the thing is, people don’t lie to their kids about the holocaust of the jewish peoples by the nazis. How is it any harder to explain the holocaust of native people here in america to your kids?

adailyriot:

all i’m sayin is, the excuse is up.

tell the real history so we can move forward.

adailyriot:

As the idiom says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” But nature’s most simple edibles can be enjoyed in a myriad of ways.

Take the cranberry, for example. This small, bouncy, perky berry, which grows in areas known as “bogs” on short evergreen perennial shrubs, tastes tart when eaten raw. But cooking cranberries mellows their taste, especially when mixed with a natural sweetener. Hence, cranberries taste delicious in pastries or as glazes on meats—think cranberry-rubbed turkey, venison with cranberry chutney, or wild boar in cranberry-wine sauce.

This deep-red fruit has a rich history, especially among the Wampanoag of Cape Cod and the outer islands, who have nurtured them for eons.

Now cranberries are a major industrial crop, along with two other totally Native fruits grown commercially in North America: blueberries and strawberries—the original finger foods.

Cranberries are a time-honored staple in trail mix and pemmican, also known as “jerky,” in which animal fats, nuts and berries of various sorts are pounded into preserved meats—typically buffalo, venison (including elk, deer and moose) or small game like rabbit or squirrel. Pemmican is a true example of traditional American Indian “fast food”—a far cry from modern America’s oil-drenched burgers and fries.

Cranberries, rather, are loaded with anthocyanins, which are responsible for their vibrant red pigment and deliver antioxidants that may slow aging and reduce inflammation. Beyond nutrition, cranberries offer medicinal uses. Our ancestors ground them into a paste to fight wound infections, treated by high levels of acidity and vitamin C. Plus, the indigenous fruit contains compounds that help block bacteria—giving credence to the common belief that drinking cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections.

Fresh cranberries are primarily available in the cool fall months, although they can be purchased year-round in dried form, often called craisins, or crushed in sauces and juices.

Have fun and experiment with the versatile cranberry—toss them in corn breads, apple pie or cake batters. Take inspiration from Native chefs and restaurants, like Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery. The Osage family-owned restaurant in Denver, Colorado makes a corn salsa with cranberries that has earned praise on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

Still, my all-time personal favorite way to enjoy them is in cranberry chutney.

Cranberry “Sassamanesh” Chutney

3 cups cranberries

12 apples, firm, cored

2 sweet onions, sliced

1 cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons ground ginger

¾ cup mint leaves, fine chopped

2 ounces chili peppers

4 cups apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

1 pound dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour dissolved in ¼ cup water

You will need a heavy stainless steel pot. Combine all ingredients except the cranberries and flour mixture. Cook apples, onions, raisins, ginger, mint, chili pepper, vinegar, salt and brown sugar over very low heat for about a half hour. Now, add the cranberries and flour/water mixture and simmer 5-10 minutes to allow berries to pop and chutney to thicken. This will yield about 4 pints. Allow the mixture to blend and thicken overnight.

*Pack your chutney into jelly jars. They make great gifts this way, too.

… . .

Cranberries make for finger-licking desserts during the blustering fall season as well:

Sassamanesh Scones

preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 cup flour

½ cup quick cooking rolled oats

3 tablespoons sugar (brown preferred) or equivalent substitute

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons chilled sweet butter, cut in pieces

½ or more…cup Craisins (dried cranberries)

1 egg

¼ cup milk, more if needed

Using a food processor, mix the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse to blend. Put the butter on top and pulse again a few times. Add cranberries and pulse once to mix them in.

Beat the egg with the milk in a small glass bowl and pour into processor feeding tube until dough sticks together, add more milk if dough is too dry to stick together.

Put dough on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten down to a large circle. Cut into 12 pieces, leaving about an inch between them. Sprinkle with a little more sugar if desired. Bake about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

… . .

