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.)
The boundary lines for multiple land treaties cross the state of Michigan. The boundary lines for multiple land treaties with native tribes cross the state of Michigan.
It was 1823. The land of Michigan wasn’t yet a state. The indigenous people far outnumbered the white settlers. The Erie Canal hadn’t opened. The flood of European immigrants was yet to arrive.
But the groundwork for their arrival was set in 1823 by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case about property rights. The case: Johnson v. M’Intosh.
On the fourth floor of the Michigan State University law school building, on a windowsill that overlooks the campus, Wenona Singel (top photo) keeps her family photos. Singel is a law professor here, and associate director of MSU’s Indigenous Law & Policy Center.
Family is the reason she went to law school, she says.
When she was young, she was separated from her sister in what she says was a coerced adoption. It’s a familiar story in many native families.
“And, in my mind, understanding the operation of our legal system and the development of federal Indian law and policy was absolutely critical,” she says.
So when she got older, she went to law school — at Harvard.
All first-year Harvard law students had to take a class on property law. That is where Singel first heard of the landmark case known as Johnson v M’Intosh.
“The original Johnson of the case was actually a former Supreme Court justice, and a wealthy shareholder in the Illinois and Wabash Land Company,” Singel says. “And this land company had speculated in the purchase of Indian lands.”
It purchased those lands directly from the tribes. At that same time, the U.S. federal government was out trying to get land from tribes. It negotiated treaties with the tribes. Once the government got the land, it would parcel it out to sell to settlers.
So along comes this settler named M’Intosh. He buys from the government. But the land he buys, well it’s already been bought, by the Illinois and Wabash Land Company.
Remember, that’s the group of wealthy investors that buys directly from the tribes. And Johnson is a part of that group. So Johnson bought from the tribe.
M’Intosh bought from the U.S. government.
The question before the Supreme Court: Who really owned the land now — Johnson or M’Intosh?
It’s an easy question if you think the tribe owned its land in the first place. Because if the tribe owned it, it could sell it to the Illinois and Wabash Land Company, Johnson’s group. Johnson wins.
But the real question was whether the tribe owned the land in the first place. Did they even have the power to sell it?
“And, to the surprise of the lawyers and shareholders in the Illinois and Wabash Land Company, Justice Marshall in the Johnson v. M’Intosh case declared that the tribes did not have this power.” Singel says. “And that they only had the power to transfer their property to the federal government.”
That was the official legal ruling for the United States government: that native people did not actually own the land they’d lived on for thousands of years.
M’Intosh won because he had bought from the federal government. Justice Marshall argued the federal government was the true owner of the land all along.
The indigenous people of the U.S. had some rights on their land. They had the right to use and occupy it. But they couldn’t sell it on the open market because they didn’t really own it. That was the official legal ruling for the United States government: that native people did not actually own the land they’d lived on for thousands of years.
And yes, this decision had a huge impact.
If and when native people ever did want to sell their land rights, there was only one buyer they could turn to. That meant the buyer had the upper hand in the negotiations over price.
It was a rigged deal.
Singel learned all of this as a busy, stressed, first-year law student.”In many ways, it’s almost like gaslighting,” Wenona Singel says of the Johnson v. M’Intosh case. “You’re learning about … certain rights that are associated with property rights … knowing all along that these rights have not been respected, and were not enforced for your own ancestors.”
“And then you move on to the next case,” she says. “And there’s no further discussion of the wrong that this perpetuates. And also the flawed reasoning. And also fundamentally misinformed and racist presumptions that our property legal system is based upon.”
And this isn’t some obscure case. It’s foundational in the U.S. legal system. Most law schools teach it to all their students in the first year.
“The tribes of Indians inhabiting this country were fierce savages, whose occupation was war, and whose subsistence was drawn chiefly from the forest. To leave them in possession of their country was to leave the country a wilderness.”
This language, and the precedent it established, has never been overturned in America’s legal system. It is valid law today.
“Imagine if Plessy v Ferguson was never overturned,” Singel says. “Imagine if Dred Scott was never overturned … We’ve never had any kind of accounting and justice that has restored those original property rights.”
After Johnson v. M’Intosh, the early white leaders of Michigan drafted a series of treaties with the native people of the area. These documents would have the tribes sign their land over to the federal government.
Lewis Cass was Michigan’s second governor. He negotiated a number of the treaties. In the late 1820s, he advocated the forced removal of the land’s native people. In his argument, he echoed the words of Justice Marshall. He claimed if white people didn’t rule the land, Michigan would be doomed:
“A tribe of wandering hunters, depending upon the chase for support, and deriving it from the forests, and rivers, and lakes, of an immense continent, have a very imperfect possession of the country over which they roam ,” Cass argued. “That they are entitled to such supplies as may be necessary for their subsistence, and as they can procure, no one can justly question. But this right cannot be exclusive, unless the forests which shelter them are doomed to perpetual unproductiveness.”
