Canada’s military spying on NativesCanada’s military has a special Counter-Intelligence Unit that has compiled at least eight reports on Native activities since January 2010.Greg Horn• Thu, Oct 13, 2011ACanadian military counter-intelligence unit created in the 1990s is keeping tabs on Native groups – including the Assembly of First Nations. The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit was created to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from terrorists, espionage and saboteurs.Between January 2010 and July 2011 the National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reporting on the activities of Native organizations, records obtained by the Globe and Mail under the Access to Information Law show.The Department of National Defence is saying that it did not obtain the intelligence itself, but that the information came from other government agencies. The Globe and Mail reported that the information cites confidential sources with apparent inside knowledge of Native groups.The Counter-Intelligence Information Reports alert the military to events, including plans of a protest blockade of Highway 401 in Ontario, and of a potential backlash among Native people over Ontario’s introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax. These reports also cite potential future protests and lobbying on Parliament Hill by Native groups, including the activities of the AFN, the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council and Red Power United.The counter-intelligence unit was first formed in the 1990’s and its purpose is to “identify, investigate and counter threats to the security of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence from foreign intelligence services, or from individuals/groups engaged in espionage, sabotage, subversion, terrorism, extremism or criminal activities.”The Unit is answerable to the Chief of Defence Intelligence, who is responsible to the vice-chief of the defence staff.A Defence department spokesperson said the military generally draws up reports on a variety of topics to evaluate and anticipate potential threats. The reports are also part of an integrated national security network.GregH@kahnawakenews.com — Iorì:wase
I am glad the court system for once is working for the people. Now if they could only prosecute the backers who helped him do this-ie the US Government and the “School of the Americas” in Georgia, we might see some REAL progress on our planet!
If you don’t know about The Monroe Doctrine and its evil results over the last 150 years or so, I highly recommend looking into it. Eduardo Galeano is a wonderful writer on this, and for fiction also see Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Noam Chomsky is great at documenting with sources and proof if you want to share this with those who are skeptical. Z magazine carries lots of his articles, and I believe he has several books specifically on Latin American issues and the Monroe Doctrine. You can also get videos of him being interviewed on youtube-I will try to post more of these soon.
It might appear that this monstrous interference by the US government on behalf of corporations benefits the (US)Americans and causes suffering only in Latin America, but a closer look reveals that the benefit is to the 1% and the oppression simply plays out in quieter, more invisible ways north of the border.
Former Guatemala Leader Guilty of Genocide
From Al-Jazeera May 11, 2013
A Guatemalan court has convicted former military leader Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 80 years in prison.
A three-judge tribunal on Friday issued the verdict after the nearly two-month trial in which dozens of victims testified about horrific atrocities.
Prosecutors said Rios Montt must have had knowledge of the massacres of Ixil, indigenous people of Mayan descent living in Guatemala, when he ruled the country from March 1982 to August 1983 at the height of its 36-year civil war.
The defendant is responsible for masterminding the crime of genocide, Judge Jazmin Barrios said. The corresponding punishment must be imposed.
She said he was also guilty of war crimes.
The court, filled with victims and their relatives, erupted in applause and cheers.
Rios Montt has maintained that he never knew of or ordered the massacres while in power.
He did not express emotion as the verdict was read. When the judge said his house arrest was being revoked and he would be sent to jail, he nodded.
Later, he told reporters that his conscience was clear, as he derided the verdict.
It is an international political show that is going to hurt the soul of the Guatemalan people, but we are at peace because we never spilled, or stained our hands with, the blood of our brothers, Rios Montt said.
I am not upset because I abided by the law, he said, insisting he did the right thing for his country by fighting the national problem of rebels.
The war between the government and leftist rebels cost more than 200,000 lives and ended in peace accords in 1996.
The 86-year-old former general is the first former Latin American leader ever found guilty of such a charge.
He can appeal the verdict.
In a court hearing, Benjamin Geronimo, president of the Justice and Reconciliation Association, said he survived massacres and killings that claimed the lives of 256 members of his community.
I saw it with my own eyes, Im not going to lie. Children, pregnant women and the elderly were killed, Geronimo, an Ixil Indian who spoke on behalf of the victims, said.
Prosecutors say that while in power, Rios Montt was aware of, and thus responsible for, the slaughter of at least 1,771 Ixil people in the towns of San Juan Cotzal, San Gaspar Chajul and Santa Maria Nebaj in Guatemalas western highlands.
the video site
via Grounded TV Network.
Environmental Destruction Imminent – Harper government unloads a flurry of illegal and unconstitutional legislation [GROUNDED NEWS] 17.December.2012
photo by Ora Cogan
—PLEASE EMAIL TO FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND INTERNATIONAL NEWS GROUPS—
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has passed legislation to let China’s China National Offshore Oil Corporation buy to Nexen. This takeover deal among other things puts three to six billion barrels of tar sands oil in CNOOC’s hands, would create devastating global climate effects if CNOOC exploits Nexen’s reserves to their fullest extent.
Canada has also legally exited the Kyoto Protocol just today, as well as already removed the protection of over 2 million lakes and rivers – allowing tar sands development anywhere.
And the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) international treaty passed and can come into effect at any given moment without notice. CNOOC will be able to sue Canadian governments in tribunals if our governments do anything to counter its growing interests, including common sense environmental protections and job creation efforts. Keep in mind that more than 130 First Nations have signed the Save The Fraser Declaration banning Enbridge Pipeline in their territories.
And the most damaging piece of legislation is the omnibus Bill C-45, the Federal Government vacates jurisdiction over waters, parks, fisheries, etc – and no longer has the responsibility and duty to consult First Nations concerning land development as legally required in our Treaties. It also gives power to decide fate of individual First Nations – even in Treaty Territory.
These new bills (there are several more to come) legally strip us of our legally binding treaty rights, which the Canadian government has no legal jurisdiction to alter or change. Bill C-45 is an unconstitutional bill which illegally alters long standing treaties between our two sovereign nations, effectively ending them along with our sovereign nation status. Not only does this drastically affect First Nation’s people, it also directly affects all North Americans and future generations – causing irreparable damage to the environment and its inhabitants.
The Idle No More movement which protests these undemocratic changes has spread via social media, and has garnered around 80% sheer hatred toward us for ‘complaining about treaties and free money’ when we should be ‘working and paying taxes like everyone else’.
Even though we’ve tried to reason with some of these individuals by explaining the above information to them, most don’t change their views out of spite. So alerting the Canadian public to hopefully garner support to sway the bill is out of the question for us.
