Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Debbie--have you seen REZ RUNAWAY by Melanie Florence?

Yesterday's review of Melanie Florence's Missing Nimama generated a lot of private email and social media from Native people who are uncomfortable with it but didn't want to say anything. I also got two emails asking if I've seen her Rez Runaway. Published in 2016 in Canada, with a 2017 publication year in the US, it is in Lorimer's reluctant reader "Side Streets" series. Here's the synopsis:
Raised on a reserve in northern Ontario, seventeen-year-old Joe Littlechief tries to be like the other guys. But Joe knows he's different -- he's more interested in guys than in any of the girls he knows. One night Joe makes a drunken pass at his best friend Benjy and, by the next morning, everyone on the rez is talking about Joe. His mother, a devout Christian, is horrified, and the kids who are supposed to be his friends make it clear there's no place for him in their circle, or even on the rez. Joe thinks about killing himself, but instead runs away to the city.
Alone and penniless on the streets of Toronto, Joe comes to identify with the Aboriginal idea of having two spirits, or combining both feminine and masculine identities in one person. He also begins to understand more about how his parents have been affected by their own experiences as children in residential schools -- something never discussed on the rez. And he realizes he has to come to terms with his two-spiritedness and find people who accept him for who he is.

I've ordered a copy and will review it when it arrives. There is next to nothing available right now that accurately portrays Native LGBTQ teens. Though emily m. danforth's The Miseducation of Cameron Post is quite popular, the Native parts of it were not well done. That really bothers me! Sometime soon, I'll be back with a review of Rez Runaway. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Not Recommended: MISSING NIMAMA and THE MISSING by Melanie Florence

Sometime last year, I received a copy of Melanie Florence's Missing Nimama. It is a picture book, published in 2015 by Clockwise Press in Ontario Canada.

I didn't read it, then, because it didn't feel right. The subject of the book is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. I also got a copy of her young adult novel, The Missing. I tried to read it, but after a few pages, set it aside.

I look at both of her books with the reality of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in mind. Regular readers of AICL know that I think it is important that children have books that mirror their lives. Regular readers also know that I think it crucial that we have books by Native writers who are writing from their own experiences and knowledge of our lives, past and present, in countries whose genocidal policies sought to eliminate us from our homelands. So, it might seem to AICL's readers that I'd welcome these two books by Melanie Florence.

I do not. Indeed, I do not recommend Missing Nimama or The Missing. It has been a challenge for me to articulate why I felt resistant to these two books. The prompt for a writing contest helped me figure out why I felt that way.

The Prompt


On January 10, I saw an announcement for a writing contest for children. Sponsored by World Literacy Canada, the judge for the contest is Melanie Florence. The prompt for the contest was written by her. To the right (below) is the poster that circulated. To the left is the text of the poster.

~~~~~~~~~~

WRITE FOR A BETTER WORLD. A writing contest for Canadian students in Grades 5 to 8

Stepping up for your friends, your community and the world! With Guest Judge Melanie Florence!

Write an original story describing what happens in 400 words or less:

"I remember how I felt when something was stolen from me. I swore I'd do anything to get it back. Then, Kateri and her grandmother had someone stolen from them. Kateri is my best friend and I knew I had to step up and help. Sometimes a friend just needs a superhero..."

What kind of superhero will you be? What happens next? That's up to you!

Contest theme was created by award winning author of Missing Nimama, Melanie Florence.


~~~~~~~~~~

I was stunned by that prompt. How, I wondered, could anyone equate "something" that was stolen to "someone" that was stolen. In writing the prompt as she did, Florence characterized Native women who were missing, or who had been murdered, with something a child might have lost.

Clearly, a Native child whose mother was missing or murdered would not fare well in a classroom where a teacher put that prompt on the child's desk. Clearly, Florence was not thinking of Native children when she wrote that prompt.

How could Florence have written a prompt like that?

Her website tells us she has "Cree heritage."



What--in the midst of on-going conversations about Joseph Boyden's identity--I wonder, does "Cree heritage" mean? Does her use of "heritage" suggest she isn't living her life as a Cree person who hangs out with Cree or First Nations communities? Is a remote connection, where that heritage is an abstract concept, responsible for her being able to equate a stolen item with a stolen person?

It might be. As many have written, during these weeks of discussions of Joseph Boyden's identity, many Indigenous people in Canada who, as children were taken from their families, struggle to reconnect with their respective families and nations. It is difficult for many of them to reestablish those connections. Some have not been able to make that connection. If that is Melanie Florence's story, it would explain (to me) how she was able to write that prompt--and these two books, too.

