Madrid – At the Museo Reina Sofía, the artist Luis Camnitzer has piled up a grid of 80 blocks, approximately 12 by 12 inches each, and wrapped them in brown gauze. Imprinted with the word “LEFTOVER,” followed by a Roman number, each block appears to have been shot, dripping fake, plastic blood on the museum’s floor. The piece, “Leftovers” (1970), is an homage to those of Camnitzer’s generation who died in the hands of the Uruguayan repressive state.
As an essayist, art critic, curator, teacher, lecturer and a creator of objects, actions and musical compositions, Luis Camnitzer’s multi-faceted work spans nearly 60 years… The work Failed Utopias gives the exhibition its name, at the express wish of the artist. Chiming with his usual irony, Camnitzer alludes to the ‘dark’ history of the Sabatini Building as a hospital and as a place for ‘lunatics, or the insane’. The retrospective also constitutes a time frame of Camnitzer’s utopia, which he defines as “a process through which one seeks perfection, where perfection, like a mirage, constantly grows distant at the same speed one believes oneself to be nearing it. Something similar to the revolution in the revolution”.
Born in Lübeck (Germany) and raised in Uruguay, Luis Camnitzer moved to New York in the 1960s, where he focused on his art, essays and teaching work. He is currently professor emeritus at the State University of New York. Camnitzer regards himself as a Latin American artist exiled in the contemporary art capital, and is unquestionably a key figure in the development of twentieth-century Conceptualism.
Hospice of Failed Utopias, the title of Camnitzer’s retrospective at the Reina Sofía, features 100 of his works produced since the 1960s.
Camnitzer’s newest piece, “About War” (2016–2018), considers the influence of military strategy in contemporary mappings of the world. “About War” juxtaposes quotes from Carl von Clausewitz’s military strategy treaty On War with Google maps locations of US military bases in Latin America. Zaya cites from Camnitzer’s emails: “We are now returning to the most reactionary kind of nationalist fragmentation, […] all of this within the context of a kind of neo-feudalism, where the weapon industry is provoking new military clashes.”
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.
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
Something interesting in going on in Canada’s parks in 02018:
Mohawk curator and scholar Lee-Ann Martin has participated in all of these modes of support in the past. But this summer, she is taking a very different approach—namely, putting the art of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards from coast to coast to coast.
Coast to coast to coast… 01 June 2018 – 01 August 2018… Interactive map and full website launch on 01 May 2018
How do you make the work of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women artists in Canada more visible? Some people write research papers. Some people build collections. Some people advocate for funding. Mohawk curator and scholar Lee-Ann Martin has participated in all of these modes of support in the past. But this summer, she is taking a very different approach—namely, putting the art of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards from coast to coast to coast.
“Having Indigenous women’s art writ large in public…along the country’s roadways and in urban centres” is vital, says Martin. “I really see the project as synonymous with Indigenous women’s work as defenders of the land,” she notes, with “the other, more practical intent [being] for people to realize the breadth, depth and diversity of Indigenous women’s art and how important it is today.”
A Complete List of the 50 Artists in “Resilience” : KC Adams, Kenojuak Ashevak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Rebecca Gloria-Jean Baird, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Christi Belcourt, Rebecca Belmore, Jaime Black, Lori Blondeau, Heather Campbell, Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Lianne Marie, Leda Charlie, Hannah Claus, Dana Claxton, Ruth Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Patricia Deadman, Bonnie Devine, Rosalie Favell, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Lita Fontaine, Melissa General, Tanya Harnett, Maria Hupfield, Ursula Johnson, Bev Koski, Nadya Kwandibens, Mary Longman, Amy Malbeuf, Teresa Marshall, Meryl McMaster, Caroline Monnet, Lisa Myers, Nadia Myre, Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter, Marianne Nicolson, Shelley Niro, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Nigit’stil Norbert, Daphne Odjig, Jane Ash Poitras, Annie Pootoogook, Sherry Farrell Racette, Sonia Robertson, Pitaloosie Saila, Jessie Short, Skawennati, Jackie Traverse, Jennie Williams, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, Gid7ahl-Gudsllaay Lalaxaaygans
Writing in all its forms is a scary act; it makes us vulnerable and exposes our softest parts to a world not known for its gentleness. But there’s magnificent power in that vulnerability, and it’s deserving of acknowledgment. And I’m filled with such deep joy each time another powerful voice joins the Indigenous literary world. I hope you’ll think of these words as an honoring and a hope for the important work you’re about to undertake.
In both Canada and the US the mainstream literary scene tends to hold up one or two Indigenous writers at a time, while leaving the rest to fend for themselves. It’s important to help one another, to uphold one another’s work, to celebrate successes and grieve losses, to engage in this beautiful struggle together.
I’m sure you have had enough of the political news (no joke) so I humbly attempt to bring you something new and different like the stunning billboards above. Of course there is lots going on, including more and more conspiracy theorists online, end days scares, A.I. has won (crapola), and what is up with all the mermaid stuff (dear god no no no). OK, some days I don’t even want to sit at a computer.
I do follow many many many blogs but I do want you to read Asshole Watching Movies and their latest coverage of SXSW: Isle of Dogs.
And just as the fighting was privatised, so too was the propaganda. In 2016, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the Pentagon had paid around half a billion dollars to the British PR firm Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war. Bell Pottinger, famous for shaping Thatcher’s image, included among its clients Asma Al Assad, wife of the Syrian president. Part of their work was making fake Al Qaeda propaganda films. (The firm was forced to close last year because they made the mistake of deploying their tactics against white people). (No Joke!)
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common.
The Clock and Library Projects
Below is an essay by a founding board member Stewart Brand on the need for, and the mechanism by which, The Long Now Foundation is attempting to encourage long-term thinking:
Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed – some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries. Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth.
It began with an observation and idea by visionary computer scientist W. Daniel Hillis : “When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.”
Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think.
Hillis, who developed the “massive parallel” architecture of the current generation of supercomputers, devised the mechanical design of the Clock and is now building the monument scale version of the Clock in the Sierra Diablo range of West Texas near the town of Van Horn. The first Clock prototype is currently on display at the London Science Museum and others are at the headquarters of Long Now in San Francisco. The Clock’s works consist of a specially designed gear system that has precision equal to one day in 20,000 years, and it self-corrects by “phase-locking” to the noon Sun.
Long Now added a “Library” dimension with the realization of the need for content to go along with the long-term context provided by the Clock – a library of the deep future, for the deep future. In a sense every library is part of the 10,000-year Library, so Long Now is developing tools (such as the Rosetta Disk, The Long Viewer and the Long Server ) that may provide inspiration and utility to the whole community of librarians and archivists. The Long Bets Project – whose purpose is improving the quality of long-term thinking by making predictions accountable – is also Library-related. The point is to explore whatever may be helpful for thinking, understanding, and acting responsibly over long periods of time. – Stewart Brand
Another generative work called Bloom, created with Peter Chilvers, is available as an app.
Part instrument, part composition and part artwork, Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen. A generative music player takes over when Bloom is left idle, creating an infinite selection of compositions and their accompanying visualisations. — Generativemusic.com
Out of Eno’s involvement with the establishment of The Long Now Foundation emerged in his essay “The Big Here and Long Now”, which describes his experiences with small-scale perspectives and the need for larger ones, as well as the artist’s role in social change.
This imaginative process can be seeded and nurtured by artists and designers, for, since the beginning of the 20th century, artists have been moving away from an idea of art as something finished, perfect, definitive and unchanging towards a view of artworks as processes or the seeds for processes — things that exist and change in time, things that are never finished. Sometimes this is quite explicit — as in the late Walter de Maria’s “Lightning Field,” (above) a huge grid of metal poles designed to attract lightning. Many musical compositions don’t have one form, but change unrepeatingly over time — many of my own pieces and Jem Finer’s Artangel installation “LongPlayer” are like this. Artworks in general are increasingly regarded as seeds — seeds for processes that need a viewer’s (or a whole culture’s) active mind in which to develop. Increasingly working with time, culture-makers see themselves as people who start things, not finish them.
And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life. We become our new selves first in simulacrum, through style and fashion and art, our deliberate immersions in virtual worlds. Through them we sense what it would be like to be another kind of person with other kinds of values. We rehearse new feelings and sensitivities. We imagine other ways of thinking about our world and its future. keep reading
But is (tRUMP) the most dangerous president ever? Is he really so outside the norm of the policies of his predecessors? The short answer, when it comes to substance and policy, is: not yet. Harry Truman dropped not one, but two nuclear bombs. Multiple presidents continued the war on Vietnam, killing tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers and more than a million Vietnamese. Have we forgotten the secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos, the CIA Phoenix Program, and the widespread use of Agent Orange? The dirty wars in Central America? The global assassination operations?
“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
A dark-skinned black girl walking into an empty horror museum in the middle of the desert? What could possibly go wrong?
Much like Nish and Clay, “Black Museum” also puts us face to face with past realities like the gynecological experimentation of enslaved Black women, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in the 1930s, and the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 1970s and beyond. It’s horror histories like these that make this episode so daunting.
One can’t help but compare it to our current desensitized culture where Black deaths are widely spread across the internet like a Worldstar fight. Black people dying at the hands of injustice has become so commonplace that our world feels like simulated, too. Troy Anthony Davis. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Mike Brown. Trayvon Martin. The list is endless.
But whether we’re romanticized for our sexual prowess, idolized for our artistic “eye”, or straight up demonized and locked away, make no mistake—”Black Museum” is an episode about mental incarceration.
In this popular episode, we’re presented with a symbolic reckoning against a system that remains unscathed.
Some were so shaken they couldn’t finish the episode. Alternatively, some made the fundamental errors of either confusing depiction with validation, or insisting that stories about the privations inflicted on black people only belong to black people and therefore dismissed the story as racist.
I hope you are all enjoying the winter … (I’m FREEZING HERE) … and do avoid politics as much as you can. (yeah, sure… kidding)
My research project on the reformers in Indian Country (and Dr. TA Bland) must take more of my time so please excuse my absence from blogging. Still I will have some history to curate and share of course…(see my note below)
Here’s a sample of what I am working on:
Probably the best known American Indian reformer was Charles Eastman, a Santee Sioux. After being sent to a Christian boarding school like most of the reformers, Eastman “blazed a path of distinction” through an Ivy League college and then through medical school. He was an agency physician at Pine Ridge, S.D., had a private medical practice in Minnesota and co-founded the Society of American Indians, which published the Quarterly Journal, the main vehicle for American Indian commentary. Eastman also wrote nine books, including a popular and influential autobiography. “His books brought traditional Native American culture before a broad non-Indian audience and played a crucial role in cultivating a sympathetic audience for Native concerns,” Hoxie wrote in the book, “Talking Back to Civilization: Indian Voices From the Progressive Era.” In addition to criticizing the actions and policies of the Indian Office and other federal programs, Eastman and his peers proposed many alternatives for bringing Indians to “civilization.”
Charles Alexander Eastman was a Santee Dakota physician educated at Boston University, writer, national lecturer, and reformer. In the early 20th century, he was “one of the most prolific authors and speakers on Sioux ethnohistory and American Indian affairs.”
Charles Eastman and his wife separated in August 1921, possibly because of opposing views regarding the best future for American Indians. Elaine Goodale Eastman stressed total assimilation of Native Americans into white society, while Eastman favored a type of cultural pluralism in which Indians would interact with white society while retaining their Indian identity, beliefs and customs. (this is only one theory on why they separated…)
During 49 of the 72 years between 1789 – 1861 the Presidents were Southerners. All of them were slave holders. Two thirds of the Speakers of the House and President pro tem of the Senate were Southerners. At all times prior to 1861 the majority of the Supreme Court were of Southern origin. Six of the eight Supreme Court Justices appointed by the Tennessean Andrew Jackson (The Indian Killer) and his hand-picked successor were Southerners, including Justice Roger Taney, author of the notorious Dred Scott decision.
Review of Adam I. P. Smith, The Stormy Present: Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846-1865 (Chapel Hill, 2017)
By any reasonable standard, the violent overthrow of the largest, wealthiest slave society on earth ought to qualify as a revolution. Four million slaves were liberated during the American Civil War and with that the labor system of the South was radically transformed. Abolition was immediate and uncompensated. The “Slave Power” was overthrown, ending decades in which the South held disproportionate sway over the federal government. The Constitution was fundamentally restructured by three amendments that abolished slavery, redefined citizenship, banned racial discrimination in voting, and forever altered the relationship between the federal government and the states. The revolution secured the triumph of wage labor, paving the way for the Industrial Revolution of the late nineteenth century and with it a Gilded Age of capitalist plutocracy.
How did this happen? Ask a random group of American historians what caused the Civil War and they’re likely to reply in unison, “slavery.” Push them to elaborate and they’ll probably cite the southern secessionists who were as clear as could be that they were leaving the Union to protect slavery. But protect it from what? Was the North actually threatening slavery? Ask those questions and the same historians are likely to break out into rival and occasionally angry camps. On one side are those who insist that when the war began, northerners had no meaningful antislavery convictions to speak of. Emancipation was forced on an unwilling North and a reluctant Abraham Lincoln, either by the slaves themselves or by the exigencies of war. A few years back one historian of the secession crisis actually claimed that the slaves were freed “inadvertently.”
On the other side are those who see the rise of antislavery politics, culminating in the triumph of the Republican Party, as a major cause of the Civil War. Different historians stress different aspects of this process, but there is widespread agreement that antislavery politics not only split the nation, it also divided the North. Republicans ended up fighting a two-front war — against the South, obviously, but also against northern Democrats. This conflict within the North was epitomized in the famous series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and his Democratic rival Stephen Douglas. continue…
Filmmaker Nancy Buirski: Recy Taylor's story is "a very pivotal link in a chain that goes right through the civil rights movement, right up through black power" #DNlivepic.twitter.com/xn5qnT4AqN
.@Yale historian Crystal Feimster on the rape of Recy Taylor: There is "a long tradition of black women speaking to sexual assault and sexual violence even when justice isn't an option" pic.twitter.com/4F6JywwNIO
I want to share an Op-ED (opinion editorial) I wrote WAY back in 2001. Yup, that sure was a long time ago. I was an editor of a tribal newspaper in Connecticut…But the amazing thing is: THIS is still relevant.
Maybe more so in 2017… take a read…
Rebuilding our families
In October (2001), Dr. Mary Pipher, a noted psychologist and nationally renowned author, spoke to a large audience at the Garde Arts Center in New London about the importance of rebuilding our families. Her presentation was timely, considering the events of 9-11 and its effects on citizens of this country.
Pipher related that Americans are the hardest working people in the world and consequently, some 45 million adults are on some kind of drug for nerves. America’s stressed-out adult population is adversely affecting our families. Less than one third of families have regular meals together. Parents are overwhelmed. Children develop behavior problems. We are not happy people.
“We must be the change we wish to see in this world,” Pipher said. “We must talk about values and teach our children to value the right things.”
According to this expert, we are missing social skills. We interrupt, act rude and use inappropriate behavior. Television teaches us to buy things. There are some 3,000 ads a day, which is having a cumulative effect on all of us. How many computers and televisions do we need? Do houses really need to be castle-size? We are isolated in big houses. We are becoming dissatisfied and narcissistic, self-obsessed.
In this ever-evolving world, technology is determining how we interact in society. And the way it’s going now, we’re not getting emotionally stronger but more isolated, dejected.
However, Pipher offered some solid solutions to our general unhappiness. Reacquaint your children to large family celebrations. Children need their relatives, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Little ones learn to negotiate and navigate best with family members around the house regularly.
Pipher says the antidote to despair is being helpful. Take an interest in other people’s children. Parent other people’s children, not just your own. Teach children to find pleasure in being helpful. Spend time outdoors. Connect children to useful work. Redefine the meaning of wealth. Teach children to be responsible.
Pipher believes in teaching family history. Tell stories about the ancestors and where they came from. Have a family ritual every night that might include reading poetry, family memories or stories of hope and heroic behavior. If adults behave well in difficult times, children will, too.
Make good conscious choices in two areas: protect from what is harmful and connect to what is beautiful.
We also need to protect our children from the media, from too much television, too much news and even adult conversation. Their developing minds cannot rationalize or discern between daddy’s or mommy’s upcoming business trip and the plane crash on television. Protect the children from violence on television. Teach your children by your own behavior; stress calmness and safety.
Pipher said create quiet time, family time. These tools will rebuild our family in times like these.
Happy holidays everyone. [Trace A. DeMeyer, Editor of the Pequot Times (2001)]
Left, book cover: The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families
In The Shelter of Each Other, Mary Pipher does for the American family what she did for adolescent girls and their parents in her bestselling book Reviving Ophelia: she opens our eyes wide to the desperate realities we are facing and shows us a way out. Drawing on the fascinating stories of families rich and poor, angry and despairing, religious and skeptical, and probing deep into her own family memories and experiences, Pipher clears a path to the strength and energy at the core of family life. Wise, compassionate, and impassioned, The Shelter of Each Other challenges each of us to face the truth about ourselves and to find the courage to protect, nurture, and revivify the families we cherish.
The writer Louise Erdrich’s storytelling addiction “really began when my other addictions failed,” she tells David Remnick. Since the early nineteen-eighties, her work has primarily chronicled Native American life, and, in that regard, Erdrich’s latest book is no different: “Future Home of the Living God” follows the lives of a group of Ojibwe Indians living in rural Minnesota. But, where her previous novels have remained largely grounded in realism, this book is a work of speculative fiction, with a touch of science fiction. It imagines a kind of reverse-evolution slowly taking hold of the globe, and bringing with it a political catastrophe of dystopian dimensions. Erdrich says that she was inspired by Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and by P. D. James’s “Children of Men”—works that put literature in the service of imagining the worst.
WATCH Indigenous Protectors
One of the most effective ways to save forests is by empowering the people who have been protecting them for generations. We have to support the land rights of indigenous peoples. #WeCanSolveThis
By LT, your curator (top photo, me about age 19) (Yes, that is a Vega, my first car)
Hollywood-weird again? Not exactly. Across the world now, people are talking about #MeToo. Not in whispers anymore. I cannot begin to tell you how many women have shared a story with me, including my adoptive mom Edie. She was harassed in her workplace so many times, I lost count and never knew what to say. I was a young kid. I had no words of advice. Men were hitting on her. Not all were drunk. One guy pushed her up against a desk on the night shift. When I was in college, she was stalked by someone who followed her home in his car. Edie drove to the neighbor’s house instead. She told me she reported it to police.
Things were bad at home for me, and it had been building for a very long time. I was molested by my adoptive father and when Edie eventually found out, everything shifted and I felt blamed. Nothing happened to Sev, my adoptive father. But he left me alone. I didn’t call the police, I didn’t call the priest. I knew no one would listen. I moved into the university dorm when I was 17, maybe 20 minutes from their house. I feel like my life started when I left and it would never happen to me again.
I was wrong.
