Where are the Natives in Hamilton?

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.15 Comments

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I have not seen the highly acclaimed, Tony-award winning, ground breaking, race-bending new musical Hamilton. Not due to lack of trying. I enter the digital lottery nearly every single day on my phone, though if I do somehow win it will mean the most panicked four hours of my life trying to get from Providence to NYC in time for the show. But that’s an aside. What I have done is listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times (not exaggerating), as well as listened to interviews of Lin Manuel Miranda on Another Round–we’re fellow Another Round alums!–and a couple other places.

I truly have had the soundtrack on repeat for months, including right now, except for “Quiet Uptown,” because sad. So, while I haven’t seen the show, I feel like I’ve consumed enough media surrounding the actual production to offer this review–or offer this question, really. But I will add these disclaimers: I have not seen the show. I have not read the HamilTome with insight from Miranda into the writing and production of the show. I have not read the Hamilton book that inspired the show. So, if I’m wrong or there are specifics I don’t know about, feel free to let me know (Or take me with you to see it? Please?).

But, I still feel qualified to ask: Where the heck are the Native people in Hamilton?

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WaPo’s new Redsk*ns survey: Faulty data and missing the point

In indian mascots by Adrienne K.63 Comments

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This morning I woke up to phone notifications. Blinking awake, I clicked over to twitter on my phone, and was greeted with the news: “New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name.” I sat up, let the phone fall in my lap, and said some choice words that I won’t print here.

The Washington Post has apparently devoted a lot of time and resources to conducting a “nationally representative” poll of “Native Americans” to find out whether or not they find the Redsk*ns name offensive. In their survey of 504 “Native Americans,” they found that 90% did not find the name offensive. They published a follow up  that gives the details on the survey and answers some FAQ.

Before I dive in, a note: This is not something I should have to do. For the last 7 years I’ve been writing this blog we’ve made huge gains in the way the public thinks about Native peoples and Native mascots. It’s been the hard, hard work of a huge community of activists and community members for decades, and I just don’t understand why WaPo felt the need to do this poll. More on this in a minute, but we’ve got psychological studies, tribal council votes, thousands of Native voices, and common decency and respect on our side, yet that was not enough. The Washington Post needed their OWN survey. The perspectives of Native peoples, who this effects directly, apparently aren’t enough.

So the poll. WaPo has generously provided (that’s not sarcasm) the actual questions, the breakdown by demographics for each, so feel free to explore. Look here.

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Magic in North America Part 1: Ugh.

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.480 Comments

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Yesterday I wrote about the trailer for JK Rowling’s new multi-part background pieces on Pottermore, entitled “Magic in North America.” You should read the post here if you need context. Even before that, back in June, I wrote about my concerns with the bringing of the “magic universe” to the States. You can read that here.

So this morning at 9am, part one of this mess was released. It’s really short, I don’t know what I was expecting, but definitely go over and read it in full.

There are a number of things that stand out and deeply concern me, but the response to my critiques on my twitter timeline is even worse. I’ll talk about that after I walk you through the text. Because, like with everything I critique, it’s not just the mascot/image/text/movie/fashion itself, it’s the response, how it’s used, and the impact. This has the perfect storm of all of those categories. I really could write a dissertation about this, but I have a million papers to grade and work to do, so a quick rundown:Read More

“Magic in North America”: The Harry Potter franchise veers too close to home

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.117 Comments

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Remember back in June when it was announced that the new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts had an American Wizarding school? Remember how I was concerned? If you don’t, here’s a link to that post. Basics of my argument were:

The problem, Jo (can I call you Jo? I hope so), is that we as Indigenous peoples are constantly situated as fantasy creatures. Think about Peter Pan, where Neverland has mermaids, pirates…and Indians. Or on Halloween, children dress up as monsters, zombies, princesses, disney characters…and Indians. Beyond the positioning as “not real,” there is also a pervasive and problematic narrative wherein Native peoples are always “mystical” and “magical” and “spiritual”–able to talk to animals, conjure spirits, perform magic, heal with “medicine” and destroy with “curses.” Think about Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas, or Tonto talking to his bird and horse in The Lone Ranger, or the wolfpack in Twilight…or any other number of examples.