When I saw that writing contest on Twitter, I objected to it. Others did, too. Within a few days, it was changed. Florence re-wrote a new prompt. Does it signal an understanding that she did not have before? The new prompt is this (text on write; screenshot on the right):

~~~~~

Revised story prompt
Introducing our new story prompt!
Use your powerful voice to write an original story...

It can be hard when we lose someone important to us in our lives, or when we watch someone close to us lose someone who is important to
them. I remember how I felt
when I lost someone important
to me. In my case, it was when
my best friend in the world
moved away from her family.

~~~~~

Does that revised prompt tell us that Florence's two books about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are not stories from her own experience?

Missing Nimama


Let's turn, now to her picture book, Missing Nimama. Here's the description, from Amazon:
A young mother, one of the many missing indigenous women, watches over her small daughter as she grows up without her nimama, experiencing important milestones - her first day of school, first dance, first date, wedding, first child - from afar.
A free verse story of love, loss, and acceptance told in alternating voices. Missing Nimama shows the human side of a tragic set of circumstances.
An afterword by the author provides a simple, age-appropriate context for young readers. Includes a glossary of Cree terms.

On the opening page, we see Kateri, a little girl in bed, asleep. She's dreaming of leaning against her mother while her grandmother tells them stories. We read that when she wakes, she'll lose her mother, all over again.

The review at Quill and Quire said that the story is touching. That image--of the little girl waking and losing her mother all over again--is a good example of how the story might be called touching. That tug-on-the-heartstrings quality is present throughout the book.

To me, however, it is like the prompt for the writing contest. Rather than losing a mom all over again when she wakes, a Native child reading this book (or listening to it be read aloud) in a classroom, may be inadvertently traumatized by a teacher who may not know the child's history. As with the prompt for the writing contest, it feels like Florence did not imagine Native children as being part of her audience.

From that opening, the story splits into two voices: Kateri as she grows up, and her mother, watching her. But the second page is very unsettling--again--as I imagine a child whose mother was taken from her, reading Kateri's mother's words:
Taken.
Taken from my home. Taken from my family.
Taken from my daughter.
My kamamakos. My beautiful little butterfly.
I fought so hard to get back to you, Kateri.
I wish I could tell you that.
And when I couldn't fight anymore, I closed my eyes.
And saw your beautiful face.
"Fought so hard" and "couldn't fight anymore, I closed my eyes" --- that's horrible. Kateri's mother, we know, is dead. We have a murdered woman, speaking, telling her little girl, what happened to her. Would you do that, if you had been murdered and could speak to your child, or a child? I couldn't. I wouldn't. Would you?

As the story continues, Kateri's grandmother speaks of her daughter (Kateri's mother) in the present tense (n.p.)
"Your mother is a beautiful dancer, Kateri. Just like you."  
Kateri's mother is missing for most of the story. Again--thinking of a Native child in a classroom, how does that child process this story if her own mother is missing. In Missing Nimama she learns that Kateri's mother is not missing. She's dead. At one point, there's more about what happened to her. Kateri is older. She's having a dream, calling out to her mother. Her grandmother goes to her, telling her it was a dream. Kateri asks her grandmother to leave a light on because she doesn't like the dark. Beneath that is her mother's words:
So dark.
Dark in the room he took me to.
Dark when he left me. And so dark after.
I never saw a light or a tunnel. Only darkness.
Until my daughter's voice called me back.
What does that do to a child whose mother is missing? Native or not, isn't it just plain wrong to give that child this book?  Later, when Kateri is an adult, she goes to gathering where people are carrying signs about missing and murdered women. On that page, Francois Thisdale (the illustrator for Missing Nimama), has likenesses of photographs of missing and murdered women. I look at them and wonder if he used actual photographs to create those likenesses, If so, did he ask permission to do that? If not, it seems a violation of those women and their families, too.

The story winds down with a phone call to the adult Kateri, who is also now a mother:
Once upon a time, there was a girl,
a little butterfly
who flew to the phone every time it rang.
Hoping against hope
that her mother was coming home.
The phone rang today. I didn't run.
I had stopped running long ago,
hoping against hope.
"We found your mother," they said.
My heart nearly pounded out of my chest
for a moment,
hoping against hope.
But I knew she was gone. I had known for years.
Still, I cried.
Touching? Perhaps. Appropriate for children? No. That's where I end, with Missing Nimama. 


Not Recommended: Missing Nimama and The Missing


It is a picture book, which suggests it is for children, but the content renders it inappropriate for young children--or for children in the 5th through 8th grade (the World Literacy Canada writing contest is for children in those grades). It is where I end, too, with The Missing. I won't read it. I can't read it. The violence we experience is real. Not abstract. Not appropriate subject matter, unless, maybe it is told directly from someone who has experienced it.

Florence won a major literary award for this book. It is the TD Children's Literature Award, which is $30,000 given to the book that is "the best of the year in Canadian children's books."

