Art, politics, and Native culture

Some further information that is follows along the same lines of research and critical research that has been current in pop cultural news – both Native and non-Native.  Enjoy the links and information!

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo

23 April, 2014

Olbermann’s Three Worst People: Dan Snyder, Dan Snyder and Dan Snyder

Keith Olbermann doesn’t pull his punches, and he’s not to everyone’s taste. But for his fans, one of the most beloved bits he does is always his countdown of the three most unpleasant — in his extremely opinionated opinion — people in the news on a given day. Called “Worst Person in the World,” it’s a tradition he’s carried over from his news/politics show that ran on MSNBC from 2003 to 2012 to his current gig as a long-form sports pundit on ESPN2. (Techincally it is now called “Worst Person in the Sports World”).

“Worst Person” is always three different people, with just one exception we’re aware of (and we do not claim to have seen every show Olbermann has ever done) — in November 2005, he gave Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly all three (Worse, Worser and Worst) un-coveted honors.

Make that two exceptions. Last night, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder hit the Worst Person trifecta. Here’s the clip:


Snyder Tells ‘Redskins’ Critics ‘We’re Not an Issue’

Dan Snyder, the owner of Washington’s NFL team, made brief remarks to  an Associated Press reporter on Tuesday arguing that it’s time for people to “focus on reality” concerning Native American issues instead of criticizing the team’s nickname.

“We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue,” Snyder said. “The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it’s time that people focus on reality.”

Snyder’s remarks came after his football team donated copy00,000 to a high school athletic field in a Virginia suburb of D.C. The donation was based on a letter he wrote last month to announce his Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. “I wrote a letter to the fans and it speaks for itself,” Snyder told reporters. “It tells you we did our homework, unlike a lot of people, and we understand the issues out there.”

RELATED Snyder Wins: How ‘CancelColbert’ Drowned Out the Native Voice

But many say that Snyder needs a serious dose of reality himself. In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians said, “Dan Snyder lives in a world where he can get his way throwing his money around. The reality is that he is stubbornly defending the use of a slur.”

“Here’s a reality check: The longer [Snyder] insists on slurring Native Americans, the more damage he will keep doing to Native American communities,” Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation representative, said in a statement.

Snyder has insisted that he will never change the team’s’ name, calling it a “badge of honor,” and he did not respond to reporters’ questions that his new foundation is a way of throwing money around to silence his critics. Instead, he asserted that the foundation is on the right track. “I think it tells you that we did our homework — unlike a lot of people,” he said.


(further internal links are included within the published article)


‘Utes’ Nickname Supported, Ute Tribe and University of Utah Sign MOU

In a time when mascot issues continue to make waves in national news in an attempt to remove their use – most significantly the professional Washington football team and the Cleveland professional baseball team – the University of Utah will continue to be able to use the name “Utes” for its sports teams.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and the university on April 15. Signing the MOU were David Pershing, university president, and Gordon Howell, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee, at an event in Ft. Duchesne, Utah, tribal headquarters.

“The tribe applauds the University’s commitment to respecting the Ute name and culture and to using the name in a manner that accounts for and promotes the interests of the tribe,” said Gordon Howell, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. “This agreement will do a lot to promote positive educational opportunities for Ute and other American Indian youth and will enhance the positive working relationship between the tribe and the University.”

“The University is honored to be allowed to continue using the Ute name, which the school has done with Ute Tribe support since 1972,” Pershing said in a joint press release following the MOU signing. “We have pledged to do so with the utmost respect, recognizing that the Ute name is at the core of the cultural identity of the tribe and its members. In return, we are working actively with the tribe to promote and support access to higher education among its members.”

The university campus will see an education campaign that will educate the students and fans on the history of the Ute Indian Tribe. Another key will be to communicating standards for appropriate fan behavior. “The campaign aims to promote cultural understanding in order to avoid behaviors and misunderstandings that dishonor the Ute and other American Indian populations,” the release states.

“An educated understanding of the tribal Utes – as well as other Native peoples in this region – is fundamental to an informed history of our state,” says Pershing. “From that acknowledgment comes authentic and respectful fan behavior. ‘Go Utes’ is not simply distinctive shorthand for ‘Utah.’ It is a much-loved phrase that at its best recognizes – and values – the richness of Ute Indian history and heritage.”

The MOU is a public document that features some major points as follows:

– Term is for five years, and will be reviewed annually.

– The tribe gives the University full support for the University’s use of the Ute name.

– The University commits to funding scholarships for American Indian students including a permanent scholarship category for Ute Tribal Members.

– The University will work with the tribe to create enrichment and educational opportunities for tribal youth, with the aim of encouraging, inspiring and supporting them to lead healthy lives and to pursue post-secondary education.

– The University will appoint, with approval from the Utah Tribal Leaders Council, a special advisor to the president on Native American affairs, who will serve as liaison between tribal leaders and the University.



Supreme Court Discrimination Against Native America Cannot Be Tolerated

Bryan Brewer

The world is moving forward on Indigenous Rights, yet the Supreme Court of the United States is moving backward. In 2010, the United States joined the United Nations in supporting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which declares:

Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination … the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs … the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions [and] the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired….

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ruled against Indian nations and tribes in 9 out of 10 cases that have been before it in the past 25 years.

The Constitution’s Treaty and Supremacy Clauses recognize Indian nations and tribes as sovereign treaty partners. From 1776 through 1871, the United States entered into 370 treaties with Indian nations and tribes. In Indian treaties, the United States recognized Indian nations and tribes as distinct polities, vested with the inherent sovereign power of war and peace, the right of self-government, and guaranteed Indian lands as permanent homes for Indian peoples. The United States gave friendship and protection, and pledged its honor to preserve the peace. The Commerce Clause acknowledges Indian tribes as governments and laws regulating “Commerce … with the Indian Tribes” have been in place since 1790.

After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment (1868) affirmed Indian sovereignty by once again treating our Native peoples as “Indians not taxed,” citizens of Indian nations, not subject to the “jurisdiction” of the United States. From 1866 to 1869, Congress established the Indian Peace Policy and more than 70 Indian treaties were made. When Indian treaty-making ended in 1871, existing Indian treaties continued in full force and effect, and Congress made statutory agreements with Indian tribes.

In 1983, President Reagan issued his American Indian Policy Statement, explaining:

When European colonial powers began to explore and colonize this land, they entered into treaties with sovereign Indian nations. Our new nation continued to make treaties and to deal with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis…. Our policy is to reaffirm dealing with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis and … self-government for Indian tribes….

In 2000, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13175 that declares:

Our Nation, under the law of the United States, in accordance with treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and judicial decisions, has recognized the right of Indian tribes to self-government. As domestic dependent nations, Indian tribes exercise inherent sovereign powers over their members and territory. The United States continues to work with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis….

In 2004, President Bush and in 20013, President Obama affirmed the Clinton Order. Yet, the Supreme Court ignores this history and U.S. Policy.

In the oral argument of the Bay Mills case (where Michigan challenged tribal sovereign immunity) Justice Scalia asked: “Who made these Indian tribes sovereign, was it Congress?” The Solicitor General answered: “The Constitution.” Scalia asked, “Who decided that Indian tribes are sovereign?” and the Solicitor General folded, “The Court … but there are treaties and statutes.” Scalia replied, “So I assume that this Court could also determine the scope of their sovereignty.”

