Thursday, December 31, 2009

News from Oyate

Earlier this week I received an email from Oyate. I'm sharing that news today.

---------------------------------------
Dear Friends and Supporters,

Oyate co-founder Doris Seale and the Board of Directors are pleased to share with you the beginning of a new season for Oyate. After a long and distinguished career with Oyate, Beverly Slapin has resigned as executive director.  We thank Beverly for her twenty years of service and wish her the best moving forward. Board members and current staff are excited about maintaining day-to-day operations while we enter into our new phase.  Oyate continues to be up and running.  We appreciate your patience during this growth period as we smooth out the usual transitional wrinkles.  The Board is in the process of developing a new leadership structure and is currently communicating with several well-qualified and talented Native American candidates to fill open staff positions. 

Thank you for your support as Oyate continues to grow.

Doris Seale, CoFounder (Dakota, Cree, Abenaki)

Robette Dias, President (Karuk)

Janet King, Vice President (Lumbee)

Judy Dow, Secretary-Treasurer (Abenaki)

Nellie Adkins (Chickahominy)

Danielle DiBona (Wampanoag)

Tomie de Paola's THE LEGEND OF THE INDIAN PAINTBRUSH

Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Doris Seale (Dakota, Cree, Abenaki) sent me this review in response to the query from Patricia O. a few weeks ago about Tomie DePaola's books.  Judy and Doris are board members of Oyate, and Doris is one of its co-founders. 
----------------------

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola

As usually Tomie dePaola has done an exquisite job with the paintings in this book. The colors are bright; the pictures are simplistic and can easily be understood by a reader of the book’s intended age group.  A spiritual leader does explain to Little Gopher that he has a “special gift” and “that he should not struggle” because “his path would not be the same as others”. Most Native people believe everyone has a special gift; life itself is a special gift and that nobody will follow the same path. However, it seems to be very unrealistic that a young boy would go out alone for a Dream-Vision without guidance of some kind from an elder or spiritual leader. Furthermore when this “spiritual event” is completed Little Gopher then interprets what his vision meant. Again this would be highly unusual.

Little Gopher eventually begins to paint pictures “of great hunts, of great deeds, of great Dream-Visions” so that “the people would always remember” says dePaola. This seems odd to us. How did Little Gopher learn of these great deeds, great hunts and great visions after all "his path was different then the others". Little Gopher was not a warrior or a hunter and had only one vision and no elders were present in the story to teach him of these great things? Curious isn't it.

One more thought crosses our mind. Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja Coccinea) are indigenous to Latin American not the plains of the west as the story implies.

However beautiful the paintings in this book are we would not recommend it or the companion video because of the complex issues that the intended audience would not understand.

Judy Dow (Abenaki)
Doris Seale (Dakota, Cree, Abenaki)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Did P.C. and Kristin Cast plagiarize?

Yesterday, I posted a rather jumbled piece about Marked, by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I titled that piece "P.C. and Kristin Cast Plagiarize" but, the plagiarism discussion is lost in the other thoughts I had as I read the book. Here's just the portions of their book that I think are plagiarism-at-worst or sloppy-writing-at-best.

Example 1
Page 240: Zoey is smudging Damien. She tells him:
"Smudging is a ritual way to cleanse a person, place, or an object of negative energies, spirits, or influences. The smudging ceremony involves the burning of special, sacred plants and herbal resins, then, either passing an object through the smoke, or fanning the smoke around a person or place. The spirit of the plant purifies whatever is being smudged."
I found that identical passage on over 100 different websites. The excerpts below are from here (scroll down and click on "Smudge Ceremony"):
The Smudging Ceremony

Smudging is a ritual way to cleanse a person , place or an object of negative energies, spirits or influences. The smudging ceremony involves the burning of special, sacred plants and herbal resins, then, either passing an object through the resulting smoke, or fanning the smoke around a person or place. 

 
There are a couple of other passages I looked at. Neither one is word-for-word, but pretty close

Example 2
On page (241), Zoey tells Damien:
"It's really important to remember that we're asking the spirits of the sacred plants we're using to help us, and we should show them proper respect by acknowledging their powers."
The website says:
Remember that when you smudge, you are asking the spirit of sacred plants for assistance and you must pay proper respect to their healing power.

Example 3
Later on page 241, Zoey tells Damien she prefers white sage to desert sage:
"White sage is used a lot in traditional ceremonies. It drives out negative energies, spirits, and influences. Actually desert sage does the same thing, but I like white sage better because it smells sweeter."
The website says:
Desert Sage (Artemesia tridentata). This plant will drive out negative energies, spirits and influences. Use this as a smudge to purify people and places before any sacred ceremony.
White Sage (Salvia apiana) This sage is used just like desert sage, but many people prefer White Sage because of the sweeter aroma it gives off.

Those passages may be helpful to teachers and librarians who want to discuss writing and the ins and outs of copying/pasting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

P.C. and Kristin Cast Plagiarize in MARKED

To see only the plagiarism section of what I wrote below, click here

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Back on November 13, 2009, I posted my first response to the House of Night vampire series by P. C. Cast and her daughter, Kristin. I'd found the first chapter online on the House of Night website. I'm copying here what I posted then, and I've put that entire post in italics to distinguish it from what I'm adding to that response today.


In studying Marked, specifically page 240 when Zoey smudes Damien, it looks to me like the Casts borrowed word-for-word from "The Smudging Ceremony" online at a New Age site!

[Formatting note: I apologize for the too-many line spaces in this post. Not sure how to fix that problem.]

First response: HOUSE OF NIGHT SERIES

For some time now, I've been aware of the HOUSE OF NIGHT series of vampire stories. I picked one up in a bookstore and skimmed it, but put it back down. I did not want to spend time on it. I am still not sure how much time I will give to it...

Here's the final words from the first chapter of the first book. Reading this online from the House of Night website:

I stared at the exotic looking tattoo. Mixed with my strong Cherokee features it seemed to brand me with a mark of wildness... as if I belonged to ancient times when the world was bigger... more barbaric.

From this day on my life would never be the same. And for a moment--just an instant--I forgot about the horror of not belonging and felt a shocking burst of pleasure, while deep inside of me the blood of my grandmother's people rejoiced.

Exotic. Cherokee. Wildness. Ancient. Barbaric. This "Cherokee" girl is now a Vampire, too!!! And her Cherokee grandmother's people rejoice. Why? Because this girl is now going to feel like she belongs? Is that why P.C. Cast says her character's ancestor's rejoice? Or is it something else?

