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…
My review of Andrés Reséndez’s The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America is up on JOTWELL: Equality. I highly recommend the book. It’s a dense and emotionally difficult read but well worth it for the knowledge you will gain. One of the things I was struck with was that the removal of Indian children from their homes by social services agencies has its roots in hundreds of years of stealing Indian children into slavery.
Another key historical antecedent to these removals was the genocidal boarding school system, which came to the forefront in the late 1800s.
Footnote By LT (writing a new book) (one novella fiction about dogs and Tillamook, OR)
In coming months/years I plan to be researching/writing on how American Indian history was deliberately colonized in print, in news, in movies…as propaganda and poop. This is a form of war. More of “What we are not supposed to know…”
Thanks to everyone for your comments and reading this blog ❤
Editorial – “Go Fighting Hamsters!” Gary Fife, Radio Communications Specialist
Editor’s Note: The following column containsstrong language.
OKMULGEE, Okla.— Ever notice the phrase “federally recognized tribes” when it comes to identifying who is and who isn’t an Indian. If your tribe is not on the list, published by the BIA— (some say ‘Boss Indians Around’) in the Federal Register, then it could mean the differences between receiving services or not, funding or not, having a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card or even entering art shows.
Well, the BIA finally got around to publishing that list, like they’re supposed to according to law. 567. That’s the number of tribes having this political (political, not racial) relationship with the U.S. government. Now, if you are wondering where all these tribes are, a good many of them are Alaska Native Villages, recognized as local units of government—tribes. From the Absentee Shawnee of Oklahoma, to the Yupiit of Andreafski in Alaska, to the Zuni Tribe of New Mexico, we’re all good Indians, right?
Here’s what the feds said: “This notice publishes the current list of 567 tribal entities recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) by virtue of their status as Indian Tribes. The list is updated from the notice published on May 4, 2016 (81 FR 26826).” And…if just have to see for yourself:
Publication Date: 01/17/2017
Agencies: Bureau of Indian Affairs
Document Type: Notice
Document Citation: 82 FR 4915
Page: 4915-4920 (6 pages)
Agency/Docket Number: 178A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010.999900253G (that’s a long one, huh?)
Document Number: 2017-00912
I guess if your tribe ain’t on it, you’re outta luck.
The emotional battle of an Indian child’s parental custody like Baby Veronica won’t be repeated, according to national news sources. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an effort to hear a case involving a Native American girl who was ordered removed from a California foster home and reunited with relatives in Utah. “Lexi,” who is part Choctaw, was 6-years-old when she was taken from her foster home near Los Angeles under terms of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
From the “I Can’t Believe This Happened” category:
“Public hanging of Native man re-enactment sparks outrage.”
The Historical Society of Hanna’s Town, Pennsylvania actors performed a public execution re-enactment of the hanging of Mamachtaga to an enthusiastic crowd.
The Indian news outlet reported for the first time in the society’s history, the celebration coordinators chose to re-enact a public hanging, this time of Mamachtaga, a Delaware man convicted of murder in 1785. A video of the public hanging was posted on YouTube June 26, 2016. The video shows several children in the audience watching as men dressed in colonial dress hang a red-face painted ‘Mamachtaga.’ Several people, presumably re-enactors, shouted comments such as, “Dirty no good Indian deserves to be hung,” and “Murderers, that’s all that they are.”
Several people expressed outrage over the video in Facebook comments. “This is horrible,” commented one. “What is wrong with people? Letting their kids watch this s***! Nothing like family bigotry,” was also commented.
Many people have contacted both the Westmoreland County Historical Society and the volunteer group who participated in the re-enactment to let them know of their opposition to such depictions. ‘Indian Country Today’ says, “According to them, the issue of race did not enter into the re-enactment. Asked if the group would have done a similar performance if the criminal had been African American they said, ‘Yes.’ “Although the matter is under discussion, the committee doubted that the hanging would be included in next year’s Frontier Court Re-enactment Days celebrations.
Let’s hope not or what? The public hanging of Native men is still a spectator sport?
Let’s change the subject and mood.
Remember last year when I mentioned that a ritzy East Coast college was changing its mascot? “Lord Jeff” had been the mascot for Amherst College in Massachusetts. In the 1700s, he was the guy that suggested using smallpox infected blankets on the local Native people to get rid of them. The national mood to change sports team’s mascots motivated the school to make the change and several new ideas came to mind. The Amherst Facebook page reported in December a big list of names was submitted, and then pared down to about 30. One of them (and my favorite) was the ‘Hamsters.’
Could you imagine at some athletic competition when the team makes its appearance, it’s led by a squad of beautiful ‘Hamster-ette’ cheerleaders and they come out of a big HabiTrail plastic tube?
Nibble em’, nibble em’. Go Fighting Hamsters!
Tafvmpuce! Wild onion season’s not too far off! Ready for the dinners?