Published in 2015, in the midst of a time during which Canadians, through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, are learning about residential schools, it might seem timely. [The prize Florence won is the TD Children's Literature Award, which is $30,000 given to the book that is "the best of the year in Canadian children's books.]

To me, however, Missing Nimama and the writing contest strike me as something Canadians can wrap their arms around, to feel like they're facing and acknowledging history, to feel like they're reconciling with that history.

But are they, really? I read writings from many Indigenous people in Canada. Most feel that reconciliation has become a shallow gesture. It is superficial. It is a token. Empty. Meaningless. Something they can cross off their list and move on, as they were before. Of course, that is far from ok.

To me, it is asking Native people to perform a tragedy on Canada's 150 stage. To many, this review of Florence's work will feel harsh. Most people are likely to disagree with me. That's par for the course, but I hope that other writers and editors and reviewers and readers and sponsors of writing contests will pause as they think about projects that involve ongoing violence upon Native women.

As always, I welcome your comments.

_____

For your convenience, I am adding comments from Native writers and scholars here, as I receive them.

Dr. Luana Ross (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana), Associate Professor of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and Co-Director of the Native Voices project at the University of Washington, wrote:
Wow. I am shocked at the author equating something stolen (anything, really) with murdered and missing Native women. I am also very tired of people claiming to be Native (this isn't about enrollment) to get published or be seen as credible Native storytellers. If you have "heritage" it would be wise to let the readers know who your relatives are.

Fancy Bebamikawe (Anishinaabe from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory), wrote:
I wanted to share my concerns about Missing Nimama and The Missing by Melanie Florence.
Firstly, I'm concerned about such a mature topic being addressed in a children's book. MMIW is specifically about how native women and girls are targeted for violence and face systemic racism in the justice system. MMIW is not only an issue of violence against women and it cannot be minimized into the story of a girl finding out her mother was murdered. I don't think children this age are able to grasp these social power dynamics. I think most teachers would be unable to confidently field questions on MMIW.
Second, the author's use of violence against Indigenous women is gratuitous. This is a terrible book to teach about MMIW because Melanie Florence specifically writes Kateri's mother to die. The mother is written as a disposable, one-dimensional character that haunts Kateri like a ghost. Even when Kateri gets the call that her mother has been found, we are again reminded that Kateri's mother's death was inevitable and expected. Both of these assumptions tie into the very reason why Indigenous women and girls are being targeted for violence.
As someone that has attended Sisters in Spirit vigils and MMIW events for years, Melanie Florence's narrative is in direct opposition to the way families of MMIW feel and speak about their loved ones. In fact, a major critique of families of MMIW is the dehumanizing way the media reduces the entire life of a woman into a headline of her violent death.
Thirdly, this is a very inappropriate book for any child who has been impacted by MMIW. A native child in particular would naturally relate to Kateri, including adopting the guilt and violence that Kateri experiences. These are unnecessary and traumatic burdens to place on a young reader.
For all of these reasons I find both the author and awards committee don't fully understand the issue of MMIW. The family's of MMIW have led this movement for decades and I seriously question why their voices aren't present and their concerns aren't addressed. Finally, this author seems to use a vague claim on Cree heritage as a blank cheque to write whatever she wants about native people. Similarly to Joseph Boyden, there are specific places in the book that mash-up culture references from very different nations. 
I would suggest having indigenous jurors if you are going to be handing out awards for indigenous works.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Dear Teachers: Do You Teach Joseph Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD?

Editors note: Saturday, January 13, 2017. Scroll down to the very bottom of this post to see links to reviews of Boyden's books, written by Native people from the communities a book is about.  

January 7, 2017

Dear Teachers,

I know that some of you assign Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road to students in your high school classes. Some of you may be doing author studies of him. This letter and information I share beneath the letter, in two parts, is for you, and for anyone who is interested in discussions of Boyden's identity. It is an archive of items about Joseph Boyden's identity.

I'm a former school teacher, too. I particularly enjoyed reading aloud to the kindergarten and first graders I taught in the 90s, and teaching kids about the authors and other books they wrote. I'm not teaching anymore. Now, I research and write articles and book chapters about the ways Native peoples are depicted in children's and young adult books. And, I publish this site, American Indians in Children's Literature, which is now in its eleventh year.

In 2014, I learned about a writer named Joseph Boyden. A novel he'd written, The Orenda, was in Canada Reads, which is an annual battle-of-the-books competition. The Orenda was being defended by Wab Kinew. I'd become familiar with Kinew's work via social media. Always on the look-out for books I can recommend, I looked into Boyden and saw that his first book, Three Day Road was in the Canada Reads competition in 2006, when it came out. He was being put forth as a Native writer. I got Three Day Road. I was drawn into the story and thought I might write about it here on AICL. I wanted to know more about Boyden. So, I read Hayden King's review of Orenda. He had concerns with Boyden's depictions of the Haudenosaunee. I started looking around some more and talking with colleagues. I learned that there were a lot of questions about Boyden's claim to Native identity. What I saw was enough for me to set aside Three Day Road. I didn't finish it and didn't write about it.

