“Would You Be Interested in Getting (Atty Gen) William Wirt’s Head Back?” | News In The News | Fantasyland and more

Rebecca Roberts describes the theft of Attorney General William Wirt’s skull from his crypt in the Congressional Cemetery.

But no one ever accused Robert White of being a thief. It’s safer to bet that White bought Wirt’s skull for his collection. Perhaps surprisingly, it is entirely legal to sell and possess human bones in the United States. There are some exceptions; the bones of Native Americans are federally regulated, for instance, and certain municipalities (like New Orleans) and states (New York, Georgia, and Tennessee) have local restrictions. But by and large, when human skulls are for sale, it’s legal to buy them. Most buyers seek skulls for educational purposes, so price is driven more by quality than the identity of the skull. When Robert White was buying, a skull could be had for $100-$600. Since then, prices have tripled, because the two biggest sources of human bones, India and China, have both banned exports. If White discovered the existence of Wirt’s skull through his connections in the ‘head hunting’ world, he could have simply purchased it legally, and without breaking the bank.

READ: “Would You Be Interested in Getting (Attorney General) William Wirt’s Head Back?” Rebecca Roberts Brings Us a Tale From the Congressional Cemetery | In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress … By the way: William Wirt represented the Cherokee Nation in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, and Samuel Worcester in Worcester v. Georgia.

***NEW BOOK  Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America MORE

***White supremacy is in the DNA of this nation and has left its traces large and small across the commemorative landscape, shaping US history and identity.  READ

***As a society and a polity, the US has never been cured, never been treated, and it has never resolved its murderous racist history.  READ: The Invention of the White People | USA | Al Jazeera

5 ***** Must-read –> The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates has an eloquent essay on Donald Trump’s core ideology: “White supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power.” (audio too)

*****

By LT

History repeats like a cycle, a chugging churning wheel. And we can’t seem to grasp or adequately process this. Why? Maybe we are too busy surviving, working our butts off at minimum wages, maybe too tired to notice how this “repeat cycle” is centuries in the making.  (Picking up a history book? I don’t think many people would know where to start, what century or what account or story to trust.) If we know the truth, all of it, then we can see the cycle…

I woke up with this thought: When did we become elephants with chains around our feet? When did we get tricked into not knowing our own past, and America’s earliest days, the plant-the-flag mentality, and our own ancestors in its making? See the book description for Fantasyland below. (DNA is still news and Ancestry(dot) com is making millions for the Mormons – with slick TV ads and blood quantum charts. WOW! People are apparently driven by concern over blood and ancestry? Really?)

Photo (left):  Seated L-R Dr. Thomas Augustus Bland (1830-1908) and Oglala Chief Red Cloud (1822-1909) Standing:  Dr. Mary Cornelia Davis “Cora Bland” (1834-1919), interpreter Randall.  Courtesy of Daniel G.

My cousin Charlie and I started writing a research paper on the editors of Council Fire, a radical publication read by Native people [and our cousin and its editor Dr. Thomas Augustus Bland] – well this paper has grown to almost 200 pages (with footnotes). History is like that. It grows and grows once you start digging and chasing ghosts. (And you send emails to helpful historians who knew more than we did.) I will let you know when we get this novella-book done and how to read it. I never expected to feel so desperately sick in this process, doing research. It’s been a few years of work (but not every day.) I admit it was and is hard to sleep when some chapters are so brutal, violent, graphic and ultimately tragic (all researched and true accounts). I told Charles we might want to put a warning label in the introduction.

Re-reading DIPLOMATS IN BUCKSKINS (author Herman J. Viola) and OUR HEARTS FELL TO THE GROUND: Plains Indians views of How The West was Lost (primary documents collected by Colin G. Calloway), I found the best word to describe many tribal leaders of the last century: resilient.  (My own heart falls to the ground knowing what happened in North America.) That one word “resilient” defines the First Nations in North America in both mentioned books and in our research. Not all history is bad, of course but there are many heroes we’ve never heard of, as they are rarely mentioned in any history textbook or classroom… So if the material in these remarkable books and in our own research makes a tiny dent in the wide world of history, I’d celebrate and invite you all to a big party.

Here is a brief look at our research:

As previously mentioned… this was made possible in the dismal final years of 1888-1890, by the liaison between Thomas and Cora Bland with Catherine Weldon who acted as an intermediary with Sitting Bull. Through Weldon, Bland had flyers in the Sioux language distributed urging total resistance and Thomas Bland asked Red Cloud to not even meet with the (BIA) commissioners. Weldon provided maps and documents that explained the implications of these acts for the Sioux and is probably the reason Sitting Bull held out until he was killed in December 1890. These documents undoubtedly made their way to Red Cloud as well, though by then his health was failing, he was losing his hold on the Oglala and was more inclined to conciliation with the U.S. authorities.

(Michael Greyeyes and Jessica Chastain will play Sitting Bull and Catherine Weldon in Woman Walks Ahead, a movie forthcoming in 2017.) (I did read Eileen Pollack’s fantastic book Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull (2002) which gave us a very good look at Thomas Bland’s activism on behalf of Native people.

