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I vacillated for a long time on what to include in this week's edition. Last week, I scrapped several stories at the last minute in favor of the news about flooding and other extreme weather in Indian Country. So there are several stories from last week that I wanted to cover today.
A growing number of reports about environmental issues affecting Indian tribes have appeared over the last couple of weeks. Some are good news; some, just the opposite; all are important. With that in mind, I've postponed a couple of the pieces I had planned for today. Next Monday will be a special environmental edition, containing those items and several others: everything from PV solar projects to wind power to pushback against mining corporations.
What that means for this week is that the subject matter ranges far and wide. It's a lot of ground to cover, so let's get to it.
We begin with Native women.
TO FEDERAL BENCH
Ms. Humetewa, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe, has a stellar résumé that demonstrates longtime bipartisan support for her career in public office. Her career path has its roots in her work some thirty years ago as a victim's advocate, when she helped to found one the country's first federal victims' services programs. She began her legal career in earnest by earning her J.D. in 1993 at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law where she now serves as a faculty member.
After graduation from law school, she went to work as Deputy Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a position she held from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, she joined the Department of Justice, detailed to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona; from 1996 to 1998, she simultaneously held the title of Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. She would remain with the U.S. Attorney's Office until 2009: While an AUSA, she served as the office's Tribal Liaison, was promoted to Senior Litigation Counsel in 2001, and then advanced to the top job as U.S. Attorney [USA] in 2007.
It is entirely likely that she enjoyed such strong bipartisan [i.e., Republican] support for the USA job because, as a Native woman, she was an effective distraction from George W. Bush's scandalous mid-term firing of certain U.S. Attorneys. She was the permanent successor to Paul K. Charlton, a white male attorney who, by all accounts, had a good record on tribal issues and who was one of the USAs fired by Bush's administration for being an insufficiently pure disciple of the Gospel according to Karl Rove. But it appears that, however much Republican operatives and politicians may have regarded her gender and ethnicity as a convenient political fig leaf, Ms. Humetewa nonetheless had, and has, far more than enough legal chops to support her successful rise in her chosen career. She also oversaw the high-profile prosecution, launched by her Paul Charlton and continued by her interim predecessor, of Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) on multiple corruption charges. In 2009, Ms. Humetewa resigned as USA as a matter of course, to permit President Obama to nominate his own choice for the position, a long-accepted tradition among USAs and other presidential appointees; she was not forced out mid-term for political gain as he predecessor was.
During her tenure with the Department of Justice, Ms. Humetewa had served in a variety of other roles, as well: a five-year tenure as an appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribal Court; a stint as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's Native American Advisory Committee. In 2009. she joined the multinational law firm Squire Sanders in an "of counsel" position. She currently serves both in the administration of Arizona State University, as Special Counsel and Special Advisor to the President, and on the faculty of the school's College of Law.
Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, a law dean at the University of New Mexico before joining the administration last year, expressed optimism on learning of the selection.If confirmed, Ms, Humetewa will be only the third American Indian judge to serve on the federal bench. The first two were Frank Howell Seay (who at the time of his nomination was assumed, even by himself, to be entirely white), nominated by Jimmy Carter in 1979 and now on "senior status," and Billy M. Burrage (Choctaw), nominated by Bill Clinton in 1994.
She is also President Obama's second Native nominee for a federal judgeship. The first was Arvo Mikkanen (Kiowa) whose nomination was scuttled by Senate Republicans — allegedly because of a lack of consultation with Oklahoma's Republican senators (sorry; Dan Boren doesn't qualify as a Democrat), but in reality as simply another thumb in the eye of the President.
For now, Indians are hoping for an easy confirmation. With the Republican Party, that of course is by no means guaranteed. But her strong prosecutorial background with its record of public bipartisan support should help make it bit harder to obstruct her nomination simply because of the identity of the President doing the nominating.
In recent weeks, I've written quite a lot about violence against Native women, particularly near (and straddling) the Canadian border. This phenomenon is neither new nor unusual, in either country. What is unusual, on the Canadian side of the border, is the amount of public attention it gets compared to this country's nearly complete approach of pretending that it doesn't exist.
