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Friday, February 17, 2017

True Story of Pocahontas
Pocahontas’ Mother, Also Named Pocahontas, Died While Giving Birth to Her  This is in many historical accounts, though not always. It is important to note that Pocahontas was born to her mother, named Pocahontas and her father Wahunsenaca, (sometimes spelled Wahunsenakah), who later became the paramount chief. Her name at birth was Matoaka, which means “flower between two streams,” and according to Mattaponi history was likely given to her because she was born between the two rivers of Mattaponi and Pamunkey (York).

According to Mattaponi oral history, little Matoaka was possibly about 10 years old when John Smith and English colonists arrived in Tsenacomoca in the spring of 1607. John Smith was about 27 years old. They were never married nor involved.

When she was a child, John Smith and English colonists stayed near the Powhatan on the nearby Jamestown Island, but later began to explore outlying areas. Smith was feared by many Native people because he was known to enter villages and put guns to heads of chiefs demanding food and supplies.  In the winter of 1607, the colonists and Smith met with Powhatan warriors and Smith was captured by the chief’s younger brother.

Years later, Smith alleged that Pocahontas saved his life in the four-day process of becoming a werowance. But according to Mattaponi oral and contemporary written accounts, there would be no reason to kill a man designated to receive an honor by the chief.  Additionally, children were not allowed to attend any sort of religious ritual similar to the werowance ceremony.  She could not have thrown herself in front of John Smith to beg for his life for two reasons: Smith was being honored, and she would not have been allowed to be there.

It is likely Pocahontas served as a symbol of peace by simply being present as a child among her people to show no ill intentions when her people met with the Jamestown settlers. 

In the midst of the horrible and atrocious acts committed by the colonists, Matoaka was coming of age. During a ceremony, Matoaka was to choose a new name, and she selected Pocahontas, after her mother. During a courtship dance, it is likely she danced with Kocoum, the younger brother of Potowomac Chief Japazaw.  She married the young warrior at about 14 and soon became pregnant.  It was at this time rumors began to surface that colonists planned to kidnap the beloved chief’s daughter Pocahontas. Pocahontas Was Kidnapped, Her Husband Was Murdered and She Was Forced to Give Up Her First Child 

Pocahontas Was Raped While in Captivity and Became Pregnant With Her Second Child  According to Dr. Linwood Custalow, a historian of the Mattaponi Tribe and the custodian of the sacred oral history of Pocahontas, soon after being kidnapped, she was suffering from depression and was growing more fearful and withdrawn. Her extreme anxiety was so severe her English captors allowed Pocahontas’ eldest sister Mattachanna and her husband Uttamattamakin to come to her aid.

John Rolfe Married Pocahontas to Create a Native Alliance in Tobacco Production  Mattaponi history is clear that Pocahontas had a son out of wedlock, Thomas, prior to her marriage to John Rolfe. Prior to that marriage, the colonists pressed Pocahontas to become “civilized” and often told her that her father did not love her because he had not come to rescue her.  Pocahontas often tore off her English clothes, because they were uncomfortable. Eventually, Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca.

Pocahontas was just under 21 at the time of her death. Instead of being taken home and laid to rest with her father, Rolfe and Argall took her to Gravesend, England, where she was buried at Saint George’s Church, March 21, 1617. Though Virginia tribes have requested that her remains returned for repatriation, officials in England say the exact whereabouts of her remains are not known.   

According to Deyo, Little Kocoum was the name that Dr. Linwood Custalow used for the purpose of his book to reference a small child whose name was not yet known.  In the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi, the child was raised by the Patawomeck Tribe. The name of that child was passed down in the Patawomeck oral history was discovered to be Ka-Okee, a daughter.  This lineage to Ka-Okee includes the world famous entertainer Wayne Newton, a member of the Virginia state-recognized Powhatan Patawomeck tribe.  Thomas Rolfe stayed in England and was educated there. He later returned to the Powhatan as an adult. He was married and had many descendants.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Cultural Appropriations

It is the absence of a variety of images, stories, and truths juxtaposed next to simplified stereotypes that make the impact of those stereotypes so damaging for indigenous people.

