Last Post

Well, all good things must come to an end. It’s been a great semester, but I’m done and ready for summer. AIS 101 is over, and not going to lie, I know I’ll miss it. I’ll miss learning about real events, real people, real history, and real heroes. I’ll miss it all right, but I won’t forget it.

I hope this blog was somewhat interesting. I really looked hard for topics that sparked my curiosity and hopefully they sparked yours too. Just in writing these blog posts, I have learned so much. From fishing rights, to the peace pipe, to Osama bin Laden and Geronimo, summarizing, analyzing, and responding to these topics make them really stick with you.

All my teachers told me my senior year of high school how in college, learning if completely different. They’d always talk about how you remember things you learn in college not only because the studying is more intensive and demanding, but also because usually you’re interested in the classes you take. As much as my naïve senioritis filled self didn’t believe that, I now know it’s true. I loved AIS 101 because we read so many compelling articles and books, and because I wanted to learn. I got everything I wanted out of AIS 101, and I will certainly recommend it to my friends. My mom studied Native American cultures extensively in college, so we’ll have a lot to talk about this summer.

It’s been real.

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Indigenous People of Hawaii Finally Get Their Own Government

“So what are you doing this summer?”

Well, we’re actually going on a vacation to Hawaii!

“Oh my gosh, I heard it’s absolutely beautiful!

Yeah, we’ve already been three other times, but hey why stop now?!

Hawaii seems to be quite the tourist/vacation destination spot. I can pretty much guarantee that we all know at least one person or family who has been to Hawaii. The beaches, the women, the surfing, the food, the native culture; it’s all remarkable.

Although we enjoy it as a vacation spot, the native people of Hawaii cannot always say the same. They live there, and have lived there for thousands of years. The United States came in and took their land, just like we always do. But hey at least we’re consistent.

And until now, the native people of Hawaii have had no government of their own. They have not been considered their own people. “Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous group in the United States who haven’t been allowed to establish their own government…” (source 1). Thank goodness for Senator Akaka of Hawaii who proposed a bill (appropriately known as the Akaka bill), which will hopefully create an improved life for the native people. The purpose of the bill is “to provide a process for the reorganization of the single Native Hawaiian governing entity and the reaffirmation of the special political and legal relationship between the United States and that Native Hawaiian governing entity for purposes of continuing a government-to-government relationship” (source 2). However, unlike the other tribal governments already established in the continental US and Alaska, the native Hawaiian government does not call for the same requirements as tribal recognition does (if you’d like to read a full listing of the tribal government recognition requirements go to source 2). Not to mention, this bill currently restricts Hawaiians from building/running casinos. So there are some differences between tribal governments and the Native Hawaiian government, but at least their getting recognized.

So things might be a little different when we take our yearly vacations to Hawaii. We might actually be restricted to go to some areas of Hawaii, but I couldn’t be happier with that.

source 1: http://www.nativetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5325:beginnings-of-native-hawaiian-government-agreed-on&catid=51&Itemid=27

source 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akaka_Bill

watch?v=vjKKGHgbFzA

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Osama Bin Laden is Nicknamed “Geronimo”

As we’ve all heard, the number one most wanted terrorist has been killed: Osama Bin Laden. He was the founder and head of the terrorist group al-Qaeda and is responsible for the 3000 deaths that occurred on September 11th, 2001.

Being familiar with Osama Bin Laden’s “accomplishments”, let’s turn over to the Indian Chief Geronimo, or his original name: Goyahkla, or “He Who Yawns”.

Goyahkla was a prominent leader of the Apache tribe born and raised in modern day New Mexico. He fought against both Mexico and the United States in attempts to fight for his tribe’s land and for revenge.

After the Mexican army attacked and killed his family, Goyahkla became an active soldier of the Apache tribe first fighting bands of the Mexican army. With no guns, only knives, Goyahkla seemed invincible and was known throughout his tribe to have supernatural powers. The Mexican soldiers being attacked by Goyahlka would scream out “Saint Jerome” (Jeronimo) in vain. After enough soldiers had cursed the saint’s name at the fierce Apache fighter, he became known as Geronimo.

He later fought bands of the United States’ army as well. He is known for his bravery and superior fighting skills.  However, no one is a hero forever. Geronimo eventually was captured by the United States army, surrendered, and was held as a prisoner of war.

According to ABS News, The United States Navy SEALs used the name “Geronimo” as Osama Bin Laden’s codename. Now that we know a little bit of the history of both Osama Bin Laden and Geronimo, how in the heck can these two be even compared? Osama killed thousands of innocent people who did nothing to him, as a revenge for the injustice against Palestine that the United States participated in and because we support Israel. Geronimo didn’t kill innocent people and was fighting for his tribe whose land was being heartlessly stolen by the United States and because his own immediate family members were killed for no reason. I guess it doesn’t matter what you do or why you do it, but the country you do it to. Anything against the US is considered wrong. And granted, some things against us are indeed wrong, but definitely not all things. Geronimo is a hero. Osama Bin Laden is evil. But since both fought against the US, both are automatically considered wrong.

When I heard about this codename, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate topic to post about.  Many Native Americans are outraged, and could you blame them? That is most certainly the biggest insult. Putting a warrior hero in the same category as the most wanted terrorist? Someone please tell me this is a joke…

I guess kids aren’t the only ones who need to take history classes.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo

picture: http://heyokamagazine.com/Geronimo_IV.png

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Homosexuality and Native Americans

In class, we briefly discussed homosexuality among Native Americans and how it was traditionally celebrated. As we know, this mentality is very different when compared to the colonial white American homophobia (for Christian reasons, of course).

Personally, I have never understood what the hype is about homosexuality. It’s the same thing as being heterosexual, but only with the same sex. And as obvious as that sounds, I think it’s what people forget most. People with minority sexualities aren’t aliens, they aren’t weird, they aren’t evil…they’re people. They’re people just like you and me who happen to like the same sex. What is the problem?  I suppose my lovingly liberal upbringing has influenced my view…but nonetheless, I was raised Christian, and I still could never understand why it was such a big deal. But as we know, many Christians think homosexuality is a big deal; they think it’s a sin, evil, and unnatural. And where does all of this stem from? The Bible of course. Who would have thought all of this drama could come from one book?

In sum, I’ve never agreed with the white Christian American view of homosexuality. If anything, I think homosexuality is cool: a viewpoint similar to many Native American tribes.

The “Berdache” (Native American homosexuals) were thought to live “outside the world” and be of “two spirits”. If one person could like both sexes or the same sex, they were a type of third gender: able to identify with both sexes. The Berdache were automatically thought to be spiritually gifted. In fact, homosexuality was encouraged to the point where it was considered normal for men to have gay sex, even if they weren’t actually homosexual. And if the wives of men were homosexuals or had affairs with the same sex, the husbands were considered highly honorable.

Homosexuals were thought of as being more intuitive, nurturing, wise, and skilled. Gay children were highly esteemed and valued; parents would often try to teach homosexuality to their children with hopes that the child would become homosexual, or become “Berdache”.

But why this high esteem? Well, as opposed to the white culture’s notion of “different is bad”, most Native American tribes lived by the notion that “different is good”.  Different mind sets, different values.

However, forced white American assimilation has taken its toll on the views of homosexuality in Native communities. Just as the white colonists were homophobic, now many Native Americans communities are. I suppose if you’re forcibly integrated into extremist and absurd views long enough and intensely enough, you have a higher chance of being brainwashed. The white Americans not only took and/or corrupted Native land and Native lives, but also Native spirituality; twisting minds seems to be the colonial white Americans’ talent.

Sometimes things change for the better, but not always.

The movie posted below is about a movie called “Two Spirits” in which the history of Native American is explored, and a specific case of a Native homosexual hate crime.

