Charlottesville horror resonates in Indian country, a shout-out to Standing Rock (and against land theft) from comedian Tina Fey, and battling big oil in Ecuador. All this and more gripped Indian country over the Week That Was, August 20.
HARVEST OF TEARS: The United States “is reaping the results of the GOP’s Political/Election Strategy of ‘fear and exclusion’ cultivated over the past half-century by the Republican Party, wrote Harold A. Monteau in an op-ed after a self-proclaimed white supremacist drove a car into a peaceful crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring dozens. “The cause(s) of the riot in Virginia have their roots in the white supremacy beliefs of European colonizers of the new world and the belief, reinforced by the teachings of the church, that Europeans had the rights inherent in their superior culture and religion, to subdue by conquest or kill indigenous populations,” Monteau wrote. “This doctrine of requiring those colonized or conquered to convert or die, or be enslaved, or assimilate into the superior white culture is still very strong in present day America.”
FROM ‘SHEETCAKING’ TO LAND GRABS: Comedian Tina Fey, responding on a Saturday Night Live episode to the horror in Charlottesville, gave a shout-out to this deplorable colonial history in a Weekend Update segment. “It’s not our country, we stole it!” she said as a message to white supremacists, uttered while faux-stress-eating a sheetcake. “We stole it from the Native Americans, and when they have a peaceful protest at Standing Rock we shoot at them with rubber bullets!”
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TRAGEDY INTO ACTION: Intel CEO Brian Kraznich stepped down from President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council out of objection to Trump’s response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The following day the firm’s mid-year diversity report revealed that the company has improved its representation of women and Native Americans in its workforce by 65 percent within two years.
BEFORE THERE WERE HATERS: Long before haters came onto the scene in the form of Nazis, white supremacists or whatever they want to call themselves, there was scalping. And, contrary to what is commonly taught, it was not for the most part Native Americans scalping white settlers, noted Dr. Dean Chavers. “Both Indians and whites scalped each other, but whites got paid for it,” he wrote in a short history of Scalping in America. “Whites also did it to help the colonial legislature achieve their goal to exterminate all Indians and control their land in the budding United States.”
MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD: The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) announced its award winners, with Indian Country Media Network and its contributors claiming 30 in all, including best digital publication. Winners were chosen from among more than 700 entries from Native and non-Native journalists across the U.S. and Canada.
BIG OIL’S BROKEN PROMISES: The Sapara people of Ecuador are fighting to keep more oil drilling out of their territory, especially after a recent meeting with the Ecuadorean government that left the issue unresolved, and silence from an international organization that had given them protective status.
CERD GETS AN EARFUL: A delegation of leaders from the Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan and Haida Nations from Northwest British Columbia made their case before the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva, saying that the Canadian government is violating indigenous rights and is not doing enough to combat ongoing racial discrimination against Indigenous Peoples. Separately, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) continued the call for improved conditions across the U.S. when it comes to indigenous prisoners’ religious rights in Indian country.
ANOTHER TAKE ON WIND RIVER: Wind River has gotten lots of press and accolades for its use of Native stars and for its setting on a reservation. But Charles Kader had another take on that and other films as an expression of manifest destiny with “the historical exploitation of dead Natives,” a “film about marginalized death on Native lands, passing for entertainment for middle-class voyeurs often amazed that any Natives are still alive.”
COLD CASE: Investigators have not given up on identifying a “Jane Doe,” a probable hitchhiker, most likely Native, killed in a crash in 1991 after getting into a semi at a truck stop. Based on her physical attributes and the accounts of those who last saw her, she is believed to be Native American.
INDIGENOUS JUSTICE: A new documentary to be broadcast on PBS on Monday August 21 follows two chief judges in tribal courts that incorporate indigenous practices into their justice systems. Tribal Justice was also screened at the Montreal First Peoples Festival earlier this month.
DOING GOOD WITH HOPE: The True Sioux Hope Foundation brought in two busloads of about 170 wealthy supporters for a whirlwind tour of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the programs supported by the foundation.