Cranberry Heaven

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2 cups fresh whole cranberries

1 cup cranberry juice cocktail

4 eggs

1 cup sugar (or substitute equivalent)

¼ cup flour

1 cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of cinnamon

Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Cook the cranberries in a large non-reactive saucepan for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove cranberries and set them aside. Boil down liquid to ¼ cup remaining. Use a blender or food processor to combine the eggs, sugar, flour, milk, cream and vanilla. Add the cranberry liquid to form a custard. Spread the slightly cooled cranberries on the bottom of the greased pie pan. Pour custard mixture over the berries and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in the center of the oven until golden and puffed, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.



selchieproductions:

Alaska Native languages: It all comes down to choices© Xh’unei Lance A. Twitchell / Juneau Empire

Linguists have been predicting the death of Alaska Native languages for decades now, and whether or not those predictions prove accurate comes down to the choices you and I make on a daily basis. The past 200 years have been devastating; from boarding schools to disease to social discriminations, we are now left with the aftermath of successful attempts to destroy languages and cultures. But that does not mean we have to resign our efforts or just allow this to happen. In fact, it leaves us all with a tremendous amount of power and the decision is right here before us: speak now or let it go forever.
Our languages have developed in specific places for thousands and thousands of years. Within them we see patterns of migrations, grammar that allows us to see the world differently, and an ability to communicate more closely with our ancestors and the natural world around us. Just the other day I sat with some school children and watched a Tlingit speaker talk to the porpoises. He called out to them, the ones we call “cheech,” and they came back to the surface in response, showing themselves to the kids who sat down to learn from the Tlingit speaker.
And there is more. The recent release of Tom Thornton’s book, “Haa Léelk’w Hás Aaní Saax’ú / Our Grandparents’ Names on the Land,” gives us nearly 3,500 names to put back onto the land on which we live in Southeast Alaska. These names collectively show an intense and long-standing relationship with the land. They connect us linguistically to stories, migrations, animals, the supernatural and more. When you think about it, and when you really try to use these names, you then realize that you are not just living in Anywhere, USA.
But there are so few people who are using our language. Recent surveys leave us with this estimate: there are fewer than 250 people who can speak a Southeast Alaska Native Language. That is three languages combined. Tlingit has about 200, Haida has about a half-dozen, and Coastal Tsimshian has about 30. This means that the clock is ticking quickly for each of these languages. This also means that we have some important decisions to make.
I could spend a thousand words on the reasons for language decline in indigenous populations. I could spend a thousand more on potential solutions, useful studies, new curriculum ideas. In reality, all of that compares very little to these two questions: Who will speak? Who will listen?
There is nothing that will determine the future of our languages more than this. Despite everything that has happened, and all the things we may think should happen, we have to realize that we are the ones deciding to let these languages die. Maybe we have been fooled into thinking that progress moves us towards an English-only world. Perhaps we have been beaten and teased and shamed into staying away from our languages.
I can understand those things. But we have to move beyond them, as a region, and listen to these languages. Every time I hear notions of racial supremacy disguised as progress or world economy, I think about how sneaky all those things are. But I still stumble through the language with my baby daughter when we are home alone in the mornings. I still talk to the cat and whomever else will listen. I make my family guess what I am saying, and even better yet, they are just starting to figure it out. I speak with other speakers, and learn what I can when I can.
We need our communities to embrace the existence of our languages. This is more than just nodding or saying, “good idea.” This language was beaten, washed, and bribed out of our people. There is a trauma here that was government-sponsored, church-driven, and rarely resisted at the community level. That means that we can choose to work together to make sure these languages have a place to live, and that is the same place where they were born. It does not matter what your ethnicity is.
This is not a race issue. This is a human issue. I think of it as this: you are walking past a dying person. Do you just walk past? It does not matter how it happened or what you may think of that person. What type of human are you? When we examine the history of this area, we can see that the human obligation is to help people survive and to be kind. Recently, I heard a wise man say that politics is bullying, and Alaska Natives do not make good bullies.
The goal of Alaska Native language revitalization is not to force anyone to do anything or to try and destroy anyone else’s identity or sense of place. Ironically, there seems to be a real fear of the revival of Alaska Native languages, or at the very least a reluctance to see it. But it is coming. Our languages are now beginning to go through the process of death, the result of decades upon decades of a killing machine that we can call assimilation. We will no longer allow that to happen.
Study after study has shown that bilingual people test higher in education. Study after study has shown that when you take away a group’s established identity and substitute it with something else, it creates systemwide failure within that group. Suicide rates among Alaska Natives are enormous, and most social gauges show a people in peril. But we do not have to stay on this road. We can make our own decisions and future. We can open our minds to a new existence that allows languages to thrive, and connects generations back to time immemorial.
We have talked about language revitalization in our region, but we are not there yet. It will take a sea change among our communities, organizations, and individuals. It will take unity like we have not yet realized. It will take partnerships that leave the self behind. We will discover that we are all human beings, and that connections to each other, our land, and our ancestors will make every one of us stronger. We have incredible power and we will learn how to use it.
Speak. Listen. Do it every day. Change the future and the world.