Bill C-45 receives Royal Assent on Monday, which could signal the last time I can email you anything regarding this (as it can be construed as illegal under the new FIPA treaty which can go in effect at any moment without notice, and my band could be sued and be forced to pay crippling fees for months).
I and my sovereign Nation are urgently asking for your help. We need your help to alert and inform the international community and bring in sanctions against the Harper government for these numerous illegal and unconstitutional attacks on our environment and sovereign nation… it’s our only hope to protect this great land and future generations.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke
Dallas Courchene has been working toward creating positive social renewal for First Nation’s people and Canadian society for over 10 years.
His suggestions on how to create prosperity for and empower the First Nation’s people inspired US Congressman Dennis Kucinich to invite Dallas to sit beside him and speak at the 1st International Round Table Supporting Ancient Indigenous Knowledge event in the May of 2010. His ideas and efforts have led him to other influential people such as Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series), Virgin Mobile founder Richard Branson, and presidents of social renewal agencies internationally – testament to the impact and effectiveness of his forward-thinking perspective.
Dallas continues to find innovative ways to create prosperity for his people, and looks to bring positive change within the fabric of society.
Attawapiskat chief launches hunger strike to force treaty meeting with PM, Queen
National News | 10. Dec, 2012 by APTN National News | 0 Comments
Attawapiskat chief launches hunger strike to force treaty meeting with PM, Queen
APTN National News
OTTAWA–Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence plans to begin a hunger strike in Ottawa this week and continue until Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Queen agree to a treaty meeting with First Nations in Canada or she meets her “ancestors.”
Spence was supposed to begin her hunger strike in Ottawa Monday morning but weather delayed her flight into the city from Toronto. Spence arrived in the city at about 11 a.m. and she planned to hold a press conference later in the day. She was also scheduled to have a conference call with former AFN candidate Pam Palmater and members from the Idle No More campaign, which also kicked off Monday.
Spence plans to begin her hunger strike on Tuesday morning.
Spence said in an open-letter she wouldn’t end her hunger strike until Harper and Queen Elizabeth II or one of her representatives agreed to the treaty meeting.
“I will return to my traditional territory after such a meeting is held, or return to spend time with my ancestors in the traditional lands of my people,” said Spence, in an open letter released early Monday morning.
In the open letter, Spence said she decided to go on a hunger strike after “months” of consideration and meetings with elders.
“After a long period of reflection, the time is at hand for a clear statement,” said Spence.
Spence said the Canadian government was trying to “isolate” and “assimilate” First Nations people.
“This process of marginalizing our political leadership, along with the enforced segregation of our people is part of a deliberate (attempt) to isolate our people, marginalize our people and ultimately assimilate our people so that our rich heritage can be wiped out and the great bounty contained in our traditional lands be made available for exploitation by large multi-national companies,” said Spence.
Spence plans to spend her days during the hunger strike on Parliament Hill and her evenings on nearby Victoria Island where she will sleep inside a cabin there.
The Attawapiskat chief will be meeting with Assembly of First Nations officials before beginning her hunger strike. The AFN is helping her with her protest, said Danny Metatawbin, from Attawapiskat. An AFN spokeswoman said Spence’s hunger strike was “a personal initiative.”
Spence’s community of Attawapiskat burst onto the national consciousness last fall after images of the community’s deplorable housing flashed across the country’s television screens.
The Harper government, however, attacked the community, blaming the band for its housing situation. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan took away the band’s control over its finances and imposed a third-party manager.
I just received the text below in an email from my friend Harrison Friesen, who is a Native activist in Canada. I am going to do some research on C-428 and post articles as soon as I can. WordPress seems to hate my computer as it refuses to load 90% of the time so it may take me a bit to get things posted. Please feel free to share this, I think we are going to need some help and solidarity from people all over, both in Canada and other countries.
It appears to me that the cabal in their cornered rat phase are simply stepping up and making more obvious and severe all the horrid things they already do-so doing their utmost to disenfranchise and harm Native peoples is no surprise. It can’t be allowed to go forward tho-so please do whatever you can by sharing info, emailing leaders, protesting, praying etc and I will post more info as soon as I am able.
“The Harper Govt’s attempt to extinguish first nations rights is part of a plan not only to take away what our people have today but also what belongs to our children in the future.. If this bill C-428 passes the XL pipeline and the Enbridge pipeline will go through without hesitation and so will Bill C 45.
They will destroy the lands and poison the waters that belong to our children and our grandchildren..Under Bill C-428 without our treaties we can no longer fight as a first nation. We will become municipalities and will no longer have our reserves.. Those reserves that are not ready for self governence today will be most effected.. The people in those communites will suffer as their own people will have no choice but to head to urban cities to surive. Therefore breaking the circle that keeps us alive..
The threat is so serious that own Chiefs yesterday tried to storm the Parliament building in Ottawa… In the past I have stood amongst warriors and I have participated in blockades, occupations, stand offs and many protests across this country.. I have seen the fucking fear in their eyes first hand and I have seen them retreat right in front of me.. They are not invincible..
Today we must fight and make stand like no other in our history.. I myself am not afraid to be imprisoned or to give my life to defend our nations, mother earth or the future of my children and grandchildren.. We are about to be wiped out!! And in the words of sitting bull, if we are going to die, we are going defending our rights. What happened in Oka in 1990 will be nothing compared to what is about to take place. Creator protect us all.” Harrison Friesen December 5, 2012
I received this is email from NARF (Native American Rights Fund). The last part is one version of something I grew up hearing called the Thanksgiving Prayer, tho here it is an “address”.
They also mentioned that November is American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month. If you have an interest in Native Culture many nations and tribes have web sites with lots of info on culture and history, as well as locations and times for things like local museums, cultural fairs, pow wows etc.
I have lots of links to sites on language and culture, will create a page for reference here and hope everyone will post and share any interesting sites they find in the comments;-)
That is something I am personally very thankful for-the internet is a wonderful resource for sharing and learning about one’s own and others cultures, arts, music, food and best of all meeting one another across crazy distances.
I spend a lot of time in online organizing and political action and I appreciate the ability to do that-it is really helping to level the field for the people in relation to the 1% and corporations/governments etc but the real miracle of this technology is the ability to create friendships and community across oceans and continents-even for those of us who cannot afford a taxi to the next town over!;-)
Each November in America we celebrate the harvest festival of Thanksgiving. Over the years, much lore has evolved surrounding early Thanksgivings and feelings of brotherhood and good will between pilgrim settlers and the Native inhabitants of North America. Sadly, most of these stories are inaccurate at best, and serve to ignore or gloss over a broad history of atrocities. In our hearts, we cannot celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the way revisionist history teaches our school children. We still feel the pain and suffering of our ancestors as the Pilgrims celebrated their thanksgivings by theft of our lands and the genocide of our peoples.
