Saturday, August 19, 2017

Yellow Planetary Star/ Yellow Magnetic Sun - Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 25

Thomas Miller, “Buffalo” (1997) (photo by Sheila Regan/Hyperallergic)

In Minnesota, Listening to Native Perspectives on Memorializing the Dakota War

The outcry over Sam Durant’s sculpture at the Walker Art Center has provoked reflections on past memorials for the US–Dakota War, and how Dakota Nation voices continue to be ignored.

MINNEAPOLIS — In 1990, Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds installed a public installation along the Mississippi River on the east side of Downtown Minneapolis called “Building Minnesota,” which recognized the Dakota men who were hung by the United States Government at the end of the US–Dakota War of 1862. Each of the white, metal signs contained one of the names of the men hung in the largest mass execution in the country’s history, known as the Dakota 38 + 2, including the two additional warriors who were hung later under the order of Andrew Johnson. The signs also each contain the phrase “Death by Hanging,” and the name of Abraham Lincoln, who signed the order for the execution, as well as two with Andrew Johnson’s name.

Not everyone loved the piece. Heap of Birds says that he received criticism because of the negative portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. “They thought it was a betrayal,” he said in a recent interview with Hyperallergic.

On the other hand, a remarkable phenomenon happened. After the piece went up, offerings on the artwork began to appear — sweat lodge ties, peace flags, eagle feathers, and other remembrances. “That showed how much people cared, and that they saw it as a religious, or a medicine place,” Heap of Birds said. The installation became more than a piece of art, but rather a place of healing and remembrance.

“Building Minnesota” was a part of Heap of Birds’s 1990 exhibition, Claim Your Color, at the Walker Art Center. Twenty-seven years later, the Walker would again invoke the Dakota 38 + 2, but this time inspiring anger from the Native and Dakota communities.

This past May, Dakota people, the Native community, as well as local leaders decried the Walker’s decision to install Sam Durant’s “Scaffold” sculpture evoking the Dakota hangings in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Prior to the protests, the Walker’s director, Olga Viso, had written a proactive letter saying she had not anticipated how the work would be received by Native audiences. When protests grew, both the artist and director wrote open letters apologizing for installing the piece, with Viso’s letter echoing Durant’s own assertion that “Scaffold” was not intended as a monument.” Durant wrote that the piece “warns against forgetting the past,” and went on to say he had hoped that it would open dialogue and exchange, not only about the past but the future. Viso added that “Scaffold” “invokes white, governmental power structures that have controlled and subjugated nations and peoples, especially communities of color, throughout the history of the US.”

There’s no doubt that the piece “opened dialogue” and invoked critique of white power structures. The main white power structure criticized in this situation, however, was the Walker Art Center itself.

Durant’s piece perhaps acted as a kind of anti-monument, particularly in its setting at the Sculpture Garden in dialogue with Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock,” which playfully mocks war monuments, as well as Claes Oldenburg’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry,” its own kind of tongue-in-cheek commentary on traditional monuments.

In “Scaffold,” Durant invoked seven different public executions in US history, including the Dakota 38 + 2, to make commentary about capital punishment. Rather than giving these traumatic events their own weight and remembrance, the artwork was a tool for speaking about a broader political issue.

Sam Wounded Knee, a Dakota man who joined others in occupying the sidewalk near the sculpture in protest, calling for its dismantlement, said the artist and the Walker should have asked permission from the Dakota community first, before referencing such a painful history. “Maybe they could have worked with us,” he said. “Yes, we want people to know our history here, but they need to come ask us first, and this is disrespectful. We wouldn’t have approved of this.”

When the Walker announced that the sculpture would be dismantled in May, the website indicated that the sculpture would be burned in the Fort Snelling area, where the concentration camp was located.

However, Stephanie Hope Smith, the mediator who has been facilitating meetings between the Walker and the Dakota elders, recently indicated on her blog that the elders may decide not to burn the wood, and need more time to decide. Their next meeting is at the end of June.

Both of the public art pieces that the Walker presented in 1990 and 2017 referencing the Dakota 38 + 2 illustrated the need for remembrance of Minnesota’s awful history, which, to this day, festers like a wound both for the Dakota people and for the descendants of the white people who stole the Dakota people’s land and starved them, which caused the war. The atrocities done to the Dakota people in the war’s aftermath, besides the mass execution, included forcing thousands of them into a concentration camp in Fort Snelling, where over 100 died, and banishment from the state. (For more on this history, see the Minnesota Historical Society’s US–Dakota War website.)

The historic trauma that Dakota, along with other Native American groups, experience isn’t something that lives in the abstract. They continue to pay for wrongs done to them over centuries, and experience massive disparities in sectors across the board, including health, education, poverty, and employment.

Edgar Heap of Birds learned about the Dakota War when he was introduced to a song called “Water in the Rain,” a collaboration between folk singer Larry Long, Heap of Bird’s cousin, Mitch Walking Elk, who is part Dakota and part Arapaho, as well as Dakota elder and spiritual leader Amos Owen, who reads the names of the 38 on the song track.