In part, that difference is due to a very vocal First Nations community, comprising both women and men, that has organized successfully to draw public attention to the issues [Facebook link], and to push back on governmental inaction and misconduct. But Canada's Harper government has made clear its indifference to the abuses inflicted upon both tribal communities as a whole and First Nations people, especially women, as individuals.
Now, it's taken that indifference a dangerous step further.
Every four years, the UN Human Rights Council conducts a "Universal Periodic Review" of a country's human rights record. It's Canada's turn this year (among others). Part of the process involves allowing other nations to call for human rights reforms in the country under review. And under the guise of rejecting criticism from nations that Canada describes as having "dubious rights records," the Harper government is also rejecting, wholesale, a series of resolutions calling for the investigation of and a halt to violence being inflicted on First Nations women.
In Ottawa, Shawn Atleo, national chief of Canada's Assembly of First Nations, said there is deep concern among aboriginals over the government's refusal to conduct a national review of the problem.
"There is strong support for this action domestically among provincial and territorial leaders and the Canadian public and strong international support, not to mention a multitude of reports and investigations that urge Canada to act," Atleo said in a statement.Demands for such efforts are not new: They occurred during the last UN review of Canada's human rights record, in 2009. No steps were taken, and in the intervening years, the problem of assault, rape, abduction, trafficking, and murder of Canada's aboriginal women has only worsened.
Harper and his mouthpieces are very good at offering up excuses: They argue that the racial data are insufficient, and more, properly so, "due to operational, methodological, legal and privacy concerns." They also deride the demands as mere "meetings and studies," whereas they pretend to be "focused on action."
UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya isn't having any. His portfolio is to ensure protection of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide, and he's shown a willingness to face off against state governments here in the U.S. to do so. He's visiting Canada next month to conduct his own investigation.
With the Canadian government's record, both historical and contemporary, of violence against aboriginal communities, this is not an issue that First Nations activists can afford to let go. And they won't. But in light of the ongoing violence against American Indian communities here in the U.S., our own activists should take a page from the book of our brothers and sisters to the North.
After more than a decade of pressure, IHS announced in 2012 that it was revamping its policy on availability and distribution of Plan B. The policy changes are now reportedly finalized, although the actual text has not be released (perhaps a wise move in today's political climate). Nonetheless, according to IHS officials, all federal IHS facilities have received verbal directives ordering them to provide Plan B at their pharmacy windows upon request to all women aged 17 and older, and to do so without a prescription.
Meanwhile, women's health advocates are pushing IHS to issue a written policy on emergency contraception.Some advocates continue to fight for full access, including access for patients under 17.
"We've made some progress, and we have to acknowledge that, but there's still more," [Charon] Asetoyer said. "They're still violating our rights to access by denying women who are age 16 and under. ...We have to ask, why are we being treated differently?"Ms. Asetoyer (Comanche) is the director and a co-founder of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, South Dakota. A long-time activist on Native women's health issues, she knows too well the effects of sexual violence on Native women. I have no doubt that she will continue to fight to expand that access, as well she should.
But this is an exceedingly welcome — if long overdue — first step.
More "This Week In American Indian News" & Latest Updates on Kossack Regional Meet-Up News Below the Frybead Thingey
The Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington State have become the sixth tribal nation to formalize marriage equality.
Last Thursday, tribal members voted "overwhelmingly" to extend formal legal recognition to marriages between spouses of the same sex. The decision applies to all enrolled members of the Colville Confederated Tribes, more than 9,300 people, regardless of whether they live on or off the reservation.