Cass didn’t get his wish for removal. But he did eventually get treaties.
And the white people did make the land productive, in their way.
The same as they had done in all of the Americas, says Willie Jennings of Yale Divinity School. They did what they believed their God wanted them to do.
“The way they looked at the land, from the very beginning, from Michigan to Maine, from Virginia to Florida, they looked at the land as the world-in-potential that needed development,” Jennings says. “And that development was always tied to what can be taken from the land.”
In Michigan, a land of dense, ancient forests, they could take a lot.
A small but powerful exhibit, shows intense commitment to the power of individual artists, within the broader context of communal history.
Finding individuals in the archaeology record is difficult, such logic goes, and is impossible to properly credit work to a particular artist. It would be easy to have these ceramic vessels begin to simply fill in as “types” and nothing more. However, in this instance, on every ancient piece of pottery, the exhibit displayed a tag “unrecorded Ancestral Pueblo artist(s).”
All the Indian children missing or buried in Pennsylvania are believed to be connected to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the nation’s first federal off-reservation boarding school, founded in 1879 by former cavalry officer Richard Henry Pratt. Carlisle — now the campus of the Army War College — was built to solve “the Indian problem” by forcing native children to become ersatz white people, erasing their names, languages, religions, and family ties. Where are the children now?
HEY HEY! As promised I saved a few good stories for you.
How many weeks until the mid terms? I have been trying to be optimistic about everything politics but hope? Trumpism (like racism) is now a verb. Last Thurs. nite, I went to see the Rev. Barber (I cried when he came on stage) and learned about the Poor People’s Campaign.
For me, I feel so much better although I admit once you have “cancer” surgery, especially that diagnosis, “it” changes you. But I know it’s gone, I’m better and have good work ahead of me.
Before surgery I was asked to present my Lost Bird/adoption/book series research at the Univ. of MN and I agreed. Writing the paper took longer than I expected which is why I have not been blogging or reading your blogs.
I’m going to give you a small excerpt here:
Migration across Global Regimes of Childhood (Symposium) (9-21-18)
Thank you to Kelly and to all the organizers at the Univ. of MN for inviting me to present my paper Disappeared: Finding Survivors of the Indian Adoption Programs; we are indeed Healing The Hard Stuff.
First, some background… In 2004, I left my job as editor of the Pequot Times in Connecticut and adoption became my focus of research. Why? 1. I am an adoptee, a journalist, and growing up I had no clue I had American Indian ancestry on both sides of my family tree. 2. I was asked to write an article on American Indian adoptees for Talking Stick, a publication of the American Indian House in New York City. 3. In order for me to write the article, I had to find sources, first person narratives, even other adoptees like me. When I went online to do research in 2005, there was nothing, nothing about the Indian Adoption Projects or ARENA Programs, or any mentions of survivors or child victims. There were no books. I’d found one article in a Canadian newspaper about the 60s Scoop adoptees when I was staff writer at News From Indian Country in Wisconsin.
I realized the goal of Empire and colonizers is historical inaccuracy. By the time we know what they are really doing, it’s already too late. Empire (as in government) redirects our attention, or has us look at the fire in the front yard while they do their work in the back yard.
Today I define adoption as children who grew up isolated, without identity, without records, without knowledge of what happened, even why their parents could not keep them. This isolation often continues into adulthood. For me, adoption is a traumatizing word; as trauma-inducing as the images of the numerous residential boarding schools. This is but one reminder of Empire, a reminder of what the governments of the US and Canada could do and did do to Indigenous children.
As my friend Leland (a Navajo-San Domingo Pueblo adoptee) said recently in a phone call, “We are not supposed to be Indian anymore. We’re erased, disappeared on purpose.” He’s right. Empire’s colonization using adoption succeeded. Adoptees are assimilated, living as American or Canadian citizens.
Leland was adopted by a Mormon couple and shares his reunions in the book series Lost Children. He writes that seven siblings from one family were taken from the Shawanaga reservation in Ontario. In all there were 10 adoptees in the Kirk family and Leland found out that the Mormon church paid his adoptive parents a monthly stipend per child. Leland told a newspaper, in his words, he was a victim of trafficking at age four. He claims the BIA paid the Mormon parents $65 a month for his care. To this day, his Anishinabe siblings from Canada are not in reunion with their tribal family and still live in the US.
Empire governments have long controlled the stories of the American Indian and First Nations and peddled in fairy tales and western movies instead. Again, the goal of Empire is historical inaccuracy or no history at all.