This is our land, our heritage, our biology…  Our very cells were formed on this continent.  We need to be represented with a larger space in literature, media, politics, education, etc.  We want the same thing others already have - like TV shows that reflect our lives, songs on the radio written and sung by our people, textbooks that tell our history, holidays that celebrate our culture, laws that protect our rights, politicians that speak for our values.

1. Why do you think cultural appropriations happens so much in our society? Why is it a problem? What does this have to do with our history? 
People think because they are in control and have power and money that they can take/borrow anything they want from another culture, but that means that the actual culture loses a bit of themselves. Performing a Eucharist or opening Torah scrolls wouldn’t be done at a typical summer camp or in a classroom, but Native American clothing and practices are often kidnapped and used without respect, understanding, or knowledge. 

When I say, “Winnebago,” “Pontiac,” and “Sequoyah,” do you think of a recreational vehicle, car, and tree? Our culture that has been taken out of context and minimized, so that it no longer resembles a great nation, a famous leader, or the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. Our medicines, herbs, and healing practices are as sacred as your “ceremonies.”

More people see stereotypes than real, authentic images. They misrepresent our history and cultures.   One single image can be assigned to all NA’s with little regard to individual differences. Images like these affect both First Nations People and all children.  They model what we are supposed to look like, act like, and do.  Stereotypes, by their negative nature, do not focus on contributions, role-models, or resistance.

2. What makes cultural appropriation of Native American culture different than that of other cultures?
Mascots dehumanize and objectify Native Americans reaffirming the belief that Native People no longer exist or that they exist only in the media or as caricatures. Stereotyping of this nature is harmful on many levels not only to Native people but also to those who allow the stereotype to shape their view.

A major problem with “mascots” is that they stereotype. While many things stereotype many groups, the fact that First Nations People have so little accurate representation in cinema, textbooks, history, novels, etc. in our own country makes it much more problematic. One single image is assigned to all Native Americans with little regard to our individual differences.  We are not seen as contemporary or professional. Stereotypes miss the positive images. If there was a range, maybe the public wouldn’t notice the negative image, but given that there is an absence of almost anything accurate about indigenous people, mascots are the wrong image to project. 

Stereotypes not only affect the First Nations People, they affect nonNative people, too, by giving inaccurate information. If the mascots were about communities who are gay, Jewish, or black, it would have already stopped. Each time mascots are used or our dress is taken out of context, we are reminded that we are not equal and we are not respected, at the same time that it teaches the nonNative group (those doing the stereotyping and appropriation) that they are superior.

3. What differentiates the art you make with what huge companies make?
Native art is protected by the Native American Arts and Crafts Act.  It is protected from cheap knock-offs because it is authentically indigenous.  We have the right to sell our own products and can’t even mass produce them within this law (it typically wouldn’t stay 100% Native)! We are not out in the world making millions of dollars, so our crafting is one of the ways we are able to retain our culture and make money.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Finding Your Native American Heritage

Many people in the US and Canada have at least one Indian ancestral line in their family.  Lots of people grew up hearing the family legend about a family member that was Native American.  Proving that legend to be true or false can be tough.  There is very little official records about early Native American. Starting your search on Native American Genealogy can be very challenging. 

You will need to build a family tree using a multitude of resources. Research the deaths, births, and marriages of your family.  Use these records to build links from yourself back to your ancestors.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Legislation Proposed in Massachusetts

When I hear that a bill to prevent the use of First Nations (Native American) images, nicknames and logos depicting Native Americans from public schools is being introduced, I think, “It’s about time!” And even though it’s not enough, it’s a beginning.

Those images, and a few films by Hollywood and Disney, are sometimes the ONLY things Americans see and know about indigenous people. “Mascots” keep us “trapped” in a false narrative and don’t show context or how we have evolved over 500 years. The problem isn’t only whether they are accurate or caricatures and respectful or not. The problem is that we aren’t able to share our own story in our own voices. Another problem is that we are not represented at every grade level in every subject from literature to history in our own country. Our narrative is effectively cut off, in favor of someone else’s limited perspective on us.

