By Lara Trace Hentz (poet-writer) (founder of Blue Hand Books)
I am remiss in mentioning I’m in the new poetry anthology IN THE VEINS (released 2-1-2017) and last year I did mention the poetry book TENDING THE FIRE by Chris Felver that is coming out in 2017. Louise and I are both that book. NICE!
Louise’s bookstore BIRCHBARK BOOKS (top photo) in Minnesota carries some of our Blue Hand Book titles. I am very grateful to her for this. Supporting me as a small press and publisher helps me publish new Native authors.
click logo to visit them
I founded Blue Hand Books in 2011 to give back to my community, right after I did my memoir One Small Sacrifice. Since then we have published 18 books, with four volumes in the Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects book series. (TWO WORLDS was the first anthology.) In the Veins is Volume 4. A portion of the proceeds from this poetry book edited by Patricia Busbee will be sent to the Standing Rock Water Protectors Camps (#NoDAPL).
Here is one of my poems from IN THE VEINS
…When People of the First Light saw ships and strangers disembark
…When the conqueror ran out of the woods firing loaded guns
…When they loaded some of us onto slave boats in shackles
Then a trickle becomes a river then a flood
…When an Indigenous mother loses her child at gun point
…When her child is punished by a nun, kicked in the neck
…When her child dies in residential school, buried in an unmarked grave
Then a trickle becomes a river then a flood
…When a black sedan enters the rez and children run and hide, afraid
…When a Cheyenne adoptee is a small boy, watching westerns on TV, he is told he is Indian
…When a Navajo adoptee is taken at the hospital and disappears, raised by Mormons
Then a trickle becomes a river, then a flood ….. of tears.
The people who chained, who murdered, who hacked, who raped, who hated their way across North America… they are still here, too.
Read an IN THE VEINS excerpt HERE. My Ojibwe scholar friend blogger Dr. Carol A. Hand (who I interviewed on this blog) and my dear friend and Unravelling anthology co-editor MariJo Moore and many many other Native American and First Nations poets (some of them famous or soon-to-be) contributed prose and poems for this beautiful new book. If you love poetry, you will love this… LINK to BUY from BHB.
COMING SOON! Blue Hand Books is publishing a brand new novella by Barbara Robidoux, author of Sweetgrass Burning.
Wow, 2017 and 6 years since I started this blog. I became a journalist in 1996.
In those 20 years, many of us watched journalism change, but not for the better. (Think about the embedded journalists in Iraq during the Bush years. Shock-and-awe to have journalists told and shown what they report? That war cost us billions.) This loss of fair and honest reporting cost us more than money, as citizens, and as voters. We do not get impartial reporting in the US. We’re told so many lies, it’s hard to gauge/guess/judge who is more guilty – the press or the politician. We know politicians lie but it’s totally out-of-control when media is broadcasting them day and night. (That news cycle 24/7 has made us so weary, apathy and exhaustion sets in fast.) In the past year, many major news outlets and TV news were not doing their job as investigators, not even admitting their errors. A democracy demands freedom of the press. The press serves us, its citizens, its voters, its readers. What happened to the press?
We are heading into unchartered waters with this new Trump administration and the truth gets murkier by the hour. It’s obvious Trump watches a lot of TV, since he’s still a reality TV producer. Trump’s becoming Leader-in-Tweet. [Those Twitter people should seriously yank his account.] He has a tweet for everything, it seems.
I had a good cry last night when actress Meryl Streep said, “Take your broken heart and make it into art.” She was quoting her late friend, Carrie Fisher. Streep took on Trump then a tweet storm exploded.
I’d been seriously wondering if now is a good time to give up blogging, but I quickly reconsidered. Now is not the time to stop. NOW is the time to consider and reconsider what we read, write, and how we act/react.
Our energy is not to be wasted on fluff or gimmicks or shtick. If Big Media/Social Media is failing us, then blogs will offer a new freedom, free and uncensored in the next four years. But our quest is to read the BEST blogs and hear the BEST podcasts. (I am following over 250 blogs now and plan to scale way way back. Like you, I want to be informed, educated, enlightened, and of course, amused.)
Big thanks to Hyperallergic for a burgeoning artist movement that is gearing up for the next four years of Trump: Required Reading …good things that happened in 2016, like this Twitter photo on populism in Trumplandia, and more.] Sign up for their emails like I did.
Looking back, we had a standoff of US military EQUIPPED to wage war against unarmed water protectors in North Dakota, and Big Media barely show up?
How will BIG MEDIA ever earn back our trust? (Like when Fox News was nicknamed Bush Propaganda News.) Since when did journalists care so much about their own fame and fortune and clicks? Can’t they see past their paychecks? Does greed poison everything?
We journalists do have a hard job to do, covering politics at a safe distance, building reliable good sources, counting on the integrity of publishers and editors who don’t take bribes or succumb to threats.
Where did their integrity go? Did it do a nosedive when journalism joined up with social media, and became about who gets the most clicks and hits on their websites. Is marketing and selling and ratings priority? Social Media has become a perversion, an invasion, a monitor, sanctioned by tyrants like Trump who can dominate an entire news cycle with a single tweet.
As citizens, we need accountability of the press and the politician. I am sure that Trump Presidency will start a whole new wave of citizen journalism and blogging.
I will be writing here on this blog weekly, and sharing what I find worthy of your time and my own.
Thanks to all of you who blog/create/write so generously and read this blog.
I hope people, including bloggers, begin to speak up when shit really starts hitting the fan. Trump will affect nearly all aspects of our daily lives, and at some point I don’t think it’s going to be possible to just pretend it’s not happening.
(White Lash video: what DO we tell our kids and grandkids? The truth, all of it…)
I’m sure there are plenty of people gloating, in shock, or some even panicking, over the electoral vote for The Donald, as if this one particular presidency is going to make our life better, worse and/or different. I’m sure there are still optimists out there who think that this guy will change everything and rapidly. Or that Trump is the first common man’s president, since he’s a non-politician and considered an outspoken revolutionary.
When I was editor of Ojibwe Akiing, I recall when Jesse Ventura (left photo) was that guy too. He was elected governor of Minnesota (1999-2003) and he said (coming from a background of no political experience) that he would not meet with special interests. That was when the tribes in Minnesota requested to meet with him. This knucklehead was unaware of the federal treaties and the government-to-government relationship with tribes. In Minnesota, there are seven Anishinaabe (Chippewa, Ojibwe) reservations and four Dakota (Sioux) communities. Lackluster in his governance and low on experience, Ventura didn’t last long in the political arena. [He told tribes he had used hand grenades to catch fish. Just toss the grenade into a lake and BOOM! Yup, true story.]
We’d assume the learning curve for any non-politician to take office is pretty steep. What could possibly happen? or go wrong? or nothing happens – like with Obama who was blocked by Congress at every turn?
Other journalists and I are making a list of what is going to affect tribes in the near future with The Donald Presidency. (Like the Supreme Court Justice appointment.) Personally I don’t think the Standing Rock protectors are safe, the Dakota Access PipeLine (hashtag #NoDAPL) will proceed quickly and some protectors could actually be murdered, a bloody sacrifice for Big Oil interests. Trump invested in pipelines.
@BarackObama@POTUS I urge you to act now to protect Standing Rock from the Dakota Access Pipeline while there is still time! #NoDAPL
I watched the protests last night on TV. I applaud them but will it work?