What surprised me may surprise you. In the words and judgment of Lenore A. Stiffarm and Phil Lane, Jr. in the book The State of Native America, “There can be no more monumental example of sustained genocide—certainly none involving a ‘race’ of people as broad and complex as this—anywhere in the annals of human history.” From the book The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance. Jaimes, M. Annette, Boston: South End Press, 1992.
If you are wondering how this happened, let’s look at motive.
I wrote this Preface in the 2016 anthology Stolen Generations:
It’s about the land. It’s about taking the land. No matter how. No matter what. Our parents and grandparents (and their parents) lost territorial land and their children…*
*Boarding Schools removed three or more generations from their tribal families.
We adoptees, the stolen generation… We are all collateral damage.
We were never expected to survive.
I’m not sure we did.
A 60s Scoop Adoptee on Facebook asked recently, “How do I heal this?”
For me, and for other adoptees, we demand truth, historic accuracy, and reunion with our tribal nations. For me, I inhabited the world I grew up in and only dreamt the world and the people I lost.
In fact …Service to the American Empire means continuing to support more violence against Third World peoples, like what happened at Standing Rock. Empire is about conquest. For that very reason, we have a history problem.
Since I did that article in Talking Stick, and started the American Indian Adoptees blog [www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com], and produced three anthologies in the Lost Children Book Series, thousands of adoptees have come forward. There are 20,000 adoptees in Canada. Adoptees in Canada claim that figure is not accurate. It doesn’t include all the adoptees brought to the US from Canada and I will share a story about that later.
(If anyone wants to read my 24-page paper DISAPPEARED, leave me a comment and I can email the pdf.)
It’s been three years since I taught wordpress 101 and guess what? The local community college contacted me, and I will begin teaching again in Spring 2019. Now I have to refresh my brain to the blogging basics and add the changes to WP to my class notes. This job was an unexpected surprise – a sweet gift!
Autumn is here, my favorite season. I had a great birthday (9-9) and wedding anniversary (9-24).
How is everyone doing? Please leave me a comment. 🙂
“T.C. Cannon retrieved Native American people, as a subject, from cardboard-thin caricatures spawned by old photos, kitschy paintings, and western films. The men and women he painted are arresting and complicated.” — The Boston Globe
:::AT THE EDGE OF AMERICA::: One of the most influential, innovative, and talented Native American artists of the 20th-century, T.C. Cannon embodied the activism, cultural transition and creative expression that defined America in the 1960’s and ‘70s. Cannon’s work — as an artist, poet, and aspiring musician — is deeply personal yet undeniably political, reflecting his cultural heritage, experience as a Vietnam War veteran, and the turbulent social and political period during which he worked.
Cannon preferred bold color combinations, mash-ups between Native and non-Native elements and never shied away from the complexity and nuance of identity politics. Cannon interrogated American history and popular culture through his Native lens, and exercised a rigorous mastery of Western art historical tropes while creating an entirely fresh visual vocabulary. T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America celebrates Cannon’s creative range and artistic legacy through nearly 90 paintings and works on paper, as well as poetry and music. READ: pem.org | T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America
But as Scientific American reported at the time, the museum’s scientists did not consult modern tribes before extracting DNA from the remains because the museum deemed the bones impossible to link to any specific group. They should have invited input from tribes, both out of respect for their overarching concerns about ancestors and because collaboration might have enriched the study—through the addition of tribal knowledge about kinship systems, for example, or through comparative DNA samples from any modern tribes interested in providing them. Source: Indigenous Remains Do Not Belong to Science – Scientific American
When will all the Pilgrim graves be ripe for the picking – when will scientists start to dig them up and put their bones on display? Will we have weekend digs of their graves too? Just askin’ for a friend…
NO JOKE! Historically, immigrants were given special rights to take Native land. If Trump says we are no longer a nation of immigrants, that has consequences… (poor guy never thought about this!) The young American republic preserved this European doctrine. The US supreme court formalized the Doctrine of Discovery in three famous cases of 1823, 1831 and 1832. Chief Justice John Marshall took for granted the obvious fact that America was the homeland of the Native Americans, “the rightful occupants of the soil”. By the logic of “discovery”, Native Americans had no rights because America was their homeland: “Their power to dispose of the soil at their own will to whomsoever they pleased was denied by the original fundamental principle that discovery gave exclusive title to those who made it.” (and don’t forget those Papal Bulls!)
(It should be: The theft of Art from numerous Tribes now on display and we interpret it for you!) Opening April 2018, the first exhibition, “Collecting Stories: Native American Art,” explores the range of perspectives, motives, and voices involved in building the early holdings of Native American art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, including those of indigenous artists and communities. (big fancy words). See EXHIBIT
By LT (not feeling well)
I have been reading Injuns, Native Americans in The Movies, trying to figure out when most of us in North America were duped into believing that Indigenous First Nations, my people, my relatives were ignorant savages. MOVIES (and dime novels) were the perfect method to create a tidy version of America’s history that wasn’t factual. When exactly did Injuns become less than human and their entire tribal communities expendable? And remember it wasn’t murder. No. It was Massacre. (AH, take a deep breathe, a sigh of relief, all those Injuns are dead.) Was that a safe way to make the Pilgrim colonists feel less guilty and not portray them as serial killers?
