Tag Archives: Native American

Thanksgiving 2016: A Terrifying Time

23 Nov

diffiturkeyI usually post my annual iteration of A Collective Amnesia, for Thanksgiving, but this year seems particularly painful as I reflect on the profound sanctioning of racism, homophobia, and misogyny in the United States. I am nonplussed by the number of people in this country who are not mortified by how we are treating Native voices in North Dakota, as opposed to how we treated white tyrannical voices in Oregon.

I am more than disturbed and saddened that a white millionaire man who publicly makes fun of people with disabilities, says that it is okay to grab women by the genitals, makes horrific racist comments against the Latino and Muslim communities, and was endorsed by the KKK —  endorsed by the KKK, let that sink in — is our Presidnet-elect. How do we come back from this? If the United States ever had any moral high ground, we have categorically lost it.

I wish I could be hopeful for 2017, but Trump’s cabinet is full of nothing but white supremacists, homophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists. Where do you go when the President Elect selects White Supremacist, Steve Bannon? How is that supposed to make people feel safe in this country? As a gay man, how am I supposed to feel safe with Mike Pence as Vice-President? Pence who passed the Hate Bill (Religious Freedom Act) in Indiana that allows people to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Pence who believes in conversion therapy. Pence who has shut down Planned Parenthood Clinics. How am I and the people I love supposed to feel safe with the appointment of infamous racist and homophobe Jeff Sessions of Alabama? Sessions who was rejected for a judgeship in 1986 because of his racist comments is suddenly fit to lead law enforcement in the United States? Sessions who supported the KKK until he found out that some of them smoked pot–wow! Sessions who has supported DOMA, who has created barriers for the LGBTQ community at every turn, just as Pence has. The message is clear: only white heterosexual men are safe.

I can only hope that all targeted people and our many allies stand in solidarity and refuse to normalize what is currently happening in this nation. Finally, I am grateful for my loving husband and for all the people in my family and family of choice whom I treasure. We must support and love one another. I leave you with some Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ella’s SongIn solidarity, Michael.

Celebrating Beatrice Medicine

1 Aug

BeaMedicineI know I have celebrated our Beatrice Medicine before, but I really love this woman and feel that she cannot be celebrated enough. Beatrice Medicine would have been 91 years old today; she was born at Wakpala on Standing Rock Reservation in 1923.  Medicine was a Lakota Sioux anthropologist who advocated for Lakota women, children, minorities, the LGBT community, and other targeted  populations. She was the author of Learning to be an Anthropologist and Remaining Native, which was published in 2001.

Medicine was a woman of many accomplishments. She served as an expert witness in several trials pertaining to the rights of Native Americans, including the 1974 federal case brought against the individuals involved in the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973.  She also helped draft legislation in Canada to protect the legal rights of Native families. She taught in primarily Native American colleges in the United States and Canada.

Medicine was much celebrated during her lifetime and received the Honoring Our Allies Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, an award for Outstanding Woman of Color Award from the National Institute of Women of Color, the Ohana Award from the American Counseling Association, and an honorary Dr. of Humanities from Michigan State University.

Action: If you are interested in ensuring that our Native brothers and sisters have access to college, I strongly encourage you to donate to the American Indian College Fund.

Bigot of the Week Award: September 28: Archbishop John Myers of Newark

28 Sep

Bigot of the Week

Oh what bounty! Sadly, there were many choices yet again this week. We won’t pick on the Romney / Ryan ticket for their serial lies, hypocrisy, racism, classism, bigotry, and oppression since everyone else has been kind enough to do that for us. Instead, the BWA goes to (brace yourselves) yet another Catholic Archbishop. John J. Myers, Archbishop of the Diocese of Newark, decided to wade into election season and instruct his flock (enjoying that tax exempt status, Archbishop).

Archbishop Myers released a “sweeping pastoral statement” this week. Feeling that many Catholics were “at odds with church teaching” he decided to apply his privilege and abuse his power. “No one has said things clearly to them for years,” he said. Well he took care of that. When looking at candidates, he said that true Catholics should examine the full spectrum of each candidate, including how they stand on abortion and a “proper backing of marriage.” He clarified why opposition to marriage equality is valid by using this old false equivalency:

Even those who propose radically altering the definition of marriage would not advocate allowing two brothers or sisters or an uncle and his nephew to marry.

Not content to spew his misogyny and homophobia, he went on to take an extremist position even for the Catholic church, saying that people who disagree with his guidance or who might vote for candidates who take different stands should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” That’s right, folks, vote my way or no eternal salvation for you! How very christian (in my best Church Lady (Dana Carvey) voice).

Dishonorable mention this week goes to Sen. Scott Brown (R – Mass. of Bigotry); he only came in second because of his previous win last July. Infamous for pretending to be a moderate Republican while marching in lockstep with the worst of their obstructionist behavior, the Senator managed to become even more odious this week. As part of a series of attacks on his opponent, the wonderful Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Brown has latched on to her Native American heritage. Defying the truth and common decency, he has accused her of trying to “cash in” on that heritage, something she has demonstrably not done.