In order to understand the issue, one has to understand how systemic oppression works. We’re not talking about “individual acts of meanness,” we’re talking about a “system” that is able to perpetuate misinformation, missing information, stereotypes, and prejudices. “Mascots” are part of this system. The “system” includes individuals, as they are part of culture and social structure, but also institutions. By “institutions,” I mean schools, legal systems, houses of worship, publishing houses, movie industry, banks, and such. By “system,” I mean they all work together systematically, that’s why we can all understand (and some would even laugh) at a stereotypes– because we KNOW them, they’ve been perpetuated by these institutions AND by those we know, love, and trust.

For Native Americans, this system has been in place for over 500 years on our own land. Every other person in this country has somewhere else where their “story” is being told, most times they are even able to control their own narrative in that country. First Nations People don’t have that. Someone else is always telling us how we should look, what we did in history, what we didn’t contribute to this country, and more. Where should our story be told accurately and often, if not in American schools and cinema?

Then there is the issue that 20% of us live on reservations, some of which have deplorable conditions, like a “developing nation” or what some might call a “third world country.” Many of us are mixed race, ethnicity, and/or nation. By using mascot images, we are forever kept in the past. Images that use a war bonnet are even more offensive. It is like buying medals on eBay and pretending to be a soldier - our warriors wore those on the plains and earned those feathers (like a medal)!

Everyone is affected by this “system” of oppression which we call racism. Some (indigenous nations) are oppressed, while those who are not Native American are “hurt.” Those who are hurt may not know that they are missing out on their own country’s history, but with education and awareness it can become clearer.

Yes, mascots, logos, chanting, appropriated music, images, and all other racist propaganda need to go from schools AND sports teams, but it’s not enough.  We need to include the voice of indigenous people throughout the public educational system, so that our history can have its rightful place as American history. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Boston Women's March

Here's the missing introduction that is "clipped" off in this video:  "Claudia Fox Tree and Savannah Fox Tree - McGrath are First Nations persons of Arawak descent. Claudia Fox Tree is a professional educator and leads conversations on Native American identity, culture, and history. She is affiliated with the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) and the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP).  Her daughter, Savannah Fox Tree, will sing in Cherokee. Savannah is a student at Roger Williams University, majoring in architecture."

Thanks to my friend, Jan Shaw, who took the video of Savannah Fox Tree-McGrath and me with my camera from the side of the stage at today's Boston Women's March as we stood before over 150 THOUSAND people.  We were the first speakers after the 11am program began - America the Beautiful by the Boston Children’s Chorus, the Pledge of Allegiance by Commissioner Giselle Sterling, the emcee Mariama White-Hammond, and then us.  This is one of the most meaningful moments of our lives - representing our people, and all people, for equity and social justice!

Click for VIDEO
Bo Matum (thank you) to the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragansett who originally inhabited this land we now know as Massachusetts.  “Welcome” to everyone else.
All summer and fall, I and others have been standing in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  Without water, we have no life. Today, I stand in solidarity with my sisters from Boston, and around the world in places, such as, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Nairobi, Athens, Cape Town, Rio De Janeiro, San Jose, and Vancouver.  With solidarity, we have hope.   
We are the few who have the privilege to be here because we can afford not to be working on a Saturday, we can walk out of our homes, we are healthy, and we have help for children who may have been left at home.  We stand beside those who fight for equal pay, disability awareness, healthcare, and childcare.

As an indigenous first nations person of Arawak descent, my ancestors greeted Christopher Columbus.  We have been fighting attempted genocide, intolerance, hate, lies about our people, lack of recognition for our achievements and contributions, racist mascot representations in media, schools, and sports, and acts of violence for over 500 years. We are the original “survivors.”  “Standing up” is in our blood!

