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

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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

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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)  

Repost: YOU CAN TELL THE LEADERS BY THE ARROWS IN THEIR BACKS

I wish I would’ve thought of this title. Wow. From http://prairiemary.blogspot.com/

The latest group to be caught up in and split apart by the monetizing of suffering and injustice has been American Indians, all stirred up about the Eloise Cobell case that will (soon, we hope) bring them some money. The lawsuit has been an attempt at compensation and closure to the admitted government raid on reservation assets, the profits of which were supposed to have been held in trust for tribal members. Instead they were thrown into the general revenues without earmarks and with such lousy bookkeeping (in some cases literally “ratty” records in substandard warehouses) that no one really knew who was owed what. The Cobell lawsuit had two goals. One was to compensate for the losses already due to mismanagement and the other was to reform the future handling of all funds in trust. The computer software alone was so hack-able that the judge closed down the Department of the Interior system until it could be fixed.

This is NOT a general award to all Indians everywhere but only those who benefit from trust status. Money that will be sent to the plaintiffs at this time is the estimated loss of money by PEOPLE WHO HAD LAND IN TRUST STATUS. Not every Indian has lands in trust status. Those who do don’t have access to their ownership but must “trust” the government to manage them for the most profit and send the owners the proceeds. In the Sixties there was a movement to return private-Indian-owned land to trust status in order to avoid county and state tax jurisdiction. Whether they are subject to county and state law enforcement has never been questioned from that angle. I suspect that the ultimate outcome of the Cobell lawsuit will simply be the elimination of government trust for Indian-owned land, an outcome some have wanted for a long time. One of the abiding controversies among tribal peoples has always been between those who want to manage their own affairs and those who would rather the government managed things.

Trust lands are not the same thing as reservation lands. There are residential lots in Valier (which is off the reservation), which are in trust with the federal government for the benefit of the legal Indian owners rather than being privately owned and managed. Land is taken OUT of trust status through action by the owner, maybe by petitioning for reclassification from “incompetent” (like being too young, not speaking English, or not understanding fancy legal categories and rules) to competence. This is called “patenting.” Some people patented their land simply because they did NOT consider themselves incompetent and thought the legal term had something personal to do with their intelligence.

After the Dawes Act, which divvied the tribal land up Homestead style, assigning allotments to individuals, the land was always first put into trust. Then some people patented their land. The accusation is that some people who truly WERE incompetent for some reason were “helped” to patent their land, which meant that it could be sold by them — maybe not at a fair price nor for a good reason — or attached to pay bills owed to local merchants, which the owners had not expected to happen. Whatever it was that happened, that’s an entirely different matter that has not been consolidated into a class action, at least not as far as I know. There are diligent and dedicated people accumulating facts and it may be that in the future there will be such a lawsuit.

Another kind of claim that distracts and confuses people is compensation for lands seized or overrun in contradiction of treaty assurances; for example, both the Black Hills and the Sweetgrass Hills, both of which were assigned to the Indians and then grabbed back by non-Indians because of the discovery of gold. These violations were eventually compensated by a government pay-out of a major block of money. On the Native American side a big part of the argument was that these high refugia hills were spiritually valorized places of enormous significance to the autochthonous peoples in the same way as European cathedrals. (A lot of white people also feel they are sacred.) The payout did not come to individuals, but to tribes as a whole.

A third kind of payout is the dividends earned by the tribal corporation. The tribal council operates on the model of a corporation in which each member is entitled to a share. The council is the same as the board of a corporation. Thus, at the end of the year, the dividends might be distributed as per capita checks.

A strong reason for monetizing society the way we do today is that it keeps order, but some people have figured out that it is a system that can be used as emotional extortion, among other things. It is in the extortionists’ interest to remain angrily “afflicted.” Since the situation of NA’s is already so confused in most minds, this tendency is easily exploited, if for nothing more than political and emotional self-righteousness.

Gyasi Ross, a lawyer and blogger associated with “Indian Country Today,” recently tried to make some points about these matters. On “Thing About Skins and Other Curios” he brought into the equation his grandfather, Percy Bullchild, who wrote “The Sun Comes Down,” an authentic Blackfeet-written book legitimately published. Right way there was a firestorm of criticism: that Percy was selfish, that he had it wrong, that he should not have told what he did, that he was a “sell-out,” “opportunist,” “traitor.” Almost exactly the same accusations as of Eloise. If you’ve lived on a rez, you’ll know this is predictable. Under it is the same demand: “Where’s MY cut?”

Said Gyasi, “. . . frankly, it seemed somewhat cowardly for someone to criticize a person for doing a good thing that they were unwilling to do themselves. . .”

“In my estimation, this Native woman [Eloise] is a hero, a warrior.”