My husband is a mix of African American and Native American. He has lived through many presidents and has lived a very different experience than me, one that is hard for me to fathom. Frisked for being black? The Danger of DWB: Driving while Black? Hands Up: Don’t Shoot Me (or us)??
Can you for one minute imagine that?
This is real life in America. Not wanting to take a leisurely drive to hill-towns near us because he could be a target and shot in cold blood by some random rifle-carrying racist? Don’t take unnecessary risks? This is his thinking, yet I can only imagine what it’s been like for him; I cannot live his experience in his skin but I am living it my own way.
My husband could be killed. That has been and will continue to be my fear and my reality and more so, due to The Donald presidency.
Whether thru ignorance, strategy, or apathy, my fellow Americans voted for a proud sexual assaulter and racial violence instigator.
What I fear most with the Donald President is an increase in racial violence and police killings of non-white Americans. It’s a real fear, one that was witnessed in the campaign rallies when non-whites were targets, and Trump eagerly encouraged it. It’s hard to tell what “the real Donald is”, as in real life. Was his campaign all “show”? It felt poisonous. Is he dangerous and a psychopath?
I am afraid of Trump and many many other people are, too.
Wishing this would end won’t help us now. I cannot stop feeling that it’s our reality now.
I ask for your prayers that we rise up united and reject racism at its foundation and core and not be the racist misogynist sexist country that Trump is/was/or will be encouraging.
Thank you for reading this blog! Peace and Love UNITED…
“From the start, Trump targeted the (mostly) white working class, which happens to be 40 percent of the country. And he’s done it not just with issues, but with how he talks — the ball-busting, the “bragging,” the over-the-top promises… But it speaks volumes — whole encyclopedias — about the ignorance of our political and media elites that they’re only now realizing that much of what Trump’s been doing is just busting balls. It’s a blue-collar ritual, with clear rules — overtly insulting, sure, but with infinite subtleties. It can be a test of manliness, a sign of respect, a way of bonding and much more. Why Trump Wins
Ventura in 2016
✓ Ventura endorsed Gary Johnson for the 2016 presidential general election.
***Ventura’s campaign was unexpectedly successful, with him narrowly defeating both the Democratic and Republican candidates. The highest elected official to ever win an election on a Reform Party ticket, Ventura left the Reform Party a year after taking office amid internal fights for control over the party. [WIKI*]
Native American Activist Winona LaDuke at Standing Rock: It’s Time to Move On from Fossil Fuels
While Democracy Now! was covering the Standing Rock standoff earlier this month, we spoke to Winona LaDuke, longtime Native American activist and executive director of the … (watch video) Read More →
AMYGOODMAN interview: Is facial recognition technology being used (at the protectors camp)?
Standing Rock Tribal Chief DAVEARCHAMBAULT II: That’s a crazy question, Amy, and I’m glad you ask it, because when you have a lot of people in an area, there’s all this paranoia that is present. And we don’t have to be paranoid anymore. We need to be proud of who we are. This is a big time in history. We need to hold our chins high and show our faces. We’re not doing anything wrong. And if facial recognition technology is out there, I would doubt that it’s here. All authorities have to do is go on Facebook, go on the Democracy Now! videos, and they’ll see people’s faces there. And that’s where authorities are getting information. The people who are videoing incidents determine—we create the evidence on ourselves with these—with our iPhones and social media. I would highly doubt that facial recognition is something—we have our own websites, we have our own Facebook pages. We give all the information that is out there to the authorities through social media. [(Blackwater?) Trucks have been seen taking photos of people since this comment.]
***The “No Dakota Access PipeLine” (#NoDAPL) camp in North Dakota has grown each and every day… YES YES…we are united… “It’s historic because the 200 or so tribes that are protesting the construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline have not united together for more than 150 years,” says Jennifer Cook is the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hundreds of Indian tribes that support its position, and the thousands of Indians that stand by its side in Cannonball lost an important ruling by a federal court on the Dakota Access Pipeline fight (DAPL), only to learn minutes later that the Obama administration, the defendant in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, would dramatically reverse its position and grant most of the relief requested by the tribe.
Cape Cod Times: …And with hundreds of natural gas, oil, and petroleum pipeline accidents that have occurred in just the last 20 years, including when Shell Oil’s Texas pipeline burst in 2013, irreparably poisoning the Vince Bayou; and the 2011 Exxon Mobil pipeline break, which spilled 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana, U.S. residents should be worried that the project could move forward.
Leonard Peltier has been in prison for 40 years Published September 12, 2016 WASHINGTON – To mark his 72nd birthday today, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) released a new video urging President Obama to grant clemency to Anishinabe-Lakota Native American activist Leonard Peltier before leaving office. The video highlights Amnesty International’s human rights concerns about Peltier’s case…
Standing Rock is HUGE news but somehow ABC, NBC, CBS (US MEDIA) aren’t covering it… hmmm. WHY? I tell my students, go look on Twitter… or read Indian Country Today News Media online and we can always count on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman!
GENOA, NEBRASKA — Sid Byrd, a former student at Genoa Indian Industrial School, opened his talk in August at the annual school reunion with a story about his name. “My middle named used to be Oliver, but I changed it to Howard because I got sick and tired of initialing S.O.B,” he said.
The 97-year-old (or 97 winters, as his tribe says) is a gifted storyteller who managed to slip in slivers of humor while recalling the hardships and discrimination he faced while attending the Indian school. Byrd grew up in Porcupine, South Dakota, as a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. In 1927, Byrd was sent to the Genoa Indian School to receive a Western education. His biggest struggle as a child was learning to speak English. Byrd, who grew up speaking Lakota, said English had many sounds that did not exist in his native language. And children were harshly punished for speaking their own language.
Byrd recalled a story of a little boy who was crying one night while others were sleeping and began to pray in his native tongue. He was reported and punished by being sent to “the hole.”
“God hears all prayers, whatever language,” the boy told Byrd. “Was it wrong for me to pray?”
According to Joseph Campbell, the hero emerges from humble beginnings to undertake a journey fraught with trials and suffering. He or she survives those ordeals and returns to the community bearing a gift — a “boon,” as Campbell called it — in the form of a message from which people can learn and benefit. So, properly, the hero is an exceptional person who gives his life over to a purpose larger than himself and for the benefit of others. Campbell had often lamented our failure as human beings “to admit within ourselves the carnivorous, lecherous fever” that seems endemic to our species. “By overcoming the dark passions,” he told Moyers, “the hero symbolizes our ability to control the irrational savage within us.” READ
By Lara Trace
I’m back (blazing a bright new writing path I hope). A big birthday happens for me in a few days. I have a 9-9 birthday. This year is 9-9-9. That can mean an end or completion. At this six decade milestone, I find myself more excited to plan the next 30+ years… There is more… more adventure, more everything. Sid Byrd the survivor is my inspiration – 97 and still telling stories!
As this presidential campaign makes abundantly clear, no hero is going to swoop in to save us. We have to be our own heroes.
How you/me/we SEE the world and VISION the future, that matters most.
These massive overt and covert military defeats prompted one former CIA acting director to campaign for the killing of Russians and Iranians in Syria during an interview in the mainstream media. (Really?)
See Real Politik for more on this bizarre behavior and war business and global-power struggle
War is a global industry. As Americans, we don’t have bombs hitting our house and all these world conflicts are massively confusing and frightening. There are powerful people (very few) making decisions we don’t agree with or understand, obviously.
