Friday, June 24, 2016

Oregon's Poet Laureate is Hapa Navajo: Elizabeth Woody

Elizabeth Woody (Courtesy Oregon Cultural Trust)

I need poetry to live sometimes. Yesterday, I went to Powell's bookstore hungry for it and found three books of poetry that I could not live without. 

One was Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, the second was Luci Tapahonso's Blue Horses Rush In and the third was by my own state's poet laureate, Elizabeth Woody, Seven Hands, Seven Hearts.

I've been fortunate to meet her a few times since I've lived here in Oregon and hear her read. Like me, she's half Navajo (which I like to call Hapa Navajo) and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She is enrolled in the Warm Springs Tribe here in Oregon (her other half). I admit, reading her work I was immediately drawn to the poems about her Navajo-side. And yet, when I first moved to the Southwest (which is ostensibly my homeland) after college, the lack of water (the Rio Grande was not grand--just a trickle in the desert) was a shock to me and every night, I had intense dreams of salmon swimming in the river I grew up on, the Columbia or as she describes it in her book Chewana. The salmon of my dreams were always showing themselves in close-up with their multi-colored scales glinting as they crowded together into a writhing mass. I was experienced in my dreams fully the fear I had of living in a world without water--an environment so stark that my husband and I used to play a game of chasing rainclouds in our car out in the open desert just outside of Albuquerque. We'd park our car under a particularly dark one overhead and wait for the rain to fall on us. We'd laugh when only a few thick sandy drops would reach us as the rest evaporated in the sky above us never reaching the ground. 

So I connected deeply with her poem "In Memory of Crossing the Columbia" and I'd like to share it here:

In Memory of Crossing the Columbia
For Charlotte Edwards Pitt and Charlotte Agnes Pitt

My board and blanket were Navajo,
but my bed is inside the river.
In the beads of remembrance,
I am her body in my Father's hands.
She gave me her eyes
and the warmth of basalt.
The vertebrae of her back,
my breastplate, the sturdy
belly of mountainside.

"Pahtu," he whispered in her language.
She is the mountain of change.
She is the mountain of women 
who have lain as volcanoes 
before men.

Red, as the women much loved,
she twisted like silvery Chinook
beyond his reach.

Dancing the Woman-Salmon dance,
there is not much time to waste.


This next poem is named after the Navajo city of Chinle. My husband loved the phrase "a River woman walking in dust." This poem captures so well the experience of having ties to two very different lands and to two very different Native nations.


Chinle Summer

Loneliness for me is being the daughter of two landscapes,
distant from the horizon circling me.
The red earth completely round.
The sky a deep bowl of turquoise overhead.
Mother and father. Loneliness
rising up like thunderheads. The rain pours over
the smooth rocks into the canyon that is familiar.

This is the road that leads to my father's home.
After twenty years I stand on the threshold of his mother's hogan.
Grandmother sits in the cool dark, out of the light 
from the door and smoke hole. She talks softly
in the Diné language.

Talking to me as I grew in her warmth, my mother
lowered herself in this canyon, barefoot and unafraid.
She walked miles in high heels to church by this road
that runs alongside Canyon de Chelly.
She was a river woman walking in dust.

The Recumbent Woman whispers inside different languages.
I am one story. Beauty walked South and then North again.
Beauty sparked physical creation.

A strong and wild will draws up the land into the body.
My journey circles back, unraveling, unmaking itself
like the magnificent loom work of my grandmother's center.
My grandfather once tole me, "Lizzy, I was busy singing
over there...you were here. So I came home to see you."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Washington Post 'Redskins' Poll and Who is Native American?

Native family at an anti-Redsk*ns protestors in Minneapolis in 2014--Washington Post poll claims they and the 5,000 others Natives at this protest were an aberration in their community.
I have been pushing for more of a political definition of Native American identity in line with nationality for several years now. I think it is the fuzziness of Native American identity that makes it so easy to assume by others. It also causes a great deal of distress to Native youth. The fact is, any American can walk up to a Native person and tell them they are “not Native enough” to suit them. It happens all the time and this is traumatizing to youth and adults.

This identity “fuzziness” was purposefully done and is the result of hundreds of years of policy carried out by both colonial and U.S. governments to erase the political existence of Native American nations. These Indigenous nations because they have claims to the land and resources constitute a very real threat to the political integrity of the United States and any settler colonial state. So our true identity as pre-existing and persisting nations of North America is clouded as a matter of national policy.