Still, Native Americans are grateful for all that nature provides, and many of us celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in our own ways. Moreover, we give thanks every day as we greet the morning star in the eastern sky giving thanks to the Creator, our families, our ancestors and our survival.
We wish you and your families a happy holiday, and hope you are able to set images of pilgrims aside and join in gratitude for the bounty the living earth provides us. In that spirit, let us share with you the words of “Thankgiving” from our Mohawk relatives in belief that one day there will truly be a Thanksgiving for all.
Greetings to the Natural World
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.
Now our minds are one.
The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
Now our minds are one.
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.
Now our minds are one.
The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.
Now our minds are one.
The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.
Now our minds are one.
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
Now our minds are one.
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.
Now our minds are one.
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.
The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.
Now our minds are one.
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.
Now our minds are one.
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.
Now our minds are one.
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.
Now our minds are one.
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.
Now our minds are one.
The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.
Now our minds are one.
Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.
Now our minds are one.
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.
Now our minds are one
Monday, October 29, 2012
Sonora’s Indigenous unite to protect Mother Earth
HERMOSILLO, Mexico — Indigenous Peoples of Sonora, Mexico, supported the Guarijios who oppose the construction of the Los Pilares dam that could lead to the loss of their land and relocation. During the Second Reunion of Spiritual Guides, Indigenous leaders also united in support of the Yaqui who are battling the theft of their water from their river, the Rio Yaqui.
Sonoran Indigenous united against the drug trafficking that is impacting Los Pimas in southern Sonora and the gold mining and mega agriculture project targeting the O’odham ceremonial community of Quitovac in northern Sonora near the Arizona border.
The battle to protect the water and land from mining, and the destruction of development and tourism on Indigenous lands, were the focus of the discussion during the gathering Oct. 26–27. Indigenous Peoples also consulted on ways to preserve their language and culture.
In the state of Sonora, old growth forests are being destroyed, and workers exploited for low wages, for the production of charcoal, which continues unregulated. The rivers are being poisoned by corporations.
Meanwhile, in a separate action in the state of Sonora on Sunday, Comca’ac (Seri) reclaimed ancestral lands near Kino Bay. Asserting their rights to the land, Seri gathered for a ceremony as they reclaimed their territory. (Photo: Today Seri occupy homeland near Kino Bay, by Brenda Norrell.)
Guarijio battling dam construction in this video by Censored News during an interview on Saturday:
In support of the Guarijio battling the dam, Traditional O’odham leaders said, “The Guarijio have not been properly informed or afforded proper consultation with respect to transparent information regarding detailed project plans of the Los Pilares / Bicentenario dam project on the upper River Mayo in southeast Sonora State and the Guarijio have not been properly informed or afforded proper consultation of studies outlining negative impacts that will interrupt their livelihood.”
“The Guarijio have been affected by being targeted with unfair local and regional media (press and television) reports that they are ‘opposed to development’ and the projects reputed benefits. The Guarijio are being judged publicly without the benefit of being properly informed or afforded proper consultation with respect to transparent information regarding detailed project plans of the Los Pilares / Bicentenario dam project on the upper River Mayo in southeast Sonora State.”
The Traditional Leaders of Sonora issued this resolution of support for the Guarijio:
The Traditional O’odham Leaders of Sonora, Mexico are again astounded that the Mexican Government at this time of technological advancement has not acquired the basic principles of honesty and civilized decency in existence with the natural world. As within our region time and time again development is being permitted without respect or proper consultation to the local population. Development moves forward without transparent compliance to the cultural, environmental and biological statutes enacted by the government of Mexico.
The Traditional O’odham Leaders of Sonora, Mexico represent the O’odham communities of northern Sonora, Mexico, and are recognized as the official representatives sanctioned by the O’odham community members, and recognized by the State and Federal government of Mexico.
Having discussed the impacts that the proposed LOS PILARES / BICENTENARIO dam project on the upper River Mayo in southeast Sonora state, northwest Mexico the Traditional O’odham Leaders of Sonora support the objections of the Guarijio:
The Guarijio have not been properly informed or afforded proper consultation with respect to transparent information regarding detailed project plans of the Los Pilares / Bicentenario dam project on the upper River Mayo in southeast Sonora State and the Guarijio have not been properly informed or afforded proper consultation of studies outlining negative impacts that will interrupt their livelihood.
The Guarijio have been affected by being targeted with unfair local and regional media (press and television) reports that they are “opposed to development” and the projects reputed benefits. The Guarijio are being judged publicly without the benefit of being properly informed or afforded proper consultation with respect to transparent information regarding detailed project plans of the Los Pilares / Bicentenario dam project on the upper River Mayo in southeast Sonora State.
The Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) fails to include significant social and environmental impacts. The Guarijio were not properly informed or afforded proper consultation with respect to the transparent information regarding detailed project plans of the Los Pilares / Bicentenario dam project to include participation and contribution of the Guarijio in the EIA to assist in the identification of significant cultural, social, biological and environmental impacts that the Los Pilares / Bicentenario dam project twill have on the existence of the population in the region.
Identical to the O’odham, the Guarijío as well as Pima and Mayo peoples have populated this region since ancient times. The indigenous culture, traditions and lives depend upon the resources of the region such as the water and associated ecosystems that are essential for the livelihood to survive.
The impacts of the proposed dam include physical displacement of homes and communities gravely impacting historical and cultural heritage. The proposed dam project will destroy the natural resources that provides for food and medicinal resources as well as traditional building materials which are now available to the community.
The Traditional O’odham Leaders of Sonora, Mexico fully support the Guarijío and encourage solidarity with all our relatives of the region to work in unity to protect our rights as indigenous people and our responsibilities to the land and the universe.
Declaración de los Líderes Tradicionales O’odham en apoyo al Pueblo Guarijío
Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org at 2:08 AM
Link to original story: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/10/sonoras-indigenous-unite-to-protect.html
I found this article very interesting and thought provoking, and think it may interest some of you as well.
The original is found at http://oyate.weebly.com/meatless-pemican.html.
The main site is at http://oyate.weebly.com/index.html .
The main page has a listing for a 52 part Native music series, and there are links to individual musicians bios and mp3 samples you can listen to.
I get the impression after reading this article that the author is not particularly fond of Pan-Indianism, but seems to understand some of the benefits or good side despite the overall problems with it.
