Tag Archives: native american

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

Open Season on Natives

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

This past Friday, I received a few e-mails with this shocker:

“Today a shock jock named T-Man on 93.3 F.M. in Seattle made some very racist remarks stating “All native women are hoes because [we] have casinos & [we're] all drunk”.

Apparently it got even worse from there. Interestingly enough, on the 9am portion of the website of T-MAN ON DEMAND, those comments are nowhere to be found.

I’m saying “shocker” with a written tone of sarcasm, because this is like the 10th e-mail I received this week with someone in my community outcrying against blatantly overt, extreme racism that has happened that barely anyone is reacting to, yet again.

Why, only yesterday, the Globe and Mail here in Canada ran an opinion piece by notorious bigot Margaret Wente, describing how high-profile Olympics official Dick Pound, who called the Canada of 400 years ago “a country of savages”, said something “dumb, but true.” [Ed Note - More on that later in the week. - LDP]

And as far as radio shows are concerned, I’ll pick two stand-out racist performances this year for you to additionally remember. One in Alaska where they said “you aren’t an Alaskan until you’ve made love to the Yukon and peed in a Native woman” and another in North Carolina where they called us “lazy” among other slanderous highlights, and said specifically that the Lumbee tribe are “inbred,” referenced Pocahontas as “Poca-ho-tas,” and Sacajawea as “Sacacooter.”

I could write on and on about my anger, frustration, sadness and disapointment with the human race in general, or about how little of the population in North America we actually make up and how huge the present-day racism we have to battle with is, and when I get more energy to I probably will, a lot more eloquently. But in the mean time, please do us a favour and if you are angry too, let the THE KUBE radio station (93.3 FM) in Seattle hear it.

And pray that one day, the First Peoples of this land might catch a break with being publicly repressed. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

(Indigenous Wonder Woman Image Credit: Comic Art Indigène via ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk)

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.

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