Justice Scalia’s erroneous view that the Supreme Court “decided” Indian nations are sovereign is discriminatory. Just as the Constitution recites that “We, the People” are the source of U.S. Sovereign power—We, the Native Peoples, are the source of Indian sovereignty. Just powers of government flow from the consent of the governed, and as Native peoples, we consent to self-government.

Indian sovereignty, treaty rights, and self-government are our “unalienable rights” and the United States has no legitimate authority to take them from us. The United States violates our inherent human rights when it overrides Indian sovereignty or the Supreme Court redefines sovereign immunity.

Scalia’s position is a denial of our humanity as Native peoples, a denigration of our treaties, and a whitewash of America’s history. Given Justice Scalia’s discriminatory views, the Supreme Court is a biased forum for Indian sovereignty, Indian treaties, and Native peoples.

Consent is the original model for our Indian treaties established by Natural Law, the Constitution, implemented by George Washington, affirmed by Thomas Jefferson, and kept alive in the hearts of our Native peoples. Our treaties were negotiated nation-to-nation under the principle of mutual consent.

We call upon the President and Congress to agree with Indian nations to jointly establish an Indian Nations—U.S. Treaty Commission composed of three U.S. delegates from the White House Council on Native American Affairs (Secretary of the Interior, Attorney General, and Secretary of State) and 12 tribal government and traditional leaders. The Indian Nations—U.S. Treaty Commission must be charged with resolving disputes concerning Indian treaties, Indian sovereignty and tribal self-government through “mutual consent” between Indian nations and the United States.

Bryan Brewer is the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.



This is a Stereotype: Support Cannupa Hanska’s film
Posted: 22 Apr 2014 01:45 PM PDT

Last year (2013) at Santa Fe Indian Market, I had the pleasure of seeing Cannupa Hanska’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art. I wandered around his exhibit, and was beyond excited by the pieces–I remarked to my friend that it was “like my blog in art form!” His exhibition was a series of handmade ceramic boomboxes, each representing a stereotypical trope of Native peoples–such as the plastic shaman, the Indian princess, the Barrymore (pictured at the top of this post, and based off this image of Drew Barrymore). The detail that went into each piece was incredible, and there were also didactic panels that went along with each trope to describe the origins and contemporary examples. Here are a few of the other (poor quality, sorry!) cell phone pictures I took (images and film can be reviewed at the website – see the hyperlink above):

Then, Cannupa destroyed the pieces in a work of performance art, which was covered by Indian Country Today. The video of that event is here (images and film can be reviewed at the website – see the hyperlink above):

Now, he’s making a film with filmmaker Dylan McLaughlin as a next step of this project, which he describes on the Kickstarter (images and film can be reviewed at the website – see the hyperlink above):

This is a Stereotype is a film project motivated from an art exhibition by Cannupa Hanska Luger and further inspired by the vision of filmmaker Dylan McLaughlin. Hanska’s body of work, Stereotype: Misconceptions of the Native American exhibited at the MoCNA from Aug. 15- Dec. 31 2013. The exhibition addressed several preconceived notions about Native people supported by popular culture that have been invented, imagined and rooted within the American public’s social conscience. Highlighted in this exhibition was a performance, Destroying the Stereotype, where Hanska let go of the stereotypes embodying his sculptures and invited the community to witness their destruction. The remains of the destroyed ceramic sculptures were then placed on view for the duration of the exhibition. McLaughlin documented this process and together they felt this conversation needed to go deeper than this exhibition. There were more questions; the explanation and understanding needed further attention.

The film This is a Stereotype will allow for the continuation of this dialogue, with broader brush strokes than just one artists perspective. The exhibition/performance, Stereotype: Misconceptions of the Native American, was just the spark. It pushed artist Cannupa Hanska and filmmaker Dylan McLaughlin to ask why? Where do these stereotypes come from? Are all stereotypes negative? Do they come from some level of truth? Is there a place to blame? How can we break down these ways of thinking into something positive and useful? Can stereotypes become empowering? How has history influenced the way Native Americans themselves today, and how do non-Natives and popular culture perceives Native Americans? What are the economic parallels of stereotyping? How do you let go of stereotypes? The questions kept coming. The more they talked about it, the more there was a need to dig deeper, to look at many stories of past and present, of ordinary and esteemed, in order to have the proper tools to address the idea of the stereotype.

The idea behind the film will be to invite the audience to ask their own questions, not to simply understand the information they will view about Native identity and stereotypes in this film, but to utilize that information and become active participants in society, thinking critically when making decisions regarding culture and appropriation. We hope to inspire people to seek out their own answers.

Clearly, stereotypes of Native peoples and the power that they have to shape public perception of Native peoples is something that is incredibly important to me, and I think this film will offer an amazing perspective and window into the history and continuing legacies of these stereotypes, as well as offer some positive representations through interviews with the 1491′s, Apache Skateboards, and other movers and shakers in this field. Any chance we have as Native peoples to speak against against these harmful images that are used to represent us is important–and I think Cannupa’s art and activism is a prime example of the power of pushing back.

So, if you can, head on over to the Kickstarter page and support–there are fabulous perks, including cool tshirts, prints, and original works of art by Cannupa. There are only a few days left, and right now the project still has $4,000 to go to reach its goal.

Here is some of the news coverage if you’d like more info about Cannupa, Dylan, and the project (these are not hyperlinks, but a quick search on Indian Country Today Media should bring forth these further articles of interest):

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK: He killed his art to prove a point, now he’s making a film about it. 4.11.14
NATIVE AMERICA CALLING: Crowd Funding in Native America. 4.10.14
NATIVE NEWS ONLINE: Native Ceramic Artist Reaches Out. 3.29.14
SANTA FE REPORTER: Filmed in Stereo. 3.26.14


Native Death Rates Nearly 50 Percent Greater Than Those of Non-Hispanic Whites

Death records show that American Indian and Alaska Native death rates for both men and women combined were nearly 50 percent greater than rates among non-Hispanic whites during 1999-2009. The new findings were announced through a series of Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports recently released online by the American Journal of Public Health.

Correct reporting of American Indian and Alaska Native death rates has been a persistent challenge for public health experts. Previous studies showed that nearly 30 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native persons who identify themselves as American Indian and Alaska Native when living are classified as another race at the time of death.

“Accurate classification of race and ethnicity is extremely important to addressing the public health challenges in our nation, said Ursula Bauer, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “We must use this new information to implement interventions and create changes that will reduce and eliminate the persistent inequalities in health status and health care among American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control led the project and collaborated with CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and other CDC researchers, the Indian Health Service, partners from tribal groups, universities, and state health departments.

Key findings:

—Among American Indian and Alaska Native people, cancer is the leading cause of death followed by heart disease. Among other races, it is the opposite.

—Death rates from lung cancer have shown little improvement in American Indian and Alaska Native populations. American Indian and Alaska Native people have the highest prevalence of tobacco use of any population in the United States.

—Deaths from injuries were higher among American Indian and Alaska Native people compared to non-Hispanic whites.

—Suicide rates were nearly 50 percent higher for American Indian and Alaska Native people compared to non-Hispanic whites, and more frequent among American Indian and Alaska Native males and persons younger than age 25.

—Death rates from motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, and falls were two times higher among American Indian and Alaska Native people than for non-Hispanic whites.