As a result of these attacks, his campaign staff got a bit out of hand at a rally, shouting down Warren supporters with war whoops and tomahawk chops. The Senator (after a delay of days) finally said that this behavior wasn’t very nice, although the whole thing was Warren’s fault for not being white enough. Anyone wondering where they got the idea, however, should look to Sen. Brown’s words during the recent debate.

Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she’s not.

REALLY? What should a Native American look like, Senator? Just to round out his GOP credentials, when he was interviewed about his comments, plainly recorded and available for public consumption, he said, “I never made that suggestion at all.” It looks like he’s hoping for a place in a Romney Administration…

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Medicine

1 Aug

Beatrice Medicine would have been 89 years old today; she was born at Wakpala on Standing Rock Reservation in 1923.  Medicine was a Lakota Sioux anthropologist who advocated for Lakota women, children, minorities, the LGBT community, and other marginalized populations. She was the author of Learning to be an Anthropologist and Remaining Native, which was published in 2001.

Medicine was a woman of many accomplishments. She served as an expert witness in several trials pertaining to the rights of Native Americans, including the 1974 federal case brought against the individuals involved in the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973.  She also helped draft legislation in Canada to protect the legal rights of Native families. She taught in primarily Native American colleges in the United States and Canada.

Medicine was much celebrated during her lifetime and received the Honoring Our Allies Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, an award for Outstanding Woman of Color Award from the National Institute of Women of Color, the Ohana Award from the American Counseling Association, and an honorary Dr. of Humanities from Michigan State University.

Action: If you are interested in ensuring that our Native brothers and sisters have access to college, I strongly encourage you to donate to the American Indian College Fund.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 26, Susan Allen

26 Jun

Today we honor and celebrate the first openly gay Native American to serve in a state legislature. Susan Allen was born in 1963 on the Ute Reservation in Utah. She is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Allen graduated from Augsburg College in 1992. She later earned a J.D. from the University of New Mexico and an LL.M. from William Mitchell College of Law. Her law practice specializes in serving tribes, helping them draft tribal laws in a wide range of areas.

When state Representative Jeff Hayden was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2011, Allen was one of four candidates to run for his vacated seat. She won the nomination and the special election handily. She is one of three LGBT members of the Minnesota legislature, a larger number than most states.

Allen is a fierce advocate for equality for all. She campaigned on a six-point platform: Economy, Education, Tax Reform, Health Care, Social Justice, and Marriage Equality. One key part of her campaign website shows her honesty, integrity, and determination.

Minnesota’s strong progressive values are under threat in the current political climate with attempts to roll back established environmental protections and regulations in our state laws.   I will remain committed to Minnesota’s proud legacy of protecting the land, air, and water for current and future generations. We are also witnessing the hurtful social division created by an attempt to amend the state constitution to deny rights to a specific population within our community.   I will fight the concentrated assault on our GLBT community members and families and be a passionate advocate for equal rights for all Minnesotans.

Congratulations on your election, Rep. Allen. The nation needs more leaders like you, but what is with some of the very bigoted folk you have in Minnesota, like Michele Bachmann?

Happy Birthday, Maria Tallchief

24 Jan

Maria Tallchief

Happy Birthday, Maria Tallchief. Tallchief was the first Native American, indeed the first American, to achieve the title Prima Ballerina. She was with the New York City Ballet from 1947-1965. Her father was Alexander Joseph Tallchief, a Chief of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma; her mother was Scots-Irish. She described herself as:

But in many ways, I was a typical Indian girl — shy, docile, introverted. I loved being outdoors and spent most of my time wandering around my big front yard, where there was an old swing and a garden. I’d also ramble around the grounds of our summer cottage hunting for arrowheads in the grass. Finding one made me shiver with excitement. Mostly, I longed to be in the pasture, running around where the horses were.

In regards to ballet, her life’s work, she said:

A ballerina takes steps given to her and makes them her own. Each individual brings something different to the same role.

Tallchief’s grandfather not only helped to ensure the stabilization of the reservation, but he also helped to secure its mineral rights. I only wish there were more information regarding the indigenous peoples of North America before the Native American Holocaust.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 10

10 Mar

Honoring Winona LaDuke

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Winona LaDuke.  LaDuke is widely known for her activism within her own Native American community, her environmental activism, and her political career. LaDuke was the first Native American woman to be on a presidential ballot; she was up for the office of Vice-President on the ticket with Ralph Nader for the Green Party in 2000, the year that the US Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush as President of the United States. LaDuke is executive director of both Honor the Earth and White Earth Land Recovery Project.  Her father was part Ojibwe and her mother was Jewish and was a professor at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Some of her books include: Last Standing Woman, All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, and Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming. I recognize LaDuke for her work towards social justice for women, Native Americans, and all the disenfranchised voices.

%d bloggers like this: