Tag Archives: native american

Quoted (WTF Edition): Dan Savage

For some reason, I have always found Native Americans to be sexually attractive. But the semidark skin and traditional breechcloth thing isn’t easy to find in porn or real life. I was wondering if you had some pointers for someone with a bad case of Native American Jungle Fever.
– Native Amateur

“The letter writer is correct,” says Sherman Alexie, a Native American and a National Book Award–winning author who was willing to demean himself by giving me a quote. “There is a dearth of Native American porn.”

But Alexie tells me that once, while hunting for antique board games, he typed “cowboy and Indian action figures” into Google and found his way to a site that featured U.S. Cavalry soldiers and loinclothed Indians smoking more than peace pipes. But that’s all he’s got, pornwise. As for real life…

“There’s just no way your reader is going to find an Indian willing to put on a loincloth for sexual purposes,” says Alexie. “Unless that Indian is a seriously damaged, culturally disconnected, politically unaware, and unsafe-sex-practicing slut.”

I part ways with Alexie here. Not because I know more about Native Americans or Native American kinks. Goodness, no. But over the years, I’ve heard from too many healthy, politically aware, and sexually safe African Americans who dig role-playing slavery scenarios—and too many good Jews who get off on concentration-camp scenarios, and too many polite Canadians who adore clueless-American-tourist scenarios (“Ooh, ask me who our ‘president’ is again!”)—to rule out the possibility that there are smart, safe Native Americans genuinely interested in role-playing cowboys-in-injuns out there somewhere. But they’re gonna be rare, NA.

So what can you do to up your odds of finding the action you seek?

“If the letter writer is an attractive blond female,” says Alexie, “she can head to the next powwow in the region where she lives, pick out a handsome fancydancer, and hit on him. She’ll either get laid in the back of a casino-money-financed SUV or she’ll get assaulted by a roving band of Indian women looking to protect our most precious and dwindling resource: Native American men.”

Dan, I need to know. What bodily function is the opposite of an orgasm? Thanks a lot.
– Could Use More

“Though it’s not exactly a bodily function, the back spasm is the opposite of an orgasm,” says Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award–winning author.

“Why did he send that question to Alexie?” some of my readers are no doubt asking themselves. That is a question only a thoughtless bigot would ask and I shouldn’t dignify it with a response. But let’s approach this as a teaching moment: I sent this question to Alexie because he is the father of two and, we can reasonably extrapolate, the haver of orgasms, which more than qualifies him. Back to Alexie:

“While the orgasm is the pleasurable release of stress, the back spasm is the painful reminder of collected and unexpelled stress. I am currently typing one-handed because I am shoving my fist deep into my lower back as some sort of half-assed pressure-point massage. Of course, since the U.S. has become a chair-and-computer culture, the number of people who are currently massaging their wrecked backs is vastly larger than the number who are massaging their sexual organs.”

And when you pause to consider that all of the U.S. and most of Canada were basically built on top of a giant Indian graveyard, I’d say we’re getting off easy with a little lower-back pain.

—Excerpted from Savage Love, “Cowboys-in-Injuns,” published September 4th, 2008.

“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.

Who is Responsible for Your Healthcare?

by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee

One of the best kept secrets in American health administration is the existence of Indian Health Service.

Unbeknownst to many outside the Native community, our healthcare is actually delivered by the military.

Oh sure, they call themselves the “Public Health Service Commissioned Corps” which is just a nice way of saying they don’t carry guns, but you can bet that you will more than likely receive care from someone dressed in full-out camouflage gear who indeed works for the U.S. Uniformed Services.

How did this all get started? Well for lands seized (read: stolen) the government has a federal responsibility to provide healthcare to Native Americans. After assimilating us and annihilating our culture, the War Department had this duty in 1849. Which was then overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs who was responsible for the many abuses and mistreatments that occurred under their umbrella until 1955, when the government thought it would then be a good idea to turn it over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really comfortable going to see a doctor wearing army boots in a non-war torn country. Last time I checked, they haven’t exactly been our best friends in the Native community (forcible removal to attend Residential Schools, reproductive trauma from military testing anyone?) I’m also less than pleased being the only race whose healthcare comes like this. Continue reading

Denied kindergarten for being Native?