This policy is evident in the denial of infrastructure to our remaining sovereign lands which drives Native families from their homelands to seek economic and educational opportunity. It can also be seen in the wholesale remove of Native youth from their families, both in the boarding school years and now, under the guise of foster care and adoption. The mass removal of children from an ethnic group constitutes an act of genocide under the Geneva Convention.

The pollsters could have also used the definition the United Nations and the International Labour Organization have outlined a few characteristics of an Indigenous person:

● Descended from the pre-colonial/pre-invasion inhabitants of a region.
● Maintain a close tie to land and both cultural and economic practices.
● Suffer from economic and political marginalization as a minority group.
● A group is considered Indigenous if it defines itself that way.

Native protestors at a Washington Redsk*ns game in Santa Clara, California
The survey would also have had to provide proper line of questioning to be certain that the respondents’ understanding of Native American identity is what the pollsters mean. This was not done and the Post editor who answered our questions before The Nation article came out stated that he did not believe anyone would lie about their identity, so they certainly did not structure the survey for that contingency.

I think this whole poll brings to light very clearly the nature of misrepresentation of Native people in the United States. It also shows how far apart we are that '9 out of 10’ would seem remotely credible to the Washington Post staff.

Friday, May 27, 2016

On Ethics in the Newsroom & the Washington Post 'Redsk*ns' Poll

My article came out on Wednesday in The Nation about the poll the Washington Post released last week which claimed that out of 28,000 folks they called a little over 450 said they were "not bothered" by the ethnic slur 'Redskins.' These folks claimed to be Native, although the Post failed to verify this.

Before my article was published The Washington Post responded to emailed questions about its poll. I found the Post's responses disappointing in the extreme and responded in an email point by point--however, there was not enough room for my responses in The Nation article, so I am sharing it here.

From: Jacqueline Keeler
Date: May 24, 2016 at 6:46:45 PM PDT
To: "Clement, Scott" <scott.clement@washpost.com>
Cc: Dave Z.
Subject: Re: Questions 
Thanks Scott, I appreciate your answers. The U.S. Census does allow self-reporting of Native American identity but its own population estimates of Native Americans are 29% lower. Should 29% be struck from the total? 
Misreporting, whether purposefully or not, is very common when it comes to Native American ancestry. It is not always mean-spirited or malicious but the result of the history of this country, genocide and the romanticization of Native American people that has occurred. See how Elizabeth Warren has been lambasted for proudly believing a family story of Cherokee ancestry that it turned out had no basis in fact. 
Also, you did not check to see what respondents understood “enrollment” to mean. Their understanding of the terms provided is essential to the value of their answers. They may have assumptions that are not what you expect. 
Also, your number of respondents is too small to allow for oversampling or undersampling by age or region. 
Fully 50% of the Native American population is under the age of 29. Native Americans have the lowest life expectancy—Native American men in particular. How can you account for, even with weighting, fully 54% of the respondents being over the age of 50?
As only 76 respondents were under the age of 29 and 274 were over 50 years old, how many more phone calls would you need to make to achieve a significant number of respondents under 29? I understand 28,000 calls were made to achieve the 76. Social scientists I spoke to felt that 1,500 respondents would provide a better picture. Since it took 28,000 calls to receive 504 self-reported Native Americans, wouldn’t that require 90,000 or more phone calls? And even then, that would only at this rate provide you with 228 respondents under the age of 29. Doesn’t it seem like there are more effective ways to reach the Native American community? 
Also, 35% of the respondents were from the South--an area with few Native Americans since most of the tribes were force marched out of the region during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. This seems like a gross oversampling. And the percentage of college graduates (25%) does not match that of the Native American population—9%. It’s 150% more. 
Professor Fenelon’s study was a qualitative one and not a quantitive one, this is true. But social scientists have developed accepted mathematical tools to analyze the data. His work was presented at the American Sociological Association and qualitative surveying is regarded as acceptable in social science as is quantitative methods like phone calling. Perhaps more so in this case because with your survey you have no idea whether the respondents are truly Native or not. Also, the 12 you chose to feature in your paper, was a qualitative sampling of data obtained quantitatively. This is not acceptable social science practice without clearly stating the methodology for selecting these 12 and giving real reason why to provide more weight to their opinions. 
Your response to NAJA’s statement, which clearly cites the APA resolution still ignores the harm mascotting at this level causes to Native Americans and to all Americans (as recent studies have shown-University of Buffalo 2015) and is to abrogate a trust to minimize harm to your readers in your coverage. An example of this care can be seen in the coverage of individual suicides. Studies show that such coverage causes a copycat effect and so most newspapers do not cover suicides individually to protect their readership. Likewise, the science clearly demonstrates the negative, cumulative effect of mascotting on the Native American population. A Stanford study also found that Native Americans who claimed to be okay with mascotting actually suffered measurably greater loss of self-esteem after being exposed to Native American mascots than those that said they were not okay with such mascots—the exact opposite of the inference you have drawn from your survey. How can you ignore findings that directly negate the very meaning of your findings? 
-Jacqueline