“They gave me the music to listen to,” Heap of Birds said. “I knew Larry Long already and my cousin is Mitch Walking Elk, but I actually had a phone call with Amos. He talked to me about the names, and encouraged me to do the piece.”

At the time, Heap of Birds had planned to come to the Walker for his traveling exhibition of prints, Claim Your Color. Then, after he heard the song, and after Mitch Walking Elk gave him a large piece of pipestone — which Heap of Birds then shared with ceremonial priests of his own Chayenne tribe to make prayer pipes — he knew that he had to make his own offering back to the Dakota community, so he asked the Walker to add the public piece to his agenda, and the Walker agreed.

“It’s got to be that kind of locked-in, religious experience,” Heap of Birds said. “For me, to try to rise up and address that problem of the whole history of Mankato — it’s not art or a museum. It’s way beyond that, and if it’s not, then don’t bother. If you don’t have that, you probably shouldn’t bother with it.”

For the piece, Heap of Birds drew from Lincoln’s letter that spells out the names of the people who were ordered to be killed. (Originally 303 were sentenced to be hanged, most of whom Lincoln pardoned.) “You’ve got to have names to bring back to living people, so they can mourn for them and maybe heal themselves. And have a remembrance.”

Public art, Heap of Birds said, is an exchange with the public. Currently at the Walker, he recognizes a level of engagement happening between the museum, the artist, and the Dakota community, but considers it too late. “You do that in the beginning,” he said.

In addition, Heap of Birds says that there doesn’t just have to be one memorial. “There can be multiple memorials, from multiple vantage points,” he said.

Minnesota has its own memorials for the Dakota War, but some of the older ones especially are quite problematic. These markers paint the settlers who fought the Dakota as brave victims who defended themselves, without discussion of the broken treaties and ill treatment the Dakota endured which prompted the war; neither is there any mention of the mass execution, internment, and forced removal that followed.

One historical marker, erected in 1929 at the spot where Chief Little Crow (who escaped the hanging) was shot, glorifies the chief’s killer: “Chief Little Crow, leader of the Sioux Indian outbreak in 1862, was shot and killed about 330 feet from this point by Nathan Lamson and his son Chauncey July 3, 1863.” The marker does not mention that Little Crow’s body was mutilated, that his scalp was donated to the Minnesota Historical Society and put on display at the State Capitol. He would not be buried until 1971.

In recent history, efforts have been made to tell a more balanced story, one that shares the Dakota perspective. In 1987, the Dakota community erected a monument in Fort Snelling Park in memory of the concentration camp that was once there. The wooden structure is made up of large logs of wood that fan out towards the sky from a circular enclosure. The top of the structure reads “Wokiksuye K’a Woyuonihan,” which means “remembering and honoring.” In the center is a circular plaque made of pipestone, placed there by Dakota elder Amos Owen of the Prairie Island Indian Community, which lists all of the bands that were interned at the site.

Another memorial sits at the actual hanging site in Mankato, containing memorial objects that have amassed over the years. First, in 1987, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Blue Earth County Historical Society, in collaboration with Dakota leaders, erected the statue “Winter Warrior” by Mankato-based artist Thomas Miller, featuring a Dakota warrior figure, to coincide with the “Year of Reconciliation” proclaimed by Governor Rudy Perpich. Ten years later, Reconciliation Park was established across the street, along with a second statute by Miller of a buffalo. Then, in 2012, for the sesquicentennial of the war, another monument was added to the park, evoking a scroll with a list of all the names of the men who were killed.

Seth Eastman, a descendent of Little Thunder, one of the 38 executed in Mankato, participates in a group horseback ride to Mankato every year from Lower Brewel, South Dakota — a total of 330 miles. He found out about the annual ride from friends, and decided to participate in 2012, as a way to give back in some way. As the years have progressed, Eastman has learned more about the history of his people, and shares his knowledge with other riders who are willing to listen.

For Eastman, it’s not the memorial structures that hold the most power, but the site of the execution itself. “Just being in that area is really overwhelming,” he said. “I don’t know if people really understand what we feel as descendants of Dakota people. A lot of us descend from people who were killed and trophy hunted, who were executed by hanging.”

Eastman lives in Sisseton, South Dakota, where his ancestors were taken when they were banished from the state of Minnesota. “I’m still exiled, as you would say,” he said.

Of the Mankato monuments, he said, “It’s something that we are coming back to. I hate to say a shrine, because we don’t have such things like that. But it’s a place, that we can come back to to remember, to do what we need to do.”

Eastman hopes monuments like the ones in Mankato can be educational tools. While the younger Dakota generations have learned the real history of the Dakota in tribal schools, public schools are a different story. He shared the story of one public school at the border of Minnesota, where a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln talked to the students and answered their questions.

“One of my nephews asked the question, ‘Why did you hang the 38?’ This man went on to tell him, ‘Oh, I only hung the bad Indians. The ones that killed and raped.’ Telling kids this, that we’re bad, it’s the same as how we’ve been portrayed in the media. That struck my core.”

For Eastman, the value of having monuments is that they can help with healing. “We are trying to move forward in a good way. We are trying to heal,” he said. “For us, the Dakota, but for all people — non-Dakota people, settler descendants — they too have that historical trauma as well. How can we all as a people move forward and have this as an educational thing? How can they reach out to people to be part of the healing process?”

While the scrolls at Mankato and Edgar Heap of Birds’s memorial are examples of memorials of the Dakota 38 that have provided meaning and healing for some in the Dakota community, there’s a clear need for mainstream institutions to create room for Dakota artists and voices to tell their own version of the story.

Dakota artist and curator Graci Horne, who helped organize a group of Dakota elders to protest “Scaffold,” attests that Dakota artists have already been telling their story, but too often, it falls on deaf ears. “Countless artists have done their own pieces that reflect the events of 1862,” she said. “The elders have put forth a documentary depicting what happened. There have been countless talks put on by elders regarding this and nobody listens.” Horne says it’s time for Native people to be given a platform to share their own version of events. “We have non-Native representation to represent our history,” she said. “That’s not right. We need more native people to represent our stuff.”*

Sheila ReganJune 16, 2017


Kin 88: Yellow Planetary Star

I perfect in order to beautify
Producing art
I seal the store of elegance
With the planetary tone of manifestation
SI am guided by the power of intelligence
I am a galactic activation portal
Enter me.

Art, or the planet art whole, is the medium of transmission of creative thought, or the holographic projection of an idea or image.*

*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.

 The Sacred Tzolk'in

Svadhistanha Chakra (Kali Plasma)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blue Solar Hand/ Blue Cosmic Storm - Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 24

Pat Pruit, Laguna Pueblo, won the Best of Show award for the 2017 Santa Fe Indian Market with this zirconium and titanium sculpture. The awards ceremony was held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center Friday. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE – For Pat Pruitt, winning Best of Show at the 96th annual Santa Fe Indian Market for his zirconium and titanium sculpture, combining modern technique and design with the shape of a traditional pueblo pot — was “trippy.”

“I’m blown away,” said the Laguna Pueblo artist when given the honor by Southwestern Association for Indian Arts leader Dallin Maybee. Pruitt spent nearly 800 hours on the sculpture titled “Sentinel v1.0,” submitted it and “hoped for the best.”

“I don’t think we ever create to say, ‘I want to try and win this,'” Pruitt said when accepting his award Friday afternoon at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. “We create out of the passion of our hearts, to be able to do what we do in the matter that we do it. It’s such a blessing.”

He told the Journal he created his vessel as a way to honor his first Indian Market 10 years ago. That year, he made a smaller, stainless steel piece. He wanted to explore the art form again with new materials and new techniques he’s picked up since then.

The show’s Best of Youth winner was also non-traditional, a Post-It note paper sculpture by 17-year-old Rain Scott (Navajo) called “Splendor of the Peacock.” His father, artist Raynard Scott, accepted the award because Rain had to be at school in Arizona.

He said his son spent two years after school and on weekends putting together the mostly-orange paper peacock, and was “astonished” by it the first time his son showed it to him.  “It’s a testament to the passion and time the artists put into their pieces,” he said. Rain’s art will be on display at his father’s booth this weekend.

Other market winners include:

Textiles: Lola Cody (Navajo), created big rug — a 14-feet, 8 inches by 8 feet — made of wool from her family’s sheep. The brown and tan colors come from the sheep, whom Cody thanked when she accepted her award. She previously was awarded Best of Show in 2014 and first place in Textiles in 2013. “It’s always an honor to be recognized for your hard work,” she said.

Pottery: Angie Yazzie (Taos Pueblo) made a black, hand-coiled prayer bowl with geometric designs on its rim. She said she was inspired by a book she found of old, 1800s pottery as well as traditional Taos Pueblo and Kiwa pottery. The designs represent each of the directions, Yazzie said.

Moving Images: Steven Paul Judd’s (Kiowa) short film  “The Gift,” is about a young boy whose grandfather has recently died and left him with a magical book and a mason jar with fairly-like spirits inside. It was inspired by his own grandfather’s death last year. Judd said he wanted to use the idea of “people living on.”

Basketry: Donald Johnston (Qagan Tayagungin) won for his Baleen basket with a figure of a man kayaking. Each thread of the basket was hand-split and hand-shaved, he said.

Bead Work & Quill Work: Carla Hemlock ( Mohawk) was awarded for her beading on a long red jacket, top hat, and purse.