When I was 20, I took a job at a clothing store in a Duluth, Minnesota mall. Graduating from university in February and not June, I needed money and took a retail job – and since the women’s department manager was leaving, I got her job. I’d never experienced workplace sexual harassment. (I’d already experienced sexual abuse and harassment in other ways. One college professor (much older than me) took photos of me at his house for my acting portfolio and when he tried to kiss me and groped me, I ran out. His wife was upstairs. That made me afraid too. ) When it happened to me at work or school, I had no one to tell. (No I was not close to my a-mom, and I didn’t share bad news. I had a boyfriend at the time and he withheld all his infidelities so I could not trust him.) There was no official to call and report this general manager… he was twice my age, married with two kids and yet he verbally harassed me about having sex with him; it got to the point I had to leave. I could not work in a state of constant terror. This was the same guy who would not give me the night off to attend my college graduation ceremony. (Yup, I did graduate but it still doesn’t feel like I did.)
We ALL have stories. I have way too many to share.
Who did you tell?
READ THIS: Perpetrators have started apologizing, and Laurie Penny thinks about un/forgiveness and how to cope with the consequences of assault. Men, get ready to be uncomfortable for a while. While forgiveness may come one day, it won’t be soon. We have built entire lives, families, and communities around the absence of this conversation.
This is what happens when women actively place their own needs first. The whole damn world freaks out. I don’t blame you for freaking out right now. I’m freaking out. I didn’t expect this to happen so fast. We didn’t want to have to make an example of anyone. We tried to ask nicely for our humanity and dignity. We tried to put it gently. Nobody gave a shit. READ MORE at The Unforgiving Minute
“This is not the first time I have written about sexual harassment, and it probably won’t be the last. In 1994, I published an account of my experience as a caged Amerindian, a performance I created with Guillermo Gómez-Peña. At the end of my cataloguing of the audience’s unexpected reactions to us, I detailed an experience that I had had at the age of 22. That encounter made me understand viscerally just how invested Europeans and Americans were in the racist fantasies that I had explored in the performance. Though that essay has been republished dozens of times and I receive requests for interviews about the performance to this day, no one ever asked me about the perpetrator. I hadn’t mentioned his name because he was still alive at the time and I worried that he might retaliate. He’s dead now.” –Coco Fusco
The abuse of female Marines, fast food workers and women without safety nets is pervasive. And while those stories don’t garner national headlines, Kansas-based journalist Sarah Smarsh says the news about Hollywood casting couches does have people in her hometown reflecting on problems in their own backyard. (On The Media)
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 BeZINE for November is published – In the four-year history of “The BeZine,” this is the most significant edition. All of our concerns – peace, environmental sustainability, human rights, freedom of expression – depend on a more equal distribution of wealth, on making sure no one goes hungry and on breaking-down barriers to employment, healthcare, education and racial and gender equity. – LINK – https://wp.me/p1gLT0-6×3 …
I would ask contributors to please post the link to the entire edition of the Zine as well as to your own work. This Zine is about more than literarture and art. It’s about a social justice mission. …
Unpleasant designs take many shapes, but they share a common goal of exerting some kind of social control in public or in publicly-accessible private spaces. They are intended to target, frustrate and deter people, particularly those who fall within unwanted demographics. READ
Meanwhile, some guerrilla efforts have been made to fight back against unpleasant designs. Artist Sarah Ross, for instance, created a set of “archisuits” designed to work in and around specific deterrents. In one such suit, pads with gaps let the wearer sleep on segmented benches.
Whether you think a certain form of design is exclusionary but serves a greater good, or believe it is just hostile and offensive, it is important to be aware of the decisions that are being made for you. Designs that are unpleasant to some are put into place to make things more pleasant for others, and that latter category might just include you.
With the rise of destructive hurricanes and fires, we’ll be seeing more and more homeless people, through no fault of their own. And the scourge of homelessness is beginning to gain attention across the USA after seeing how Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico’s housing.