—Death rates were higher among American Indian and Alaska Native infants compared to non-Hispanic whites infants. Sudden infant death syndrome and unintentional injuries were more common. American Indian and Alaska Native infants were four times more likely to die from pneumonia and influenza.

—By region, the greatest death rates were in the Northern Plains and Southern Plains. The lowest death rates were in the East and the Southwest.

“The new detailed examination of death records offers the most accurate and current information available on deaths among the American Indian and Alaska Native populations,” said David Espey, M.D., acting director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “Now, we can better characterize and track the health status of these populations—a critical step to address health disparities.”

The studies address race misclassification in two ways. First, the authors linked U.S. National Death Index records with Indian Health Services registration records to more accurately identify the race of American Indian and Alaska Native people who had died. Second, the authors focused their analyses on the Indian Health Services’ Contract Health Service Delivery Area counties, where about 64 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native persons live. Fewer race misclassification errors occur in Contract Health Service Delivery Area data than in death records.

The authors reviewed trends from 1990 through 2009, and compared death rates between American Indian and Alaska Native people and non-Hispanic whites by geographic regions for a more recent time period (1999-2009).

The report concludes that patterns of mortality are strongly influenced by the high incidence of diabetes, smoking prevalence, problem drinking, and health-harming social determinants. Many of the observed excess deaths can be addressed through evidence-based public health interventions.

“The Indian Health Service is grateful for this important research and encouraged about its potential to help guide efforts to improve health and wellness among American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Yvette Roubideaux, acting IHS director. “Having more accurate data along with our understanding of the contributing social factors can lead to more aggressive public health interventions that we know can make a difference.”

For more information, the articles from the report will be in the AJPH “First Look”; visit:

For information on CDC’s efforts in cancer prevention and control, visit

The Affordable Care Act, also known as the health care law, was created to expand access to coverage, control health care costs, and improve health care quality and coordination. The Affordable Care Act also includes permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which extends current law and authorizes new programs and services within the Indian Health Service. Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to learn more.



A Tribe Called Red, “Sisters,” featuring Northern Voice

This Music Video Will Take A Tribe Called Red to the Next Level

It’s been about nine days since we had any big news to share from A Tribe Called Red — but that’s how it goes when the mainstream is waking up to you.

Last Sunday, A Tribe Called Red won a Juno Award for Breakout Artist — becoming the first Aboriginal group to do so. Spin lends a little more perspective in a story posted today: “In a land traditionally hostile to anything that’s not guitar music, it’s the first time a non-rock entity has won in the Breakthrough category since the Parachute Club in 1984.”

Today, ATCR has released the first video for a track from their acclaimed second album, Nation II Nation. Called “Sisters,” the high-energy tune is visualized with a story of Native sisters going to a rave. On Twitter, Blogger Adrienne Keene (@nativeapprops) praised it for conveying “indigenous joy” and added that it “reminds me so much of all my goofy dance parties with my sister. So much fun.”

You may spot a familiar face among the sisters — it’s actress Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, who starred in one of 2013′s most buzzworthy Native films, Rhymes for Young Ghouls.

Up until now, ATCR’s videos have been mashups and remixes, visual extensions of their music that have featured vintage movies and cartoons, often looped, intercut with neon-tinted pow wow footage. They’ve been appropriate complements to the music, but not necessarily inviting to those who weren’t already hip to ATCR. The video for “Sisters,” with its characters and narrative, is quite different from what’s come before. This clip is eminently shareable, likable, bloggable, tweetable — this feels like a big moment.



A Native Actress Should NOT Play Tiger Lily in the Peter Pan Movie

Ruth Hopkins
In recent weeks, social media erupted in outrage after it was announced that Warner Brothers had cast Rooney Mara, a non-Native actress, to play the part of Tiger Lily, a Native character, in a new adaptation of Peter Pan.

We’re all seen this scenario before. Since the dawn of film, non-Native actors and actresses have been perpetuating negative stereotypes of Natives by painting their faces red and appearing as embarrassing caricatures that promote Hollywood’s view of what American Indians are.

It’s so disappointing that this practice continues. There are plenty of qualified, talented Native thespians who are available to play Native characters. Sadly, movie makers continue to double down on white privilege, unwilling to give Natives and other people of color equal representation.

READ MORE: ‘Smoke Signals’ Actor Addresses Native Grads at Portland State (see the hyperlink below for more information)

I understand the indignation. When will we have a voice in how we as Native peoples are portrayed? When will our demands for respect be heard?

But wait. Hold your horses. Instead of raising our smartphones in anger and filing petitions calling for Warner Brothers to boot Mara and replace her with a Native actress, let’s flip the script—literally. We don’t have to play their white-privilege game.

READ MORE: A Fresh Face at Sundance: Elizabeth Frances of Drunktown’s Finest (see the hyperlink below for more information)

While little is known of Warner Brothers’ new version of Peter Pan, the history of the story alone is enough to warrant apt circumspection by socially conscious Natives everywhere.

Like other movies featuring stereotypical Native characters, Peter Pan, in regards to American Indians, is flawed on its face. Based on the 1904 play authored by J.M. Barrie, Disney upped the racism ante by giving his feather and fringe costumed Indian princess Tiger Lily a “peace pipe”-toking father in actual redface who offered to “Teach ‘um Paleface brother all about Red Man,” accompanied by a big-nosed chorus of generic Indian braves who sang “What Makes the Red Man Red.” If that weren’t enough, a homely snaggle-toothed ‘squaw’ plays right into patriarchy when she tells Wendy, “No dance,” that she must gather wood instead. The fact that these monstrous, bigoted, negative depictions of Natives continue to be force fed to the minds of highly impressionable children is unacceptable. They’re being brainwashed; conditioned to embrace white privilege and the racist system they’ve been born into.

READ MORE: The 5 Must-See Native Movies of 2013 (see information on the hyperlink below)

We’re right in refusing to accept a whitewashed world. Our children need to see role models who look like them, not just lily white ones. Also, studies have shown that redface is harmful to the mental and emotionally well-being of Native children. Yet at the same time, are we as Native adults setting a good example for the next generation when we put Native actors and actresses in the position of playing to Hollywood’s stereotypes of who we are?

It’s time we stop dancing to their tune. We don’t have to play into their lies. No more one little, two little, three little Indians. We have the tools and talent necessary to tell our own stories, with our own voices. We have the power, and are the most qualified, to show the world who we are as Natives (there is more to this story which can be read at the hyperlink below).



Fighting Off Extinction: The Story of Indigenous Mexican Languages
***This article is of particular interest as other Native languages within the U.S. face a similar situation.***
Rick Kearns
Mexico has 60 indigenous languages in danger of disappearing with 21 of those idioms in critical danger due to dwindling numbers of native speakers and other factors but reports of the imminent demise of the Ayapaneco language, which is on the critical list, are premature.

There are at least 6 million indigenous people who are speaking an indigenous language in Mexico, including approximately 1.6 million people who speak Nahuatl and 796,000 Mayan speakers. While these larger groups are gaining some momentum, with more and more books and literature being produced in the languages, others are in danger.

In late March, Mexican scholars were quoted as saying that of the country’s 143 Native languages, 21 are in critical danger of disappearing, meaning that they have less than 200 speakers. Among the most critical are Kiliwa of Baja California that has 36 speakers, and Ayapaneco from Tabasco that is spoken by two adults.