As I was taking notes, I wrote:
How hard would YOU fight if this land was invaded in 2018? Would YOU fight to the death to protect your family and your nation?
Would you run or would you fight and risk death?
When this was all over, now all of us conquered, Empire writes about it, not you. Empire makes movies showing us as dumb ass people who couldn’t figure out how to fight back and win. Ah yes, some noble people tried diplomacy but the majority died in battle.
You see, we are ALL Indians. Depending on the Empire that invades us, everyone left alive will be forced to join their religion – whether you like it or not. That’s the missionary’s part of the plan. (though I’m sure murder isn’t condoned in this religion) (and of course, the Empire imposes new taxes and tithes…) Your old religion is illegal, too, so don’t even balk!
In order to build the new Empire, some of us become worker slaves. And if we don’t work fast enough or efficiently enough, well that’s simply not acceptable. There is punishment for that. Rebellion? Hell no, we get declared terrorists and off to prison we go… Or maybe this happens again: Ida B. Wells and the Lynching of Black Women
How should we react? Invaded, hunted, displaced, colonized? Yes, we are all Indians when this happens.
I did get some bad news on my health on May 2. It’s an aggressive cancer. That means I won’t be blogging for awhile. Keep good thoughts for me. My email: email@example.com. Be back as soon as I can.
Surgery is May 14 at noon in Springfield, MA. Send prayers.
Removing a person’s name was a means of erasing their identity and imposing a “social death” that transformed enslaved persons into property rather than living individuals. Both historians and museum professionals have begun to realize the need for revising the way we frame and label the past, and to support this movement within museums.
…White people in every part of early America directly or indirectly benefitted from the “peculiar institution” of slavery. It created wealth for white families and oppressed the African-Americans forced to perform labor in service to them. This labor allowed wealthy men and women the luxury of free time and money to get their portraits painted at a hefty price by a well-known artist. As Athens notes, museums have the power to engage with an underscore this part of American history: “I think museums can play a part in social justice movements through honest, clear-eyed reassessments of the stories they tell, what those stories privilege, and what they obscure.” Restoring people of color to American museums isn’t just about editing collections or artwork on display, it must also address the labels we have attached to them for hundreds of years.
What took so long??? Massachusetts museums, thank you!
“Transformation Mask” does not simulate a specific Indigenous ceremony, but its digital transformation of the gallery is meant to emulate the experience of dancing and wearing a transformation mask. “The mask is about bridging, and my intent really was to bring the non-Indigenous viewer into that cultural world,” Hunt told Hyperallergic. “When you go look at our masks you are generally going to a gallery or museum, and in that context the masks are not masks but rather sculptures, not something you can wear or interact with.”
The Audain Museum calls “Transformation Mask” a “hybrid between the physicality of a transformation mask and the ephemeral experience of being part of the transformation.” But the installation, and transformation masks in general, might better be understood as an interface. “They are an interface with the unseen, whether it be the spirit world or the internet,” Hunt said. Through his creation, the viewer briefly inhabits another experience, another world and culture.
Yet, the recent all white male history conference held at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University seems to suggest a return to history’s dark age as a gentlemen’s protection society. Happily, the strong and growing presence of and disciplinary focus on women in history as well as the sharp criticism and condemnation (and rightly so) of the exclusive conference make clear that a return to great white men history and historians is a fantasy. Even so, the holding of this conference and others of its kind reflect the ongoing challenges women historians and women history face. The CCWH strongly condemns the choice of holding an all-white, all-male conference at Stanford University, and expresses concern regarding its implications for the historical profession and for its treatment of women in history.
When the news about the protest at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline burst into the spotlight in 2016, Tristan Ahtone welcomed the chance for greater coverage of Native American issues.
Hello Everyone! I think we will have spring here in western Massachusetts eventually. Not soon but someday. The MA state government is now addressing our urgent need to address climate change. Good thinking! Last month, a Massachusetts judge found 13 activists who were arrested for sitting in holes dug for a pipeline to block construction “not responsible by reason of necessity” because the action was taken to avoid serious climate damage. See the “Valve Turners” video here. (States step up better than the feds.)
I saved up some good reads that I hope you enjoy.
As much as I want to believe we are making progress on rewriting history with a more balanced view on the invasion and conquest of North American, I am reminded (by the story above) that the history industry is still a white male occupation, mostly. If you really think about this, this is really human rights abuse with creating a one-sided less-dreadful history for schoolkids. Museums in Massachusetts and other cities are finally waking up.