-----------------------
I continue that initial response today (December 21, 2009):



A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Urbana Free Library to pick up Marrin's Years of Dust. While there, I saw that the library had a copy of Marked on the shelf, so checked it out, too. (I subsequently wrote about Years of Dust here, which sparked a lively dialogue at School Library Journal.)



Once she's marked, Zoey must go to the House of Night. In the world the Casts imagine, vampires are a fact-of-life. Zoey doesn't get along with her mother and her mother's husband, and hopes that being marked will elicit a caring response from her mother. When it doesn't, Zoey heads for her grandmother.  Her grandmother, as we learned in chapter one, is Cherokee. In chapter five, we learn that Zoey calls her grandmother "Grandma Redbird" or "Grandma."  Having been marked, Zoey is experiencing physical changes. She's full of questions. As she climbs a bluff to find her grandmother, the text reads (p. 33-34):

I needed to find Grandma Redbird. If Grandma didn't have the answers, she'd figure them out. Grandma Redbird understood people. She said it was because she hadn't lost touch with her Cherokee heritage and the tribal knowledge of the ancestral Wise Women she carried in her blood. Even now it made me smile to think about the frown that came over Grandma's face whenever the subject of the step-loser came up (she's the only adult who knows I call him that). Grandma Redbird said that it was obvious that the Redbird Wise Woman blood had skipped over her daughter, but that was only because it had been saving up to give an extra dose of ancient Cherokee magic to me. [...]  In the meadow of tall grasses and wildflowers we'd lay out a brightly colored blanket and eat a picnic lunch while Grandma told me stories of the Cherokee people and taught me the mysterious-sounding words of their language.
"Mysterious-sounding words" is another signal, to me, that the Casts are running with romantic, stereotypical ideas of who American Indians--in this case Cherokees--are. Course, their point may be that their protagonist is romanticizing her Cherokee identity, but I don't think so. 

As I struggled up the winding path those ancient stories seemed to swirl around and around inside my head, like smoke from a ceremonial fire...
Smoke from a ceremonial fire! Just like we saw in Disney's Pocahontas! Another signal of romantic imagery.

...including the sad story of how the stars were formed when a dog was discovered stealing cornmeal and the tribe whipped him. As the dog ran howling to his home in the north, the meal scattered across the sky and the magic in it made the Milky Way. Or how the Great Buzzard made the mountains and valleys with his wings. And my favorite, the story about young woman sun who lived in the east, and her brother, the moon, who lived in the west, and the Redbird who was the daughter of the sun.
Through her veil of turning-into-a-vampire, Zoey starts thinking about drums and powwows her grandma took her to when she was a little girl. She starts to hear drumming, and then voices, and then wind...
Wind? No, wait! There hadn't been any wind just a second ago, but now I had to hold my hat down with one hand and brush away the hair that was whipping wildly across my face with the other. Then in the wind I heard them--the sounds of many Cherokee voices chanting in time with the beating of the ceremonial drums. Through a veil of hair and tears I saw smoke. The nutty sweet scent of pinon wood filled my open mouth and I tasted the campfires of my ancestors. I gasped, fighting to catch my breath.


That's when I felt them. They were all around me, almost visible shapes shimmering like heat waves lifting from a blacktop road in summer. I could feel them press against me as they twirled and moved with graceful, intricate steps around and around the shadowy image of a Cherokee campfire.


Join us, u-we-tsi a-ge-hu-tsa... Join us, daughter...


Zoey runs, and then falls and is in some sort of dreamlike state where the High Priestess speaks her her (p. 39):
Your grandmother has taught you well, u-s-ti Do-tsu-wa...little Redbird. You are a unique mixture of the Old Ways and the New World--of ancient tribal blood and the heartbeat of outsiders. [...] I am known by many names... Changing Woman, Gaea, A'akuluujjusi, Kuan Yin, Grandmother Spider, and even Dawn..."
A unique mix! Ancient tribal blood. Heartbeat of outsiders. Sounds a bit like..... Jake Sully in Avatar!

Looks like the Casts are grabbing at all manner of spiritualities...  Navajo, Cherokee, Buddhism...  But where is Mary in this lineup? Why did they avoid drawing on Christianity?!


When Zoey comes to, she's in the House of Night, her grandma is with her, and Zoey tells her that she can't believe that she got Marked. Her grandmother replies (p. 45)
"I'm not surprised you were Tracked and Marked. The Redbird blood has always held strong magic; it was only a matter of time before one of us was Chosen. What I mean is that it makes no sense that you were just Marked. The crescent isn't an outline. It's completely filled in."
Of course! Indians are special! The ones the Casts dreamed up are, apparently, extra special. They've got strong magic, but what else???  The High Priestess is with Zoey, too, and that High Priestess tells Zoey that she can start over, choose her true name. Zoey discards "Montgomery" and chooses Redbird.





And then, the Casts plagiarize!

Much later in the book (page 240), the Casts have Zoey doing ceremony:



"Smudging is a ritual way to cleanse a person, place, or an object of negative energies, spirits, or influences. The smudging ceremony involves the burning of special, sacred plants and herbal resins, then, either passing an object through the smoke, or fanning the smoke around a person or place. The spirit of the plant purifies whatever is being smudged."

That sounds like something you'd find in a New Age store! Or on the internet! And that is exactly what I found. That passage above, comes word-for-word from "The Smudging Ceremony" at a New Age store that sells "smudge bundles."

----------------------------

[Update, Dec 22, 6:38 AM.  In the comment below submitted by Lou Gagliardi, Lou says that my examples are not word-for-word. The ones below this update are not quite word-for-word, but the passage above is exactly word-for-word. I did not include the passage from the website because it seemed redundant. I'm adding it now:

The Smudging Ceremony

Smudging is a ritual way to cleanse a person , place or an object of negative energies, spirits or influences. The smudging ceremony involves the burning of special, sacred plants and herbal resins, then, either passing an object through the resulting smoke, or fanning the smoke around a person or place. 



And Kat W., a librarian in Benton Harbor wrote to say "if you can find at least 5 sources that do not reference a specific piece of information then it is considered general knowledge and does not need to be sited in your work."  Of course, novels don't cite materials in the same way that nonfiction does, but Kat raises an interesting point. She suggests it is ok for the Casts to copy and paste from the internet. I did note, below, that the passage in question appears on over a hundred websites. Does that make it ok? Perhaps, but what does that say about the author(s) and their writing?

------------------------------------------------
But there's more of that sort of borrowing...



Zoey says (p. 241):

"It's really important to remember that we're asking the spirits of the sacred plants we're using to help us, and we should show them proper respect by acknowledging their powers."