Today, we are reminded that our struggle is not over, it is part of what makes us women, humans, and survivors.  We are stronger when we stand together as allies, activists, agitators, and accomplices. As our ally James Baldwin once said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  Today is the next chance to face the challenge of keeping our hard-won rights and creating more equity for those who are still fighting!
In our indigenous communities, women are often the ones who keep the culture alive.  We pass on traditions to our daughters AND to our sons, as well as through our unique community ties.  We lead by example.  We “stand up” for the environment, humanity, and the other sentient beings with whom we share this Turtle Island. 
Two of my three daughters could not be here. My oldest, Cheyenne, has devoted her career to doing social justice work and activism.  She is completing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Salem State University, though she is right now at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. 

My youngest, who is a twin, Indigo, is at Framingham State University where she does activism through student leadership on campus and in her artwork.  I, myself, am a product of the University of Massachusetts (Boston) and Fitchburg State College.  Massachusetts is fortunate to have a free K-12 public education system and fabulous state universities that need to remain open, accessible, and affordable to all!

I’m elated to have the other twin, my daughter, Savannah, standing by my side now.  She is going to sing a song that represents the ability to change, even in the darkest of times, Amazing Grace.  First in Cherokee, and then in English, at which point all are asked to join in and sing the first verse with her.

* Two words have been added, since speaking on 1/21/17.  They are "schools" and "affordable."

Melrose "Dreamcatcher" and Other "Mascot" Issues

Massachusetts Mascots

Melrose Dreamcatcher

Claudia Fox Tree, a board member for the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, said that if Melrose does choose to keep its Red Raiders name, the city should do what it can to weed out culturally appropriative imagery entirely.

Yesterday, Miranda Davis at the Greenfield Recorder picked up the story of Massachusetts bill SD.1119, An Act to Prohibit the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth. The introduction of this bill directly impacts the local debate in Turners Falls about the effects of continued use of the “Indians” mascot/logo.

Excerpt: The bill, introduced Thursday, was filed “by request” by Sen. Barbara L’Italian, a Democrat representing the 2nd Essex and Middlesex district. According to L’Italian’s spokeswoman Emma Friend, the bill was requested by a resident of Tewksbury, where the high school’s mascot is the Redmen. If passed, the bill would affect the ongoing debate in Montague over whether Turners Falls High School should keep its current mascot, the Indians.
Another story on the same topic was published by NECN, an NBC affiliate out of Boston, MA.
Excerpt:  The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness said change is long overdue. “Mascots keep us trapped in a false narrative and don’t show context or how we have evolved over 500 years,” said Claudia Fox Tree. “The problem is that we aren’t able to share our own story in our own voices.”

CBS local affiliate WBZ Channel 4 in Boston also carried the announcement. From that report:
A Tewksbury resident wants state lawmakers to ban the use of Native American symbols and logos at public schools. After losing a battle to change Tewksbury High School’s mascot from the Redmen, Linda Thomas is now hoping legislators will vote to get rid of Native American logos at all public schools for good. Last year, the Tewksbury School Committee voted 4-1 to keep their mascot, which some say pays tribute to the town’s Native American heritage. “This is really not a town issue, this is a state issue,” Thomas said.

Names that offend in the age of the Internet
The effort to enact a state law grew out of an unsuccessful campaign last year to change the Redman nickname used by Tewksbury Memorial High School. "If the Tewksbury School Committee refuses to consider the implications of a race-based mascot, then perhaps the Legislature will," bill supporter Laura Harrington told the Globe.  Three legislators representing the local towns affected by the bill say they are against forcing a change, staff writer Jim Hand reported in his Feb. 8 story.  State Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, who also represents Foxboro, said no one in Foxboro had said to him that the Warrior nickname was offensive, and in any case this was an issue that should be decided locally, not at the state level.  State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, also said such decisions should be left to school committees. State Rep. Steven Hewitt, R-Seekonk, said the Warrior name is fine with him since his town is named after a Native American word for geese.  There has been at least one case in Massachusetts in which a Native American mascot name was dropped. That was the Natick Redmen, with the decision coming in 2008 after a community debate, the Globe said.

