Native Superheroes Comic Rebooted in 2017

“In comics and graphic novels, Native American characters aren’t usually very prominent. They’re often sidekicks — or worse. But a new publisher focused exclusively on Native writers and artists is changing that. Called Native Realities, the company just released the reboot of the first all-Native superhero comic.” M. Kamerick, NPR

Tribal Force Native Super Heroes

Excerpt:  With This Publisher, Native American Superheroes Fly High, Megan Kamerick, NPR

“Comics creator Jon Proudstar remembers the first time he saw a Native American character in a comic. It was Thunderbird, in the X-Men, and he was quickly killed off. Proudstar was 8 years old and he was not happy. ‘And for years I just lamented about it and said one day I’ll bring him back,’  he says.

Proudstar, who is Yaqui and Mexican, went one better. He created the first comic book to feature a whole team of Native American superheroes. Tribal Force debuted in 1996 — but the publisher went out of business after just one issue. ‘For years I kept trying to get a publisher, and nobody would touch us,’  Proudstar recalls.

Jon Proudstar created Tribal Force in 1996 — now, it’s being rebooted by Native Realities. Ron Joseph:Weshoyot Alvitre:Native Realities

Then Proudstar found Lee Francis and Native Realities Press, which focuses on Native writers, artists, and game designers. Francis, who’s from Laguna Pueblo, N.M., calls himself an ‘Indiginerd’…Francis was an educator before becoming an entrepreneur. He says Native kids don’t have representations of themselves in popular media and culture,  and to be able to create these kinds of characters and distribute these kinds of characters is really what we’re all about. Native Realities also published Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, edited by Kickapoo author Arigon Starr — best known for her comic book Super Indian — and created with a slew of other Native writers and artists.

Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers focuses on the many tribes that were involved in covert communications during World War II — not just the Navajo. Native Realities

‘We all knew there were other tribes that were involved in the codetalking project besides the Navajo,’ Starr says. The book is designed like a graphic novel, and made up of historical vignettes. ‘Here’s the story of two Creek soldiers in Sitka, Alaska, versus the Japanese. We’re trying to do this on multilevels … to get the stories out there, but also to show language and culture.’

Tribal Force

Native Realities founder Lee Francis is working on the second Indigenous ComicCon, slated for the fall. He’ll publish more comics and games this year as well — they’ll be available online, in schools and at Native American community centers.”

Category: Culture

‘Two Spirit’ Is Not An Interchangeable Term for ‘Gay’

“When attempting to explain the concept of Two Spirit people in Indian country, many people may visualize images of Unicorns and Rainbows, Donna Summers and Seventies disco balls. Try to explain the concept of Two Spirit outside Indian country, and you may as well throw in war bonnets and glitter. The term Two Spirit has been present in Native communities for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology.” T. Enos ICTMN

Tony Enos at Oceti Sakowin in front of the Two-Spirit Nation camp.

Excerpt: …Things You Should Know About Two Spirit People By Tony Enos, ICNM

For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution.Today the Two Spirit movement has been negatively affected by rumor, gossip, the tyranny of western religion, and an all-around lack of information.

Here are [some] misconceptions and/or things you should know about Two Spirit people that may help foster a better understanding of the Two Spirit community.

Two Spirit is not a contemporary ‘new-age’ movement-While the term Two Spirit was coined in 1990 In Winnipeg, Canada as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous individuals, the term is not a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation or other self-determining catch-all phrase, but rather an umbrella term.

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder BY Ma-Nee Chacaby

Gay is not an interchangeable term with Two Spirit-Being a gay native is oftentimes confused with being Two Spirit. While the two may have parallels and intersections, they are not the same. Gay specifically is about attraction to a person of the same sex. Two Spirit is more about the embodiment of two genders residing within one person.

The Two Spirit Road is a road of long held traditions, prayer and responsibility-Living as a Two Spirit is not all pride parades and hot pants. To be of service to our elders and youth with our very particular medicine is paramount. If we lose our traditions, our songs, our medicines, and our languages, and make no effort to restore what was lost, we doom ourselves.

Two Spirits

Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures-Two Spirit people held a meaningful place in the sacred hoop.  In many tribes Two Spirits were balance keepers.