• Xh’unei, Lance A. Twitchell, is Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast. 

selchieproductions:

Alaska Native languages: It all comes down to choices
© Xh’unei Lance A. Twitchell / Juneau Empire

Linguists have been predicting the death of Alaska Native languages for decades now, and whether or not those predictions prove accurate comes down to the choices you and I make on a daily basis. The past 200 years have been devastating; from boarding schools to disease to social discriminations, we are now left with the aftermath of successful attempts to destroy languages and cultures. But that does not mean we have to resign our efforts or just allow this to happen. In fact, it leaves us all with a tremendous amount of power and the decision is right here before us: speak now or let it go forever.

Our languages have developed in specific places for thousands and thousands of years. Within them we see patterns of migrations, grammar that allows us to see the world differently, and an ability to communicate more closely with our ancestors and the natural world around us. Just the other day I sat with some school children and watched a Tlingit speaker talk to the porpoises. He called out to them, the ones we call “cheech,” and they came back to the surface in response, showing themselves to the kids who sat down to learn from the Tlingit speaker.

And there is more. The recent release of Tom Thornton’s book, “Haa Léelk’w Hás Aaní Saax’ú / Our Grandparents’ Names on the Land,” gives us nearly 3,500 names to put back onto the land on which we live in Southeast Alaska. These names collectively show an intense and long-standing relationship with the land. They connect us linguistically to stories, migrations, animals, the supernatural and more. When you think about it, and when you really try to use these names, you then realize that you are not just living in Anywhere, USA.

But there are so few people who are using our language. Recent surveys leave us with this estimate: there are fewer than 250 people who can speak a Southeast Alaska Native Language. That is three languages combined. Tlingit has about 200, Haida has about a half-dozen, and Coastal Tsimshian has about 30. This means that the clock is ticking quickly for each of these languages. This also means that we have some important decisions to make.

I could spend a thousand words on the reasons for language decline in indigenous populations. I could spend a thousand more on potential solutions, useful studies, new curriculum ideas. In reality, all of that compares very little to these two questions: Who will speak? Who will listen?

There is nothing that will determine the future of our languages more than this. Despite everything that has happened, and all the things we may think should happen, we have to realize that we are the ones deciding to let these languages die. Maybe we have been fooled into thinking that progress moves us towards an English-only world. Perhaps we have been beaten and teased and shamed into staying away from our languages.

I can understand those things. But we have to move beyond them, as a region, and listen to these languages. Every time I hear notions of racial supremacy disguised as progress or world economy, I think about how sneaky all those things are. But I still stumble through the language with my baby daughter when we are home alone in the mornings. I still talk to the cat and whomever else will listen. I make my family guess what I am saying, and even better yet, they are just starting to figure it out. I speak with other speakers, and learn what I can when I can.

We need our communities to embrace the existence of our languages. This is more than just nodding or saying, “good idea.” This language was beaten, washed, and bribed out of our people. There is a trauma here that was government-sponsored, church-driven, and rarely resisted at the community level. That means that we can choose to work together to make sure these languages have a place to live, and that is the same place where they were born. It does not matter what your ethnicity is.

This is not a race issue. This is a human issue. I think of it as this: you are walking past a dying person. Do you just walk past? It does not matter how it happened or what you may think of that person. What type of human are you? When we examine the history of this area, we can see that the human obligation is to help people survive and to be kind. Recently, I heard a wise man say that politics is bullying, and Alaska Natives do not make good bullies.

The goal of Alaska Native language revitalization is not to force anyone to do anything or to try and destroy anyone else’s identity or sense of place. Ironically, there seems to be a real fear of the revival of Alaska Native languages, or at the very least a reluctance to see it. But it is coming. Our languages are now beginning to go through the process of death, the result of decades upon decades of a killing machine that we can call assimilation. We will no longer allow that to happen.

