Native Bloggers Panel at NAISA 2011: I need your help!

May 17, 2011 — 11 Comments

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. :)

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09847086002102110406 Jessica

    I have a lot to learn about Native cultures, but I do know that when I see them being appropriated it makes me uncomfortable. I come here to learn (from the posts and the discussions) and to make sure my outrage is well-informed outrage :).

    I like that this blog feels like a spirited but respectful place for both Native and non-Native folks to engage.

    The original Hipster Headdress post is a classic, and a really important piece of writing that I’ve passed around quite a bit.

    I don’t have connections to any Native communities in “real life,” so I appreciate that your blog is available for me to stay informed. Thanks for all you do!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08576028978132661500 Cath

    My college course on American Indian history begins with a great deal of reading about stereotypes – nudging my largely non-Native students to see that when it comes to studying American Indian history they’re starting at -10 (to borrow phrasing from Paul Chaat Smith). Your blog made the theoretical and personal reflections we read accessible and immediately relevant – they saw (in full color, day after day) that mainstream American culture was constantly sending them messages about what was appropriate to think or feel or believe about American Indian nations, histories, and cultures. They had to reflect on the systems of privilege that allowed them to not notice those stories for most of their lives, and hold that in mind as they analyzed other sources.

    It made a huge difference in their thinking. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14085266376221853432 lydz

    First of, thank you so much for the work that you do! I am not native, but am mixed race and i came to your blog as a longtime reader of racialicous. As an undergrad i majored in American studies and had the chance to take native american studies classes taught by native professors. Since college i noticed a serious lack of native perspectives in the media and in my life in general. I really appreciate your personable, relatable and yet deeply informed voice as it has opened my eyes and challenged my perspectives many times. (side note: as a peninsula native ive been particularly intrigued by your coverage of the stanford powpow).
    good luck in all your endeavors and once again, thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12183924406723129765 Waterswaves

    I am Eastern Cherokee and Choctaw. As someone of mixed blood, I’m “not native enough” for some and too native for many. My husband is Sault Ste Marie Chippewa. We both know what it’s like to feel marginalized and left out. I use the Native Appropriations blog, especially the “Hipster Headdress” and racial bingo card posts, to explain my viewpoint better when I encounter people who don’t seem to get it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Even if someone doesn’t get the fact that we are real people and not fantasy people, just reading the blog helps me feel better.

    I have a friend who is currently going through a transition in his life. He frequently posts what song he’s listening to on facebook. There were at least a few people who were surprised by the fact that he liked the band “Disturbed” as if he were only supposed to like traditional drum and flute music. I knew exactly how he felt when he was posting about the reaction he received.

    I have had two break through moments but both were quite a long time ago, at least 10 years or so. One was when a local high school changed their name from the Redskins to the Mavericks. The other was just one person but it made me feel better anyway. A former coworker asked me why native people would want things back that were in museums. They were taken care of there and appreciated. I told her that I knew of someone who had gotten his grandparents bones back from a museum. She said “you mean their however many great grandparents.” And I said no this is an older man and I mean his actual grandparents. Her mouth fell open and she was speechless for a minute. Then she told me she wouldn’t want her own grandparents bones in a museum. I could almost visibly see the connection being made in her mind. We need more people to make that connection. I think the Native Appropriations blog contributes a lot towards the goal of helping people make the connection between their idea of native people and the real people that we are.

    Another incident in my past happened when a preschool teacher came up to me at a workshop I was teaching. She asked me in a very defensive tone “It IS ok if I sing “10 Little Indians” in my classroom isn’t it?” I am known for being nice and not liking conflict but I still stood my ground. I said “well actually no it isn’t, would you sing 10 little Jews?” She glared at me and flounced off. Looking back, I wish I’d had this blog to refer to then.

    Thank you for all of the hard work you do, Adrienne. It is much appreciated.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03246750969896204121 Lindsay

    Your blog means so much. I grew up in a mixed family that was very assimilated, and as someone who fought appropriations within my own family and then continued to do so out in “the real world”, I have felt very alone. I feel so grateful to have built a community around myself of individuals who understand what that feels like both here in Seattle and in places like this blog. This blog makes me feel better ALL THE TIME! It gives me a place to share my anger, to calm myself down after the many times I am shamed or put down for calling out appropriations, and to be a part of productive dialogue and solutions. I cannot believe the resistance I meet when fighting appropriation, and you have created a place here that is safe from that. And powerful against it! Anyway, thank you. Have fun at this conference and keep up the incredible work!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03379314479257695986 Autumn

    Your blog has helped give me language to express dissatisfaction with, well, native appropriations. I’m Caddo and white but appear white, and indeed culturally “am” white, whatever that means. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I feel isolated in being native in my chosen culture, but I also don’t have a lot of practice or practical support for exploring the issues you examine on your blog. You’ve helped me see A) where there’s a problem, and B) that the times I have a funny feeling about an appropriate, it’s probably because there’s something there to feel funny about and not me just looking for it. (I’m thinking of hipster headdresses here–I’ve seen only one IRL and just wrote it off, but when I saw your post it was like, AHA!)