It's a logical extension of the tribal nation's existing policies, which were already more progressive than those found in much of the rest of the country:
Council chairman Michael Finley told the paper that the tribe has long recognized and respected LGBT identities, usually referred to as two-spirit in the tribal vernacular. Last week's vote means two-spirited Colvilles will be treated equally and with respect, Finley said. The tribe had already permitted members in same-sex partnerships to add their spouse to their insurance and other benefits plans.As I've noted previously, Oregon's Coquille Indian Tribe was the first tribal nation in the country to legalize marriage equality. Washington's Suquamish Tribe was next, in 2011. This year has seen a small but significant domino effect, beginning with Michigan's Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa, about whom I wrote here and here, followed by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, also in Michigan, and California's Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Indians.
It seems a small step, but six tribal nations in a two-year period is significant. In many of our cultures, the number seven holds special significance; perhaps the seventh tribal nation to legalize marriage equality will serve as a tipping point.
TO END USE OF RACIST MASCOT
To coincide with the season opener of Washington's NFL team (which they lost — LOST!), New York's Oneida Nation has announced the launch of a radio advertising campaign to force the team to cease using the racial slur that it has as its mascot. The ads were slated to run on radio stations throughout the D.C. market last Monday before the start of the game.
In the ad, Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should "stand up to bigotry" by denouncing "the racial slur" in the team's name.Mr. Halbritter has rather effectively put Roger Goodell on the spot, since Goodell nearly tripped over himself trying to be among the first to denounce Riley Cooper, the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver caught on video referring to African Americans by a vicious racial slur. Cooper, for the record, has been fined, has been sent to "sensitivity training," and has apologized both privately and publicly. Washington team owner Dan Snyder, on the other hand, continues to double down.
So, for that matter, do members of Goodell's staff, apparently.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy, in an email to The Associated Press, said they "respect that reasonable people may have differing views."No, Brian. Someone who thought it appropriate to call the team the Washington N-----s would not be considered "reasonable." It is no more reasonable to use one of the most vicious slurs ever slapped on our peoples.
For that matter, Brian, how about knocking off with the lies? Because that's what you're doing: You're continuing to spread the outrageous lie that this was ever intended to be "positive" or that it's ever been "used in a highly respectful manner." Neither is true, and you know that, because you and your organization have been told this repeatedly - by actual Indians - for more than 40 years now. So knock off with the whitewash, already.
One thing that's encouraging to see is young Indians stepping up on the issue.The Oneida Nation, meanwhile, is putting its money where its mouth is, too. NBC reports that, earlier this year, the tribal government awarded $10,000 to an area high school that agreed to change its mascot from the [Redacted] to the Hawkeyes. The money will be used for new jerseys for school athletes.
Of course, coward that he is, Goodell will punt. Again. It's what he and his organization always do.
Snyder, on the other hand, will simply dig his heels in deeper. There's no question that the Oneida campaign will be utterly ineffective in inducing Snyder to change the name. For him, it's now a matter of principle - that is, of the principle of defending his racism. No power on earth will do that, with one possible exception: the power of the almighty dollar. It's a franchise worth billions annually. If the League were ever to develop enough of a spine to the right thing - the non-racist thing - it could force him to change it. Absent that, only money has any hope of ever trumping his racist fantasies.
The ad campaign, which is expected to run into the thousands of dollars in costs, will continue throughout the season. The ad buy will include stations in the D.C.-area market for home games, and in the markets of whatever team Washington plays against when on the road. The tribe has also launched a Web site to aggregate public support for the name change. You can add your name to the effort at www.changethemascot.org/.
Note: I had written about this for last week's edition, before extreme weather intervened. In the meantime, Denise Oliver Velez showed how an ally does it: She wrote about this very issue as the feature for last week's edition of Black Kos: Tuesday's Chile. If you haven't read her take on it, go do so. And Dee: Chi miigwech for always remembering us.
They never learn. Because they don't want to learn.
Nicholas K, a fashion house comprising two white siblings with the surname Kunz (hence the "K") who hail from Arizona, is the latest to engage in appropriation (and insulting distortion) of American Indian culture and imagery. No, strike that; it's theft, pure and simple.