On May 24, 2016, at 6:07 PM, Clement, Scott <scott.clement@washpost.com> wrote: 
Dave and Jacqueline, 
Below are our responses to your questions. 
Best,
Scott
1) Why no verification of tribal enrollment, just taking people at their word that they are Native American?
The survey of Native Americans was conducted as part of five months of ongoing weekly surveys of U.S. adults conducted on cellular and landline phones by Social Science Research Solutions, a firm in Media, Pa. During those surveys, which interviewed more than 25,000 adults overall, respondents were asked what race they consider themselves. The 504 individuals who identified as Native American were immediately asked our poll’s questions about tribal enrollment, the Washington Redskins’ team name and Native American imagery in sports. 
Self-identification is a survey technique that is accepted, common and time-tested in measuring personal attributes -- in political polls as well as official surveys covering a wide range of other issues. The Census Bureau uses self-identification to measure race, and this method is also used in surveys reporting on health and other characteristics of the Native American population. 
The Post survey used self-identification as a starting point for compelling methodological reasons. This approach made it possible to compare the demographic makeup of the survey’s sample with Census Bureau statistics, allowing us to identify and correct for differences, which is a best practice in the survey industry (Described here). Using self-identification was also important to conducting a systematic national sample of the population, 95 percent of which can be reached through conventional or cellular telephones. 
To analyze whether attitudes differed among relevant subgroups, the Post poll asked respondents whether they were members of a tribe and, if so, which one. It also collected information on whether respondents lived on or near reservations. As it turned out, there was little variation in the responses to questions about the Redskins’ team name given by those who said they were enrolled in a tribe and those who said they were not. Similarly, there was little variation in responses from those who lived on or near reservations and those who did not.
We see little reason to suspect respondents would intentionally misreport their racial identity or tribal status to a confidential survey. The overall poll results suggest respondents understood a distinction between racial identification and tribal membership, given that a majority of self-identified Native Americans said they were not enrolled. The substantive questions about the team’s name came at the end of polls on other subjects and after survey respondents already had self-identified, leaving no motive (or even opportunity) for individuals to self-identify as Native American when they learned that the questions would center on the team’s name.
2) Given how young the Native American community is, why speak to no one under 18? 
Our national surveys typically interview the adult population both for its relevance to voting and political participation and practical difficulties in reaching respondents who are younger than that age (i.e. ethical considerations about obtaining parental permission to participate). 
[My Response: This lack of representation should have been noted, as 50% of Native Americans are under the age of 29 and the data qualifed with that statement. Qualitative studies of Native American youth's feelings on the subject are available and could have been used to balance out the conclusions. In my article I note the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education report which contains testimony by hundreds of Native youth about the difficulties they face in school--including their feelings about being mascotted.  2,000 American high schools still mascot Native Americans.]
3) Why we're only 12% from mountain region where 18 out of 20 most populated Native reservations live?
The unweighted percentages of respondents by region are a function of the share of respondents who identified their race as Native American. Because of the geographic concentration of Native Americans in certain regions, the Post survey was weighted to match 2014 American Community Survey benchmarks for the population’s regional makeup. While the survey employed a weighting protocol designed to correct for relevant demographic and regional differences from the Native American population, the impact of weights on findings was minimal. In this case, respondents in the Mountain region were among the most likely to report enrollment with a tribe (67 percent did so), but the share who said the Washington Redskins’ team name was offensive was little different from the overall results (8 percent).
4) Why no mention of James Fenelon's survey, after he says he was contacted by reporters and asked if his was biased because he had Native Americans doing poll?
Dr. Fenelon’s survey was not based on a systematic national or regional sample of any population, but among a sample of attendees at selected pow wows and related events in the Cleveland area, as reported by Indian Country Today. We cannot use results from an unsystematic sample to make generalizations about the Native American population at-large.
5) how do you respond to NAJA statement? " “By framing this story as simply a matter of public opinion,” the NAJA/UNITY statement says, “the Post has willfully ignored the harm – referenced by the APA – that will inevitably result from its coverage. The reporters and editors behind this story must have known that it would be used as justification for the continued use of these harmful, racist mascots. They were either willfully malicious or dangerously naïve in the process and reporting used in this story, and neither is acceptable from any journalistic institution.”
The Post pursued this poll without any idea as to how it would turn out and had no vested interest in the outcome. When activists argue that Native Americans are offended by the name – and when debate over the name is at the center of a major public policy debate -- it’s entirely appropriate for a news organization to conduct a survey to test any assertions made about the breadth and depth of offense among Native Americans. This is customary for any other public policy issue.


