Last Real Indians | History Snobs ask Why Now? #SlaveryPublicHistory

By LT (wearing my heavy history hat)

My cousin Charlie is saying he’s in the fourth stage of grief – “If we can laugh it means we are in the Kubler-Ross 4th stage.” I do think we need to laugh and cry.

Last weekend I watched a live feed history symposium at Brown University in Rhode Island. First, I was overwhelmed and overcome with information. I took copious notes. I was very pleased how Native American Slavery was talked about, too.  I was happy to see people of color from around the world giving presentations on their own history truths. (I even posted a few photos on Instagram since this was historic!) Then I got so angry. Several things hit me like bricks!

Last Real Indians published my op-ed on Tuesday.

Here it is:

History Snobs ask Why Now? #SlaveryPublicHistory

“The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” ― James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985

By Trace Lara Hentz for Last Real Indians

This Snobs headline ought to get me a few gasps and new readers. No, I’m not a history snob. I’m a lover. I can’t get enough of what I call His-Story: where/there, when/then, what/that.

I watched (with baited breath) the live feed of the history symposium at Brown University.  Official title: SLAVERY AND GLOBAL PUBLIC HISTORY: New Challenges. It’s about: Universities across the United States and the world have been forced to confront connections to slavery throughout their histories. From Brown to Yale, Oxford and in South Africa, students, faculty, and administrations wrestle with how to expose, conceal, honor, or memorialize the legacies of slavery. LINK:

Continue reading Last Real Indians | History Snobs ask Why Now? #SlaveryPublicHistory

champions for change: Native youth

Early Indian Languages of the USA
Early Indian Languages of the USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five Native American “Champions” Call for Change

Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (IPS)  – It’s Sarah Schilling’s usual manner of greeting when she meets other members of her tribe: “Aanii Sarah Schilling n’diznakaas, which translates to ‘Hello, Sarah is my name’ in English,” she said.

“The language is called Anishnaabemowin, the Odawa native language,” Schilling explained.

She belongs to Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, a Native American tribe. It was in 2009 that she and her peers decided to come up with the tribe’s first youth council.

And it’s no child’s play. Schilling and other members of the council created their own constitution, bylaws and code of conduct. Schilling organises conferences and retreats to address issues that teenagers like her are grappling with, such as drinking and suicide prevention.

“I guess young people from the tribe are confused as to what their role is as Native Americans,” Schilling told IPS.

While she acknowledges that straddling two worlds can be a challenge, she also thinks that the U.S. educational system often depicts Native Americans as “aggressive and bad guys”.

There’s more to Native Americans than beads and feathers, but in an urban setting Native teens have a hard time fitting in, said Schilling, who chose home schooling over public school after sixth grade.

She is one of the “2013 class of Champions for Change”, a new programme run by the Center for Native American Youth, a non-profit organisation in Washington.

Native Americans make up about one and a half percent of the total U.S. population, but 12 percent of the homeless population, said Erin Bailey, the centre’s director.

“Through this programme we wanted to create a narrative about what was really working within the community, and share inspirational stories that are impacting people’s lives,” Bailey said.

The programme honoured five young Native Americans for their services to the community. From healthcare to education, these “champions” range from 14 to 22 years old.

Like Schilling, Cierra Fields is a “champion”. A brave heart, who conquered cancer when she was barely five years old, Fields says she “was actually born with melanoma”.

Fields, who is 14, belongs to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Through her personal story, she encourages people to talk about cancer. She also shares tips on preventing cancer.

For the audience, Fields’ story is a huge wake-up call.

“Some of the young people are shocked when I tell them that I had melanoma,” Fields said. “When I share my story they realise that one could get melanoma even when they are really young.”

Fields is also part of the Cherokee Nation Youth Choir and can speak conversational Cherokee.

While Fields tries to spread awareness about cancer, 19-year-old Vance Home Gun from Arlee, Montana tries to spread awareness about the Salish language, which he says is dying.

Gun belongs to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. Every Sunday for four hours, Gun teaches the Salish language to a motley group of students interested in learning it.

Gun also helps make Salish language curriculum available in public schools.

He believes that language is more than a mere medium of communication but an integral part of culture.

“Salish is spoken by 40 to 50 people. Therefore, it is very important to keep our culture alive through our language,” said Gun, who intends to major in linguistics and anthropology in college.