But we’re not magical creatures, we’re contemporary peoples who are still here, and still practice our spiritual traditions, traditions that are not akin to a completely imaginary wizarding world (as badass as that wizarding world is). In a fact I quote often on this blog, it wasn’t until 1978 that we as Native peoples were even legally allowed to practice our religious beliefs or possess sacred objects like eagle feathers. Up until that point, there was a coordinated effort through assimilation policies, missionary systems, and cultural genocide to stamp out these traditions, and with them, our existence as Indigenous peoples. We’ve fought and worked incredibly hard to maintain these practices and pass them on.

So I get worried thinking about the message it sends to have “indigenous magic” suddenly be associated with the Harry Potter brand and world. Because the other piece I deal with on this blog is the constant commodification of our spiritual practices too. There is an entire industry of plastic shamans selling ceremonies, or places like Urban Outfitters selling “smudge kits” and fake eagle feathers. As someone who owns a genuine time-turner, I know that marketing around Harry Potter is a billion dollar enterprise, and so I get nervous thinking about the marketing piece. American fans are going to be super stoked at the existence of a wizarding school on this side of the pond, and I’m sure will want to snatch up anything related to it–which I really hope doesn’t include Native-inspired anything.

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“9 Questions Natives have for White People” and White fragility: That time I was in Buzzfeed videos

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.13 Comments

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(That’s me! I’m a gif! I’ve made it!)

You might have noticed lately that Buzzfeed has been putting out a lot more race and social justice themed content, and even has included a series of videos featuring Native folks: “Native Americans Try on Indian Costumes,” “Native Americans react to Indian mascots,” “If Native Americans said the things white people say,” and a few others. They’re largely the result of some very hard work by Chris Lam, one of the staffers at Buzzfeed Video, in collaboration with local Los Angeles-based Native folks (who you see featured in the videos). Chris is a great example of allyship–prior to working on these videos he had little experience with Native communities, and has really taken a role of learner in the process, defaulting to the Native voices and keeps challenging himself to learn more and push Buzzfeed to feature more Native pieces. I love it.

So when I was home in Southern California for winter break, I headed over to the Buzzfeed studios in LA to meet up with Chris and some of the Native team for a brainstorming session and to film a couple of videos, both of which have now been posted: “9 Questions Native Americans Have for White People” and “I’m Native but I’m Not…”. Here’s 9 Questions:Read More

The Next Chapter: #employed

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.14 Comments

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Six years ago when I started Native Appropriations, I was a first year graduate student fed up with feeling invisible and voiceless in my doctoral classroom. Since that time, I’ve gone from semi-anonymous graduate student “Adrienne K.” to scholar-blogger Dr. Adrienne Keene, and in many ways this blog has served as a catalog of that journey. I’ve watched my own voice and knowledge grow in these online communities, and the conversations around cultural appropriation move from whispers in academic circles to a full blown roar in mainstream media (for better or worse). And through it all, we’ve built a community, one where we know that representations matter, and are not only worthy of our time and attention, but are tied in with our continued struggles and survival as Indigenous peoples.

Behind the scenes, these last six years have not been easy. I struggled through graduate school, have pushed through my postdoc, and many times felt lonely, insecure, and afraid of the choices that lay ahead. I lived in four states, seven apartments, and moved five times in one calendar year, and haven’t felt “settled” (ignore the irony of that word choice) in a very, very long time. This job search has been beyond stressful, and has meant many sleepless nights and a constant state of anxiousness for months on end. But it ends with very good news. Read More

On Apache Pizza and the Globalization of American Indian Cultural Appropriation

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.17 Comments

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By Adam Hoffman, Guest Contributor 

This was it…I had finally made it to Ireland! As an American, it had always been my dream to travel abroad and tour Europe. At the age of 25, I was well overdue to see a different part of the world. And, as a budding psychologist who studies the development of ethnic and racial identity in youth, I was excited to experience and learn more about the Irish culture and its people.

