Imagery, Irony and Absaroka: The NYTimes and the Language of Racism

( – promoted by navajo)

First off, I’m a HUGE fan of the NYTimes.  I think the decline of the newspaper is a terrible thing.  I’m a big time news junkie.  I’ve been reading the Times everyday for the last eight years.  But I’m also a Native American attorney who has studied Critical Race Theory and am highly sensitive to images of cultural stereotypes.  Imagine my reaction as I came to work early to read the papers and saw the image below before I went to DC District Court this morning for a hearing on Nez Perce v. Kempthorne.

http://www.nytimes.com/…

The image was “above the fold” so to speak on the home page of “the most liberal” newspaper in America.

First off, the fringed dresses.  I’m not going to comment on the ethnicity of the females, I don’t know and don’t want to know.  The issue is one of sexualization of “the Indian Princess.”  Don’t believe me?  Check out Disney’s Pocahontas and look again.

http://www.cel-ebration.com/…

Legendary Beauty?  WTF is that about?  I refer again to University of Arizona Law and Critical Race Professsor Robert Williams lectures on stereotypes and American Indigenous people entitled “Savage as a Wolf”  available at arizonanativenet.com.

http://www.arizonanativenet.co…

So back to the NYTimes picture.  Look at the full size image and tell me who you see in the background.  

Men dressed as US Cavalry?!  

I’m not even going to complain that the bar is charging $3 a CAN for Bud Light(my feelings on the sale to InBev are well cateloged by my comments).

The kicker came as I read the article on “Absaroka” but the final insult came in paragraph 12.  “Mr. Simpson said Absarokians mostly wanted self-determination.”

Native Americans have fought for self determination and the right to self govern ever since the arrival of the White Man…Columbus’s big mistake…the beginning of the American genocide.  We’ve been through the Termination period, Allotment, and Restoration.  We’re still fighting for self government and recognition for tribes.  The Churucawa Apache are still an unrecognized tribe because they never STOPPED fighting!

(ASIDE:  I just watched Chato’s Land on Comcast on Demand, a western with Bronson and Jack Palance which gives the painfully delivered message of the White Man as Savage…worth the 2 hours.)

My favorite newspaper, resorting to ironic stories of white people wanting self-determination ironically contrasted with images of white domination and indigenous stereotypes.  

Off to the DC Circuit for a hearing on Nez Perce v. Kempthorne where more irony awaits.  

It’s a hearing on Class Certification regarding Individual Indian Trust Accounts, where it has been well cited by the Cobell litigation that the US Government has managed to lose, not record, be held in contempt for failing to provide an accounting and living up to their duties of trustee in the cases of managing Tribal Trust corpus/property and mismanaging those funds.

The obstacle to today’s certification of various tribes similar claims under one class?  Cited by the governement:  Tribal Sovereign Immunity.

The irony would lose more in the explanation than it’s worth.  

Bad NYTimes.  Bad breif and argument by the Feds.  Bad day for Native Americans.

Congressional Black Caucus (and Barney Frank) Continue Assault on Tribal Sovreignty (Cherokee)

( – promoted by navajo)

I just received an email from a fellow tribal attorney in regards to the ongoing Congressional Black Caucus – Cherokee Nation dispute.  Apparently Barney Frank has appointed his conferees to the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act conference committee.

I just received an email from a fellow tribal attorney in regards to the ongoing Congressional Black Caucus – Cherokee Nation dispute.  Apparently Barney Frank has appointed his conferees to the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act conference committee.

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act is being used as a vehicle to further the dispute between the Congressional Black Caucus and the Cherokee Nation.  The CBC has promised to hold up funds because the Cherokee Nation has voted, twice, to remove the Freedmen, who cannot prove they are descendents of tribal members.

While I am not a fan of the decision by the tribe, http://thehill.com/… control over membership is an aspect of the inherent sovereignty tribes enjoy because of their status as PRE-EXISTING SOVEREIGNS.  

The Supreme Court has affirmed this in the case of Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, where a Pueblo restricted tribal membership to essentially patrilineal descendents.

http://www.utulsa.edu/…

Senator Obama, our Presidential Candidate and a constitutional law scholar, has indicated he disagrees with Watson and supports the Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty, while disagreeing with the decision.

http://thehill.com/…

Rep. Dianne Watson has been laboring under the misapprehension that the Cherokee’s sovereignty stems from a post-Civil War Treaty.

http://thehill.com/…

Congresswoman Watson has united the CBC and caused unnecessary tension within the Obama coalition, by attacking not only the Cherokee Nation, but also holding up funding for all tribes and undermining tribal sovereignty across a broad front.  Now is a time for building coalitions, not fracturing them.

Congressman Frank is exacerbating the problem.

“Last week the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee (Barney Frank) appointed the House NAHASDA conferees. It appears as if only one conferee, Congressmen Pearce (R-NM), has a federally recognized Tribe in his district. The remaining Majority conferees are predominately Members from the Congressional Black Caucus. Chairman Frank announced on the House floor that he made his conference appointments in order to ensure the Cherokee issue would be addressed.”