As mentioned in the article below, for many raised away from the reservations, Pan-Indianism is such a ubiquitous part of our experience of life in America that it was really interesting to me reading this, to try and separate this phenomena out and look at it.
I have always known, was taught while growing up, that preserving and respecting our ancestors cultures and using the cultural knowledge and perspective to create your own life and actions is important.
But being separated from the living culture by generations and physical distance we also know we do not have our ancestors culture, even in modern form, we have some hybrid of colonizer culture, our own ancestors cultures, and the cultures of those who influenced our parents and grandparents.
For those of us who are “mixed blood” we have the added dilution of having more than one Native culture, or a Native culture and European, or African or Asian culture or cultures-all diluted by long contact with the colonizers.
You cannot make a generic Native culture because obviously our cultures are as different as any in the world from one another and from the other world cultures.
The way I grew up with my Mom having friends from many different tribes/nations here and many nations and cultures from around the world what I saw was a lot of respect for others cultures, as well as a tendency to share, to use one anothers languages, to celebrate together with elements from everyone’s cultural perspective on holidays. Musicians making music together that shared elements from different traditions, people just being very open to one another while retaining their own history and culture.
Maybe it was the time period, or the kind of friends (I was a little kid in the early 70’s, and my Mom’s friends were activists in civil rights, AIM, environmental movement and artists, writers, musicians, creative people and law students-the kind of people who really wanted with all their hearts to create a better world and a better future)
I think to a certain degree EVERY generation recreates their culture, but for most of history that recreation was very very similar to the culture they inherited in cultures all over the world.
With colonization you get insane outside influence not only from the invader culture(s) but from trauma, so often there are big changes.
What we have now is somewhat unique at least in recorded history-you have not only the pressures of colonization, but also the pressures of globalization and cultural contact between cultures all over the world. You have a concerted media effort by the colonizer elites to program everyone to their way of thinking, whether thru domination, co-optation or anything else they can get away with.
But we also have a strong resistance to that homogenizing influence. We have a lot of people concerned with cultural preservation, and with cultural renewal and cultural sharing and learning between peoples across the whole planet.
We stand up together against the Belo Monte, the Tar sands, Keystone XL and the many similar genocidal resource extraction projects in indigenous areas around the globe.
The challenges we face, in preserving cultures, in preserving LIFE in the face of utterly insane assaults, and in joining together to co-create a new global post colonizer global culture are great, but not insurmountable.
In graduate school my specialization was Globalization, Indigenous Peoples and the Environment. What I found is that people are meeting these challenges very effectively worldwide. Indigenous people are resilient people because they do have much that the fully assimilated and colonized have lost.
This is not to say the problems are not horrifying and heartbreaking, or that the colonizers are not still making absurd amounts of headway in their destruction, murder and mayhem-but the people are not bowing before them! We may die, but we do not do it on our knees.
(Why yes, Blackfire IS my favourite band in the whole world;-) I promise a post on just them very soon!)
What I see happening, and what I believe will occur, is that people are going to preserve their ancestral cultures. Other than where the last who spoke the language or knew the history have passed away without being able to pass on their knowledge, people are working to record these things, and for the younger generations to learn and be involved culturally-and this is great not only for preserving culture but for preserving sanity and joy in the people alive now.
People like Tai Alfred are showing us clearly how our cultures are not dead, or outdated, they are in fact the way of the future. Using the knowledge and wisdom handed down, people are effectively addressing 21st century problems and coming up with solutions far better than any the colonized society can provide.
Indigenous cultures globally are still under incredible pressures from colonization, resource extraction and the internal problems caused by these things; by intergenerational trauma, and by the near ubiquitous poverty, as well as the illness caused by the environmental problems.
Those who admire Native American culture from the pan-indianism they have been exposed to may dig deeper and learn about real cultures, real people and the real issues they face, and those who are serious may even put their actions where their hearts are and work alongside the indigenous people to stop the destruction and heal our communities.
They may not too-but I have hope that most people when exposed to the truth will choose the path with heart instead of the path of greed and disrespect.
Again maybe it is the way I was raised but I feel like people all around the world are waking up and looking for the truth, they are coming together across old, false boundaries to forge friendships, and to solve the many problems we face together.
If Pan-Indianism was (as the colonizer surely intends) to replace or displace ancient cultures, then it would be a *very* bad thing, but as it stands it (imho) has many negative elements but it also has benefits.
I think the article below gives a much more detailed understanding of the issue, and is full of references you can look into to learn more about it. I learned from it, and have things I want to look up now and I’ve been studying these types of issues for decades!
Meatless Pemmican: Indian Tribes, Identity, and Pan-Indianism in 20th Century American Culture
by Joseph R. McGeshick
American culture harbors a continuing fascination with the idea of the Indian, a fascination so salient in character, that mainstream thought, politics, economics, and art often exploit their particular constructed image of the Indian in order to empower themselves and, in many instances without knowing it, victimize others. Pan-Indianism, the driving force behind that empowerment and victimization, is a physical, and arguably a spiritual, relationship that is quite often misunderstood in its intentions and effects. Twenty-first century Pan-Indianism draws its strength and stamina from over a half a millennium of evolution and functions today with such certainty that it even seeps into the minds and wills of those who claim and recognize themselves as “Indians.” From Cotton Mather to Robert Redford, the Euro-American ageless interest in Native America runs so deep in mainstream American culture that, for all groups, fantasy frequently overshadows reality.
Initially, during the first few hundred years of contact and accommodation, Pan-Indian movements and thought functioned as a vanguard against European and Euroamerican encroachment. At that time, Pan-Indian movements acted, not only out of desperation, but also out of a basic need to survive and accommodate change between themselves and foreign powers. Early Pan-Indian leaders, such as Pontiac and Tecumseh, were motivated by historic issues that were continually shaped by Europe and America’s imperial stretching. Those eighteenth century attempts drew heavily upon the dynamics of the cultural, material, and geo-political changes which occurred in the midst of European and Euroamerican economic and physical pressure.(White:269-314:510-523) Conversely, twenty-first century Pan-Indianism draws from the immense pool of American mainstream culture(i.e. science, history, literature, art, poli-tics, and the media, especially film); a rich, but often hegemonic in nature, montage of power and knowledge.(Said,
Pontiac’s rebellion, or as one historian put it, Pontiac’s conspiracy, was actually a response to the tide of English en-croachment into the Old Northwest and to the changes they instituted as French economic and military influence waned.(Jacobs:75-93;Josephy:95-174) About a generation later, Tecumseh, a Shawnee from the Ohio River Valley, preached unity among tribes, not only from the Ohio area, but also from other eastern culture areas. He, along with his brother, Tenskwatawa, or the Prophet, urged that all tribal groups restore their cultures and they even went so far as to “establish [a] headquarters of an intertribal con-federacy on the banks of the Tippecanoe [River] in Indiana.” (Drinnon:91-92) Much like Pontiac, Tecumseh’s efforts failed to produce a surviving Pan-Indian movement designed to halt white settlement.