Study after study has shown that bilingual people test higher in education. Study after study has shown that when you take away a group’s established identity and substitute it with something else, it creates systemwide failure within that group. Suicide rates among Alaska Natives are enormous, and most social gauges show a people in peril. But we do not have to stay on this road. We can make our own decisions and future. We can open our minds to a new existence that allows languages to thrive, and connects generations back to time immemorial.

We have talked about language revitalization in our region, but we are not there yet. It will take a sea change among our communities, organizations, and individuals. It will take unity like we have not yet realized. It will take partnerships that leave the self behind. We will discover that we are all human beings, and that connections to each other, our land, and our ancestors will make every one of us stronger. We have incredible power and we will learn how to use it.

Speak. Listen. Do it every day. Change the future and the world.

• Xh’unei, Lance A. Twitchell, is Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast. 

tranzient:

This is me. Yukon Girl.: Sherman Alexie’s

yukongirl:

“On the Amtrak from Boston to NYC”

The white woman across the aisle from me says ‘Look, 
look at all the history, that house 
on the hill there is over two hundred years old, ‘ 
as she points out the window past me 

into what she has been taught. I have learned 
little more about American history during my few days 
back East than what I expected and far less 
of what we should all know of the tribal stories 

whose architecture is 15,000 years older 
than the corners of the house that sits 
museumed on the hill. ‘Walden Pond, ‘ 
the woman on the train asks, ‘Did you see Walden Pond? ‘ 

and I don’t have a cruel enough heart to break 
her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds 
on my little reservation out West 
and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane, 

the city I pretended to call my home. ‘Listen, ‘ 
I could have told her. ‘I don’t give a shit 
about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories 
around that pond before Walden’s grandparents were born 

and before his grandparents’ grandparents were born. 
I’m tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too, 
because that’s redundant. If Don Henley’s brothers and sisters 
and mothers and father hadn’t come here in the first place 

then nothing would need to be saved.’ 
But I didn’t say a word to the woman about Walden 
Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted 
that I thought to bring her an orange juice 

back from the food car. I respect elders 
of every color. All I really did was eat 
my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi 
and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out 

another little piece of her country’s history 
while I, as all Indians have done 
since this war began, made plans 
for what I would do and say the next time 

somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.

 —Sherman Alexie 

I just really freaking love Sherman Alexie, I can never seem to find words to describe what this man’s work does for me.

The Effects of Stereotypes in Native American Lives

adailyriot:

Colleagues have often asked me why I am so passionate when it comes to the stereotypical depictions of “Indians” in movies and on TV, and especially in science fiction, since I am, like several participants in this study, a fan of the genre. It is after all, as my colleagues are quick to point out, fiction. Unfortunately, movie and TV fiction have become accepted as America’s facts (and the world’s for that matter) when it comes to “Indians.” My response is that I am so passionate because these careless and universally accepted stereotypes do damage. Negative “Indian” stereotypes do physical, mental, emotional, and financial harm to First Nations inviduals.

My husband, who is also a First Nations individual, and I have been forced to put up with the fall out from so-called harmless “Indian” stereotypes all of our lives. We have been denied jobs for which we were overqualified, due to the stereotype that all “Indians” are lazy and drunks. Or as Andrew J. Orkin stated in explaining the dominate society’s attitude toward that employment of “Indians,” the stereotype that is perceived as reality is that we are “shiftless won’t-works, recipients of handouts and a drain on the national economy,” A statement made in 1816 by Cyrus Kingsbury, the founder of the Christian mission school at Brainerd, Tennessee, aptly demonstrates the Euro-American’s belief that they must assume a parental role in order “to form them [“Indians”] to habits of industry, and to give them competent knowledge of the economy of civilized life.”

We have also faced similar discrimination in academic and other areas. A law professor at a southeastern university once informed me that “Indians” had no place in a discussion of First Amendment rights. I found that rather odd, given that the First Amendment deals with such items as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, but federal government policies and do-gooders’ desires to transform “bad Indians” into “good Indians” have resulted in the denial of these First Amendment rights to First Nations individuals, even though they are U.S. citizens.