Source of information: http://www.spirit-alembic.com/ishvara.html

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Mount Rushmore: A Real Sight to See

My dad has always talked about how much he would like to see Mount Rushmore. As a family, we are determined to take a road trip some summer and gaze upon the unfathomable creation. As you all probably know, the heads of presidents (left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are magnificently carved in the solid stone of the mountain. However, after learning in class about the “accomplishments” of these presidents relative to Native people, my enthusiasm has dwindled. Just for old time’s sake, let’s brush up on these featured men…

The first president of the United States: George Washington. This ole chap is known as the brilliant Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army; he won numerous battles in the Revolutionary War, and once appointed king of the young United States, he refused the offer and pushed for a free, democratic government. After being a major participant in organizing the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in1787, the first Electoral College unanimously voted him the first president of the United States. But no one would have known that in 1779 Washington “instructed Major General John Sullivan to attack the Iroquois people. Washington stated, ‘lay waste all the settlements around…that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed’” (source 1). He commanded the slaughtering of Iroquois people and the burning of their homes and land…what a guy…

The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is widely known for being the first United States Secretary of State, and for being the main author of the United States Constitution. But no one would have known that Jefferson commanded the US army to use lethal force against any Indians who would not move westward. He stole land without negotiation and without taking a glance at any treaty. In the Native American viewpoint, he is known for being a racist and literally a destroyer of Native people….what a guy…

Theodore Roosevelt is known for being the 26th president of the United States, the recipient of the first Nobel Pace Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1906, the creator of the “Square Deal”, and when Roosevelt was the head of the Department of Navy (before his presidency) he led a group from Cuba known as the Rough Riders against the Spanish army in the Spanish-American War and thusly received the Medal of Honor. But no on would have known that he was a supporter of the extermination of the Indians, stating that the Indian extermination “’was ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable’. Roosevelt once said ‘ I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth’” (source 1)…what a guy…

As one of our founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln is thought of as not only as the 16th president of the United States, but also as the emancipator of the black slaves and as an overall peace-maker.  The same day this “moral” president signed the emancipation proclamation freeing the black slaves of the United States, he also ordered the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians on December 26th, 1862 in Minnesota. In other words, Lincoln ordered the largest mass hanging in United States history…what a guy…

These “founding fathers” of our nation, are taught as moral leaders in elementary through high school. Only the white-centered positivity is focused on and all the negative racism is brushed under the rug. The truth needs to be recognized and taught in schools, starting in elementary school. Just because America is now ashamed of what we have done, doesn’t mean we didn’t do it. Own up.

I still would like to see Mount Rushmore, it is beautiful indeed, but my gained knowledge will only allow me to appreciate the techniques of the art and the artist, not the portraits.

The Youtube video below features a Native American historian letting the truth be head about the presidents carved into Mount Rushmore.

Source one: http://www.greatdreams.com/lies.htm

The well known presidential facts were obtained from Wikipedia.

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Iron Eyes Cody: The Man Inspiring You to up Your Aluminum Can

In class, we just finished reading Reservation Reelism by Michelle H. Raheja. It’s about the relationship between American Indians and film- how film has portrayed Indians over the years. Rahja discusses some Indian stereotypes (the “one with nature” Indian, the vanishing Indian, the silent Indian, the victimized Indian etc…) and how films featuring Indians help to further instill the stereotypes into our brains. Though at first I was skeptical of this book, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Rahja goes into detail and really does prove the presence and exploitation of Indian stereotypes in film, but does so in a neutral tone- she doesn’t scare me with her writing like some other passionate and opinionated writers do. In my opinion, the most interesting part of the book so far is the chapter on Iron Eyes Cody (chapter 3 “Tears and Trash”).

Iron Eyes Cody was what they call a “Hollywood Indian”, or an Indian actor. He started his acting career when he was only twelve appearing in over 200 films over the course of his life. The most notable films he was in are “The Scarlet Letter” with John Wayne in 1934 and “Sitting Bull” in 1954. However, he is associated most with his role as “the crying Indian” in the “Keep America Beautiful” Public Service Announcements first airing in the early 1970s, and then again in the late 1990s.