We have a long way to go but a new journey has begun.
Good news: My brilliant colleague Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) has joined the Indian Country Today newspaper as editor and they are up and running and publishing again! Thanks to the National Congress of American Indians who bought the national Native newspaper from the Oneidas in New York. Here’s a great OP-ED by Associate Editor Vincent Schilling (Mohawk) on rewriting history.
I contributed an OP-ED to Indian Country Today on the Baby Veronica case a few years ago. Mainstream media wasn’t interested in publishing me or my views, despite the fact I’d studied adoption history, the Indian Adoption Projects (and this case) and published relevant anthologies (more than one!).
Expect great things from Mark and Vince on their new publication! Go take a read!
Thanks to everyone for reading this long post! XOX
I had posted about James prior on this blog. He was articulate and funny and a real warrior in his art. I only met him once.
“James Luna is one of the most important contemporary Native artists of our day,” said Patsy Phillips, director ofIAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, in a statement to Hyperallergic. “His art and contributions to the art world will live on in institutions and publications, but more importantly he will live on in perpetuity in people’s minds and hearts.”
“Don’t name them” – Criminologist asks journalists to help stop mass shootings
…In our research, Eric Madfis and I have identified three major consequences of the media coverage. One, it creates a kind of competition for mass shooters to maximize the number of victims they kill. The second is that it’s rewarding these offenders with fame and attention, which is often what they want – it serves to give them a legacy. Even if they die, they may be remembered, according to their distorted views, as someone who mattered, as a somebody rather than a nobody. […]
READ: MASS SHOOTINGS: “Don’t name them” – Criminologist asks journalists to help stop mass shootings – Journalist’s Resource
Montreal Sixties Scoop victims from 1951 to 1991 can seek assistance from National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network regarding $$ settlement
As a project for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Prof. Val Napoleon created the Indigenous Law Research Unit – her proudest work to date. It allows Indigenous communities to articulate and restate their law and legal processes – a model that has been taken up across Canada and beyond.
The 20th anniversary of the Delgamuukw decision arrived in December, and Prof. Napoleon looks back on those two decades and sees a country that is still working its way toward reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples.
I can’t fix zombies, but I’m writing with GOOD NEWS about nuclear weapons. 2017’s escalating nuclear threats have returned the chronic, outrageous danger to the public’s attention, where it belongs. Reasonable people are scared – and angry. But there have been underreported events in 2017 that require both celebration and action.
1.) The historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was agreed at the United Nations on 7/7/17, by a margin of 122-1, making nuclear weapons ILLEGAL across the globe. The United States and the other eight nuclear-armed countries (who all boycotted the Treaty negotiations) will soon find it difficult to manufacture, finance, and maintain their outlawed arsenals without the cooperation of the rest of the world. This will happen whether they sign the treaty or not.
2.) The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of 468 organizations in 101 countries, facilitated the Treaty – and their efforts were recognized with the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
3.) Here in the Valley, ICAN activists at NuclearBan.US and TheResistanceCenter.org are helping US citizens, organizations, cities, and states become compliant with the Treaty, putting pressure on manufacturers, complicit financial institutions, and governments to comply with international law.
The nuclear weapons states may continue to feed us a steady diet of fear, hopelessness, and illogical rationales for the continuing existence of these unthinkable (but profitable) weapons of mass destruction. But the world is rising up, and the age of nuclear weapons will come to an end soon, hopefully before it’s too late.
Well, it’s been an interesting month so far. We nearly froze to death with sub zero temps across New England. It reminded me of waiting for the school bus in northern Wisconsin when I was a kid – at minus 20 degrees. No one likes it that cold. Not even kids.
It got me thinking of when my parents Sev and Edie bought land on Crystal Lake in Wascott, Wisconsin in the late 70s. The land had been scorched from a forest fire and Sev had to plant numerous trees along the borders of their new lake house. Edie drew up plans with her brother Frank, an architect-builder in Aurora, Illinois.
When the house was nearly finished, I’d moved back from my musician stint in New York City in 1980. I had a downstairs bedroom and big window where I could see their friend Bob’s house and beyond that, a back bay where there was a public boat launch, a local bar and not much else. There were many other cabins and second homes on this lake but my parents had a corner lot and where their house was, you could only see north and the beach/swamp across or look east at the lakeshore. Walt and Jeannie had a house near Bob’s but we could not see it, and it was a few doors away from the Crystal Lake Campground, which is still there!
When I moved back to stay with Edie in 1996, the lake and land had shifted. From that same window I could see across the lake and the last house on the west side of the lake was now visible – at night, I could see their large outdoor light. Puzzled, I talked with Bob about this and he had noticed how his house was no longer visible from our house. I could see the front of his house and deck plainly in the 1980s, and now it was not visible.
The reason I am bring this up? This is how impermanent land can be – and what is under our feet can move and does shift.
And it also reminds me how our Native ancestors (pre-colonization) moved around, farmed and fished and hunted in one area but wintered somewhere else. The early inhabitants on North American soil had territories, of course, but didn’t own the land. They camped and moved as necessary for their survival. That necessity could happen again – to everyone.
The Inuit say the earth has shifted: Elders wrote to the National Space and Aeronautics Administration (NASA) to tell them that the earth’s axis has shifted: the sun no longer rises where it used to rise. They inhabit the far northern reaches of the Canadian Arctic and have done so for centuries. The area they inhabit is almost continually frozen under a layer of permafrost. For months at a time, their days begin and end in darkness. A nomadic people, they built tents or teepees of caribou skin in warmer months, and lived in igloos in the winter.
There is talk of a coming Ice Age. (This has nothing to due with human impact on climate change, more so the activity of the sun and how solar cycles impact our climate as well.)
Check this out for fun- this Gwendolyn Brooks “we real cool” animated video
Between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town than Africans were imported.
Counting can be difficult, because many instances of Native enslavement in the Colonial period were illegal or ad hoc and left no paper trail. But historians have tried. A few of their estimates: Thousands of Indians were enslaved in Colonial New England, according to Margaret Ellen Newell. Alan Gallay writes that between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town (now Charleston, South Carolina) than Africans were imported. Brett Rushforth recently attempted a tally of the total numbers of enslaved, and he told me that he thinks 2 million to 4 million indigenous people in the Americas, North and South, may have been enslaved over the centuries that the practice prevailed—a much larger number than had previously been thought. “It’s not on the level of the African slave trade,” which brought 10 million people to the Americas, but the earliest history of the European colonies in the Americas is marked by Native bondage. “If you go up to about 1680 or 1690 there still, by that period, had been more enslaved Indians than enslaved Africans in the Americas.”
What history book has covered this? On a grand scale too (this was posted on Slate in January 2016) More people need to read up on this topic… HERE
The life expectancy of Native Americans in some states is 20 years shorter than the national average – 20 years. There may be many factors in this and here’s one. About a quarter of Native Americans report experiencing discrimination when they go to a doctor or a health clinic. That’s a finding of a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In the NPR poll, Native Americans who live in areas where they are in the majority reported experiencing prejudice at rates far higher than in areas where they constituted a minority. In places where there are few American Indians, Moss says, “people don’t expect to see American Indians; they think they are from days gone by, and so you are misidentified. And that’s another form of discrimination.”
Memorial University of Newfoundland has the second highest number of Indigenous human remains, with 353 individuals, both complete and incomplete. Even though the Rooms Corporation — the home of the provincial museum — is responsible for the remains, they are housed at the university wrote Mark Ferguson, the manager of collections at the museum, in an email. These Indigenous remains date as far back as 7,000 years ago. READ
Hi all! I just wrapped up the second edition of Two Worlds, Vol. 1 in the Lost Children book series. Whew! It took a long time. The first edition came out in 2012. There are new updated narratives and of course history, including the landmark decision in Canada to pay adoptees for pain and suffering after the 60s Scoop. The press release will soon be HERE.
And… I answer some questions about writing, blogging, spirituality and more at Jerry’s blog Oneness of Humanity. Here is my interview.
Please check out the entire interview series… HERE
What’s a poet with a large circle of friends, rich in words if limited in financial resources, to do when checking the names off his holiday list? For Langston Hughes, during the holiday season of 1950, the answer was to share some of his wit in homemade Christmas postcards.
The draft typescript for this and other cards in a set of Christmas greetings are among the extensive Langston Hughes Papers in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Hughes archives were given to Yale University by the renowned writer beginning in 1941, continuing throughout his lifetime, and including more materials from his estate upon his death in 1967.
The 1950 Hughes holiday cards are all on view in a special pop-up holiday display on the Beinecke Library’s mezzanine in temporary exhibition cases from Dec. 8-20. The Beinecke Library’s ground floor and mezzanine exhibition areas are free and open to the public seven days a week. continue…
Kyna Hamill did not set out to debunk a cherished local myth about “Jingle Bells,” but the truth became a runaway sleigh.
At 19 High Street in Medford, Massachusetts, a plaque commemorates the spot where James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) supposedly wrote the popular holiday song, inspired by sleigh races on Salem Street, while sitting in a tavern in 1850. Hamill, an assistant director and senior lecturer in the CAS Core Curriculum who also teaches in the CFA School of Theatre, became interested in the “Jingle Bells” story while working as a volunteer with the Medford Historical Society & Museum. “Every December, we’d get a call asking to do a story about ‘Jingle Bells,’” she says. “I would pull out the file, and it was a very easy story to tell. Reporters loved that it was written in Medford.”