On December 22, 2016, I saw a series of tweets from the IndigenousXca account. That week, the IndigenousXca host was Robert Jago. I learn a lot by following that account. Each week, there's a new host. I was the host in March. Jago's tweets that night were about Joseph Boyden's identity. The next day, Jorge Barrera, a reporter with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, published a news article about Boyden. Jago and Barrera's work prompted many discussions on social media, and, many more articles and news segments.

This "Dear Teachers" letter is a place for me to archive what I've seen about Boyden and identity.

Part One of my archive started as a thread on Twitter that I added to whenever I saw something that added to the discussion. Rather than re-create the thread, I'm pasting it directly from a Storify I did. I hope that all the links work, though some may not. People delete tweets, and sometimes their entire account. Beneath the Storify is part two.

Part Two is items I'm entering as I see them. It is "in process" -- because new items are published in the media, or on social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter), almost daily.

I hope it is useful. If you see something somewhere that you wish to share, please submit it via the comments option at the bottom.

Thank you,
Debbie Reese
American Indians in Children's Literature

_______________

An Archive: 

Joseph Boyden's Claims to Indigenous Identity


Part One: A Storify by @debreese, from Dec 24, 2016 through Jan 3, 2017 (apologies for formatting errors that occurred when I pasted the storify)

Joseph Boyden: Native? Or not?