Not only was Iron Eyes Cody a notable Indian actor, but he was also a notable Indian activist. He helped reservations out financially, even paying for funerals on reservation. He was well liked in the American eyes. With the help of a ghostwriter, Cody wrote an autobiography about his childhood on the reservation; apparently he was half Cherokee and half Cree. He wore Indian garb on camera and off and had the Indian knickknacks all around his house, proving his authenticity to the white American people. It is safe to say that Cody loved being Indian….or so you thought.

Twist in the plot: Iron Eyes Cody is not actually of Indian decent. Can you believe it? And after all that build up!

The famous crying Indian is not Indian; he is Sicilian. Apparently, the incorrect way he wore his feather on his head gave it away, and the fact that his sister spoke up providing family history proving Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera Oscar DeCorti to Sicilian immigrants and raised in Louisiana.

But here’s the big discussion question: Does it really matter that he wasn’t Indian?

It’s a tricky question. Maybe he should not have lied for his entire life about his true identity, but at the same time, he made a really big difference in the American Indian community. He didn’t just wear the clothes, he was active and genuinely cared about the Indian people who he considered his own.

But then there’s the concept of “passing”. Because of the United State’s racist and discriminatory past, many Native Americans who happened to have lighter skin tried and succeeded at passing to be white. They tried to blend in to the majority. But Cody, did the exact opposite, and in doing so further instilled an Indian stereotype: the ghostly Indian. As Raheja writes: “Passing figures force us to confront the dominant culture’s desire for discrete, bounded, essential categories of identification. Indian ghosts, as I read the character Cody plays in the public service announcement and many of his off-screen appearances, are the uncanny, destabilizing sparks that flare up in the tension between vanishing Indian rhetoric and Indigenous resistance and self-representation” (Raheja 107).

So as you can see, Cody represented and instilled a stereotype not appreciated by the Native American people. This is a difficult situation because his heart was in the right place, he cared a lot about his fake heritage, but presented his care and action in a somewhat offensive manner.

Ponder on that for a while and come to your own conclusion.

In case you’re not familiar with the commercials Iron Eyes Cody is famous for, I’ve posted one below. Enjoy!

Work cited:

 Raheja, Michelle H. Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2010. Print.

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The First American Indian Professional Woman Basketball Player

Growing up in a neighborhood filled with older boys, I guess you can say I’ve playing sports for my entire life. We used to ring each others doorbells daily hoping each other could come outside to play, and when we did play, we played for the entire day.

Basketball, baseball, soccer, you name it, we played it. After being taught how to play these sports by the guys, I was always known for being one of the best girl athletes in school. I could catch a ball, as opposed to most other third grade girls, and I was definitely the fastest runner.

While pondering about a topic for another blog post, I thought, “why not talk about sports?” And after browsing, a particular article featured my third grade dream occupation: a professional woman basketball player.

Her name is Tahnee Robinson. She was famous way back in high school- she was McDonald’s and Gatorade’s All American; she was famous in junior college- earning the NJCAA (National Junior Collegiate Athletic association) All American Honors and leading her team to the championships and winning; and then at Nevada University she was named to the first team All-Western Athletic Conference, signed with Nike, and was eventually the 31st picked overall in the draft of the WNBA in April 2011.

In her collegiate career, Robinson scored an average of 22 points per game, averaged about 6 rebounds per game, successfully threw about 42% of her 3-point shots into the hoop, and made about 81% of shots thrown at the free throw line.

Tahnee Robinson is not only the first woman to be drafted to the WNBA from Nevada University, but is more importantly the first American Indian woman professional basketball player.

She truly represents the perfect model for kids. Though she is highly naturally talented, she is known for her incredible work ethic by her coaches. After all, in anything you do, if you don’t work at it, you don’t get very far. After all her hard work and dedication, she’ll be playing with the basketball players she has always watched on TV. Talk about a dream come true.  I cannot wait to watch her on my TV for the next decade.

Source: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/04/robinson-indian-in-wnba-history/

Picture: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_full_width

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