Native film “Rez Comedy” Breaks into Mainstream

“With this film, we hope to show the mainstream that Native American comedians are just as funny as Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., and Gabriel Iglesias, says Jon Roberts, comedian and member of the Red Lake band of Ojibwe. If given the opportunity, [Native Americans] can give America a look at something they never knew existed.” K. Sievert, HPR

Native comedians Jon Roberts and Rob Fairbanks

Native comedians Jon Roberts and Rob Fairbanks

Excerpt: Rez Comedy Aims to break the Mainstream Barrier, Kaley Sievert HPR

Native comedians Jon Roberts and Rob Fairbanks

Jon Roberts and Rob Fairbanks

Roberts and Rob Fairbanks, comedian and member of the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe, are two Minnesota competitors in Project Greenlight, a reality show on HBO that creates a starting point for young directors. For years Roberts and Fairbanks have loved comedy and wanted to tell the behind-the-scenes story of trying to make it as a Native American comedian.

We are really underexposed and we have no airtime on mainstream,  Fairbanks said. If Native Americans do receive media recognition, it’s usually for disproportionately high rates of alcoholism, obesity and suicide, rather than positive messages about efforts to save the environment, contribute to education, or serve the community.

You Tube REZ COMEDY
Leech Lake Weather Report 6/16

Leech Lake Weather Report pt.2

The two men want to produce a film that breaks that negativity and gives their communities hope for the future.

The movie is titled Rez Comedy, and follows Fairbanks and Roberts on a 12-day road trip to Hollywood as they try to make it in mainstream comedy. While on their journey, Roberts and Fairbanks meet fellow Native comedians who share stories about life, comedy and goals.

It’s to bring awareness to the stories and journeys of those using comedy as a tool to help their communities, Roberts said.”

“If we pull together I think we can make it happen, The movie is more than just me and Jon, it’s about hope. I want people to see that.”   ~ Rob Fairbanks~

  

Category: Social

Being Responsible for Our Role in Anti-Gay Violence

“I’ve told this story many times before… When we were children, we used to play a game called smear the queer. It was a game where someone would throw a football in the air and all of us boys  would scramble to catch the ball. Whoever caught the ball would then run for his life because they were about to get tackled grotesquely. That person was the “queer”. I tell my son about this to show him that I do/have done stupid things in my life and things that I’m embarrassed about. When I told him a few weeks ago he asked me, Why did you want to catch the ball?” G. Ross, ICMN

A Navajo two-spirit couple is seen in this historic photo from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico. Photo by Bosque Redondo, 1866.

A Navajo two-spirit couple is seen in this historic photo from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico. Photo by Bosque Redondo, 1866.

Excerpt: Taking Accountability For Our Own Role In Anti-Gay Violence  Gyasi Ross, ICTMN

“I also remember when I was in 8th grade a fight happened in the locker room after football practice. Someone called one of the kids a “fag.” Everybody in the locker room laughed until the kid got so upset/frustrated/angry that he struck the other kid. The kid who was getting teased split the other kid’s nose and both kids got suspended. I wasn’t an active participant as I wasn’t really “cool” enough to pick on anybody. I was a passive participant laughing and watching. I tell my son that story to tell him that we have an obligation to speak up when someone’s getting picked on. I give him this story as an example of when I did not do that.

Two-Spirit People. Photo-drexel.edu

Two-Spirit People. Photo-drexel.edu

Omar Mateen has become the face of evil in regards to anti-gay violence for viciously massacring 49 people in an Orlando gay club. His actions were so heinous that even people who routinely say hurtful and hateful things about homosexuality have made him a whipping boy and condemned his actions. Good–he obviously should be held accountable! But that doesn’t make those people who say hateful things good—it just makes what Mateen did worse.

His actions do not absolve the smaller indignities against the LGBTQ community; we still have to take into account all of the people who create an environment that makes Omar Mateen possible and even likely.

Like when I was a child and we played a game called smear the queer. Like when I was a child and I sat quietly by as a kid was insulted. I think about what if the kid in the locker room was gay? What if any kids in the locker room were gay? Of course they’re going to hide the fact that they’re gay! The first step in a revolution is love; the second step is accountability and realizing our role in a problem.

For my part I’ve apologized and I apologize again. But those experiences made me realize that it’s not just the folks who commit these acts of anti-gay violence who have blood on their hands; it’s all of us who create an environment that shames gays (or anybody really, but this is specifically about anti-gay violence).

Activist:Attorney:Author Gysai Ross and his beautiful son. ICTMN

Activist:Attorney:Author Gysai Ross and his beautiful son. ICTMN

Yet, I know that I can start to fix that by teaching my son—as young as he is—to accept and tolerate and to love. There is no such thing as too young to teach tolerance and respect. We teach them by having honest conversations about Orlando… or about our own past and evolving perspectives.”

