes the first Native American actor or musician to create a branded line of sneakers. The footwear line is a joint venture collaboration with Sole Nation Health, an American Indian owned footwear company. The Litefoot sneaker will be distributed throughout North America to Tribal Nations as well as through normal retail outlets and on line via http://www.litefoot.com

Litefoot, who launched the Native Style Clothing brand (www.nativestyle.net) in 2001, is also expanding its retail presence throughout North America and venturing into brand-specific marketing products for casino resort properties and for Native organizations and events. Native Style Clothing creates apparel featuring iconic contemporary Native designs.

Ever expanding his outreach, Litefoot has recently started work on an inspirational book, The Medicine of Prayer, detailing key events from his journeys throughout Indian Country over the last twenty years. The Medicine of Prayer will be self published. The Medicine of Prayer will be completed and available as an e-book and available as a paperback via http://www.litefoot.com on September 11, 2010. The Medicine of Prayer will also be available in late October on Apple’s ibookstore so it can be read via the Apple iPhone or iPad.

Litefoot continues to use his music to educate people about the Native American experience. In fact, his lyrics are now being used to teach high school and college-level students throughout the United States and as far away as Germany about historical and contemporary Native American issues and views. And he has lectured at various colleges throughout the United States including Virginia Polytechnic College and State University to Sitting Bull College. Most recently he spoke at Virginia Tech, on April 29, 2010, addressing the topic of “Building bridges between the Native American and African American communities.” Litefoot’s entire lecture at Virginia Tech will soon be available on DVD. In addition to the college circuit, Litefoot also spends a great amount of time each year speaking, holding workshops and performing concerts for elementary and high school student throughout North America.

Litefoot’s latest CD, The Testament, his 11th to date, will be released November 11, 2010. The CD will consist of 11 new songs and include a free bonus disc of 20 re-mastered Litefoot songs entitled, “Conscious Cutz.” He will also release an 11 album box set of his musical catalog entitled, “The Lite Years,” on December 11, 2010. All albums will be released on Litefoot’s own Red Vinyl Records and available via digital download or as compact discs via http://www.litefoot.com.

In other Litefoot Music news, the music video for his current single “My Chick” has received almost 300,000 views on YouTube.

By October of this year Litefoot will complete the fifth year of the five year long “Reach The Rez Tour” where will have traveled over 150,000 miles to nearly 400 American Indian Communities since 2005. The effort has served as the largest program of proactive outreach to Native American communities in the history of the United States of America.

On the Hollywood front, Litefoot, who has starred in various feature films including, Indian in the Cupboard and who has done several television guest appearances, just started along with Charlie Osceola of the Seminole Tribe of Florida “QCAM Productions,” a film production company that currently is developing a feature film script. QCAM will also serve as a production entity for various upcoming film projects. The name QCAM was created using the first initial from the first name of Litefoot’s son and Osceola’s three daughters.

Litefoot has also served in the past as the co-chair of the National Indian Gaming Association’s American Indian Business Network. He has served as Vice President of the Native Affairs for the Triple Five Group, owners of the worlds largest retail shopping malls; the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall.

Litefoot Enterprises, LLC also serves to create economic opportunities for the Native American community by bridging the gap between tribes and their partners. Litefoot Enterprises’ past and present project portfolio includes activities in real estate development, gaming, hospitality, “green” initiatives and wealth management. For more information: visit http://www.litefoot.com

Gyasi

Published in: on June 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

How To Give an Authentic Indian Speech

*Editor’s Note: This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time–give amazing Native writers a vehicle for their writing. There are several that I’m working with, and you can expect amazing stuff from them coming up. Now…I cannot claim credit for the below post, as much I’d love to (although Robert wanted me to make sure and take the blame for the photos. Yes. They’re mine.). Please welcome this amazing young writer and feel free to give honest and constructive feedback. His name is Robert C , from the Kiowa Nation and resides in the Mile High City. He is an obscure figure in the NDN world and has no prestigious awards to his name. Despite this, he endeavors to persevere and strives to be a good relative, friend and ally. His views are his alone (unless noted otherwise) and are not attributable to the host, fellow writers or any other associates.*

From time to time, a news article will appear and report public speaking to be a fear which ranks right up there with death. The article may quote a communications professor who will go on to relate some of the fear-based responses to public speaking—anxiety, sweaty palms, shaky voice, fidgeting, racing heartbeat, etc. Scary stuff, this public speaking.

