A case before a federal appeals court last week could upend an historic adoption law meant to combat centuries of brutal discrimination against American Indians and keep their children with families and tribal communities. For the first time, a few states have sued to overturn the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which Congress enacted in 1978 as an antidote to entrenched policies of uprooting Native children and assimilating them into mainstream white culture. Now, in a country roiled by debates over race and racial identity, there’s a chance the 41-year-old law could be overturned by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the country’s most conservative court. (The law applies to federally recognized tribes.)
“This is about attacking Indian law and Indian sovereignty,” said Chrissi Nimmo, deputy attorney general for the Cherokee Nation. “This is just the first step.” The Cherokee, Navajo, Oneida and Quinault Indian Nations, as well as the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, asked to be included as defendants in the lawsuit.
We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” That’s the message from communities who live with the troubled legacy of colonialism today—the descendants of Native peoples who have survived in defiance of the national divides that strafe their lands and run counter to their cultural inheritance.
Such a move, (THE WALL) according to the resolution, would threaten territorial rights, “further divide historic tribal lands and communities,” “militarize the lands on the southern boundary,” and “disturb or destroy tribal archeological, sacred sites, and human remains.”
For her 16th birthday, Maddy Fernands asked her parents for an unusual gift: to switch the family to wind power. She didn’t want an iPhone, new clothes or — banish the thought — a car. Cars and trucks account for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, and a significant amount of Fernands’s climate anxiety. “Sometimes we’ll be stuck in traffic and I’ll look outside and watch the exhaust coming out of the car in front of me and I’ll freak out,” she told me. “I feel so powerless to stop it.” Fernands has been struggling with that sense of helplessness since she first became keyed into the accelerating timetable of climate change in seventh grade. “It seemed like the end of the world,” she said. “But the apocalyptic message wasn’t being broadcast. Nobody was taking correct action to put us on a path away from climate catastrophe.” Because her parents and teachers didn’t seem to share her urgency, Fernands decided that she herself would have to sound the alarm over climate.
Climate change is causing mental anguish in people of all ages, according to Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist and member of the Climate Psychiatry Alliance. “When you’re hearing day in and day out that we’ve got 12 years, we’ve got 11 years, the oceans are collapsing, fires are burning, air quality is terrible, wear a mask, the anxiety is inescapable,” said Van Susteren.
book review: Truly prolific writer poet community organizer
J Glenn’s visionary fiction novel Wayfarers – Where No One Is an Outcast is about an interesting mix of homeless people who want to help other homeless people. Do we need it? Timely? Absolutely.
Right to the end of his fiction novel, suspense abounds.
In real life: There are always two groups of people: the Have’s and the Have Not’s. Can there be a Happy Ending? The brilliant idea from Wayfarers story leads the author to buy land in Oklahoma for this very purpose: a farm where the homeless can resettle in 2019. I interviewed the author in Jan. 2015.
J Glenn is an elder, a man of vision and great wisdom. He is a good friend and a true inspiration. He has shared his ideas on this blog HERE HERE
FORK IN THE ROAD
WEWOKA, OKLAHOMA — He arrived at this latest fork in the road pretty late.
Glenn Evans is 88 now but excited about what he calls his last hurrah, an idea he would like to try out on this plot of land.
A visitor asks, “Why in the world would you want to leave Washington State, one of the gardens spots of the U.S. to here?”
Evans makes a circle with his finger beside his head and chuckles, “I’m a little nuts.”
He grew up on a farm near Wewoka where most of his family’s food needs were met with a big garden.
Glenn’s family moved to town though.
On a walk through tall weeds on his new land, his guest asks, “Are we bushwhacking your trail?”
Evans says, “No we’re just starting one. We’re pioneers!”
He went off to school and chased success as a stock broker.
He left that and turned to a career in writing.
Several books in he wrote a novel called ‘Wayfarers‘ about a group of homeless people who want to help other homeless people.
His thoughts while writing, “I want to do something for people. Create a place where they can live together as a family.”
Evans started walking around and thinking what worked in fiction might work in real life.