Obviously, different forms of power compelled Pan-Indianism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Although just as complicated as the twenty-first century fields, the surface of early Pan-Indianism is much easier to survey. Today, Pan-Indianism exists and operates internally and externally throughout the whole of American culture. Its nature has changed, though still partially defensive in character, Pan-Indianism in the twenty-first century is much more powerful.
Pan-Indianism is not only sanctioned by the dominant culture, it is mandated through multiple processes of cultural power.(Said,1993:1-55) Twenty-first century American culture demands and perpetuates Pan-Indian images. From the myth of the drunken Indian to Sotheby’s auctions, America wallows in the world of Pan-Indianism.
By the first forty years of the nineteenth century and as the US moved closer and closer to industrialization and incorporation, Pan-Indianism established a beachhead in the American mainstream psyche. Writers, naturalists, artists, and even a few European aristocrats began the subversion of native identities. James Fenimore Cooper; one writer who had an unmeasurable affect on Pan-Indian constructions, created some of the basic binaries that exist today in the American mind. Indians for Cooper were mostly blood thirsty savages, who raped white women and killed children, or, a special few, were loyal companions, who willingly gave their lives for their white brethren in the face of certain death; usually at the hands of some deadly tribal war party. Using tribes like the Sioux, Pawnee, and Delaware, Cooper warped readers’ minds with images that persist well into the twenty-first century.(Drinnon:160-64) Despite Cooper’s utilization of multiple tribes and culture areas, his characters remained generic; easy to manipulate and imagine. Since his accuracy in describing dynamic cultures fell far from its mark, his static view comfortably supplanted itself in the American mind. The power of his and other writers’ words created illusions that became the foundations of Pan-Indianism.
Similarly, William Gilmore Simms, often called the Cooper of the South, painted his Indians with the same brush and stroke as his New England contemporary. In his The Wigwam and the Cabin (1845), Simms characterized his Catawba’s and other tribes as a wretched people constantly plagued by disease and alcohol. His references to “ugly squaws” sentenced all Indian women to the lowest condition of human existence; an existence which persists even today. In a sense, Simms was the Southern Cooper, his false and over-romanticized images differed little from the Indians in The Last of the Mohicans(1826).
In a much less romantic tone, Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man(1857) mapped out the firmly grounded racial hatred America projected toward tribal people. His work articulated, what Richard Drinnon called, the “cant of Pan-Indian thought;” a thought rooted deep in “doctrinal hate” and driven by a “collective abhorrence” of Indians and their cultures.(Drinnon:12-14) Melville’s “Metaphysics of Indian-Hating” could simply not exist without Pan-Indian themes and false images.
Those writers and dozens of others like Irving, Bird, and Longfellow created the groundwork from which writers, as well as the rest of America, in the last half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries drew much of their knowledge and imagery. Very little changed over the course of a hundred years. In fact, most American institutions, organizations, political movements and agencies, and artists defined and sustained the Pan-Indian images which emerged out of the pens of those early American literary canons.
In an attempt at a more objective view of Indians, or so he thought, historian Francis Parkman similarly created more false characterizations. His work, The Oregon Trail(1849), examined the lives of Indians and whites on the frontier, while his much later publication, The Conspiracy of Pontiac(1896), gave the American mind nothing new nor dynamic. Parkman’s Indians reinforced many of the Pan-Indian images created in the early nineteenth century. A homogenous, monolithic, static identity easily eclipsed the vast diversity which existed and continued to evolve, accommodate, and change, despite the dominant culture’s efforts at subversion and redefinition of identity. Parkman’s pen created an even more profound image; one which moved away from romanticism and toward a more scientific characterization; a characterization which bordered on the racist.(Berkhofer:96)
The last half of the nineteenth century was a time of extremes, not only concerning the mere survival of tribal groups, but also in terms of Pan-Indianism. One extreme, despite its immense literary shortcomings, found its way to the literate masses creating even more vivid images; all the while adding to the Pan-Indian reserve. Dime novelists like Ned Buntline, the “ten cent” millionaire who discovered Buffalo Bill and gave him his first break in show business, began a cultural movement that rooted itself deep in the American tradition of myth making. Those melodramas, both in print and on stage, became American cultural productions designed for and marketed to a preconditioned public. Consequently, it seemed that those late nineteenth century audiences did experience the making of the American Wild West. American Studies scholar, Alan Trachtenberg, describes that experience:
“Through dime novels, themselves a modern artifact
of mass production, and traveling Wild West shows
such as Buffalo Bill’s, the image impressed itself:
the West was exotic romance. Especially through
the dime novels,… These popular fantasies appeal-
ed to a broad stratum of Eastern readers, for whom
the West [and the Indian] served as an image of con-
trast to Eastern society.”(23-24)
In fact, as tribal diversity waned the “‘Indian’ remained the utmost antithesis to [White America]… an America dedicated to productivity, profit, and private property.”(Trachtenberg:37)
Another extreme was the new sensitivity projected toward Indian groups in general. Eastern organizations, like the Friends of the Indian, criticized the continuity of violence and extermination, as well as the graft ridden Indian Bureau, that characterized the government’s relationship with Indian tribes. In 1881, Helen Hunt Jackson, tried to accomplish for Indians, what Harriet Beecher Stowe did for blacks. Jackson’s novel, Ramona
(1884), set in the California culture area, and her preceding work, A Century of Dishonor(1885), attempted to expose the physical and mental stress endured when culture and identity become subverted. Despite those shifts toward cultural awareness, Pan-Indianism persisted. Those groups and individuals, fueled by Judeo-Christian morality, remained true to the Pan-Indian image.