[Shortly after the posting of this article on Indian Country Today, the original video noted in this story was taken off of YouTube due to the public outcry. Also, Chief Chester L. Brooks of the Delaware Tribe of Indians located in Bartlesville, OK issued a strongly worded request for the video to be taken down, and the letter, which demanded immediate action from the Westmoreland County Historical Society of Pennsylvania to stop the reenactment, and expressed the tribe’s outrage that the historical society would go beyond the bounds of decency, also demanded an apology and that the removal of the video should be completed within ten days. READ THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE.]
Federally recognized tribes should brace for possible termination policy under Trump
Whether we like it or not, Saglutupiaġataq (“the compulsive liar” in Iñupiatun) is now president of the United States and Republicans control Congress. Federally recognized Alaska Native and American Indian tribes should brace for the worst, including the possibility that Congress may move to terminate federally recognized tribes.
BIG WEEK: Wisconsin is just one of several states to pass voting restrictions in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Another set of laws was shut down in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin ruling came after a decision earlier on Friday from a federal appeals court striking down North Carolina’s omnibus voter suppression law, which had been called the worst voter suppression law in the nation. On July 20th, Texas’s Voter ID law also fell, in a surprise decision from a conservative court finding that the law violated the Voting Rights Act. READ HERE
In 2012 Yasmin Mistry, an Emmy-nominated animator and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in state care, launched Foster Care Film to give foster youth an opportunity to share their stories. Mistry’s subsequent films investigate less-explored obstacles and situations related to foster care. Her latest, My Identity, is an 11-minute documentary that explores kinship care (the care of children by relatives), the longing to belong and the importance of sibling bonds.
My Identity is the story of Ashley Wolford, a woman born to a mixed white and Native American mother. Ashley knows nothing of her biological father, and at a young age Ashley and her half-brother are placed in separate homes after it is discovered that their drug-and-alcohol addicted mother abandons them for stretches of time.
In their later years, Ashley discovers and converts to Islam while at the same time her brother joins the military and serves two tours in Afghanistan fighting Muslims. Their ideological differences drive a wedge in their relationship. READ MORE
Russian Hacks? … hundreds of Russians in a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, …produced blog posts, comments, infographics, and viral videos that pushed the Kremlin’s narrative on both the Russian and English Internet. [This is sadly becoming a recurring theme… Lara]
(top photo) Hailed Chief of Chiefs, David Bald Eagle, Lakota Chief, Musician, Cowboy And Actor, Dies At 97
And at the age of 95, he had his first lead role, after all those years as a stunt double: He starred in the independent film Neither Wolf Nor Dog.
“When white people won it was a victory, when Natives won it was a massacre. When they fought for freedom it was a revolution, when we fought for freedom it was an uprising. No Indian alive dares to think too much about the past. The bones of our people are crying.”
BLOG BONUS: In light of yesterday and the day before and the day before and last year and for many years, and the shootings of black men/women/children by police, it’s time we recognize how racial bias exists around us… Lara Trace
“For the first time in history, we’ll be able to see firsthand how police officers make contact with the public and how those interactions unfold in real time,” Eberhardt says. “And we’ll soon be in a position to design interventions that can directly affect the course of those interactions.”
A Hard Look at How We See Race
Jennifer Eberhardt’s research shows subconscious connections in people’s minds between black faces and crime, and how those links may pervert justice; law enforcement officers across the country are taking note. By Sam Scott, from Stanford Magazine
The first time Jennifer Eberhardt presented her research at a law enforcement conference, she braced for a cold shoulder. How much would streetwise cops care what a social psychology professor had to say about the hidden reaches of racial bias?
Instead, she heard gasps, the loudest after she described an experiment that showed how quickly people link black faces with crime or danger at a subconscious level. In the experiment, students looking at a screen were exposed to a subliminal flurry of black or white faces. The subjects were then asked to identify blurry images as they came into focus frame by frame.
The makeup of the facial prompts had little effect on how quickly people recognized mundane items like staplers or books. But with images of weapons, the difference was stark—subjects who had unknowingly seen black faces needed far fewer frames to identify a gun or a knife than those who had been shown white faces. For a profession dealing in split-second decisions, the implications were powerful.
Lorie Fridell, then head of research for a law enforcement policy group in Washington, D.C., says Eberhardt’s research helped her resolve a nagging paradox. She sensed that law enforcement had a problem with racial profiling. Yet she was certain the vast majority of officers would sincerely recoil at the idea of policing with prejudice.
In 2004, with her reputation yet to be widely established, she organized an unprecedented conference at Stanford on racial bias in policing, bringing together scores of academics from across the country with law enforcement officials from 34 agencies in 13 states.
More than a decade later, Eberhardt is no longer the anonymous academic she was then. A “genius award” from the MacArthur Foundation last year served as perhaps the broadest notice yet that Eberhardt is someone with something vital to say. Yet her signature remains the same: unsettling research revealing the long, pernicious reach of unconscious racial bias, and an unrelenting commitment to share her findings with the outside world.“This is not someone who is just doing work in the ivory tower of a university,” says Chris Magnus, chief of police in Richmond, California, a Bay Area city where a quarter of the population is black. “This is someone who is really out in the trenches working with police departments and the criminal justice system.”Eberhardt’s message is not an easy one to hear, particularly for the many Americans who think racial discrimination is largely a thing of the past, or that they themselves would never treat someone differently because of race, or that racism is somewhere else.In one study capturing how high the stakes are, Eberhardt and her colleagues analyzed two decades’ worth of capital murder cases in Philadelphia involving white victims and black defendants—44 cases in all. The defendants’ photographs were independently rated according to how stereotypically black they appeared.