Prior to this year’s announcement though, media outlets from around the world have focused on the story of those two Ayapaneco adult men who are supposedly the last speakers of their language. The stories about them, from a variety of publications, asserted that the language was in even greater danger as the last two speakers, Manuel Segovia, 78, and Isidro Velazquez (also known as Don Chilo) in his 70s, were not speaking to each other.

But according to Anthropologist Daniel Suslak of Indiana University, who has worked with the two Ayapaneco men for 10 years, that story is not accurate.

“The narrative of the last two speakers who don’t speak to each other is a powerful one,” Suslak stated. “It strikes a chord with a lot of people. It just happens to not be quite true.”

“While Manuel and Isidro are far and away the best remaining speakers of Ayapaneco, they are not the only two left,” he asserted. “Several of the speakers that I met have passed away in recent years, but a handful still remain, including Isidro’s brothers and sister and a cousin of Manuel.”

Along with those family members, Segovia’ son, also named Manuel, has been running an Ayapaneco language school in their village and this year they will celebrate the 2nd Annual Ayapaneco Language Festival.

“They also worked with a Mexican anthropologist [Denisse Rebeca Gomez Ramirez] to make a book that describes all of the Ayapaneco terminology for talking about human anatomy,” Suslak added. “So in fact, you could say that they aren’t the last speakers of Ayapaneco – they are the first writers!”

Suslak also mentioned that he had just submitted a new Ayapaneco dictionary to the Mexico’s National Institute of Indigenous Languages which will be printed before the end of the year.


Posted in General News and Information, Native Arts, Native Culture, Native Musics, Native Politics | Leave a comment

“Why Most Black People Aren’t ‘Part Indian’”

This is an article published by The Root, an on-line publication.  The information is rather interesting and attempts to dismiss certain historical myths and inaccuracies regarding the integration of Black, Indian, and Anglo people.  The full article – only four pages in total – can be found at the following:


Prof. Lechusza Aquallo

Posted in Native Culture, Native Politics | Leave a comment

Articles of interest

There were a number of articles that are of interest.  A little something for everyone.  Enjoy!

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo



Staff to Sport Mohawks if Library Reaches Checkout Goal

Participating Vista Library staff, from left to right ─ Daniel Aguilar, Richard Park, Hector Ortega, Kris Jorgenson and JP Baker

Would you ever sport a mohawk to support the organization you work for? Five San Diego County Library members are offering to do just that.

The men of the Vista Library staff are putting their hair on the line for the branch’s “Mohawks for a Million” campaign. The library is close to being the very first San Diego County Library branch to check out one million books, movies, and music CDs in one year.

“We were close to getting the million last year and close isn’t good enough for us,” said JP Baker, Teen Services Librarian.

If the community of Vista visits the library and checks out enough items to reach the one million mark before June 30 (the end of the fiscal year), five staff members will publicly shave their hair into mohawks at the library on Friday, July 11.

“We want our community to be well-informed and we hope this campaign will encourage people to read and bring attention to the great resources available through San Diego County Library,” said Adult Services Librarian Kris Jorgenson.

Visit the Vista Branch at 700 Eucalyptus Avenue to check out some great books, movies and music CDs. For more information, contact the library at (760) 643-5100.


Hipster Headdresses at Coachella: Yep, It Happened

We’re fully aware we risk over-covering the cultural-appropriation idiocy of Coachella, but a pair of ICTMN readers have sent us their snaps fresh from the 2014 festival, which is in its second and final weekend right now, and they’re share-worthy. The lingerie model in the massive headdress gearing up for the fest and the high-priced tipis-for-rent danced around the assumption that this phenomenon hasn’t gone away, but here’s the photographic proof.

Bad habits die hard. (Thanks for trying, Buzzfeed, it was a good effort.)

A Coachella attendee in headdress on his way to the Motorhead show. Source: Reader submission.
A Coachella attendee in headdress on his way to the Motorhead show. Source: Reader submission.
This guy is pretty sure Skrillex was digging his feathers. Source: Reader submission.
This guy is pretty sure Skrillex was digging his feathers. Source: Reader submission.
Two confused music lovers can't figure out which stage Neutral Milk Hotel is playing. Source: Reader submission.
Two confused music lovers can’t figure out which stage Neutral Milk Hotel is playing. Source: Reader submission.
Mad bummed: Neutral Milk Hotel hasn't played together in 14 years, and this guy just missed it. Sweet war bonnet though. Source: Reader submission.
Mad bummed: Neutral Milk Hotel hasn’t played together in 14 years, and this guy just missed it.  Sweet war bonnet though.  Source: Reader submission.

NFL Franchise Channels Puritan Colonists


The Washington Redskins new charity, “Original Americans Foundation” (OAF), tills ground tilled long ago by Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Team owner Dan Snyder, wittingly or not, is reinventing an old plow. He appointed (anointed?) a Cherokee sidekick, Gary Edwards, to help out as Chief Executive Officer.

I don’t know if OAF has an official seal, but they can just borrow from the 1629 Massachusetts Puritans, whose seal—by permission of King Charles I—was a cartoon. As described by the Massachusetts Secretary of State, the seal “featured an Indian holding an arrow pointed down in a gesture of peace, with the words ‘Come over and help us,’” in a text bubble coming out of his mouth.

Compare this cartoon seal with the way CEO Edwards explained his mission at OAF, as quoted by Jarrett Bell, in a column for USA Today: “I think we’re supposed to help people, like the Bible says. I feel like Jesus has a tool in me, and he can make it happen. I’m thankful for that opportunity, and I’m going to do my best to help as many people as I can.”

The “redskins” controversy thus reveals deep roots in the colonial invasion of the continent, and reaffirms the missionary commercial zeal that propelled that invasion.

The Massachusetts Secretary of State says the Puritan seal “emphasiz[ed] the missionary and commercial intentions of the original colonists.” This fits right in with OAF’s mission to provide cover for the National Football League (NFL) cash cow franchise that funds it. Snyder ranks right up there next to the Massachusetts Bay Company investors and their officials, like John Winthrop, author of the famous “City Upon a Hill” sermon.

We may yet be in for the spectacle of Snyder dressing up in Puritan costume and delivering Winthrop’s sermon. After all, politicians from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan have found ways to cloak themselves in its missionary rhetoric. It shouldn’t be too hard for OAF to follow the practice.

As it turns out, the Puritan seal is available, with no copyright or permission fees—a real boon to OAF. The seal was used from 1629 to 1686, and again from 1689-1692, and has since been in disuse. There were three years when the Colony had legal problems with the English Crown, during which a different seal was used. It had two sides: one showing King James II with an Englishman and Indian kneeling in front of him, the other showing the lion and unicorn of the royal coat of arms.

Actually, if OAF wants to maximize its historical link to colonial ancestors, it can use both seals. In the second seal, Snyder could play the part of James II. A loyal NFL fan could play the Englishman. Edwards could take the part of the Indian. Imagine the possibilities for a whole new line of team memorabilia—sweatshirts, tee shirts, caps, the whole nine yards.

Snyder and his franchise are channeling the Puritans. A key element of the colonial mission process is absolute belief in one’s own rightness, supported by an absolute belief that one’s god is the only god, and that non-believers are on earth to be exploited and dominated. As the Bible says, “subdue [the earth]: and have dominion.”

Some may take offense at this. But, as Dr. Albert M. Wolters, emeritus professor of religion at Redeemer University College in Ontario, states: “Everything in [the] opening section of the Bible… converges to highlight the importance of that one fundamental command given to mankind: ‘Subdue the earth!’” He says, “The connection in the [Biblical] text between image and dominion is quite explicit….”