On Christmas Eve 2016, Jorge Barrera of APTN published an article on Joseph Boyden's identity. I began tweeting my thoughts, and links to threads/posts/articles on Boyden. I'll add to this Storify as additional items appear. (Last update: Jan 1, 2016, 8:25 AM)
  1. Did you read @APTN article on Joseph Boyden's identity and are you seeking more rdgs to help you understand Native views on identity?
  2. This is, in kid/YA lit, what is called #OwnVoices. It gets very complicated, quickly, for many peoples, including us (Native ppl).
  3. Here's the APTN article, for those who haven't seen it: "Joseph Boyden's Shape-Shifting Identity"  http://aptn.ca/news/2016/12/23/author-joseph-boydens-shape-shifting-indigenous-identity/ 
  4. Yesterday and today, many Native ppl on Twitter are talking about Boyden and identity. Read their convos but pls refrain from jumping in.
  5. Read, listen, think, to what they're saying. See @apihtawikosisan's TL; here's two of her tweets:  https://twitter.com/apihtawikosisan/status/812384479675371520 
  6. See Robert Jago's video (tweeting this week from @IndigenousXca) which kicked off the APTN article:  https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/812105288300056582 
  7. Another person on Twitter who is tweeting about Joseph Boyden is Darryl Leroux.  https://twitter.com/DarrylLeroux/status/812353859926577152 
  8. My area of research/writing is kid/YA lit. As a former teacher, I know that "author studies" are a much-loved unit in schools.
  9. Teachers ask students to read other bks by a specific author, works abt that author's life, etc., to deepen what they know that author/bks.
  10. Still, after all these years, so much ignorance about Native identity, claims to it, why it matters. So many don't know that...
  11. ... Jamake Highwater, who won a Newbery Honor for ANPAO, was a fake. He wasn't Native. So many don't know Forrest Carter is a fake, too.
  12. So many libraries have Forrest Carter's EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE in autobiography section! At the very least, it should be in fiction.
  13. Adoption into a Native family is a real thing, but it doesn't mean that Paul Goble can say he's Native.
  14. There's a lot of writing abt "Forrest Carter." I write abt him/EDUC OF LITTLE TREE at my site & link to others:  https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/search?q=education+of+little+tree 
  15. I don't think Joseph Boyden has written for kids or teens. I did find an article from 2007 about a planned bk but can't find it.
  16. We need to acknowledge how problematic Boyden invoking an elder as retrospective proof of his indigeneity.
  17. The guy asserts he's 1/2 a dozen different kinds of Indian. If you've been adopted, great, but then that's your people.
  18. His invocation of an elder, who has passed, reeks of grasping at straws. Which is so despicable.
  19. The truth is that Joseph Boyden is the archetype of what white ppl want native ppl to be. He makes white ppl so comfortable. They love him.
  20. Still adding to my thread on Boyden. On Christmas Eve, he posted a response to APTN: https://t.co/4aVu9Gx7v4 https://t.co/EjH0VYTsBN
    Still adding to my thread on Boyden. On Christmas Eve, he posted a response to APTN:  https://twitter.com/josephboyden/status/812798846438928384  pic.twitter.com/EjH0VYTsBN
  21. ...what's a poor bestselling author with a highly variable ancestral genealogy to do?
  22. Well one thing is clearer, even Boyden isn't claiming he's Metis anymore. There's consensus on that now.
  23. On Christmas Day (afternoon/evening) news outlets began to publish a short article, by Nicole Thompson:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/author-joseph-boyden-defends-indigenous-heritage-after-investigation-1.3217325 
  24. As I noted on Day 1 of my thread on Boyden, Native people-on Twitter & Facebook-have been talking about Boyden's claims to Native identity.
  25. People who like Boyden think Native people are jealous, unfair, mean, etc. There's a lot of sympathy for him as an individual.
  26. Lot of ppl, in other words, rallying to his defense, embracing him/the story of how he came to identify as Native.
  27. Where, though, were those rallying cries for the Choctaw Nation when a Choctaw child was being returned to her Choctaw family?
  28. Native ppl following my thread know what I'm talking abt. If you're a Boyden fan following my thread, you may not know what I'm talking abt.
  29. Here's a news story re the Choctaw child with info you need, if you're going to be informed re identity:  https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/icwa-lexi-to-remain-with-utah-family-in-appeals-court-ruling/ 
  30. Most of you likely read mainstream media that failed in its responsibility to provide you with info abt sovereignty & our status as nations.
  31. The Choctaw child has clear lineage. There is no question re her identity or her family. Yet, the public said she was not Indian enough.
  32. Native ppl are asking Boyden "who are your people" and "who is your family" but he cannot give clear answers.
  33. He has an uncle who played Indian but denied being Indian. Indeed, as the @APTN article showed, that man delighted in fooling ppl.
  34. I linked to the ATPN article way back in this thread. Here it is again, for your convenience:  http://aptn.ca/news/2016/12/23/author-joseph-boydens-shape-shifting-indigenous-identity/ 
  35. As noted earlier, Native people are using social media to talk with each other abt Boyden's claims. I've linked to some, in this thread...
  36. Here's a new thread from Robert Jago, who--this week--has been tweeting from @IndigenousXca https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/813236288983801857  His first thread...
  37. ...on Boyden, claims to Native identity, and who can tell our stories, was on Dec 22nd from the @IndigenousXca acct:  https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/812095345912119300 
  38. Jago used numbered (rather than threaded) tweets. You'll need to go to that Dec 22nd tweet and read up from there. I urge you do that!
  39. Last night, scholar and writer, @justicedanielh did an excellent thread in response to those who think that asking these questions...
  40. ... re Boyden and identity, is wrong. Here's @justicedanielh thread:  https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/813270135674961920  Also! Follow Daniel, and read his writings.
  41. I see, in this video from 2009, that high school students were assigned Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CbgGD16X_E 
  42. In an article, I saw that Boyden said Trump is a trickster. That led me to this:  https://twitter.com/danrueck/status/796722282727096320 , which is evidence that...
  43. ... ppl have had questions abt Boyden's claims for awhile. In some interviews, Boyden said that it is only white ppl that question...
  44. ... and that Native people don't question his identity. That is not accurate. In Native circles, ppl have had this q for a long time.
  45. As I read articles/tweets abt Boyden's claims, I understand that feeling of being betrayed by someone who said they're Native. We know...