During a lecture at Stanford in April, while standing under an image of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was shot and killed by police in her hometown of Cleveland, Eberhardt made explicit the connection between her research and the events roiling the nation. The recent protests and tumult in response to police killings, she said, are part of the cost of not seeing—the price of our blindness to bias.
NEW UK EXHIBIT: STILL – Native American Photographers
15th March – 28 May, 2016 (RAINMAKER Gallery is the UK showcase for contemporary Native North American Indian art and jewellery.)
RAINMAKER GALLERY, 123 Coldharbour Road, Bristol BS6 7SN, UK
Artist’s Talk with Cara Romero, Thursday April 21st, 3pm-4pm Artists’ reception with Cara Romero and Diego Romero, Thursday April 21st, 6pm -8pm
STILL showcases the recent work of fine art photographers Cara Romero, Will Wilson, Kali Spitzer, Robert Mesa and Zoe Urness. Their compelling photographic images of water, dance and stillness explore concepts of suspension and continuance in a rapidly changing world.
Global changes in climate, environment and economies have impacted significantly in the most vulnerable areas of the world, and Indigenous North Americans see these effects daily. Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero draws these delicate relationships to a fine point in her series ‘Water Memories’. Her breathtaking underwater images expose the fragile and essential relationships that exist between people, water and life. These beautifully conceived photographs show an immersed environment where the Native American figures are portrayed under the surface, suspended in a drowned landscape.
“‘Water Memories’ are photography dreamscapes dealing with Native American relationships to water, the forces of man and of Mother Nature. They are individual explorations of space, memory, and diverse Indigenous narratives that are both terrifying and peaceful.” Cara Romero
TOP PHOTO: Distinguished Diné artist Will Wilson’s tranquil, panoramic self-portrait captures a prayer offering by the lone figure of the artist within a vast waterscape.
“Since 2005, I have been creating a series of artworks entitled ‘Auto Immune Response’ (AIR), which takes as its subject the quixotic relationship between a post-apocalyptic Diné (Navajo) man and the devastatingly beautiful, but toxic environment he inhabits. The series is an allegorical investigation of the extraordinarily rapid transformation of Indigenous lifeways, the dis-ease it has caused, and strategies of response that enable cultural survival.” Will Wilson
From his on going series ‘Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange’ (CIPX), Wilson uses the early photographic technique of tintype to present modern static images of dancers in an historic fluid medium.
Kali Spitzer (Kaska Dena / Jewish) also experiments with the wet plate alchemical process of tintype producing magical and magnificent portraits of contemporary Indigenous women who appear as if through an antique mirror. Navajo photographer Robert I Mesa captures fleeting moments of inter-tribal pow wow with his incandescent portraits of Fancy Dancers. Zoe Marieh Urness (Tlingit & Cherokee) creates timeless sepia toned portraits of Indigenous landscapes containing contemporary Native Americans still ‘Keeping The Traditions Alive’.
This exhibition presents technically and aesthetically brilliant images that together speak of the strong identities, cultures and connections to Mother Earth still thriving at the heart of Indigenous communities.
STILL is curated by Dr Stephanie Pratt (Dakota) and Joanne Prince Director of Rainmaker Gallery
To book for the Artist’s Talk with Cara Romero please contact the gallery. The talk will take place at Redland Quaker Meeting House, 126 Hampton Rd. BS6 6JE. The cost is £7 per person.
‘CAPTURED’ showcases the work of fine art photographers Cara Romero, Will Wilson, Zoe Urness, Sara Sense, Tailinh Agoyo and Debra Yepa-Pappan, who surprise and delight with sublime and arresting imagery that challenges preconceived notions of American Indians.
Chris Pappan, his wife Debra Yepa-Pappan and their daughter JiHae visited Bristol for the opening of their exhibition FIRST PEOPLE, SECOND CITY co-curated by Dr Max Carocci from the British Museum and Joanne Prince, Director of Rainmaker Gallery.
I am an American Indian. I am Osage, Kaw, Cheyenne River Sioux, and mixed European heritage.
I don’t walk in beauty, I just try not to step in dog shit.
I don’t listen to the wind, I listen to people’s cell phone conversations.
I go to Pow Wows to celebrate a pan-Indian culture.
I don’t walk the Red Road, I walk down Kedzie Boulevard. I live 20 feet above the earth.
I listen to Norwegian Black Metal and 70’s Prog Rock.
I need to learn the language of my people.
I make paintings to bring awareness that Indians are still here.
I distort images because people perceive a distorted image of Native Americans in the collective conscience.