Some of these “champions” have already charted out their career path in their heads.

For 14-year-old Dahkota Brown from Jackson, California, aspirations extend beyond going to a law school. “I want to be a tribal judge, possibly the first United States Supreme Court judge who is a Native American,” said Brown, who belongs to the Wilton Miwok tribe.

Brown started a study group called Native Education Raising Dedicated Students (NERDS). NERD helps Native American students with their grades in schools. Browns’ aim is to “instill confidence” among students who approach the group for help.

A magazine article on high suicide and dropout rates among Native American youth triggered the idea to come up with a project to help such students, Brown said. “Also, I noticed that Native American students around me weren’t doing well in school,” Brown said.

The reasons could be many, but “Bullying and criticism could kill their self-confidence,” he said.

Brown himself has been a victim of bullying. He was teased as “a girl” for his long hair.

“There is a custom in my family according to which I cannot cut my hair until someone in my family dies. Other students did not understand this when I tried to explain,” he said.

His peers also did not approve of his dress. “I love wearing feathers on my hat and Native American shirts. Therefore I stood out because of my traditional regalia and people would make fun of me,” Brown said.

But that did not stop him from identifying himself as a Native American or emerging as one of the winners in the “champions for change” programme, thus adding another feather in his cap.

But some are quick to point out the United States’ government’s failure to address Indigenous issues.

Joaquin Gallegos from Denver, Colorado doesn’t mince words. The United States has not done justice to internationally recognised treaties it has made with these Indigenous sovereign Nations, he said.

“Since the U.S. has not fulfilled these obligations, negative outcomes are seen in virtually all sectors of these populations including education, economic conditions, and health status,” said Gallegos, who belongs to the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Pueblo of Santa Ana. “This is the legal and political reasoning behind the conditions present in the U.S. indigenous population.”

One of the “champions” awarded for his work, Gallegos is part of a project that aims at improving the oral health status of Indian Tribes in the Southwest United States.

This 22-year-old also wants to work toward providing Native Americans with improved healthcare facilities.

For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska

This documentary reveals the true-life story of an extraordinary Alaskan woman who becomes an unlikely hero in the fight for civil rights.

Program Length: 57  minutes Production Staff: Producer: Jeffry Lloyd Silverman Production Company: Blueberry Productions Format: DVD Website for For the Rights of All Additional Resources: Viewer Guide Public Broadcast Release: November 2009 Price: $29.95In the Alaska Purchase of 1867 the United States took on more than just the land. There were indigenous people living everywhere in Alaska. Like Native Americans in the lower 48, Alaska Natives struggled to keep their basic human rights as well as protect their ancient ties to the land. The Bill of Rights did not apply to them.

Through extensive reenactments and rarely seen historic footage and photographs, ‘For the Rights of All’ reveals these remarkable people and their non-violent struggle for civil rights. This extraordinary story bridges the Civil War to World War II to todayss Native leaders, who find inspiration in the efforts of the generations that preceded them.

Those efforts culminated in the passage of the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, one of the first such laws passed anywhere in America, and ten years before Brown versus Board of Education. Of particular note is a young Tlingit activist, Elizabeth Peratrovich, whose dramatic testimony on behalf of the Act is fully reenacted in this film by Jeffry Lloyd Silverman. Narrated by Peter Coyote.

Child slaves forced to make Christmas ornaments

Child labor, can't we try to stop it?
Child labor, can’t we try to stop it? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enslaved Children Freed After Being Forced to Make Christmas decorations

By | NewsmakersWed, Dec 5, 2012

See Video:

Police and child advocates broke padlocks and busted down doors in a surprise raid of a sweatshop in India, only to find a group of children imprisoned who had been forced to make Christmas decorations.

The children, as young as 8 years old, were kept in rooms approximately six feet by six feet and had been forced to work up to 19-hour days making the decorations, which advocates believe may have been intended to be sold on the cheap in the United States. Human rights group Global March for Children led the raid, but also got help from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who now serves as the United Nations special envoy for global education. The 14 children who were freed are now in the process of being reunited with their families, who are scattered across India. Brown released video to ABC News and Yahoo! News revealing what he says were the illegal conditions in which the children in Delhi were discovered. “There is no parent in the world who would ever want their child to be subjected to conditions that you see in these films of children in dingy basements, without air, without food, without proper care, being forced into child labor for all these hours of the day. I think every parent who sees these films will want this practice brought to an end as quickly as possible.”