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

This story actually made me cry.

Five year old Adriel Arocha is being blocked from attending school in a Houston-area school district.

The reason?

As an Apache, he has long hair that he has been growing in his Native cultural tradition that “violates” this school’s dress code rules.

The kicker though is that the school board is willing to make exceptions on religious or other “proven” moral grounds, but doesn’t think that being Native American cuts it. Continue reading

Because Blatant Slurs Aren’t Good Enough

by Latoya Peterson

An interesting article made its way to me last week. “Coded Prejudice is a Cloaked Dagger,” from the Chicago Tribune:

Tomeika Broussard thought it was so absurd when she overheard her supervisor refer to her as a “reggin” that she just laughed. Then she realized it was the n-word spelled backward.

The only African-American in the small medical clinic in Los Gatos, Calif., Broussard said she was subjected to racial slurs almost daily. They were not the overt ones that most people would immediately recognize, but rather subtle, surreptitious code words that sometimes take a while to figure out.

“When ‘reggin’ came up, I’d never heard that word but I knew it was negative. So I had this kind of nervous, shocked laugh,” said Broussard, 31, who was awarded $44,000 in damages last year in a racial harassment lawsuit filed after she was fired from her job as a file clerk. “I didn’t know whether it was illegal, but I knew it was not OK. It was humiliating.”

Federal officials say they have seen an increase in harassment complaints involving coded words and images in the workplace. Whether it is geared toward racial groups, religious affiliations, sex or sexual orientation, code words have proliferated in recent years through the Internet, where Web sites provide forums for creating, discussing and spreading new words promoting intolerance.

I find it fascinating that most of the racism that the majority of people can identify as racist must be (1) blatantly obvious like carving “KKK” into someone’s yard and (2) must have a widely held history of being offensive, like the word nigger. However, even those appear to be up for debate these days.

In the meantime, racism has migrated into this weird “gotcha!” strategy where people use slurs and epithets either (1) openly, by claiming they are ironic, or (2) covertly, subbing an innocuous word for what they really want to say. Like Canadian.

And, unlike the last few code word stories that have been reported, it isn’t just white people in on this one:

As the country becomes more diverse, cases also have resulted from culture clashes between African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, according to the EEOC.

For example, an assembly technician in San Jose, Calif., sued the company he worked for last year, claiming he was harassed by a Vietnamese co-worker who repeatedly played loud rap music with anti-black racial epithets. The lawsuit charged the co-worker also sang the lyrics within earshot of him.

In another case, a black employee was repeatedly called “Cornelius” in a reference to the ape character from the movie “Planet of the Apes.” Another case involved a man of Chinese and Italian ancestry who was taunted daily by his foreman, who referred to him as ” Bruce Lee.”

The article also gives an interesting overview of court cases based on code words:

Boss’ comments: In May 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a hostile work environment case against a Florida furniture store chain where a manager allegedly made racially and sexually offensive remarks to a black employee, referred to the African-Americans as “you people” and interracial couples as “Oreos” or “Zebras,” and disparaged the worker for marrying a Caucasian man.

American Indians targeted: In November 2004, the EEOC settled a case against an upstate New York computer parts manufacturer where American Indians employees were subjected to frequent name-calling, war whoops and other derogatory statements referring to being “on the warpath” and to scalping, alcohol abuse and living in tepees.

Insults, denied opportunities: In March 2007, MBNA America agreed to pay $147,000 to settle a Title VII lawsuit alleging discrimination and harassment based on race and national origin. According to the lawsuit, an Asian Indian employee was subjected to ethnic taunts, such as being called “dot-head” and “Osama bin Laden,” was assaulted by a co-worker with a learning disability who believed he was bin Laden’s brother, and was denied training and promotional opportunities afforded his white co-workers.