“It’s not just about the worst of the worst—the face of evil. It’s also about us, the regular people who help create the environments that allow those faces of evil to fester. We have the power to change those environments.” ~ Gyasi Ross~Orlando Attacks 2016 copy

Category: Social

Native Diva: Keeping and Transcending Traditions

“Renowned basketry artist George Neptune (Passamaquody) takes us on a Two Spirit journey just in time for June’s national LGBTQ+ Pride Month as he introduces the world to his drag-queen alter ego Lyzz Bien in an effort to create safe, more accepting spaces for Two Spirits across Indian Country.” T. Walker, Nativepeople

Lyzz Bien/George Neptune. Photo- website

Lyzz Bien: George Neptune’s alter ego. Photo- website

“Lyzz Bien, the drag-queen alter ego of George Neptune (Passamaquoddy), comes alive as soon as she tosses one of her many wigs into place.

George Neptune Creating his baskets.

George Neptune Creating his baskets. Photo: Neptune website.

Lyzz is when that male spirit totally just gives up control. My whole persona changes—my body language, mannerisms, talk. It’s a complete and total transition, says Neptune, 27. She’s her own person. She loves the spotlight.

Lyzz Bien. Photo facebook

Lyzz Bien. Photo facebook

As the nation prepares to celebrate LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and the rest of the gender identity spectrum) Pride Month in June, Neptune hopes to bring more awareness to Two Spirit gender identities by stepping Lyzz fully into that spotlight with the help of big names in Indigenous fashion and design, including B.Yellowtail by Bethany Yellowtail (Crow/Northern Cheyenne), Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo), and Decontie & Brown by Jason and Donna Brown (both Penobscot), among others.

Celebrate Pride 2016 in Bar Harbor, Maine, with Lyzz Bien on Sunday, June 12 at 6 p.m.

Bar Harbor celebration

Basketry is a big part of [Wabanaki] culture. In our creation story, it says that we were created from the brown ash tree, which we use to make baskets,” Neptune says. So it’s a sacred art form, because we’re using the same material we were created from and creating other things from it. As basket makers we are creators ourselves.

George Neptune's Baskets Photo- Neptune website

George Neptune’s Baskets Photo- Neptune website

So Neptune weaves strips of sacred brown ash and other materials to create vessels that help preserve and promote his Passamaquoddy culture. It should come as no surprise, then, that weaving together Indigenous fashion and gender identity does the exact same thing.”

Beautiful Baskets by George Neptune.Photo: website

Beautiful Baskets by George Neptune.Photo: website

“Weaving has always been a very spiritual experience for me. Using the same techniques my ancestors did brings me to a time and place that my ancestors also visited, so for me it’s like we are all weaving together.” ~ George Neptune~

Category: Culture

ND, SD Native Tribal Leaders Endorse Hillary Clinton for President!

“Native American Tribal Leaders from across North Dakota and South Dakota endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, Wednesday. They cited her years of experience of leading the United States and her focus on the Native American community as part of their reasons behind endorsing Hillary. As president, Secretary Clinton will be a strong voice for Indian Country.” ABC News, KSFY

MHA Tribal Chairman Mark N. Fox at rally for Hillary Clinton.

MHA Tribal Chairman Mark N. Fox at rally for Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton represents positive opportunity for continued economic and social development in Indian Country, Chairman Mark Fox of MHA Nation said.

Beautiful poster designed by Lynn Hart Yankton Sioux member. 2016

Beautiful poster designed by Lynn Hart Yankton Sioux member. 2016

She has a proven track record in supporting legislation and initiatives that benefit indigenous nations throughout the United States. Her leadership has demonstrated a willingness to work with all minorities and people of color. She strives to combat the racism and inequality that have plagued our country for far too long. In simplest terms, Hillary Clinton supports Native America!” 

Native Americans vote for Hillary in Gallup NM

Native Americans vote for Hillary in Gallup NM

Vote

*Attention* McKinley County Voters!

New Mexico goes to the polls on Tuesday June 7, 2016.

Related Article:

30 Native Leaders Stand With Clinton — J. Keeler, ICTMN

Hillary was honored by the Puyallup Tribe with two powerful gifts- A blanket and a Lushootseed Indian name.

Hillary was honored by the Puyallup Tribe with two powerful gifts- A blanket and a Lushootseed Indian name.

“The first woman president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, is the first choice for progression, not regression, of the American dream for ALL!”~ Mark Fox of MHA Nation~

MUHAMMAD ALI 2

IN MEMORY OF THE GREATEST

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”Flowers

Category: Politics

The Julyamsh Horse PowWow is Back!