Making Connections

Two Spirit is a term only appropriate for Native people-Two Spirit is a role that existed in a Native American/First Nations/Indigenous tribe for gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members.”

Category: Culture

Town [sort of] Pushes to Stop Selling Beer to Natives

“Whiteclay is a rural skid row, with only a dozen residents, a street strewn with debris, four ramshackle liquor stores and little else. It seems to exist only to sell beer to people like Tyrell Ringing Shield, a grandmother…On a recent morning, she had hitched a ride from her home in South Dakota, just steps across the state line. There, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, alcohol is forbidden. In Whiteclay, though, it reigns supreme.” J. Boseman, The New York Times

Tyrell Ringing Shield,with her partner of 16 years, Stewart, said Nebraska should not renew the liquor licenses for the stores in Whiteclay, Neb. Credit K. Barker NYT,

Excerpt: Nebraska May Stanch One Town’s Flow of Beer to Its Vulnerable Neighbors by Julie Bosman New York Times

“’You visit, you talk, you laugh, you drink,’ said Ms. Ringing Shield, 57, as she stood on the sidewalk with friends, chain-smoked Montclair cigarettes and recounted her struggles with alcoholism, diabetes and cirrhosis. ‘It makes you forget.’

Over the decades, there have been frequent protests outside the stores. Lawsuits against the retailers and beer distributors have been filed. Boycotts of brewers that sell to the stores have begun with enthusiasm. All those efforts have sputtered, though, and little has changed.

Graffiti in Whiteclay urging alcohol consumers to free their spirit. Credit- K Barker for NYT

Now many residents of Nebraska and South Dakota are pushing for the liquor stores of Whiteclay to be shut, disgusted by the easy access to alcohol the stores provide to a people who have fought addiction for generations. The Nebraska authorities, in turn, have tightened scrutiny of the stores, which sell millions of cans of beer and malt liquor annually. Last year, for the first time, the state liquor commission ordered the stores’ six owners to reapply for their liquor licenses…The issue has left people in South Dakota and Nebraska deeply divided. Most agree that alcohol abuse on the reservation is an entrenched problem, but they are unsure of the solution — and who is responsible.

WhiteClay. Photo: -Daily Mail

WhiteClay. Photo: -Daily Mail

The grim scene in Whiteclay has scarcely changed for decades. Particularly in the warmer months, Native Americans can be seen openly drinking beer in town, often passed out on the ground, disheveled and ill. Many who come to Whiteclay from the reservation spend the night sleeping on mattresses in vacant lots or fields. Even under the chill of winter, people huddle outside the liquor stores, silver beer cans poking from coat pockets.

A man sits outside WhiteClay Grocery, where he will likely spend the night. Next to him, another man lies passed out in his own urine.

Others argue that the problem of alcohol abuse on the reservation goes well beyond the stores in Whiteclay. Even some Native Americans said they were uneasy over upsetting the status quo. Vance Blacksmith, 47, a Native American and teacher on the reservation, said he favored leaving the stores alone.

‘They’re not hurting anyone,’ he said. “Drinking is a personal choice. The people who drink are trying to accept life as it is. And it’s depressing, being here on Pine Ridge.’

Terry Robbins, the sheriff of Sheridan County, has found himself at the center of the fight over Whiteclay. Sheriff Robbins echoed a common sentiment heard from both Nebraskans and Native Americans: If the stores lose their licenses and close down, people in search of beer will just drive farther to get it, endangering themselves and others on the roads. He favors containing the problem in Whiteclay, rather than allowing it to spread out over the county’s nearly 2,500 square miles.

Passed out in fron tof liquor store in WhiteClay. Photo-indianz.

‘The people that want to drink are going to drive and get alcohol somewhere,’ he said. ‘What I’m thinking is that it’s going to put more drunk drivers on the country roads.’”

Category: Culture, Health

New Elk Hide Provides Glimpse into Native Culture

“The Rockwell Museum has a new addition to its Native American Gallery. It’s a painted elk hide estimated to be about 100-years-old. The painting on the hide shows a visual record of a traditional buffalo hunt, and what would have happened back at the camp once the hunt was over.” M. Ross, My Twin Tiers News”

Rockwell’s New Elk Hide

Excerpt: The Rockwell Museum has a new addition to its Native American Gallery.  Michelle Ross, My Twin Tiers News

“It’s believed to have been made by Washakie or one of his followers – a famous artist in the Shoshone tribe. The museum says the work was made during captivity on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

Chief Washakie, Shoshone

‘One of the most fascinating aspects to me is this division of labor that you see depicted on the hide that is really split along gender lines,’ Rockwell Curator of Collections said.