The Washington NFL franchise aims to subdue its critics and to have dominion over the cultural world. It aims to resist changes in that world, especially changes that reflect a different sensibility about people and names and discrimination. Snyder aims to be god-like (which is why he could so easily take the part played by King James II).

If we dig deeper into the role played by OAF CEO Edwards, the picture gets somewhat more unsettling, and yet also more revealing. Edwards is channeling the role of the converted Indian, the “heathen” who “sees the light.” Converted Indians were a key part of the colonial movement. They served as examples on one side and as assistants on the other. In the process, they sometimes gained a measure of protection from the worst aspects of colonial violence.

Like the Indians who acted as scouts for the U.S. Army, like the Jews who helped the Nazis manage occupied territories, the converted Indians also pose an enigma: how can it be that the dominated assist the domination?

One answer is offered by the very nature of living as a dominated person in an occupied territory. Peter Brooks explored this in a recent essay about “The Strange Case of Paul de Man,” a famous Yale professor of the humanities who was discovered to have cooperated with the Nazis in Belgium when he was a young man, writing articles for Nazi publications.

As Brooks puts it, de Man “made the grave mistake of looking to the German occupier as a force to revive the [Belgian] national spirit.” In the controversy following the discovery of de Man’s collaboration, his defenders resorted to explaining “the nuances of collaboration in the occupied country, the different degrees of complicity with an enemy.” These “nuances” provide a way to understand “life under occupation…and the daily compromises of survival.”

Brooks says the study of “the multiple faces of survival under…occupation” leads “not…to excuse, but rather to hold ourselves, as judges, to an ethical standard.”

So, as “judges” of OAF, we must distinguish between its founder, Snyder, and its CEO Edwards. Snyder’s stance is straightforward commercial gain. He owns a profitable business and wants to keep it that way. Only the threat of a loss of profit will deter him. Edwards’ stance is that of someone living under occupation.

The colonial record demonstrates that Indians didn’t become Christians in a vacuum. The personal beliefs of Indians under colonial occupation were affected, if not wholly determined, by the facts of that occupation. In the case of Massachusetts Bay Colony, the most infamous facts were the four-year-long Pequot War (1634-1638) and the three-year King Philip’s War (1675-1678), in which even the “Praying Indians” were not spared. One measure of colonial violence is that Indian allies of the colonial forces were so horrified by the mass burning of the Pequots that they fled.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, when large numbers of Indians are Christians, and when the doctrine of “Christian Discovery” is still the basis of U.S. property law. It becomes pretty clear that for an Indian like Edwards, the “lesson learned” is that collaboration is the best route to success, and to survival. Edwards knows how to work with the occupiers. He was deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, and headed a nonprofit public service organization that advocates for Native American law enforcement officials. The fact that his nonprofit was cited for wrongdoing in a BIA contract only adds to the picture of someone who knows his way around the system.

Perhaps an awareness of OAF as an NFL version of Christian colonialism will help us see how much more needs to be done before we reach a “post-colonial” world.

Peter d’Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. He was Staff attorney in Dinebeiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970, in Shiprock. He taught Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. He is a consulting attorney on indigenous issues.


Snyder’s Redsk*ns Hush Money and KTNN’s Questionable Behavior


Sometimes you don’t realize the magnitude of an issue until it hits close to home. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, I opened an email and to my disbelief I saw a flyer for the Washington Redsk*ns First Annual KTNN Celebrity Golf Tournament. The event was scheduled for April 12, 2014 at the Whirlwind Golf Club at the Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Indian Community. My hometown radio station’s fundraiser was being sponsored by Daniel Snyder’s Washington Redsk*ns Original Americans Foundation (OAF), an organization that believes it can meet the needs of Indian Country while mocking our identity and intelligence by using a racist team name to raise funds for our students.

Why would KTNN, “The Voice of the Navajo Nation,” accept a sponsorship from a controversial foundation whose name is a racial slur? Why is KTNN not following FCC broadcasting rules on the use of racial epithets? Why is the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President co-sponsoring an event with the Redsk*ns, even after legislation was introduced in the Navajo Nation Council opposing the NFL team’s moniker? How long has the sponsorship deal between KTNN, the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, and the Redskins been in place? How aware were other donors of the fundraiser’s affiliation with the Redsk*ns foundation?

RELATED: Redskins Sponsorship Taints Navajo Golf Event, Other Sponsors Outraged

Adding to my disbelief was seeing known anti-Redsk*ns organizations co-sponsoring the event. The Washington Redsk*ns golf tournament was a fundraiser to benefit Native American college scholarships and was co-sponsored by Navajo Engineering Construction Authority, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, Navajo Nation Office of President and Vice President, National Indian Gaming Association, and Dixon Golf. Many other organizations such as the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Diamondbacks, Arizona State University, and the Notah Begay III Foundation also donated silent auction items. An even more surprising co-sponsor of the event was the Navajo Nation’s Office of the President and Vice President. Shocking because the Navajo Nation Council was considering legislation opposing the Redsk*ns name, this was introduced on March 14, 2014 by Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler.

RELATED: Navajo Nation Officially Joins Fight Against Redskins Mascot

From a quick Internet search, I learned that although KTNN created a Facebook event on March 13 and marketed the event on March 21, they failed to mention the event’s title sponsor. In fact, the only mention of the OAF was on the event webpage and the flyer. Curious as to how aware sponsors and donors (especially those organizations who are anti-Redsk*ns) were made of the OAF’s involvement, I began notifying organizations. By Friday April 11, two donors, the National Indian Gaming Association and the Notah Begay III Foundation, withdrew their sponsorship of the event because of ties to the Redsk*ns name. Both organizations said they were unaware of the Redsk*ns’ involvement and would never have donated had they known.  Likewise, on Saturday, April 12, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise issued a statement indicating they would have declined sponsorship had they known of the Redsk*ns involvement, “We deeply regret not being told of the Washington Redsk*ns involvement in advance of today’s tournament.”

The actions of these three organizations could mean a few things: 1) The Washington Redsk*ns were a last-minute sponsor to strategically place themselves on the same event as Indian organizations who oppose the NFL team’s moniker, and/or 2) KTNN, aware of the Washington Redsk*ns sponsorship, lacked insight on the controversy and didn’t care to inform other donors. The event flyer I received was dated April 3, 2014 proving that, at minimum, KTNN had at least one week to notify other donors (this assumes the title sponsorship was accepted at a last moment which casts further unfavorable light on the Redskin’s attempt to purposefully taint the event). The actions and lack of action from KTNN’s leadership raises concern about the organization’s leadership, ability to recognize potential controversy, and their ability to actively communicate with their sponsors and, more importantly, with the public.

The happenings around the Redsk*ns KTNN event, addressed as the “#KTNNscandal” on social media, are further alarming because of KTNN’s misconduct in suppressing the voice of the Navajo people by deleting comments of opposition on their Facebook page. Why would they do this? The scandal began to pit people against each other with most supporting a protest and boycott of KTNN while others defended the cause of the event willfully unaware of the underlining issue. Surely, this was Daniel Snyder’s tactic; divide a community by turning themselves against each other.

