An Offensive Native Statue Comes Down!

“San Francisco will take down a controversial statue depicting a submissive Native American man after an outcry sparked by a deadly rally last summer in Charlottesville, Va., led the city’s arts commission to vote unanimously this week to remove it. The statue, known as ‘Early Days,’ shows a Native American man at the feet of a Catholic missionary, who towers over him and gestures toward the ground…”  M. Gold, The New York Times

The sculpture shows a Native American man at the feet of a Catholic missionary. Credit Jeff Chiu:Associated Press

Excerpt: San Francisco Will Remove Controversial Statue of Native American Man — By Michael Gold, The New York Times

“Critics have called the statue racist and disrespectful, saying it promotes genocide, portrays Native Americans as inferior and relies on inaccurate stereotypes. (Among the specific critiques: that the person depicted in the statue is styled like a Plains Indian rather than a member of any California tribe.)

“It’s more than just racist,” said Mariposa Villaluna, who helped organize a grass-roots campaign to remove the statue. ‘It celebrates human subjugation.’

The statue has been the focus of heated debate in the past. In the early 1990s, when the city announced a plan to move the Pioneer Monument to its current location, Native American activists urged the city to leave ‘Early Days’ behind.

After years of debate, the city kept the statue but installed a plaque meant to add historical context…But the decades-long effort to move “Early Days” to storage was reinvigorated in August, after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville over the potential removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee…The city is planning to remove the statue sometime this year, according to Kate Patterson, a spokeswoman for the arts commission. It will be moved to storage and replaced with a plaque that details the reasoning behind the decision.”

Category: Social

Sherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Predator!

“The Native American Carnegie Medal award-winning writer of 26 books and writer and producer of the movie Smoke Signals, Sherman Alexie (Spokane-Coeur d’Alene,) has been accused of sexual predatory behavior and sexual harassment by several dozen women. Since last Saturday, allegations against the author have reached a fever pitch on social media.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

Sherman Alexie. The

Excerpt: Sherman Alexie Called Out For Sexual Misconduct For Over A Twenty-Year Period, By Vincent Schilling, ICTMN

“[According to Litsa Dremousis—a close friend of Alexie for over 15 years] ‘In multiple instances, he explicitly threatened to end women’s careers if they told anyone he had sexually harassed them… It seems—at least so far—that he targeted Native American women writers particularly hard.’

On Wednesday, Alexie issued a public apology amid the allegations of sexual misconduct stating, ‘Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am so sorry.’

‘I reject the accusations, insinuations, and outright falsehoods made by Litsa Dremousis, who has led charges against me. Ms. Dremousis has portrayed herself as simply being a friend of mine. She has withheld from the public the fact that she and I had previously been consenting sexual partners.’

Dremousis said women were afraid to confront Alexie due to his prominence in the world of literature. She confided in friends that because she knew him, she would volunteer to confront him…Alexie states Dremousis is only telling a partial truth and claims he has no recollection of making threats.

Dremousis informed Indian Country Today via phone that National Public Radio has the largest reach in the country and she sent several victims of Alexie to NPR who have agreed to come out against Alexie publicly…Several journalists have confirmed NPR will be the first outlet to give reports first-hand from the victims of Alexie.

She also surmises that Little Brown Publishing would most likely not publish a sequel to Alexie’s award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. She also doesn’t think there will be a movie based on the book which is now in pre-production.

Washington DC-based bookstore Duende District has stated they will also no longer be carrying Alexie’s books… Duende District is a WoC-owned business & our mission is to uplift voices of color, esp. women of color, & we do not separate Alexie’s work from his actions.'”

Category: Social

Film “Road of Iniquity”: A World Of Native Gangsters

“First Nations filmmaker Mark Ennis (Maliseet Algonquian and a member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada) can now add ‘internationally-recognized’ to his resume as the Cine Las Americas film festival based in Austin, Texas will be showcasing his film, ‘Road of Iniquity’…Road of Iniquity tells the story of a young man who returns home after being released from prison. He struggles to gain a sense of normal life after prison, and gets caught in the middle of a conflict between two First Nations organized crime factions operating a lucrative drug trade through the U.S./Canadian border.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

Poster for film Road of Iniquity

Excerpt: Road of Iniquity, Highlights A Gritty World of Native Gangsters-Vicent Schilling, ICTMN

“Filmmaker Mark Ennis told ICMN in an email, Road of Iniquity is a film devoid of the persistent stereotypes of spirituality and stoicism that often plague Native characters represented in scripted entertainment.

