Archives For May 2011

I’m currently in NorCal (I was presenting at the NAISA conference in Sacramento–our Native Bloggers panel went really well, thanks for all your help!). I went to get a quick lunch in Palo Alto before I headed to the airport, and spotted this sign as I was walking down University Ave. Notice anything weird?

The local Lululemon store has a running club–cool. But today, Palo Alto High School (our favorite!) is hosting an Indian Run.

So what’s an “Indian Run,” you ask? It’s a conditioning exercise, where a group of runners jog single file at a steady pace, and then the last runner in line must sprint to the front of the line, taking the place of the first runner, and so on. There are videos on youtube if you need a visual.

My bootcamp class I took in San Francisco used to do these too, but my group graciously decided to rename them “last man sprints” when I pointed out how ridiculous the name was.

The internet has no consensus on the origins of the term, and I can’t really find anything about the exercise other than how it’s done, but I still find it kinda stupid. It has nothing to do with Indians. I think this one is a term that needs to be retired, much like sitting “Indian style” (just call it cross-legged!).

I like the addendum at the end of the Urban Dictionary definition of “Indian Run:”

1. Indian run

An Indian run is when a team (soccer, football, baseball, etc.) joggs in a single file line around a playing field field. It begins when the last person in line sprints to the front. When that person gets there, the next person at the end of the line sprints to the front of the line. This continues as the line jogs around the field. Very tiring.

Not sure if this is a racist term.

Yeah, pretty sure since it has no discernible origins in anything actually Native, we can deduce it’s based off of some stereotype, and therefore fairly racist.

This Friday I’ll be flying back out to Sacramento to participate in the 2011 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Conference, I’m sitting on a panel with Dr. Jessica Metcalfe, who writes Beyond Buckskin, and Dr. Lara Evans who writes Not Artomatic. (Can’t wait until I can write Dr. Adrienne K…only 3-5 more years, ha.)

Here’s our panel description:

Native Blogging

Native writers, scholars, artists and activists are using a new venue to confront issues affecting our daily lives. Through blogs on appropriation, art, fashion, and education, these critics use their blogs to push the Native voice to the forefront and take institutions to task. By investigating the interstices between Native cultures, stereotypes, mass media, and academia, these authors make their research and observations accessible to a broader audience. They also cover holes in commercial/academic publishing and deal with issues at a faster pace than the timeline that it takes to publish a book, or even an academic article. Both Native and non-Native readers subscribe to these blogs and participate in a discussion that involves thinking critically about various topics that affect our daily lives, yet also have larger repercussions.

If you’re at the conference, definitely shoot me an email or tweet, I’d love to meet some of you! Our panel is slated for 8:00-9:45am on Saturday the 21st.

Now here’s the part where I unabashedly ask for your help and bribe you:

I decided tonight that I would really like to incorporate some reader quotes or thoughts into the presentation, so if you’ve got a second, feel free to comment any thoughts about Native Appropriations, how you might have used it in school, or life, or wherever, your favorite posts, the ones that pissed you off the most, how you’d like the blog to improve, what you ate for breakfast, anything really–I just would like some more voices than my own in the presentation.

…and there’s a PRIZE! I’ll randomly select a commenter to win an Ours To Build On t-shirt (an awesome campaign I’m helping out with for the Cherokee Nation, and they sent me a bunch of fun goodies). Or maybe I’ll pick an anecdote I like best. Or maybe only one person will comment and you’ll get a shirt! omg! how fun!

Thanks in advance for your help and thoughts, this blog would be nowhere without you!

Also, you’ve got 3 days. Think fast. :)

Last year about this time, I posted about some local high school girls who decided to dress up and play Indian at Stanford’s powwow. The post caused a huge ruckus, I ended up getting “legal threats” from the girls’ parents, and a lot of people hated me for a minute. But since the internet has a memory of about 2 weeks, if that, it blew over and everyone forgot. But being the person that I am, I’m stirring the pot again, and have a couple of offenders from this year’s powwow.

First we’ve got the guy above, all decked out in his floor length chicken feather headdress, warpaint, and a serape (equally opportunity appropriator–pulling in the south of the border Indigenous peoples). Spotted Friday night by a couple of the undergrads, and gladly posed for a picture with them.

Then this girl, taken on my cell phone, so much of the effect is lost. But she had multi-colored feathers in her hair and warpaint on her face, and right before I snapped the picture, was war whooping (hand over mouth, other hand in the air) to her friend across the way (who was also wearing feathers and paint). There were a couple more I spotted, especially out in the dance circle during inter-tribals (where everyone, including spectators, is invited to dance), including a guy wearing a poncho/serape with a cowboy hat, and beating a hand-drum, and another guy with an entire coyote or puma or something (very dead) draped over his back.

In the grand scheme of powwows, Stanford powwow tends to have a lower ratio of wannabes “liberally interpreting” Indianess (i.e. creating an image of what they think an Indian is based off things they read on the internet and supplies they can find at a craft shop) than some powwow’s I’ve been to, but it still makes me angry.

I still don’t know why people think it’s ok to don feathers and warpaint and come to a Native community cultural event. I still maintain that it would be exactly the same as donning blackface and wandering into a Black community event. These people are dressing up as a race other than their own, based off of egregious and racist stereotypes from hollywood and other forms of pop culture. All they have to do is look out in the powwow dance circle to see that they look nothing like “real” Indians. But the American narrative of “playing Indian” is so ingrained, people don’t seem to see it as taboo, the way blackface remains today.

The other big trend that everyone was sporting were these (really unattractive) feather hair-clips, which unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of, but they were kinda like this:

(if you really like it, you can buy it here for $9.50. Or you could go for a walk in the woods for the feathers and pick up some string and plastic beads and make it for less than a buck…if you like the look of dirty woodland feathers and cheap twine in your hair.)

The vendor booth of people who were selling them was overflowing the whole weekend. They came in a bunch of colors, and had more feathers and were (if you can believe it) more unattractive.

The feather clips don’t inherently bother me, much like these feather hair extensions that are all the rage right now don’t bother me as-is, but it’s the whole aesthetic that the powwow goers were buying into that bothers me. I can bet you anything that those people would not have been nearly as interested in the feather clips if they were at the Stanford Mall instead of the Stanford Powwow. They see it as a “safe” way of playing Indian–though most of them would say “oh, it was just pretty!”–I think it really runs a lot deeper than that.

So, clearly, the idea of dressing up as an Indian at a powwow is still alive and well. Excuse me, I think I’m going to go put on my blonde wig and pearls and go crash a WASP-y cocktail party. What? It doesn’t work that way? ::shakes fist:: Damn you, white privilege!!!

and for a more detailed look at why wearing a headdress is wrong: But why can’t I wear a hipster headdress? 

Earlier: When non-Native Participation in Powwows Goes Terribly Wrong

Spotted this on Pinterest, comes from a company in Omaha called Make Believe Clothing Co. Best part? it’s called the “Geronimo” shirt. Here, I wrote them a note, and re-designed their shirt for them:

Dear Make Believe Clothing Company,

You might need to sit down for this news. It might come as a shock. Guess what? American Indians are not “make believe.” There are real Indians alive today! Omg, I know, right? Your shirt seems to imply that we’re pretend or fantasy characters, so I thought I’d clear that up for you. When I first saw your shirt, I rolled my eyes and sighed really loud in the library. Like this. But then I decided that maybe you weren’t totally ignorant, and maybe you were trying to make some sort of social commentary about how this particular stereotyped image of a Native person is make believe and only bears minimal resemblance to the millions of Native peoples alive today, or even to Geronimo. Cause then that would be borderline cool! But you might need to make it a little more explicit. So I decided to help. Here’s my version of your shit shirt (typo, oops! lol!) :

Ok thanks. 

                 Sincerely,

                 Adrienne K. (a real, live Indian!) 

My new obsession of the moment:“More Than Frybread”. From what I can tell from the trailer, it’s a mockumentary-style film that covers the “World Wide Frybread Association Arizona Chapter Frybread Championship.” It tells the story through following several of the finalists, who are all awesome characters. So far it reminds me a lot of the Christopher Guest movies, which are my fav, so I’m totally sold already. Check it out below:

Hope this helps you get through your Monday (or your finals…if you’re like me)! Can’t wait to see the finished film–the website says it’s coming out this summer.

More Than Frybread Website: http://www.frybreadmovie.com/

(Thanks Scott and F.A.I.R. Media!)