Diverse Art Forms: Jamie Okuma (Luiseño Shoshone-Bannock) won for her jacket, long shorts and spiked backpack ensemble. The set is separate from the collection she’ll be showing during today’s 3 p.m. Haute Couture Fashion show at the convention center, which will mix Native and Japanese cultures. The beadwork design on the backpack was digitally copied onto the shorts to match. Okuma has won Best of Show three times; 2000, 2002 and 2012.

Paintings, Drawings, Graphics & Photography : Local photographer Cara Romero (Chemehuevi) won for her large-scale portrait of a woman wearing a white necklace from the Chumash tribe. Romero was also awarded the Institute of American Indian Arts Alumni Award.

Jewelry: Former pipeline worker Wesley Willie (Navajo) said he switched over to creating jewelry 15 years ago, and was awarded for the first time for a bolo tie and bracelet with Morenci turquoise and other stones.

Pueblo Wooden Carvings: Arthur Holmes’s (Hopi) carving of a Rain Goddess took first place. “Each rain [the Hopi] get is inspiration for farming tradition,” he said, describing the farmers’ typically dry climate. He pointed out the carved figure’s hands. In one, she holds the Hopi people’s offerings, and in the other she has snow, to provide rain. He also took home first in the classification in 2011 and 2012.*

By Megan Bennett / Journal North Reporter 8/19/17


Kin 87: Blue Solar Hand

I pulse in order to know
Realizing healing
I seal the store of accomplishment
With the solar tone of intention
I am guided by the power of abundance.

As the mental sphere of the planet, the noosphere can only be made fully conscious if it is a function of the unified field of the human mind operating in universal telepathy.*

*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.

The Sacred Tzolk'in 

Ajna Chakra (Gamma Plasma)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

White Galactic World-Bridger/ White Crystal Mirror - Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 23

Inmates Rights

Fighting for Indigenous Inmates and Religious Rights:

Huy, Cladoosby again call upon US State Department, United Nations to ensure indigenous inmate religious freedoms

Since at least 2013, there has been a continuous call for improved conditions across the U.S. when it comes to indigenous prisoners religious rights. On August 3, Huy (pronounced Hoyt) submitted comments to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling attention to ongoing violations of incarcerated indigenous on the state and local level.

The national non-profit’s comments were submitted for the State Department’s November 20, 2017 report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The comments were sent to both the state department and CERD.

Huy’s comments are a follow-up to the report that the American Indian-run, Seattle-based NGO submitted to CERD in 2014. In its 2017 report, Huy explains that, “The United States has been on notice of this failure to protect indigenous prisoners’ religious freedoms since at least mid-2013, when it received an inquiry about these violations from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples together with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. To our knowledge, the United States has yet to respond to this inquiry, despite calls from indigenous leaders in the United States.”

In 2014, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Brian Cladoosby called upon then Secretary of State John Kerry to respond to the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s 2013 inquiry.  There has yet to be a response from the State Department to that United Nations inquiry or to Huy’s 2014 report.

“Our trustee has yet to hear our calls for justice on behalf of our imprisoned relatives. So we turn to international human rights forums for accountability,” stated NCAI President Cladoosby, who also sits on Huy’s Board of Advisors. “We continue to hope and pray for national intervention against state and local government violation of indigenous prisoner religious freedoms.”

The August 3 letter to Secretary Tillerson addresses the continued violation of ICERD articles 2, 5, and 6, along with the treatment of indigenous inmates that is inconsistent with UNDRIP articles 2, 12, 18, and 19.

Violations are happening across the country, but Huy highlighted issues in Alabama, California, Idaho, Texas and Wyoming state prisons.

In Alabama’s case, the state, along with nine other states, continue to prohibit indigenous prisoners from seeking a religiously based exemption from prison policies banning long hair.

There have been small victories for indigenous inmates and their religious rights. The most recent was a decision by Neil Gorsuch, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, while serving as a federal Court of Appeals judge said that Wyoming had placed a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion by Andrew Yellowbear by denying him access to the prison’s sweat lodge.

Victories like this only happen because indigenous prisoners are “being forced to vindicate their rights through protracted litigation,” according to Huy. Litigation, as Huy explained to Tillerson, is not an effective remedy to the problem.

“The Trump Administration is rather obviously committed to states’ rights, to mass incarceration, and to the freedom of religion—at least Western religion,” said Huy Chairman Gabe Galanda, an Indian civil rights lawyer in Seattle. “Those commitments must also make way for the exercise of American Indian religious freedom within state or local prisons, as the U.S. Constitution and federal statute require.”

Huy in the Coast Salish Indian Lushootseed language means “see you again/we never say goodbye.” The non-profit provides economic, educational, rehabilitative and religious support for American Indian, Alaska Native and other indigenous prisoners in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the United States.*

By ICMN Staff • August 17, 2017


Kin 86: White Galactic World-Bridger

I harmonize in order to equalize
Modeling opportunity
I seal the store of death
With the galactic tone of integrity
I am guided by the power of heart.