Unfortunately, employment and academia rank are only two areas where stereotype-based racism applies. For example, when our home was vandalized and we reported the incident to the police, they said we were “primitive savages” and told to go “go back to where you came from,” as if we were the foreigners living on this continent. The root of this particular attitude dates back to Columbus’s arrival in the “New World,” when Europeans demonstrated that they believed they had a moral right to lay waste to the land and its people. Or as Horace Greeley so aptly expressed this attitude, “These people [First Nations individuals] must die out-there is no help for them. God has given this earth to those who will subdue and cultivate it, and it is vain to struggle against His righteous decree.” Greeley, as the editor of the New York Tribune, took the outrageous, inaccurate, and and sensationalized accounts of First Nations people published in colonial newspapers and ran with them, greatly contributing to the perpetuation of the “barbaric,” “cruel and cowardly,” “stealing,” “squalid and conceited, proud and worthless, lazy and lousy,” “Indian” stereotypes that Hollywood latched onto and perfected- the same labeling my husband and I have had to deal with at every turn.

In addition to being discriminated against in the workplace and in the academic world, we have been denied medical care because everybody assumes that “Indians” sponge off the government, so the government the government could take care of our medical needs.

My husband and I have also been the victims of ethnic profiling by store security and the police while shopping in a large Midwestern city, because of the stereotypes of “Indians” being thieves and criminals. My husband’s civil rights were denied him in a state court due to profiling activities by a county sheriff’s department. Constitutional rights are nonexistent in our state court system because a number of western states refuse to acknowledge the rights of any Indigenous sovereign nation. These states still actively promote ethnic profiling based on “Indian” stereotypes in order to deny First Nations individuals their federal and constitutional rights. The ideology behind the derogatory term “prairie nigger,” was used by officers of a state court system, is alive and well and continues to promote the negative stereotype of First Nations individuals among the dominate society and, in particular, law enforcement.

The “dumb Injin” categorization allows otherwise intelligent individuals to treat us First Nations people as if we have the IQ of morons. We have been told we can’t possibly know our own history. We have been told we have no right to claim being “Indian” because we didn’t study “Indians,” “Indian history,” and “Indian religion” in white schools. For that matter, dominant-society individuals insist that we can’t possibly have “Indian religion” because “Indians” don’t have the equivalent of “Sunday school” where “Indian” children can learn religion. Clinging to the “Indian” stereotypes, these non-Indigenous individuals refuse to accept that our religious education is not limited to two hours on Sunday morning or an hour on Sunday or Wednesday night. For us, religion is not restricted or compartmentalized to a particular hour or a particular day. It is part of every minute of every day for the moment we are born. We live our religions.

I was writing the Wyoming Guide a few years after the National Park Service first included “Indian” traditions and cultural associations concerning the sacredness of the site known as Bear’s Lodge (disrespectfully called Devil’s Tower by Colonel Richard I. Dodge in 1875). To promote western tourism, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the volcanic butte to be the first national monument in the United States in 1906, but rock climbers have been “conquering” it since 1893. Many expressed outrage that the National Park Service would even consider allowing the Lakotas the right to hold their Sun Dance each June near their sacred site. In reaction, members of the local non-First Nations population told me that “seeing as how the ‘Indians’ had never bothered to hold any ceremonies here in the past, why all of a sudden do they want to hold them now?” Sadly, these members of the dominant society were unaware of or ignored the fact that until and after the passage of the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (yes, it was 1978), it was against federal law for First Nations people, who had been citizens of the United States since 1924 and who supposedly enjoyed all the rights and privileges of the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, to practices their religions. Despite this federal law, widespread legal persecution of First Nations individuals participating in traditional religious ceremonies such as the Sun Dance continued until the early 1990s.

Even now, many if not most non-Indigenous people have little understanding of First Nations religions. When I asked for the time off work to attend the Sun Dance, one of my coworkers wrinkled her brow and said, “That’s in Utah, isn’t it? Robert Redford runs it, doesn’t he?” She of course was referring to the location of the Sundance Film Festival, which Redford named after his movie portrayal of Harry Longabaugh, also known as the Sundance Kid. Other coworkers told me to “have a good time at the pow wow.”