“Julyamsh, one of the nation’s largest outdoor pow wows and the largest one in the Pacific Northwest, is returning after location problems caused a cancellation last year. That’s excellent news for the hundreds of dancers and numerous drum groups who have enjoyed Julyamsh in the past… Julyamsh has always been noted for horse parades, with riders in full regalia in recognition of the importance of horses to the tribe.” J.  Mckneel, ICTMN

Proud Julyamsh Horse and rider.

Proud Julyamsh Horse and rider.

 

“The dates are July 22-24, and the location will be the Kootenai County Fairgrounds on the northern edge of the city of Coeur d’Alene. In many ways, this location is better than the Greyhound Park where it was previously held.

Julyamsh Horse Parade

Julyamsh Horse Parade

It’s like having it in our traditional homeland, said tribal member Quanah Matheson in a tribal news release. The City of Coeur d’Alene was the ‘yap keen’um’, meaning ‘our gathering place,’ when all Coeur d’Alene people came together. The new location includes 83 acres of camping area, a large arena, staging areas and plenty of facilities for horses.

A Photographic Tour of the Horse Parade at the Julyamsh Pow Wow. ICTMN

A Photographic Tour of the Horse Parade at the Julyamsh Pow Wow. ICTMN

Julyamsh was cancelled in 2015 due to a conflict with management at Greyhound Park…Because the tribe was not happy with the decisions made by Greyhound Park officials, they decided to change the location.

Horse Parade at the Julyamsh Pow-Wow

Horse Parade at the Julyamsh Pow-Wow

Tribal Chairman Chief Allan noted that not only was the new location ideal, but we’re thankful for the staff and leadership at the fairgrounds who have made us feel welcome. We look forward to the partnership.”

Plan to visit Julyamsh this summer: July 22-24 2016

It promises to be a winner. For more information visit the website:

NOTE the dates and plan to visit Julyamsh this summer. It promises to be a winner. For more information visit the website

 

 See Related: Julyamsh Pow Wow Canceled Over Horse Racing Machines

The Horse. Here is nobility without conceit, Friendship without envy, Beauty without vanity. ~Anonymous~

Category: Pow Wows

The Challenging Life of Inupiat Teens

Being a teenager is tough wherever you live; but as shown in a documentary by filmmaker Nick Brandestini, living as a Native teen in rural Alaska is very complicated. Children of the Arctic tells the story of four Inupiat teens growing up in the small community of Barrow, Alaska.” J. Asenap, ICTMN

An image from Children of the Arctic by Director Nick Brandestini (Photo Film Website)

An image from Children of the Arctic by Director Nick Brandestini (Photo Film Website)

 

Excerpt: Children of the Arctic…By Jason Asenap, ICTMN

“The teens highlighted in the film include Josiah and Flora, a young couple in love who are trying their best to adhere to a traditional lifestyle at home while pursuing an education outside of their Native community. There is also Maaya, who gives suicide prevention presentations but craves simple teen activities like eating fast food and going to malls, and has dreams of moving to Arizona.

Samuel, 14, is an avid hunter and has been since he shot his first caribou at the age of six. Website

Samuel, 14, is an avid hunter and has been since he shot his first caribou at the age of six. Website

Finally there is Ace Edwards, who is being groomed for a leadership role in the community but becomes overwhelmed by the plans his community has for him.

Ace, 17, is a charming young man with a plan and a faux-hawk. Elders see Ace as a future leader of the community. Photo website

Ace, 17, is a charming young man with a plan and a faux-hawk. Elders see Ace as a future leader of the community. Photo website

The film addresses the challenges young Indigenous youth face today, including the role youth play in the continuation of culture and some of the tough decisions youth have to make, such as moving away and getting an education or staying home and helping the family in whale harvesting. 

Flora, 18, is a driven young woman who cares deeply about the preservation of Iñupiat culture. Photo- website

While Ace clearly has frustrations and thirsts for more traditional knowledge, Josiah and Flora fear that when they go away to college, they will be missing out on many events in the community, and valuable time with their elders…The community is heavily Christian and the influence of Christianity creates tension between religion and traditional Inupiat culture, a common theme in many Native communities.

Inupiat Teens. Photo- film website

Inupiat Teens. Photo- film website

The Inupiat and surrounding communities are also scarred by suicide. Ace’s brother committed suicide, and Maaya tries to help her community heal through her presentations on suicide prevention.

Josiah, 18, is passionate about Native traditions and an enthusiastic member of an Eskimo dance group

Josiah, 18, is passionate about Native traditions and an enthusiastic member of an Eskimo dance group

The film also shows that the heart of the community is in the whale harvest. After the whale is hunted, traditional songs are played as the women butcher and meat is cooked.”

Hold on to what is good, Even if it’s a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe, Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do, Even if it’s a long way from here.

Hold on to your life, Even if it’s easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand, Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.

~Pueblo  Prayer~

Illustration for suicide prevention success story in NW Alaska

Category: Alaskan Natives