At the New Age store/website, you'll find this:

"Remember that when you smudge, you are asking the spirit of sacred plants for assistance and you must pay proper respect to their healing power."

And here's some more... 

Zoey prefers white sage to desert sage. She tells Damien (p. 241) that

"White sage is used a lot in traditional ceremonies. It drives out negative energies, spirits, and influences. Actually desert sage does the same thing, but I like white sage better because it smells sweeter."

On the New Age store/website:

Desert Sage (Artemesia tridentata). This plant will drive out negative energies, spirits and influences. Use this as a smudge to purify people and places before any sacred ceremony.

White Sage (Salvia apiana) This sage is used just like desert sage, but many people prefer White Sage because of the sweeter aroma it gives off.


Maybe the Casts didn't take it from that site. Doing that internet search using "Smuding is a ritual way to cleanse a person" I got 273 hits (date of search, December 21).

Cassie Edwards plagiarized several people in her Savage Indian series, including N. Scott Momaday's book The Way to Rainy Mountain.

Edwards seemed to think it was ok to do that. Do you? Do you think its ok for the Casts to do it? In my view, they've not only erred in their presentation of the Native content but they're also plagiarizing. Neither one is ok.






.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"I is for Indian Village"

Head on over to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert's blog, Beyond the Mesas, and read his entry on December 16, 2009: "I is for Indian Village" - Photographs and Hopi Protocols.

When you go to a National Park, there are signs all over the place that tell you not to take items you find on the ground. Some parks have pottery shards. It is against the law to take those, and the federal government can fine you for taking things.

Visitors to Nambe Pueblo cannot take photographs. As Matt's post says, visitors are not allowed to take photographs at Hopi, either.

Please follow instructions! Don't take photographs!

[And of course, don't objectify Indian people by using us as items in your alphabet activities.]

Monday, December 14, 2009

INDIAN BOYHOOD and MIDDLE FIVE - use in 1904

Two of the books on my list of recommended books are The Middle Five by Francis LaFlesche and Indian Boyhood by Charles Alexander Eastman. Both can be used by students in grades 7 through 12. I'm thinking about those two books because I've come across a reference to them. A reference, that is, in a letter written over 100 years ago.  In 1904, Clara D. True wrote to C. J. Crandall. She was a teacher at the Day School in Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico. Crandall was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, serving as a Superintendent of U.S. Indian Schools. True wrote:
Dear Sir:

Enclosed is [a] new set of Abstract F. I am sorry I did not know of the distinction in books. Those I cannot use myself nor give to the children I have been putting on the magazine and newspaper table I have kept for the returned students, hence the wearing out of the so called "Library" books, or most of them. "Indian Boyhood" and "Middle Five" were enjoyed.

I expend a lot of property, I know, but I try to get the intended good out of it and get rid of it as I have not room enough to turn around in anyway. If I put discarded stuff outside the house I seldom see it again. I kept a variety of junk on the roof until I found it was causing leaks by interfering with the running off of the rain water. To keep from sitting up at night with stove legs and desk irons I have buried them in the chicken yard where they await the final resurrecting.

Very respectfully,
Clara D. True
I don't know what Abstract F is. I don't know (yet) anything about Clara D. True. The letter is in files of the National Archives. In the 1800s, the federal government established boarding and day schools for American Indian students.  From time to time my research takes me into archives. Finding letters and the like that refer to literature is one of my tasks. Clara D. True's letter tells me that Eastman and LaFlesche were being read by Native students in 1904.

Indian Boyhood by Charles Alexander Eastman, was published in 1902 by "McClure, Philips &; Co." in New York. Eastman was Dakota (Sioux). He was born in 1858. As a child, his paternal grandmother took him to Canada, leaving Minnesota during the Minnesota Dakota conflict of 1862 (that was the "Minnesota Massacre" Laura Ingalls Wilder referred to via Mrs. Scott in Little House on the Prairie). Eastman's formal education began at Santee Normal School. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1886, and got a medical degree at Boston College in 1889. There's a lot to say about him and his life, both as a child and as an adult.  The first stories he wrote were published in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks.


The Middle Five: Indian Boys at School by Francis LaFlesche, was published by Small, Maynard in Boston in 1900.  LaFlesche was Omaha. He was born in 1857 in Nebraska. The Middle Five is his autobiographical account of his years at the mission school he attended. That school was run by the Presbyterian Church. Later, he worked with Alice Fletcher on a book about the Omaha's. 

I'm glad to know that True's returning students liked both books, and I'm also glad to know that she was providing students with books by Native writers. I imagine it meant a lot to them, in the same way that Native-authored books mean a lot to me, now, in 2009.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New cover for Erdrich's BIRCHBARK HOUSE





Each semester in my courses at Illinois, we read Louise Erdrich's Birchbark House. It's a terrific book, as are the two that followed it, Game of Silence, and, Porcupine Year.

This time, one of the students had a copy with a cover I'd not seen before. Instead of Louise's art on the cover, this one has a photograph (shown here) of a young girl. No doubt the publisher is following a trend of putting photographs rather than illustrations on book covers when a book is reprinted. The rationale is that the photograph is more appealing to the consumer. I wonder who the girl in the photo is?

[Update: December 14, 10:15 AM CST. Heather (in comment) asked to see both covers, so I've added the original cover.]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sexy Indians...

As soon I wrote the title for this post, I realized it will probably generate a lot of hits from people looking for porn...  As I said last year, Meyer's books (amongst other problems) are like soft porn. Recently I was e-talking about Twilight with Brian Y., a Dine (Navajo) student at Yale. Something he said reminded me of covers on Cassie Edwards books. So here, just for fun, are two "sexy Indians" in the "moon" genre of best selling....  best selling.... hmmm...  I won't call them literature...  I don't recommend either author, by the way...  Meyer or Edwards. Save your money.

Brian is working on a paper. Hopefully, he'll let me quote from it...  In it he makes some astute observations about the appeal of New Moon...



Chaske Spencer, "Sam Uley" of Twilight, visits Yale


On Tuesday, December 9, Chaske Spencer, the actor who plays Sam Uley in New Moon, visited students at Yale.  Read about his visit in Twilight actor speaks in the Yale Daily News. Spencer is a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe.

Reports from Native students at Yale (including my awesome daughter, Liz), are that Spencer is a very cool guy, personable and unpretentious. He spoke with Native students about being a Native actor, and specifically about the politics of casting. Liz is busy with term papers and can't go into detail at this point, but I hope to learn and share more later...