“I wanted to make my first place right here in Oklahoma,” he says.
So here’s his new idea.
Invite people, maybe homeless, he’s not sure, to open up this acreage to folks who want to grow their own food, who want to live off their gardens like his family did.
“Food and shelter, and you’re part of a family,” he suggests.
They use no till farming methods, plant some fruit trees, and live in underground houses to stay cool in the summer, warm in winter, and safe in the spring.
Of living underground, Evans says, “It’s good for tornadoes.”
It took him a couple of hours to walk through the brush and get a good gauge on the property.
The only road on it leads to a pump jack, but J. Glenn sees a successful future here.
“Is the land good,” asks his visitor?
“Oh. I think it’s good and rich,” he responds. Look at the soil. It’s had years of composting.”
Call him a visionary, or call him a crazy old man.
Glenn Evans just needs a few more crazy people like him to unplug and dig in, to make this fork in the road a little bit wider.
Glenn currently makes his home in Olympia, Washington.
From Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, this picaresque novel takes on the issues of homelessness, big city corruption, and corporate greed. An engaging, rollicking tale of those who are mostly down on their luck and chafe under the rules and regulations imposed by those in authority. They were small in numbers, inexperienced, and some of them uneducated but they made up for it in a passionate belief in themselves. Wayfarers is an adventure story about a homeless half Cherokee who sets out to do something for the homeless with the help of such characters as a prostitute, a disbarred lawyer, a cuckolded preacher turned prospector, ex-CIA man, a veteran turned warrior for the good and a small Indian tribe. The two main protagonists, RB (Chief) and Warrior, each has his own way to bring justice into the world: one that allows the Native American culture to nourish and restore health to the planet. The other protagonist, Warrior, has a strong sense of justice laced with a mission to punish the evil-doers. Against this backdrop are the greedy power-brokers hell-bent on imposing their views on society. What will be the final outcome and whose philosophy will be the winner? A regenerative culture vs the competitive materialistic one? The wayfarers seek to provide alternatives to living on the street or to incarceration. There is a wisdom of indigenous peoples that we can use to help put our post-industrial society on a more ecological basis. Laced with the honesty of Steinbeck – both religious and profane, dangerous and divine – this pot boiler keeps rolling to the finish line.
This exquisite little book is actually two books in one – both thoughtful compilations of original poems, prose snapshots, memes, photos and “creative nonfiction,” all beautifully laid out on the page.
Mental Midgets contains a moving tribute to Native American musician, poet, philosopher and activities John Trudell, who died in 2015.
General themes covered in both books are colonization, the survival and resistance of indigenous people and the attitude of hopeful resistance all of us need to survive the barbarity and insanity of advanced industrial capitalism.
There are also thought-provoking quotations from fellow dissidents Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Lev Tolstoy, Chris Hedges, Kurt Vonnegot and Neil Young.
It’s the type of book I envision re-reading repeatedly over coming months and years.
Part of the reason for why McCarthy’s scandal got little or no attention is because there isn’t an unspooled Democratic leader firing off out horrendously racist “Pocahontas” and Trail of Tears tweets as Trump keeps doing about Warren. (The troll-in-chief has to troll.)
Consequently, the television news media doesn’t pay any attention to the McCarthy story, which means voters don’t pay attention either. And when reporters notice that voters don’t care, the conventional wisdom calcifies.
The circle of crapola goes the other way, too: Trump says “Pocahontas” is a fraud; the news media picks up the tweets and runs them without debunking them; voter outrage grows; the Beltway reporters note the outrage and then tell Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that it’s a disqualifying scandal for Warren because voters are pissed.
But why are they pissed, if they actually are? Because the press told them to be.
And Trump wonders why Democrats are so angry.
As if that weren’t objectionable enough, there’s never any effort to put the Native American story in the proper context. How does Warren’s thing stack up to other scandals? Is this as bad or worse than Kevin McCarthy’s brother-in-law receiving millions in taxpayer funds because he claimed membership in a disputed tribe? Should we care about this as much as, say, the fact that literally every major organization linked to the Trump family is under state and federal investigation for rampant fraud?