Another tactic of Snyder’s is to launder hush money through the guise of student scholarships. Yes, Native students need funding to attend college but not at the expense of their dignity. KTNN only had to decline one sponsor, the Washington Redsk*ns OAF, rather than lose the support of two national Native organizations. What type of statement does this send to Native organizations? Is KTNN’s position that one non-Native organization is better than two or more Native organizations combined?

As more Natives are living off of Tribal lands we are faced with the realization that stereotypes about us exist. By not acknowledging that racial stereotypes HURT our youth, you are minimizing the struggles many face, often when they leave their tribal communities to obtain a higher education.

The Washington Redsk*ns have been in the news for their massive PR push to get buy-in from Indian Country for the use of their “Native” mascot.  Most recently they “honored” the Navajo Code Talkers for their service during an NFL halftime show parading our heroes in Redsk*ns gear. Now their organization’s OAF is funding scholarships and making other small donations to suddenly support Native America because, you know, everyone needs a Redsk*ns jacket.  The latest tactic of becoming lead sponsor for KTNN’s fundraiser shows Snyder is choosing very specific events hoping to divide Native Americans on the controversy.  Who wants to oppose someone “honoring” our heroes… who wants to oppose someone providing scholarships for our youth… their PR machine is a very cunning and decisive beast in the battles it is choosing to support.

Or more specifically, Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team, is cunning and decisive. Snyder has been quietly meeting with Indian leaders to find out what Indian Country’s most pressing needs are, allegedly including Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. However, no Indian leader has publicly come forward to discuss their meeting and what Snyder wants in exchange for his “charity.” Why are Snyder and Tribal leaders unwilling to share their discussions? Why are Tribal leaders placing government transparency on the backburner in exchange for a meeting with Snyder? Where is the transparency? Who do they represent?

“Unless you are trying to hide something, the press should be your ally.” — Jay E. Hakes, Director, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

Nicholet Deschine, Hunkpapa Sioux/Diné, holds a Master of Social Work and is currently studying public administration at Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs.


Archaeological Claims to Kumeyaay Ancestral Remains


On December 3, 2013, oral arguments took place in San Francisco as part of a lawsuit that had reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A decision in the case is expected any time now. The suit was initiated by three professors who have sued in an effort to prevent the University of California system from handing over to the Kumeyaay Nation ancestral remains dating back more than 9,000 years. The UC system had agreed to hand over the remains the Kumeyaay prior to the lawsuit.

The Kumeyaaay Cultural Repatriation Committee (KCRC) was formed by resolutions from the various Bands of the Kumeyaay Nation, and Steven Banegas (Barona) is the KCRC Spokesperson. The UC system has argued that the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee is indispensible to the case but cannot be compelled to join the case because of Indian nation sovereign immunity. The situation has the potential to form a Catch-22 for the professors.

Since the Bands of the Kumeyaay Nation have sovereign immunity, the argument is that the KCRC–as an arm of the Kumeyaay Nation Bands—is immune from such a lawsuit, and therefore cannot be compelled to be a party to the case. The UC system has argued that the case cannot proceed without KCRC. A U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the UC system’s argument, and the case is now being reviewed by a three judge panel of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The deadly historical context of this dispute over ancestral remains is well illustrated by a quote from Reverend J. L. Burhcard. The quote appeared in the San Francisco Call newspaper in January 1878: “Many people are inclined to put on a sentimental air and charge that the white man has been the cause of all this decimation among their [the Indians’] ranks. Such, however, does not appear to be the case. The truth is that they [the Indians] have served their purpose in the great economy of God, and the fullness of time for their [the Indians’] disappearance from the earth has come and they are going to go.” (People of the Valley: The Concow Maidu, Don M. Chase, 1973, p. 31). Additional evidence of this genocidal historical context is found in Brendan Lindsay’s Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846-1873.

“Not much has changed in their way of thinking; it’s still, ‘their time has come and gone’,” says KCRC Spokesperson Banegas, referring to the attitudes of dominant society when it comes to the original nations of the Americas, and particularly when it comes to Kumeyaay ancestral human remains.

The Kumeyaay ancestral remains were unearthed some four decades ago in an area of the Kumeyaay territory now commonly called La Jolla, California. They were uncovered during excavations that were part of renovations to the Chancellor’s House at the University of California at San Diego (U.C.S.D.). Part of the backdrop for the professors’ lawsuit is an assumed right by the non-Kumeyaay society to take possession of Indian ancestral remains based on what, in 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court called “the right of discovery.”

This so-called “right of discovery” emerged during the 15th and later centuries. It emerged as a result of the Spanish crown, and other imperial monarchies of Christendom, claiming the right to take possession to any non-Christian lands they were able to locate. (See generally, Steven Newcomb, Pagans in the Promised Lands: Decoding the Doctrine of Discovery, 2008).

Behind the lawsuit by the three professors is the assumption that the dominating society has, in the name of science, the right to take possession of unbaptized human remains of great antiquity, unearthed anywhere in the geographical area now commonly called ‘the United States.’ Additionally, there is a presumption, traced to the imperial-colonial mind-set of past centuries, that non-Indian archaeologists are best qualified to judge whether or not ancestral remains found in the territory of a particular Indian nation are “culturally affiliated” with that nation.

It makes sense to assess the professors’ lawsuit in the context of the origin of the field of archaeology, which has been called “a branch of anthropology” (Charles Winiick, Dictionary of Anthropology,1956, p. 35), or a “subdiscipline” of anthropology” (Fred W. Voget, A History of Ethnology, 1975, p. 389). The significance of the lawsuit over the Kumeyaay ancestral remains is accurately interpreted in the context of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ description of anthropology as part of the history of domination that grew out of the “Age of Discovery.” “Anthropology,” said Lévi-Strauss:

“…is the outcome of a historical process [of domination] which has made the larger part of mankind subservient to the other, and during which millions of innocent human beings have had their resources plundered and their institutions and beliefs destroyed, whilst they themselves were ruthlessly killed, thrown into bondage, and contaminated by diseases they were unable to resist. Anthropology is daughter to this era of violence…” (Cited in the article “The Use of Anthropology” by Dell Hymes, in Reinventing Anthropology, Ed., Dell Hymes, 1974, p. 61)

In the aftermath of this historical process of such domination and dehumanization, in 1990 the U.S. Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Pursuant to NAGPRA the University of California at San Diego in the last couple of years was preparing, after forty years of stonewalling, to hand over the 9,000 + yr. old ancestral remains to the Kumeyaay. That’s when the three professors filed suit in an effort to block the transfer. The Kumeyaay are now waiting to see what the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides.

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008).

Rock, Rattle & Drum: 5 Native Musical Instrumental Makers Beating Their Way to the Top
(Images can be found at the link above)

Music is vital to the history, traditions and storytelling of Native Americans and First Nations people, and plays an important role in many tribal ceremonies, pow wows, celebrations, courtships and healings.

While Indian Country is full of talented Native singers and musicians who have earned well-deserved recognition for their gifts, they couldn’t create their magic without musical instruments.

ICTMN spotlights five natives who have perfected the craft of making drums, flutes, rattles and even guitars. Some do it for a living, and for others, it’s far more than a hobby. As one music-maker said, “Native Americans don’t refer to making instruments as a hobby. It’s a cultural connection.”


Name: Will Moreau Goins, 52

Instrument he makes: Rattles

Tribal affiliation: Cherokee, Tuscarora and Cheraw

Home: Columbia, South Carolina

Will Moreau Goins has worn many hats in his 52 years. He’s an author, musician, educator, recording artist, activist, community leader, storyteller, beadwork artist, arts administrator—and the Southeastern Woodland native also finds time to make musical instruments, too.