The photo I used here is from his website.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Update: YEARS OF DUST

Jonathan Hunt at SLJ responded to my critique of Albert Marrin's Years of Dust. If you're interested in the on-going dialogue, click on over to Years of Dust and read his rebuttal of what I said, comments to his rebuttal, and, my responses to that conversation.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Hopi writer, Polingaysi Qoyawayma


Reading Beyond the Mesas this morning, I see that Matt (my friend and colleague in American Indian Studies here at Illinois) wrote about Polingaysi Qoyawayma. Her book, No Turning Back, is on my list of recommended books (see the text top right of this page that says "Click here to see a list of recommended books and resources). She was Hopi from Orayvi on Third Mesa, and, Matt says, she was the first Hopi teacher to teach Hopi children at a Hopi day school.

What I learned by reading Beyond the Mesas this morning is that Qoyawayma also wrote a book for younger children! I ordered it right away and look forward to reading it. The title of her children's book is The Sun Girl.

Reading what Matt says about it, I think it may be similar to one of my favorite picture books, Cynthia Leitich Smith's Jingle Dancer. Both are about a Native child learning a dance her people do. (Reminder: Native dance is not entertainment or performance. Pueblo dance in particular is a form of prayer.) Fortunately, Jingle Dancer is still in print. The Sun Girl, published in 1941, is not. I'll blog it when I get it. In the meantime, click on over to Remembering Polingaysi Qoyawayma at Beyond the Mesas and see what Matt says about her and her books.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Albert Marrin's YEARS OF DUST: THE STORY OF THE DUST BOWL

Over on Heavy Medal, a blog at School Library Journal, I posted my concerns with Richard Peck's new book, A Season of Gifts. In the course of discussing/defending the book, Jonathan Hunt (one of the blog hosts) referenced another book. That book was Albert Marrin's Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl. In A Season of Gifts, a preacher is given a box that may or may not have remains of a "Kickapoo Princess" inside. The preacher agrees to rebury the box and waxes poetically in his sermon. As you might imagine, I find the discussion of bones problematic from the get-go. I am working on an essay about that aspect of the book. 


In his post, Jonathan correctly describes the preacher's speech as hokey, sentimental, and, stereotypical in the way it situates Indians in nature. Then, he says, he came across another passage that was like that in Albert Marrin's Years of Dust. Jonathan quoted the passage, which I will quote here as well (it appears on the final page of Marrin's book, p. 122):


Chief Seattle, a leader of the Suqamish tribe, understood our place in nature.  In 1855, President Franklin Pierce offered to buy Suquamish lands in what is now the state of Washington.  Before accepting the president's terms, Seattle is said to have reminded the American envoys of some basic truths.  "Will you teach your children what we have taught our children?  That the earth is our mother?" the chief asked.  Then Seattle answered his own questions.  "What befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth . . . The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth . . . All things are connected like the blood which unites us all.  Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."


Then Jonathan tries to equate the fictional preacher in A Season of Gifts with a real person: Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Nation. He asks why it is not ok for Preacher Barnhart to use that sort of language, when, he says, it was ok for Seattle to use it. 


When I read Jonathan's words and the excerpt he quoted, I chuckled to myself, thinking that Marrin had done sloppy research, quoting---not Seattle---but Ted Perry, the person who wrote a version of Seattle's speech for use in a made-for-TV movie in the 1970s. And, I wondered how Jonathan could equate a fictional character with a leader of an American Indian Nation.


Among my comments to his post, I said "oops!" and then something snarky about white-guy-Marrin quoting white-guy-Perry. Maybe I should not do that sort of snarky writing. I know it rubs some people the wrong way. 


I could say, instead, non-Native-Marrin quoting non-Native-Perry...  Or maybe I should say sloppy-researcher-Marrin quoting fiction-as-fact...  Or maybe I shouldn't say anything like that at all. My point is, what are your sources???!!! What is the bias in those sources??? Are you using sources critically???



But setting my rant aside for now...

Jonathan said he'd check into Marrin's source for that speech and let us know. I was surprised (and not) to learn that Marrin's source was....  Al Gore's book, Earth in the Balance! Oops again!!! Now, we have this:


Non-Native-Marrin quoting Non-Native-Gore quoting Non-Native-Perry.


I decided it was time to get Marrin's book, and, Gore's too, and take a look at both books. 


The cover of Marrin's book includes, across the top, "Recipient of the 2008 National Endowment for Humanities Medal."  An impressive accomplishment for Marrin. His Sitting Bull and his World won the 2001 Carter G. Woodson Book Award and the 2000 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Non-Fiction. I wish the selection committees had been able to read Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin's review of the book...  They probably wouldn't have chosen Sitting Bull and his World for either award! Do read the review... once you do, you'll be a bit embarrassed that you or anyone would think the book was worthy of the label "nonfiction."



Back to Years of Dust...  As I flip through it, I love the images on the pages. Photographs, posters, newspaper clippings. Good stuff! Or some of it is...  Some of it is not so good....



Looking right now at page 11 in the section titled "The Great Plains World." there's a sidebar titled "The Buffalo and the Indian." The second sentence is:
 "These hunters [Lakota and Cheyenne] ate buffalo meat at every meal, several pounds at a time." 
Several pounds of buffalo meat at every meal? Really? That'd be one big hamburger! (Want a laugh? Watch Sesame Street's Grover the Waiter in "Big Hamburger.")


The illustration at the bottom of the sidebar is a reproduction of a 1901 painting by Charles Schreyvogel titled "Doomed." It shows an Indian man on horseback, wearing a feathered warbonnet, lance held high, about to plunge it into a buffalo. 

Who was Schreyvogel? I read a little about him in an article called "Racism, Nationalism, and Nostalgia in Cowboy Art" by J. Gray Sweeney, published in Oxford Art Journal in Vol. 15, No. 1, 1992. Here's what Sweeney wrote (p. 72):


The third painter revered by the modern cowboy artists of today is Charles Schreyvogel. Schreyvogel painted about one hundred works in the years from 1900 to his death in 1912, and although he visited the West briefly, his work was executed entirely in his studio in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he frequently posed his 'manly' German-American compatriots on the tin roof of his apartment overlooking New York City. One of his sources of information about Native Americans derived from sketching actors in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows. [...] It seems perfectly comprehensible how such representations of war-like Indians would have met the cultural expectations of Schreyvogel's urban audience in New York City around 1910 whose only knowledge of Native Americans was from dime novels and wild west shows. As such the image is disturbingly indicative of the cultural mind-set of the last half of the nineteenth century that approved genocide. One critic of the day put it this way: Schreyvogel is more than a historian of the Indian. He is giving us an invaluable record of those parlous days of the Western frontier when a handful of brave men blazed the path for civilization and extended the boundaries of empire for a growing nation.


Ouch! Ouch! And OUCH again!!! Nineteenth century? Ironically, the date of the painting is almost 100 years ago....  Why did Marrin choose that art?! Probably because it reflects what he knows! Sweeney closes the article by discussing how popular this art has become for collectors, and, as subject matter for scholarly studies of its ideology. That scholarship is attacked, as Sweeney says (p. 79):


[R]ecent attacks by conservative critics make it abundantly apparent that the supporters of western art are willing to do everything in their power to protect the cherished fantasy of America's 'winning of the West' promoted in this art. 


Moving along in Years of Dust, I come across another winner in terms of source...  At the bottom of page 14, Marrin quotes from Laura Ingalls WIlder's On the Banks of Plum Creek, where she writes about grasshoppers on the Great Plains. Would you be ok with students in your classroom citing Wilder as though what she provided was a work of non-fiction?


It is interesting to me that in the text---not the illustrations or photographs or sidebars---Marrin does not mention American Indians. When he starts talking about buffalo on page 12, he says 

The lord of the Great Plains was the American bison, or buffalo. When the first Europeans reached the New World, some 40 to 60 million buffalo roamed the region in their endless search for pasture.


And on the next page, he talks about Laura Ingalls Wilder. His final paragraph in that section says (p. 16):

The Great Plains, then, was (and is) a harsh land. Despite the hardships, Americans still saw the plains as a place of opportunity. A place where, through hard work and good luck, they could buld a better future. And so, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, settlers flocked to the rolling grasslands west of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, the arrival of settlers would change the delicate ecology of the plains.


The one mention American Indians get in this section is the sidebar. In the text itself, the indigenous people of the Great Plains don't get any attention at all. Marrin talks about Europeans, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and, Americans, but, not Indians.



Course, that changes in the next section, "Conquering the Great Plains."



Marrin starts by talking about Daniel Boone, pioneers, Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, and, an army officer who was mapping the land who said that the Plains were unfit for cultivation. Then Marrin says (p. 20)


Flat, treeless, and dry, the grasslands were fit only for wild beasts and nomadic Indians. 


Marrin sounds like Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little House on the Prairie! What does that say about the Wilder apologists who say "that's what they thought back then." Marrin isn't quoting the Army officer at that point. Those are Marrin's words.



Most people were only moving through the Plains, headed for the West Coast. But then after the Civil War, some decided they wanted to become cattle ranchers. To do that, they needed to get rid of the buffalo, which the Indians depended on for food. Here's what Marrin says (p. 22),


"Progress," as white people saw it, demanded that both the buffalo and the Indians should go.

Hence, the wholesale slaughter of buffalo began, followed by moving Indians onto reservations. Marrin's next section "The Coming of the Farmers" is a good example of bias in selection of information to include. He talks about the Homestead Act, how it offered public land to any citizen or immigrant intending to become a citizen.  Public land? Wait! What? How did that happen? I guess it doesn't matter. 

In this section, Marrin includes a sidebar titled "For Want of Rain" that is about the Anasazi. In the sidebar, Marrin writes (page 32): 

The drought drove the Anasazi away, but it is unclear where they went.

Let's see... when did Marrin's book come out? 2009??? What research did he do??? From Wikipedia to the online Encyclopedia Brittanica, I see something I've known for a long time.... the Anasazi are ancestors of the Pueblo people! (That's me. Pueblo person, Debbie Reese, enrolled at Nambe, established in its present location in 1200 AD). 

What do you think so far? I'm on page 32 of a book that 128 pages long. One fourth of the book, and, I think its kind of a mess. Worthy of a medal? I don't think so, and I'm not even at the part of the book that Jonathan Hunt quoted from! I'll flip to that page...


Oh but wait!!! As I flip pages, I spy with my little eye on page 55 and 56, some more Indians. On page 55 is a sidebar "The Hopi Snake Dance." Marrin provides a photograph of "a snake priest." The caption is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy telling us about snake dances. I wonder what my Hopi friend, Matt Sakiestewa Gilbert, would think about this: 


These dances are prayers or invocations for rain, the crowning blessing in this dry land. The rain is adored and invoked both as male and female; the gentle steady downpour is the female, the storm with the lightning the male... The snakes, the brothers of men, as are all living things in the Hopi creed, are besought to tell the beings of the underworld man's need of water.


On page 56 is an 1899 photograph of a Hopi "snake priest with a snake in his mouth in the Hopi snake dance." Hmmmm...  Does Marrin know that those photographs are off limits? That the Hopi people disallowed photographs of their dances because those photographers did not understand what they were photographing and/or describing???


On page 102 is something rather intriguing about this famous photograph.




Taken by Dorothea Lange, it is known as "Migrant Mother." Lange was working for the Farm Security Administration, documenting the lives of Dust Bowl refugees. Lange described the woman as a hungry, desperate mother who told Lange that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the fields, and, birds her children killed. She has just sold the tires from their car to buy food. The photo was taken at a pea picker's labor camp in California.



But!!! Marrin tells us...


Forty years later, the two older children in Lange's photo remembered the incident differently. Their mother was FLorence Owens Means, a full-blooded Native American who had left Oklahoma ten years earlier, and so was no Dust Bowl refugee, as the photo suggests. The family had not been living on frozen peas and dead birds. Nor had Mrs. Thompson sold her tires. Her husband had taken the car for repairs, and she had moved to the pea camp from another camp. Before leaving, she had left word for her husband to come to the new location. She looked worried in the picture because she was not sure he got the message.


Lange, the children recalled, had promised not to publish the photo, but had done exactly that. It appeared on March 10, 1936, in the San Francisco News, agove First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's weekly "My Day" column. Thompson saw the picture and felt betrayed. For the rest of her life, she resented Lange's use of her image for publicity. Thompson was an active woman, who had helped organize farmworkers' unions. "She was a very strong woman," said daughter Katherine, seen in the photo of her mother's right shoulder. "She was a leader. I think that's one of the reasons she resented the photo--because it didn't show her in that light. (5) "What upsets us is that people are making money out of our mother's pain," (6) said daughter Katherine. 


I did not know anything about that woman being Native... I'm going to have to look into that! I'll see what I find and follow up when I have more information.

Again, back to the reason I started this particular study...  The speech attributed to Seattle. Hunt quoted Marrin who cited Gore who doesn't cite anybody. 


Here's what Gore wrote on page 259:


Native American religions, for instance, offer a rich tapestry of ideas about our relationship to the earth. One of the most moving and frequently quoted explanations was attributed to Chief Seattle in 1855, when President Franklin Pierce stated that he would buy the land of Chief Seattle's tribe. The power of his response has survived numerous translations and retellings:



How can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people...


If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his firt breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. 

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. 

One thing we know: Our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

  
A few years ago, Jean Mendoza and I did some work on Brother Eagle Sister Sky, illustrated by Susan Jeffers. My copy of that book is at the office, so I can't do a line by line comparison of Gore's excerpt to the text in Brother Eagle...  

I will, however, point you to our analysis. It is in our article, Examining Multicultural Picture Books for the Early Childhood Classroom: Possibilities and Pitfalls, published in Early Childhood Research & Practice, Volume 3, #2, Fall, 2001.  In it, we talk about several children's picture books. Here's what we said about Brother Eagle, Sister Sky:


The text of Brother Eagle, Sister Sky has an interesting history. According to a 1993 memorandum from the Washington/Northwest Collections office of the Washington State Library (see Appendix I), at least four versions of the speech attributed to Seattle have appeared through history. In January of 1854, he spoke at length during negotiations involving the Suquamish, the Duwamish, and the U.S. government. Historians agree that the speech was translated into Chinook jargon "on the spot" since Seattle did not speak English. The first print version of what he said was not published until October 29, 1887, in a Seattle Sunday Star column by Dr. Henry A. Smith, a witness to the 1854 speech who had reconstructed and translated the speech from his notes. In the late 1960s, poet William Arrowsmith rewrote the speech in a somewhat more contemporary style, though it is still similar to Smith's version (Ellen Levesque, personal communication, September 29, 1993).
Later, Ted Perry created another version for "Home," a historical program about the northwest rain forest televised in 1971 (Jones & Sawhill, 1992). This version was constructed as if it were a letter to President Franklin Pierce, though "no such letter was ever written by or for Chief Seattle" (Ellen Levesque, personal communication, September 29, 1993). A shortened edition of the "letter" was exhibited at Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington.

At the end of Brother Eagle, Sister Sky, Susan Jeffers writes, "The origins of Chief Seattle's words are partly obscured by the mists of time." She mentions Smith's version and states that, like Joseph Campbell and unnamed others, she has adapted the message. Readers and listeners are left with the impression that the book offers perhaps an abridged version of the actual speech. The Suquamish tribe's Web site reproduces the 1854 1887 version, which addresses with great depth of feeling the state of Native-White relations in that place and time. In it, Seattle reluctantly, and perhaps with some anger, agrees that he and his people will move to a reservation, on the condition that they be able to visit their ancestors' graves without interference. Environmental responsibility does not appear to be the topic.



Take a look, too, at what Paul Chaat Smith wrote about the book. At the top of his page is a quote from Brother Eagle, Sister Sky that is a lot like what Gore quoted. Sigh. Big, big sigh. 


Sloppy research by Gore. Sloppy research by Marrin. Should Marrin's book be considered for any award, from anyone? I don't think so. If you have read Marrin's book, and want to weigh in on the discussion, head over to Team Nonfiction: The Second Wave.



I'll post there, letting readers there know that I've done this post.



------------
Update, 12:27 PM CST, December 7, 2009
Julia Good Fox directed me to a NY Review of Books essay about Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Mother photograph. Here's some of it, but do read the entire essay. Interesting!

In 1958 the hitherto nameless woman surfaced as Florence Thompson, author of an angry letter, written in amateur legalese, to the magazine U.S. Camera, which had recently republished Migrant Mother:
...It was called to My attention...request you Recall all the un-Sold Magazines...should the picture appear in Any magazine again I and my Three Daughters shall be Forced to Protect our rights...Remove the magazine from Circulation Without Due Permission...
Years later, Thompson's grandson, Roger Sprague, who maintains a Web site called migrantgrandson.com, described what he believed to be her version of the encounter with Lange:
Then a shiny new car (it was only two years old) pulled into the entrance, stopped some twenty yards in front of Florence and a well-dressed woman got out with a large camera. She started taking Florence's picture. With each picture the woman would step closer. Florence thought to herself, "Pay no mind. The woman thinks I'm quaint, and wants to take my picture." The woman took the last picture not four feet away then spoke to Florence: "Hello, I'm Dorothea Lange, I work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the plight of the migrant worker. The photos will never be published, I promise."
Some of these details ring false, and Sprague has his own interest in promoting a counternarrative, but the essence of the passage, with its insistence on the gulf of class and wealth between photographer and subject, sounds broadly right. "The woman thinks I'm quaint" might be the resentful observation of every goatherd, shepherd, and leech-gatherer faced with a well-heeled poet or documentarian on his or her turf.
It also emerged that Florence Thompson was not just a representative "Okie," as Lange had thought, but a Cherokee Indian, born on an Oklahoma reservation. So, in retrospect, Migrant Mother can be read as intertwining two "mythical cult-figures": that of the refugee sharecropper from the Dust Bowl (though Thompson had originally come to California with her first husband, a millworker, in 1924) and that of the Noble Red Man. There is a strikingly visible connection, however unnoticed by Lange, between her picture of Florence Thompson and Edward S. Curtis's elaborately staged sepia portraits of dignified Native American women in tribal regalia in his extensive collection The North American Indian (1900–1930), perhaps the single most ambitious—and contentious—work of American pastoral ever created by a visual artist.

Jean Mendoza's visit to La Push and Forks

My friend, Jean Mendoza, was up in La Push and Forks recently. She sent me some notes and photographs of her visit. I am featuring them today...


The Cullen kids would have had to call in sick to school on both days we spent in and around Forks, Washington. Beautiful bright sunshine…. First Beach, Ruby Beach, and Kalaloch (say “clay-lock”) sparkled, and Edward’s shimmeriness would be as nothing compared to that of the waves crashing on the beach at midmorning.Jacob’s wolfen crew would have had to contend with a salmon derby in LaPush: fisherman from all over crowding the tiny reservation town that sits at the mouth of the Quillayute River.

Vampire and werewolf alike would seek in vain for forested shelter along the road between Forks and LaPush. The forest has been clearcut and mile after mile is nothing but graying, decaying stumps and snags of cedar and pine sticking up among ragged-looking green scrub that grows about 3 feet high. Hills in the distance do have some tree cover, some of it 2nd or 3rd growth forest. Once in awhile, passing a clearcut one can spot a bit of Dadaist endeavor: a boulder that must weigh 300 pounds, balanced atop a 4-foot-high flat cedar stump. Sometimes there’s a smaller rock (150-200 pounds, maybe) perched on the larger boulder. This is clearly the work of humans, but why?