Context be damned in the face of publishing more screamer headlines about — say it with me — Democrats in disarray.
Thanks to KC for letting me know about this… This is the playbook both sides use to control the mainstream media…
TOP PHOTO: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is presented with a shawl of thanks from Native American women.
Elizabeth Warren receives standing ovation at surprise visit to Native American conference: report
“The alarming number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls continues to grow,” the senator says
Warren spoke at the National Indian Women’s “Supporting Each Other” lunch, where she introduced Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah in Massachusetts, HuffPost first reported. The luncheon took place during an annual meeting of the National Congress of American Indians.
In her speech, Warren praised Native American women, specifically Reps. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) — the first two Native women elected to Congress. The progressive lawmaker, who reportedly received a standing ovation from tribal leaders and other Native attendees as she approached the stage, detailed several legislative priorities related to the Native American community.
“The alarming number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (#MMIWG) continues to grow,” she said, according to The Daily Beast. “But Congress failed to pass legislation to address this epidemic.”
“Every day, there’s a racist tweet, a hateful tweet – something really dark and ugly,” Warren said of Trump. “And what are we, as candidates, as activists, the press, going to do about it? Are we going to let him use those to divide us?”
The curators are a group of young, energetic curators from distinct backgrounds and points of views. The artistic director Neville Wakefield is an art star known for his work in performance, site installations, and partnerships with fashion brands such as Supreme, Nike, and Calvin Klein. The biennial’s executive director, Jenny Gil, who is from Spain, formerly worked for Faena. The curator Amanda Hunt recently worked at the Studio Museum before joining MOCA. The LA-based writer and curator Matthew Schum was informed by his doctoral research on site-specific happenings, including the Istanbul Biennial. They have selected a broad group of artists of diverse nationalities, ages, and practices, supporting the conception, construction, and installation of each of the works. A budget of $25,000 or (much) more per work was offered by donors such as the Coachella Music Festival (which donated over $100,000) and electric car company Evelozcity. On 55 miles spread between the Wildland Park in the northwest and the Salton Sea in the southeast, the installations take the visitor on a road trip on a circuitous path of highways, windmill farms, gas stations, hot spring spas, residential compounds, and Modernist homes. The works will be up until April 21 and are accessible free of charge, alongside a series of performances and events.
Land Art is no longer a romantic and heroic gesture in the vastness of nature. It is by essence a political act.
History’s largest Native American art fraud case will come through the courts this year after multiple family businesses manufactured, imported, and falsely distributed Native American-style jewelry as genuine between 2010 and 2015. The trade value reached nearly $12 million across 300 shipments in five years — now, five men and two businesses are charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, importation by false or fraudulent practice, and failure to mark goods with their country of origin as required by customs law.
Congress passed the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) of 1990, to include the importation of knock-offs which undercut Native American economies and cultural heritage.
During the court hearing, Native American artist Liz Wallace said, “I don’t think calling this cultural appropriation is adequate. It’s economic colonization.”
A poetic short by Detroit-based director Keenan Wetzel, “Yellowtail” tells the story of a young Native American cowboy (Stephen Yellowtail) searching for purpose amidst a chaotic lifestyle. (previously featured here). Shot in Wyoming and the Crow Reservation in Montana, “Yellowtail” tells the story of a young Native American cowboy (Stephen Yellowtail) searching for purpose as his chaotic lifestyle begins
You will recognize that narrator’s voice – it is John Trudell!
In the News
The Navajo Nation and Utah Governor signed an inter-governmental agreement Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, to strengthen and further protect the Indian Child Welfare Act for the benefit of Navajo children in the State of Utah. Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer met with Governor Gary Herbert to make it official at the Utah State Capitol during the annual American Indian Caucus Day.
Let’s take a quick look at the erratic history of federal Indian policy.
In the early republic, the federal government made treaties of friendship with Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. In the 1830s, it stopped feeling friendly and removed the eastern Indians to the West. It set up reservations for eastern and western tribes and solemnly promised in treaties that the land would be theirs forever. In 1871, Congress decided there would be no more treaties, because Indian nations were no longer sovereigns; the courts soon confirmed that Congress could void any treaty without the consent of the tribes that had signed it. Next, from the 1880s until the 1930s, came the “allotment era.” The government decided to break up the reservations and “allot” much of the land to individuals, who could sell them. By the 1930s tribes had lost 60 percent of their previous land base. The New Deal was a brief respite: Allotment ended and tribes were allowed to re-form their governments. Then in 1953 came the “termination era,” when Congress decided that the federal government would no longer provide services to tribes, or deal with their governments. It sold off some tribes’ reservation lands and proclaimed that those tribes no longer existed.
University College London researchers estimate that settlers killed 56 million indigenous people, causing farmland to be reforested. That increase in vegetation resulted in a massive decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
I call this the (his)story “We’re Not Supposed to Know”
But they conceal another side of Columbus: the exploitation and repression of Native Americans, said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. It is a “darker side of this story, a side we must acknowledge,” Jenkins said in a letter Sunday.
In December 2018, the Trump administration plotted to gut SNAP, the food assistance program more than 40 million Americans rely on to feed themselves. (I have friends and relatives on SNAP, what used to be food stamps). This attack on the poor would impose oppressive work requirements that will have a devastating impact on our nation’s most vulnerable and the “food insecure.” This rule will drive 755,000 poor folks deeper into poverty across the country over the next three years. It’s a cruel and cynical attempt to chip away at our social safety net by defining who is and who isn’t suffering in our nation. Read about the Poor People’s Campaign.
Food insecurity is very real and a war on the poor. And when the climate fails and disaster hits, what new countries start a new land grab? Will they hit Third World Countries? Indian Country? Will they take children to accomplish this again? History repeats itself over and over until we get it right…and so we are entering a dangerous new age of food insecurity… and climate change.
If I were in charge, I’d have two priorities: ending poverty and improving the existing infrastructure.
“I called the album Blue Indians because there is a kind of spiritual and cultural genocide perpetrated on everyone that is poor in this country,” Trudell said. “The advance of technology has put all of us on a kind of reservation. These are the people who can’t educate their children, or afford health care. They’ve been robbed of life, which is what happened to Native people, so in that context, we’re all Indians.”
I follow up in a few weeks with my doctors… See you soon! xox
Guðrún Emilsdóttir, adopted shortly after birth, was 28 before she tracked down her birth mother.
Her birth mother gave Emilsdottir her birth certificate, which named her father, Henry Linwood Jackson.
“My nephew started looking for Henry,” she said.
Eventually, he contacted Native American genealogist Karen Vigneault, a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California who was profiled in an earlier VOA story. On Vigneault’s advice, Emilsdottir took a DNA blood test; they uploaded the results onto an online database and waited.
(PHOTO: Iceland covered the story too) (Karen Vigneault, an enrolled tribal member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and college and tribal librarian, has a face tattoo.)
Emilsdottir has returned to Iceland but is planning to return to Oklahoma in July 2019 for the “Encampment,” a pow wow the Otoe-Missouria tribe has held annually for more than 130 years. It’s an occasion for the tribe to sing, drum, dance and remember their history and traditions. And celebrate family, lost and found.
The reunion happened because of the tireless methodical work of librarian and tribal genealogist Karen Vigneault; she and I have worked together since 2013.
I learned yesterday that Karen has passed away in San Diego at her home.
She made miracles and reunions for adoptees, like these sisters.
It is impossible to put into words the impact she had on me and the lives of many adoptees she helped. She worked to find adoption records, tribal histories, family genealogy and find relatives that adoptees could contact and meet.
This loss is personal and devastating.
Not just to me but to readers of this blog who are still searching and hoping and waiting and wanting to find their families.
Just half of Wolf Point’s Native students graduate from high school, compared with about three-quarters of their white peers. In June 2017, the Tribal Executive Board of Fort Peck filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requesting a federal investigation into its contention that the Wolf Point school system discriminates against Native students.