From: Dave Z.
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:17 AM
To: Clement, Scott
Cc: Jacqueline Keeler
Subject: Questions 
Hello Scott. Thank you for agreeing to respond to Jackie's article. 
The questions are as follows. We are on deadline. Please get back today if at all possible. Jackie, please add questions if I am missing anything. 
1) Why no verification of tribal enrollment, just taking people at their word that they are Native American? 
2) Given how young the Native American community is, why speak to no one under 18? 
3) Why we're only 12% from mountain region where 18 out of 20 most populated Native reservations live? 
4) Why no mention of James Fenelon's survey, after he says he was contacted by reporters and asked if his was biased because he had Native Americans doing poll? 
5) how do you respond to NAJA statement? " “By framing this story as simply a matter of public opinion,” the NAJA/UNITY statement says, “the Post has willfully ignored the harm – referenced by the APA – that will inevitably result from its coverage. The reporters and editors behind this story must have known that it would be used as justification for the continued use of these harmful, racist mascots. They were either willfully malicious or dangerously naïve in the process and reporting used in this story, and neither is acceptable from any journalistic institution.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

AIM Central Texas Announces Boycott of 'Indian Country Today'--Calls for Free Press

I would like to thank AIM Central Texas for releasing this letter last night calling for a boycott of Indian Country Today Media Network, the largest Native American news site in the country.

The letter cites the termination of my relationship with ICTM and censorship as reasons for the boycott and says,
"We have since learned that ICTM is owned by Ray Halbritter who had previously gained control of the Oneida Tribe using unethical tactics. Jacqueline was fired by Chris Napolitano, the former editor of Playboy Magazine. The majority of the salaried positions at ICTM are held by non-natives in New York City and the Native reporters are columnists paid per story or not at all."
Here is the letter:



When I first found out that the editor-in-chief of the nation's largest Native American news site was non-Native (Chris Napolitano whose title is "Creative Director") I suspended judgement. I don't believe that only Native people can do a good job at anything--that would be a ridiculous proposition and swept aside those concerns willing to see what I can learn from this editor.  I Googled him and found that his primary experience as an editor was at Playboy Magazine from the mid-1990's to the early 2000's and read that he had received accolades for bringing in talented short story writers.

I now must admit I wonder how much editing mostly white male short story writers in Playboy magazine prepares one for editing the largest Native American newspaper in the United States serving some 566 federally-recognized tribes (and many more who are not federally-recognized) each with unique cultures and circumstances. It seems like an entirely different thing to me.

It became clear to me after awhile that all the editors, Native and non-Native deferred to him. He had final say on everything that appeared on the news site. And it also became apparent to me that he was directly under the direction of Oneida Nation CEO, Ray Halbritter. The Oneida Nation owns Indian Country Today having purchased it from its founder, the venerable Tim Giago, a Lakota newspaper man of note in Indian Country.

I soon saw that the editors and even business manager I was emailing were mostly non-Native and I could see on LinkedIn many were formerly of Playboy magazine. The office, once actually in Indian Country in South Dakota under Giago, was now ensconced in New York City, far from most of the bulk of the remaining large Native reservations and communities in the West.