  46. ... that Native doesn't mean dark hair/skin/high cheekbones. We know it is about citizenship or membership, abt being claimed by a nation.
  47. I have given people the benefit of the doubt, and then felt horribly betrayed when truths about their claims were brought out.
  48. When I was on faculty at U Illinois, we got burned, twice, by ppl who we hired because we trusted their claim to Native identity.
  49. The first was Andrea Smith, who claimed to be Cherokee. She had claimed that identity for years and had cred with key scholars.
  50. The second was David Anthony Clark, who said he was Meskwaki (Sac and Fox.) Those two cases led us to write this:  http://www.ais.illinois.edu/about/identity/ 
  51. Woah. Robert Jago pointed to a 2011 article where Boyden is talking about how he is two spirit.... https://t.co/hNUIWkL7A1 https://t.co/rbh0db4EAp
    Woah. Robert Jago pointed to a 2011 article where Boyden is talking about how he is two spirit....  https://twitter.com/IndigenousXca/status/813351440764796928  pic.twitter.com/rbh0db4EAp
  52. I have compassion for Native people who were taken from their families and communities and are holding on to that identity, looking for...
  53. ... their family, their community, their nation. As adults, Smith, Clark, and Boyden read/studied writings on these takings, these policies.
  54. They "know the score" so to speak, on identity and claims to Native identity. They know what it means to make those claims.
  55. Boyden said ppl mis-heard him when he said he is Nipmuc. Did he not ask those who misrepresented his identity to correct their error?
  56. Here's an example that @jeffdberglund shared earlier today. It is interview from 2005 where reporter said Mi'kmaq.  https://twitter.com/jeffdberglund/status/813486325848424448 
  57. This is the most painful thread on Boyden and his claims to Native identity, the ways he's been navigating...  https://twitter.com/apihtawikosisan/status/813503205057449984 
  58. If you're reading tweets abt Boyden, you're probably seeing some from ppl who think he can take a DNA test and "settle" this. But, ...
  59. ... that suggestion shows ignorance on part of person making it. DNA testing will not help. Earlier today, @KimTallBear did a long...
  60. ... thread on her experiences w ppl's expectations re Native identity. She also said that a DNA test...
  61. ... wouldn't help re Elizabeth Warren. Same holds true for Boyden:  https://twitter.com/KimTallBear/status/813475847466319872 
  62. Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD is a WWI story. If you want an alternative, from ppl who are Native, w/o question, get...
  63. Good morning (12/27/16)! Ppl in my networks continue to talk abt Joseph Boyden, his claims to Native identity, & why it matters. I am...
  64. ...reading/thinking abt what I read as people weigh in or add to what they've previously said. Here's @innes_rob  https://twitter.com/innes_rob/status/813532328538406912 
  65. Earlier in this long thread on Boyden, I pointed to @adamgaudry. Yesterday he took a look at Boyden's uncle, who Boyden references...
  66. ... a lot, as a means to prove his identity. @adamgaudry's TL on that uncle is excellent:  https://twitter.com/adamgaudry/status/813591251547103232 
  67. Way back in this thread, I asked ppl to read, think, and NOT to jump in to defend Boyden. Course, his fans have been jumping in everywhere!
  68. In response to Boyden's fans, @justicedanielh did a thread last night that I rec you read:  https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/813581012827598848 
  69. I'll add some thoughts to what Daniel said. If you're not Native or don't read Native news or lit crit of bks abt Native ppl, you're...
  70. ... entering these conversations from a place of ignorance of why identity matters to us. We enter the convo with context that...
  71. ... goes back hundreds of years. For me, it is the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Catholics/Spanish tried to wipe us/our ways out. We resisted.
  72. You've been educated/socialized to think we were primitive, savage, violent, etc., but we weren't. Some yrs back I started rdg Boyden's...
  73. ... THREE DAY ROAD. It was compelling, but I set it aside. That was when ORENDA came out. I read Native criticism of ORENDA.
  74. Recently, I read an interview w Boyden. He was asked abt the criticism. I think he misrepresented the criticism, and thereby, dismissed it.
  75. Concerns, as I understood them, were that he affirmed the stereotypical idea of Native ppls as savages. Boyden said that the violence...
  76. ... in his bk was just a few pages. In essence, he denied the fact that those few pages dovetail with the massive, existing imagery of...
  77. ... Native ppl as violent and barbaric. He fed the white expectation. Native ppl said WTF, Boyden, but he waved them away.
  78. Earlier in this thread, I've pointed you to Chelsea Vowel's TL. I've learned a lot from. Get her book. https://t.co/HVdQ3Hf5mH https://t.co/UA4VjcPRB9
    Earlier in this thread, I've pointed you to Chelsea Vowel's TL. I've learned a lot from. Get her book.  http://www.portageandmainpress.com/product/indigenous-writes/ pic.twitter.com/UA4VjcPRB9
  79. 12/28/16, morning: More to add to thread I started 5 days ago on Joseph Boyden. Here's Audra Simpson's comments:  https://twitter.com/RedIndianGirl/status/813859775092035585 
  80. Last night, ppl were sharing a Litopedia interview. Titled "Joseph Boyden: Who Are You, Really?", it was taped 3 yrs ago, and because...
  81. ... of the APTN article on Boyden, the Litopedia team decided to share it. Here's the link:  https://litopia.com/joseph-boyden-who-are-you-really/ 
  82. Boyden walked out of that interview, about halfway thru the 30 minute segment. It is all on the tape... I don't know the show or the...
  83. ... hosts, but Boyden clearly was not enjoying that interview. If the hosts are always provocative, Boyden shouldn't have agreed to be on!
  84. When @Litopia shared the segment yesterday, they included some context: https://t.co/AC9fuRvA4k
    When @Litopia shared the segment yesterday, they included some context: pic.twitter.com/AC9fuRvA4k
  85. Here's a short thread @Litopia did when Boyden walked out of the interview:  https://twitter.com/litopia/status/403532481489424384 
  86. Reporters are tweeting to Boyden, asking him to call them so they can do interviews w him abt this. He's in a hotseat of his own making.
  87. I've also seen a lot of tweets from Ernie Cray. Last night, he was interviewed abt Boyden:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1024376&playlistId=1.3218874&binId=1.810401&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1  He's defending Boyden.
  88. Typo in that last tweet! The man's name is Ernie Crey. His defense of Boyden strikes me as naive. Crey is chief of a FN. I wonder...
  89. ... would Crey feel that way if Boyden was claiming to be Cheam?
  90. There's another dimension to the Boyden mess that I haven't included in this thread: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  91. Boyden, as some know, has a high profile and is often asked to deliver lectures on issues specific to Native people.