Let your soul work in harmony with the universal intelligence as your breath does with the air.*

*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.

The Sacred Tzolk'in 

Muladhara Chakra (Seli Plasma)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Red Resonant Serpent/ Red Spectral Earth - Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 22

“Preaching and Farming at Mission Dolores” by Anton Refregier is a mural that is displayed at the rormer Rincon Annex Post Office, in San Francisco, California.
Image by Thomas Portue/United States Postal Service/
“Preaching and Farming at Mission Dolores” by Anton Refregier is a mural that is displayed at the rormer Rincon Annex Post Office, in San Francisco, California.

Lying to Children About the California Missions and the Indian:

The story of the missionization of California is a story of sacrificing culture to greed

All my life, I have heard only one story about California Indians: Godless, dirty, stupid, primitive, ugly, passive, drunken, immoral, lazy, weak-willed people who might make good workers if properly trained and motivated. What kind of story is that to grow up with?

The story of the missionization of California.

In 1769, after missionizing much of Mexico, the Spaniards began to move up the west coast of North America in order to establish claims to rich resources and before other European nations could get a foothold. Together, the Franciscan priests and Spanish soldiers “built” a series of 21 missions along what is now coastal California. (California’s Indigenous Peoples, numbering more than 1 million at the time, did most of the actual labor.) These missions, some rehabilitated from melting adobe, others in near-original state, are now one of the state’s biggest tourist attractions; in the little town of Carmel, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo is the biggest attraction. Elsewhere, so-called Mission décor drenches Southern California, from restaurants to homes, apartment buildings, animal shelters, grocery stores, and post offices. In many neighborhoods, a bastardized Mission style is actually required by cities or neighborhood associations. Along with this visual mythology of adobe and red clay roof tiles comes the cultural storytelling that drains the missions of their brutal and bloody pasts for popular consumption.

In California schools, students come up against the “Mission Unit” in 4th grade, reinforcing the same lies those children have been breathing in most of their lives. Part of California’s history curriculum, the unit is entrenched in the educational system and impossible to avoid, a powerfully authoritative indoctrination in Mission Mythology to which 4th graders have little if any resistance. Intense pressure is put upon students (and their parents) to create a “Mission Project” that glorifies the era and glosses over both Spanish and Mexican exploitation of Indians, as well as enslavement of those same Indians during U.S. rule. In other words, the Mission Unit is all too often a lesson in imperialism, racism, and Manifest Destiny rather than actually educational or a jumping-off point for critical thinking or accurate history.

In Harcourt School Publisher’s California: A Changing State, the sacrifice for gold, riches, settlements, and violence by Spanish, English, and Russian explorers is well enunciated throughout Unit 2 and dressed in exciting language such as on page 113: “In one raid, Drake’s crew took 80 pounds of gold!”

In four opening pages to Chapter 3 devoted to Father Junípero Serra, the textbook urges students to sympathize with the Spanish colonial mission:

“Mile after mile, day after day, week after week, the group traveled across the rugged terrain. As their food ran low, many of the men grew tired and sick. Father Serra himself suffered from a sore on one leg that grew worse each day. And yet he never gave up, calling on his faith in God to keep himself going.”

The language jumps between an acknowledgement of the subjugation of Indigenous Peoples and of mutually beneficial exchanges. In Lesson 3, “The Mission System” opens: “Indians were forced to build a chain of missions.” Subsequent language emphasizes the alleged benefits to the Indians:

“At the missions, the priests worked to create loyal Spanish subjects… They would move the California Indians into the missions, teach them to be Christians, and show them European ways.” 

Visiting the mission as an adult, proud, mixed-blood California Indian woman, I found myself unprepared for gift shops well stocked with CD's of pre-researched Mission Projects; photocopied pamphlets of mission terms, facts, and history (one for each mission); coloring books; packaged models of missions (“easy assembly in 10 minutes!”); and other project paraphernalia for the discerning 4th grader and his or her worried parents.

The Carmel Mission website maintains a “4th Grade Corner” where daily life for padres and their “Indian friends” who “shared what little food and supplies they had” is blissfully described. Other websites offer “easy,” “quick,” and “guaranteed A+!!!” Mission Projects, targeting those anxious parents, for a price.

Generations of Californians have grown up steeped in a culture and education system that trains them to think of Indians as passive, dumb, and disappeared. In other words, the project is so well established, in such a predictable and well-loved rut, that veering outside of the worn but comfortable mythology is all but impossible.

On my visit to Mission Dolores, I found that out in a particularly visceral way.

It was over winter break, 2008. I was in San Francisco for a conference, and my friend Kimberly and I had hopped on a streetcar to visit Mission Dolores. As we emerged from the mission church via a side door into a small courtyard (featuring one of those giant dioramas behind glass), we inadvertently walked into video range of a mother filming her daughter’s 4th-grade project.