If this is the level of fear held by the average person, imagine the fear of a Native who has to speak in public for the first time. What can be especially frightening is the belief they have to match the oratory feats of their Native ancestors. However, this fear is largely based on a misconception because many modern Native speakers have already established an easy-to-follow speech template which can be perfected with a little practice. This template works well with a non-Native audience and once mastered, it may pay off by delivering well paid speaking gigs.

THE TEMPLATE

Before concentrating on speech content, an aspiring Native speaker must first focus on a couple of speech elements—establishing credibility through appearance and pronunciation. An almost surefire way to establish credibility, and appear in the media, is to wear a headdress or warbonnet. In the past, some traditions required each feather to be earned until enough had been acquired to fashion a headdress. Nowadays, this type of tradition seems to be irrelevant and the main requirement for wearing a headdress is to take advantage of a good photo op. If a headdress is unavailable, then traditional clothing (or something resembling it) can be worn. It’s not important if one never wears traditional clothing for any other occasion so long as they wear it for a speech.

Another way to establish credibility is to affect a rez accent. This may mean speaking much slower or even in broken English. If one has never spent much time on the rez, watch Little Big Man and mimic Chief Dan George. Much like appearance, it’s not important if one doesn’t actually speak like this at any other time.

Once the appropriate attire is on and the right accent is found, it’s time to move onto the content of the speech. Remember, the following doesn’t need to be reproduced verbatim but it should serve as a general guideline and sections should be included in every speech (to allay fears, speaker notes will appear in parentheses).

Introduce yourself by your ndn name (note-do not look at someone you know when doing this because they may appear confused or skeptical and this may throw you off) Begin with a quote from a famous NDN and then include any or all of the following:

“First, I would like to apologize for speaking before my elders (don’t worry if you have no elders, it sounds good). I am here to speak as a member of the Seventh Generation (every NDN from the age of 6 to 80 make this claim so you are safe in doing so). I never thought I would make it this far because I grew up in a town in which the stores had signs that read “no Indians or dogs allowed.” I am also the product of a boarding school (it’s okay if you are a century removed from this process). I used to be extremely angry at what was done to my people, but a grandparent told me I had to let that anger go and make it in this world, and education is the key (scan the audience for nodding approvals and smiles). Today, education is the new buffalo and warriors carry a briefcase, not a bow and arrow (No one will care if your people didn’t actually hunt buffalo nor will they ask about the contents of the briefcase). Every NDN wants to fight for their people but it is hard because Indians are like crabs in a bucket and we pull anyone down who tries to climb high (every ethnic groups uses this same analogy so you are safe in doing so as well). Despite this, we have triumphed because we are still here and have survived. In fact, Native Americans have served in the armed forces at higher rates than any other ethnic group (other groups make this same claim so you are safe in doing so as well). We are a sovereign people and the treaties are the supreme law of the land that guarantee our right to education, housing and health care (chances are no one will know anything about federal NDN law and will believe your claim). We are all related. Aho!”

*At this point, feel free to talk about your personal life/accomplishments, how hard life has been lately and air any personal grudges you might have. You may also want to mention that we are a spiritual people (speak very softly) and our responsibility is to protect Mother Earth by showing our white relatives how to live in balance (don’t worry if you grew up in the suburbs and wouldn’t last one day without a cell phone, it’s the image that’s important).*

If at any point you lose your train of thought or become confused, explain to the audience that English is your second language, even if it’s the only language you understand. In addition, a rambling, incoherent speech can be justified by reminding the audience that Natives are non-linear thinkers and prone to speaking in circles (Editor’s Note: we live life in circles, no?). Also, if it becomes apparent that you do not have enough content to fill up the time slot, it is customary to pass the time by praying out loud, singing songs for 30 minutes or having the audience perform a friendship/round dance until the time is up. Follow these instructions and you will be a successful speaker.

WARNING

None of this will work with a predominantly NDN audience, but that’s the subject of a different post.