*****

The Media Is the Villain – for Creating a World Dumb Enough for Trump

Matt Taibbi writes: “We learned long ago in this (media) business that dumber and more alarmist always beats complex and nuanced. Big headlines, cartoonish morality, scary criminals at home and foreign menaces abroad, they all sell. We decimated attention spans, rewarded hot-takers over thinkers, and created in audiences powerful addictions to conflict, vitriol, fear, self-righteousness, and race and gender resentment….  There isn’t a news executive alive low enough to deny that we use xenophobia and racism to sell ads.” Read: The greatest reality TV show on Earth

Fantasyland book description:…What’s happening in America today is not uncharted territory, but the flowering of the DNA that has defined our country from its inception. From an acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author and razor-sharp cultural critic, comes a new paradigm for understanding our post-truth world. There’s a tendency at this moment – this alternative-facts moment – to see our situation as an aberrant new American phenomena. In fact, it is the logical progression of our national character. America was created by wishful thinkers and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers. Fantasy is in our bones. From Manifest Destiny to witch hunts to P.T. Barnum to Joseph Smith and the Scopes Monkey Trial, from Walt Disney to Billy Graham, from the birther movement to, yes, Donald Trump, we have proven, again and again, to be uniquely susceptible to magical thinking, delusion, illusion, conspiracy, and bullshit. In other words: what do you get when you mix epic individualism with extreme religion, show business, and everything else; run it through the Great Awakening and the Great Delirium, the anything-goes Sixties and the internet age; and let it ferment for a few centuries? You get Fantasyland, a place where reality and fantasy are dangerously blurred and mingled.

“This is an important book – the indispensable book – for understanding America in the age of Trump. It’s an eye-opening history filled with brilliant insights, a saga of how we were always susceptible to fantasy, from the Puritan fanatics to the talk-radio and Internet wackos who mix show business, hucksterism, and conspiracy theories.” – Walter Isaacson

***…afterlives of Soviet monuments

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Photographing the hidden afterlives of Soviet monuments.  Of course, it wasn’t the first time Soviet monuments had been brought low, as statues had been destroyed as early as 1990.  READ: The Hunt for Ukraine’s Toppled Lenin Statues – Atlas Obscura

*** I’m all for anything that helps us get along, and this seems like an exercise that might actually make a real difference and it’s HAUNTING me (so click) Believe by The Oatmeal

 ***

(click)Memo to the Publisher: We Need a “Vehicle of Indian Intelligence”

Excerpt:

One more thing: About that why.

This is a moment in history where the free flow of information is critical. Indian Country needs a vehicle of Indian intelligence. As Elias Boudinot wrote in 1832 (as he was losing his editorship of The Cherokee Phoenix) “I do conscientiously believe it to be the duty of every citizen to reflect upon the dangers with which we are surrounded; to view the darkness which seems to lie before our people— our prospects, and the evils with which we are threatened; to talk over all these matters, and, if possible, come to some definite and satisfactory conclusion.”

That is why.

[Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) is an independent journalist and a friend.]

Coverage of Transfer of Veronica to Adoptive Couple

Robin, Veronica and Dusten Brown
Robin, Veronica and Dusten Brown

Yesterday # BABY VERONICA was handed over to the adoptive couple in Oklahoma.

Read more here: http://www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com

NEWS: Coverage of Transfer of Veronica to Adoptive Couple

Tulsa World here.

SCOTUSblog here.

Indian Country Today here.

Update in Baby Veronica Case: S. Carolina SCT Denies Reconsideration

cropped-aialc.jpg

TURTLE TALK

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher

South Carolina Supreme Court Denies Rights to Baby Veronica; National Native Organizations to Advance Civil Rights Lawsuit
Washington, DC – The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled today to deny the appeal filed by Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation of the Court’s July 17 order to expedite the transfer of custody of Veronica Brown to the South Carolina-based adoptive couple. One year ago, the South Carolina Supreme Court found that denying the adoption and awarding custody to Dusten Brown was in Veronica’s best interests. Today, that same Court summarily reversed that decision based on a two-year-old record and without providing a hearing for Veronica. Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians issued the following statement in response to today’s ruling:
“The South Carolina Supreme Court has utterly failed to evaluate Veronica’s current best interests in this case and confirmed our worst fears – when it comes to Veronica Brown, standard adoption procedures do not apply. Apparently, the Court believes that there is no need to require the family court to hold a formal and thoughtful hearing to determine what is in Veronica Brown’s best interest. Like thousands of Native American children before her, Veronica now faces the prospect of being removed from her Cherokee family, without a formal consideration of her needs, her culture and her well-being. This is an alarming failure of the judicial system, and it represents a grave threat to all children in adoption proceedings, but most notably Native American children, who deserve all the legal protections, afforded any child in this nation.”
“The National Congress of American Indians refuses to stand by as the rights of this child are violated.  Together with the Native American Rights Fund and the National Indian Child Welfare Association we are preparing to file litigation in order to protect Veronica’s civil rights.  On behalf of all Native American children, we will pursue every legal option available to us to ensure that standard adoption procedures are upheld in this case.”
“Let me add that I believe the South Carolina Supreme Court has shown willful disregard for the facts when it claims Dusten Brown has not been involved in the life of his daughter. On the contrary, Dusten Brown has gone to extensive lengths to maintain his family and to care for Veronica. The Court’s willingness to ignore these facts and rush a resolution in this matter is deeply troubling. “
Read more background at my blog: www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com

The Cherokee Word for Water

The Cherokee Word for Water is a feature length motion picture that tells the story of the work in the Bell Community that lead Wilma Mankiller to become the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

This film is dedicated to the memory of Wilma Mankiller, Johnson Soap, the Bell Community and the contributions and potential of Indian people everywhere.

I was blessed to meet Wilma more than once…I am grateful for this woman and her leadership…Trace

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.