As soon as Gyasi posted this, he got another wave of flame, all of it anonymous, as well as some approval from people with real names, including me. As soon as my name appeared, the attacks turned from Eloise to me. That was predictable. I’m white. And I couldn’t help but note that the anonymous people were evidently hiding behind the door in English class. I don’t know how they managed to learn to keyboard.

So Eloise is a two-fold heroine, first for facing down the government and second for having to withstand illiterate attacks from her own people. The latter force is what makes so many people reluctant to stand up for what is right. Also, it reinforces the prejudices of people who have a bad opinion of Indians. And it makes heroes wonder what they were thinking.

I just don’t get why the critics comment anonymously. If they think they will get money out of their high dudgeon, how will anyone know where to send the check? Any anonymous person who sends an anonymous comment to this blog on this post will be deleted. I just hate to see them embarrass themselves.

Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm  Comments (2)  

A CONVERSATION FROM A POW-WOW: ROLE MODELS

Recently, I was walking around at the University of Washington’s First Nations’ Pow-wow with my 3 year old son holding onto my finger. He loves pow-wows and round dance music—when he rides with me in our car, he always asks me to turn off my Beatles or Journey or Run DMC CDs and put on the “new pow-wow music” (round dance music). Since I told him that there was “new pow-music” at this particular pow-wow, he wanted to see it and hang out with all of the hand drummers.

As my son and I walked around looking for the hand drum contest (they had it hidden downstairs), he began to notice all of the vendors’ wares. I watched his eyes literally get bigger as he began pointing at all of the pretty Navajo jewelry, and the Kachina dolls. He was SO ready to buy SOMETHING when we passed the little Mexican dudes with the sweaters, flutes and “Made in China” toys that are at every pow-wow. While my son and I debated purchasing a squishy ball that lights up, a Coastal Native lady came up to me with her (presumably) grandson, who was slightly bigger than my son.

She gave me a side-glance, “Heyyyyy…don’t you write?”

I smiled at her, “Hi. Yeah, I write a bit.”

She looked up at me, “Yeah, I remember you when you were a little kid—your folks used to stay with us over at Treaty Days—I remember our dog bit you once. Your name is “Joshie,” huh?”

I nodded yes. Obviously she pronounced my name slightly wrong. But since all my cousins and aunties and uncles called me “Josh,” “Joshie” or “Gyas,” I guess I could let her get away with it too. I felt like Ted on “There’s Something About Mary”—“some of my best friends didn’t know my name.”

We continued talking and she continued mispronouncing my name—and that made me feel right at home. “I haven’t spoke to your mom in years, since she stopped dancing. Then one day I saw you on the computer. Your lips looked kinda chapped in that picture—cha!!! HA HA HA…Jokes…but I don’t think we’ve stood this close since you were a little kid. I never realized that you were this tall! And I never realized that you had wavy hair…y’know, I have a daughter who’s single… gawwwww.”

She smiled mischievously and raised her eyebrows, pointing at her grandson. Apparently this boy was her single daughter’s son.

I laughed my fake laugh. “HA!” Everyone who knows me knows my fake laugh, usually reserved for when I feel just a wee bit uncomfortable. “Thank you, but I have a girlfriend. But…how old is your daughter?? Ayyyyeezzz!!!”

She started laughing. Phew. She didn’t take me seriously. I really risked getting slapped just then.

She asked if I was enjoying the pow-wow, and whether I ever dance. “Yeah, this is one of my favorites. I dance sometimes. Not often. I’m honestly not that good.”

She asked if I was really a lawyer; said that I didn’t look like one. “Ain’t it a rule that lawyers are supposed to dress all business?” I told her that rule only applies only to the lawyers with money. I’m the new breed of lawyers—Section 8 lawyers who grew up between a trailer and small apartment units. We broke lawyers have a different rulebook.

She laughed again. Her son liked my red Yankees hat so I put it on his little head and it fell down over his braids and eyes. I have a massive head, and so it would’ve probably fell down over 99% of the population’s braids and eyes, but he had a particularly small peanut shaped head, and his thick braids barely added any radius to it. He smiled up at me.

After we talked for awhile, she paid me the best compliment that anybody’s ever given to me, “Joshie, I’ve never said this to anyone, but I’d like him (pointing at her grandson) to grow up and be like you. I’ve been watching you throughout the years—at this pow-wow, at basketball tournaments. You always had that same pigeon-toed walk and the same big head with a big smile—I can see that you’re a good man. And even though you cut off your braids, I still think that you are an incredible role model.”

I felt myself blushing—my big old head turning red like the Kool-Aid Man. I wasn’t sure how to respond, other than, “Wow…that’s so nice. Thank you.”