Robert C.
Kiowa Nation

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 4:39 am  Comments (37)  

Repost: Dang-blasted Toddler Smokers

From CNN

Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Repost: Pick This Young Lady Up for Indian Ball Tourneys

All-Native Plus 1, anyone?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1268899/Worlds-tallest-teenage-girl-stands-6ft-11in-Marvadene-Anderson-basketball-ace.html

The jolly teen giant: Joking Jamaican basketball ace Bubbles, 16, is world’s tallest teenage girl at 6ft 11in

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 1:38 PM on 27th April 2010

* Comments (9)
* Add to My Stories

Towering over her teacher and friends this teenager stands an astonishing 6ft 11in tall and is the world’s tallest teenage girl.

The 16-year-old Jamaican Marvadene Anderson is, perhaps not surpisingly, a basketball ace and terrorises opposing school teams.

Marvadene, who is studying under scholarship in the U.S. is five inches taller than Michael Jordan , her idol in the sport.
Marvadene Anderson towers over her teacher Peter Richardson
Maravdene Anderson

Towering talent: Marvadene Anderson stands 15in over teacher Peter Richardson (left) and makes easy reach of the basketball net at Rutgers Preparatory School, New Jersey, where she is a starring member of the team

She is nicknamed ‘Bubbles’ by her team-mates because of her tall sense of humour.

More…

* Meet Britain’s smallest mum (whose 14-month-old son towers over her)

Weighing 15 stone and wearing size 11 shoes Marvadene comes from a large family and her sister Kimberly is 6ft 4in and calls her sister the ‘baby giant’.

‘Marvadene is wonderful addition to the school and the basketball team here,’ said JJ Quenault, 42, a teacher at Rutgers Preparatory School in New Jersey.

‘The other girls were stunned by her height when they first met her and I must admit so was I, but now she is almost irreplaceable in the team.
Marvadene Anderson with friends Rachel and Syvea McDaniel

Tall sense of humour: Marvadene with friends Rachel and Syvea McDaniel who call her Bubbles for her wit

‘She is going to be a star in the world of girls basketball and even though she has only recently adapted to basketball from netball, we expect a big future from her.’

Attending classes at the prestigious school, Marvadene is used to towering over her teachers.

‘I work in the school photographic department and so have taken a few pictures of Marvadene,’ said Mr Quenault.

‘To see her standing over her teacher Peter Richardson is quite amusing, as he ft 8in and she of course is the world’s tallest teenage girl at six foot eleven inches.’
Marvadene Anderson

Reaching high: Marvadene shoots another basket for her school team where she enjoys a scholarship

Having taken the title from Thai national Malee Duangdee who stands at 6ft 10in, Marvedene has become media shy since her appearance in an American television program about tall children.

‘People are friendly with me because of my height and my personality. If I was tall and mean, I think I’d have a problem,’ she said in an interview with an American paper recently.

‘The rudest thing anybody ever said about my height is that I’m not going to be able to find a husband.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1268899/Worlds-tallest-teenage-girl-stands-6ft-11in-Marvadene-Anderson-basketball-ace.html#ixzz0oLS44TDR

Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 4:08 am  Comments (2)  

Smokin’ Hot Friday–Strippers for the Children!!!

See…don’t let people tell you that we ALL cannot contribute in our own special little ways. Next time I’m at Rick’s (RIP) or the Spearmint Rhino or Camelot’s in DC, please realize that I’m only doing it for the kids…

From Fox

http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/local_news/long_island/strip-club-pitches-pole-tax-for-education-20100512
Strip Club Pitches ‘Pole Tax’ for Education
Updated: Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 6:14 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 6:07 PM EDT

By KATHERINE CREAG

MYFOXNY.COM – You won’t find many businesses or people who support more taxes, but some strippers on Long Island and the club they work for do — if the money helps schools.

Carmela Cioffi is a stripper and also a mom to a little boy. She says she worries about schools that are cutting programs because they’re struggling financially.

Carmela works at Illusions Gentleman’s Club in Deer Park, Long Island, where an idea came up recently: Charge patrons a fee of $5 to get in the club. Club workers say the fee could raise thousands, maybe even millions of dollars for public schools.