Then this happened. This image (below) of Umran, a little Syrian child, age 5, gripped the world. It shook us awake. We ask (and ask and ask), why is any war or this war necessary? What is the religious or political dogma behind it? Why are there so many militarists at war? Does war bring peace or more war? Who benefits from any war? Who are all these Arms Dealers and weapons manufacturers*? [The arms industry is one of the most profitable and powerful industries in the world.] Who are the private contractors? Who decides who drops the bombs? Who wants What? Is this war in Syria about oil (again) or seizing land or just another tribal conflict you/me/we can’t understand? Who knows the truth? Why and how did the US evolve in to this righteous world bully? Who today is better at being the conqueror: Russia, China or America? Or are we seeing another illusion (again) and is something bigger manipulating us like pawns and puppets?
Does this small child understand the powers-that-be who bombed his village, his family and killed his brother?
What I’ve learned from many elders is we are all related, all human. There will always be disagreements, feuds, conflicts. People create reasons, dogma, and rationale to fight and make war games on each other. We can also disarm. We can also negotiate. People can always choose to negotiate, to unite, to stand down, and to not kill. (People must unite.)
How in the world? MAKE PEACE in your own family, in your own corner of the planet, in your own community, in your own heart!
If you/me/we don’t, many more children will be harmed and killed.
Years ago I realized the “version” is what we need to examine as much as the writing itself. It’s very very important to look at WHO wrote it and why. Ellowyn in Pine Ridge, South Dakota shared her tribe’s version of history that differed greatly from American textbooks. That version of my education began in early 1990s in her kitchen.
In Pine Ridge, it’s usually by 4th grade the student turns off and loses interest, Ellowyn told me. (She was a teacher.) The Lakota do not believe what is in the American textbook because their history is left out. She thinks (as do many in her Oglala tribe) that it’s important history is taught at home. It’s oral. It’s not written down. (If you google Oglala Lakota history, it’s generally written by the non-Indian and not accepted by the Oglala.)
My anthropologist sister Dr. Raeschelle Deimel in Vienna Austria and I were also discussing education a few days ago. (She teaches college-level history.) It’s obvious certain “subjects” (like history) are a matter of importance and priority for governments who control our education and what version we get. Not only do they control what we learn but how much, when we learn it, and there is no legal enforcement to measure accuracy or honesty, obviously.
Do parents have a say in what children learn? Yes, kinda. (If you teach at home, choose the version and control the story yourself). (Top Photo: Rae sent me this book and said it’s very important all Americans read it.) I plan to spend my summer reading Zinn ingesting every chapter. I am still a history student on my own.
We in America don’t even recognize the agenda and propaganda in our history textbooks, Rae said.
Sadly too many Americans have turned their backs on history, we decided. Probably too boring. If you went to college you might choose a certain period of history to study in depth. (That would also depend on which professor you get and how good they are.) Now we think it’s a general lack of interest and disgust, as in “what good is history?” to make my life or salary better… or maybe deep down we sixth-sense we’re learning bullshit (?) – perhaps.
It surprised me when I learned from a German journalist Monique in Munich in 2005 that Americans know more about the Nazis than the Germans do. History again is used as a tool, or it’s not used at all. Why would the Germans suppress their own history? She said they don’t have museums to teach any version of their own Nazi history. REALLY! (Of course she told me she and other Germans do learn about it on their own. Many of their parents were sent to the Hitler’s Youth Camps and were indoctrinated with propaganda.) History/story used as mind control? She said yes.
What I learned in my Catholic grade school happened over two straight days watching Germany’s Holocaust films on concentration camps when I was in 4th grade. I now realize how disturbing it was for me to see that as a kid. The nuns warned us but didn’t give us an option to leave the classroom. I choked back tears and nearly threw up. I had nightmares for months.
Much later as an adult I studied WWII and the Nazis on my own, watching documentaries especially. (We called it my scary Nazi phase.) I needed to understand HOW people could be this way and why. It took me many years to see WHO was behind the genocide of American Indians, and Jews, and many other ethnic minority groups and WHAT they ultimately wanted: domination and land, mostly. READ a historic SOLUTION BY GABOR MATE
Today of course I question everything I read. My two granddaughters deserve better than what their history textbooks will teach them. It’s my job and it’s going to have to come from me. Oral history, at home, in my kitchen.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” –George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain – 26 September 1952 in Rome, Italy) was a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist.
History is so peculiar, right? You can look and look –and read and read — and find only glimmers of truth. “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” It was someone who told me to look at it as His = Story (Chapter 19 Surprises in Zinn’s book is an eye-opener on Indian Country history. I humbly suggest you spend some time this summer with Zinn’s book or watch him on youtube, if you haven’t already.
Read this blog too! Dr. Stuart Bramhall is brilliant HERE
THIS VIDEO simply blew my mind : please take an hour and listen to Biology of Belief:
Dealing with adoption propaganda is also a full-time job for some of us…
The war on human trafficking and adoption ebbs and flows…blogs come and go… and here’s a brilliant post from 2013:
From Transracial Eyes blog:
Elsewhere on the site we have explored the “cost” of adoptee activism [ link ], and we have heard some stories of closed-down blogs and the like. Certain adoptee sites have erased past posts … (My dear friend Von experienced this censorship with Blogger when her earlier site was taken down. FBI, really?)
Taking advantage of poor vulnerable families is a crime. Adoption Agencies are wolves in sheep clothing.
Adoption is really taking children from the poor and giving to the rich. Adoption Trafficking is coercive language that in the end, the person of ‘power’ manipulates the vulnerable parent, typically the mother, out of her child. The end goal is to fulfill the demand of wanting infertile adopters and financially benefiting the industry. The adoption fees are disguised as the costs to ‘process’ the child for adoption and can cost as high as $60,000+ for each transaction. It’s modern day, 21st century, legalized child trafficking. Think of how much that $60,000 could help a community in Uganda, China, India keeping families together. Instead it’s an undercurrent of corruption in foreign countries all happening from the demand of rich Westerners. The middle man (adoption agencies) strips away the true identity of the child and the adopter buys the child, so he or she will become one of their ‘own’. In the adopters minds they may think of it as saving an ‘orphan’ or a ‘solution for infertility issues’, but there is strategic modern day ‘verbiage’ agencies use, social workers, lawyers or counselors (or anyone working for the adoption industry) to manipulate young mothers out of their children and that took decades to perfect.
By Lara Trace (called Lala by her sister in Austria)
Am I the only one?
Every. SINGLE. DAY… I feel like I’m overreacting to an insane horror flick. YEEGADS, what the hell is going on in this world? It’s like a very very very bad movie, between X RATED and profane. If I turn on the TV I end up swearing like a sailor. (I do get fined $$ when I swear.) Don’t hand me that TV remote. I’ll end up watching Ancient Aliens as a marathon again.
(We had a freak meteor shower on May 17 and I still have insomnia.)
The photo is me when I had a store in Portland in the late 80s. Yes, I liked and sold crazy shit. Yes, that is a blow up shark, dinosaur and cactus. I am eccentric. I still like crazy shit, though I don’t have those blowups anymore.
OH, the new book STOLEN GENERATIONS is out and it’s doing well. I did a radio interview (see link below)
Something I’m working on… I am doing a talk in San Diego in a few weeks with other adoptees.