I was cheesing really big. I’m not the most modest person in the world, but this little old coastal lady made me embarrassed! I prepared to say more, but then I thought about her words a bit more. I smiled at her and said, “Y’know, I think that’s the nicest thing that anybody’s ever said to me. But you know what? Oddly enough, that title scares me. I mean, no disrespect—I’m flattered. But I’m not sure if I can handle the weight of that honor.”

She looked at me sort of strange—I think that she thought that I was joking because I was still smiling. She said, “Why do you think that you couldn’t handle that?”

I began to answer her, but I was more thinking out loud, “Well, it might just be me, but it seems like “role model” and “the public eye” is a dangerous place for an Indian to be. I mean, doesn’t it seem like we sometimes set people up just to see them fall? Not you, of course—you want me to succeed because you see your little boy in me. You want me to succeed because you want him to succeed. But it seems like our people have a problem with really rooting for our people. As soon as one of our people gets a little bit of success, a little notoriety or money, we start really looking for all of the flaws in those people.”

She started grilling me a little bit when I said that. I’m not sure how many of you know little Coastal women, but they’re focused! When they’re on a mission, they’re gonna get what they want! She asked, “Well, don’t we need Indian men and women who are going to stand up to that heat? Cripe, it sounds like you don’t want people to expect anything of you because you’re afraid you might fail. Don’t our children—my grandson—need leaders and role models who are going to stand up to the miserable people and complain about everything under the sun? My beautiful daughter calls those miserable people “haters.’”

I sighed. “Of course you’re right. But I think that most of the people who are trying to do good—whether it’s tribal leaders or pow-wow dancers or teachers—they’re just trying to lead by example. I don’t think that most of them are trying to make a deep political statement or save the world. They’re not, generally, religious leaders or spiritual. But people expect them to be perfect and the moment that someone sees them in a bar—it’s a scandal! Or the moment that someone hears a RUMOR that they did something in business that was questionable, our people jump to conclusions! Our people seem to love to see our people fail! I’ve seen that happen to so many people, and I’m just not sure how much that I want to be a part of that. Call me weak.”

Then she told me something that made me rethink my position. She pointed to the beautiful little Native kid wearing my oversized red Yankees hat and said, “What you’re saying is true, Joshie. But…If my grandson isn’t looking up to you—doesn’t see you as his role model, who is he going to look up to? Whether or not you choose to accept it, you ARE a role model for him. For better or for worse.”

I’m still not convinced that she’s 100% right, but I had to concede that she had a point. Although I still wonder why our people love to tear “us” down, she forced me to also wonder who is willing to stand up as strong examples of “us” if we’re not.

Any thoughts?

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm  Comments (24)  

Smokin’ Hot Fridays–Beautifully Weird White People

Sorry–it’s been a couple of Fridays with no “Smokin’ Hot Fridays.” Lots going on, but rest assured that it’s mainly because of being EXHAUSTED each and every friday. Sometimes…the week seems so long. Good weeks, mind you–I’m thankful for being able to say that I’m “busy.” Still…some Fridays, I just want to come home and do my little hellos, smooches, smooches, watch Family Guy and pass out.

That nowithstanding, here’s something special. These folks are amazing. I wish I had their audacity (and fruit!!) and singing ability…

At work they’ve had to deal with my singing “Squish Our Fruit Together” for the better part of two weeks now…amazing.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 5:55 pm  Comments (2)  

GOOD DEEDS IN INDIAN COUNTRY

“No good deed goes unpunished.”
Clare Boothe Luce

I was just a little kid, but I remember when my grandpa wrote a book called “The Sun Came Down: The History of the World as My Blackfeet Elders Told It.” I remember looking out the window of our trailer over at my grandpa and grandma’s trailer as my uncle helped him load his and my grandma’s suitcase. I remember my smiling sisters throwing their bags into the trunk of my grandpa’s little Ford Escort—my beautiful little grandma Rose in the passenger seat—and me crying because my playmates/heroes were going to be gone for some time (my grandpa didn’t want to take me because, rumor was, that I was an especially rotten kid).

That book was a big deal, and it seemed like our people were proud of it. It came from the pen/typewriter of a Native man—a Blackfeet man—who wanted to see our stories told forever. The Native man was uneducated. He ran away from boarding school in sixth grade, therefore the grammar was imperfect and sentence structure left much to be desired, admittedly. Still, he was wise in Blackfeet traditional ways and he also understood certain things about human nature. That is, he knew that our Native ways—like all ways—will inevitably change, and that if young Natives are going to acquire the knowledge from our elders, the elders are going to have to employ different means of teaching. In fact, my grandpa wrote that the reason he wrote this book is because:

“All history the Native learns by heart, and must pass it on to the little ones as they grow up…It’s these days that the younger generation of every nationality do not have ears for such things. These young people are just too busy being smarties, radical, militant, with no respect for their elders. They do not want to listen to anyone except themselves…From all of this, our oral prehistory of us Natives is dying away and being forgotten.”

I think that history shows that my grandpa (and many other elders) was right. Now, many tribes preserve their languages by CD-ROMs and DVDs. Native languages are taught on-line. Although he was not a great writer and his plan was not perfect, my grandpa took the initiative to do, in his opinion, the right thing.

And he was punished for it.

Now don’t get me wrong, to this day, thankfully, many people still speak about my grandpa with respect and some even with reverence. But there was a substantial minority of people, a very vocal minority, who made their displeasure known. This vocal minority did not like the fact that my grandpa put our Creation stories and language into print so that all nationalities could see. I remember uncomfortable talks, conversations and whispers that said “sell-out,” “opportunist,” “traitor.”

The criticisms hurt my grandpa deeply. He knew that he wasn’t above reproach. Heck, he expected criticism where he didn’t tell the story as well as he could have, or where he used bad grammar. That was fair game. But to question his intent or motivations seemed unfair; after all, he thought that he was doing this for our people. And frankly, it seemed somewhat cowardly for someone to criticize a person for doing a good thing that they were unwilling to do themselves.

It seemed like he deserved better than that.

Now, I am not a little kid anymore but I see that the same very vocal minority wants to punish every good deed in Indian Country. I paid close attention to the Elouise Cobell litigation and settlement and am amazed at the meanness and anger of the comments directed at her. Like my grandpa, she recognized that there was a need; she recognized that the U.S. took advantage of Natives for a long time and was not making any effort to make things right. Therefore, she proactively took steps to fix that situation—to right wrongs and address problems. Seems like a good thing.

Still, were her efforts perfect?

Not by a long-shot. I’m sure that if one was to ask Ms. Cobell, she would tell you that there were things—legally, administratively, and personally—that she and her team could have done better. She, like my grandpa, is not above reproach, and we should always think critically about our leadership. In fact, I’ll bet that she can probably point to a million mistakes that we’ve missed and don’t see, but she sees because she’s been looking over these documents for many years. My guess is that she’s probably her worst critic about this lawsuit and welcomes legal and administrative criticisms.

Still, it seems somewhat cowardly when people charge Elouise with the same criticisms that my grandpa faced: “sell-out,” “opportunist,” “traitor,” “colluder.” She deserves better than that. For example, suggesting that Miss Cobell colluded with the government is silly and should be insulting to our collective intelligence. In the Cobell litigation, federal officials working on behalf of the government were charged with contempt of court twice for not producing documents that would help paint a clearer picture of the mismanagement. I think—not being an insider on the proceedings myself—that the government utilized every single procedural mechanism not to allow a settlement to happen.

But somehow she was working with the government?

In my estimation, this Native woman is a hero, a warrior. She is a hero because she was willing to do something that nobody else was willing to do—man or woman, Native or non-Native. She was willing to take initiative and take tiny, frustrating steps to actually solve a problem while most of us were just complaining. She is a warrior because she put her words into action, when most of us were content with just words; I mean, really—if she hasn’t brought this lawsuit, would anybody else have? I doubt it.

She’s a warrior.

We need to protect our heroes and encourage our warriors to take bold steps to help our people, like protecting our traditions or bringing lawsuits against the government. And while “protecting our heroes” does not mean that we shouldn’t critique them—they need to be questioned just like anyone else—those criticisms and questions should be “within family”–not in mainstream publications and in front of TV cameras. In short, we must not allow this small and very vocal minority to shoot down our Native warriors publicly. Moreover, while questioning the work and methods of our heroes is fair game, it seems somewhat cowardly to assault our own warriors’ integrity and question their honesty simply because we disagree with their work.

If we do not protect our heroes, at some point the small and very vocal minority is going to create a situation where no Native wants to take initiative to help our people. In that situation, no Native will want to be a warrior because they understand that no good deed goes unpunished and everyone only pays attention to the flaws. Pretty soon, the only do-gooders will be white folks and non-Natives who want to “save” us. At that time, all of Native peoples’ most noble will be in corporations quietly achieving success without the stress and disrespect of constantly pointed fingers. Whether we agree or disagree with our warriors’ battles, in my humble estimation, we need to support our warriors and our heroes, like Elouise Cobell. We need to ensure that that all parties—Natives, non-Natives, and the mainstream media—know that we truly appreciate the efforts of our warriors and, although we might disagree with them, we will not tolerate personal attacks against our warriors.

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 4:05 am  Comments (31)