Members of the Shoshone tribe

There were very specific jobs that men would have done and very specific jobs that only the women would have done.

Elk Hide Robe Shoshone, 1900 The Brooklyn Museum

hide painting by Shoshone Chief Washakie Buffalo Hunt

The museum also has an activity for families where children can trace symbols of the Indian nation on a paper hide to illustrate events during their own year.” 

Category: Culture

Natives March On White House to Rally for Rights!

“March 10, 2017, Organizers of the Native Nations Rise march say it was intended as a show of solidarity against a federal government that has long shunted aside indigenous concerns on a range of environmental, economic and social issues.” J.Helm, The Washington Post

An activist puts on a giant “Make America Great Again” hat while protesting outside the Army Corps of Engineers office. A. Wong:Getty Images

Excerpt: American Indians around the U.S. march on White House in rally for rights By Joe Helm, The Washington Post

“With wet snow falling, the demonstration started just east of Verizon Center, as the marchers set out on a course through downtown. Despite the foul weather, the protesters were in good spirits, cheering loudly and chanting, ‘We’re cold, we’re wet, We ain’t done yet!’  Office workers peered out of windows, some waving or giving the thumbs-up. ‘I’ve never really protested before, but this is so important for everyone,’ said Elizabeth Turnipseed who came to the march with her husband David, a member of the Puyallup tribe in Washington state.’ Our waters are being destroyed, and I’m just tired of them disrespecting Mother Earth.’ 

Protesters use coup sticks to jab at an effigy of trump in front of his hotel in downtown Washington. Michael S. Williamson:The Washington Post

The march was led in part by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been involved in a long-standing dispute over the Dakota Access pipeline. The tribe has argued in court that the 1,172-mile pipeline threatens its drinking water, crosses sacred lands and was approved by the government without adequate consultation.

photo- Kevin Lamarque:Reuters

Work on the $3.8 billion pipeline, which is owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, was halted in December by  President Obama. The Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would look at alternate routes for the pipeline and that it would undertake an environmental-impact statement.

Native teepees are erected on the Washington Monument grounds by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe- Bill O’Leary:The Washington Post

But in January,  the current administration signed an executive order giving the pipeline project the go-ahead. The Army Corps granted an easement for the oil company to drill under a reservoir on the Missouri River that is adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and construction resumed in early February. The company has said it would be just a number of weeks before up to 550,000 barrels of oil a day can begin flowing through the pipeline.”

Category: Native Rights

The Moon Over Temple Mounds at Crystal River

“The Moon Over the Mounds program at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park began at least 15 years ago as a way to invite people into the park to learn about the Native American mounds there in a different way…  They will get an overview of the site, where there are burial mounds, temple/platform mounds, and a plaza area. They will also learn why it was a great place to gather for so many years.” L. Root, ICTMN

Temple mounds at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Excerpt: Learn About Native American Mounds By Moonlight by  Leeanne Root, ICTMN

” Moonlit tours of the Native American mounds are led by retired park rangers as well as archaeologists like Gary Ellis, director emeritus of Gulf Archaeology Research InstituteDuring a Moon Over the Mounds walk held February 10, Ellis noted that the site is a National Historic Landmark and still retains most of its cultural integrity, and the park service intends on keeping it that way. Rangers make sure the Native American mounds are protected from the possibility of falling trees, which are removed if deemed dangerous.

The area was occupied from about 1500 BC to about 1300 AD, and according to Ellis is the best example of a burial complex in the southeast. He noted that burial complexes are common in the Ohio River Valley, but not so much in the southeast.

Temple Mound glows in the dark to lead visitors to the top during the Moon.

‘To see it in Florida, in this context and almost the only one of its kind with a society that is essentially hunters and gatherers, that’s a pretty marvelous thing, Ellis told the nearly 90 attendees gathered on February 10.”

The next Moon Over the Mounds event will be held on March 10 at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, 3400 N. Museum Point in Crystal River, Florida. For more information call 352-795-3817.

Category: Culture