Should We Be Able to Reclaim a Racist Insult — as a Registered Trademark?
Can a marginalized group can take a slur back. And this agency must do so by applying a provision of the law that has long outlived its context. The Lanham Act was passed in 1946, and its very language — “immoral,” “scandalous,” “disparage” — flags Section 2(a) as a product of another time. Since its passage, American law and society itself have undergone a revolution, from the 1971 case that declared a jacket reading “[Expletive] the Draft” was protected speech to 1992’s R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, in which Justice Antonin Scalia articulated the idea that prohibitions against racist hate speech were constitutionally impermissible “viewpoint discrimination.” You might be tempted to think that if the Lanham Act had been passed in 1996 rather than 1946, Section 2(a) would have long been toast.

Long before Tam had even dreamed up the name “the Slants,” Native American activists were gunning for the Washington Redskins’ trademarks. In 1992, they petitioned the patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the Redskins’ marks under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. Ever since then, they’ve been mired in an endless slog of litigation both inside and outside the agency. The board has canceled the Redskins’ trademarks twice now: once in 1999 and once more in 2014. This time, it seems it might stick: When the Redskins appealed out to a federal district court in 2014, they lost.

From this perspective, the government is impermissibly punishing Dykes on Bikes with an unending hell of paperwork and legal fees and putting them at a disadvantage in any potential dispute, all because they want to call themselves dykes. Framed this way, it does sound like a violation of free speech, and Section 2(a) sounds like a bad idea. But Dykes on Bikes and the Slants aren’t the only people caught in the cross hairs of Section 2(a) — they’re just the more sympathetic ones. Even as Tam’s case was trickling through the legal system, another Section 2(a) case was making very loud and ugly headlines.

Tam, who sees antiracism as a big part of what the Slants do, does not care for the Redskins or the team’s owner, Dan Snyder. “‘Redskin’ has a long history of oppression, the football team treats the people as mascots,” Tam wrote on his website in 2016. He concedes that there is “overlap” between his case and the Redskins’, but insists that they are not equivalent. For many people, there’s a fundamental difference between an Asian-American dance-rock band called “the Slants” and a football team owned by a white man, featuring no Native American players, called “the Redskins.”

Whatever the Supreme Court might think of this question, it doesn’t want to deal with the Redskins right now. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to the Slants, but has declined to hear the Redskins’ case. What that means for the Slants is anyone’s guess. But for all intents and purposes, it looks as if the Supreme Court, just like Tam, would rather have the two cases detached from each other.

The caption of the case they’re considering, “Lee v. Tam,” feels strangely apt for a case about reappropriating a slur against Asians. The naming conventions of the legal system mean that Simon Shiao Tam is being pitted against Michelle Lee, the first Asian-American director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This is, of course, a bit of a legal fiction: Lee will not be arguing the case at the Supreme Court, and she was, presumably, not in the room when the office’s examining attorney first rejected Tam’s application on the basis that it disparaged Asians. On Jan. 18, Tam’s lawyers will be facing down Lee’s lawyers before eight justices, none of whom are Asian, to decide the fate of the Slants and whether trademark law can accommodate “taking a word back.”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Articles 2016

Jane Fonda at Standing Rock

Fonda, an Academy-Award winner repeatedly recognized for her innumerable gifts, arrived at Standing Rock during the week of Thanksgiving and donated seven butchered bison for a celebratory meal hosted by actress Shailene Woodley. In an interview conducted by Native visionary Tracy Rector of Longhouse Media for Indian Country Today Media Network, Fonda observed that people such as herself who brought things to help the people standing in opposition to the Dakota Access Piepline “end up getting much more than we’ve given” thanks to the prayerfulness, resilience and hope that permeates the camps. She cited the meal’s opening prayer by Jesse Jay Taken Alive as having particular meaning, thanks to his sharing of indigenous wisdom. Most of all, she emphasized the palpable feeling of hope that filled her because of the positive attitudes of the people she encountered.