Excusing ourselves, we studiously examined the diorama while the little girl flubbed her lines a few times. She was reading directly from the flyer given tourists in the gift shop and could say “basilica” but not “archdiocese,” but she maintained her poise through several takes until she nailed it.

Both mothers ourselves, Kimberly and I paused to exchange a few words of solidarity about school projects with the mother, which gave Mom the chance to brag about how she and Virginia were trying to “do something a little different” by using video instead of making a model.

“That’s great!” I said, giving them both a polite smile. “I’ll bet your teacher will be glad to have something out of the ordinary.”

“Well, it is different actually being right here,” Mom said excitedly. “To think about all those Indians and how they lived all that time ago, that’s kind of impressive.”

I could not resist: “And better yet,” I beamed, “still live! Guess what? I’m a member of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation myself! Some of my ancestors lived in this mission. I’ve found their names in the Book of Baptism.” (I didn’t mention that they are also listed in the Book of Deaths soon afterward.)

The mother was beside herself with pleasure, posed me with her daughter for a still photo, and wrote down my name so she could Google my work. Little Virginia, however, was shocked into silence. Her face drained, her body went stiff, and she stared at me as if I had risen, an Indigenous skeleton clad in decrepit rags, from beneath the clay bricks of the courtyard. Even though her mother and I talked a few more minutes, Virginia the 4th grader—previously a calm, articulate news anchor in training—remained a shy shadow, shooting side glances at me out of the corner of her eyes.

As Kimberly and I walked away, I thought, “That poor kid has never seen a live Indian, much less a ‘Mission Indian’—she thought we were all dead!” Having me suddenly appear in the middle of her video project must have been a lot like turning the corner to find the (dead) person you were talking about suddenly in your face, talking back.

Kimberly, echoing my thoughts, chortled quietly, “Yes, Virginia, there really are live Mission Indians.”

The problem is, thanks to Mission Mythology, most 4th graders will never know that and the textbooks don’t help to give visibility to modern California Indians.

Throughout the rest of California: A Changing History, mentions of California Indians are brief and as victims fading into history. On page 242, under the heading of “A Changing Population,” Harcourt states simply, “California Indians were hurt by the gold rush… Many were forced off their lands when the miners found gold there.”

Many pages later, California Indians are mentioned again when the textbook devotes five paragraphs to Indian Governments. Although 109 tribes are recognized in California, in the text, they are faceless and noted only by red square dots on a map.

It’s time for the Mission Fantasy Fairy Tale to end. This story has done more damage to California Indians than any conquistador, any priest, and soldado de cuera (leather-jacket soldier), any smallpox, measles, or influenza virus. This story has not just killed us, it has also taught us to kill ourselves and kill each other with alcohol, domestic violence, horizontal racism, internalized hatred.

We have to put an end to it now.

This article is adapted from Deborah Miranda’s book “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir” and is reprinted here with permission of the author. This article is part of the Zinn Education Project’s If We Knew Our History series.

It originally appeared on March 23, 2015 at (© 2015 The Zinn Education Project.)

Deborah A. Miranda is the author of “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir” (Heyday Books, 2012). Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation of California, and is also of Chumash and Jewish ancestry. She is a John Lucian Smith Jr. Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, and says reading lists for her students include as many books by “bad Indians” as possible. Visit Deborah Miranda’s blog, BAD NDNS.*

By Deborah A. Miranda


Kin 85: Red Resonant Serpent

I channel in order to survive
Inspiring instinct
I seal the store of life force
With the resonant tone of attunement
I am guided by the power of navigation
I am a galactic activation portal 
Enter me.

Mantra focuses on primordial sound vibration, the primary dimension of universal coordination.*

*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.

The Sacred Tzolk'in 

Sahasrara Chakra (Dali Plasma)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yellow Rhythmic Seed/ Yellow Planetary Warrior - Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 21

Native American Students, Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, Student Spotlight, Indigenous Education, Native American Education, Higher Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Oglala Lakota, DAPL, DAPL Movement, Indigenous Identity, DAPL Resistance, Standing Rock, Indigenous Resistance, Harvard University, Harvard University Native American Program, QuestBridge Scholars Program, Natives in America, Upward Bound, Decolonizing History, Native American History
                                                                           Courtesy Megan Red Shirt-Shaw
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw graduated with a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in May. She delivered the Student Speaker Address at the commencement exercises.

Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: FIERCE Defender of Native American Students:

Native American students have an ally in Harvard graduate Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

The Harvard Graduate School of Education may not have been ready for Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, Oglala Lakota, but she was more than ready for the prestigious university founded nearly 400 years ago, in part to educate American Indians. Delivering the Student Speaker Address at the Harvard Graduate School of Education commencement in May, Red Shirt-Shaw opened by saying, “I’d like to acknowledge the land of the Wampanoag, Nipmuc and Massachusetts tribes on which this university rests.”

