Tag Archives: Neil Diamond

2011’s Memorable Quotes: Good and Bad Part 1

Every year Indian country is filled with leaders, politicians, broadcasters and talking heads provide memorable quotes for anyone listening to catch. Some ignorant, some out of touch, and some commendable. Indian Country Today Media Network has compiled a list of quotes that we will break down into three parts, Perceptions, Politics, and On The Past, the Present, the Future, that will be shared over the New Year’s weekend.

Perceptions

“Why is there a Bureau of Indian Affairs? There is no Bureau of Puerto Rican Affairs or Black Affairs or Irish Affairs. And no group in America has been more helped by the government than the American Indians, because we have the treaties, we stole their land. But 200 years later, no group does worse.” – TV talking head John Stossel, speaking on Fox News about how the U.S. government has done more during the course of 200 years to “help” Indians than anyone else.

“What group of people would even want ‘help’ like this?”—Tex G. Hall, Chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, in response to Stossel’s claim.

“Our grandfathers well understood that each time a new promise was held out another was about to be broken.”—Joe Valandra, on the importance of protecting sovereignty

“So you go and so you study the area and you find out what happened, what did the indigenous people worship, you know?  And…and…and…if they did blood sacrifice, like, we found some areas where they were very violent because the former culture was a murderous violent …like in Texas here and all the coast around Houston and Galveston and some other areas the Native American people were cannibals, you know? And they ate people. And so you could see a manifestation of that in the churches where people turned against people and kinda cannibalized other people’s ministries.”—Evangelist Cindy Jacobs, in a YouTube video posted by Right Wing Watch praising Rick Perry’s August 6 cluster-prayer event, The Response. Jacobs is a Perry supporter.

“If my Haudenosaunee passport is a fantasy document, I’m a fantasy person living in a fantasy land and looking at a fantasy border.”—Joyce King, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe citizen, on being told her Haudenosaunee passport is a ‘fantasy document’ when it was confiscated by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

“Citizenship by blood quantum alone is a guarantee of physical extinction. Know the tribal population, the required blood quantum, birth and death rates, rate of exogamous marriage, and the date of extinction is easily calculated. This is not opinion. This is arithmetic.”—ICTMN columnist Steve Russell in his new book, Sequoyah Rising.

“They were rejecting me because I’m unrecognized.”—Marine Sisk-Franco, explaining why she didn’t get a permit to carry an Eagle feather, and the pain of being a member of a tribe not recognized by the federal government.

“The measure of being Indian should be a pain index—How many funerals have you gone to?”—author Sherman Alexie on the many battles over blood quantum and tribal enrollment.

“Most Americans do not even consider whether the language they use about Natives might be considered discriminatory. In fact, when they think about ‘Native Americans,’ the image that comes to mind is a romanticized, historical image, not a contemporary 21st century Native. The notion that we might feel offended by their language does not even enter their minds.”—Stephanie Fryberg, an assistant professor of psychology and affiliate faculty in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, explaining why Indians are perennially talked about negatively in mainstream society.

“The celebrations of our extinction turned out, of course, to have been premature. However, certain ideas and themes in the popular culture remain persistent and influential.”—Kevin Gover, Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, on the use of Native mascots in sports.

“[S]hut the fuck up Dan Snyder, you own the most sickeningly racist relic of a brand in all of professional sports.”—Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan calling out the hypocrisy of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for alleging anti-Semitism based on a newspaper article published in the D.C. City Paper. Snyder in September, facing a public backlash, dropped his lawsuit against the paper.

“(The Redskins name has) been there since the early ‘40s and no one has complained about it. No one has complained until the people from the Indian nations came down here and made their complaint.”—Wiscasset High School Board of Education member Ed Stover in defense of continuing to use the offensive name for the school mascot.

“It’s spreading the word that no matter if you want to play baseball or be a mechanic—whatever it may be—your dream is your dream and nobody’s going to take it away until you take it away from yourself.”—Joba Chamberlain on the importance of emphasizing good news in Indian country.

“Honor the memory of heroic Native warriors like Geronimo, Lori Piestewa and many others, not by promoting false stereotypes, but by bringing attention to the plight of veterans, both Native and non-Native, who continue to be plagued by substandard health care and homelessness.”—ICTMN columnist Ruth Hopkins urging a change in the mindset of the leadership of the U.S. military in the wake of its offensive use of Geronimo as the code-name for Osama Bin Laden.

“To Natives Geronimo is a hero because he fought America. To Natives Bin Laden was evil because he fought America…[try to] explain that to a kid.”—Filmmaker Chris Eyre commenting on the Geronimo/Bin Laden blunder.

“Native people say they feel more welcome in town now, and shopkeepers are picking up some Ojibwe phrases. Promoting the language does a lot to bridge barriers.”—Dr. Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe, on the use of Ojibwe language signs in Bemidji, Minnesota.