Here are some basics:
If the Native population was just 2 million and one quarter of all children were removed before the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, then (on-paper) 80,000+ children were removed from their families during the early to mid-1900s. If the population was 3 million, then over 100,000 were removed and so on…
I did pretend to be someone – and live a lie – because I’m adopted. Ask any adoptee who has Native American ancestry. If you are not told, you’re just another dead Indian, at least on record or on tribal rolls.
America is like that. Adoptees, of all skin colors in the United States, are now estimated to number between six and ten million. They’d prefer every one of us to live as an American citizen as if none other were as good or as important. America forgets it’s very new by all standards; it just acts like its old.
Indian Country is ancient. Our cells are identical to those of our ancestors of 30,000 years ago. Indian kids who are adopted and raised outside Indian country eventually get it – more or less. We get that less Indians around is best. We get that America didn’t respect us or our culture. We get that America tamed us, stole our land, and revised our history. We get that more Americans prefer us tucked away somewhere. They’ll teach us their version of our story. We get that it’s wrong, but it’s America (or Canada). It’s been this way a long time.
(Thirty+ years ago I opened my adoption. Having to start this story somewhere, I started with a chronology, first the steps, opening my adoption, how I handled it, good, bad, etc. It seemed to take forever. What I encountered – besides shock – was me, barely alive, what I’d call living dead. Let me explain. I started to see that I was usually caught up in other people’s lives just to avoid living my own. Under layers of denial, I conveniently forgot what I didn’t like to remember. I had stopped caring about the past but it had me, all of me.)
No one is exactly sure how many Indian children were taken, but thousands are gone, probably living on the fringe as an urban Indian. That is how I see myself.
[Adrian who is my brother sent me this: One can never tame that which is genetically wild and free….. Like the WolfDogs I love and raise,they adapt to me out of love and pack mentality….,But they will always be Wolves and if not respected as such, will turn back to that which they are genetically,born to be……………We are like The Wolves.]
And here’s what is happening up north – my 60s Scoop brothers and sisters are leading the way… (top photo of Solidarity Rally)
I’m adding BLOG BONUS in 2016: a mix of good stuff I’m reading and you might want to read them too! I know, I know, you all read way too much, but this is when you don’t have enough material… a new category Blog Bonus will be there when you need it… XOX Lara
In the News
Remembering Slavery, Again (our national amnesia?)
IN 2015, A YEAR OF DEBATE over the Confederate flag and intense meditation on the meaning of race in the United States, it would be a shame to miss the equally public memories of race-slavery in Britain. Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, a two-part BBC documentary, publicized the Legacies of British Slave-ownership (LBS), a University College London database of all the slave owners in Britain who were awarded compensation when slavery was abolished on August 1, 1834. A Broadway musical, Amazing Grace, dramatized the story of the British slave-ship captain John Newton, who wrote the hymn that would become associated with African-American culture and civil rights struggles — and which President Obama sang during the eulogy for Pastor Clementa Pinckney, killed in June 2015 by a white supremacist who shot six other members of the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. British novelist Caryl Phillips publishedThe Lost Child, partly a prequel to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, in which he draws on the long critical speculation that Heathcliff, brought from the slave port of Liverpool to the Yorkshire moors, is black. It appears that both the United States and the United Kingdom are witnessing one of those moments when we confront what Toni Morrison said in an early interview about Beloved (1987), “something that the characters don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember, black people don’t want to remember, white people don’t want to remember. I mean, it’s national amnesia.”
From Caribbean sugar plantations to the South Atlantic island of St. Helena, researchers are unlocking the long-kept secrets of enslaved peoples.
By Andrew Lawler| National Geographic | FEBRUARY 4, 2016
More than twelve million people crossed from Africa to the New World as slaves. Historians know a good deal about the African ports where they embarked, the slave ships that carried them across the ocean, and the destinations of these enslaved peoples.
But they know surprisingly little about where in Africa these masses of people originally came from.
Now, thanks to recent advances in genetic techniques, scientists are filling in this important gap in the tragic African diaspora.
“This will change our understanding of population and migration histories,” says Hannes Schroeder, a biological anthropologist at the University of Copenhagen. “What was just potential is now being fulfilled.”
New research, exhibit starts to tell story of centuries of bondage
By Paul Grondahl | Albany Times Union February 4, 2016
Here is a statistic that might shock you. In 1790, there were 217 households in Albany County that owned five or more slaves of African descent, a portion of the county’s 3,722 slaves, the most of any county among New York state’s 21,193 slaves counted in that year’s census.
History textbooks and conventional wisdom tend to relegate slavery as an issue of the Southern states, a shameful narrative bracketed by President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation and the grim toll of the Civil War.
But new research at the State Museum and an exhibit at Fort Crailo, a state historic site in Rensselaer, titled “A Dishonorable Trade: Human Trafficking in the Dutch Atlantic World,” is bringing slavery out of the shadows and directly onto the front stoops of Albany across three centuries.
Through historical research and archaeology, the emerging scholarship is painting a fresh portrait of a deeply ingrained system of wealthy Dutch families in Albany and the Capital Region who owned human beings and subjugated them to their will during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
It’s good to be home and I’m revved up to resume a weekly schedule of blog posts. (I missed you guys [I really did] but I was reading your inspiring bad-ass blogs!) (for some weird reason I stopped getting email notice of your new posts – um, still working to fix that.)
I do hope you all made good memories this past month or so…
We traveled to Philadelphia PA twice and had a great time babysitting our youngest grandgirl (she’s a one-year-old) and of course we watched Sesame Street. We didn’t have many shows when I was a tiny kid like her, other than Captain Kanagroo. Remember him?
Each week I may give you some of what I have been reading and these stories are truly worth a read!
How the Federal Government Continues To Victimize American Indians (no big surprise!)
…”Upfront I will stipulate that the treatment of the American Indian by the federal government has been nothing less than an egregious nightmare. It is a case study in progressive paternalism that has enriched a small coterie of privileged contractors, provided a bevy of bureaucrats with job security and self-importance, and reduced the American Indian population still living on reservations to a dystopic and nightmarish existence.
The Indian schools, at least in some areas, face challenges most public schools don’t face. The Indian bureaucracy, BIA and BIE represent the very worst impulses of government: big, unwieldy, unresponsive to citizens, slavish to big contractors and the powerful, uncaring, and casually cruel. Where the BIA merely steals from today, the BIE steals the future. It is a national shame that this situation is allowed to persist.”
Photographer Aaron Fallon shared an idea with seven other professional photographers in Los Angeles. Together, the group collaborated while donating their efforts to a three-year project that will move and inspire you. In today’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family®” series installment, RaiseAChild. US founder and CEO Rich Valenza interviews the group that now calls themselves the Image Hoarders about their recently published book called “Aging Out.”READ
++++++++++++ Research… hard to read…
1976: Government admits forced sterilization of Indian Women
A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office finds that 4 of the 12 Indian Health Service regions sterilized 3,406 American Indian women without their permission between 1973 and 1976. The GAO finds that 36 women under age 21 had been forcibly sterilized during this period despite a court-ordered moratorium on sterilizations of women younger than 21. Two years earlier, an independent study by Dr. Connie Pinkerton-Uri, Choctaw/Cherokee, found that one in four American Indian women had been sterilized without her consent. Pinkerton-Uri’s research indicated that the Indian Health Service had “singled out full-blooded Indian women for sterilization procedures.” SOURCE
“…The mother in question has published her own book, which promotes itself as a “guidebook” for white adoptive parents of black children. Whatever her intentions, wherever her heart may lie, this should, in and of itself, set off a million alarms.” via Racism, Class and Adoption.