  92. He wrote an open letter re investigation/firing of writer, Steven Galloway. @ZoeSTodd was interviewed abt it here:  http://www.quillandquire.com/omni/qa-zoe-todd-on-rape-culture-canlit-and-you/ 
  93. That article in The Walrus is by its editor in chief, who I think is pretty ignorant.
  94. So... major media in Canada is paying attn. I haven't seen anything in US papers. Boyden is on faculty in New Orleans.
  95. The editor at The Walrus really needs to do some reading. He could start with Kim @KimTallBear's thread:  https://twitter.com/KimTallBear/status/814165113225834496 
  96. In November, Boyden compared Trump to a trickster. He says some pretty messed up/ignorant things. https://t.co/jzkaAJA5nf
    In November, Boyden compared Trump to a trickster. He says some pretty messed up/ignorant things. pic.twitter.com/jzkaAJA5nf
  97. Earlier today I pointed to an interview Ernie Crey did re Boyden. Here's a response to his points, from @ZoeSTodd https://twitter.com/ZoeSTodd/status/814185179698888704 
  98. And, looks like there will be a radio segment (or is it TV?) on Boyden tonight:  https://twitter.com/LorenMcGinnis/status/814195607610888192 
  99. Is any native man actually employed as a writer at the Globe, Star, Sun, or Post?  https://twitter.com/genrysg/status/814464200714153986 
  100. Article in Bustle points to controversies in young adult lit. Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD wasn't marketed as being for young adults, but...
  101. ... given that it is assigned in high schools, I think news stories re Boyden's claims to Native identity is #7 in Bustle article...
  102. Here's the Bustle article on controversies in young adult lit.  https://www.bustle.com/articles/198750-the-worst-book-controversies-of-2016-and-what-to-read-in-response  Three of the 6 are abt Native content.
  103. Long thread by @debreese on Native identity.  https://twitter.com/debreese/status/812673387415932929  Upshot: relevant Q not "what's your DNA?" but "what nation claims you?"
  104. The more I items I read abt Boyden, the more I cringe. See @duane_linklater's account here: https://t.co/uhhzuT3usq This is 1st paragraph: https://t.co/HZKN8fDIcM
    The more I items I read abt Boyden, the more I cringe. See @duane_linklater's account here:  http://www.duanelinklater.com/  This is 1st paragraph: pic.twitter.com/HZKN8fDIcM
  105. Joseph Boyden is his uncle Erl: a white person who dresses up like he's a Native person, and performs for White people.
  106. Erl put on a headdress and stood by a tipi. Joseph Boyden puts on words. Performing Indians. Basking in adulation. And yes, doing harm.
  107. Who is asked to write abt Boyden, and why, is an imp aspect of this mess. @justicedanielh lays it out here:  https://twitter.com/justicedanielh/status/814532448595738624 
  108. ... its headline. In original, they used "lynching" but have since taken it out. It still shows, tho, in the URL. https://t.co/UVBoLXxORX
    ... its headline. In original, they used "lynching" but have since taken it out. It still shows, tho, in the URL. pic.twitter.com/UVBoLXxORX
  109. Early today @tuckeve wrote to Globe and Mail about their use of "lynching" -- here's her tweet abt it:  https://twitter.com/tuckeve/status/814484764254212097 
  110. Info I'm tweeting in this thread on Boyden comes from what I see in a twitter search using his name. But also from ppl I follow, such as...
  111. Boyden is far from the first--or last--person to go into a Native community, do research, and walk away and publish things w/o permission.
  112. There's several examples, here in the US, of white writers teaching or hanging out in Native communities, and then writing stories abt...
  113. ... that community, and in an Author's Note, talking abt how they were asked to do that, or, abt how they're donating % of profit to...
  114. ... a Native org. They--and their pals--think that makes them look good, like they're generous. Reality: that's grotesque exploitation.
  115. When I point that out, friends of those white people flock to my blog and defend those writers. Those writers get spun as the victim.
  116. And, those writers and their editors whisper "Debbie Reese hates white people." It'd be amusing if there weren't so many of them out...
  117. ... there, consoling each other and doing the same old thing year after year.
  118. Do make sure you read Lenny Carpenter's post on Boyden.  https://lennyshish.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/boyden-i-discovered-a-gold-mine-on-james-bay/  Boyden saying he discovered a gold mine... WTF.
  119. Ah! Check out this article abt f'ed up headline in Globe and Mail abt Boyden being "lynched."  https://www.pressprogress.ca/the_globe_and_mail_has_officially_published_canada_worst_headline_of_2016  h/t @KimTallBear
  120. Boyden, his claims, and ppl who feel compassion for him getting challenged are causing harm they either don't understand or care about...
  121. See this thread, from @FancyBebamikawe. Read with care, and think, about what she's saying:  https://twitter.com/FancyBebamikawe/status/814621803842859008  and then revisit...
  122. ... that love-of-Boyden. That love is in the way, causing hurt and pain, perpetuating ignorance, exploitation.
  123. 5 AM, Dec 30, 2016: Convo's re Joseph Boyden's claim to Native identity continue. First item I read today is by Jordan Wheeler...
  124. I've seen tweets that q's re Boyden's claims may hurt those who were taken from family. This thread addresses that:  https://twitter.com/CotySavard/status/814639276759531520 
  125. "What Colour is Your Beadwork, Joseph Boyden" asks @RMComedy:  https://t.co/4L5g9a7nUE Ryan McMahon's piece is one of the must-reads. https://t.co/4soBGPsOMV
    "What Colour is Your Beadwork, Joseph Boyden" asks @RMComedy https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/what-colour-is-your-beadwork-joseph-boyden  Ryan McMahon's piece is one of the must-reads. pic.twitter.com/4soBGPsOMV
  126. Adding another thread by Dr. Chris Anderson (@BigMMusings) that breaks down the q's re blood/blood quantum & Boyden  https://twitter.com/BigMMusings/status/814903632483287041 
  127. PODCAST—Why 2016 a breakout year for empowering Indigenous media arts + activism; #JosephBoyden's identity questions  http://mediaindigena.libsyn.com/ep-43-indigenous-look-back-at-2016-joseph-boydens-identity-questions 
  128. In addition to @CBCIndigenous articles on Boyden, take time to listen to radio interview with Rebeka Tabobondung:  http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/as-it-happens/segment/11266887 
  129. Tabobondung: Those who speak abt Native issues must be people who are grounded in that area/community.
  130. Without that grounding, she says, interpretations of that ppl's history can have negative consequences that perpetuate negative stereotypes.
  131. Tabobondung talked abt problems in interpretation of a community not ones own. Terri Monture's rev of Boyden's ORENDA...@RedIndianGirl
  132. 4:07, Jan 2, 2017: RT'ing items from Jan 1 and Jan 2, on Joseph Boyden, to add to the Storify I started on Dec 24th. Here's @RachelAnnSnow https://twitter.com/RachelAnnSnow/status/815562677887995905 