Marriage attacked: On April 1, 2008, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled in favor of a white basketball coach at Iona College who said he was criticized by a college vice president for marrying a black woman whom he called an “Aunt Jemima.”

Application labeled: On June 10, 2008, a Steeleville, Ill., home health-care agency settled an EEOC lawsuit charging that the agency denied an African-American woman a job and wrote “Black” across the top of her application.

(Thanks Aaminah!)

(Image Credit: CNN)

I’m Sure You’ve Got Plenty to Say

by Guest Contributor Calabar, originally published at Girl in the Machine

Natan: …

Remember the good ol’ days after the first world war when European vampires still embarked on sabbaticals to the American south-west, cat-people ran Hollywood from behind the scenes, and cheeky teenage detectives could break into high-security compounds like Alcatraz without consequences?

Oh wait—that’s not real life. It’s Shadow Hearts: From the New World (thank goodness).

There’s something about this irreverent video game series that I find incredibly appealing, but sometimes it leaves me scratching my head. The way the developers choose to represent characters can be a little disingenuous. In particular, minority characters have their differences from the mainstream magnified one hundredfold. Whether it’s the swishy Magimel tailors or the so-Mexican-it-hurts mariachi singer Ricardo, everything is so overblown that it’s difficult to take it seriously.

While discussing the game with BomberGirl and PlasmaRit, we became interested in the “strong and silent” Native American character Natan. We wondered how much he actually had to say throughout the course of the game, and I honestly couldn’t recall. It’s been a while since I’ve played it.

To investigate our suspicions, I combed through one hundred and ten pages of the Shadow Hearts: From the New World script. From beginning to end, the script is 30,324 words long.

Natan says 768 words. Continue reading

NPR Reports on the Strange History of Native American Boarding Schools

by Latoya Peterson

This is Tom Torlino.

He attended the Carlisle School – a special boarding school for Native American students. The picture provides both a before and after spending time at the school. The before and after photo is but one illustration NPR uses to tell the story of Native American boarding schools in the US. In a report titled “Native American Boarding Schools Haunt Many,” correspondent Charla Bear digs deep into the practices and processes used to forcibly strip young Native Americans from their heritage.

Check out the chilling reason these schools were developed in the first place:

The federal government began sending Native Americans to off-reservation boarding schools in the 1870s, when the United States was still at war with Indians.

An Army officer, Richard Pratt, founded the first of these schools. He based it on an education program he had developed in an Indian prison. He described his philosophy in a speech he gave in 1892.

“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Pratt said. “In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Continue reading

Link Love – PoC in SciFi Carnival #9 – What I Heard About You and What it Meant For Me

by Latoya Peterson

I am really starting to become a fan of these Live Journal carnivals. The PoC in SciFi Carnival 9 is out and here are my two favorite pieces.

Untrue-Accounts provides a ridiculously great analysis of race, sex, and gender in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And it comes with a video!

1. The story of the coat

I had the line “It’s Nikki Wood’s fucking coat” long before I had a song or a vidder or a title.

Spike wears the long black duster from his first appearance on Buffy, but we only find out its history in S5’s “Fool for Love.” Spike relates his history to Buffy (in, it’s strongly implied, somewhat unreliable terms) and the viewers see how he came to adopt his Johnny Rotten persona in a series of flashbacks. Spike starts out as a young aesthete in Victorian London; after his romantic overture is rejected by the woman he’s in love with, he accepts vamping by Drusilla. Once turned, he adopts a tough, lower-class persona, which reaches full expression once he kills a Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion and literally consummates his triumph by sex with Dru over the Slayer’s corpse. Two of Spike’s physical identifiers — the scar through one eyebrow and the coat he wears — are souvenirs of the Slayers he’s fought and killed: the Chinese Slayer slashes his face during their final battle and he steals the coat off the body of a black Slayer in the ’70s subways of New York after he kills her. Spike responds, ultimately, to rejection by a woman by the murder of other women and by stealing their identifiers–their identities, their stories–for his own. Continue reading