When I first started in 2013 there were two still two Native editors. One an opinions editor who is extremely frail and was too sick to work perhaps half the time I wrote for them and is nearing retirement. That was perhaps for the best, as I had to demand he stop editing my editorials after he rewrote one of my pieces as a rage-filled diatribe and published it under my byline without my consenting to the extreme edit. I demanded he take it down and he literally taunted me over email and I forwarded these to Napolitano who finally took down the piece. I published it as it was meant to be here: Big Mac and the Redsk*ns: On Leadership and Sovereignty, Fumble and Fame. His version is still at Indianz.com which re-posts articles from other Native publications. His behavior was entirely unethical.

The other is, I believe, the only Native woman on staff at Indian Country Today. She is also nearing retirement and is not an active editor. She oversees special publications handed out at conventions paid for by wealthy casino tribes and attends gala dinners to represent the news site. A non-Native writer who went to the ICTM offices in New York City said the white staff referred to her as their "figurehead".

The social media accounts are (according to emails I had with an editor) run from the New York City office and overseen by a non-Native editor there.

The staff consists of these editors in the New York City office, and now, a couple of new male Native editors who appear to be more "at large" while the main staff do the nuts and bolts work. All pieces signed "ICTM Staff" are written by the New York City staff.

Then when I began referring other Native writers to Indian Country Today I began hearing back they were not paid. I urged them to invoice and gave them what I had been told were the going rates. One who invoiced received a phone call from the opinions editor who berating him and tried to intimidate him into rescinding the invoice. The writer held strong and would not rescind the invoice and was finally paid. Another had submitted more than one article and did not know she could be paid, I urged her to invoice. She did and was finally paid (initially ICTM refused to pay for her first piece). These experiences were troubling to me.

Since I've come forward with my concerns many Native contributors have messaged me to say they had not been paid at all and were unaware they could be.

Recently, ICTM has come out with articles obliquely addressing my concerns. Two featured Native women writers of Indian Country Today their faces arranged in Brady Bunch collages. None of these writers are on staff and none are salaried. It didn't occur to me but when I spoke to another Native woman writer she told me many Native women journalists she spoke to were insulted by the first article. None of the women were journalists or trained as journalists. They were all commentators.

In today's media climate the percentage of journalists of color is falling in newsrooms around the country. In The Investigative Fund's announcement of the new Ida B. Wells Fellowship they note,
"People of color constitute less than 13 percent of all newsroom jobs, according to an annual survey by the American Society of Newsroom Editors, and 10 percent of supervisors; their presence is even smaller on investigative teams. 
Women represent 37 percent of newsroom jobs and 35 percent of supervisors. 
Survey data indicates that fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working class background."

What is sad is that these numbers are just as bad--if not worse--over the past several years at one of Native America's largest news sites' newsroom. A news site that gets more than 1.8 million unique visitors per day. Those numbers outstrip any of their competitors. And I can't help but feel they are running on the fumes of what Indian Country Today used to be, when it was a real newspaper that my family used to get in the mail when I was growing up with news from home and that filled us with such pride. It's these memories that made me want to get my byline there in the first place.

And beyond the issue of equality in the workplace there is the issue of the lack of an independent and free press in Indian Country. Many tribal papers operate under the thumb of tribal government and Indian Country Today Media is no different. Ray Halbritter has not instituted any firewall between himself and the news site. Editors I spoke to, particularly, Chris Napolitano cited Halbritter's wishes constantly. One editor even told me Halbritter refuses to pay legal fees for his writers so they cannot do real investigative work at all.

More disturbingly, when I interviewed Oneida Nation dissidents who claim Halbritter took over their government, they said his main tool in establishing his rule was disenrollment. In fact one said there is, "horrible horrible corruption going on" and that "disenrollment started here in Oneida I know it did."

Disenrollment is a serious issue going on in Indian Country today. The kind of reporting required to investigate such allegations, however, is nearly non-existent. I was repeatedly told by Oneida and other members of the Iroquois Confederacy (of which Oneida is a part) that it would be very dangerous to my own well-being to do on-the-ground journalism in New York state concerning these accusations against Halbritter. I was told that he is a dangerous man and a billionaire who buys off his opposition and has even imprisoned dissident tribal members in a federal prison he contracts to in Pennsylvania. His all non-Native Oneida tribal police force are also federally deputized. This video shows tribal members who opposed him having their homes destroyed in a manner reminiscent of Palestinian homes by the Israeli government.