I prefer the term Indian over Native American, but I use both.
I wonder why many people want to know what “percentage” Indian I am.
I am blessed in that I don’t know anyone who is currently addicted to drugs, been a victim of domestic violence or committed suicide.
I am blessed in that I have a loving wife and beautiful daughter.
I am an American Indian living in the 21st century.
(Indians are also known for their good-hearted goofiness, like Chris obviously… Lara/Trace)
By Lara Trace (as an independent scholar-journalist)
Years ago when I first moved here to western Massachusetts, I attended a five-college consortium on Slavery in New England. My head was spinning since I had never encountered this much in-depth history as editor of the Pequot Times in Connecticut. (I had published a paper in the Pequot Times about the Genocide and Enslavement of the Pequot by Dr. Kevin McBride and had done my own research.)
Yet, the ghosts of slavery were still hidden, buried, obscure.
The truth in stories probably existed in expensive books that I had not read. I had also done my own research FIRST CONTACT into American Indian slavery and presented my research at a few conferences (2001-2002). Yes, Indian Slavery. For additional help, I posted inquiries on AmerInd H-Net. A few scholars had done bits of research, scattered here and there.
I am happy to report that it took time but there IS more written on American Indian slaves – finally, yes. Read on…
Until quite recently, few modern Americans, even historians, knew that many thousands, if not millions, of Native North Americans once lived and died in slavery. The publication in 2002 of James Brooks’s Captives and Cousins and Alan Gallay’s The Indian Slave Trade brought the bare fact and some of the dynamics of Indian slavery to the attention of scholars for the first time. In the decade since then, studies of indigenous enslavement in North America have multiplied, as many innovative ethnohistorians turned their attention to a once-unknown institution. Knowledge of Indian slavery has even begun to spread into the mainstream; Slate Magazine recently ran a cover story on the Indian slave trade and on Indians’ enslavement of African-Americans.
One of the bright young scholars researching Indian slavery, Kristalyn Shefveland, spoke last week at my university on the interrelationship between indigenous slavery and gender politics during Bacon’s Rebellion.* Prof. Shefveland’s larger research project examines the relationship between Native peoples and the colonial government of Virginia during the “tributary period,” when Anglo-Virginians converted thousands of Indians either into tribute-paying subordinates or chattel slaves. Among her other observations, Kristalyn noted that many of Virginia’s wealthy colonial families built their fortunes on the trade in Indian men, women, and children, whom they employed as laborers or sold to the West Indies.
Shefveland will be posting some of her findings here on the Turtle Island Examiner this summer, and her book on Indian tributaries and slaves in colonial Virginia comes out this fall. For now, though, let me note just one of many fascinating anecdotes she shared: one of the wealthy colonial families that profited from Indian slavery was that of John Custis, whose 1708 will identified 30 slaves (mostly but not necessarily all African) and six Indians as part of his property. Custis’s descendents capitalized on his investment in human beings, putting the family’s wealth into more slaves, land, and tobacco, so that by mid-century his grandson Daniel Parke Custis had become well-to-do. Daniel died in 1757, but not before passing his fortune on to his wife Martha Dandridge Custis and their children. Martha became a propertied and eligible widow, and, like most women of her class and time, joined her fortunes to those of another gentlemen. Her second husband, a well-connected young surveyor and militia officer named George Washington, had inherited his own legacy of interracial violence from Virginia’s past. As in contemporary Europe, fame and fortune in early America came not from innovation or toil, but from family connections and sheer violence.
* The rebellion’s name probably belongs in quotation marks. As J.D. Rice recently pointed out, most of the fighting in 1675-76 occurred not between white colonists, but between white Virginians and Native Americans.
BIG NEWS: What To Do About The Undeniable Connection Between Elite Universities (HARVARD) And Slavery
WBUR Boston | March 16, 2016 | On Monday, Harvard Law School decided to officially change its seal — the slave-owning Royall family coat of arms will be scrubbed from the school logo by next year. But what does this latest cleansing of university history mean in the larger context of elite education and its racist past? According to Craig Steven Wilder, professor of history at MIT, “The American academy never stood apart from American slavery—it stood beside church and state as the third pillar of a civilization built on bondage.”
TOP IMAGE: Vermont State Constitution, circa 1777.
Long before Vermont became our 14th state, its people were known for their independence. They were not excited about joining the new United States; nor did they want to remain a part of the British crown. They liked being independent and made that clear to the other colonies on more than one occasion. Such an opportunity came on July 2, 1777. In response to abolitionists’ calls across the colonies to end slavery, Vermont became the first colony to ban it outright. Not only did Vermont’s legislature agree to abolish slavery entirely, it also moved to provide full voting rights for African American males. On November 25, 1858, Vermont would again underscore this commitment by ratifying a stronger anti-slavery law into its constitution. The harshest treatment for free blacks in New England was found in Connecticut. Through a series of different legislative acts created before and after the Revolutionary War, it became nearly impossible for free African Americans to live in the state. For example, free blacks could not walk into a business without the proprietor’s consent, nor could free blacks own property.
