Idle No More: Two Years Later

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.2 Comments

Today marks the two year anniversary of the Idle No More movement, so I thought I would re-visit and re-share a podcast I made of the Los Angeles Idle No More solidarity rally in December 2012. It was my first attempt at the medium, and as an avid/borderline obsessed podcast listener, I really hope I can do more of these soon! (sidenote: Have you checked out Indian and Cowboy‘s amazing selection of Native podcasts? You should. I love them all. Metis in Space is my jam.)

Anyway, here’s the original text I put with the post:Read More

Random Appropriation of the Day: Nestle Redsk*ns

In random appropriation by Adrienne K.8 Comments

redskins candy1

Reader Michelle submitted this example today–apparently Nestle Australia sells a raspberry flavored candy called “redsk*ns”.

According to all-knowing Wikipedia,

“In 1996, a complaint was made to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Complaints Board about a Redskins advertisement aired on New Zealand television. The advertisement featured comedian Mark Wright dressed in American Indian clothing and assuming an accent. A mock drumbeat featured on the soundtrack. Despite protest from Nestlé New Zealand that the advertisement was inoffensive, the Board upheld the complaint.[1]

Redskin packaging formerly featured a photo of a Native American wearing a traditional headdress. This was replaced in the late 1990s by a more neutral red character.”

Here’s one of the earlier packages, sorry for the quality:Read More

Ch-ch-ch-changes (for the better!): A new blog chapter

In programming note, Uncategorized by Adrienne K.4 Comments


Why hello friends. In the past year or so a lot has happened in the life of Native Approps, and now, as Dr. Native Approps, I’ve started a new chapter at my first big-girl job in a long time. I’ve also moved from MA to CA to AZ and now to RI, and now that I’m (relatively) settled, I want to make a recommitment to the blog and our community that has grown and developed into something so super awesome that I never could have imagined.

Back when I started the blog in 2010, I had a model of posting something *every* day, even if it was a quick “Random Appropriation,” and I want to return this regular content model (I’m trying to be realistic as well…so don’t get too excited). Here are the new “categories” I’ve been working on, and my goal is to be consistent with posts, so you can expect new things regularly (I also feel that by making this public it’s a commitment to this plan!).

Ready? Here we go:Read More

Missing the point on the Red Mesa Redsk*ns

In longform takedown by Adrienne K.3 Comments

Redskins HS

A few weeks ago, Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira covered the “controversy” around the Daily Show’s segment on the Washington Racial Slurs. I, as you may remember, was not a fan of the way the story was covered. To Shapira’s credit, he reached out to me, and several other of my Native friends involved in the Daily Show debate or conversations afterward, and offered to chat. I declined, but from what I hear, he got an earful about theways Natives are represented in the media and how and why these seemingly innocuous “angles” in reporting are very harmful. I’m being nice here. He got some angry Indians on the phone.

You’ll notice, in my first post, I didn’t actually refer to him by name. I called out WaPo as an institution for printing that piece, and made it much more about society than the reporter. But not this time, I guess.

So after Shapira’s period of learning, he decides to delve deeper into the mascot fight, by publishing this:

In Arizona, a Navajo high school emerges as a defender of the Washington Redskins

This piece makes me angry for a number of reasons. But I want to focus on a major, huge, glaring, omission from Shapira’s piece: CONTEXT. Read More

10 Days until Halloween: Step Away from the “Indian” Costume

In Halloween by Adrienne K.5 Comments


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

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


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

Read More

Is it time for a Native Bechdel Test?

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.25 Comments

Native movies google

Three weeks ago*, the MacArthur foundation announced this year’s crop of “genius grant” award winners, which honored the incredible Native feminist and activist Sarah Deer, as well as 20 other amazing (and amazingly diverse) folks. Among that group was Alison Bechdel, a comic artist and author, but more commonly known for her creation of what we now call the “Bechdel Test.”

The Bechdel test is a simple test to evaluate films (and other media) for portrayals of women. To pass the test, a film must have:Read More

White tears and aggressive Indians: Native activists on the Daily Show

In longform takedown by Adrienne K.92 Comments

gregg instagram1

A couple weeks ago, a stellar, amazing group of my Native activist friends, colleagues, internet-friends, and people-I-wish-were-my-friends gathered in DC for a taping of the Daily Show (see photo above, via Gregg Deal). The episode hasn’t aired yet (I hear it might be tomorrow??), but already it’s causing a bit of a stir on the internets. The Washington Post published an article on Friday entitled, “The Daily Show springs tense showdown with Native Americans on Redskins fans”. It has since been picked up by Time, Gawker, Yahoo Sports, Uproxx and many, many other sites, though all seem to be relying on the Washington Post quotations and reporting.

You guys, I have some problems with the reporting of this. Surprised? Of course not.

So here’s the quick version: The Daily Show recruited fans of the Washington Racial Slurs via twitter to participate in a panel about the name change. They chose four of them, who sat in a hotel conference room with Jason Jones of the Daily Show for awhile, as he asked them a bunch of questions–even pulling out a dictionary to read the definition of “that word” and the like. The show also had a panel of the Native activists, asking them questions about why the name is racist, offensive, and needs to be changed. Then, the show brought the two panels together, and things, apparently, got “heated.”

Cue white lady Racial Slurs fan crying, getting up during the taping, taking off her mic, asking to rip up her consent form, going home and CALLING THE COPS the next day because she felt “threatened.”

Meanwhile, the next day, the bros of the 1491s went to the tailgate at FedEx field, where they were subject to abuse from fans yelling and confronting them.

So, you’re the Washington Post, how do you frame this story? By attempting to make us feel bad for the poor Racial Slurs fans who were “ambushed” and “threatened,” of course.

Let’s start with the headline: “The Daily Show springs tense showdown with Native Americans on Redskins fans” Not, “The Daily Show arranges showdown between Native Americans and Redsk*ns fans,” or any other more neutral framing. This immediately sets up the fans as victims to the Natives, as the innocent bystanders.

I really want to break down the whole article line-by-line, but it’s like 2,000 words…you know what? Screw it. I’m annotating the whole thing. Ready?Read More

“She’s so pale”: The good and bad of national exposure

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.39 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.42.43 PM

Last week I chatted with a super kind and engaged reporter at NPR. She found my blog because my colleague (thanks Todd!) tweeted her in response to a call for interesting education folks to follow on Twitter. She read through my blog, and came upon a post I wrote a couple years ago–“Dear Native student who was just admitted to college“–and wanted to ask me a bit more about it. So we talked for 15-20 minutes so I could give some context on the post and my doctoral work that has stemmed out of these areas in Native higher ed. She posted an edited version of this convo on the NPR website (I say “like” a lot irl, she kindly took that out, as well as some of my filler/background info), where it has gotten a pretty big response.

Here’s the article. I like it, and think it covers a lot of ground for a short piece.

I was stoked to get to talk about my “other” life in Indian Ed, since I’m still finding my voice in that area (haven’t been blogging about it for five years, though I have been studying and researching for that long…). I think anything I can do to signal boost Native issues in higher education and help shed light on our experiences, struggles, and triumphs in college and beyond is important.

But they included a headshot on the post. One that is the thumbnail every time the article gets shared. I didn’t even think twice about it–most people who know me and the blog know who I am and where I come from, and yes, what I look like. But I forgot, this is the internet.

To be fair, as always, there are tons of positive comments. I’ve received a bunch of emails from students and graduates that have made me happy and heartened. But for those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time, you know this is constantly something I deal with, and this article wasn’t anything new. Ready? Here’s a sampling (Yes I left their real names. They said it on a public forum…):

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 8.32.31 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 8.32.56 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 8.34.05 PM

and on the article itself (to be fair, it was just one dude…though NPR has pretty strict comment guidelines, so there could have been more):Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.37.48 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.38.10 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.38.44 PM

ETA: Just to show this comes from all sides, there’s also this comment from a Native person (the comments from fellow Natives always sting):

Screen Shot 2

On both the NPR article, and definitely on the Facebook thread on the NPR page, my identity is being dissected by hundreds of people who don’t know me. Who don’t know how I relate to my Native heritage, the work I do, who my family is, anything. I also think it’s kinda hilarious–do they not realize that, as a blogger, I’m on the internet? Reading their thread?

But y’all know it’s not new. If you need a refresher, read the comments on, oh, any of my “controversial” articles. Or read the drama I went through over Tonto. Maybe the 500+ comments on this Pocahottie article. Or the follow-up I had to do after it. It’s par for the course. I also specifically address my white privilege a fair amount, see the end of that Tonto post, or the annotated version of my Pocahottie letter for examples. I know my white privilege has afforded me protection and opportunities. That’s why I write about it.

I am 98% positive that if this NPR article wasn’t accompanied by a photo, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. There is very little commentary challenging my ideas, or what I had to say about Native students transitioning to college–it’s all focused on how I look.

You wonder why I care so deeply about representations? This is why I care. Because all those people think that Native identity is tied to looking like something off the side of a football helmet.

This isn’t just something that happens to me, either. Last week, the Center for American Progress hosted a forum about Indian Mascots, and an incredible 15-year-old Native student named Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown spoke to the group. He talked beautifully about the effects of mascots on his schooling experience, and also what it means when fellow students, and even his vice principal, say he doesn’t “look Indian,” and how it is all tied in together. This sentiment is real, and it’s all connected.

One of the other commenters on the FB thread mentioned how I “don’t have a wikipedia page” or even a bio on the blog, so they were skeptical of my credentials–basically waving the wannabe flag. It is true I don’t have either of those things (but um, who wants a wikipedia page?). Honestly, it’s by design. If people are *that* desperate to find out about me, they can google and find all sorts of articles and videos that talk more about my background. I don’t want my phenotype and hometown to color initial perceptions of me and my words. I want my writing to speak for itself–because I have never lied about who I am, and write about it all the time on the blog.

In writing Native Appropriations, I am inviting readers into a community. I want folks to get to know me, know how I think, operate, where I come from, what ideas we share, and where we differ. I love comment chains where we have discussions that push my thinking and help me grow. I love when it’s an equal exchange of knowledge. That can’t happen when I’m summarily dismissed. So I never “got around” to making an “about” page. I’m all up in this thing. It hasn’t seemed to hold us back. But, for better or worse, that’s not the way the internet functions. People want quick, easily digestible sound bites. They don’t want to enter into a relationship (which is the Indigenous way of doing things…). They want to be able to categorize and move on. Which is what happened with the NPR piece.

I have deep, deep anxieties about my new post-graduation life as “Dr. K”–of entering academia with the weight and privilege of Native Approps behind me. I have actual nightmares of folks finding academic articles I write and lambasting my scholarship all over the internet. I worry about not living up to the “hype.” I say weight and privilege–because I know that no matter what my research is probably going to have a wider audience than most, simply because of the blog. That’s amazing, and such a privilege to be able to know that I can push forward conversations about Native students and representations to an engaged audience. It’s also intense, because most young scholars get awhile to find their voice and place in their research, but I know that I’m going to be under a microscope pretty quickly. I honestly try not to take to heart what people say about my blog writing, because I still consider it a hobby, but my academic writing is and will continue to be my life. This gave me a small window into what the next few years of my career might bring, and to be honest, it kinda (ok really) freaks me out.

But, if my picture and my story can bring to light these conversations about Native identity that need to happen, and if I need to be the literal face of that conversation, then I’m ok. Because we need to talk about it. Colonial legacies of blood quantum have real effects in our communities, and these conversations happen over, and over, and over without moving us forward.

Because Native identity isn’t just a racialized identity. Native identity is political. We are citizens of tribal nations. So we can’t just talk about our identities purely in racial terminology. Thinking about our identity as purely race-based is another tool to wipe us out. Cause you can “breed out” this notion of “blood” but you can’t “breed out” citizenship. There’s also a deep power issue here–who has the “right,” especially as an outsider, to determine someone’s identity for them? But these are big topics for another day.

So because this is a topic we’ve addressed before, I’ll just quote directly from the end of my “Real Indians don’t care about Tonto” post, and say this–this is the reason why I continue to fight. This is the reason why I’m still here:

But instead of feeling ashamed, I’m trying now to turn the tables and think that I, instead, am the colonizer’s worst nightmare. Because history has tried to eradicate my people by violence and force, enacted every assimilating and acculturating policy against my ancestors, let me grow up in white suburbia, and erased all the visual vestiges of heritage from my face–but still tsi tsalagi (I am Cherokee). My ancestors gave their “x-marks”–assents to the new–so that I could be here, fighting back against misrepresentations, through a keyboard and the internet.

The underlying motivation behind this blog is not only to critique and deconstruct representations of Natives, but also to be able to openly explore what it means to be a contemporary Native person. And more specifically for me, what does it mean to be a millennial, nerdy, doctorate-holding, mixed-race, Cherokee woman?

Moving forward, I hope these are questions we can continue to answer together, through the blog, my research, my teaching, and ongoing conversations on and offline. This NPR article has shown us that there is power in getting our stories out there, but that we still have a ways to go. And that’s ok. These were conversations that weren’t happening openly in public forums just a few years ago. It’s a journey, one that has brought me incredible joy and challenged me in incredible ways. I’m happy to keep rolling along, learning, making mistakes, and figuring out what it means to be me, but also, what it means to be us. Because learning about the ways we relate to one another, Native to Native and Native to non-Native, is at the heart of all of this work.

As always, wado for being here with me on this path,



NPR: Q&A: How Is The Native College Experience Different? (7/27/14)


PS- I’m going out of the country for the next four days to hide from the paparazzi, Beyonce style (j/k), so the comments are yours to debate my face at will. I’ll be back on Friday night. 

Kwatsan Tribe refuses Dan Snyder’s “Blood Money”

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.5 Comments

Kwatsan No

The past few months there have been whispers, rumors, and tales in Indian Country of Dan Snyder’s ‘people’ calling up tribal members, community organizations, and tribal councils–of offers of cash, of closed door secret meetings, of requests to fly tribal members out to DC for photo ops, of passing out team gear at powwows, of a desperate, covert PR campaign. Up until now, the stories remained just that–stories. But now we have actual proof of the inner workings of the Washington Racial Slurs “Original Americans Foundation” (OAF), and a new story of a community that had the strength to stand up when faced with an unbearable decision.

On Tuesday night, my friend Will from the Ft. Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) community called me with the news that their community had been contacted by the OAF for a meeting the next day. I then chatted with his cousin, Kenrick Escalanti, who has, along with Will and others in the community, been working hard to raise funds for a memorial skate park for their tribal youth. Their tribal grant writer had responded to a phone survey, which had apparently tagged them for this meeting, and tagged the skatepark as a possible project.

In the Wednesday meeting, the Executive Director of OAF, Cherokee (WHY do they ALWAYS gotta be my tribe?!?!) Gary Edwards basically offered Kwatsan Media Inc. (Kenrick’s organization) a blank check, saying that they could fund the park, and had partnerships with developers who could build it as well. They brought in one such developer, who showed Kenrick digital renderings of parks, all done up in signature burgundy and gold. While they insisted that they didn’t want anything in return from the community, that OAF didn’t even have to be affiliated, they constantly brought up the fact that they have “147 projects” occurring in “over 40 tribes” throughout Indian Country, and mentioned, again, that damn backhoe that they helped buy for Omaha. Clearly, they do want the recognition.

Additionally, Mr. Edwards is super confused about who is “the opposition” to the name. He seems to think it’s only white people, and that “we” as Natives are all like him, “proud” to be a “Reds***” (which he called himself repeatedly). He told Kenrick, “The opposition is creating the old assimilation policy now being enacted today,” and even made a reference to The Lone Ranger (definitely the epitome of Native knowledge, right?), “In trying to annihilate our image its like that new Lone Ranger movie with the White Man point a gun at the Indian saying It won’t be long until its forgotten your kind ever existed on this continent.”

Right, dude, “the opposition” is trying to “annihilate our image”? What about the hundreds of Native peoples passing resolutions against the name? or the fact that Suzan Harjo (a Native woman) has been fighting your trademark since 1969? Or the fact that I have a running list of over 4000 Native peoples against the name? “Our image” if you’re speaking for the white, outsider-created image of American Indians. That is what we’re seeking to destroy.

But let’s go back to the money, and let’s think about the choice here–a choice that Native peoples in this country have had to make over, and over, and over throughout our history. We have deep and pressing needs in our communities. We have tribal members freezing to death, we have students unable to learn because their schools are falling apart at the seams, we have suicide rates 3.5 times higher than national averages. Because of centuries of colonialism, our communities have limited options. We are bridled by geographic location, federal red tape and bureaucracy, poverty, and any other number of factors. Then, outsiders come in. They offer us cash, in exchange for natural resources, for land, for mining rights, for oil–and our leaders and communities are faced with a lesser-of-two-evils choice.

Do we take the money even if it is tied to politics and choices that may negatively affect our people further down the road? Of course we would like to think “no”–but it’s not that easy. And it’s a choice we shouldn’t have to make.

In Kwatsan’s case, this skate park isn’t just about having a place for kids to skateboard. It’s tied into suicide prevention and awareness, creating a space for the community to reflect and talk about the issue as well. So here’s a billionaire (Edwards mentioned in the meeting that Snyder is a “billionaire over again”) offering to build the park now, creating that space immediately, saying they don’t need their named tied to it or even to be mentioned.

Quechan skate

But Kenrick said no. They escorted the OAF team off the reservation quickly, not letting them hang around, not welcoming them, not letting them feel they were doing something “good” for the Indians. That act is one that needs to be applauded. Kenrick says, “We say no. There are no questions about this. We will not align ourselves with an organization to simply become a statistic in their fight for name acceptance in Native communities. We’re stronger than that and we know bribe money when we see it.”

It just disgusts me, as someone who cares deeply about how are communities are represented, that this is the choice we are forced to weigh. The media has created a “hierarchy of needs” in our communities around the mascot issue, saying that we have “more important” issues to worry about than mascots, and this is a message that has been internalized by many of us as well. Then throw the money of a billionaire behind it, “helping” us decide what our “real” issues are–what are we supposed to do?*

The Quechan Memorial Skate Park plans exist because suicide is so rampant in our communities. Many Native children suffer from low self esteem, feelings of low community worth, and limited visions of possible selves. You know what contributes to all of those feelings? Indian mascots. I’m not making that up–the research backs me up. The OAF funding the park, to me, is like a bully trying to fund an anti-bulling project while continuing their behavior unchanged.

But now we have a chance to look at this from a very positive direction–Kwatsan tribal members have stepped up. They’ve refused what Kenrick is calling “bribe money” and “blood money,” and have made public the backwards actions and thinking of the OAF and its director. Now the youth in their community can look to the leadership and see them making a stand, saying they care about how their people are represented, and that they don’t want to be associated with a racial slur and ongoing stereotyping of Native peoples. That is a representation their youth can be proud of, and a model they can emulate moving forward.

Now it’s our turn to support The Quechan Memorial Skate Park, to show Dan Snyder that Indian Country and its supporters can take care of our own, and that we don’t and won’t stand for forcing tribes to co-sign on a racist name and depiction of Native peoples in order to gain desperately needed resources in our communities. Donate here:

And all that BS, Mr. Edwards, about us disappearing if mascots disappear? Take a look around. Over 500 years of colonialism have tried to erase us from the planet. Yet we are still here. If we survived war, famine, disease, cultural genocide, termination, relocation, loss of land and resources, we certainly will survive when your beloved sports franchise removes its racist name and depiction from the side of its helmets. I, personally, would like to be associated with speaking truth to power and the ongoing vibrancy of our communities rather than an ancient stereotype “honoring” a fictional archetype that reeks of imperialist nostalgia. But maybe that’s just me.


Just as I’ve been writing this post, the story is getting great coverage, much thanks to EONM and their press release which can be found here. A statement from Kenrick and his organization, along with the ongoing coverage can be found here. This USA Today piece is great, and makes it clear, which I was unaware of, that the tribe itself is still weighing their options (though Kwatsan Media is adamant in their opposition). 


*Note: I also don’t want to seem that I’m criticizing the tribes that have decided to partner with OAF. Those are decisions I don’t know anything about, and I also can’t possibly, as an outsider to those communities, understand their decisions and needs. They have the right to decide.


Also, I’ll be moderating comments. Here are the comments I’ll be deleting: Anything that says “get over it” in any form, anything that says we have “bigger issues” to worry about (I answered that here if you’re curious), anything that makes a reference to you being Irish/Viking/other non-marginalized group and not caring about those mascots, anything that says “you wouldn’t do it if it were <insert other racial group>, and anything that can be found on this bingo card. Hooray!


Who has spoken out against the Redsk*ns?

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.23 Comments


As I’m sure you know by now, on Wednesday, June 18th, the US Trademark and Patent office officially cancelled the Redsk*ns trademark, calling the name “disparaging to Native Americans.” It was a huge win, 22 years in the making. In the aftermath, there have been hundreds of articles, tons of news commentary, and people saying a whole lot of racist BS in defense of the name. But as it all has swirled, I kept wanting a collective list of ALL the folks who have spoken out against the team name. So I decided to make one.

I got started and realized that even with my browser bookmarks and resources, there’s no way I could get everything. So I need your help. This is just the framework/start, but I want to crowdsource filling in the rest. Send me links in the comments or on FB, and I’ll plug them in where they belong. Especially if your tribe has spoken out. I know there are more, but the news doesn’t tend to cover tribal voices nearly as much as celebrities and professional athletes.

Here we go!

ETA (6/23): has an ongoing list as well! I should have known my idea was not unique. Check it out. Great resource.

(American Indian Sports Team Mascots (AISTM) has a couple of great running lists as well–and you can see these go back to the early/mid 1990’s. List 1, List 2.)

Tribal Councils/Tribal Leaders/Tribal Members (thanks to for a lot of these)


National Organizations (Native):


National Organizations (non-Native):

Publications (This is lifted mostly from’s list compiled by Andrew Beaujon):






Celebrities/Other Public Figures 

Ok, now your turn–who am I missing? I know there are more. Share in the comments, and this list will be constantly updated as more articles come out! 

Update! Are you a Native individual who wants to lend your name to the fight? (Because all the haterz say we don’t exist…)

Check out the full constantly-updating list of Native individuals against the Redsk*ns here:


*= kinda weaksauce support, like “I’m on the side of doing what’s right” or “I’d think about changing it,” not necessarily explicit THE NAME IS RACIST kinda thing.

**=passed resolutions against Native mascots generally, not just the Redsk*ns