Halbritter claimed he destroyed their homes because they were not up to code but tribal members claimed he required they sign a loyalty oath to him in order to receive new homes. When they refused to sign, they were offered Section 8 housing far from the reservation in a dangerous neighborhood in Syracuse.

The dissident I spoke to said, "There’s nothing nation--there’s no community it’s totally destroyed. It’s horrible. People are afraid to talk to each other."

My source, who asked their identity be kept secret because they claimed they feared retaliation, also claimed that the few homes left on "32"--the 32 acres that was all the land left to the tribe before the casino was built, are patrolled every 15 minutes by Halbritter's hired non-Native police force.

There are many Haudenosaunee writers who have written about Halbritter's alleged authoritarian rule. Notably, John Kane in March at his blog "Let's Talk Native" where he claims, "Halbritter used some of the influential Onondaga icons to seize power as the sole leader of the "Oneida Indian Nation (OIN) of New York" back in the late 1980s. He then rewrote Oneida customs by crafting his official enrollment list of Oneidas (that list includes "Oneidas in good standing" and those who aren't). Along with his new list was his new list of enrollment requirements which include…, you guessed it, blood quantum."

An editor of Indian Country Today responded in the comments saying, "You offer no tangible examples, just a series of leftist statements aimed at no one other than Halbritter."

Also, Doug George, founder of the historic Native newspaper Aweksasne Notes, wrote for another Native newspaper News From Indian Country about Halbritter's reputed bungling of Oneida Nation land claims (he also lays blame at other Haudenosaunee leaders) in article titled "Factionalism Destroys Our Land Claims" where he says, "Skennenrahowi bundle of arrows was unraveled by Arthur Raymond Halbritter of the Oneida Nation of New York." His wife's mother was the clan mother Maisie Shenandoah who Halbritter reportedly had "her voice taken" before he dismantled the traditional clan system of government led by clan mothers and instituted his own "men's council."

Some of this has been covered by Halbritter's enemies on the Native American mascot issue. Halbritter has taken a leading role funding Change The Mascot and demand the Washington NFL team change their mascot from the "Redsk*ns." His activism has been dogged by claims that his mascot-fighting is a cover for his allegedly brutal takeover of his tribe. An article at the conservative American Thinker with a lurid headline, "Race-Baiting Oneida Nation Leader Has Problems of His Own" recounts Halbritter's rise to power. These articles are often discounted by Native readers because of the vitriol towards misappropriation also voiced in these takedowns. However, none of the Haudenosaunee I have interviewed disagree with the descriptions in this American Thinker piece as to the details describing how Halbritter took over the Oneida Nation in New York.

Yet we will never know if any of these serious allegations are true about Ray Halbritter or countless other tribes across the country now facing an epidemic of disenrollment because we lack an independent free press to investigate them on the ground.

This is necessary because disenrollment is seriously undermining the hard-won gains towards sovereignty won in the 1970's. Disenrollment is often used to silence opposition or to simply get rid of other families profit (such as per capita payments) or for payback. The fight against disenrollment even has its own hashtag #StopDisenrollment.

After hours of interviews with Iroquois people who claimed Halbritter harmed them and destroyed their dream of a nation, I posted this on Facebook. My own call for a truly free and independent press for our people:



And to top this all off (as if what is above is not enough) I received information regarding Ray Halbritter's participation in the Karl May Festival in Germany that is put on by German hobbyist groups who camp out as "Indians" and call themselves Indianers. This festival is put on by the Karl May Museum which has refused calls by Native American activists to return scalps belonging to the Ojibway people. Halbritter is the headliner at this year's event and will be featured in an event moderated by well-known German author and cultural appropriator Kerstin Groeper, identified on the program as an "Indian writer."

"Kerstin Groeper is a German woman who writes novels about natives," Red Hair Crow told me. He wrote extensively for ICTM about the Karl May Museum's holding of Native scalps. "Very, very stereotypical bad ones, culturally appropriating and is considered an 'expert'. Basically the German JK Rowling, but far worse and longer at it."

In a strange contrast, many of Halbritter's freelance Native writers are wonderful and respected voices on the issue of cultural appropriation.