Story of Squanto 
“The graveyard of [Tisquantum’s] people became Plymouth Colony.” “We learn about Columbus landing in 1492 and it’s as if nothing happened for over 100 years until the Pilgrims landed,” Mann added. “But the Tisquantum story gives you this tiny peek into that all the people involved had been interacting for more than a century.”
Tisquantum most likely was not the name he was given at birth. In that part of the Northeast, tisquantum referred to rage, especially the rage of manitou, the world-suffusing spiritual power at the heart of coastal Indians’ religious beliefs. When Tisquantum approached the Pilgrims and identified himself by that sobriquet, it was as if he had stuck out his hand and said, “Hello, I’m the Wrath of God.”

“We learn about Columbus landing in 1492 and it’s as if nothing happened for over 100 years until the Pilgrims landed,” Mann added. “But the Tisquantum story gives you this tiny peek into that all the people involved had been interacting for more than a century.”

Standing Rock is Why I Don't Celebrate Thanksgiving
"The police claim that the Sioux and their supporters are "trespassing," but the problem with that has always been: How do you trespass on your own land?

Well, when I was in the second grade, my mother and father broke down the truth about "Manifest Destiny," a lofty phrase that whitewashes the truth about Europeans taking Native American lands by force, lies and larceny.

Which brings me to one extremely frustrating conclusion, which is that President Barack Obama "could" send troops or federal agents to protect the protesters. The president "could" seek to resolve the pipeline issue between both parties."

Decolonizing Thanksgiving
"The idea that Native Americans are all dead is a powerful one. I know this because I teach Native American and Indigenous Studies at the college level. Students come to my classes knowing very little about Native Americans, but almost always speaking of Native Americans in the past tense. I work to combat that perception in each and every class, but I see that my students sometimes have difficulty reconciling what they learn in my classes with what they have learned before. This is true despite the fact that I am Native Hawaiian and speak often about my own experiences and research, and that at least a handful of my students are Native American themselves. The difficulty is not an individual failure to absorb the class material, but a symptom of living in the United States and experiencing the ongoing perpetuation of anti-Indigenous ideologies that are built into this nation's foundation." 

Roxanne Dunbar on Thanksgiving
"It’s never been about honoring Native Americans," indigenous historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz says of the origins of Thanksgiving. "It’s been about the origin story of the United States, the beginning of genocide, dispossession and... warfare."

North Dakota Pipeline
NY Times: The department’s video was meant to portray the protesters as dangerous troublemakers, but the photos and videos in news reports suggest a more familiar story — an imbalance of power, where law enforcement fiercely defends property rights against protesters’ claims of environmental protection and the rights of indigenous people. American Indians have seen this sort of drama unfold for centuries — native demands meeting brute force against a backdrop of folly — in this case, the pursuit of fossil fuels at a time of sagging oil demand and global climatic peril.

Presidential Proclamation
"On this holiday, we count our blessings and renew our commitment to giving back. We give thanks for our troops and our veterans -- and their families -- who give of themselves to protect the values we cherish; for the first responders, teachers, and engaged Americans who serve their communities; and for the chance to live in a country founded on the belief that all of us are created equal. But on this day of gratitude, we are also reminded that securing these freedoms and opportunities for all our people is an unfinished task. We must reflect on all we have been afforded while continuing the work of ensuring no one is left out or left behind because of who they are or where they come from."

National Museum of American Indian
What’s the gravest threat for Native Americans today?
"Surely one of them, perhaps the largest, is the ignorance of the non-Native public about the Native American past and present. Because that leads to misunderstanding in evaluating contemporary issues."

Standing Rock Sioux

On Dec. 4, hundreds of veterans will muster at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The mission: To stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. “We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone,” Clark Jr. says. “They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.” You may have heard of Clark Jr.’s father. Wesley Clark Sr. retired from the Army in 2000 as a four-star general. His career began in the jungles of Vietnam.

Because the Corps neglected to consult the Standing Rock Sioux, as it was required to do under the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106), the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the American Council on Historic Preservation all criticized the assessment, but the project was eventually approved. The decision was a major victory for Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based parent company of Dakota Access LLC, which estimates the pipeline will bring $156 million in sales and income taxes to state and local governments and create thousands of temporary jobs.