Ramona reads more like a Southern Californian “Romeo and Juliet” romance than a novel with the intention of propagandizing the dark and broken existence of the California tribes. Although the novel is based on a true story, the romantic encounter “dominates… [the story] …so dramatically that the Indian cause espoused by Jackson is easily overlooked by readers.” (Stedman: 195)
In the wake of that late nineteenth century sentiment, individual Indians initiated their own literary experiences and by the first quarter of the twentieth century many writers from many different culture areas produced works which eventually evolved into the genre of Native American Literature. Those early texts fell mostly into the area of autobiography. In 1916, Dr. Charles Eastman, “Ohiyesa,” wrote From Deep Woods to Civilization: Chapters in the Autobiography of an Indian, which outlined his assimilation into Euroamerican culture. Eastman’s agenda focused on the importance of Western education and he became the prototype of the Indian success story. His very title suggests a homogenized identity; yet surprisingly empowering for his time and place.
A little over ten years later, Mourning Dove, an Okanogan from the Plateau area, collaborated with L.V. McWhorter and published the “first novel written by an American Indian woman.” (Mourning Dove:v) The novel, titled Cogewea: The Half-Blood, written in much of the same style of Owen Wister’s The Virginian, is a western romance, which often confuses the reader as to which voice, Morning Dove’s or McWhorter’s, is being authentically articulated. Despite the debate over voice and authenticity, the novel itself is a contribution to Pan-Indianism and also forms the beginnings, along with Eastman and Luther Standing Bear’s My People the Sioux(1928) and others, of what is labeled early Native American Literature.
Once those tribal writers broke the ice, a whole new generation of Indian writers emerged. One of the first was a Cree/
adopted Salish(Flathead), who worked for the BIA before his writing career took off. D’Arcy McNickle’s novel, The Surrounded, also dealt with identity and the compromising of traditional beliefs and after much urging from his publisher, McNickle wrote a second novel, Wind From an Enemy Sky; a story of two brothers who belong to the Little Elk tribe. Although published forty years later, the work has all the trappings of the post-modern Native American novel: white encroachment on sacred land, medicine men, medicine bundles, struggle for identity, and cultural survival.(Rawls:204)
The next generation of writers after McNickle; those who came of age after WWII and into the 1970s, initiated and continued to sustain a renaissance in Native American Literature. Literary canons such as Momaday, Welch, Silko, Ortiz, Vizenor and Erdrich; and of which Deloria, although more politically focused, can not be left out, support the genre and their combined cultural, political, economic and spiritual experiences make Native American Literature what it is today as tribal communities move into the twenty-first century. Consequently, their audience, mostly non-Indians, buy what is marketed as Indian. Once their productions are marketed and consumed, their mainstream identities as “Indians” often overshadows their diverse and separate identities as Kiowa, Gros Ventre, Laguana, Acoma and Chippewa. Their field of cultural production is a restricted field, both culturally and politically, in which the symbolic power of their productions are sustained by an encompassing social process and relationship; that of Pan-Indianism.(Bordeau:15) Their genre often ends up as an invention designed to serve a pre-conditioned consumer; as does their collected identity.
The model of Native American Literature is Western in nature; which will require canons, as well as new and fresh writers. However, one extremely interesting phenomenon in this cultural field are the “Great Pretenders,” of whom Carlos Castenada and Highmake Highwater lead the parade.(Rose:403-421) Castenada, an anthropologist who pulled the wool over the eyes of a major segment of academia with his claim of encounter and apprenticeship with the fictitious Don Juan, a Yaqui medicine man, gained immense popularity with the counterculture and New Age movements of the 1960s and early 1970s.(Rawls:237) Similarly, Highwater (aka: Jay Marks, an Italian-American) used his invented identity as a Blackfoot(Blackfeet)/Cherokee to peddle his Pan-Indian writing.(Rose:405)
Literature is not alone in the world of Pan-Indianism, the field of science also contributes. History, anthropology, ethnography, archeology, ethnohistory and linguistics produce a plethora of data designed to interpret different people and their cultures. At the turn of the century, a flood of anthropologists ventured onto Indian reservations taking down information as if those tribes were really a “vanishing race.” Men and women like Alfred Kroeber, James Mooney, Franz Boas, Clark Wissler, Robert Lowie, Alice Fletcher, Ruth Benedict and countless others went from tribe to tribe and observed, measured, recorded, and concluded to the point of nuisance their efforts at understanding, scientifically no doubt, the Indian. However, in that effort, they too created a Pan-Indian image; an image, despite its “basic presuppositions of cultural pluralism and relativism,” perpetuated a “timeless ethnograhic present” and neglected any major changes in tribal lifestyles over time.(Berkhofer:65-67) Under the guise of many early anthropologists, whether they realized it or not, the idea of the “traditional Indian” emerged out their of their studies; an idea which created a static view of the Indian. In reality, their empirical data became the gauge, even for local reservation communities and tribal individuals. Each ceremony, each song, and each custom was carefully recorded and deposited in the permanent record. Those scientific minds unintentionally left little room for change and accommodation.
In the same fashion, American historiography constructed the Pan-Indian images of Pocahontas and Squanto; not to mention the direct connections between the Iroquois Confederation’s political model for the Constitution.(Ceci:49-128) Despite the generational revisions, American history books and teachers continue to present and perpetuate those Pan-Indian images.
Another form of written invention developed alongside the serious and scientific literature of middle of the twentieth century. Much like the dime novels of the late nineteenth century, a section of American writers; those who produced literature for the American masses, generated throw-back Pan-Indian images. Louie Lamour, the best selling Western writer in American history, though credited with deviating “significantly from the stereotypical treatment of Indian-as-savage,” nonetheless used conventional Pan-Indian images in his work.(Rawls:234) Other Western writers, like Zane Grey, shaped millions of readers’ images and implanted the Pan-Indian image, especially the characterizations of Plains tribes and the Apaches of the Southwest. For writers like Lamour and Grey and their audiences those groups; the tribes who paraded eagle feather war bonnets and fought white soldiers and cowboys, were the real Indians.
In a more contemporary sense, the Indian as literary subject became a favorite for just about every writer. For example, Ruth Beebee Hill’s Hanta Yo(1979), supposedly based on years of research of a Lakota group in the early nineteenth century, fell victim to the disapproval of very people she described. The Lakota claimed she “falsified Lakota religion and sexuality.” (Rawls:241) Other writers like Tony Hillerman, although adopted into the Navajo tribe for his sensitive portrayals of the Dineh, paved the way for dozens of writers who felt the urge to write either about or for Indians. One interesting writer is Gerald Hausman, a Native American Studies enthusiast, who writes some of the most Pan-Indian texts in America today. Hausman, who lives and writes just outside Santa Fe, produced over a dozen books on Native Americans. Texts like, Turtle Island Alphabet: A Lexicon of Native American Symbols and Culture(1992) and Tunkashila: From the Birth of Turtle Island to the Blood of Wounded Knee (1993), contribute to the strength of post-modern Pan-Indianism. His Turtle Island Alphabet, ranks as one of the most condescending texts produced on the subject of Indians. His lexicon is the epitome of Pan-Indian thought, while his Tunkashila, attempts, in one sweeping narrative, to corral the epic story of Indian mythology; as if one really existed. His efforts reduce diverse and dynamic mythologies to a fairy-tale form that lolls in Pan-Indianism.
Another writer is Ken Nerburn, author of Native American Wisdom, which is a collection of quotes and speeches by famous Indians such as Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph. Some of his chapter titles are: “The Ways of the Land”; “The Ways of the Heart;” “The Betrayal of the Land;” and “Heed These Words.” Nerburn’s motives, as sincere as they are, and the power of his literature are grounded firmly in the foundation of Pan-Indianism. Nerburn also edits The Soul of the Indian, a collection of Charles Eastman’s writings and The Wisdom of the Great Chiefs. Those three titles are part of series of “classic” philosophical writings published as the Classic Wisdom Collection of the New World Library located at San Rafael, California. One extremely interesting work is his Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder(1994); of which his publisher markets as “An unlikely cross between Jack Kerouac and Black Elk Speaks.” Although many enthusiastic and honest writers have no control over what publishers paste on their works, their writing and stories nevertheless often fall victim to the power of Pan-Indianism.
Euroameicans are not the only brokers of Pan-Indian imagery, many who claim tribal ancestry and as well as tribally recognized members from all culture areas use Pan-Indianism for empowerment. Joseph Bruchac, a Cornell/Syracuse educated New Yorker, who claims Abenaki ancestry through his grandfather, writes, edits and publishes adult literature and co-author’s a series of children’s literature with titles such as: Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Activities for Children; Keepers of the Animals: Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children; Keepers of the Night: Native American Stories and Nocturnal Activities for Children and All Our Relatives: Native American Animal Stories and Activities for Children. Bruchac is also known for his Native anthologies which introduced a “new generation” of Indian writers, “almost all of whom have gone on to win major critical acclaim.”(Dictionary of Native American Literature:401-04) In his latest production, as managing editor, titled Smoke Rising: The Native North American Literary Companion, Bruchac gathers the canons of the genre. Little doubt exists that when his audiences, both child and adult, read his productions empowerment occurs. They entertain and teach, however, it is accomplished through and based on Pan-Indian thought and imagery.
The list of tribally recognized producers of Pan-Indian literature is endless. Why? Because in last ten years, as publication dates, movies, the consumer market, and other areas of American society show, the popularity of being any way connected to “Indianness,” through literature, art, academics, New Age spiritualism, whatever, is at its highest point within post-modern American culture and will no doubt retain; and even gain more of, its power well into the twenty-first century. Pan-Indian popularity even creates all encompassing illustrated histories and encyclopedias; texts designed to give the mainstream consumer everything in a five-hundred page volume. One text, The Native Americans: An Illustrated History, is marketed as, “Spanning a thousand generations and beautifully written by five well-known authorities …, … illustrated with photographs, maps, and work of both historic and contemporary artists.” Dozens of these “coffee-table” history and cultural texts are produced each year. Time/Life even published a whole American Indian series.
When or where will it end? Well in her article, “The Tribe Called Wannabee: Playing Indian in America and Europe,” Cherokee folklorist Rayna Green describes the images and the processes of Pan-Indianism as a “cultural epidemic which appears to get worse.”(Green:143-166) However, the idea of culturally better or worse is moot when dealing with Pan-Indianism; it functions equally powerful in any cultural binary.
Since the last half of the 1980s, the magnitude of printed material, with Indians as product or even as producers, is overwhelming. Through journals and magazines the popularity and marketability of Pan-Indian material seems almost endless. Journals such as: Spirit Talk: A Publication in Celebration of Indian Culture; Native Americans; Native Peoples Magazine and Winds of Change have a definite audience. Despite the cultural and artistic character they espouse and despite the creativity and cultural awareness they promote, by nature they are Pan-Indian and through that relationship they are empowered. The act of producing one’s own interpretation of culture, either through story, song, art, or some other cultural exercise, for a preconditioned consumer, is commonplace among the hundreds of tribal communities, both on reservations and in urban areas. Pan-Indianism operates as a cultural and social license that empowers tribal members in post-modern American culture.(Said:1978) As American culture moves into the twenty-first century and takes hundreds of tribal groups with them, it seems quite safe to say, “It is a good time to be and Indian.”
Or so it might appear. Under all the current interest and cultural fashion lies the reality. What is for sale in this country is the image and the illusion, in which Pan-Indianism suppresses reality by empowering and victimizing real people. Is it a good time to be an Indian? Quite definitely, yes. However, is it a good time to be a Chippewa on the Mole Lake Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin? Or, is a good time to be a Mashantuckett Pequot from Connecticut? Those are the questions which operate on a level far from the romanticism, glamour and fantasy of Pan-Indianism.
Pan-Indianism is one of the many identifiable hegemonic forces which operate within and outside American culture. Countless American economic and social systems and institutions continually utilized Pan-Indian imagery as a means of empowerment. That process subverts individual and tribal identity, while reinforcing and adding to the reserve of Pan-Indianism. (Said: 1978)
In the world of art, both high and low brow, from George Catlin’s 1840s portraits and landscapes and Santa Fe museums to Robert Redford’s Sundance catalogs and dreamcatchers;, Pan-Indianism is a dominant force in those cultural fields. It operates just as freely as consumers believe the little cards’ descriptions of the origins of the dreamcatcher; which either begin with, “Indians believed…” or “Native Americans thought…,” followed by an origin story of some sort. Everyone might not have an original George Catlin, however, many Americans now eagerly tie dreamcatchers on their rearview mirrors and no doubt many even put the object over their beds. The point is not that dreamcatchers will or will not work, but that dreamcatchers are part of the Pan-Indian consumerism that operates in American culture. When people read those cards, through the process of Pan-Indianism, their reality is that all Indians make and use dreamcatchers.
The Indian art which falls into the “fine art” or high brow category remains one of the most sophisticated areas of Pan-Indianism and certainly one of the most affluent. Auction houses, especially Sotheby’s, and museums broker individual tribal artifacts to the rich, who are usually anonymous or unspecified buyers. The more antiquated, the more expensive. Sotheby’s recently auctioned off a Plains scalp shirt for the amazing amount of $230,000. Its price inflated due to its unsubstantiated connection to Crazy Horse.
If consumers’ tastes fall into a much less expensive category, buyers can flip through Redford’s Sundance catalog and buy the ever popular dreamcather, SW jewelry in which Kokapelli appears as a favorite subject, birch bark baskets inlaid with SW turquoise, Katchina spirit candle holders, a roaming buffalo lamp or buffalo book ends, an Iron Eyes Cody throw rug, or the Spirit Caller; a stick scepter marketed as “used by a shaman to ensure the well being of the tribe.” And continues:”Passed along from one generation to the next, the spirit caller would gain in power as each shaman added his knowledge though symbolic beads, carvings, and fetishes.”(Summer 94:18) The products go on and on. Similarly, dozens of those gift catalogs market as much Indian merchandise as the public will buy, giving the consumer a super-ficial sense of connection.
It does not end there, by no means. The American film and television industry would be unthinkable without the Pan-Indian imagery which is so visible in that cultural field. Hollywood’s bread and butter is the Western, producing thousands of titles which perpetuate historic Pan-Indian constructions. Those constructions include the myth of the drunken Indian, “Tarzan” English, and certainly the binary of the bloodthirsty savage and noble companion. Simultaneously, as for the Indian woman, Hollywood, in line with early American writers, has sentenced her to the lowest condition of human existence; the Indian “squaw” who expects and even desires physical abuse. From the early silent movies to Dances With Wolves, the film industry relies upon a vast pool of Pan-Indianism. That does not include the television industry; an industry in which consumers have made moguls like Ted Turner and Ken Burns; as far apart as they might be in mission and purpose, the brokers of Pan-Indianism and its culture. Mainstream America consumes their productions just as they consumer American fast food; with instant gratification. And look what Disney has done with Pocahontas, again supplanting Pan-Indian fantasy on the most vulnerable American minds – children, all in name of profit.
Don’t change that channel! In the cultural field of religion and spirituality, the power of Pan-Indianism is frightening. The New Age movements continually appropriate the diverse forms of symbolism from any culture area which appeals to their visions and melt them into one of the most profound elements of Pan-Indian culture. Some of the most duplicated ceremonies and activities which New Agers borrow are drumming, singing, the Sweat Lodge, naming ceremonies, and vision quests. During the last quarter of the twentieth century and even more so in the last ten years, in many areas of the country, those who found themselves in a spiritual void or felt unfulfilled with their present spiritual condition, turned toward tribal spitituality. Although their general sincerity is not in the most pressing concern; the problem surfaces when ceremonies and symbolism are misappropriated and staged for less than sincere means.
In her series of articles for Indian Country Today, Lakota journalist, Avis Little Eagle reveals the extend of White Shamanism or “Plastic Medicine Men.” Her series, titled, “Prophets for Profit,” exposes the sale of tribal rituals by non-Indians, as well as tribal members. Her reports outline how twentieth century confidence-men sold Pan-Indian ceremonies to the uniformed public. Some of her titles: “Medicine Men for Rent,” “After the Sweat: Caviar, Wine and Cheese” and “Sundances Take Place on Artificial Turf,” describe the absurd level at which Pan-Indian spirituality operated in late twentieth century American culture. She details how New Age charlatans incorporated marijuana and other drugs into their Pan-Indian ceremonies; how even sex became involved and how self-proclaimed holy men, many tribal members themselves, took advantage of the misinformed public. Two of those “real Indians” who Little Eagle names as the major contributors to this activity were Sun Bear (aka:Vincent LaDuke), a Chippewa from Minnesota and Wallace Black Elk, a Lakota. They sold their ceremonies, or rather their Pan-Indian versions, to non-Indian consumers at a disturbing rate.(Little Eagle:191-231)
When the Environmental movement began to sprout in the early 1970s, the Keep America Beautiful campaign employed Iron Eyes Cody, a self-proclaimed Cherokee who was an extra in dozens of Hollywood Westerns, as “Indian” as natural environmentalist in Plains regalia.(Rawls:254) Who better than the Indian; the Plains Pan-Indian no less, to serve as a metaphor of the American environmental conscience. Since then, the idea of the Indian is used with great success as a tool for marketing environmental awareness. The Pan-Indian goddess of Mother Earth is one of the most effective models. It empowers non-Indians in their efforts to promote and raise social awareness and it also allows Indians to be more Indian.(Gill:??) Since the American public accepts the Pan-Indian Mother Earth myth, tribal individuals who seek empowerment in that sphere willingly spout the Mother Earth rhetoric, many in contrast to their linguistic and cultural traditions. Mother Earth becomes a badge of cultural identity, rooted in Pan- Indianism and fashioned to fit any individual or tribal group.
In the political sphere a number of Pan-Indian forces dominate individual tribes and their members. The first is the reservation system itself and then the boarding school system, which began in the late nineteenth century. Boarding schools forced tribal families to send their children to government and Christian schools in order to speed up nineteenth century assim-ilation. The whole system was a forced cultural process designed to homogenize the minds and bodies of diverse groups of people.
Another, the federal Relocation Program of 1950s, though purely voluntary, contributed to a Pan-Indian environment in urban settings. Since hundreds of tribes participated, those families sought social refuge in each other and as time went by, what became important and empowering were Pan-Indian constructions. Those constructions helped families in crisis deal with the change and accommodation which was taking place in their lives.(Parman:142-44,149)
The most profound area of political Pan-Indianism rests in the blood quantum phenomenon, a mandated mechanism based on the concept of pedigree. The phenomenon attempts to measure identity and culture through blood percentage. Although this is far from scientific, as a political tool, it works as well as any Pan-Indian cultural tool. This is one of the final stage in the homogenization of tribal identity. According to the federal government, if individuals do not measure up, then simply the government does not recognize them as Indians for political, and in most cases economic, purposes. Unfortunately, most tribes and government agencies who provide services to tribal people also use the blood quantum standard, leaving very little room to maneuver, either as a member of a community or as an autonomous individual.
A rather new development in the Pan-Indian sphere of influence is the “parenthesied” Indian, someone who signifies their specific tribal affiliation in parentheses following their Christian name. What is important is not the name of the tribe, but the act. The parentheses serve as a metaphor for claiming Indian heritage.
In a collective sense, and as an individual, the Indian is an Euroamerican cultural production functioning as the nucleus of a much larger and refined cultural relationship and process which converts fantasy into reality. Pan-Indianism is an American hege-monic tool; empowering and victimizing in the same instant and that is why it is so effective and powerful. Beneath the cultural surface Pan-Indianism reveals little, however, its greatest utility rests as a tool for studying American culture; a culture which uses Pan-Indianism in every corner of its society.
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