Hair Crow, who lives in Germany, says that Halbritter is treated like a celebrity in Germany and his attendance is interpreted as supporting the cultural appropriation. He claims that after he questioned ICTM editors about Halbritter's activities they stopped accepting his articles. He also claims, "they edited/inserted advertisements/promos for Halbritter & certain Oneida interests in Germany as if I wrote it and without my permission. I was furious and we had it out over it, but it had been published. Halbritter is very problematic here because he supports and is in league with events like the Karl May Festival, and very rich hobbyists clubs who are some of the worst offenders. In cooperation with the NAAoG (Native American Association of Germany), we continue efforts to educate and inform about any who use "nativeness" for profit. Hobbyists use Halbritter's suppport and friendship as validation to excuse their activities."

All this boils down to one thing: Native people need an independent press nationwide and accountability in hiring. We do not have it now--not even in our largest news site.


To revisit why my relationship with Indian Country Today was terminated please see my blog at TiyospayeNow: Fired by Indian Country Today--Native Journalist Silenced


Monday, April 11, 2016

Speaking Truth To Power for a Real Native Free Press

My Great-Aunt Nancy Bighorse

I posted this today on Facebook and Twitter:


Thank you to everyone for your support. It's scary--speaking truth to power--but it is the only path that I can do. I'm...
Posted by Jacqueline Keeler on Monday, April 11, 2016



And it's true. It is scary. But I am a Kinyaa'aanii and this is what we do. Kinyaa'aanii is my Navajo clan and the name means Towering House People. It is said by some to be the original clan of our people. We were created from the heart of Changing Woman (Asdzáá nádleehé) and are often called the "leadership clan." Many a time my shimá sání (my maternal grandmother from whom I get my clan) would boldly lead the charge in her community--demanding safe drinking water and schools. Her voice was strong and forthright in chapter house meetings. Coming from a matrilineal culture where women owned the land and animals (these things passed down matrilineally through the clan) there was no sense of "knowing her place" as an inferior sex. Certainly, there was a collaborative spirit to the work that needed to be done (and stories like the one about the separation of men and women emphasize how important it is that we work together) but this did not mean Diné women were nothing less than direct in how they addressed the needs of their community and fearless about speaking out. We are a people who do not live cheek by jowl with one another and so our people, basically a ranching people, were not as constrained towards each other as those who lived in village situations. There is an independence in the land and a self-confidence that comes from being the one who raises the sheep and owns them, too.  I've been told that to get a divorce all a woman had to do was put her husband's saddle outside the hogan door. He didn't own the horse--she did. He didn't own the children, they were of her clan. He did own his jewelry and his saddle, though.

Take some time and view these Youtube videos (Bitter Water Clip 3, Bitter Water Clip 4--love this one and Bitter Water Clip 7) of traditional Navajo women who resisted Relocation from their herds and their way of life. You will see women who are far more outspoken and self-possessed (and yes, proud) than perhaps white women of their generation were. These are the women who made me who I am: Ákót'éego diné asdzáán nishłį́.




Sunday, April 10, 2016

Indigenous Poetry Heals All

I find myself reading poetry for inspiration in difficult times. I  just re-read Joy Harjo's (Muscogee Creek) about the murdered American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Aquash (Mi'kmaq). Recently, I have been thoroughly enjoying reading new Oregon Poet Laureate Elizabeth Woody (Navajo-Warm Springs-Wasco-Yakama).

Anna Mae with her daughters

I've interviewed Anna Mae Aquash's daughter, Denise Pictou Maloney and her loss of her mother is often on my mind. Her tragic death hurts my soul, I cannot forget her mother. She stood for the people and the ideals of what the movement was supposed to mean and she was killed for it. So many of our young Native people have lost their parents to pain...and to the struggle. Both to the cruelty of the colonial system we find ourselves in and to the self-hatred it has planted within ourselves. We need healing as a people and it is with that in mind I read Joy Harjo's poem about Anna Mae from In Mad Love and War.


For Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, Whose Spirit Is Present Here and in the Dappled Stars (for we remember the story and must tell it again so we may all live)


By Joy Harjo

Beneath a sky blurred with mist and wind,
I am amazed as I watch the violet 
heads of crocuses erupt from the stiff earth
after dying for a season,
as I have watched my own dark head
appear each morning after entering
the next world to come back to this one,
amazed.
It is the way in the natural world to understand the place
the ghost dancers named
after the heart breaking destruction.
Anna Mae,
everything and nothing changes.
You are the shimmering young woman
who found her voice,
when you were warned to be silent, or have your body cut away
from you like an elegant weed.
You are the one whose spirit is present in the dappled stars.
(They prance and lope like colored horses who stay with us
through the streets of these steely cities. And I have seen them
nuzzling the frozen bodies of tattered drunks
on the corner.)
This morning when the last star is dimming
and the busses grind toward
the middle of the city, I know it is ten years since they buried you
the second time in Lakota, a language that could
free you.
I heard about it in Oklahoma, or New Mexico,
how the wind howled and pulled everything down
in righteous anger.
(It was the women who told me) and we understood wordlessly
the ripe meaning of your murder.
As I understand ten years later after the slow changing
of the seasons
that we have just begun to touch
the dazzling whirlwind of our anger,
we have just begun to perceive the amazed world the ghost dancers
entered
crazily, beautifully.


And Elizabeth Woody from Luminaries of the Humble because we need to shine a light when it is needed and as her the richness of her descriptions evoke even the humble can be beautiful when revealed:


Illumination


By Elizabeth Woody

The irresistible and benevolent light
brushes through the angel-wing begonias,
the clippings of ruddy ears for the living room.
Intimate motes, debris of grounded, forlorn walks,
speckle through the vitreous quality of blush.
As fluid lulls turn like trout backs, azure-tipped fins
oscillate in the shallows, the clear floating
is dizziness.

Tender events are meeting halves and wholes of affinity,
the recurrence of whimsy and parallel streams
flush away the blockage of malaise.
Incessant gratitude, pliable kindness smolders
in the husk of these sweet accumulations:
abalone shells, the thoughtful carvings from friends,
the stone of another’s pocket, the photo of mystified
moon over water, the smiles of worn chairs.

Austere hopes find pleasure in lately cherished flowers.
The blooms are articulate deluge, hues of delicacy.
Petals parted dim renderings, the viable imprint
of the blood-hot beam of light with reformed courage.
Beveling the finish to suppression, the blade of choice
brings the flourish of dividing while adequately doubling
worth by two. Multiplying. The luminescent burning of space.
The heat is a domicile as abandoned as red roses budding
their ascension from stem.

The sun has its own drum contenting itself with the rose
heart it takes into continual rumbling. The connection
of surface and hand. The great head of dark clouds finds
its own place of unraveled repercussions and disruption,
elsewhere, over the tall, staunch mountains of indemnity.



Saturday, April 09, 2016

Fired by Indian Country Today--Native Journalist Silenced

My editorial on Navajo hair was one of the most popular ever posted on Indian Country Today.

I've been fired from Indian Country Today for complaining about their Bomani Jones coverage and writing about Chase Iron Eyes's compromised candidacy.

Here's what I wrote in response:

Chris, 
My voice in Indian Country is very well-respected and the support I have received for my message—and my coverage—on these issues has been wide-ranging and deep. Even for my statements about compromised Chase Iron Eyes' candidacy. It is in the best interest of Native people to have candidates who are not burdened by secrets and can be controlled by these secrets by those that do not have our best interests at heart. As a Congressional candidate, Iron Eyes was well aware of his situation but chose to proceed regardless. 
I thank Indian Country Today for all the support over the years, but I realize the goals of such a media organization are different than mine as a Native woman, activist and writer.
My coverage on the Bundy takeover of Malheur was widely quoted in the mainstream press for the Native American perspective .

I apologize if the things I said about the Bomani Jones coverage were upsetting to anyone, but a Native American publication should include Native voices in its coverage—especially when it is about a Native American issue. I believe (and I see we disagree on this) that the role of a Native American publication is to make sure Native perspectives are promoted into the “mainstream media” and are heard by all Americans and clearly understood. This is necessary, because what other Americans think about us matters deeply to our future well-being.  
Sincerely,
Jacqueline Keeler

My article about the invisibility of Native Americans--even in media coverage of issues that pertain to us.

Here is my Patreon account to support a new Native journalism for Indian Country:


Jacqueline Keeler is creating A new Native American journalism | Patreon