They are calling the fee the stripper pole tax, not only would customers be charged at the door, but the dancers who perform here on stage plan on donating part of their tips.

Illusions is giving the plan a whirl this weekend with an infamous guest to take the stage. Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher will take to the pole; the club says it’ll take the money to the state.

But some are wondering if this is a publicity stunt. These dancers say it’s all for education. In fact, they got the idea from a similar tax in Texas that has generated more than $13 million in the last two years to fund sexual assault prevention programs.

The governor’s office said the so-called pole tax is not under consideration.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Repost: Anti-gay rights activist resigns after trip with male escort

This is hilarious.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/12/anit.gay.activist.resigns/index.html?hpt=T1

(CNN) — The anti-gay rights activist who recently toured Europe with a male escort has resigned from a group that promotes counseling for people who “struggle with unwanted homosexuality,” though the man insists that he is not gay.

George Rekers resigned from the board of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, the group’s website said Tuesday.

“I am immediately resigning my membership in NARTH to allow myself the time necessary to fight the false media reports that have been made against me,” Rekers said in a statement posted on the group’s website. “With the assistance of a defamation attorney, I will fight these false reports because I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever.

“I am not gay and never have been,” the statement said.

The association accepted the resignation, saying on its website Tuesday that it “would hope that the legal process will sufficiently clarify the questions that have arisen in this unfortunate situation.”

The group has scrubbed Rekers’ writings from its site, with a page that formerly featured his work now bearing the message, “Sorry, you’ve reached a page that doesn’t exist.”

Rekers, a Baptist minister, has been a prominent and effective foe of gay rights legislation across the country. He is a co-founder of the Family Research Council, one of Washington’s most powerful conservative Christian advocacy groups, and has weighed in on anti-gay rights legislation across the country.

He received about $120,000 to appear as an expert witness in a 2008 case challenging Florida’s ban on gays and lesbians adopting.

Rekers has written that gays are a “deviant segment of society.”

Revelations of Rekers’ trip to Europe with a male escort surfaced last week, shortly after he returned to the U.S.
Video: Anti-gay activist’s escort scandal
Video: Male escort and Baptist minister
RELATED TOPICS

* Family Research Council
* Gay and Lesbian Relationships
* Europe

The male escort who traveled with Rekers — who goes by the name Lucien, though that is not his given name — said that he advertises his service exclusively on the website rentboy.com, where visitors can choose from hundreds of male escorts in suggestive and revealing poses.

Lucien says Rekers first contacted him through the site. He was hired to give Rekers daily “sexual massages” on the trip, which took them to London and Madrid, Lucien says.

“He got excited,” Lucien said of the massages, adding that Rekers wanted Lucien to touch him, though Lucien said that he didn’t have sex with Rekers and that Rekers didn’t ask to have sex.

According to a contract Lucien showed CNN, he was hired to carry Rekers’ bags and to provide at least one hour’s worth of massage every day in their shared room, at a cost of $75 a day.

The contract also stipulated that Lucien spend at least eight hours a day with Rekers, including sharing two meals.

Rekers’ website provided a different account of how he met Lucien and of the trip, saying he needed help carrying luggage because of an “ongoing condition following surgery.”

The site said Rekers “found his recent travel assistant by interviewing different people who might be able to help, and did not even find out about his travel assistant’s internet advertisements offering prostitution activity until after the trip was in progress. There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship.”

Rekers’ site said he “was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant.”

Rekers is a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, according to his website.

He earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, an M.B.A. from Southern Wesleyan University and a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of South Africa, his site says.

Lucien says Rekers told him about other boyfriends before the European trip. But Lucien says that in their ongoing conversations, Rekers continues to deny that he is gay.

“I actually asked him over the phone, ‘Do you think you’re gay?’ and he said, ‘no’,” Lucien said, adding that Rekers asked him not to share his story with the media.

In a statement on its website Tuesday, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality said it stood by its work promoting therapy for gays who wish to be straight.

“(T)hese personal controversies do not change the scientific data, nor do they detract from the important work of NARTH,” the statement said. “NARTH continues to support scientific research, and to value client autonomy, client self-determination and client diversity.”

Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 6:30 am  Comments (1)  

Repost: When Non-Native Participation in Pow-Wows Goes Terribly Wrong

From nativeappropriations.blogspot.com

This is hilarious–my repost doesn’t do it justice. Go to the Native Appropriations site to see the pictures for yourself. Funny thing? I’m sure there was some John Redcorn-esque Native dude that let them join his tribe…

Let’s set the scene: Friday afternoon, Stanford powwow–one of the largest powwow’s on the West Coast. Three Native powwow committee members and a friend are checking in on the vendor booths, making sure things are ready to go, and they come across the group pictured above. 6 non-Native girls, decked out in warpaint, feathers, fringe, and moccassins–playing Indian at its worst. I’ll let my friend Leon tell the whole story:

While we were walking around Powwow on Friday, checkin out the vendors, we saw this pack of little white girls come running in from the street. Now, needless to say, we were shocked at the sight. We pretty much all just stopped in our tracks, and were speechless for a minute, as we looked on in sheer disbelief. After going through a few (angry) options in our heads about what to do, we figured we should have a little fun with it first (especially since there was this crew of little like six year old Native girls who were already making fun of them)…anyways, me and Lisa devised a plan to get this picture of them for you and your blog. So Lisa approached the girls and said “Excuse me girls…” (silence fell upon the land)…”could we get a picture of you for our newsletter?” “Of course!!!” the girls replied with excitement…
So girls, here’s your “newsletter” debut.
After Leon and crew took the picture, the powwow security team talked to them and brought them over to the director of the Stanford Native Center for some education on the issue, so (hopefully) they at least walked away from the experience with a new understanding of their actions. If they didn’t, here, again, is my anti-headdress manifesto.

I was telling my mom about the incident, and she said, “Honey, you can’t be too hard on them. Clearly they just didn’t know any better.” The thing is, they should have known better.

These girls are students at Palo Alto High School. Definitely one of the best high schools in the area, if not the state. It is a high school that turns out tops students who go on to top colleges, and enrolls children of professors, stanford employees, and other well educated silicon valley execs. To top it off, the school is literally across the street from Stanford. Across the street from a school that hosts the largest student run powwow in the nation for 39 years running, that is home to nearly 300 Native students, that has one of the strongest college Native communities in California.

I would like to think that the combination of those factors would equate some level of understanding, that a high school of their caliber would incorporate some type of curriculum on Native history, or at least a basic level of cultural sensitivity. Clearly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

If these girls survived a talking-to by Winona (the director of the Native Center), they know what they did was wrong, and why. I feel posting their picture and story is enough of a public shaming. But as I struggle to find an analogy to another community event to analyze this incident, I’m still left scratching my head.

Why did these girls think it was ok to dress up like ridiculous “Indians” to come to a Native community event? Would these girls have dressed in blackface to go to a African American community gathering? Wear a sombrero, poncho, and drawn on mustache to a Ballet Folklorico concert? No.

But powwows, at least in areas that are not majority-Native, tend to invite non-Native spectators, encourage their participation in things like intertribal dances, and allow time and space for education about Native history and powwow traditions. I think that’s a great thing. Powwows show the vibrancy and currency of our cultures and evolving traditions; they show we are still here, that traditions are strong, that our communities exist and will continue to exist. They expose thousands of people to Native cultures that they may not ever encounter otherwise. They allow for Native artists and craftspeople to make a living selling their jewelry and art.

However, this openness and encouragement of non-Native participation creates a fine line–we want you to come, to learn, to watch, to engage; but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to mock our cultures in your attempts at participation.

I felt like that line was crossed a couple of weeks ago at the Harvard powwow, where our MC (a well respected MC throughout Indian country, great man, very focused on the educational aspects of powwow) called for a “Spectator Special”. He invited the non-Indian spectators out to for a dance competition at the end of the afternoon, to real contest songs.

There were separate songs for men and women, and multiple rounds–semi-finals, finals, ect. The winners were chosen by the audience, and given a cash prize (like $5). As I stood on the sidelines and watched, I couldn’t help but feel extremely uncomfortable. It was like we had just given these men and women permission to mock us.