In her essay “Alone in Company,” Chelsea Bayouth reflects on the role of an artist at the end of 2018: “For me, it is to fear that every word or image is a window into public, political, and social tumult. It means you have to be more vulnerable than you or anyone in times previous has ever been…. Social capital is the currency, and if you have none you are poor. ”
The Ivory Coast is demanding that France return 148 works once looted from the country. The Ivory Coast’s culture minister, Maurice Bandaman, confirmed that a list of works were sent to France and are set to be returned in 2019. Bandaman also told Agence-France Presse, “At least 50 museums around the world have Ivorian works, and this does not include private collection,” indicating that France is not the only country with looted works. [Agence France-Presse]
A new work by Banksy has appeared at the back of a car garage in Port Talbot, Wales last week. Since then, crowds have gathered at the scene, with local authorities having to manage and organize the groups of people. Banksy claimed responsibility for the work on his website and Instagram. The garage is owned by Ivan Lewis, a local steelworker. “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Lewis. “My phone is ringing, on my house phone there’s 1,000 messages on it.” [Art Daily]
Shan Goshorn, “a Cherokee artist and activist known for her contemporary approach to traditional basket-weaving,” died of cancer at the age of 61. [Tulsa World]
Under a cloud of scandal… the toxic Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is gone (fired) (top photo)
Can we call it a year now? 2017 and 2018 wore me out. Cancer didn’t help but I feel woke enough.
02019 – please, do us a favor? Be kind to us. We deserve better!
Indigenous people and supporters gathered despite sub-zero wind chills for the 49th National Day of Mourning at Plymouth, Mass. The undaunted crowd included Indigenous peoples whom the pilgrims menaced and murdered — Nipmuc; Mashpee, Aquinnah and other bands of the Wampanoag; Narragansett; Massachusett; Pequot and other Indigenous nations…
I mentioned that I would have liked to been in freezing Plymouth…
The commemoration known as Plymouth 400 will feature events throughout 2020, including a maritime salute in Plymouth Harbor in June, an embarkation festival in September, and a week of ceremonies around Thanksgiving.
After the residents of Malaga were pushed out, the state bought the land for $471, according to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and ordered the rest of the residents to leave by July 1. In 1913, the state sold the land to Everard A. Wilson, a friend of the doctor who had been the chair of a committee Plaisted had established to investigate the allegedly appalling conditions on Malaga. Malaga was for many years in private hands, but remained undeveloped. The hotel that had been planned for Bear Island, which Hamilton said was a key incentive for pushing the Malaga residents off the island, was never built.
A subsequent Associated Press article in The Los Angeles Times revealed that Ms. Thompson was not of European descent — as had been commonly assumed — but “a full-blooded Cherokee Indian” from Oklahoma. That detail, Ms. Meister said, raises the compelling question of whether “Migrant Mother” would have resonated so widely if viewers knew the subjects were Native American.
(another one of those “shake your head” stories, right?
☀️ I write something every. single. day.☀️
Is time speeding up?
I am still trying to figure out to talk about the twin books: Mental Midgets | Musqonocihte and why one book became two and how they happened so fast. (I have to thank my friend MariJo for telling me what I felt about urgency was to be trusted.) It’s a short book – 91 pages – but it feels MUCH longer.
I do think of this year 02018 as The Year I Had Cancer – this changed me mentally.
Was it five years ago when I started the Midgets book. I used to joke and say it might get done this century. Why? My goofy utter distrust, of course. Many of you are experiencing what I call wavy brain too. We don’t think about the future as much as before… and why is that? Read about the Long Now Foundation from earlier this year. Trump and electronics are both a BIGLY reason!
Back then I kept the book title under wraps. Mental Midgets, what does it mean? It’s absurd. It’s maybe kinda funny. It’s not about small people. But it is about our minds, the constant chaos, the news, Trump, cell phones, social media, and how it seems to me, at least, our brain capacity shrinks when memories go small. And then there is (hi)story to consider.
Here is a one sentence (short) book description:
This TWIN book is a collection of factoids, philosophy, quips, questions, code, quotes, photos, thought bombs, creative non-fiction, Native American history and prose. And it’s short. Musqonichte translates Blue Sky.