Slavery: perhaps the last, great unmentionable in public discourse. It is certainly a topic that even today makes people very uncomfortable, regardless of their race.
American society has often expressed its internal problems through its art. Perhaps the most powerful medium for important discussions since the turn of the last century has been the motion picture.
For decades Hollywood has attempted to address the issue of slavery. For the most part, films have represented the period of enslavement in a manner that reflected society’s comfort level with the issue at the time. Director D. W. Griffith’s 1915 silent drama, Birth of a Nation, for instance, depicted African Americans (white actors in black face) better off as slaves. Griffith’s movie showed the institution of slavery “civilizing” blacks. Birth even made it seem like slaves enjoyed their lives and were happy in servitude.
That wasn’t the case, of course, but it was what white society wanted to believe at the time.
More than two decades after Birth of a Nation, the portrayal of African Americans in films had changed only a little. 1939 saw the release of one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed movies, Gone with the Wind. Producer David O. Selznick believed he was serving the black community with respect — he made sure the novel’s positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan was eliminated from the film, for example. But Gone with the Wind nevertheless treated the enslaved as relatively happy, loyal servants, a depiction that continued to reflect America’s segregated society. History was made, however, when Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award for her role as “Mammy.” Still, her part, and the parts of the other black actors drew harsh criticism from major African American newspapers and civil rights groups.
Nearly forty years later, one of Hollywood’s most meaningful attempts to portray the period of enslavement came in 1977 with the television blockbuster mini-series, Roots. Based on Alex Haley’s 1976 best-selling book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, the mini-series was groundbreaking on many levels. It was a dramatic series with a predominantly African American ensemble that captured a record 37 Emmy nominations — television’s highest artistic award.
And Roots marked the first time America witnessed slavery portrayed in detail. Along with the scenes of transporting, selling, and trading men and women, were scenes showing the brutality African Americans often suffered at the hands of slave owners. The depictions of abuse and cruelty were limited, of course, by the medium and by what American society would accept at the time. In keeping with the series’ marketing campaign, the show focused heavily on the family’s ultimate triumphs. For all of Roots’ firsts, and there were many, it was ultimately a story of resiliency.
Fast forward three-plus decades — American society is undeniably changed. African Americans are regularly featured in movies and television shows. The nation elected, then re-elected, an African American president, Barack Obama.
Drawing critical acclaim today is the movie 12 Years a Slave. 12 Years is a watershed moment in filmmaking. Not only does it feature remarkable performances, excellent cinematography, and powerful direction; it also offers the first realistic depiction of enslavement.
Unlike prior motion pictures and television shows, 12 Years does not retreat from the brutality many blacks endured. The movie is not for the faint hearted, as the violence and cruelty it portrays is not the highly stylized violence found in films like Django Unchained. 12 Years is true to the reality that for years many Americans treated fellow human beings with ruthless brutality — and that reality is harder to face.
The film, however, is not only drawing praise from critics — it recently received nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture — but enjoying audience appreciation, as well. With that appreciation comes an opportunity to bring the discussion of slavery to the mainstream.
This, then, is an exciting time for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Among its many virtues, the Smithsonian is a great legitimizer with a long tradition of providing venues for Americans to examine their shared history. One of the over-arching goals of the National Museum of African American History and Culture is to create a place where issues like enslavement can be viewed through an unvarnished lens.
America today needs this discussion and I believe it is ready for it, a sentiment undergirded by a belief in the public’s ability to deal with and care about the issue. The great strength of history, and African American history, is its ability to draw inspiration from even the worst of times. No doubt people throughout the nation and around the world will find that inspiration when they visit the Museum and view our major exhibition on “Slavery and Freedom” when our doors open in late 2015.
Before I close, I want to recommend four insightful narratives written by African Americans during this period of American history. The first is Solomon Northup’s book, 12 Years a Slave. Next is Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs. One of the first books to describe the sexual abuse and torment that female slaves endured, Incidents became one of the most influential works of its time. Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, by Harriet Wilson, is believed to be the first novel published by an African American in North America. Though fictionalized, Wilson’s book is based on her life growing up in indentured servitude in New Hampshire. Finally, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, remains today one of the most important autobiographical works ever written by an American.
“This Museum will tell the American story through the lens of African American history and culture. This is America’s Story and this museum is for all Americans.” –Lonnie G. Bunch III, director
The Campaign to Build America’s Next Great Museum
We need a total of $500 million to build this museum. Given the importance of this Museum to our nation, Congress committed to provide half of this amount. We must raise the remaining $250 million from the private sector, including friends like you, corporations, foundations, and other organizations. Can we count on you to build this museum? We welcome gifts at all levels — from $35, $50, $100 to $10,000 or whatever you can afford.When you make a gift today, you can choose to become a Charter Member and receive a wide array of benefits.
Join us as we build America’s next great museum the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup. 1853.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. 1861
Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet Wilson. 1859.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass. 1845.
