Have you had your identity stolen? Great cartoon from Last Real Indians

In cultural appropriation, hipster repellent, last real indians by Adrienne K.8 Comments

Just a quick post for today–I thought this image from LastRealIndians.com was great. The “hipster repellent” is definitely my favorite part. Also check out their site for some great critical essays about Native issues.

Are you following any interesting or important Native stories this week? Feel free to post in the comments!

Last Real Indians: Anti-Appropriation Cartoon

  • During the recap of America’s Next Top Model the week after Mariah Watchman was eliminated, the announcer said SPECIFICALLY “Native American Mariah” was eliminated. Now this show has had African-American, Caucasian, & Asian-American contestants over the years. NEVER has the announcer stated the race or ethnicity of a contestant like this. So I rewatched the episodes in which Mariah appeared and they did it over & over.

    Talk about objectifying us… Why is calling out our race/ethnicity like we’re things and not people (“Ming Vase”, “Chippendale Dresser”, “Native American Mariah”) OK? Why was it so necessary to repeatedly refer to Mariah’s race/ethnicity when they wouldn’t DREAM of doing it with any other model? Why is it OK, in fact encouraged to do that with us but considered racist to refer to the rest of the models by their race/ethnicity?

    “Caucasian Louise was eliminated last week…” “African-American Seymone was saved from elimination…” would be considered either ridiculous or racist. But “Native American Mariah”, “You’re Native American, right?”, “The Native American girl…” is just fine with everyone. One of the other contestants used that last one, but used actual NAMES when she referred to her other fellow contestants.

    This always disturbs me. There is a better way for them to honor or give notice of our heritage to a viewing audience. How about having her speak about her culture in the one on one spotlight instead of just saying “Ooo! Look! An Indian!” (OK, they did use Native American) over & over again?

    Does this bother anyone else? Anyone else have it happen to them in their own life?

    • The thing is…. there are people out there for whom knowing that Indians still live in the here and now is a huge and shocking revelation. That says more about the state of education in this country than the people. It does us all a disservice.

      • C.

        Hi Hontas, I’m Cee. I’ve never seen the ATM show nor any elimination-format show, but I do have a thought or two which are mostly questions because I don’t /didn’t / could care less about watch the show. And not to dismiss either your enjoyment or detest (or somewhere in-between) of the show, nor the importance of the issue (to you) of the show emcee’s use of “Native American Mariah” being … what, labeling? I’d say so. I think you’re saying that the words NA Mariah is making a distinction of this contestant ethnically/racially/nationality wise apart from the others. Again, didn’t see it, aint gonna look it up, take your word for it. I’ve never watched DWTS, Chef cook-offs, run offs, weight-offs. I even lied to my friend that I enjoyed her showings of Project Runway [gawd these scenes move :::sloooow then *cut* to commercial ads then *cut* to “you may leave the stage” then pan over the crushed contestant’s face then *cut* to the celeb host yammering on & on *yawn*:::] every Tues night last year. It’s not that I don’t like pop culture, I do, and to each her/his/their own when it comes to spending time on audio/visual or other one-way input. I have a TV, even cable service. But I digress. My thoughts: 1) Broadcast TV shows have a) writers who write content for emcees, b) editors who assemble content released to end use broadcast, c) producers who approve content frame by frame for broadcast. 2) Did Mariah ask to be IDed as quote “Native American Mariah” in order to emphasize or represent? 3) Do/Did Mariah’s advisers/handlers/support team (even if nonprofessional [yet] family and friends in this role… surely she is not in Hollywood alone) promote or object to this tag of “Native American Mariah”? Sounds like you watched the show or the series and might know.

        • I see what you are saying let me tell you a story. I have a half cousin (The blood cousin of my half sisters and brother) who told me this story. I told her I wanted to go down and see the Cahokia mounds for myself this summer, as we drove away from the DuSable Musem (see my comment above). She said “You aren’t missing much. When I was a kid in St Louis all we saw there was a bunch of white people explaining this and that.” She went on to say “I thought that indians were all dead until I went and joined the Air force and I saw this woman. She looked just like an Indian off the movies. …. I thought all of you guys were dead.”

          IDing Mariah as a Native American says to allot of people yes this person is a Native American not a latino.

          There are allot of well meaning people who from stereotyped educational materials and popular culture think that only a full blooded Sioux ( and have never heard the name Lakota) is an Indian.

          Even though this person at the time, I think had to have known my father at least, after whom I am named she still felt she had never seen an Indian. There are allot of well meaning people like that.

          They think of Indians as:

          People who all lived in Teepee’s.
          People who all looked like a clone of Sitting bull or the woman on a pack of Land-o-lakes butter.
          People who are all gone in their full blooded form.
          People who are all just white people playing indian.
          People who are mixed into everyone and absorbed or dead just invalidating the existence of both full blood and partial blood but culturally connected American Indian people.