Impressions of Forks:
  • Ubiquitous movie posters in windows of businesses including a Chinese restaurant. Bella! Edward! Jacob, not so much.
  • Life-size cutouts of the actors who play Bella and Edward, positioned in the 2nd-floor windows of a popular off-the-main-drag Twilight-themed shop
  • At least five different businesses with “Twilight” in the name, including a karaoke bar
  • Various forms of “Welcome Twilight fans” on signs and in windows of businesses that don’t actually sell Twilight stuff
  • Motels that mention Twilight on their signs
  • Twilight paper napkins, shot glasses, coffee mugs sold in virtually every shop
  • Advertisements for a Forks-based tour business which for a price will take you to places in town that might have been (but were not actually) the bases for various sites in the books
  • A Timber Museum featuring some artifacts of the timber industry, lifeblood of Forks for more than a century. The museum seems neglected, especially the monument to those who lost their lives in work-related accidents, with its faded decade-by-decade roster of the dead inside an outdoor plexiglass case. I would have thought that the monument at least would be cared for still.
  • The bearded, early-forties middle school librarian, owner of a 1916 Craftsman style home in Forks that is now known as “Bella’s house” (because an entrepreneur decided that it outshone all others in looking like the home described in the books), who tells me that
    • Twilight has been a real boost for the town’s motels and restaurants – usually they experience up-down cycles based on lumber, hunting, fishing, and general OP tourism but Twilight tourism is steady year-round
    • When he read the first book, he was not overly impressed but thought, “Well, it’s okay, but I’ll have to buy it for the school because it’s set in Forks”
    • The books seem to be just as popular locally as nationally
    • The Twilight tourist explosion started even before the movie was made and has increased with perhaps a different flavor after the movie.

Impressions of LaPush (from 2008 and 2009)
  • A small reservation town (population in the low-to-mid hundreds) right on the water, with a lot of blue buildings and a few small houses
  • Very small harbor
  • Resort (multiple oceanfront cabins, a motel, a restaurant) providing the tribe with some income
  • Resort employee who assures me monosyllabically that I will not see whales in late September if we stay there in late September
  • Bald eagle soaring over water between LaPush and James Island; gulls and a few Canada geese
  • Quileute waitress, a very nice and earnest young woman, in the restaurant who tells us that LaPush is a corruption of the French “la bouche” which refers to “the mouth” of the Quillayate River; invites us to come to the tribe’s annual celebration
  • Pretty good salmon dinner in the tribally-owned restaurant
  • Site of an annual salmon derby which has apparently filled the motel for the 2009 weekend we hoped to stay there
  • A LaPush based tour business that will take you on a boat ride to see “Bella’s cliff” and other sites for a mere $250
  • “Jacob’s Java” coffee stand run by two tribal members – new for 2009
  • A newspaper “The Talking Raven” being revived after a hiatus by a young journalist
  • Not nearly as interesting to Twilight fans as Forks is
  • Straightforward tribal Web site includes downloadable tsunami evacuation instructions

Jean passed along a few photographs, too. The motels advertise "Twilight Rooms" and signs say "Home of Twilight" and the like...  Check out the one below from the pharmacy...  First aid for Bella? She needs more than first aid, in my opinion....





I like this one:





This one is interesting....  8.5 vampires---is the .5 the baby Bella carries?!





I can imagine fans loving this one... see Bella in the window?





Thanks, Jean, for all of those photographs of what one of the signs called "The Twilight Zone." I'm ending this particular post with one of Jean's photographs...  One that I like. I'd love to visit La Push someday.




-----
If you want to read more on the ways that the Quileute's are portrayed in the series, look over to the right side of this page. Scroll up or down till you see the section labeled TWILIGHT SAGA. There you'll see several links to posts about the series.










Quileute elder on Quileute stories

Thanks to Miriam B. for letting me know about two newspaper articles in the Peninsula Daily News, published in Port Angeles, Washington. (For the not-Twilight fans, Port Angeles is one of the settings Meyer used in her Twilight saga.) I think both of these articles were published on November 29th.



First is "Twilight fiction doesn't always jibe with Quileute legend." In this article, Paige Dickerson (the reporter) talked with Chris Morganroth III (shown above) about Quileute stories. Here's some excerpts from the article:

The Quileute people are ready to embrace the fans and teach them the real legends -- which do not include the werewolves Meyer's books describe.

Though the legends about the origins of the Quileute people in the best-selling vampire books set in Forks and LaPush have some resemblance to the real stories -- they both involve wolves -- the tribe wants to make sure fans are aware of the rich reality of their true culture.
Dickerson talks a little about Twilight, but devotes most of her article to what Morganroth said about the origin of the Quileutes. Here's that excerpt:

Quileute beginnings

If you begin to look into the stories and how we got to be here, they go back to the beginnings of time.

Before that, Spirit beings could transform themselves into animals or people at will. There were even living beings in outer space, such as the sun. They called those people the fire sky people.

After some time, the Spirit beings had to choose what they would be and were no longer able to transform.

After this, K'wati came into the area of LaPush and found that there were no humans. He went to the mouth of the river and there were wolves, timber wolves.

Now these wolves always travel in pairs and they mate for life.

K'wati saw that there were no people in this area near LaPush. So he transformed that pair of wolves into the Quileute people.

K'wati is a supernatural figure in Quileute stories who transforms people or objects.

K'wati wasn't a "sorcerer" or "witch king," as Meyer's has it.

"He wasn't really a god, but a transformer -- he was put on Earth to make things better," Morganroth said.

Although Meyer's teen werewolves are not part of Quileute legends, she draws from the tribal connection to wolves.

Even in present times, the wolf is often referred to as a brother of the tribe, as is the orca -- which also is said to have descended from the wolf, Morganroth said.

The New Moon werewolves aren't your average, hairy-faced cross between a man and a wolf. The boys "phase" into bear-sized wolves with enough superpowers to kill vampires.

And they developed out of a need to protect the people of Forks and LaPush from vampires.

The Quileute have no such legend.

The second article, What did Jacob say to Bella?, begins by describing the Quileute response to that question. If you've seen New Moon, you know that Jacob says something to Bella in the Quileute language. Fans are determined to figure out what he said. The Quileute's won't say. The bulk of the article is about the premiere of the film, specifically, about the Quileute's who attended the premier in Los Angeles.  According to the newspaper article, they had a great time. What stands out to me is what Page Foster (a thirteen-year-old Quileute member who went to the premiere) experienced:

Foster said that her father, Tony Foster, who is on the tribal council, showed several his business card from the council.


"They were so shocked that he was the real deal," Foster said.