“The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another’s labor by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live” -Leo Tolstoy
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS | The New York Times | MARCH 4, 2016
Harvard Law School is poised to abandon an 80-year-old shield based on the crest of a slaveholding family that helped endow the institution, as campuses across the country debate the use of historic names and symbols that some consider offensive.
On Friday, a law school committee said the shield did not represent Harvard values. It shows three sheaves of wheat, a symbol that is derived from the family crest of an 18th-century slave owner, Isaac Royall Jr., who endowed the first law professorship at Harvard, though the gift did not by itself create the law school. The image of the wheat appears under the word “Veritas,” or “Truth” in Latin, the Harvard motto.
There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
— Marshall McLuhan
Stand For Trees
We are on track to lose up to 90% of the world’s rainforests by the year 2020 thanks to deforestation. It’s time we Stand For Trees before it’s too late. Purchase Stand For Trees Certificates and protect forests in need: http://standfortrees.org
and we can’t forget we’re in the middle of a campaign… as if we could forget!
BOSTON– Throughout history Native Americans have had their land, possessions and culture taken away. But in recent decades the U.S. government has worked to right some wrongs through repatriation. Museums and federally funded institutions are required to go through their collections and report artifacts that might belong to tribes.
Now a small theological school in Newton is navigating this complex legal process for the first time.
Its collection of about 125 Native American artifacts includes one known as the Halibut Hook, and a lot of people are interested in its fate.
“Halibut Hook,” Haida or Tlingit artist, ca. 1800 (Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, via the Andover Newton Theological School)
David Katzeek is one of them. He sang for me over the phone, like tribal fishermen have for centuries as they lower a V-shaped, ornately carved, wood-and-bone hook into the water
“We would stomp our feet,” Katzeek recalled, and continued to chant in his ancestral language. The ceremonial hook is part of a ritual that helps fishermen honor the fish’s sacrifice. Halibut, like all living things, have a spirit, he believes, and his tribesmen would talk and sing to the fish below.
“They would be warning and letting the halibut know that it was coming to do battle with them,” Katzeek said, then explained the meaning behind the fishermen’s words: “‘You’re going to fight with this, it’s going to fight with you.’ ”
Katzeek leads the Thunderbird Clan in Southeast Alaska. He says the Halibut Hook (known to him as the G̱ooch Ḵuyéik Náxw, translation: “Halibut Hook with Wolf Spirit”) is a treasured spiritual object.
Now Katzeek and the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes are fighting to reclaim the Halibut Hook they believe is theirs.
But the hook is not in Alaska — it’s in Massachusetts, in the collection of the Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS), the oldest graduate seminary in the United States.
The tribes didn’t know where this Halibut Hook was until last summer. That’s when they learned the financially struggling school was thinking of selling or transferring dozens of Native American artifacts as it weighed the future of its campus. (In November ANTS announced it was putting the campus on the market, citing decline in enrollment, and would either relocate or merge with another school.)
The school’s trove — along with the Halibut Hook — has been stored at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem for decades.
“This Halibut Hook — which has carved clan figures on it — is quite distinctive,” the museum’s director, Dan Monroe, told me. “A just straight-forward, functional Halibut Hook has quite a different form.”
Monroe looked at a photo of the Halibut Hook while in his office. He explained that the story of how an object like this hook might go back to Alaska, after decades in Massachusetts, reveals the complexities of a legal process that repatriates potentially sacred artifacts.
“The level of pain surrounding these issues is hard for many people to understand,” Monroe said, “but it’s very real.”
He knows the dark history behind that pain well. The PEM holds the largest collection of Native American artifacts in the Northern Hemisphere. And Monroe lived and worked in Alaska for years, where he developed relationships with the tribes there.
He talked to me about missionaries who fanned out across the U.S. in the late 1800s and 1900s to convert Native Americans. With westward expansion, he said people feared Indian culture would be eradicated.
“There had already been tremendous displacement of native people through disease, warfare and forced removal from their tribal lands, so there was there was this ‘fear of the vanishing red man,’ ” Monroe described, “which was the way that this was characterized. Consequently not only missionaries but natural history museums began an intensive period of collecting Native American material.”
“The whole history of Indian policy in this country is painful,” said Melanie O’Brien, the NAGPRA program manager at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “NAGPRA was enacted to try to help fix some of those painful pasts.”
Since 1990 the act has required museums and federally funded institutions to submit lists of human remains and sacred or cultural objects. Hundreds of tribes can review the inventories and make claims to their cultural heritage.
Staff at the Andover Newton school say they didn’t fully understand its responsibility to NAGPRA that came to light when it briefly explored the sale or transfer of its Native American collection. The Interior Department alerted the school that it needed to comply with the law and is helping the school navigate the repatriation process.
“It’s a daunting responsibility,” admitted Nancy Nienhuis, a dean at the school, “and I’m not an expert — I’m a theologian by training, so this is new territory for me.”
Now it’s also become her job to document dozens of artifacts, consult with experts, and ultimately contact dozens of tribes. It’s like sleuthing, Nienhuis said, because the histories behind many of the objects — including the Halibut Hook — are elusive and challenging to trace.