From these two idiots' press release, cited with syrupy approval by one fashion writer:
For Spring 2014, brother and sister designers and CFDA members Nicholas and Christopher Kunz explore the spiritual roots of the small bands of indigenous people that formed the Ndee or Apache Nation. Antique smudge fans found on a reservation in the mountains of Central Arizona sparked the inspiration of a shamanistic journey that is embraced by the brand’s own nomadic urban roots.Then it's a bit about the [fake] "symbolism," punctuated incorrectly, I might add. And then this bit of drivel appears:
Like the Shamans, who were draped in a mixture of textures, the collection consists of an array of free flowing fabrics. Matte gauze with shimmering lurex symbolically represents desert stones speckled with shining mica, while geods dance across printed viscose paired with reinvented linen and suede moccasins. The silhouettes of the season call to spirit light dancers – they are magically free and playful."Shamans?" Really?
Not only are you two morons not honoring, respecting, or "exploring" the Apache culture to which you claim "roots" by some sort of bizarre transference via one-time geographic proximity, but you clearly know nothing about it — or any other indigenous cultures.
And if indeed those really were "[a]ntique smudge fans found on a reservation in Arizona," I hope a visit from federal officials, followed by some arrests and prosecutions and convictions and repatriation, ensues. Soon. Because I guarantee you that those two didn't "find" them there free for the taking.
WRITING THE GREAT AMERICAN INDIAN NOVEL
Once in a while, I come across something that is such truth, real and raw, that it pierces both heart and soul. And so it was with a piece that Native author Sherman Alexie [Coeur d'Alene/Spokane] published by way of Montana Public Radio's "Monday Poems" feature.
It speaks to a culture of appropriation at a level so fundamental, it's almost physically painful. It's a form of appropriation that many of us here have tried to address honestly and openly, and have told we're wrong, racist and worse, for doing so. But perhaps Mr. Alexie, widely revered in the dominant culture, can bring the point home in ways that we cannot.
I'm going to post only excerpts. You should go to the link and read the entire thing. And before commenting about, try to internalize it, from his — our — viewpoint. Contemplate it. Think it through to its logical conclusion, which he makes so painfully plain. And then go forward accordingly.
All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms."Tragic." Or, my personal favorite, "proud." Which, of course, raises in the reader's mind the very opposite.
We know why.
The stereotypes write themselves anymore.
And the thefts can be justified on all and any grounds.
An Indian man can be hidden inside a white woman. An Indian woman[Emphasis mine.]
Let's build communities!
Every region needs a meatspace community like SFKossacks.
We take care of each other in real life.
I urge YOU to take the lead and organize one in your region.
Please tell us about it if you do and we're here for advice.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY
NEW GROUPS IN THE PROCESS OF ORGANIZING:These are the groups that have started since * NEW DAY * began. Please Kosmail navajo if you have started a group before that.
Send a Kosmail to the organizers and ask for an invitation to the group.• Northern Indiana Area: Kosmail Tim Delaney
• Long Island: Kosmail grannycarol
• Northern Michigan: Kosmail JillS
• Nebraska: Kosmail Nebraska68847Dem
• Westburbia Chicago Kossacks: Kosmail Majordomo
• New York Hudson Valley Kossacks: Kosmail boran2
• North Carolina Triangle Kossacks: Kosmail highacidity
• Caprock Kossacks (Panhandle/Caprock/Lubbock/Amarillo area) : Kosmail shesaid
• West Texas Kossacks (including Big Bend Region and El Paso) : Kosmail Yo BubbaNote to the above new leaders: Feel free to leave a comment any day reminding readers about your new group. Also, tell us about your progress in gathering members. Kosmail me when you've chosen a good name for your group and have created a the group. Then I'll move you to the NEW GROUPS LIST. When you've planned a date for your first event I'll make a banner for you to highlight your event in our diaries and your diaries.
NEW GROUPS LIST:
• Kansas City Kossacks - Formed Oct 15, 2012, Organizer: [Founder stepped down]
ESTABLISHED GROUPS LIST: (List will grow as we discover them)
Farm Day for Oregon Kossacks! Baby Goat and Goat Cheese Edition
TIME: Anytime, all day!