Homeless People have been noticing hostility for a long time, and until we start seeing what is really happening, we cannot change it… L/T
The main thing to take into account for these designers is how people move — or perhaps, more accurately, stampede — in response to threats. Researchers draw from studies of how people move, observations of real-life tragedies, and computer modeling in order to determine how people behave in crowds: how they get stuck, trampled, or endanger others in their attempts to escape.
Now if you are really wealthy, you can build whatever you like. Like Diane Keaton’s home in LA, CA.
The House that Pinterest Built defines what home and house mean to the celebrated movie star, who is known for her love affair with houses and design. Filled with ideas that reveal a personal yet engaging aesthetic, this volume includes compelling photos from Keaton’s past homes and those she admires, as well as a multitude of details from every corner of those spaces and objects that excite and inspire the house designer and dreamer—dramatic staircases and magical light fixtures, film stills and book covers, pottery and art—drawn from the visual treasure trove known as Pinterest and Keaton’s private collection, as she creates and designs her newest house.
And for $65, you can own her book, which I find INSANE. (She doesn’t have any reviews on Amazon which probably means no one has bought it yet.)
“In “The House That Pinterest Built” (Rizzoli, $65, 272 pp.) Diane Keaton provides a privileged peek into her 8,000-square-foot industrial-chic dream home. It’s a sprawling brick structure in west Los Angeles’s Sullivan Canyon boasting the kind of rough-hewed, reclaimed features that proliferate on Pinterest, and Ms. Keaton’s book takes cues from her preferred inspiration engine. Photos of pools, staircases, ladders and chairs that the actress and author pulled from the site and from her own archives ultimately provided blueprints for her home, offering a unique, crowdsourced twist to the closed-door world of celebrity living. ‘Once upon a time, scrap bookers, collage artists, image-driven addicts and appropriators like me were lonely hunters,’ Ms. Keaton wrote in the book’s introduction. ‘Now dare I say billions of people discover, seize and enlarge their reference pool with the variety of beauty allocated from others.’ ”
—The New York Times
We could easily fit 6 small families into 8,000 square feet! What is wrong with this picture?
And for $62 you can own this book:
I have no gripe on Ms. Keaton or her books. I don’t put much social value on Hollywood anyway. But for me, I have been on the most poverty-stricken reservations in the USA, and to see how we mistreat Indigenous people, like in Puerto Rico and Pine Ridge, SD, it’s an atrocity in full color. There is no excuse for homelessness and poverty and neglect in 2017. There really is no excuse. L/T
***WHAT?? Slavery in 2017 –> Sky TV’s Adele Robinson followed a non-profit group as they executed a predawn rescue of a Polish family that had been enslaved by human traffickers in the Midlands, UK.
When 20,000 American Nazis Descended Upon New York City Oct 10, 2017 | Video by Marshall Curry
In 1939, the German American Bund organized a rally of 20,000 Nazi supporters at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When Academy Award-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry stumbled upon footage of the event in historical archives, he was flabbergasted. Together with Field of Vision, he decided to present the footage as a cautionary tale to Americans. The short film, A Night at the Garden, premieres on The Atlantic today (10-10).
“The first thing that struck me was that an event like this could happen in the heart of New York City,” Curry told The Atlantic. “Watching it felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone where history has taken a different path. But it wasn’t science fiction – it was real, historical footage. It all felt eerily familiar, given today’s political situation.”
Rather than edit the footage into a standard historical documentary with narration, Curry decided to “keep it pure, cinematic, and unmediated, as if you are there, watching, and wrestling with what you are seeing. I wanted it to be more provocative than didactic – a small history-grenade tossed into the discussion we are having about White Supremacy right now.”
“The footage is so powerful,” continued Curry, “it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. This story was likely nudged out of the canon, in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget.” Author: Emily Buder SOURCE
WTH? Say what? –> Per Eric Levitz at NYMag, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says that the Trump Administration will not remove Confederate monuments from federal lands out of consideration for the feelings of ‘native Indians.’”
[More of the history we are not supposed to know, right?… It is really a big problem – all this bad history makes people confused… L/T]