Once again, racial politics in America is pitting one minority group’s interests against the interests of another.  This is not change we can believe in.  This is an unnecessary attack on tribal sovereignty and poor strategy by Democrats in the months before a critical and historic national election.  

Once again, Nancy Pelosi has failed to lead the House and keep Democrats united under one tent.  

Indian Country is not unanimous in supporting the effects of the ouster of the Freedmen.  But we are united in defending tribal sovereignty.  

Pelosi should know better.  Watson should know better.  Barney Frank should know better.

I am not a Redskin

( – promoted by navajo)

Last week the Washington Redskins scored a legal victory for themselves and another moral failure for American Judicial system.  Patent and Trademark law and the investment of millions of dollars into a racist name and a stereotyped image assured another few years of denigrating headlines, repeated televised use of an outdated slur, and the continued monolithic pace of American jurisprudence.  

Last week the Washington Redskins scored a legal victory for themselves and another moral failure for American Judicial system.  Patent and Trademark law and the investment of millions of dollars into a racist name and a stereotyped image assured another few years of denigrating headlines, repeated televised use of an outdated slur, and the continued monolithic pace of American jurisprudence.  

The Marshall Model or the Marshall Trilogy form the basis for “federal Indian law.”  http://academic.udayton.edu/…

(I use quotes as the debate within the Native American community over the use of the term Indians remains vigorous, is the use of the term Indian to describe North America’s indigenous people a slur, was Columbus’s folly a proper moniker for the thousands of commnuities of people here prior to the colonization and enslavement of “America”?)

The Marshall Model incorporates the “Doctrine of Discovery” which summarized finds that tribes are domestic dependent nations, pre-existing sovereigns, which are subject to domination because of their inherent inferiority as “savages” (if you ask me this kind of tortured legal logic is barbaric in itself).  Due to the inherent inferiority of the thousands of tribes, the handicap of their race requires the United States federal government to treat the tribes “as a guardian to his ward” (this creates the whole basis for the federal trust situation, where the federal government is supposed to manage the Native’s lands for their benefit [trust law requiring a trustee, trustor, and res or property to be managed by the trustee]).

This “language of racism” (see Robert Williams “Like a Loaded Weapon”) continues to dominate our jurisprudence and our culture.  http://www.arizonanativenet.co…

So how is this language of racism reflected?  Most recently, in U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly decision on the Redskin’s patent and trademark victory.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/…  Here, the Judge found that the litigants ahd waited too long to file a claim, that the term “Redskin’s” was so insulting and racially offensive that it should not be granted the protection’s of copyright laws.

While I need not run through the various races and hypothesize about the outrage that would exist if there existed various football, baseball, and hockey teams named after stereotypes of other races I will list a few of the ones that America feels are accceptable in terms of denigrating the “pre’existing sovereigns”:  The Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Cheifs, the University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux”, the University of Illinois “Fighting Illini”…and their associated mascots and cheerleaders.

The UN has protected rights for indigenous people under international law and treaties, which the United States, the world’s leader in protecting human rights (until 2000), has so progressively refused to sign and make itself subject to (See US v. Dann and associated OAS rulings finding that the US failed to give due process and property rights to the Western Shoshone).  

I find it amazing that America, where all property holding slave owning white men who don’t want to pay taxes are created equal, continues both in an abherrent jurisprudence based on racial superiority and continues to justify the disparate treatment of the “pre-existing sovereign” in the role of our “guardian”.

Later this month a decision in the Cobell trial is expected, a trial which has lasted 12 years and found various Cabinet secretaries in contempt and the US continually and historically in violation of their duty as trustee.  Yet in spite of the mismanagement of billions of dollars over a period of 100+ years, the government will find (Judge Robertson) that he doesn’t understand how misappropriating billions of dollars may have benefited the US government (talk about circular reasoning and tortured logic).

It has been less than 100 years since the “First Americans” were granted the right to vote and equality of citizenship.  And today, America denies it has a problem with race.  http://en.wikipedia.org/…  “We are post-racial” it is proclaimed.  Yet yesterday Dan Snyder and the NFL were granted the right to continue insulting me every Sunday.  And tomorrow, the US will steal billions of dollars it owes my peoples.  And the next day we will still be living in poverty on our reservations, lack the funds to build needed jails and judicial systems, and have federal funding for the Indian Health Service cut for a war of choice in which many of us serve.

Canada New Zealand and Australia have all apologized for their treatment of indegenous peoples, ranging from attempts to assimilate to outright genocide.  America has yet to do so.  The Senate, continues to refuse to recognize indigenous Hawaiians as native peoples (mainly upon Republican objection and post racial arguments).  

The Longest Walk II was completed this weekend, where issues from the environment to Native Sovereignty and America’s failures to honestly discuss race were raised.  Patricipants walked over 8,000 miles to draw attention to these causes.   http://www.longestwalk.org/ What becomes most apparent when viewing these issues together is that America has very, very far to go.

I am not a Redskin.  I am a patriot, a critic, and Anishnabe.  I am not a stereotype.