For the Standing Rock Sioux, the Dakota Access project poses two immediate threats. First, the pipeline would run beneath Lake Oahe, the reservoir that provides drinking water to the people of Standing Rock. (An earlier route that avoided native lands was ruled out in part because it posed a danger to drinking water.) Second, according to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the building of the pipeline would destroy the sacred spots and burial grounds that were overlooked in the Corps’ assessment. But as the protests have intensified, and more outsiders, including members of more than 200 Native American tribes from across North America, have become involved, Standing Rock has, for some, come to represent something much bigger than a struggle between a disenfranchised people and a government-backed, billion-dollar corporation. It’s a battle to save humanity from itself.

Thanksgiving Anxieties, Political and Personal
"Until we can tell the truth about our history, there is little hope for the future…  Whatever the actual details of the 1621 celebration involving Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians (and there is ongoing debate about various factual claims), Thanksgiving is one way the dominant culture minimizes or denies the larger historical context of Europeans’ genocidal campaign against indigenous people to acquire the land base of the United States. Without that genocide, there is no United States. For the victors’ descendants to take a day off to give thanks without acknowledging that seems, well, just a bit sociopathic.… 

And whatever one’s personal relationship to the holiday, the political question remains: Why is it “normal” in the United States to celebrate a holiday that is based on a profound distortion of history? That kind of inquiry should lead us to related questions.… "

Native American Girls Describe the REAL History Behind Thanksgiving 

Stuff Your Turkey with Justice 2016


Just to be clear - It's not "political correctness" to want our history told accurately and completely.  It's not political correctness to want to be treated with dignity in actions, in deeds, and with words.  It's not political correctness when we correct you, it's us caring enough about you that we want to educate you - you are not on our "Not Worth It, I Give Up List!" Your "political correctness" comments are about your belief that you do not need to listen to us for whatever reason (not what you learned, not what you do, not what you think, etc.).  When you make a negative comment about something being, "Political Correct," you are not respecting us, you are dismissing us, the ones who are trying to educate you out of your ignorance - and you're refusing to listen.

We, Indigenous People of the Western Hemisphere (aka Native Americans) have not been able to tell our own stories - other people tell our story, or pieces of it, or stereotypes about it.  We have no place in the world to tell our own stories, if not here on our own land, in our own country!

When we want to be called respectful terms, have accurate images, and share our history (which is the history of our country), it is us wanting equity - something that many other folks (you) have without asking or thinking about, and yet we have to fight to have the same thing, to be respected for who we are, and to been fairly included in textbooks, novels, movies, the legal systems, and more.  Equity is not about "giving everyone a shoe," it is about "giving everyone a shoe that fits!" For far too long, we have had to settle with what was given us, which is like getting scraps in the kitchen while everyone else sits at the dining room table.

This is our land, our heritage, our biology…  Our very cells were formed on this continent.  We need to be represented with a larger space in literature, media, politics, education, etc., from the snow covered mountain tops to the sandy, rocky shores of this land, just to be equitable with your space.  Sometimes your "rights" infringe upon someone else's rights or, at least, take more than your fair share in our system of unequitable justice.  We want the same thing you already have - like TV shows that reflect our lives, songs on the radio written and sung by our people, textbooks that tell our history, holidays that celebrate our culture, laws that protect our rights, politicians that speak for our values.

When you have the power to tell your stories, and also ours because we aren't allowed, you are on the "cycle of oppression" - which is called racism.  Racism is not individual acts of meanness, it's a system working to keep one group in power and maintain the status quo, unwilling to change, and only willing to continue the same stereotypes and misinformation. It functions as a SYSTEM, which means multiple levels are working together.  Individuals are part of a society and culture that is reaffirmed through institutions. That's why when we see a stereotype, we ALL know it, because it's not just one person making it up on the spot, it's a system working to teach it to everyone and then perpetuate it to the exclusion of all other aspects of the group that is being stereotyped.  As indigenous First Nations people, we have an entire continuum of history and culture, but only snip-its, like Thanksgiving, teepees, feathers, horses, wars, and reservations are ever shown, taught, and learned.  Some of us are hurt by racism (misinformed, embarrassed, angry) and others are oppressed by it (unequal treatment under the law, limited access to institutions that have the power to create change).  For example, we are forced to celebrate holidays that aren't ours, while the holidays that we do recognize are considered minor and not institutionalized, forcing us to take personal days, if we want to observe them.  How many people have to take a personal day for Christmas?