Reporters also love conflict, and so they were thrilled to learn that the Medford tale is contested by people in Savannah, Georgia, where Pierpont is buried. The southerners insist that Pierpont wrote the jaunty winter anthem in that city, in late 1857, and led the first “Jingle Bells” singalong in a local church where his brother was pastor. continue…
Peace on Earth is all I want this holiday season… xoxox Lara/Trace
Don’t feel bad about knowing little to nothing about American Indians or First Nations in North America. I have a special treat for you on this day of Thanksgiving and our ways of giving thanks. It’s a half-hour talk by a Native scholar K. Tsianina Lomawaima. Give yourself this gift. Just remember how Indians are lousy television. WHAT? Ha!
Here’s an earlier post on Thanksgiving. (photo at left) Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?
I wanted you all to know I am doing research on the abolitionists who became reformers in Indian Country. These people were the thinkers of the day, in the time periods of the 1800s until early 1900. I’m reading more than I am writing. I understand it would be a good thing if I wrote more essays for this blog. And I plan to… eventually.
There is a post I wrote coming tommorrow.
I make lists. I thank all the people in my life and the ancestors who prayed for me before I was born. I know they are your ancestors too.
Be grateful for everything, even the chaos. We are here. We are the witness. We are more powerful than we can imagine.
Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you all for reading this blog.
(Top Photo: I shot this down the road last year. It was the right light. And that horse is a buddy of mine. He’s very photogenic.)
The GOP tax plan would allow generations of the super wealthy to live tax-free. It is a plan so outrageous that one of America’s top experts in helping the wealthy avoid taxes finds it abominable. Read our explanation from David Cay Johnston.
American media is turning a blind eye in regards to the Paradise Papers. Could be that many wealthy conservatives,the real owners of power within the media, will be found to have been cheating the government on their patriotic taxes.
*** November is National Adoption Awareness Month #NAAM
By LT (adoptee, top photo from my memoir book cover)
I have written on this blog about my story, my own search, my reunion, my work to help other adoptees, and the Lost Children Book Series. So MANY times. And I appreciate you have all hung in here with me on the adoptionland coverage, and the human trafficking issues. (If you have not read the coverage, use the search bar on this blog, or the Category tags.) There are so many stories, after meeting so many adoptees. Not just Native adoptees – adoptees from everywhere.
Where are we now? Not far at all… I wrote this a few years ago:
Now more serious stuff…. It’s National Adoption Awareness Month. I call it Be-Wareness Month. Why? The billion dollar adoption industry tries its best to recruit new people to adopt. Few want to adopt a child(ren) from foster care. Why? They are too old, come with baggage (not just luggage), or already talk. Foster care kids are the ones who truly are in need of good parents, definitely.
It is a crazy world out there as more people are waking up to the reality of adoption myths (like “babies are blank slates”)(and some of these orphans are not orphans). As an adoptee I am in favor of legal guardianships for children who cannot be raised by their first families, and their kin. Children need their own name, ancestry, medical history and names of both parents, never erased but part of their legal records.
No more fake amended birth certificates that follow us our entire lives. PLEASE!
Ignorance of biological ancestry has had devastating consequences for some. In the U.K. in 2008, twins that were separated and adopted at birth unknowingly married each other. This year, a Brazilian couple found out after they were married that the same biological mother had abandoned them as infants. Random meetings amongst half siblings are not uncommon, as many have reported in the news, and on the DSR. One mom realized that a distant relative, one whom she and her children had spent time with at family gatherings, had donated sperm and was in fact the biological parent of her children.
From my friend Amanda:
Adoption Statistics That Matter. Right now, private adoption agencies are figuratively peeing their pants about the Adoption Tax Credit because they can charge more when the tax credit is in tact and as high as possible. They claim that the numbers of adopted children will drop drastically as a result (no they won’t, BTW). Blah. Here is some gross stuff that matters more:
-Black and Native children are disproportionately more likely to be taken into foster care than white children.
-Black children, specifically black boys, are less likely to be adopted.
-Adopted children are more likely to become foster children than any other child.
-It costs more to adopt a white female infant, privately, than any other child. The “fees” to adopt a boy of color are at least half of this.
This is an industry. Racism, sexism, adultism, and classism fuel it.
p.s. THANK YOU for reading this long post and watching the videos. YOU ROCK!
Harry was in a terrible situation: it was 1828 and Harry was an enslaved man in Loudoun County, rented by his owner to Samuel Cox. Because Harry was chattel (personal property), he had no recognized surname, as was common among slaves in Loudoun before 1860. On learning that his owner, a “Miss Allison” of Stafford County, was planning to sell him to slave traders who would take him further south, Harry decided to escape.