“…For starters is the myth that adoptive parents have some kind of unique agency and free will outside of the society in which they acculturate the children temporarily in their care. By this I mean to say that adoption, as an institution born of and reflecting its roots in indentured servitude, racism, and class warfare, does not suddenly “shift” into a tragedy based on the adoptive parent’s “awakening”. It is a tragedy, and a criminal one at that, from the start…”
“Something much more sinister is transpiring, and this shows up how unequal our words are when spoken on corporate-sponsored platforms equally bent on painting a Happy Gotcha Day for all involved…”
The “adopter narrative” is morphing and adapting in order to silence us; it is stealing the power of our words and the weight of our tropes in order to render us harmless and pointless…
(the power of propaganda is immense when it comes to the trafficking of children for profit…)
Dr. Amy Helen Bell: Recently my excellent colleague Tom Peace and I found out that among these rich sources are dozens of rare prayer and hymn books in Indigenous languages, written and used by both European and Indigenous scholars, missionaries and priests. The Diocese Archives also holds personnel files on six Indigenous men who graduated from the Theological College in the nineteenth-century and went on to work in churches and parishes in both indigenous and settler communities. And exposing the darker side of the Christianizing mission, the archive also holds some records of the Mohawk Institute, a residential school run by the Anglican Church in nearby Brantford. Along with hundreds of other punitive institutions, the school sought to assimilate Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian culture in a process the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has described as “cultural genocide.” And nobody at Huron has ever looked at these sources.
The MIX e-magazine is up and running for its second year. Go take a read! Send us some writing on your mixed ancestry and ethnicity! Carol Hand and I are expecting more writers in 2016… The topic is timely and important – we are all related – really truly we are – INFO
And if you missed this post, it’s one of my MOST popular – about HEALING HERE – it doesn’t surprise me we ALL want healing in this crazy world!
I am working on a brand new anthology STOLEN GENERATIONS with first person narratives of First Nations and American Indian adoptees in 2016 – should be out in April 2016. It’s the fourth book in this series on Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects and I am so excited to have many new adoptees in this book!
I’ll be back with MORE of everything soon … Happy New Year! xoxoxoxoxox
As a filmmaker, Hubert Sauper does not take the road less traveled. That would be far too easy. He doesn’t, in fact, take roads much at all. First he spent two years on his French farm building his own ultralight plane out of tin and canvas and lawnmower wheels. Then, in 2010, he flew it from France to southern Sudan. And then things got interesting.
The Austrian-born Sauper spent the next two years flitting around the country in his rickety, two-seat, single-engine prop plane, keeping his eyes open and his camera rolling. The result, We Come As Friends (which opened in New York on August 14 and will screen nationwide throughout the fall), is an improbable, cinematic magical mystery tour of a documentary: a portrait of a new nation being born out of the ashes of civil war amid a swarm of self-professed do-good American evangelicals, expat humanitarians, Chinese oil workers, and South Sudanese power brokers — most of whom seem to do anything but good. The film comes at an opportune time, as another in a long line of potential peace deals to end South Sudan’s 18-month-old civil war has evaporated. While it does so in exceptionally subtle fashion, We Come as Friends helps explain just how things got to this tragic point.
The acclaimed director of 2004’s Darwin’s Nightmare, a harrowing study of globalization and economic exploitation in Tanzania, Sauper works in verite style and doesn’t lean on talking heads, title cards, or scolding voiceovers about the ills of neocolonialism, racism, globalization, or capitalism. Instead he allows his subjects to do the heavy lifting. “There must be a reason they’re still 200 years behind the rest of the world,” says a British Iraq War veteran, in Sudan to defuse landmines for an aid group, of the people he has come to help. Nineteenth-century “dark continent” themes seem barely submerged as the U.S. ambassador announces, “Today we are, literally and figuratively, bringing light,” before flipping the switch at a ceremony celebrating a modest electrical power project. And then there are the American Christian missionaries. “They don’t understand property ownership the way you and I do,” says one. “You were here first, but now there’s a fence here, so…” was how another explained it to locals who complained when the Americans took away grazing land to build a house for themselves.
Some of Sauper’s directorial decisions skirt the outer limits of heavy-handedness. He pans his camera from the partying of United Nations staff on South Sudan’s independence day to a lonely South Sudanese cleaning up the grounds outside or juxtaposes combat footage shot by a soldier, replete with gunfire and corpses, with a scene of white folks relaxing at some posh resort. We’re never given much context about these episodes, but far from phony, the contrasts ring true; anyone who has spent much time in the country (especially the capital, Juba) has no doubt witnessed similar incongruities.
In Darwin’s Nightmare, which shows how an invasive species of fish upends not only the local economy but the entire society around Lake Victoria, Sauper demonstrated an uncanny ability to document the everyday horrors of the developing world with an artist’s visual sensibility. The result was disturbing and beautiful. We Come as Friends shares the same DNA.
Sauper understands the power of ambiguity and its ability to involve the viewer in his investigations, so there isn’t much context or explanation anywhere in We Come as Friends. But this film isn’t about easy narratives or perfectly packaged stories. It’s about big themes told in very small fashion — a collection of discrete, seemingly disconnected vignettes mixed with stunning, sometimes dizzying, aerial footage taken from his trusty tin can, the aptly named Sputnik.
“The airplane was the key of this whole project,” Sauper said at a recent New York City screening of the film. “We are obviously Europeans … and we also repeat, despite ourselves, all these patterns. You know, like going to other places, discovering adventure. The notion of adventure is a very European, kind of colonial idea, right? Going to different worlds and the science fiction narrative is a post-colonial phenomenon; traveling through time and space and penetrating these other worlds, encountering these kinds of sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly other beings.”
Sauper wrapped up filming before December 2013 when South Sudan plunged into the current civil war. Today, it would be impossible to do what he did, though it was hardly less so then. For that alone, he deserves credit. For the documentary he made, Sauper deserves praise. Thoughtful and moving, We Come as Friends encourages the viewer to look closely and think deeply. “A lot of times … we, as filmmakers, were like ‘What the hell are we doing here?’” Sauper admitted at the Manhattan screening. “We’re just another set of white guys … and sometimes, you go, ‘Okay, we’re making a movie, but does it make sense at all?’” People interested in South Sudan or Africa or the human condition would be well-served by spending 110 minutes with We Come as Friends and answering that question for themselves.
Photo: Adolescent boy from the Bari tribe, South Sudan, apparently imitating the tribal traditions of warriors putting ashes on their body. This ash is produced from burning trash.
The film opens at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles and the AFI Silver Theater in Washington D.C. on August 21. It will continue to open across the nation with engagements in markets including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and more. Sauper will be participating in special appearances and Q&As in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.
WE COME AS FRIENDS is a modern odyssey – a dizzying, almost science fiction-like journey into the heart of Africa. At the moment when the Sudan, the continent’s biggest country, is being divided into two nations, an old “civilizing” ideology re-emerges – one of colonialism and a clash of empires – with new episodes of bloody (and holy) wars over land and resources. Academy Award® nominated director of Darwin’s Nightmare, Hubert Sauper, takes us on a voyage in his tiny, self-made aircraft constructed from tin and canvas, leading us into the most improbable locations and into people’s thoughts and dreams in both stunning and heartbreaking ways. Chinese oil workers, UN peacekeepers, Sudanese warlords, and American evangelists ironically weave common ground in this documentary.