Red Shirt-Shaw was one of a cohort of Native American women accepted in HGSE’s Higher Education Program. “I am really fortunate that I came into the program with other Native women,” she told ICMN. The women, as it turned out, came to Harvard to learn—and to teach.

“We, five of us in particular, banded together to revive the Native American student organization, which was called FIERCE—Future Indigenous Educators Resisting Colonial Education,” she said. The other women who committed to rebuilding the student organization were Danielle Lucero, Isleta Pueblo; Kaci McClure, Cherokee/Choctaw; Jordan Johnson, Navajo, and Autumn White Eyes/Oglala Lakota/Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe/Northern Cheyenne/Pawnee.

Red Shirt-Shaw said her experience at Harvard Graduate School of Education was for the most part extremely positive, “but sometimes it was really hard because a lot of us would walk into classroom settings and be presented with information about the demographics of American students and Native students were almost never mentioned. They would do a breakdown of what students in America looked like and there were never statistics about Native American students.

“That was definitely eye-opening for all of us, coming to this institution, so a lot of our focus was on pushing the narrative relative to contemporary indigenous identity—to look at the DAPL movement, which was happening at the time, but then also to understand that Native American students may be sitting in a classroom without teachers even knowing it. We were trying to break down stereotypes and misunderstandings that a lot of people coming into HGSE may have had about what it means to be indigenous in the 21st century.”

One of the things FIERCE did to advance its agenda was to organize rallies in support of the DAPL resistance. “I think a lot of us felt very isolated in not being able to go and actually be a part of the movement at Standing Rock. But we were able to use that as a learning tool—an example of indigenous resistance that people could look at and understand in a contemporary context,” she explained. “We also did panels about indigenous identity, organized movie screenings, and hosted dinners at the Harvard University Native American Program, which was our greatest support network at Harvard.”

Red Shirt-Shaw said she grew up in four different states, California, Michigan, Connecticut, and Arizona, where she graduated from The Gregory School in 2007. She earned a bachelor’s in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 and later went back for her master’s. Then she worked at UPenn in undergraduate admissions with a focus on recruiting and retaining Native American students, followed by a stint at the nonprofit QuestBridge Scholars Program, which partners with 35 colleges and universities to recruit high-achieving low-income students to the schools. She ended up at Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school in the San Francisco Bay area and in 2015 founded Natives in America, an online literary space for Native American, Native Hawaiian and Native Alaskan youth.

“At all of these places I was working on having conversations about Native American students, why there needs to be more focus on recruiting Native students to colleges and universities across the U.S.,” she said. “Ultimately my decision to go back to school was driven by the hope that that my work will eventually be focused on recruitment, retention and access for Native American students.”

Red Shirt-Shaw said of her experience at Harvard with FIERCE: “It changed my life; it helped me grow. It gave me a really positive, incredible network of educators moving forward.”

She spent this summer at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Upward Bound program. “This program has given me the opportunity to work with rising high school seniors. I taught 24 of them this summer, developing a brand new curriculum focused on empowering Native youth and decolonizing history, but also focusing on college. I really hope the 24 seniors I’ve worked with this summer walk away from this into their senior year of high school excited about the college process, but also knowing how important their voices are and how important it is to understand our history and our cultural identities and our traditions because the stronger we are in knowing ourselves and where we came from the more powerful we’ll be moving forward.”

Red Shirt-Shaw said she will be applying for doctoral programs for the fall of 2018, and hopes to continue working with youth to empower them for the work ahead. “A lot of our resistance has been started by brave indigenous voices, brave indigenous young voices,” she said.*

By Tanya H. Lee • August 15, 2017



Kin 84: Yellow Rhythmic Seed

I organize in order to target
`Balancing awareness
I seal the input of flowering
With the rhythmic tone of equality
I am guided by my own power doubled.

Cosmic history contains coded keys for the development of transcendental thought-forms that surpass the limitations of our present knowledge structures.*

*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.

The Sacred Tzolk'in 

Anahata Chakra (Silio Plasma)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Blue Overtone Night/ Blue Solar Eagle - Magnetic Bat Moon of Purpose, Day 20

A portrait of Pocahontas saving the life of John Smith with Father Wahunsenaca. Photo - AP Images
                                                                                                     AP Images
A portrait of Pocahontas saving the life of John Smith with Father Wahunsenaca.
 Oral history from the descendants of Pocahontas dictate such a thing could never have happened.

Disney Exec: ‘She has to be sexy.’ Historical Inaccuracies and Harms of Disney’s Pocahontas

Examples that Disney's Pocahontas isn't just offensive and historically inaccurate - but Disney knew that she was young

In the summer of 1995, Pocahontas became Disney’s 33rd animated feature film; the first mainstream Disney film with a Native American heroine. Due to numerous verifiable historical inaccuracies insulting to native communities, Disney’s Pocahontas was surrounded by controversy.

Here are several examples of why Disney’s Pocahontas isn’t just offensive and historically inaccurate, but harmful.