He approached a freedman named Alex McPherson and asked to borrow his “freedom paper,” a document carried by all free blacks verifying the person’s freed status. McPherson, at great risk to his own safety and liberty, agreed to lend Harry his paper, but insisted it be returned to him as soon as possible. Harry would carry the paper north. If he was stopped and questioned along the way, he would show the paper and claim to be a freedman.
Before leaving Loudoun, Harry needed to learn the best route north. Once safely in a free state, he would need a job and place to live. For this help, Harry turned to some Loudoun County Quakers, many of whom were abolitionists. It was common knowledge where the Quaker communities were located, including Waterford, Hillsboro, Goose Creek (now called Lincoln) and other villages. continue…
With public art pieces, biting political, text-based work, and more intimate abstract paintings, this small exhibition illuminates Heap of Birds’s expansive career.
According to Bill Anthes’s book, Edgar Heap of Birds, the artist began his “Native Hosts” series back in 1988. Like the new commission displayed outside Bockley Gallery, the “Native Hosts” contain the “settler” name of a place written backwards, with the Native Host spelled forward, welcoming the viewer. Like many place names around the country, Minnesota is a derivation of a Native American word (“Mní sóta” means clear blue water in Dakota), but its appropriation by a state responsible for many atrocities against Native people warrants Heap of Birds’s critical treatment. Cloud Man Village, meanwhile, was a short-lived community led by Dakota chief Cloud Man, on the banks of the Bde Maka Ska lakeThe Bockley Gallery currently has on view a mini-retrospective of the work of Edgar Heap of Birds (whose Cheyenne name is Hock E Aye VI), which contains examples of different bodies of work the Cheyenne/Arapaho artist has created over his extensive career.
Heap of Birds’s showing at Bockley offers a small taste of the immense body of work this artist has created over a number of decades, and the only improvement I can suggest is that he deserves much more recognition. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from the “Scaffold” and Jimmie Durham controversies, it’s that there’s a need for more attention to be paid to Native artists working in contemporary practices.
Edgar Heap of Birdsruns through October 21 at Bockley Gallery (2123 West 21st Street, Minneapolis).
A new traveling exhibition of some of the best contemporary Native American artworks of the past 25 years, Native Art Now!, opens Nov. 11-12 at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The field of contemporary Native art takes center stage in Indianapolis as the exhibit opening coincides with a convening of leading Native artists, scholars and others for roundtable discussions, accompanied by a Native Art Now! television documentary and book.
As both a retrospective celebration and a summit meeting for influencers in contemporary art, Native Art Now! will promote appreciation for today’s Native art and artists, and generate dialogue about the current state of the field and its future challenges. The exhibition features 39 iconic works of Native art that the museum acquired primarily through its Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, including installations, paintings, prints, sculptures and glass and fabric art. Visually compelling works from artists Truman Lowe, Allan Houser, Kay WalkingStick, Meryl McMaster and Nicholas Galanin among others will be on view in the special exhibition gallery that opens to visitors Saturday, Nov. 11.
…Zinke’s comments echo complaints by some White House allies that a permanent, “deep state” in Washington has sabotaged Trump’s efforts to remake the government.
Zinke did not go that far, but he lamented a government culture that prizes analysis over action, saying: “There’s too many ways in the present process for someone who doesn’t want to get (a regulatory action) done to put it a holding pattern.”
To remedy that, Zinke said he is pursuing a major reorganization that would push much of the agency’s decision-making outside Washington and move several agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, to undetermined Western states.
The moves follow military strategy, Zinke said: “Push your generals where the fight is.”
While details remain largely under wraps, Zinke said he was excited. “It’s going to be huge,” he said in a speech to the National Petroleum Council, an advisory committee that includes leaders of the oil and gas industry. “I really can’t change the culture without changing the structure.”
Besides moving employees, Zinke said he wants to speed up permits for oil drilling, logging and other energy development that now can take years.
“The president wants it yesterday,” Zinke said, referring to permits for energy development. “We have to do it by the law.”
On other topics, Zinke said the Endangered Species Act has been “abused” by bureaucrats and environmental groups and needs to be reformed to be less “arbitrary.”
“There is no off-ramp” for species to be removed from protected status, he said.
Zinke also offered a quirky defense of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique also known as fracking that has led to a years-long energy boom in the U.S., with sharply increased production of oil and natural gas.
“Fracking is proof that God’s got a good sense of humor and he loves us,” Zinke said without explanation.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke walked into a big gathering of the National Petroleum Council on Monday already facing at least two government probes for his management of the department’s workforce of 70,000 — but that didn’t stop him from bashing his employees.