I had just spent a week in England and flew from London to Dublin, Ireland. A bus from the airport dropped me off in the center of Dublin. I could barely contain my excitement as I set off to explore the city. I walked about for a few minutes with the destination of Dame Street in mind, as it is known as to be a quintessential “Irish” street. While walking there, I had visions of quaint, narrow cobblestone streets lined with Irish pub after Irish pub; surely I was in for a true Irish treat. I found my way to the intersection and turned the corner onto Dame Street. The first thing I saw hit me like a big, red, double-decker London bus—a business called ‘Apache Pizza’.

Wait…what?

Before I go any further, allow me to elaborate briefly on the concept of cultural appropriation for those folks reading who are not as familiar. Cultural appropriation occurs when the dominant culture takes or exploits elements of a minority culture without permission and has very little understanding about what it is that they are appropriating. Thus, cultural appropriations are often very problematic as they can promote misrepresentations and (typically negative) stereotypes about the minority culture.Read More

Black Indigeneity Part II (Or Back to Back)

In Guest Posts, Uncategorized by Adrienne K.10 Comments

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Dennis Banks and Stokely Carmichael

AK Note: This post is a follow up to Kyle’s post over the summer entitled The Political Discourses of Black Indigeneity, And Why It Matters”. If you haven’t read that post, I’d encourage you to head over there first. Part of why I love the format of blogging is the ability to reflect about my own writing, and to respond and more deeply develop thoughts I put out in earlier posts, so I’m happy to extend that opportunity to others too. 

By Dr. Kyle Mays, Guest Contributor

Let me get right to the point: I am writing this piece for those who have made interesting, provocative, wack, even insightful comments about the commentary on Black Indigeneity that I wrote for Dr. Adrienne Keene’s Native Appropriations blog this past summer. In particular, I want to respond to at least three comments: that I’ve internalized (white) racism, that Black people are not settlers, and how some Native people use my critical analysis to support their anti-Blackness. In the spirit of Hip Hop culture and competition, I’m bout to go Back to Back…Of course my title is ripping off of Drake’s summer diss track of Philly rapper Meek Mill. I got Seven points to make.

 

  1. Black-Indigenous Relations. The world does not revolve solely around Afro-Indigenous peoples, especially those connected to the Five Tribes. I respect that unique struggle, and have written about it. Google it. But I have also written elsewhere that there are other conversations that need to be had, too. So, if you want to read more about Afro-Indigenous relations and peoples among the Five Tribes, go check out the work of Tiya Miles and a host of other scholars. For contemporary people, holla at Marilyn Vann, who has been on the forefront of Afro-Cherokee and Cherokee Freedmen rights; she’s dope. I love my Afro-Five Tribes and Freedmen peeps, but that’s not my major concern. There are many dimensions to “Black indigeneity,” and my aim is to document and explore other parts of it.

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To the Native people in “Indian” Costumes

In Long form essays, Uncategorized by Adrienne K.56 Comments

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It’s Sunday, November 1, and I’m scrolling through my various social media feeds, looking at the adorable, creative, fun, and smart costumes of all of my friends (and their babies) from Halloween last night. I’m heartened and happy by the series of texts I received, and the tweets and status updates I was tagged in, talking about confronting cultural appropriation in costumes. But I also am noticing a troubling trend, one that I have always noticed, but seems more prevalent this year: there are far too many people using their Native ancestry as a defense for their Pocahottie or Indian warrior costume. So I decided we need to have a conversation about the complexities of this, and the reasons why this is not ok. Read More

Repost: Step away from the “Indian” costume!

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.18 Comments

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(I know you just want to look as cool as this guy. He’s SO COOL. ::eyeroll::)

Originally posted 10/21/14

Hey. It’s me again. It’s that time of year. You might be saying to yourself, “Hey! What should I wear for Halloween this year?!?!” and some of you might be like, “OMG, I’ll be an INDIAN.”

No.

Don’t know why? I’ve got 8 posts about why. Detailing every angle and possibility of why you might think it’s ok. It’s not. Feel free to peruse/browse/read/repost, and hopefully learn!

Indian costumes

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