Hey there, this post will be it until mid-September. Please share this film. Go see it. Time for a road trip and a family reunion… XOX Lara Trace XOX
This ought to get some notice. (sigh) The child trafficking business hasn’t slowed. Not when there is money to be made. Americans may choose to wear blinders but eventually the news will hit their newspapers. It may hit them hard if they adopted a trafficked child.
The following is a partial list, by year, of notable incidents or reports of international adoption scandals, adoption corruption, child harvesting, baby-stealing, legal violations in international adoption, or adoption agency corruption (see child laundering; child trafficking: “In the United States international adoptions are a big business, where a large number of private international adoption agencies are paid on average $30,000 a time to find a child for hopeful parents.”
The Haitian government is cracking down on international adoptions in a bid to warn poor Haitians about orphanage recruiters roaming the countryside with money or false promises.
By Santilla Chingaipe (Transcript from SBS World News Radio) (May 2015)
The Haitian government is cracking down on international adoptions in a bid to warn poor Haitians about orphanage recruiters roaming the countryside with money or false promises.
The new measures include tightening up regulations and carrying out public awareness campaigns.
Santilla Chingaipe has the details.
(Click on the audio tab at link to hear the full report)
Armed with megaphones, women take to the streets of Haiti every day, sending a message to residents.
They are warning parents in rural areas about the dangers of handing over their children for adoption.
Since the devastating 2010 earthquake, serious flaws in the country’s adoption system have been exposed.
There have been reports of Haitians putting their children in orphanages for what they thought were temporary stays, only to find them gone when they returned for them.
Navilia Fontulus says her two-year-old grandson Edson spent three months in an orphanage after a recruiter paid his mother to take him away.
(Translated)”I thought I was going to lose him, because he was so small. After three months, we asked for him to be given back into the hands of his parents, because there have been people who gave up their children over 12 or 18 years ago and they’ve never found them again, not even a photo of their children. I thought I had lost him.”
Since April last year, the Haitian government has sought to overhaul the country’s adoption system.
It prohibited private adoptions, restricted the accreditation of foreign adoption agencies in the land and set a limit on how many children can be adopted internationally per year.
And it imposed regulations to address long-time complaints that parents were often pressured or manipulated into giving up children without understanding the ramifications.
Kristine Peduto is the head of the child protection unit in Haiti for the United Nations Children Agency, or UNICEF.
“We are all aware that, in the past, adoption was … that there had been a lot of issues in the process of having children adopted. Corruption, lack of regulation by the state, et cetera.”
Ms Peduto says it will take time for the changes to fully take hold, though.
“We know that moving away from the old system to have a country fully compliant with the Hague Convention (Hague Convention on International Adoption) will take time, and it demands tremendous effort from everyone at each step to ensure that all processes are fully respected.”
and this head-stopper:
You may have seen the #notabravelove (or #notbravelove) campaign going on the past few days. This campaign came into inception when one of my beemommy friends had had enough and suggested a campaign similar to #flipthescript that adoptees were doing in the month of November for National Adoption Month. Another beemommy friend suggested the hash tag #notabrave love and I ran with it. We needed to combat the billboard assault and tell expectant mothers the reality of adoption. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and it certainly hasn’t been a “beautiful thing” to us. It has meant a lifetime of grief, sadness and loss. Not being able to parent your child is not beautiful. The emotions that surround it align well with the death of your child. However, BraveLove want to INCREASE domestic infant adoption in the U.S.
WHY is this not big news? (Is the adoption industry nervous getting bad press?)
Many, many years ago, adoption was meant to help the children of war, poverty and (often called) this country’s pioneer problems. Church-run Orphanages housed these small victims – some who had living parents. Some were even called half-orphans. Then gradually state’s replaced orphan asylums with child welfare departments. Gradually and subtly, it was grilled into our heads how adoption “saved” their lives. Or did it?
About the latest thing: some adoptive parents forget or neglect to get American citizenship for their adopted child. An adoptee gets in trouble, breaks the law and they get deported? To where? To whom? If that child meant so much to them, how could American adoptive parents forget or skip that part of the legal process? If you paid money for a baby to be yours, didn’t the adoption agency or lawyer mention citizenship? Wouldn’t you want them stay in the USA if you raise them to be YOUR child? (What is wrong with this picture – buyer remorse?)
This is what we can’t seem to get into our heads: over the years adoption trafficking morphed into providing babies to infertile couples, those who can pay. Courts close adoptions to ease the adopter’s minds and permanently erase the adopted child’s identity and ancestry on their birth documents. When the supply of illegitimate bastards ran out in the US, trafficking went overseas. Those shortages built the international adoption industry into a billion dollar booming business it is today. Those specialized lawyers and adoption agencies legitimatize supplying babies and making lots of money.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: now it requires money to find that orphan, that available baby. Couples desperate to make a family and adopt will head to hundreds of websites! Potential adoptive parents (PAPS) are shown photos of children languishing in overseas orphanages – a clever sales device to ply PAPS with pity. Those kids are propaganda pawns. Those kids have parents! (Stories about Angelina Jolie and Madonna have surfaced how their adopted children have parents too — but shush, that’s not good propaganda.)
So now the bigger picture is clear… if a child has parents, we can’t call them orphans – because they are NOT ORPHANS. But they are being used to make money, to sucker you in to adopt overseas.
If babies are product, for those who buy in the black market and overseas, they might overlook a baby is only a baby a short time. A child is not a programmable replacement for the child you didn’t conceive. Babies are not blank slates. Adoptees do grow up and will have questions when they get older and not all will be complacent or happy or grateful. Then what will you do? And if your adopted child from overseas has problems, who will you blame? (Will you re-home them? SEE THIS) (top photo from Facebook rehoming page)
Where are the headlines about the cyber-market: babies abducted then auctioned off. But how do you get adoption papers for cyber-market stolen babies? You’d have to pay off a judge and use a lawyer, right? (Do you think that’s why some states refuse to unseal adoption records? It might reveal fraud and corruption?) We know it takes quite a bit of paperwork to adopt a baby these days, especially internationally. It was never about us, the adoptees. It was about filling a need, collecting cash. Just follow the money and it becomes obvious.
Billions could and should be spent on family preservation, and solving infertility that only seems to be getting worse in the USA – but the adoption industry keeps people focused on the perfect propaganda pawns – orphans. Now there are fertility scandals (see below).
Willful ignorance, bad information or insufficient education, none are acceptable or an excuse anymore. With the internet, there is plenty for potential adoptive parents to read, if they open their mind and take their time and do some research.
You know what? It’s time all this comes out – and all the trafficking and money and corruption is exposed!
My priorities: We can give children-in-need new parents under new laws called legal guardianship. We never erase a child’s identity. We abolish adoption entirely, and open all the sealed adoption files. We give birthfathers the legal rights to raise their own children. Social services are reconfigured to work on family preservation and helping parents be parents – and of course solving and ending poverty. Most of all, we MUST stop selling babies and deporting adoptees. We close all adoption agencies and prosecute the traffickers.