The code is a message. There are things in there you should know.
Happy 02019 – add that zero and I will be writing more soon!
Sending you all a big thanks for reading this news roundup and Happy Turkey “Big Food” Day tomorrow… Lara/Trace
An Exhibition Critically Explores the History of Missionaries in Hawai’i
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In August 1806, five students on the campus of Williams College took refuge from a sudden thunderstorm beside a haystack and vowed to commit themselves to spreading the Gospel around the world. This is Ground Zero of the American overseas missionary movement.
For many people, this moment marked the start of an outpouring of generosity and benevolence that saved souls and brought distant lands into the modern world. Only recently has another narrative been recognized — one of shameless spiritual imperialism that trampled native cultures and eventually devolved into explicit political and economic oppression.
The unexpectedly deep connection between the college in Williamstown and the Pacific islands, 5,000 miles away, is outlined with an extensive timeline along a wall, which highlights what was happening in each place. It mentions figures such as Sanford B. Dole, the son of missionaries who came to Williams in the 1860s, where he and other missionary descendants called themselves “the Cannibals,” and were active in the Lyceum. Dole and two others from that group would help draft the “Bayonet Constitution” of 1887, which accelerated the process of undermining native Hawaiian leadership. When the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, Dole would serve as the Republic’s first president, until completing the handover to American power a few years later.
How can that be? In 1832, President Andrew Jackson pushed through the policy of “removal” of Indian nations from the eastern U.S., which destroyed the historic land base of the “civilized tribes.” He promised the tribes new land in the West to be theirs “as long as the grass grows or the water runs, in peace and plenty.” After the Trail of Tears, the U.S. signed a treaty that “solemnly guarantied” the new reservation lands in what is now Oklahoma. Many tribes elsewhere have found to their regret that Congress is permitted to decide that the grass ain’t growing any more. It can abrogate some or all treaty obligations—and even “terminate” a tribe altogether. But case law says there is a “clear statement” rule: If Congress wants to end a reservation, it has to say so.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) highlighted the report in a press event in Washington, DC, this week where she talked about the importance of addressing the MMIWG epidemic. Murkowski was joined by U.S. senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI 4th District), and Juana Majel-Dixon (Pauma Band of Mission Indians), Executive Board Member and Recording Secretary of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). The UIHI report identified the state of Alaska as the fourth-leading state for number of cases of MMIWG. Also, in the top ten states are New Mexico, Washington, Arizona, Montana, California, Nebraska, Utah, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
Madrid – At the Museo Reina Sofía, the artist Luis Camnitzer has piled up a grid of 80 blocks, approximately 12 by 12 inches each, and wrapped them in brown gauze. Imprinted with the word “LEFTOVER,” followed by a Roman number, each block appears to have been shot, dripping fake, plastic blood on the museum’s floor. The piece, “Leftovers” (1970), is an homage to those of Camnitzer’s generation who died in the hands of the Uruguayan repressive state.
As an essayist, art critic, curator, teacher, lecturer and a creator of objects, actions and musical compositions, Luis Camnitzer’s multi-faceted work spans nearly 60 years… The work Failed Utopias gives the exhibition its name, at the express wish of the artist. Chiming with his usual irony, Camnitzer alludes to the ‘dark’ history of the Sabatini Building as a hospital and as a place for ‘lunatics, or the insane’. The retrospective also constitutes a time frame of Camnitzer’s utopia, which he defines as “a process through which one seeks perfection, where perfection, like a mirage, constantly grows distant at the same speed one believes oneself to be nearing it. Something similar to the revolution in the revolution”.
Born in Lübeck (Germany) and raised in Uruguay, Luis Camnitzer moved to New York in the 1960s, where he focused on his art, essays and teaching work. He is currently professor emeritus at the State University of New York. Camnitzer regards himself as a Latin American artist exiled in the contemporary art capital, and is unquestionably a key figure in the development of twentieth-century Conceptualism.
Hospice of Failed Utopias, the title of Camnitzer’s retrospective at the Reina Sofía, features 100 of his works produced since the 1960s.