Granted, certain ceremonies conducted at pow wows are deeply significant to First Nations peoples and are very religious in nature. Pow wows, however, are social gatherings and unfortunately, the congregation spot for racism in one of its worst forms -the anthropologist. Anthropologists, in broad terms, need not be professionals but simply individuals in any form at any time - the obnoxious photographers who believe they have absolute entitlement to take anybody’s picture even after the individual tells them no. As Richard Hill, a Mohawk artist, has remarked: “Nearly all Indians have been asked to ‘pose’ for a visitor’s camera, and the visitor leaves with his personal image of ‘real, live Indians.’…. Stories about White photographers entered tribal oral histories and the camera became the latest weapon to be used against Indians…. The camera was an intrusion on Indian life. The photographs were taken for outside interests, by outside people, outside of the needs of Indians themselves.

There was such a photographer at the pow wow my husband and I recently attended on the reservation. We had dressed to participate in the Grand Entrance Veterans’ songs and flag ceremony. A photographer started to take my husband’s picture without permission. When my husband told them man no pictures, the photographer tried it again from a greater distance. When that didn’t work, he got his son to try to get pictures. My husband again said no. The photographer then whined to the pow wow officials. They told the photographer he could not take anyone’s picture without first obtaining permission. It took my husband donning his Green Beret before the photographer finally decided it might not be wise to press the issue any further. But we still caught him trying to take First Nations children’s pictures who were not participating in the pow wow dances. His attitude was that every First Nations person attending the pow wow was there on display for his entertainment and edification.

Unfortunately, children today are learning the same stereotypes as their parents did. When we give talks to grade-school children, the kids start dancing around, whooping with their hands over their mouths in classic Hollywood fashion, and greeting us with the word “How!” They want to know where we tied up our horses. They ask if we live in a teepee. They demand to know why we aren’t wearing feathers. They ask to see our collection of scalps. They are shocked or surprised when we smile or laugh. And inevitably one child informs us that his or her great-great-great-granddaddy married an “Indian princess.”

Such comments, questions, and prejudicial treatment are all based on the “Indian” stereotypes presented in movies and on TV. …They are all stereotypes that all First Nations individuals must deal with daily. For the most part, they let it roll off their backs and go on with their lives as best they can. Occasionally, however, when an number of blatant discriminatory remarks and bigoted actions occur in rapid succession, patience and tolerance disappear. The “angry Indian” label is not always a stereotype. It’s sometimes a reaction to the stupidity, arrogance, and hatred displayed by the dominant society. Stereotypes do harm.

The majority of my husband’s and my personal encounters with “Indian” stereotyping discussed here have taken place within the past few years. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed Affirmative Action in 2003. Even though we are in the twenty-first century, minorities still continue to face discrimination based on five-hundred-year-old characterizations. It may be a new millennium, but it’s already filed with very old stereotypes about the Indigenous population of this country.

Excerpt from “Indian” Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction: First Nations’ Voices Speak Out by Sierra S. Adare

"If people are genuinely interested in honoring Indians, try getting your government to live up to the more than 400 treaties it signed with our nations. Try respecting our religious freedom which has been repeatedly denied in federal courts. Try stopping the ongoing theft of Indian water and other natural resources. Try reversing your colonial process that relegates us to the most impoverished, polluted, and desperate conditions in this country… Try understanding that the mascot issue is only the tip of a very huge problem of continuing racism against American Indians. Then maybe your [“honors”] will mean something. Until then, it’s just so much superficial, hypocritical puffery. People should remember that an honor isn’t born when it parts the honorer’s lips, it is born when it is accepted in the honoree’s ear."

Glenn T. Morris, Colorado AIM, 1992 (via adailyriot)

adailyriot:

This past week, I had the distinction of becoming one of a select list of authors banned by the Tucson United School District. Now this is no small feat. It turns out that the Tucson United School District (a city adjoining both the U.S./Mexico border and that of the Tohono O’odham, Yaqui and several other tribal nations) does not want to discuss Native American or Mexican American history—at least, as told by Native American and Chicano or Mexican American authors.

Hence, the decision to ban books in a 4 to 1 vote on Tuesday, January 10 by the school-district board. This is part of a larger state mandate banning Mexican American Studies. An estimated 50 books are being banned.

