Tag Archives: WKKF

Don’t Know Much About Indians (but i let non-indians speak for them anyways) [Point]

by Guest Contributor Gyasi Ross

Like any ethnic identity discourse, the “Native” conversation is complicated and convoluted. Yet, in the twin pursuit(s) of political correctness and genuine good intentions, most people make good-faith efforts to trudge through the discourse in a respectful manner.

We do the best that we can.

Unfortunately, the singular exception to those good-faith efforts is for the Native people of this continent. When Native people are the topic of discussion, we don’t “do the best we can.” Instead, non-Native people assume that they inherently know about Native people, without listening to the Native voices themselves.

Since the beginning of Native/non-Native interactions, non-Natives have had a racist, dehumanizing and insulting pattern of propping up—irrespective of Native people’s wishes—completely inadequate, improper and many times, illegal leadership to speak on Native people’s behalf. The historical record shows that the leadership that non-Natives (typically the United States government, but also representatives from Dutch, French, British and Spanish invaders as well) typically employed to speak on behalf of their individual Nations were individuals that were not appointed by their Nation. Instead, the invaders/colonizing forces identified and empowered individuals to speak simply because they said what the non-Natives wanted to say, typically in direct opposition to what the majority of Native people actually wanted. Native people protested, but to little avail, as those colonizers needed a justification to achieve their goals—usually the taking of millions of acres of land and resources from Native people—and their propped-up leaders helped accomplish that task. Those “Native leaders” told the narrative that the colonizers wanted to hear, without any approval or consensus from the people that they supposedly represented.

Non-Natives appointed shills, frauds, and hucksters that had zero credibility amongst Native people.

It actually made sense—the European colonizers’ interests was in direct opposition to Native people’s interests; we were their “enemies.” Therefore, in a perceived zero-sum game, enemies do horrible things to accomplish their goals.

Non-Native people’s pattern of propping-up false leaders continues today. Unfortunately, it’s not only the “enemy” that does it anymore.

Indeed, because of a shameful lack of knowledge about Native people, liberals, progressives, racial commentators and educated folk—precisely the people one might reasonably expect to actually do some research to understand Native people better—sometimes do exactly the same thing, as displayed at the recent W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Second Annual America Healing Conference.

And that’s actually kinda worse than when the enemy does it. Continue reading

“Queen Chief Warhorse, Tchufuncta Nation, Chahta Tribe”

by Guest Contributor Deb Reese, originally published at American Indians In Children’s Literature

I registered for the Healing for Democracy conference yesterday, found a place to sit, and pulled out the conference program. Among the speakers for the Welcome was “Queen Chief Warhorse, Tchefuncta Nation, Chahta Tribe.”

“Queen” gave me pause right away and its use cast doubt on the rest of the information provided. “Tchefuncta” and “Chahta” are not nations or tribes I have heard of before, but there are over 500 federally recognized tribal nations and I don’t pretend to know about all–or even most–of them. Still, “Queen” made me uneasy.

That unease was confirmed when “Queen Chief Warhorse” took the stage and began delivering her remarks. She was wearing a necklace that was supposed to suggest Pueblo Indian or Navajo turquoise and silver. To most, it probably looked like the real thing. To me, it screamed imitation. I wondered where she got it.

Right away, she had most of the audience eating out of her hand. Working with the theme of “healing,” her opening remarks began with calling out the limits of a black/white paradigm. That was fine, but then–for me–her train went off a cliff.

She started using “we” in ways that demonstrate she doesn’t know much about tribal nations and our reservations. One statement after another was problematic. It was a “poor Indians” narrative, living on our “prison camp” and “the projects” reservations.

Her remarks were, in short, a mess for lot of reasons.

Her use of “we” was wrong. Using “we” as a keynote speaker to an audience who, I hazard to say, is fairly lacking in knowledge of American Indians, only added to the already-too-big body of misinformation about American Indians.

I did a quick bit of research and found photos of her in a Plains style headdress. Why was she wearing that?! When I have more time, I’ll do some research on her and the “Tchunfuncta Nation, Chahta Tribe.” Will I learn that the “Chahta Tribe” or the “Tchunfuncta Nation” are Plains people?

For now, I’ll say this:

Healing requires accurate information, not sensational remarks that generate a righteous anger and create or affirm a body of misinformation.

America Healing: Discussion on Current Racial Climate

This is a liveblog of “Discussion on the Current Racial Climate.”

Moderator: Melissa Harris-Perry, Host of “Melissa Harris-Perry,” MSNBC

Judith Browne-Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project
Ralph Everett, President and Chief Financial Officer, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Inc.
Benjamin Jealous, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Jacqueline Johnson Pata, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians
Kathleen Ko, President and Chief Executive Officer, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Marc Morial, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Urban League, Inc.
Janet Murguia, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Council of La Raza
Rinku Sen, President and Executive Director, Applied Research Center
Philip Tegeler, President and Executive Director, Poverty and Race Research Action Council

America Healing: Promising Approaches for Building Equitable Neighborhoods

This is the liveblog for Promising Approaches for Building Equitable Neighborhoods.

Moderator: Sandra Moore, President, Urban Strategies, Inc.

Janis Bowdler, Director of Weath-Building Policy Project, National Council of La Raza
Susan Eaton, Research Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School
Brian Smedley, Vice President and Director, Health Policy Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Tomorrow: Liveblogging From The WKKF America Healing Convening

For the rest of this week, I will be in New Orleans liveblogging the 2nd Annual W.K.Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing convening.

In their own words:

In 2010, we launched the America Healing initiative, to support programs that promote racial healing and address racial inequity, with the goal to ensure that all children in America have an equitable and promising future.

Why is this critical to improving the health, well-being, education and financial security of vulnerable children and families? Children of color are over-represented among the 29 million low-income children and families in this country, particularly among families living in areas of concentrated poverty. They are less likely to attend high-quality schools, live healthy lives, and eat nutritious food. This five-year, $75 million initiative called America Healing is focused on bringing healing to divided communities and bridging racial gaps in the areas of education, health, juvenile justice, economic success, the media, and other areas. This work focuses on issues at the core of structural racism—those policies and practices that continue to create barriers for children of color—while at the same time is aligned with the foundation’s primary program areas of Education and Learning; Food, Health and Well-being; and Family Economic Security.

“Our goal is to breathe life back into the effort to abolish structural racism, and to help America achieve strength and prosperity through racial equity.”

Sterling K. Speirn President and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

You can find a list of programs and grantees here. I’ll be there covering panels on Global Racism, documentaries like “Slavery by Another Name”, and the Plenary Panels featuring people like Harry Belafonte, Charles Ogletree, and Melissa Harris-Perry. Look for the America Healing logo to check out coverage and to submit your questions, comments, and feedback.