“The first instrument I ever made was a spoon that I whittled out of wood at the age of nine,” said the versatile Goins, who grew up in a musical family and traveled with a bluegrass band for three years until he was 12, playing the recorder, spoons and washboard.

These days, Goins makes drums, flutes and rattles, but he said that rattles are his specialty. “The rattle is a significant instrument for Cherokee people more so than anything. It leads very ancient and important dances for us,” he explained.

To make his rattles, Goins uses gourds and turtle shells for heads, mainly—and recyclable tin cans when he goes into schools as an Artist in Residence. The “noisemakers” he uses inside are stones, seed beads, pebbles, shells and deer hooves. But what makes this artist’s rattles so distinctive are the handles.

“A traditional way to make a rattle is to use a small antler as a handle,” said Goins, who lives in South Carolina, a big hunting state that offers up a treasure trove of rattle-making materials. “Bucks shed their antlers over the winter and it’s not uncommon to find them as you hike around the hills.”

He also makes handles out of animal bones. “Hunters are rarely interested in keeping the legs on their deer and often toss them in the field.” He’ll either leave the hair on it or bleach the bone and sun-dry it.

No two rattles are alike, he said. “They are all very custom-made and handcrafted,” and he sells them anywhere from $25 to copy50.

Most important, Goins said, is to know where an instrument, like a rattle, comes from. When you hold it in your hand, you have to feel a connection to it. “As a traditional artist, I like to know what the material is, where it came from, what energy was put into it, when it was made. So I am ensuring this when I make a rattle … I know what energy I put into the making of it so that it can sing.”


Making Sure Mother Earth’s Beat Goes On

Name: Alex Maldonado, 54

Instrument he makes: Can make drums of all sizes

Tribal affiliation: Pascua Yaqui

Home: Mesa, Arizona

Alex Maldonado is an award-winning flute and drum maker, and a NAMA-nominated recording artist, who started making drums because his brother, the drum maker in the family, dared him to learn.

“I wanted to add drum music to my next flute recording, and asked my brother to make me a drum. He said, ‘No, I’ll teach you.’ I told him I didn’t want to learn,” the Pascua Yaqui native recalled. “But he finally wore me down and I said, ‘Fine, teach me.’”

Fast-forward 20 years and a few thousand drums later, and drum-making is now one of Maldonado’s specialties, a skill that he is passing on to his 27-year-old son, Nick. Together, they own Two Hawks Art Studio & Gallery in Mesa, Arizona (, where they make and sell drums, flutes, furniture and metal sculptures.

“One of the most unique pieces that my son and I made is a Native American drum set, just like a rock and roll drum set,” said Maldonado proudly. “Last year, it won First Place at the Santa Fe Indian Market for the ‘Musical Instrument’ category.”

Maldonado can make drums of any size—from hand drums to pow wow drums—because he makes all his own rims, in different widths and depths, using materials, such as cedar or cottonwood, from lumber yards or logs that he has had milled. “The biggest pow wow drum I ever made was 32 inches in diameter by 18 inches tall. I carved buffalos around it, with Indians hunting them.”

The hides he uses are another important consideration, he said. “On a bigger drum, like a pow wow drum, you want a thicker hide because it could easily get ripped with all the guys beating on it.” Maldonado uses hides from cow, deer, elk and buffalo.

He sells many of his drums at Indian markets, and his customers are both native and non-native. They will spend anywhere from copy35 for a hand drum, up to over $5,000 for a fancy pow wow drum. And that prize-winning, one-of-a-kind drum set? It’ll set you back a mere $7,000.

For Maldonado, making instruments is all about the artistry. “I believe drum-making is a dying art. When you look at the Indian Market, there are only a handful of real drum makers—and then a lot of other guys who make them from kits,” he lamented.

To that end, Maldonado has taken on a new role. “I’ve been teaching some of the guys around here how to make drums in the hopes that they will teach their kids. I will continue to make them as long as I can. And hopefully, they will keep the tradition going, too.”

A Patient Past-time

Name: Charles “Luke” Rogers, 46

Instrument he makes: Water drums

Tribal affiliation: Tuscarora

Home: Lumberton, North Carolina

They say that “necessity is the mother of invention.” So when Luke Rogers’ fellow Tuscarorans were talking about needing some drums for tribal ceremonies, he did what any good friend and craftsman would do: He volunteered to make them.

Since that day more than a year ago, the 46-year-old native has crafted more than 40 small drums, each one measuring about 4 ½ inches tall and 5 inches in circumference.

“My drums are made from real trees and real deer skin. And they all have a different sound—no two are the same,” said Rogers, who sells his water drums for about copy00 apiece. “I try to customize them, too. So if someone is part of the turtle clan, for instance, I will carve a turtle in it.”

Making drums is a patient process. Rogers said after he cuts down a cypress tree, he hollows it out and has to let it dry for about nine months. “I have to chop down the whole, healthy tree, but nothing is wasted. I use the limbs to make drumsticks and rattles.” Out of just one cypress tree, Rogers said, he can make about 30-40 drums. For the drum skin, he uses hides from deer caught by his father-in-law, a hunter.

By day, Rogers works as a correctional officer for Scotland Correctional Institution. So for now, drum-making is an enjoyable pastime. But who knows where it may lead?

“Some people from up north came down and saw my drums, and said they were amazed at the quality of my work,” Rogers said, taking a moment to beat a little bit on his own drum.

A Noted Flute Maker

Name: Tim Blueflint, 50

Instrument he makes: Flutes

Tribal affiliation: Bad River Chippewa and Comanche

Home: Henderson, Nevada

Tim Blueflint developed an interest in the flute out of a love for his grandmother. “I used to watch my grandfather play his flute and my grandmother would be transformed into another realm,” he recalled. When Blueflint was in his 20s, his grandfather passed away. “I couldn’t let my grandmother go through the rest of her life not hearing that sound again, so I learned how to play.”

But Blueflint did more than just learn how to play the flute. Ten years ago, the former sales executive and RV salesman learned how to make them, too, and is now recognized as one of the most distinguished native flute makers in the country—and has won a number of awards within the Native American arts community.

For the Bad River Chippewa and Comanche native, making flutes is all about “advancing the evolution of the instrument” and preserving tradition. “Old flutes (like the one his grandfather played) produced a sound called a warble. That sound is like a touchstone to my family and culture, and there aren’t many people left who can make warbling flutes. So I decided I was going to learn how to do it.”

At “Shades of Rez,” his studio in Boulder City, Nevada, the 50-year-old artist has crafted more than 2,000 flutes through the years. His specialties include a modern version of old-time warble flutes, contemporary concert flutes and his high-end artisan line—flutes embellished with artistic touches, including one trimmed in gold and embedded with 87 diamonds.

But the real beauty of his instruments is that no two are the same. “Flutes are like people—they’re all individual and have their own voice,” explained Blueflint. “I don’t use any templates, or computerized machinery that produces many of today’s high-end flutes. Everything I make is done by hand, every piece of wood is individually voiced.” And each flute, he said, is perfectly concert-tuned.