          For such people the first thing they need to know is that we are not all dead. The second thing is that we are just as diverse a race as any and cannot be pigeonholed into one stereotype. We have many cultures languages and histories.

  • I would like to report a misuse of American Indian imagery made all the worse because it is presented as part of a museum.

    This mural is on the walls of the DuSable Musem of African American History and culture in Chicago IL. ( http://www.dusablemuseum.org/ )


    I had to spontaneously say out loud that the Potawatomi did not live in Teepee’s, ever. Even long after that particular band, from which his wife was, moved into the parries around the Missouri river and adopted certain elements of the local culture… they still made longhouses and wigwam type homes.

    If this was just a random community center I would not even sweat something like this…. but this is a museum. Further the one book they had that mentioned the “indians” there had a combination of stereotypes of both black and American indian people that as a African-Native American person really struck home.

    “The Warrior’s Belt: The Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Point Dusable”
    Warrior… strong aggressive black man.
    Warrior… strong nobel savage.

    My God after making an appearance at the American Indian Center of Chicago’s Powwow and saying they would try to take more account of the indians that were already there this is what they do? (Facepalm)

    I had been to this museum as a child and never noticed this before. It would not surprise me if my parents noticed and made sure I did not see this. To the museum’s credit it was created because we did not always discuss African American history as anything but slavery and MLK. In 2012 people have to do better. (No wonder they never hosted this exhibit from the Smithsonian http://nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/indivisible/ )

  • LKE

    This might not be overly exciting or important, but I was reading an article about women in government in Washington state (http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/us/what-gender-gap-washington-state-has-a-history-of-women-who-lead-628007/) and this line sentence worries me:

    “When Ms. Cantwell, Ms. Murray and Ms. Gregoire reflect on how their state became comfortable with female politicians, they hesitate to mention the pioneer women who traveled to the Northwest by wagon (“That would leave out the strong women of Maine,” Ms. Murray said) and note that women lead many Northwest Indian tribes.”

    I live on the East Coast so I don’t know much about Washington–maybe the Northwest Indian tribes have actually influenced the state government and populace’s attitude towards women in gov’t in a significant way….but I doubt it? (I don’t have that much faith in American’s non-native residents.)

    But moreover, the article doesn’t *mention* whether any women from Northwest Indian tribes have themselves held political positions…so this def. smells of appropriation. Even if the tribes really did influence the political culture in Washington, the article subtly implies that they did it (most importantly!) by helping the voting population of Washington see that white women have something to offer, too. (As far as I can tell, the three women focused on in the article are all white and have no native heritage.)

    *Also I recognize that the sentence is a bit ambiguous; maybe they hesitate also to note the women of Northwest Indian tribes…but that seems too random. Then again, the Northwest Indian tribes would also fail to explain Maine’s strong women so….I dunno. Maybe I’m freaking out over a poorly written sentence. But something about it seemed so…I imagine this being said on Parks & Recreation by an awkwardly character who is trying to honor a marginalized group but is actually just inserting their foot into their mouth.

    tl;dr I think this article and these politicians are appropriating the culture of the Northwest Indian tribes to partly explain the success of white women in gov’t in Washington state.

    • Marjorie J

      Hey LKE,
      I grew up on my rez in Washington and can say that off the top of my head, to me there has not been an extraordinary number of women leading their tribes via political or high profile administrative offices. At least not a number that is representative of the female/male population. If we look at BOD’s/Councils alone, there are generally 1-4 women elected to a 7-14 person panel.

      My instinct is that our progressive Governor and Senators are simply conscious of Natives and tribes on a regular basis. In the past 20 years, several tribes have enjoyed great success from gaming and parlayed that revenue into additional businesses and ventures, gaining more economic wealth. With the economic wealth has come additional political influence in local and state government. My tribe’s success has drawn more commercial businesses to lease on our lands AND to the surrounding non-tribal lands. The number of jobs and development has completely changed the look of the county. After the expansion, all of a sudden town and county officials started calling the tribe to come over to the reservation and talk about business, infrastructure, emergency services, development, etc. This is a far cry from the days our PL-280 reservation could only get the county to send one sheriff to patrol our entire reservation on a 40 hour/week basis.

      The tribes also make no bones about campaign contributions. Each tribe has its own interests and is going to support the candidates who will not limit the tribes’ right to pursue them. Preventing statewide legalization of Class III gaming, fishing/crabbing/shrimping/geoducking and preservation, forestry, tearing down/maintaining hydro-electric power, revenue sharing, infrastructure, cross-deputization, etc are just some of the issues the tribes have had to deal with the state on.

      So, in short – I’d say the comment was a bit of pandering to the tribes and a nod to the liberal/progressive Seattle/I-5 Corridor population as if to say “See, we’re more amenable to and educated about our Tribes than the average politician.”

      • LKE

        Thank you for this additional context; this makes the sentence make much more sense.