It is believed that in the 1830s a Presbyterian missionary is responsible for five of the objects. Others were gifts from alumni. But Nienhuis said most of the paperwork and information about the artifacts’ pasts has been lost overtime.
“It’s not like a movie where you get to see that story unfold. We don’t know who the original donor was. We don’t know if they’re the ones who received the objects originally,” she said. “Did someone give it to them? Are they the daughter or son of someone? Without knowing exactly how things came to us, it’s very difficult to be able to tell the story of any particular object.”
Piecing those stories together takes a long time, Nienhuis said, because it’s crucial for the school to get it right. O’Brien explained that while the repatriation process is rigorous and intentionally deliberate, careful and slow, “I don’t think that Congress envisioned it would take quite so long to resolve the rights to all of these cultural items,” she said. “I’m not sure that Congress realized how many were in the possession or control of museums and federal agencies.”
But according to O’Brien, ownership rights to more than 1.6 million Native American cultural items, human remains and funerary objects have been resolved since 1990.
Even so, scores of others — like the Halibut Hook — are still undetermined.
That’s frustrating to tribe members and Rosita Worl, president of the nonprofit Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau.
“Some clans haven’t had what we call ‘at.óow’ — they’re clan ceremonial objects, and they haven’t been able to participate in our ceremonies,” Worl explained.
Worl has been working with clan leaders, including Katzeek from the Thunderbird Clan, on their claim to the ceremonial Halibut Hook. She’s of the Tlingit tribe and told me that when sacred objects are repatriated, the healing effects reach beyond a single tribe.
“It’s brought museums and tribes together. We have better working relationships,” she said. “I also think it’s contributed to the knowledge about the belief systems and spirituality around the objects.”
Worl is a former NAGPRA Review Committee member and acknowledged the 25-year-old law isn’t perfect. Barriers include a lack of funding and the amount of time and money tribes, museums and institutions spend on the repatriation process. Next week the NAGPRA Review Committee will ask Congress for more support.
Meanwhile, Worl hopes the unfolding story of this Halibut Hook’s fate raises awareness for other institutions that might not know or understand what they might have in their collections.
Photo credit: “Halibut Hook,” Haida or Tlingit artist, ca. 1800 (Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, via the Andover Newton Theological School)
Jun 25, 2015 – Is it time we got rid of Massachusetts‘ strange imagery? … the controversy over the Confederate flag that flies outside of South Carolina’s state … And then there’s the state flag of Massachusetts (above), which prominently …
Aboriginal people are seven times more likely to die of diabetes than other Australians and 37% of urban Aboriginal children are overweight or obese by the age of two. Aboriginal film-maker Warwick Thornton’s thought-provoking photos are the focus of a Survival news report.
Progress can kill: the report
Around the world, “progress” and “development” are robbing tribal peoples of their land, self-sufficiency and pride and leaving them with nothing. Taking tribal peoples’ land and imposing “our” model of development is the cause of untold misery and suffering.
This will be news to many people, for whom development simply means bringing education, infrastructure and healthcare to the world’s poorest nations.
But “progress” is often simply the excuse used by industrialized society to justify crimes of land theft, genocidal violence and slavery.
We have made “Progress can kill” available as a download as well as a free printed booklet. Please help us spread the word by requesting copies in the post for distribution. Their future is in your hands. [Survival International refuses government money so we cannot be silenced by those guilty of violating tribal peoples’ rights. ]
BITTER TEARS Documentary on PBS: In one of the most impactful and thoughtful interviews I conducted for my book, the late musician and American Indian Movement activist John Trudell explains:
“In my mind, the Indians could never have a civil rights movement. The civil rights issue was between the Blacks and the whites, our issue was around law. It was legal. There are five kinds of law in America: common law; criminal law; constitutional law; statute law; and treaty law. That’s important to note — treaty law is one of the five principal laws in America. The agreements that the United States made with the tribes were legal agreements. So our movement was based around treaty law and making sure these were upheld and not broken. This isn’t about morals and ethics — I mean, of course it is to a degree — but the United States has a legal responsibility to us. So in the end this is about the law.”
and I have a big love for this cool thing called Tiny Letters – you get a quickie post from some amazing writers each week… [I know you have plenty to read already but in case you want to try something new delivered to your inbox] check it out:
“The internet is not the real world; it’s not a place where you are you, or even a place where your favourite characters are your favourite characters. The internet is a midsummer night’s dream where everything gets mixed up and you get to be a little bit daring and out of the ordinary. A place not unlike a magical school that exists just beyond the reality you know. Except the secret world of the internet is a lot more fucked up than the Wizarding World, not least because Harry/Hermione shippers live there.”
MY Advice: Ask your family. Don’t rely on saliva tests.
The testing database is not there yet. Not enough tribal members have their DNA on these databases. Don’t rely on it for proof. Don’t rule out tribal ancestry if someone in your family was reported to be a tribal member. This is one time when I’m glad the science is not there yet.
Did anyone see Henry Louis Gates tell Sen. John McCain he’s got Native American ancestry? I was more surprised than McCain.