It’s this attention to quality, fine details and craftsmanship that resulted in him being featured in a documentary called “How It’s Made” that aired on the Science Channel in 2012. The way Blueflint makes his flutes starts with the perfect piece of wood: “I grew up on the California/Oregon border, so I feel a real connection to a lot of woods from the Pacific Northwest: myrtlewood, redwood, maples and cascara.” He also fashions his flutes using rosewood, ebony and burls found in forests across the globe.

No surprise, the native artisan’s flutes have international appeal. Hobbyists, musicians and art collectors from all over the world order them—from Japan and Canada, to England, Australia and Sweden.

What’s more, a number of elite native musicians are making beautiful music with Blueflint’s flutes, too, including Grammy-Award-winner Mary Youngblood; Shelley Morningsong, who won a Native American Music Award for “Record of the Year;” and Tony Duncan, five-time World Champion Hoop Dancer and leader of the musical group Estun-Bah.

Blueflint’s flute-making journey has been immensely rewarding, he said. “While I am making instruments, I am an instrument, also. When I finish a flute, I am amazed it came from my hands.” The real payoff? “When the new keeper of it picks it up and plays it, and you hear the music they create with it … it’s an amazing blessing.”

With every flute that Blueflint makes, he remembers what his grandfather taught him: “The flute is meant to be an instrument that takes the song we carry in us and puts it out in the material world with our intentions.”

Lynn Armitage is a contributing writer in Northern California, whose piano teacher walked out on her the very first day of lessons. Undeterred, she learned to perfect the playing of one particular musical instrument through the years: the radio.

Posted in General News and Information, Native Arts, Native Culture, Native Musics, Native Politics | Leave a comment

Some interesting articles posted this week

Here are some very interesting articles that were published through Indian Country Today Media.  Enjoy!

April 7, 2014 – “Peter Matthiessen crosses-over”

April 7, 2014 – “Chief Wahoo controversy”

April 7, 2014 – “What does American football have to do with genocide?”

April 6, 2014 – “Face-off redface”

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo


Posted in Native Culture | Leave a comment

Supaman is the Hip Hop artist of the week on MTV

Here’s a follow-up to the, now, award winning and global Native Hip Hop sensation “Supaman” (Chris Parrish, Crow) who has recently won accolades from MTV.  This article was published through Indian Country Today Media on March 24, 2014:

A quick tease from this brief article is included below.  This point answers as well as continues the discussions regarding the use of traditional dance regalia and non-Native music for current Native musician/artists.  Though Supaman’s comments are brief, they certainly need to be further discussed in order to see just how far the Native creative and expressive trajectory will ascend in the forming 21st century.

Enjoy the article and do not forget to hear more of Supaman’s music on Youtube:  “Prayer Song Loop”

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo
24 March, 2014
Posted in General News and Information, Native Arts, Native Culture, Native Musics, Native Politics | Leave a comment

ESPN uses old “Sioux” mascot

Here is an older article from Indian Country Today Media (March 17, 2014) which brings back to life the mascotting controversy.  The link is below and there is a short video embedded within the article.  Enjoy!

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo

ESPN Uses Old ‘Sioux’ Mascot in On-air Mixup



Posted in General News and Information, Native Culture, Native Politics | Leave a comment

Article from Media Indigena – Aboriginal street gangs (3.23.14)

Here is an article published on Sunday March 23, 2014 by Median Indigena.  As noted, this is the second within the series.  The article presents a number of interesting topics that certainly need to be further analyzed and discussed.
Please share and comment as necessary.  This work is compelling and one that is sure to strike a chord with most.
Prof. Lechusza Aquallo

Indians Wear Red: The Causes and Solutions of Aboriginal Street Gangs

The following is the second in a series of graduate student writings to emerge from the partnership between MEDIA INDIGENA and the #UMNATV Colloquium series. Here, University of Manitoba Native Studies Masters student Joe Dipple shares his thoughts following a joint presentation by Larry Morrissette and Lawrence Deane last month.

Morrissette and Deane

Larry Morrissette (left) and Lawrence Deane

Larry Morrissette and Lawrence Deane spoke at the #UMNATV Colloquium series in February 2014. Their lecture — entitled Indians Wear Red: Colonialism, Resistance, and Aboriginal Street Gangs (based on the book of the same name) — addressed the causes of Aboriginal gang prevalence. Featuring the issue of Aboriginal gangs from the position of Aboriginal gang members, they suggested a few approaches to addressing this issue.

According to Deane and Morrissette, the men they worked with have much to teach about society, systemic racism, and colonization. Listening to these men is something not only the authors had to learn to do, but the organizations they worked with (and often tried to influence their research). Their work provides a model of empathic research and community involvement that is far more beneficial for all parties involved, as compared to an approach that goes for quick results with little community input.

Letting interviewees direct the research allows for community decision-making and the support of local, self-determination efforts (such as in education). This approach directly addresses the issues that culminate in Aboriginal youth gangs, which emerge most often from the vacuum created by systemic violence and disenfranchisement. As Deane states, gangs emerge within the power structures of close-knit communities: “The gang was the people they grew up with, it was their cousins.”

Throughout their research, Deane and Morrissette heard many stories of gang members being alone and living on the streets by the age of 12. Gangs were the place they could go to receive clothing, food, and shelter. This community was their way of overcoming the difficulties around them by becoming tougher than anything that could be thrown at them. These are deeply tied to the poverty created via the many layers of colonialism, as many of these men, as Aboriginal children, had very few opportunities in their lives. In turn, due to the institutionalization of oppression, these men were also often unable to give their children better then what they had inherited, so the cycle continues.

Finally, Morrissette and Deane stated the purpose of colonization is to keep colonized people numb, through the availability of things like drugs and alcohol, so they do not realize the pain that is being inflicted upon them. Deane directly tied these two together, stating: “Do we have a gang problem or do we have an addictions problem?” Morrissette then added: “Notice that there’s less and less bars in the north end and more pharmaceutical companies.”

In concluding, Morrissette and Deane argued that the effects of colonization have a deeply negative impact on Indigenous peoples in Canada and these can be addressed through self-determination and community-directed support. Communities, once given the opportunity to direct the support they are given, most often use resources available in effective ways. Self-determination empowers the disenfranchised to overcome many of the problems they face.


Morrissette and Deane with #UMNATV students

Although there are many difficulties associated with gangs, they are not the cause of the “problem.” That means the “problem” cannot be solved through hardline policies and legal attacks on gangs. Through community-directed support, self-determination, and a marked decrease in colonization (attitudes, policies, and media attention to name a few realms of colonization), the causes of gang prevalence can be diminished.  Supporting the community and the people within it, whether members of gangs or not, can only help the future generations of Indigenous people, especially children, in the inner-city.

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Articles of interest (March 10, 2014)

Hello all,

Here are a couple of new issues raised within Indian Country that could serve to prompt some debate.  Please review the following articles at

Interview with Supaman:


Dauther of Oklahoma Governor Poses in Headdress:


Enjoy the links and the information!

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo

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Supaman and his amazing Native Hip Hop!

There was a recent article published on about the Native fancy dancer/Native Hip Hop artist “Supaman.”  His works are insightful and full of dynamic twists-and-turns.  A video published on was demonstrated him producing a live Hip Hop track created from scratch (no pun intended!).  The link and other videos regarding his work are listed below.  Enjoy!

Prof. Lechusza Aquallo

25 Feb., 2014


Other sources regarding Supaman (Crow):

(Supaman, “Interview” – a personal interview which discusses his work and creative process)

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