They hopped and ran around–one man even took off his socks to spin around like the fancy dancers. The thing was, it wasn’t like they were clowning, or smiling, or being silly. They were dead serious. They had looks of concentration, were sweating, breathing hard. I think I would have felt better if it was a joke–a chance for the Native dancers to take a break and poke fun at the spectators, almost like the switch dance where the men dance like women and women like men. But instead, these spectators reverted to the worst of stereotypes, jumping around like “war dances” around the fire from a spaghetti western.

I want to share the video I took on my cell phone, but beware, the quality is, well, what you would expect from a cell phone. And the sound was so bad I had to plop a Northern Cree contest song behind it so you could still get the effect. In sum, don’t judge the filmmaker, judge the content of the film.

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm  Comments (3)  

Repost: What Does a Justice Kagan Mean for Indian Country?

From turtletalk (turtletalk.wordpress.com)

I have some thoughts on this, but that may be a post for another day.

The answer at this point is — nobody knows, or could possibly know.

Solicitor General Kagan has almost no paper record of scholarship on Indian law, no judicial opinions, and little else in the way of a paper trail. Her most intimate association with Indian Country is her membership (now likely former) on the board of the American Indian Empowerment Fund (as noted here), which probably came about as a concomitant duty related to her Harvard deanship and duties in filling the Oneida Chair at Harvard Law. As is well known, Harvard Law has had some difficulty in completing the requirements of the Oneida endowment (hiring a full-time Indian law prof), as the Chair is always filled by visitors. What this means is anyone’s guess, though some of my former law school colleagues are certain it is a bad thing she had trouble hiring minority law profs.

The only known impact of Kagan’s nomination if she is confirmed, is that she will likely be forced to recuse herself in the 2010 Term’s lone (so far) Indian law case, United States v. Tohono O’odham Nation (No. 09-846). Who knows how that will affect the decision, though the T.O.N. would only have to find four Justices to prevail (as would happen in a 4-4 tie). Once the T.O.N. case is decided, we may hear much more from a Justice Kagan, who perhaps will be tapped write some of the Indian law decisions (as junior Justices often are).

Which leads to my final comment. A Justice Kagan is yet another player from the elite of the legal profession, an elite that rarely has even more than a passing interest in Indian law and Indian Country. From Justice Brennan referring to Indian law cases as “chickenshit” (page 435 of The Brethren), to the modern and open hostility of most Justices to Indian cases, this does not bode well. It could, if a Justice Kagan is open-minded and willing to listen and learn, but more likely than not, she (as do most or all of the other Justices) may find her Indian law assignments a burden. That would be a shame.

Perhaps we’ll see.

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Earth Day 2010/Vine Deloria Jr. Tribute

DISCLAIMER:
I try not to be too much of a “name-dropper,” but I will do so here shamelessly. This name-drop story involves one of my heroes, someone who was not my friend (I wish!), but still someone who shaped the way I think, write and believe.

STORY:

Vine Deloria, Jr. was a cool dude. Now, of course we know that he was an icon, legend, scholar, genius, etc., etc. But…in addition to all of those absolutely appropriate titles—he was also a genuinely cool dude. Let me tell you why:

I was not a huge reader as a kid. In fact, During my teenage years I really had an interest in reading only a few things. I read comic books (Thor and one called “Groo the Wanderer” were my favorites), True Story Magazines (long story) and Vine Deloria books. In fact, I probably got a good 97% of my classroom rhetoric as a college student from Custer Died for Your Sins and God is Red. Vine successfully put some science behind the Creation story “myths” that my grandpa and others taught me as a kid—gave me fodder to argue the empirical viability of Native ways in anthropology classes.

So he was essentially a god to me; a Native nerd’s man-crush.

In college, I happened upon Vine’s email address. Wow! I felt like the nerd in “Can’t Buy Me Love” when he knew that Cindy actually liked him! I had power in my hands…

But how do I randomly send Vine—my hero—an email when I had nothing to talk about? This was a real conundrum—there was no real “smooth” way to say, “I stalked you and managed to somehow find your email address, and although I don’t know you, I just HAD to talk to you.” Seems a bit weird. I did that same thing once, (in a completely different context)–tried to do the old “stalk and conversation” technique: while walking, I followed a hot girl into a Victoria’s Secret to try to make conversation in a way that seemed “natural.” Since I just blindly followed the young lady, I didn’t realize that I was in a Victoria’s Secret store until I casually bumped into the 50% off polyester teddy section. It was painfully bad.