Road of Iniquity. Characters Edward and Gabe.Courtesy Maliseet Fury Pictures and Kistikan Pictures.

‘My intent was to tell a story in a modern way, to offer a world where the Native characters are real people with the same universal wants, needs and desires as anyone else.’

Scene from Road Of Iniquity.

‘Native people have been consistently essentialized as the ‘Other,’ which has given way to the continuing portrayal of Natives as mysterious, stoic beings—portrayals that scream of rote, one-note representations.’

Justin Rain and Linsay Willier in scene from Road of Iniquity. twitter

The film features Native actors Justin Rain, Linsay Willier, Michael Lawrenchuk and Justin Courchene, and a song by A Tribe Called Red – ‘Burn Your Village to the Ground,’ as well as songs by Indigenous artists Leonard Sumner and Billy Joe Green.”

Category: Films

“Native Nerd Movie Review: Black Panther Slashes at Colonialism”

“Truth be told, I ordered tickets to see the “fan night movie premiere” over a month in advance to be sure I could see Marvel’s Black Panther in all its IMAX 3D glory…As the all-too familiar Marvel Comics Studio graphics began to play on the screen and I adjusted my 3D glasses in the dimming theater. I was surprised by something I didn’t expect. The theater was completely silent. No food wrappers crinkling, no idle chatter, nothing, I was…like so many others, completely mesmerized by Ryan Coogler’s take on a superhero based in Africa.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

Chadwick Boseman stars in Black Panther.

Excerpt: Native Nerd Movie Review: Black Panther Slashes at Colonialism Using More than Vibranium, Vincent Schilling, ICTMN

“For so many of my childhood years, I have been force-fed the history ‘That any civilization of color was the less than superior race of people.’ I have been taught that the colonizers were the ones that brought knowledge, technology, weaponry and skill-sets to bring other ‘inferior races of color’ into the modern age. I have always been taught: brown skin means you are inferior.

The greatest warriors of Wakanda, the Dora Milaje also known as the ‘adored ones’ are a team of women who serve as the personal bodyguards of the Black Panther.


I have brown skin as a Mohawk man. I grew up in the streets of Compton, feeling inferior, just as so many of my friends did. I never dreamed there would someday be a movie, where a black hero could be something ‘superior.’I wept as the movie started. Many of my brown friends never made it out of the streets.

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker plays Zuri, an elder statesman in Wakanda. Black Panther Movie.

This movie undid so much of that damage in my childhood mind, I literally wept with relief that: Yes, world, people with brown skin can be intelligent, people with brown skin can be scientists, they can be strong women warriors, brown people can excel more than colonizers have done in history.

There was a lot about Black Panther that a comic aficionado like myself could expect. (Prince T’Challa is bound to become king, that much is already known as per previous incarnations of Marvel movies as seen before this one.) But Prince T’Challa’s process of becoming King  is where the magic happens.

Scene from film Black Panther.

Let it be said, I do NOT speak for all Native American people, and I have coined the term “Native Nerd Review” because I was a skinny Native kid that love all nerdy things like science, comics, magic tricks, practical jokes and more. As a self-proclaimed Native Nerd, I’d like to think there are more Native nerds out there like me who get a kick out of Marvel and DC superhero movies, Zombies and so much more out there in this world so rich with geekdom…the fictional world of the Black Panther is a beautiful one.

Black Panther’s Lupita Nyong’o (L) and Dania Gurira (R) prove power of the Dora Milaje

I was thrilled to see such a lack of stereotype among so many different tribes…Ryan Coogler introduces different tribes of Africa. He shows that each tribe has separate belief systems, cultural perspectives, types of dress and regalia and ways of life. All of this is compared and contrasted to the urban ways of America, a powerful sentiment that resonates throughout the film.

Scene from Black

The costuming of the world of Wakanda is nothing less than pure genius, I marveled (Pun-intended) at the flawless wardrobe, the female warriors and the intricacies of tradition infused with the most modern of technologies. ..The movie was an absolute blast. I enjoyed every slash of vibranium claws by the Black Panther and screamed with excitement with the overtaking of the bad guys. I also screamed with excitement when one character uses the word ‘colonizer’ as an insult…As I left the movie behind, I did go through a bit of a grieving process as a Native American man.