The fans were shocked. A telling statement! A telling statement that should motivate you to do all you can to teach children and teens in your schools and libraries that the Indigenous Peoples of the United States are very much "the real deal." Instead of myths and legends (many of which are deeply flawed), purchase books written by Native writers. See my list of recommended books, and another list I put together for School Library Journal last year.


My most recent post about Twilight  (We saw New Moon on Friday) includes several links, including one to the Quileute Nation's facebook page, essays on the Native content in the books, and links to my previous posts about the book.


I should note, too, that I do not recommend Meyer's books or the films. The Quileute's are doing what they can to make the best of the situation. So is the town of Forks. My friend, Jean Mendoza,visited Forks recently. She wasn't making a pilgrimage as a fan of Twilight. She was in the area to visit family. Jean sent me some notes and photos of her visit. They're going to be featured in my next post about Twilight.

---------
If you want to read more on the ways that the Quileute's are portrayed in the series, look over to the right side of this page. Scroll up or down till you see the section labeled TWILIGHT SAGA. There you'll see several links to posts about the series.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Chamoru Childhood


On Tuesday of this week (December 1st), I was given an astounding gift. My colleague and friend, Keith L. Camacho, came into my office and handed me, John McKinn and Matt Sakiestewa Gilbert copies of Chamoru Childhood, edited by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero,  and Craig Santos Perez. John flipped through it right away and noticed that Keith has a poem in the book. We asked him to read it aloud to us.

The book and his reading were (and are) terrific gifts that will warm my heart whenever I think of that day. Keith has a deep, warm voice and a terrific sense of pace.


I met Keith in August when he joined us in American Indian Studies as a post doctoral fellow. He is a Chamorro scholar from the Mariana Islands and is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. His area of expertise concerns the study of colonization, decolonization and militarization in the Pacific Islands, with an emphasis on indigenous narratives of survival and sovereignty.

And as I learned that day, he is also a poet. His "my friend, jose"  is a thoughtful piece about how money and some experiences can corrupt us, turn us into something else.


Published by Achiote Press, Chamoru Childhood includes poems and stories by three generations of Chamorus. The last piece in the book is by Samantha Marley Barnett, who was eleven years old when the book went to press. Samantha's "The Stick" is a letter that starts "Dear Everyone," and recounts a game that sent her (inadvertently) to the hospital with a gash on her head. I leave you to imagine the details! Playing with sticks is something we did a lot at Nambe Pueblo, so, reading "The Stick" I found myself laughing out loud.

I laughed a lot, too, reading "The Back of the Pick-up" by Evelyn Sam Miguel Flores. Other than the beach, that particular story could have been me, my cousins, and one of my uncles---again---at Nambe!

Some of the stories are sad or painful to read. Coming from three generations of Chamorus, they provide a broad and deep story of the Chamorus experiences. Meeting Keith and talking with him, I'm learning a lot about the Chamoru people, Guam, and some more ugly truths about the United States and its treatment of Indigenous peoples in the Mariana Islands. 

A chapbook, Chamoru Childhood is ten dollars. In November, it was in the spotlight on Critical Mass: The blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors. See "In the Spotlight: I HEART Poetry Chapbooks, by Rigoberto Gonzales.

Order a copy from Achiote Press. I'm pretty sure most libraries have nothing at all like it... That is, I'm sure most libraries have nothing at all written by Chamoru writers. You should. We should all know more about Guam and the Mariana Islands.

[Update, December 6, 8:47 AM----A reader wrote to ask who (age group) the book's audience is....  Chamoru Childhood is not a picture book, but I would definitely read-aloud "The Stick" to a group of children in elementary school. As for who-would-I-hand-the-book-to, I'd say middle and high school students and of course, adults.]

Friday, December 04, 2009

American Indians in Children's Literature in TRIBAL COLLEGE JOURNAL


The Winter 2009 online issue of Tribal College Journal includes a link to American Indians in Children's Literature. The link is in an article by Michael W. Simpson, J.D., M. Ed. Titled "Evaluating Classroom Materials for Bias Against American Indians," it is a resource guide.

Read the history of Tribal College Journal on its Our History page.   It is published by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), which is comprised of 35 Indian-controlled colleges in the United States and Canada. Spend time on the site! There's a lot to learn about tribal colleges... 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We saw NEW MOON on Friday...

Friday afternoon, daughter Liz and I went to see New Moon. Sitting next to each other in the dark, we heckled, rolled our eyes, and laughed in the wrong parts. Not wanting to draw the ire of others in the theater, we weren't obnoxious. We kept our critiques relatively quiet.

Once settled in our seats, Liz said she wished we could live-blog our viewing. She's right! That would have been cool. I don't know how theater managers feel about such things, but maybe its worth finding out.

Perhaps the best line in the film is the one delivered by Graham Greene. When he learns that the Cullens have left, he says "Good riddance." Later in the movie, while on the hunt for the bear the townspeople think is killing people, he is attacked by Victoria, one of the vampires that kills humans. She's not a Cullen. (Remember, the Cullens are good vampires. They don't attack humans. They drink animal blood.) Greene plays the part of Harry Clearwater.

When Jacob whispers to Bella in another language, Liz and I wondered "was that supposed to be Quileute?!" Looking at the Quileute Nation's facebook page, the status is:
"Dear Fans: Thank you for all the calls and emails regarding the scene in the movie where Jacob whispers to Bella in Quileute. Please know, we would love to translate the phrase for you, but out of respect for Jacob's feelings for Bella we are unable to at this time."

There are several Native men in New Moon. I hope the massive exposure creates opportunities for them to do other films. (The woman in the film who is saying she is Native... well, it looks like that may not be the case.)  

I don't recommend the books or the film for many reasons. Of course I make that statement based on the Native content of them, but there are other reasons as well. This is a good analysis:  Running With the Wolves - A Racialicious Reading of the Twilight Saga.

And last year, I blogged about a couple of sites about the Native content. One of those essays is also excerpted in Running With the Wolves (linked above).
Terrific essays about Meyer's character, Jacob.

The Quileute Nation has been inundated with fans of the film. A few weeks ago, I pointed readers of American Indians in Children's Literature to a statement on the Quileute's website: "Has Stephanie Meyer Seen this?" More recently, it looks like the Quileute's are doing what they can to address the flood of visitors to their reservation. I've been following the Quileute Nation facebook page for awhile now, and traffic is definitely up. Its amusing, reading what people write on the wall...

-----
If you want to read more on the ways that the Quileute's are portrayed in the series, look over to the right side of this page. Scroll up or down till you see the section labeled TWILIGHT SAGA. There you'll see several links to posts about the series.