This morning, I am looking at one of the banned books, Rethinking Columbus: the Next 500 Years. The book, originally published in 1991 by Milwaukee-based Rethinking Schools, is intended to provide educators with tools to re-evaluate “the social and ecological consequences of the Europeans’ arrival in 1492” and was written in time for the quincentenary. That was the event the Chicago Tribune had promised would be the “most stupendous international celebration in the history of notable celebrations.”

Perhaps a bit optimistic in retrospect. In the book, the question was asked, What were the consequences- both positive and negative of this “discovery,” or, in actuality, the blind luck of some poor navigation skills. Apparently this book is the pinnacle of what should not be read.

Rethinking contains writings of many noted and national award-winning Native works, including Buffy Sainte-Marie’s My Country, ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying, Joseph Bruchac‘s A Friend of the Indians, Cornel Pewewardy’s A Barbie-Doll Pocahontas, M. Scott Momaday’s The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee, and others. As a side note, Sainte-Marie won an Academy Award, and Momaday won a Pulitzer Prize.

My essay “To the Women of the World: Our Future, Our Responsibility” was also included in the book. Interestingly enough, if I were going to ban one of my essays from a public school, this would probably not be the one. The essay is the transcript of my opening plenary address to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women in 1995, held in Bejing, China. Other books and writings banned include those by famed Brazilian educator Paulo Friere and, in a multiracial censorship move, Shakespeare’s The Tempest was also banned.

Book-banning has a distasteful history. Catholic priests burned Mayan books in 1562, Nazi Germany banned 4,100 or so books from 193 to 1939. Various books have been banned at many times across the world, including in the U.S. The American Library Association actually sponsors a Banned Books Week (upcoming this September 30 to October 6) as an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. According to the American Library Association, “Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.” Now those are some radical folks, those librarians.

Back to Tucson: Roberto Rodriguez, professor at University of Arizona, is among the nation’s top Chicano and Mexican American scholars. Rodriguez says, “The attacks in Arizona are mind-boggling. To ban the teaching of a discipline is draconian in and of itself.”

My response to the ban? Well, I’m traveling to Arizona next week. Probably going to distribute some new books and toast the First Amendment over coffee with some nuns, Natives and lawyers. And I am going to think about how special Arizona is. Take for instance the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day: Arizona resisted celebrating the holiday until 1992, nine years after it was recognized by President Reagan. As well, Arizona also has some of the most controversial anti-immigration laws and search-and-seizure practices by law enforcement. Arizona is, in short, a leader of special thinking. Last time I was in Arizona, someone commented, “If states are the laboratory for democracy, Arizona is a meth lab.”

I am going to drink that coffee, and then I’m going to keep my eye on a piece of legislation that is the Internet equivalent to the banning of books by the Tucson School District: the legislation currently being debated in Congress, the SOPA and PIPA bills. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) would strengthen protections against copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, but Internet advocates say they would stifle expression on the World Wide Web. House Bill 3261 would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods,” according to Wikipedia—the online encyclopedia that is opposed to the bill.

While I, among others, am opposed to intellectual pirates (having been attacked by such pirates this winter), I am also a proponent of free speech and intellectual freedom. The proposed bill would have some potential severe impacts on whistle-blowers and free speech. The bill will come up for debate in February.

In the meantime, Abenaki writer Joseph Bruchac, whose children’s stories are a family favorite in the LaDuke household (and on White Earth KKWE Niijii radio 89.9 FM), ponders the Arizona decision: “ It made me wonder what the Tucson School Board would ban next—perhaps the Emancipation Proclamation? A school board and a community that cannot face sharing the truth of history with their children is one that is penalizing the very kids they may think they are protecting.”

I am a proponent of an independent mind, and that First Amendment is worth fighting for—I am sure of it. Many minds bring together great thoughts, which is how civilizations prosper. I think that Chief Sitting Bull’s quote, which graces the opening page of Rethinking Columbus may be the best comment yet: “Let us put our heads together and see what life we will make for our children.” That is, indeed, good counsel.

Winona LaDuke is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations, and is the mother of three children. She is also the Executive Director of Honor the Earth, where she works on a national level to advocate, raise public support, and create funding for frontline native environmental groups.