Indigenous radio programming has come a long way, says Rogers
By Stephanie Cram, CBC News, Feb 13, 2016
From the early uses of radio on reserves to communicate with hunters in the bush, to the creation of podcasts that explore indigenous arts, culture and politics — indigenous broadcasters have adapted with the times.
“Indigenous voices on the land and on the airwaves is another way to create presence,” says Mohawk writer and radio producer Janet Rogers. Read more of this post
Indigenous Wellness is the at the heart of Freedom Lodge’s efforts. Located near downtown Rapid City, SD, our Center’s goal is to help Heal, Educate and Empower the Nine Tribes of South Dakota. Although our organization is relatively new to the area, Freedom Lodge has provided services to Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island in Suicide Prevention, Youth Talking Stick Circles, Historical Trauma Recovery, Grief Counseling and Addiction Recovery since 1993. FREEDOM LODGE
And I’m wondering what we do about the fact that 4chan exists. That men who are angry, men who are lonely, men who feel isolated and rejected by society — that there is a place where that hatred and rage finds companionship and validation, where misery breeds contempt. How we’ve created a society that drives these men to find like-minded people. How our culture of shame has created a subculture of violence. Of misogyny. Of hatred of others.
“Ever-inventive, astutely observant, and drolly ironic, Margaret Atwood unfurls a riotous plot of corporate rule, erotic mayhem, sexbots, brain-washing, murder, and Elvis and Marilyn impersonators. Her bristling characters range from right-on caricatures to unpredictably complicated individuals, especially the unnerving Charmaine. Atwood’s ribald carnival of crazy deftly examines fear and the temptation to trade the confusion of choice and freedom for security, whatever the cost. This laser-sharp, hilariously campy, and swiftly flowing satire delves deeply into our desires, vices, biases, and contradictions, bringing fresh, incisive comedy to the rising tide of postapocalyptic fiction in which Atwood has long been a clarion voice.” Booklist, starred review
I’m adding BLOG BONUS in 2016: a mix of good stuff I’m reading and you might want to read them too! I know, I know, you all read way too much, but this is when you don’t have enough material… a new category Blog Bonus will be there when you need it… XOX Lara
In the News
Remembering Slavery, Again (our national amnesia?)
IN 2015, A YEAR OF DEBATE over the Confederate flag and intense meditation on the meaning of race in the United States, it would be a shame to miss the equally public memories of race-slavery in Britain. Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, a two-part BBC documentary, publicized the Legacies of British Slave-ownership (LBS), a University College London database of all the slave owners in Britain who were awarded compensation when slavery was abolished on August 1, 1834. A Broadway musical, Amazing Grace, dramatized the story of the British slave-ship captain John Newton, who wrote the hymn that would become associated with African-American culture and civil rights struggles — and which President Obama sang during the eulogy for Pastor Clementa Pinckney, killed in June 2015 by a white supremacist who shot six other members of the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. British novelist Caryl Phillips publishedThe Lost Child, partly a prequel to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, in which he draws on the long critical speculation that Heathcliff, brought from the slave port of Liverpool to the Yorkshire moors, is black. It appears that both the United States and the United Kingdom are witnessing one of those moments when we confront what Toni Morrison said in an early interview about Beloved (1987), “something that the characters don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember, black people don’t want to remember, white people don’t want to remember. I mean, it’s national amnesia.”
From Caribbean sugar plantations to the South Atlantic island of St. Helena, researchers are unlocking the long-kept secrets of enslaved peoples.
By Andrew Lawler| National Geographic | FEBRUARY 4, 2016
More than twelve million people crossed from Africa to the New World as slaves. Historians know a good deal about the African ports where they embarked, the slave ships that carried them across the ocean, and the destinations of these enslaved peoples.
But they know surprisingly little about where in Africa these masses of people originally came from.
Now, thanks to recent advances in genetic techniques, scientists are filling in this important gap in the tragic African diaspora.
“This will change our understanding of population and migration histories,” says Hannes Schroeder, a biological anthropologist at the University of Copenhagen. “What was just potential is now being fulfilled.”
New research, exhibit starts to tell story of centuries of bondage
By Paul Grondahl | Albany Times Union February 4, 2016
Here is a statistic that might shock you. In 1790, there were 217 households in Albany County that owned five or more slaves of African descent, a portion of the county’s 3,722 slaves, the most of any county among New York state’s 21,193 slaves counted in that year’s census.
History textbooks and conventional wisdom tend to relegate slavery as an issue of the Southern states, a shameful narrative bracketed by President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation and the grim toll of the Civil War.
But new research at the State Museum and an exhibit at Fort Crailo, a state historic site in Rensselaer, titled “A Dishonorable Trade: Human Trafficking in the Dutch Atlantic World,” is bringing slavery out of the shadows and directly onto the front stoops of Albany across three centuries.
Through historical research and archaeology, the emerging scholarship is painting a fresh portrait of a deeply ingrained system of wealthy Dutch families in Albany and the Capital Region who owned human beings and subjugated them to their will during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.