The sad part of this is adoptees can’t escape what adults and courts and governments do. We have nowhere to go if we don’t know who we are…We are the pawns. Our voices, our experiences, aren’t part of adoption propaganda.
Karen Vigneault who helps me help adoptees emailed me that we need President Obama to pardon every adoptee from this existing system of identity theft and give us our legal documents: our original birth certificates and adoption records.
Two prominent reproductive law attorneys, Theresa Erickson and Hilary Neiman, were awaiting sentencing (in 2011) by a US district court after pleading guilty to charges connected with an elaborate surrogacy and baby-selling scheme. The many headlines about this fertility industry scandal are clear on the nature of the criminal activities. NBC San Diego titled its early story “Lawyer Busted in Black-Market Baby Ring”; the Los Angeles Times called it a “scam”; the UK Telegraph ran with “Babies ‘sold for $150,000’ in California.” Even the FBI pulled no punches: Its press release is titled “Baby-Selling Ring Busted.”
Many questions about the baby-selling scandal remain unanswered. How did the perpetrators get away with it for years, when many others in the field must have known about or at least suspected what they were doing? What sentences did the court impose? What will be the effects on the babies who were conceived from anonymous gamete providers in order to be sold, and on their families?
Evelyn Stevenson, longtime tribal attorney, advocate and original proponent of the Indian Child Welfare Act, passed away on March 12, 2015 at 9:11am in Ronan, Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Evelyn was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and was the second tribal member, and first tribal member woman, to become a licensed attorney.
A wake will begin at noon on Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the Elmo Community Hall in Elmo, Montana..
I know it’s a sign when a couple of my friends mention “Orphan Asylums” to me in a single day. How children were called “inmates.”
I have no recollection of my time as an inmate in a Minnesota orphanage – this happened after I was born in St. Paul, MN and was shifted from The Catholic Infant Home (where unwed mothers wait out their pregnancy) to the St. Joseph’s Home for Children (Orphanage) then to a Catholic foster care (a house on Harrison St.) in Superior, Wisconsin. Apparently Catholic Charities moved infants/children across state lines without any scrutiny or trouble at all. And all the paperwork they created on me was sealed. (I phoned back when I was 21 and they refused my request for my file.) And I have two Catholic baptismal certificates – one with my mother Helen Thrall and a later one with the adopters Everett and Edith DeMeyer who are listed on my birth certificate as my biological parents. (Best to hide proof and evidence of a stranger adoption brokered by Catholic Charities.)
The Catholic Church (and others) created a charity and an industry with maternity homes, orphanages, churches, hospitals, big brick buildings to house priests, nuns and medical staff, all to handle the baby inmates that became their big business. Pretty clever those pontiffs denounce birth control of any kind so a steady stream of illegitimate children can be sold through their channels. And they are a non-profit so they get to keep their income. And devoted parishioners keep pumping them donations to this day.
Here is the photo of the orphanage where I was:
This is Catholic Charities current description:
When land was bought for the Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home in 1885, the intersection of 46th Street and Chicago Avenue was a half-day’s ride from the city. The green countryside that stretched south to Minnehaha Creek promised a pastoral experience for children. Both the Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home and St. Joseph’s Home for Children in St. Paul were founded to address a critical need of the late 19th century: children left parentless by epidemics and other hardships of pioneer life. The nuns who staffed the homes offered motherly care to hundreds of children well into the 20th century. The 1960s saw two important shifts. First, society turned to favor foster placement over orphanage care. The Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home and St. Joseph’s Home for Children were consolidated on the Boys’ Home property under St. Joe’s name. Today, St. Joe’s continues to serve the community as a part of Catholic Charities. Several programs for children, including an emergency shelter, health clinic and mental health services, operate at St. Joe’s. SOURCE (I want to note there are Orphan Cemeteries, too.) (How clever of them to leave out the adoptions they did. Really!)
Instead of using this blog to bombard you with my research, I have started to collect ORPHAN ASYLUM info: HERE (thanks to my Librarian friend Karen Vigneault-MLIS for sending me sources on these asylums. Karen is a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California.)
For any one looking to find an ancestor at an asylum, some have individual websites with census that has names and dates and even parents names on many of these young inmates.
It is staggering and upsetting to find out how many big brick institutions were built by churches and where these asylums operated… This out-of-print book by Reg Niles is selling for $999 on Amazon and has little known information about the various religion’s baby-broker-selling history.
A few friends have told me what their adoptive parents paid for them. I don’t know what I cost mine.
And I thought about the many Catholic-run Boarding Schools for American Indian children who were also made inmates, imprisoned to be assimilated and educated, all to KILL THE INDIAN.
My mother Helen had to pay to stay at the Catholic Maternity Home in Minnesota – can you believe it? She made arrangements to pay THEM?
Wasn’t giving them me enough payment?
IN THE NEWS
The Thursday march coincided with the release a 12-page report by the Lakota People’s Law Project, “Native Lives Matter,” which asserts the U.S. justice system is responsible for those injustices. Read more of this post
Chase Iron Eyes, attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project, led the march…
“My relatives, I’m at a tipping point,” Iron Eyes told the crowd that massed Thursday despite the blustery weather. “I know you’re at a tipping point because we can’t take this any longer.”
If those in power had their way, Iron Eyes said, “We would exist in the margins of poverty for the next 100 years,” he said. “They would sentence us to death by poverty if they had their way.”
Iron Eyes said the fatal police shooting of 30-year-old Allen Locke in December was the most recent incident between Native Americans and the Rapid City Police Department. My Post about Allen
Building the First Slavery Museum in America
By David Amsden | February 26, 2015 | The New York Times
Louisiana’s River Road runs northwest from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, its two lanes snaking some 100 miles along the Mississippi and through a contradictory stretch of America. Flat and fertile, with oaks webbed in Spanish moss, the landscape stands in defiance of the numerous oil refineries and petrochemical plants that threaten its natural splendor. In the rust-scabbed towns of clapboard homes, you are reminded that Louisiana is the eighth-poorest state in the nation. Yet in the lush sugar plantations that crop up every couple of miles, you can glimpse the excess that defined the region before the Civil War. Some are still active, with expansive fields yielding 13 million tons of sugar cane a year. Others stand in states of elegant rot. But most conspicuous are those that have been restored for tourists, transporting them into a world of bygone Southern grandeur — one in which mint juleps, manicured gardens and hoop skirts are emphasized over the fact that such grandeur was made possible by the enslavement of black human beings.
On Dec. 7, the Whitney Plantation, in the town of Wallace, 35 miles west of New Orleans, celebrated its opening, and it was clear, based on the crowd entering the freshly painted gates, that the plantation intended to provide a different experience from those of its neighbors. Roughly half of the visitors were black, for starters, an anomaly on plantation tours in the Deep South. And while there were plenty of genteel New Orleanians eager for a peek at the antiques inside the property’s Creole mansion, they were outnumbered by professors, historians, preservationists, artists, graduate students, gospel singers and men and women from Senegal dressed in traditional West African garb: flowing boubous of intricate embroidery and bright, saturated colors. If opinions on the restoration varied, visitors were in agreement that they had never seen anything quite like it. Built largely in secret and under decidedly unorthodox circumstances, the Whitney had been turned into a museum dedicated to telling the story of slavery — the first of its kind in the United States.