BTW I do not get government handouts, I've always been Native American, I've always had health insurance, and I worked 40 hours a week to pay for my college education.  I recognize that this is an advantage that other American Indians, often that 22% that lives on a reservation, haven't had because their family lives in poverty, doesn't have electricity, has complicated medical issues, or lives meal by meal.  Most of the people in the United States don't even know about the "third world"/"developing nation" conditions that exist in their own country.

I worked just as hard as you did, but I did not see myself represented in K-12 or the greater cultural society around me, except when it benefited folks with power, privilege, and dominance to stereotype (Cleveland Indians), appropriate (clothing, head dresses, names like Apache and Winnebago), or mock us (Boston Tea Party).  This is not about my being "politically correct," it is about wanting "justice for all," especially the original people of this land.

~ Claudia A. Fox Tree

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Anti-Semitism Related to Funding of Columbus's Voyage in 1492

The Jewish community of Spain was the oldest and largest of any in Westren Europe. Jews had lived on the Iberian Peninsula continously from Roman times until banishment in 1492. For centuries the co-Nexisted with Muslim and Christians, playing a prominent role in commerce, administration and science as well as scholarship and lyric poetry.

Rising anti-semitism at the end of the fourteenth century had compelled vast numbers to submit to baptism. These were called conversos or New Christians, or marranos. Marranos was derogatory, meaning swine in Spanish, but history books have favored a neutral use of this term. The Jews referred to the converts as anussim, the forced ones, and distinguished between them and the genuine apostates in their mids. The Christian majority increasingly resented and mistrusted the New Christians, as much for their succes in society as their fear of them not taking Christianity seriously.

By the time of Ferdinand and Isabella in the late fifteenth century, religious tribunals of the Inquisition, promoted by the clergy and approved by the monarchs, were attacking some of the richest and most prominent New Christians families. Extreme physical and mental torture were used to extract confessions of secret judaizing.

Whether they had sincerely converted or not, the tribunals forced them to be Jews in order to convict them. Accusations were based on such activities as refusal to eat pork, eating kosher meat, etc. The confiscations of property of the victims, who were imprisoned or burned at the stake, enriched the royal treasury considerably. This was handy because the public funds were being depleted in the war against the Muslims.

The people were over-burdened with taxes. Even the clergy was being taxed. As soon as the first tribunal in 1480 was established, the order went out to transfer all the property of the condemned into cash.

Paradoxically however, Ferdinad and Isabella had surrounded themselves with New Christians. (Ferdinand himself was the great grandson of Paloma, from the Jewish community of Toledo). Ignoring church protest, the Christian kings had for a long time protected court Jews and used their services. Outstanding Jews who had submitted to baptism could officers, and leaders.
Columbus wrote in his journals that I have had constant relations with Jews and Moors.

On April 30, 1492, trumpets were sounded as it was announced everywhere that all unconverted Jews must leave Spain on pain of death by the end of July. After that date no Spaniard was to harbor a Jew or render any assistance. On the same day, Columbus was ordered to equip a fleet for voyage to the Indies. His contact granted him the title of admiral, and stipulated that he could keep one tenth of all the wealth he obtained. He was also granted governorship of all lands he might discover. The Jews meanwhile, under ban of expulsion, made preparations to leave. They tried to sell their property but only succeeded in very few cases. By the second of August, 300 000 to one million Jews migrated to Portugal or left for Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or the Turkish Ottoman Empire. 

The movement towards Isabella's canonization was stopped. Fortunately so, since her sainthood being declared would be like declaring war on us Jews and Muslim all over again, in addition to sending a signal to the descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Americas that the catholic Church still think it was acceptable to devatse their way of life and decimate them through disease and war.