I am all too familiar with the term ‘colonizer.’ I am all too familiar with being called (first-hand) an inferior race, even though indigenous peoples invented such things as watertight wetsuits, syringes from quills and animal bladders, medicines and more. I grieved because Native Americans don’t yet have a superhero as completely fantastic as the Black Panther. He has a suit that is impenetrable, and has claws with the strongest metal in the world, vibranium.

The beautiful Lupita Nyong’o at the Los Angeles world premiere of the Black Panther . Photo- Vanity Fair

Danai Gurira wowed in a black and pink Viktor & Rolf dress at the Los Angeles world premiere of Marvel’s Black

I have hope that one day we will have a Native superhero without an eagle or wolf friend standing at his side, one that doesn’t have super tracking abilities or anything else related to the elements…If the Black Panther is overlooked by the Oscars this year, I am going to give the biggest SMH the social media world has ever seen.

I enjoyed every single solitary moment of this spectacular film! It is a MUST SEE!

Category: Films

Tribal Leaders: Infrastructure Bill Should Include Indian Country

“Native American leaders are once again pushing for a seat at the decision-making table, saying this week that tribal nations have been overlooked for ‘too often and too long.’ Their latest concern comes with Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan…That same day, President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) told the annual gathering of tribal leaders that, in 2018, no infrastructure bill should pass unless it includes Indian Country’s priorities.”  A. St. Clair, NPR

President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians gives the annual State of the Indian Nations address.

Excerpt:  Tribal Leaders: Infrastructure Bill Should Include Indian Country Priorities — Andrienne St. Clair, NPR

“Trump urged Congress to act quickly on an infrastructure bill that would stimulate the economy, shorten the process to approve building projects and address continuing infrastructure needs in rural areas. The proposed bill would also give more power to state and local authorities and provide training for the younger American workforce.

Trump’s proposal reiterates points he outlined in the State of the Union last month, when he described America as ‘a nation of builders.’Keel used a similar phrase in his State of the Indian Nations address on Monday.

Native peoples are also builders and managers of roads and bridges and other essential infrastructure,’ he said. Keel said that a 2018 infrastructure bill should ensure that all communities — including native communities — have the framework needed to succeed. He emphasized that Congress should give tribes the same opportunities that state and local governments have to raise money, invest sufficient funding in basic building needs, remove barriers for tribes to make decisions and support tribal right to consent to developments that affect tribes and tribal lands…Keel is on board with the president’s proposal.

‘It’s not that we disagree with his priorities,’ Keel told NPR on Thursday. ‘We just want to be included in any of those plans for development of plans or policies that affect Indian Country in a way that we can not only protect our lands, but we can improve the relationship.’

And, from what Trump said in his State of the Union address, he seems to be on board with the entire country working together to improve the country’s interior:

‘Together, we can reclaim our building heritage,’ he said. ‘We will build gleaming new roads, bridges,    highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.’

But then, it may come down to semantics and how Trump defines ‘together,’ ‘we,’ and ‘American.”

Category: Politics

Exactly Who’s Running for Navajo President This Year?

“Just six months out from the primary election, only two candidates — Rex Lee Jim and Dineh Benally — have formally announced their intention to run for the Navajo Nation’s highest office. But several more seem to be warming up their campaign muscles — including the incumbent.” A. Bencenti and C. Yurth, Navajo Times

Dineh Benally.

Excerpt: Who’s running? Lineup still unclear for NN president campaign By A. Bencenti and C. Yurth, Navajo Times

“Filing is late this year — it doesn’t even start until May 17 — so keep in mind there are no official candidates as of yet. Still, the rumor mill is grinding away as usual, so the Times tracked down some of the usual suspects to see if it could get a straight answer out of anybody.

Rex Lee Jim

Responding to a request for comment with a written statement, President Russell Begaye declared ‘we” are “seriously considering’ going for a second term, accompanied by a list of accomplishments along with works in progress he would like to continue.

President Russell Begaye

Vice President Jonathan Nez,

Unless the president of the Navajo Nation gets to use the “royal we,” one could assume he’s referring to Vice President Jonathan Nez, which would seem to quell rumors that Nez is preparing to run against his current boss.”


Category: Politics