Tag Archives: first nations

Anachronism and American Indians

by Guest Contributor Lisa, originally published at Sociological Images

In many places in the midwest the American Indian is very present, but in other places in the U.S., like in California, Disney’s Pocahontas is as close as we get to “Indians.” The idea that American Indians are gone comes, in part, from the ubiquitous representation of them with feathers, buckskins, and moccasins. These anachronisms are everywhere (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here).

American Indians are as modern as the rest of us, why are representations of American Indians, as they live today, so unusual? And what effect might that have on the psyche of American Indian people?

Via PostSecret.

Barack Obama and the Native Vote

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Like millions of people all over the world, I’m ecstatic, over-the-moon inspired by Obama’s win. If for no other reason (and all the others too in which we share the same opinion, like abortion for example) than his win is actually a good thing for the people in my community. Yes indeed, the new leadership of Barack Obama in the United States of America is good for Native people, and you can sure as hell bet that a whole lot of us voted for him, and are counting on him to really give a crap about the issues we are facing.

Like right now.

Several times last night, I heard:

“If a Black man can do it, so can we.”
“We need a Native Barack Obama.”
“A man of colour in office is a victory for us all!”

Which were all great things to hear than the usual cutting each other up in stereotypes and ignorance I usually see. To me, this represented an unveiling of a layer of oppression, where you had the Indigenous peoples of this land busting ass so that a fellow marginalized person could clean house with votes within a system none of us created, to make real change that we all sorely need.

Especially if you are still being colonized, I might add.

The First Americans for Obama Campaign was a true attempt at engaging the Native Americans here to work in solidarity with Obama on our common ground issues, and get the Democratic Party to pay a little more attention to the severity of what is going on in our communities. I’ll admit myself that when I first heard about it, I immediately wanted to jump on the bandwagon of actually seeing our people represented in such a public light with the star that is Obama, but now being at the end of the campaign, I can honestly say that it did not do a good enough job of reaching out to where we actually are, which for a high percentage of us is in rural and remote places. In addition to that important factor, I have several friends and family members who although they were Obama supporters, refused to even wear a “First American for Obama” t-shirt, because of the offensive nature of referring to us as “Americans”, which of course we are not. Continue reading

I’m not celebrating genocide

by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee, originally published at the Shameless Blog

Christopher Columbus is no hero.

Some say he is actually responsible for causing 95 million deaths of Indigenous peoples worldwide.

He was not a great discoverer either. He had no idea where he was going, and never even came to the land we know today as North America. In fact, he was way far off in Haiti and, thinking he had landed in India, called the traditional Arahawk people of that territory “Indians”.

That name has since stuck on us like glue and has caused generations of systemic genocide and mass attempts to annihilate our culture.

But each year, on October 12th, “Columbus Day” is celebrated, paraded, and honoured in the United States, and in many Latin American countries including Costa Rica and Spain, for what this mass murderer did to my people.

Actually, in Venezuela, they have renamed it “Indigenous Resistance Day”.

Watch this clip from the Canary Effect by the Bastard Fairies, an amazing independent music duo from the Yankton Sioux reservation.

I’m disgusted, appalled, and saddened that this day continues to be celebrated. I know I will NEVER celebrate genocide. And I know that as a feminist, I have a DUTY to cry out against Columbus, and everything he stood for.

Watch this message from NICAN TLACA community who call on us all to do something about it and stop the genocide now.

Indigenous Feminism and Cultural Appropriation

by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee

Last year, a friend of mine told me that actress Juliette Lewis started up a band and that their sound was seriously a rockin’.

I was like “Really? Cool!” since I’d always appreciated the versatility Lewis demonstrated in her acting craft with movies like “The Other Sister,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” or even “Old School.”

Off to Google I went searching for her website, when I came up with this image:

Oh no, not again.

Another appropriator.

A quick glance at their website and various other fan photo materials reveals even worse.

Continue reading

“Why are you trying to be black when you’re red?”

by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee

The whole “acting black” label isn’t an unheard one in really any community these days, but I’ve always thought it was an interesting one to hear in my own community, from my own people.

Let me give it to you straight and say I already know how much we have in common; Native/Indigenous peoples and Black/people of African descent. While we might have been born here (although the jury is still out on where we all actually came from) y’all were dragged here, and not by your own choice. And you came from a place with a strong Indigenous identity and spiritual centre.

Not to mention of course the number of “Black Indians” there are, who some say represent almost 50% of African Americans today (with Oprah, Rosa Parks, and actress Rosario Dawson on that list). As White historian William Katz who has studied this stuff to death says:

“This story began at the time of Columbus, ranging from North American forests to South American jungles, and the jewel-like islands of the Caribbean. The first freedom paths taken by runaway slaves led to Native American villages. There black men and women found a red hand of friendship and an accepting adoption system and culture. The sturdy offspring of Black-Indian marriages shaped the early days of the fur trade, added a new dimension to frontier diplomacy, and made a daring contribution to the fight for American liberty”.

The story also included some Native Americans owning slaves, namely in the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole nations. There were also many nations who as Katz says, adopted people in, helped slaves escape, or assisted organizing various revolts. It’s a long, complicated history to go through, but I do know today that the Descendants of Freedmen are still trying to acquire legal recognition in the Cherokee Nation.

In a perfect world, we would understand this and all work as allies for our common struggles of self-determination and autonomy to live as our authentic selves in this still oppressively bigoted society. We would celebrate our rich heritages in peaceful solidarity, while together honouring the ancestors who lived so courageously to give us those few bits of raw culture we cling on to today.

Alas, that world isn’t part of the real world and what’s happening is rather shameful. In light of hip-hop culture or acting what some might perceive as just plain “cool”, the label you are automatically given if you partake in any of this is of course “black” with all of its stereotypical negative connotation. And every time I hear someone from my community say that, whether it’s because they are criticizing Native rappers or don’t understand why so many Native youth identify with Black culture, it makes me wonder how much they don’t know or just don’t remember where we’ve all come from, or even how we got here.

I thought the colonizers were the ones who told us what we could or could not be.