Part Two: (in process) 

January 2, 2017



January 3, 2017



January 4, 2017



January 5, 2017



January 6, 2017


January 8, 2017






January 9, 2016

January 10, 2017

January 11, 2017
.... pausing the bulleted list to note that Boyden finally responded to the many questions...
... back to the bulleted list, which--from here--is primarily responses to Boyden's remarks. When this started back in December, the headline on the APTN article had "shape shifting identity" in it. As some of these responses indicate, he's shifting his stories now. Previously, he said his family never talked about their Native ancestry, now--he says--they talked about it all his life, from his birth, even, telling stories. 

January 12, 2017
...pausing the list again, to note that:

1) Boyden's publisher (Penguin Random House in Canada), and his editor (Nicole Winstanley) voiced support for Boyden. Major publishers like Penguin are huge corporations. Integrity of writing or author does not matter. If it did, Simon and Schuster would not be publishing the White supremacist, Milo Yiannopoulos. It will make a lot of money for its publisher. Boyden's books make a lot of money for Penguin.  

2) The Tozer's, who Boyden referenced in his 1/12/17 interview with Candy Palmater, also issued a statement of support. William and Pamela Tozer are Moose Cree, and run Camp Onakawana, near Moosonee, Ontario. In 2014 (article linked below), Boyden wrote about the camp and said that William Tozer is the inspiration for Uncle Will Bird, a character in Boyden's Through Blue Spruce.
... resuming the list:

January 13, 2017
January 14, 2017

... Daniel Heath Justice shared an article from 2013 in which Boyden makes a claim to being Wendat. So far as I recall, that claim had not been written about. Here's a photo from the article, with the final paragraph pasted beneath the photo:


... Daniel Heath Justice's thread on Twitter, regarding that Wendat claim

January 15 2017



January 16, 2017


Reviews by People of the 

Native Communities Boyden's Books Depict


Three Day Road, published in 2005 by Viking Penguin


Through Blue Spruce, published in 2009 by Viking Penguin

The Orenda, published in 2013 by Penguin Random House