LOCATION: Oregon Gal's farm
Address given privately • Alsea, Oregon
ORGANIZER: Send Oregon Gal a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Oregon Kossacks: FARM DAY! (with baby goats)
1. Oregon Gal
2. Sara R
4. Horace Boothroyd III
5. Blue Jessamine
9. Wise Ferret
Saturday, September 28th
Indianapolis Kossacks First Ever Meet-up
TIME: 2:00 PM
LOCATION: Shapiro's Deli
808 S Meridian • Downtown Indianapolis
ORGANIZER: Send CityLightsLover a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: [Waiting for linked diary]
4. Alexandra Lynch
Saturday, October 19th
DKos Asheville Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: The Bywater
796 Riverside Dr. • Asheville
ORGANIZER: Send randallt a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: DKos Asheville - Weekly Open Thread
7. Sandy on Signal
8. Mr Sandy on Signal
11. Mr Alecia
14. Otteray Scribe
15. Burns Lass
people power granny
One Pissed Off Liberal
Christian Dem in NC
Phil S 33
Sunday, October 20th
MEGA Philly/NJ/NYC Kossacks Meet-up!
LOCATION: Stuff Yer Face
49 Easton Avenue • New Brunswick, NJ
ORGANIZER: Send mconvente a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Philly/NJ/NYC Mega Meetup! Initial Information & Interest Diary
2. belinda ridgewood
11. blue jersey mom
aravir and son
Friday, October 25th
LAKossacks & SoCal Inland Empire See Lewis Black!
TIME: 9:00 PM
LOCATION: Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa
32-250 Bob Hope Dr. • Rancho Mirage
ORGANIZER: Send 714day a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: L.A. Kossacks, Lewis Black Fans in So Cal
Friday, October 25th
Meet the Daily Kos Editorial Staff!
TIME: 6:00 PM
LOCATION: Daily Kos HQ
Address given privately to RSVP'ers • Berkeley
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
You will need to bring Potluck.
HQ will be providing the main course like before. Please sign up for a beverages or side dishes below.
- POTLUCK SIGNUP BELOW -
16 six-packs of beer [3 down, 13 to go]
20 bottles of wine [5 down, 15 to go]
4 packs Bottles of water
4 packs Soft Drinks
I'll be bringing my large ice chest with ice, as before.
Anything goes here. Whatcha' got? [3 down]
6 green salads needed, each to feed 10 [4 down, 2 to go]
6 desserts, a dozen hand-held desserts each [4 down, 2 to go]
2. Susan Gardner
3. Meteor Blades
4. Joan McCarter
6. Faith Gardner
7. Will Rockafellow
8. Jen Hayden
9. Paul Hogarth
10. Chris Bowers
11. Rachel Colyer
12. Michael Langenmayr
14. Lusty + dessert
15. side pocket + two 6pks beer + 2 wines + stuffed mushrooms appetizer
18. citisven + beer + beet dip
19. norm + pumpkin bars
20. Lorikeet + big bowl of fruit
21. kimoconnor + appetizer
22. remembrance and TLO? + 1 wine
23. Glen the Plumber + Pasta Mystery Dish
25. dharmasyd + brownies
26. ceebee7 + green salad
28. Dave in Northridge + 2 bottles of wine
30. LinSea + bottled water
35. justiceputnam + grilled balsamic veggies
37. exlrrp +souvenirs ;) !
38. shanikka + salad
41. jpmassar + dessert
Saturday, October 26th
New England Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 10:30 AM
40 Washington Avenue • Portland, ME
ORGANIZER: Send nhox42 a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: C+J Kossack Fall Meetup
SFKossacks BBQ in the Wine Country
LOCATION: Andrew McGuire's home in the Wine Country
Address to be given privately to RSVPs • Windsor
1. Andrew McGuire
6. Hunter/elfling offspring
14. Mr. dksbook
17. side pocket
18. Mrs. side pocket
20. ceebee7's sister
21. leema (will carpool from Marin)
22. Meteor Blades
Glen The Plumber
Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.
Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?