Camnitzer’s newest piece, “About War” (2016–2018), considers the influence of military strategy in contemporary mappings of the world. “About War” juxtaposes quotes from Carl von Clausewitz’s military strategy treaty On War with Google maps locations of US military bases in Latin America. Zaya cites from Camnitzer’s emails: “We are now returning to the most reactionary kind of nationalist fragmentation, […] all of this within the context of a kind of neo-feudalism, where the weapon industry is provoking new military clashes.”
“And Our Mothers Cried” vividly brings to life the Indian boarding school era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For several generations of Native American children, including some Chickasaws, attending boarding school meant separation from their families and indoctrination into a culture that wasn’t their own. The schools, which were guided by the infamous slogan, “Kill the Indian. Save the Man,” prohibited most students from speaking their own language and emphasized labor-intensive trades that would assimilate them into white culture through military-type institutions.
The documentary presents a stark contrast between these schools and schools established and operated by the Chickasaw Nation, which were designed to prepare Chickasaw children to compete in a rapidly changing world. “And Our Mothers Cried” presents compelling stories from some of the Chickasaw elders who lived through the boarding school era. Their experiences weave a complex story of sorrow and survival, but also one of hope and resilience from a time when tribal governments and culture were under attack.
On June 15, 2017, at its Mid‐Year Conference in Connecticut, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) adopted a resolution, sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation, encouraging American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations, families, and descendants to provide information on children who never returned home from Indian Boarding Schools.
The information will be used for a submission to the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID). This UN submission will be jointly filed by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS), the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). The submission will call on the United States to provide a full accounting of the children taken into government custody under the U.S. Indian Boarding School Policy whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. NCAI represents 250 American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes.
In the 1860s and 1870s, white settlers from the areas around Indian Territory — like Kansas and Texas — started to realize that there was vast piece of land in the middle of the United States that wasn’t claimed by anyone (ah, what?). They started agitating to to be allowed to seize this land for free. These white settlers even began a series of illegal raids into the territory, sneaking into Indian Territory at night to get to that little center portion of the Unassigned Lands.
Couch and his men had brought surveying equipment — and they quickly began laying out streets and lots as they had planned them in the months leading up to the Land Run. In the days following Oklahoma City’s rapid settlement, town leaders would have to reckon with all the cheating that had happened during the Land Run. Who cheated and who didn’t? Who deserve to keep their land and who didn’t?
Yep. First, I want to thank my friend and blogger KC for asking me to think about and share my thoughts on what it means to have Indigenous ancestry and the recent headlines about Elizabeth Warren. Next, I defend Sen. Warren’s right to claim her ancestry. It’s hers! Heck, many Americans do have some American Indian ancestry, too. But what you do with it is what truly matters.
We are all mixed, one way or the other. American, so heavily colonized, is very populated with mixed people. We have (hi)storians to blame for not explaining much about this stark truth and reality.
For me personally I was not raised in a tribal community setting, though I had many Native people around me when I was growing up. Being adopted out, I struggled until my 30s with identity and isolation, but no longer. I met my birth father and did a paternity DNA test with him when I was 38. The history he shared with me, that was what I needed, at that time. But words and blood tests DO NOT make me who I am or the direction of my life’s work. My Oglala Lakota relatives made sure of that. They were in my life years prior to my finding my father who is mixed Shawnee-Cherokee-Delaware-Euro).
What is required of us:
Once you attend ceremony, once you pray in your language, once you show humility to elders, and once you work for them, and when you learn it’s not “me” but “we” – it is then you are made a relative and accepted as family. Then you are in tribal community (which is American Indian tradition on Turtle Island). It may take many years, because it should.
As the following story by Nick Estes says, “Half a century ago, the Standing Rock Dakota scholar Vine Deloria Jr. wrote, “Whites claiming Indian blood tend to reinforce mythical beliefs about Indians.”