[

Me: >acting like I’m looking at some strawberry body wash, happened to turn to the hot chick< Oh, HI! Hey…um, do you think that this stuff would make a guy smell too, um…fruity?

Hot Chick: >Looking Disgusted At Me< Ew. You really want to wear that? Are you really shopping for yourself here? >Fiddles through lingerie<

Me: >sneaking out the store like a 6’4” bushy-haired and pigeon toed gardner snake< …er, exactly?

So as you can see, the “awkward first conversation with my crush” thing hasn’t worked out so well for me. Maybe I need to try banana body wash next time?

But I digress.

Anyway, after a few years (probably 4) of deliberating this prized email address—not wanting to blow my first impression with my hero—I finally found the perfect conduit to break the ice. See, I read a book called “The Ecological Indian” in 2000; the premise for the book was that Natives were not, in fact, the hyper-earthy ecological types of “The Crying Indian” fame, above. Instead, the author asserts that it was because there were simply too few Natives to have made much of a difference on this continent before European contact.

So here I am, a nobody, living in a 200 square foot apartment and barely enough credentials to fill out my FAFSA application (I’m still a nobody, by the way, but at least now I don’t have to fill out those applications anymore). And I’m sending out emails to my hero–the dude who, if he said “the sky was purple,” I would’ve probably noticed a purple tint to it. In the email, I wrote that “I think that Krech (the author of “Ecological Indian”) is wrong in his analysis, but I think that Natives have to be just as cognizant of the “good” stereotypes, like our enviromental-friendliness, as we do about our “bad” stereotypes, like concerning alcohol.”

I mean, I definitely didn’t agree with Krech, but I THOUGHT that I understood where he was coming from. I was diplomatic–playing the middle of the road. And I thought that I made a good point–“perhaps we weren’t quite the conservationists that I thought that we were.”

Vine tore me a new one.

Apparently he was working on a response to Krech, and I think that I messed with him in the middle of writing mode. He worked on his best responses/material with me, pummeling me with journal citations, historical documents and anthropological writings. Ouch. Not only did he beat me up, but he beat me up and I also couldn’t really understand most of the words coming at me. But I DID understand a few of his more, how shall we say, “colorful” words…of course, I won’t write his reaction in full detail, but I will post his “official” response:

“It’s nonsense…the Indians did not make any appreciable dent in buffalo numbers in the Northern Plains. It’s anti-Indian stuff…”

He told me that if I defended Krech’s point of view, since he’s writing “anti-Indian stuff,” that I must be anti-Indian. Of COURSE we Natives took care of the Earth. She’s our mother.

Ouch. But you know what…?? I was so flattered. I was thankful that he–my hero–took the time to kick my butt. A nobody’s butt (does that = “no butt?”).

And we argued via email for years. About George Bush. About Shepherd Krech. About Richard Nixon. And even though I only met Vine twice, and I doubt that he put it together that I was the guy that stalked him so that he could argue with the great Vine Deloria, Jr. (why would he–who was I??), I felt special, because one of my heroes took the time to respond to an email or two.

The reason I’m writing this? Well, for one, it’s a Sunday evening and a rerun of the Family Guy is on, so I felt like writing. The other–Earth Day’s coming up. I know we all laughed when we saw the image of the “crying Indian” in the youtube video above. But the truth is that, from what I can see, we AREN’T the stewards of our environment that we paint ourselves to be. If the Earth is our Mother, as many of our creation stories say, we treat our mothers pretty badly. I see the way we leave our yards in complete disarray (mine included). Sometimes I understand what Cooch meant in “Thunderheart,” “They want all of America back but they can’t even keep the garbage out of their own front yards.”

We can and must do better. We are the original stewards of this land.

Therefore, just some Earth Day 2010 food for thought: pick up some trash around your house. Don’t run the water the whole time you’re brushing your teeth. Little stuff makes a big difference. Teach your children that “waste not, want not,” because as Vine taught me (in very colorful language)–taking care of the Earth is in our blood.

Thanks Vine, for being a cool dude. Happy Earth Day.

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm  Comments (5)  
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