Disney knew that the original Pocahontas was a child.

The Disney company consulted with historians yet admit that they drew inspiration from the folklore and fable of the legend of Pocahontas instead of historical accounts. In the feature The Making of Pocahontas, Roy Disney, then Vice Chairman of the Board of the Walt Disney Company, made this unsettling statement:

“The story is really Pocahontas’s story although we have taken some liberties with it. We knew that she was a bit younger when she met John Smith than we show her in the film, but on the other hand we felt like the relationship that developed by way of a love story in addition to the relationship of two people from different civilizations just added an emotional impact to what finally happens that makes it, I think, a more dramatic telling of the story.”

This is disturbing when according to Mattaponi sacred oral historian Dr. Linwood ‘Little Bear’ Custalow, a direct descendant of Pocahontas,  “Pocahontas was about ten years old when the English colonists arrived (including John Smith) in 1607.”

In early concept artwork, Pocahontas is depicted as a child or a young teenager. However, supervising animator Glen Keane described her as “more of a woman than a teenager” in the behind-the-scenes special. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Keane added about Disney’s Pocahontas, ”We’re doing a mature love story here, and we’ve got to draw her as such. She has to be sexy.”

The excessive use of anti-Native Terminology

The screenplay for Disney’s Pocahontas is muddled with offensive content. Several Native tropes appear in the film as well as a subtle “Indian giver” joke between animal characters, Meeko and Percy.

The word savage(s) is spoken 46 times by settlers and derogatory terms such as heathens, devils, dirty and uncivilized are used 24 times against Native characters. Additionally, threats of violence through speech and action (including the murder of Kocoum) occurred 43 times throughout the film.

In total there were 113 examples of violent anti-Native racism in a children’s film with a run time of one hour and thirty-one minutes.

Kocoum was not Pocahontas’s suitor; he was her husband

Kocoum is a warrior admired by Pocahontas’s father Wahunseneca in both the film and in history. While his romance is unrequited in the film, he did marry Pocahontas. When rumors circulated that the English intended to kidnap Pocahontas, she went to live with him in his village. It is there that she became pregnant and had his child.

When Kocoum sees John Smith kissing Pocahontas in the film, he fights him and is killed by Thomas. Historically, a group of his men attacked Kocoum’s home and killed him shortly after the English kidnapped Pocahontas.

The child of Kocoum and Pocahontas survived and was cared for by the women of Kocoum’s village.

John Smith didn’t take a bullet to save Wahunseneca … or any Native

During the Colors of the Wind sequence in Disney’s Pocahontas, Pocahontas teaches John Smith the error of his ways. He tries to seek a peaceful solution between the natives and his own people and is met with resistance, especially from Governor Ratcliffe. At the end of the film, Smith risks his life to save Pocahontas’s father when Ratcliffe shoots at him. Smith must be taken back to England to recover from his injury, resulting in the film’s bittersweet ending.

In reality, John Smith terrorized several native villages for their food and resources by holding guns to the heads of village leaders. He was injured in a gunpowder accident and traveled back to England to recover. Pocahontas did not send him off like she does in the film; she was told that he died.

Disney admitted they knew Pocahontas never “saved” John Smith from being executed.

In The Making of Pocahontas, the film’s producer Jim Pentecost makes a comment about the film’s climax, where Pocahontas rescues John Smith:

“…there’s controversy among historians whether or not it really happened. So we felt that since historians among themselves can’t agree, that we had a certain amount of license to use what is known from the folklore to create this story.”

The “execution” was actually a four day ceremony that would initiate John Smith into becoming a werowance (secular chief). His life was never in danger and Smith acknowledges that he understood he would be released in four days.

Additionally, Custalow writes that “Smith’s accounts of the events surrounding Pocahontas allegedly saving his life were written years after her death. At that time, there was no one to attest to what he had written.”

Disney references the genocide of Native Americans visually and in song

After the colonists arrive in Virginia, the medicine man Kekata uses smoke and fire to warn his tribe about the dangers they will bring. Images appear of the colonists shooting and murdering Native people, including a woman holding a baby. This is echoed in the musical number Savages and its reprise, which includes the line “Destroy their evil race until there’s not a trace left.”

Historically, the violence between the colonists and the natives increased over time. This would only worsen over the centuries as more settlers occupied and stole Turtle Island from other Indigenous tribes. The end of Disney’s Pocahontas suggests that love and empathy can stop colonial violence even though Disney was fully aware that even Native women and their babies were not spared from it.*

By Ali Nahdee • August 12, 2017


Kin 83: Blue Overtone Night

I empower in order to dream
Commanding intuition
I seal the input of abundance
With the overtone tone of radiance
I am guided by the power of magic.

Cosmic History is the knowledge of reality that exists above and beyond, and even within all human illusion.*

*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.

The Sacred Tzolk'in 

Manipura Chakra  (Limi Plasma)