    “Looking white” and not having been brought up Caddo means that I often have a particularly conflicted relationship with native appropriations. I sometimes feel as though because I’ve had to educate myself on these matters instead of having them be a part of my life, that I’m getting up in arms about things that a (and I use this term deliberately) “real” American Indian wouldn’t. And I also know that when I’ve interviewed people more identified with their native communities (I write for Indian Country Today sometimes), I feel as though I’m appropriating them, you know? Your blog hasn’t given me easy answers, but it’s helped me develop a framework I can work with to understand my personal history, and the larger contemporary history of American Indians.

    Which is to say: Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02123524722594385878 Michelle

    My family is very closed mouthed on the subject but I’ve been told that my paternal great-grandfather is Native. No documentation exists so I have no way to find out if it’s true or what my heritage might be.
    I’m Canadian and a social worker. The Canadian government’s abuse of Aboriginal peoples is extreme. As a social worker I use my knowledge to disrupt native appropriations as often as I can.
    My favourite things about your blog are your reports on hipster headdresses and the way you right about Aboriginal people not being a fancy dress idea or existing only in the past. I’ve used both those arguments with people.
    Thank you for writing this blog and helping me walk my theory talk.

  • http://mabelmeigs.wordpress.com/ mabelmeigs

    Though I use multiple mainstream sources to get news including NPR, the New York Times, Chicago Sun Times as well as online sources like the Huffington Post, Slate or the Gawker family of blogs, my google reader is the thing I check and read every day, at least glancing at every post. For me, my reader is a way to construct my own news source from authors who discuss things that matter to me and that likely aren’t going to get covered in those other mainstream news sources. A vital part of that construction is Native Appropriations. In addition to focusing on native issues that so often get ignored in other outlets, the blog highlights the everyday not just the “newsworthy.” I think this is incredibly important not only for all of us individuals to have those things brought to our attention, but for all of us to think about those things as part of our everyday analyses of the world around us.

    In addition to this structural aspect, I would second many of the other commenters who cite your posts on hipster headdresses and playing Indian as especially vital. It really is mindblowing how naturalized the idea of the mythic Indian really is, how much people are willing and able to disconnect symbols of Native-ness from the real people and real histories behind them. Particularly illuminating for me, are your connections between playing Indian and blackface.

    Your blog, among others, is an important voice in my everyday life that pushes me to consider Native peoples (and to consider what I’m not considering) in my own work as a grad student and budding media scholar.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05009312383673088268 Katlin

    Less than six months ago I was trying to make the transition from former Christian to my own tribe’s traditional beliefs. I have grown up on the Cherokee Indian reservation and am an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. However, when my beliefs led me back to the Great Spirit, I found that there were few elders who still worshipped in the traditional Cherokee way. Through my religious search I began to learn more about the struggles of Native peoples through books like Vine Deloria Jr.’s “God is Red”. His politically fired viewpoints made me want to learn more about what is truly going on in Indian country today.

    Previous to that whole series of events, I had seen pictures of Native American headdresses in fashion throughout the web and it angered me immensely. I actually started a group on facebook called “Putting a Headdress on a White Girl Isn’t Art, It’s Offensive”. That happened before I knew that this theft of our culture had a name and many many already avid Native bloggers who covered the appropriation of our culture. Reading this and other blogs has helped me in my process of rediscovering me beliefs and it has made me so passionate about fixing the injustices Native Americans are still facing today.

    In August 2011 I will be going to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I want to major in American Indian Studies. I have told people this and they have scoffed at me, saying that no one really makes money with a degree like that, but I don’t care about the money, I truly, honestly, want to help my people.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13563090914824532509 dean

    I feel like this blog is really important. White people are always going to assume that they have the ~right~ to wear whatever they want, that it’s okay to “Play Indian”and otherwise erase and homogenize a vast range of different cultures. I don’t know how many times I’ve linked someone to your site because I was too pissed off to explain why it was rude for them to don a headdress and making “war cries.”

    Not only do you help to keep me sane, but you’ve helped me change a couple of my friends minds. I think that’s invaluable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09201030685132704499 W

    Totally not on topic with this post in the slightest…but I just found this!

    http://spirithoods.com/

    Discuss?