ANCHORAGE – Opening the Arctic to development could bring an economic boost to the state, but it could also mean increased exploitation of Alaska’s residents — experts addressed the topic at a recent conference in Anchorage. If large-scale projects start popping up in the north, those same experts say sex trafficking will follow — and the communities may not be ready to prevent it or help the victims. Victoria Sweet says Alaskan Native villagers need to take an active role in defining the future of their communities and the Arctic, while making sure there’s no future for sex trafficking.
“It’s a very insidious crime that’s hard to track down,” Sweet said of sex trafficking. “But it’s everywhere and it’s affecting our communities, it’s affecting our children, it’s affecting our youth. Our society isn’t going to be whole until we stop exploitation.”
She says other ways to stop sex trafficking from following development in the Arctic is to put pressure on the companies to be proactive when it comes to human rights. Village leaders — like teachers, nurses and law enforcement — also need more training to recognize the signs of trafficking and know what to do when they see it. Read More
Let’s start the NEW YEAR with giving praise and voice to the poets, mystics, artists and friends who changed my life…
My friend Kim Shuck is a poet, weaver, beadwork master artist (link http://www.kimshuck.com/beadwork.php ) and fellow traveler. Her ancestors were and are Tsalagi, Sauk and Fox and Polish, for the most part. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in weaving in 1998 from San Francisco State University, her hometown.
Her work generally touches on poetry, art, math, storytelling, humor, and whatever else seems useful at the time. AND she publishes RABBIT AND ROSE, an online journal. (LINK: http://www.rabbitandrose.com/current.php) (You can find me in the very first issue with my poem JUMP)
Kim, thanks for agreeing to talk about your new book CLOUDS RUNNING IN (Taurean Horn Press, 2014). I interviewed you about your book “Smuggling Cherokee” a few years back for Talking Stick in NYC. ( I love that book so much.) What should we know about this new poetry collection?
I’ve read that every first book is part autobiography, and mine was. I hope that I’m focusing in on the things that I think are important: interpersonal space, a life where Native people aren’t viewed as some kind of mythological group, the small concerns of my day, the larger concerns of my day. The book has some fantastic images in it drawn by the Scottish based artist Marcer Campbell. It’s a more grown up book, I think, more comfortable in it’s own covers.
If ever there was a time when words matter, it is now. What do poets do to address race and ethnicity?
Well, I think that we respond honestly and passionately to what we see as the immediate issues (like my recent poem here about the deaths)
We can be stolen at any age become
Examples a handprint on a
Handprint a fingerprint a case the
Last murdered Native girl before the
Paper was put to bed without mentioning her the
Next execution of a man they were
Frightened of and
Strangling is such an intimate form of killing ask the
People who know they say that you can feel the
Life leaking out with every excited beat of your
Own heart the
Last dead example before the news naps we know that
There is air and sometimes feel the
Blood burst its banks in our eyes and if only we weren’t
Frightening weren’t challenging they wouldn’t have if we could just
Be different be
Different we wouldn’t alchemize into a
Call to arms we wouldn’t be beaten to death less
Crazy less frightening thinner every
Stolen person child and man and I can see
Evidence of air out the window as clear as
Fear as clear as bullets or a chokehold or fists or feet or
Badges or any mark of a very particular
Identity allowed or not
Stolen or not
… My brain leaks words constantly about this sort of thing I can hope that they help other people. Maybe the job of poeting is being willing to learn publicly. It’s what I strive for at least.
You contributed to the anthology I edited CALLED HOME and wrote about your paternal grandmother Evelyn/Patricia, who was an adoptee, and actually a mystery to many, even in her own family. You and your father made some new discoveries about her. Is there anything you can share?
I think that she was a mystery as much to herself as to others. Grandma said a number of things about who her original family was and those things changed from time to time which I now think was because she didn’t really know for certain and as she narrowed it down she shared that information, when I was a kid this just confused me. Now I think I’ve found a new place for her. There is a story that she ended up dating her birth brother and got sent away to school, I don’t know if that one’s true or not but it’s one of the various stories. Hey you know, none of them are around anymore, let’s say that it’s a true story and nod at her fears and tensions. It changed and ruled her life in many ways, that sense of loss. We always thought that hers was an Indian adoption because of how completely tangled the story gets when you go back to the official paperwork, because of where she ended up originally and because a man with the same name, birthplace and birthdate shows up on the rolls. So now that we’ve done some picking around we’ve got Cherokee, Sauk and Fox and Choctaw people ready to say she was one of theirs. I guess it’s better to have surplus than deficit.
Tell us about the Pushcart award?
My poem about my grandma called “In the Walnut Grove”… about her being adopted, though I’m not sure that most readers know that… it’s been nominated for a Pushcart.
That year the wind took the
Topsoil and the children the
Maps all changed and not
Everyone found a pair of
Magical shoes or good
Company I wonder if she paused
Every time she introduced herself if it
Was a question between her teeth as well the
Taproots that go somewhere
Unknown and we understand that
Every family has stories that are
Painted over there are always
Things hidden in the walls but when all you
Know is the blank wall and the
Hints and suggestions of what might be in there and you
Know, know that all of the expected
Family portraits are in ink only
Visible under a certain moon
[About The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America. Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in their annual collections. The Pushcart Prize has been a labor of love and is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60’s and 70’s. LINK: http://www.pushcartprize.com/]
Greetings to you Marcer, and so glad you can answer a few questions. Tell us, how did you hook up with Kim and learn about her writing and poetry?
Meeting Kim was a combination of happy coincidence and pure good fortune. Kim initially contacted me after happening across my website and we very quickly developed a friendship based on a series of intense and for me inspirational conversations covering a good many topics, not least of which included music, painting, poetry and above all a shared passion for storytelling. Our respective backgrounds and life experiences may differ greatly, but we have much in common in terms of creative process. It was a striking common bond that led rapidly into working collaborations.
Do her words help you create a visual?
To begin with, Kim wrote poems as a response to a number of paintings I’d been working on. From there, over the course of a year or so, we discussed the possibility of collaborating on a more expansive project and this is where the idea for Clouds came from. At the outset there were to be no limits on the scope of the work I would produce in response to Kim’s poems, the drawings could be intended to create a visual mood or atmosphere as much as anything and we decided that the title of the book was a perfect starting place, with cloudscapes already featuring large in many of my paintings.
I worked through the drawings back to back over a nine month period. My intention was to allow ideas to suggest themselves as the work progressed with the one rule that there would be no corrections, redrawing or preliminary studies – Kim’s poems alone would inform the drawings, hence choosing the indelible medium of pen and ink.
From beginning to end there wasn’t one particular way of responding to Kim’s written word. In some instances I’ve attempted to capture the mood of a poem that I’ve related to in a very personal way and with other poems the drawing is more directly illustrative. Ultimately I wanted to realise a series of visual impressions; landscapes that would be both consistent and heartfelt; that would compliment and connect directly with Kim’s poetry.
In actual fact this project as a whole has been a joy to undertake because Kim has consistently trusted in my work and given me carte blanche simply to create. There was never a specific brief or list of requirements for me to adhere to and in deliberately allowing me free rein to interpret, react and respond to the poetry, the completed work has an opportunity to take on a life of its own.
Have you worked with other writers?
Perhaps it would be better not to ask this question because my answer is….no. Which sounds rubbish….
My gratitude to Kim and Marcer for answering some questions. Much love and respect to you both… and if you are interested in Kim’s grandmother’s story in the 2014 anthology CALLED HOME (direct link to buy Kindle version)