Falsely claiming Native American identity is a white American tradition, with a deeply racist past. – Nick Estes
Warren is not living her life as a member of any tribal community, yet like so many, she seems to romanticize the idea of her blood being Indian. She was raised with her family in Oklahoma, with her history, but she was not enrolled with the Cherokee Nation, who determines their citizenship based on Dawes Rolls, not DNA. If the Cherokee tribe wishes to change that, and enroll her, it’s completely up to them. (She’ll have years of unlearning and good history lessons ahead.)
To my knowledge, what Warren did with her “ancestry” all these years, was she helped herself. To my knowledge, she did not assist any tribal nation or community, and in fact, she has not even helped the tribes struggling right here in Massachusetts! What we are fighting for in this century, like Standing Rock, federal recognition, sovereignty, treaty rights, water rights, protecting Bear’s Ears, ending destruction by mining, pipelines, poverty, all of that – where is she?
This is a new hashtag campaign: #NativeTruth #WeAreStillHere
If Elizabeth was in her community, she’d know this: Blood quantum is an invention of the governments to widdle us down to “not enough Indian.” (Wiping us out on paper. Gone, erased.)
I actually know many lost Native adoptees who use the DNA test to get their family name, and slowly worked their way back to their tribal families. Some are back on the rez, while others join their urban Indian communities. (I do not recommend or trust the DNA testings or the data they collect and sell. Those TV ads are false and misleading. Very few Indians will submit to giving DNA though some scientists took it without their consent.)
When is a DNA test useful? My adoptee friend Rhonda did a DNA test with an uncle (her birth father’s brother) to determine if she was a family member, and she was – then she was enrolled in her tribal nation. DNA can connect you with a living tribal member, if you were adopted out, or fostered. That is very very helpful.
So, Sen. Warren, it’s not the amount of blood. DNA doesn’t make you Indian. If you belong to a community (urban or reservation), that makes you a member of that tribal community.
Native Americans are almost completely erased from pop culture, news and K-12 education. This invisibility–more than any other factor–undermines public support for Native American rights. Join our #WeAreStillHere tweet storm. Reclaiming #NativeTruth: https://t.co/vzL4SuF4P6
If you do have Indigenous blood, if it is loud, it won’t leave you alone. If this speaks to you, then find and join an urban or reservation community and work for them and work with them, and think a new way: “we” not me.
And ask them what you can do and please do what they ask respectfully.
The exhibition Community and Continuity: Native American Art of New York is culled from the New York State Museum’s collection of contemporary Native American art. NYSM is known for its historical and archeological Indigenous objects, which number in the millions and range in date from 13,000 years ago to the early 20th century. But in 1996, the museum began acquiring works by living Algonquin and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists to celebrate the continuing vibrancy of these communities.
This is the story of the courageous all-female Apache 8 firefighting unit which has protected their reservation and responded to wildfires around the nation for 30 years. This group, which recently became co-ed, earned the reputation of being fierce, loyal and dependable–and tougher than their male colleagues.Despite facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters. The film focuses on four women from different generations of Apache 8 crewmembers who speak tenderly and often humorously of hardship, loss, family, community and pride in being a firefighter.Official Selection at the American Indian Film Festival.
Thousands of Canada’s indigenous children died in church-run boarding schools
Armed with everything from school attendance records to drones, researchers across Canada are racing to shed light on a bleak part of the country’s history: How many indigenous children died at residential schools, and where are their unmarked graves? From 1883 to 1998, nearly 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to the government-funded, church-run boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them. Once there, they were frequently neglected and abused. What happened at the schools was akin to “cultural genocide,” concluded a 2015 report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It also found that at least 3,200 students died at residential schools over those 115 years — a much higher rate than for students elsewhere in Canada — though the commission contended that the number was probably much higher and merited further investigation.
The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.
Most journalists also said we didn’t bother to cover Indigenous peoples because there was no journalistic payoff. We, reporters, preferred to do stories to improve situations and conditions, by pointing out things that didn’t work properly. We looked for bad guys, stories about corruption or inept business owners, government administrators, politicians, cops, for example. Yet similar stories about Indigenous communities never went anywhere. Things never changed. Also, by telling these stories, we faced accusations of concentrating on the negative. (See comment above about racism.)