Child advocates say American consumers would likely never know the origin of goods made with child labor, which Brown says has become a global epidemic that needs to be solved.

In a push to garner more attention on the issue worldwide, Brown’s office released a new report today, “Child Labour and Educational Disadvantage – Breaking the Link, Building Opportunity,” which says 91 million children in the global workforce are younger than 12 years old.

In the case of the children rescued in Delhi, he says they were both injured and scared.

“Some of them are lacerated because they’re working with glass. And we found these children in this basement. They were not being paid,” he said. “They had been trafficked themselves. And they were making these Christmas decorations that were being sold in our shops and our web sites in the West.” Priyanke Ribhu of Global March says many children in India are often lured away from their parents by gangmasters who befriend their parents in the remote villages where they live. The gangmasters reportedly promise parents their kids will be taken to a better place where they will be provided a real education and many great opportunities they could not receive in their villages. Parents are also often told the children will be able to send money back home to help their families.
Far too often, Ribhu says, the children simply end up locked away behind padlocks only to work 17-,18-, even 19-hour days with no one to help them. Ribhu says holiday decorations similar to those discovered in the recent raid can be found on eBay and in other marketplaces online or in stores. In addition, she says, the items are often sold off into a sophisticated network of suppliers that make it nearly impossible for retailers or consumers to know whether the goods they are purchasing have been made by child labor.

Ribhu warns, however, there are some tell-tale warning signs American consumers can be on the lookout for if they wish to avoid purchasing products made with child labor. First, she says, if the holiday decorations you are purchasing are not labeled with the country they are made in you might want to be concerned. Next, she says if they have an unusually low price and are marked as “hand made” it is another red flag.

Ribhu also warns to be cautious when examining “hand made” items that are also marked as being made in India.

While child labor was largely outlawed in the United States following  the industrial revolution more than 100 years ago, Brown told ABC News  and Yahoo! News that India has yet to ban child labor itself. He says  currently, the country only has a ban on hazardous working conditions,  but he wants to pressure the government to immediately take action to  protect children there.

“I want the pressure on these employers, the gangmasters, the slave  employers. But I also want the pressure on governments so they make sure the police are there telling employers that if they are caught hiring  child laborers, they will be prosecuted,” he said.

Consequently, Brown is pushing the Indian Parliament to immediately pass something called the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill, which  would ban all forms of child labor for children younger than 14 years  old in India. Through his role with the United Nations, Brown also plans to deliver a petition to the Parliament calling for the passage of the  bill.

“One of the things I want to see happen in the next few days, is the  Indian Parliament take the action that is necessary to outlaw all forms  of child labor, but at the moment, thousands of children are being  trafficked, thousands of children are being sold into what is  effectively slavery,” he said.

In addition, Brown is calling for an international summit to address the issue of child labor. The goal of the summit is for world leaders to  develop a roadmap to eradicate child labor everywhere by 2020.  Additionally, he wants to see a $13 billion increase in funding to  address the issue. Last year, the Department of Labor released a report  stating 71 nations currently produce items made with child labor.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced $32.5 million in grants at  the time, intended to combat child labor around the world.”These reports provide an overview of international efforts to protect children from  hazardous work and identify critical gaps in policy and enforcement that leave them vulnerable,” she said in a press release.

By this September, the department added another three nations to the  list of nations said to be using child or forced labor to make goods.  The Department of Labor says more than 215 million children are engaged  in child labor, and cites the International Labour Organization as  saying more than half of those children are also performing hazardous  work.

Some large companies such as Levi Strauss & Co. and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. reportedly have specific policies that monitor suppliers to make sure no child labor is used in their products. Brown says regular members of the public can help too by adding their names to the petition he plans to personally deliver to the Indian Parliament.

“Sign the petition asking the Indian government to take action  immediately … so that another year does not go past with the complacency about child labor,” he said. “(The holidays are) a time when we should  be celebrating, but we’re actually unfortunately exploiting young  children.”

The public can add their voice to the petition by visiting If you have specific information about where  goods made by children are sold you can email  with that or other stories to investigate.