“Another language is not just a different way to communicate the same thing. It’s a whole other thing. It’s an intricate web of meanings and relationships and thoughts.”—Alaska Native storyteller Ishmael Hope on the artist’s role in preserving Tlingit.

“Currently the public doesn’t know enough about Native people because our news is rarely covered, as many still think our people are in the past.”—Lori Edmo-Suppah, editor of the Sho-Ban News, arguing in January that the mainstream media, including the Huffington Post, need to do a much better job of covering Indian issues.

“It is important as an indigenous people that we not allow Hollywood to define who we are, and I believe we have been very successful in that endeavor.”—Quileute Nation Chairwoman Bonita Cleveland on educating fans of Twilight’s Wolf Pack.

“The first time I saw a Native actor laugh it was Chief Dan George in Little Big Man. I remember thinking, I have never seen a Native actor laugh, ever.”—Neil Diamond, director of Reel Injun, on Indians in the movies.

A Week in the Life of the Stereotypical Indian

The portrayal of American Indian stereotypes: When is it all going to stop? I begin my rant on what “we as Native people” face in terms of stereotypes in media, films and even little plastic toys found in the bargain bins at thrift stores.

I have enjoyed for many years working with Indian Country Today Media Network and have written a number of arts and entertainment pieces about the history and portrayal of American Indians in film.

I have watched with bitter frustration as John Wayne kicked his Indian guides and shot them in the eyes, Indian corpses laid to rest. I have watched countless cartoons where Indians howl like banshees and attack the forts of soldiers, and Bugs Bunny himself called one perpetrator he shot, a half-breed.

I have to give early filmmakers credit – as they truly did try to capitalize on the idea of a romantic Indian, but these films flopped financially. It wasn’t until the Indians whipped the soldiers and pioneers with tree branches and spit on them before lighting them on fire that the audiences turned out in droves.

The westerns were murder to watch for most Native people, within a few years we were reduced to nothing more than bloodthirsty, stupid, ugg-ing arrow shooters or comic reliefs. Take a look at some of the movies showing now on channels like American Movie Classics which recently played Son of Paleface starring Bob Hope and Iron Eyes Cody. Cody by the way, although he truly did seem to cherish the Native way, was of Italian descent.

When Kevin Costner came out with Dances with Wolves, the attempt at political correctness with the portrayal of Indians was at least regarded and refreshing. But we are in 2012 now, and I don’t feel like we have much progressed. Unless you consider Indians are now at least as cool as the werewolves portrayed in the Twilight movies.

So over the course of one week – I decide to pay very close attention to the stimulus that entered my brain regarding the definition of an American Indian person. I don’t know if it was coincidence – much like if you have ever ridden in a VW bug and you suddenly notice all of the other VW Bugs on the freeway – but I was absolutely amazed at what I experienced from all visceral fronts.

It started with television, of course. I was watching an episode of Storage Wars, when the auctioneer is talking with the other guy that has purchased a unit of Native American artifacts. I was frustrated that ancestral property was being sold for a few hundred bucks but then fuel was added to the fire; unsurprisingly within 30 seconds the comments about scalping started. And so began a telling week.

In my car driving all over Hampton Roads in Virginia, the NFL team adopted by the region is the Washington Redskins. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, jackets, sweatpants, window decals all made their way into my brain for what seemed a hundred times a day. I have been tempted many times to hire a graphic artist to create a giant decal of other “skin-color”-Skins characters alongside the Redskins logo – but then I fear coming across as racist. Truth be told I don’t want to offend another ethnicity – but why is it okay that we are still portrayed this way?

The week continued, I went to a local thrift store – admittedly a guilty pleasure of my wife Delores and myself – and once again I was surprised at the amount of American Indian “education.” In the first glass case sat a large plastic Indian chief next to Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus and a few aisles over was a cheap dream catcher in a plastic bag with a 99 cent tag. I also saw a lunch bag with Indian markings and found in a stack of comic books daffy duck with an Indian headdress standing next to a tipi on the front cover.

We seek answers to this. And it is in our Youth.

We need you. We need more filmmakers like Chris Eyre, Georgina Lightning and Neil Diamond. We need more native actors like Eric Schweig, Gary Farmer, Tantoo Cardinal and others. We need you to launch your social media campaigns against content that you feel does not represent the way you are actually.

Native people have been portrayed as savages and evil doers since contact. But, it’s a new era. We’re entering an age where people are beginning to listen in wonderful ways – just look at the growth of Indian Country Today Media Network. We need you kids; we need your energies, your ideas and your passion.

We are making it happen. And although I had a week full of loud stereotypical voices yelling at my face the incorrect definition of what an Indian is – these days I can sleep at night – because I feel assured that in time, they will continue to dim into non-existence.

Vincent Schilling is a correspondent for ICTMN and the Executive Vice-President of Schilling Media, Inc. He is also an award-winning author of the Native Trailblazer series of books (NativeVoicesBooks.com) and the host of the APCMA nominated BlogTalkRadio program.