Category Archives: Culture

Indigenous Shoppers Were Racially Profiled in Store by Winnipeg Police

“Desiree McIvor wants to see changes in how retail employees interact with Indigenous people.” H. Caruk, CBC News

Excerpt: Winnipeg couple told they ‘look like’ thieves, asked to leave Winnipeg craft store

Desiree McIvor is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against a Michaels store.

“A Winnipeg woman was hoping to buy a Christmas gift for her grandmother at a craft store earlier this week but was told she wasn’t welcome to shop in the store.

Desiree McIvor and her partner were out shopping on Monday afternoon and stopped at the Michaels store on Regent Avenue West.

‘We weren’t even in the door for about five seconds and this lady approached us and I thought it was going to be the usual ‘Hey, do you need any help or assistance?’ said McIvor, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation.

Michaels said it is investigating the incident and take matters of discrimination seriously. (Holly Caruk:CBC)

‘She said, ‘Well, you’re not welcome here and you guys have to leave.’

‘I was in complete shock, I couldn’t believe what she said.’

McIvor, who is eight months pregnant, said the employee then accused the couple of stealing from the store earlier that day.  ‘She said right to my face, ‘You guys look like people who robbed us this morning,’  she said. ‘It was humiliating because everybody in the store stopped and stared at us.’

McIvor said they tried to explain to the employee that they had never been to the store before but the employee insisted they leave…McIvor said they asked to speak to a manager, and the employee said that she was a manager, so they decided to leave the store.

McIvor’s partner called the store from the parking lot and asked for the general manager to try and make a formal complaint. That manager then admitted the employee made a mistake, McIvor said.

‘They just apologized and said we can shop, get a discount for the day, but at that point, who wants to spend your hard earned money when somebody just basically straight out called you a thief?’

A spokeswoman for Michaels said the chain is committed to treating customers with dignity and respect but would not elaborate on their store policies surrounding these kinds of events, or say what recourse a customer has if they feel mistreated…’We are actively investigating the situation and will take appropriate action as necessary.’

McIvor, a 31-year-old university student, said she’s been followed around stores in the past, something she says is common for Indigenous people, but has never been asked to leave.

McIvor said she and her partner felt like they were racially profiled and singled out because of their appearance…McIvor said she won’t ever shop at the store again, and is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. She wants the store to change its policies so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. ‘I want them to stop treating Indigenous people… grouping them all together in the same category and saying because one stole everybody steals.’

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission said complaints of racial profiling are common and continue, especially in retail and in law enforcement.

‘This kind of discrimination has been a steady source of complaints for the commission for a number of years,’ said Karen Sharma, executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

‘Anytime you’re making those kinds of judgments based on who you think a person is, rather than on who they’ve proven themselves to be, you open yourself up to risk, whether that’s a human rights complaint or some kind of other legal action,’she said. 

Sharma said customers need to be aware of their rights, but, even more importantly, retailers need to ensure their staff are aware of their obligations.”

Cree Artist Kent Monkman Redraws History for 2020

“Coonskin caps for Christmas! I was a kid in mid-20th-century America. The biggest cultural event I can remember from early childhood was Walt Disney’s gigantically popular “Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter” on TV. The first installment of a serial, which debuted on Dec. 15, 1954, it was basically about the exploits of a Tennessee backwoods gun-for-hire, and promoted nostalgia for the days when the Wild West was ‘won’ from indigenous peoples”. H. Cotter, The New York Times

Mr. Monkman’s “Resurgence of the People,” from 2019, references art history, from “Washington Crossing the Delaware”

Excerpt: A Cree Artist Redraws History, By Holland Cotter, The New York Times

“A verse of the theme song, which was everywhere on the radio, went:

Andy Jackson is our gen’ral’s name

His reg’lar soldiers we’ll put to shame

Them redskin varmints us Volunteers’ll tame

‘Cause we got the guns with the surefire aim

Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!

Andy Jackson was, of course, Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, whose 1830 signing of the Indian Removal Act led to the Trail of Tears, and whose portrait now hangs, at the request of the 45th and sitting president [Trump], in the Oval Office of the White House.

Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” from 1851, is one of many art references Mr. Monkman updates. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

All this came back to mind when I saw “The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The second in a continuing series of contemporary works sponsored by the Met, it consists of two monumental new paintings by the Canadian artist Kent Monkman, installed on either side of the museum’s main entrance in the soaring Great Hall.

The paintings are pretty stupendous. Each measuring almost 11 feet by 22 feet, they are multi-figured narratives, inspired by a Euro-American tradition of history painting but entirely present-tense in theme and tone. And both are unmistakably polemical, suggesting that with this and other commissions — an earlier one, sculptures by the Kenyan-born artist Wangechi Mutu, is still in place on the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade — certain winds of change could be blowing through the Met’s art-temple precincts.

Mr. Monkman, 54, is one of Canada’s best-known contemporary artists, and one who has stirred controversy on his home ground. Of mixed Cree and Irish heritage, he has made the violence done under European occupation, to North America’s first peoples, a central subject of his work.

But he has also, crucially, flipped a conventional, disempowering idea of Native victimhood on its head.

Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, in heels, provides a rescuing hand in Welcoming the Newcomers. His sources include Courbet and Titian.Credit Kent Monkman

His paintings, done in a crisply realistic, highly detailed, somewhat cut-and-paste illustrational style, are far from grim… the image of the artist himself in the guise of his alter ego, a buff, cross-dressing, gender-fluid tribal leader named Miss Chief Eagle Testickle…Miss Chief is an avatar of a global future that will see humankind moving beyond the wars of identity — racial, sexual, political — in which it is now perilously immersed.

The most radical aspect of his work in the context of the Met — an ‘encyclopedic’ museum thoroughly Western in attitude — is that it presents a view of art history through the eyes of the Other, in this case Native Americans and people of Canada’s First Nations. The shift in cultural positioning begins with the exhibition title.

Mistikosiwak, or Wooden Boat People, was a Cree name for European settlers arriving in what is now North America. One of the two paintings, Welcoming the Newcomers, depicts such an arrival, with Native people greeting strangers at the Atlantic shore.

But the scene is less a reception than a rescue. A capsized boat is visible in the distance… Several of the painting’s Indigenous figures are based on examples of 19th-century art in the Met’s collection. Among them are sculptures like ‘Mexican Girl Dying’ by Thomas Crawford (1846), on view in the museum’s American Wing, and paintings like Eugène Delacroix’s ‘The Natchez,’ in the 19th- and early 20th-Century

European galleries. Each of the originals perpetuates the myth of the Native Americans as a vanishing people, doomed to disappear, a fiction that usefully underpinned and fueled another myth, that of Western ‘Manifest Destiny.’

On the left: A detail from Eugène Delacroix’s “The Natchez,” 1823-24 and 1835. The scene was inspired by a romantic novel in which the infant born to a Native couple is doomed to die.Credit The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On the right:A detail from Kent Monkman’s “Resurgence of the People” updates Delacroix’s pessimistic image by depicting a healthy baby in the arms of a same-sex Indigenous couple. CreditKent Monkman

In Mr. Monkman’s paintings, Indigenous people are, for the most part, proactive figures, shaping the world around them, which doesn’t mean he ignores the catastrophes that followed the European occupation… when he depicts the figure of a child apparently sick and dying in his mother’s arms, he lifts the figure from a painting of “The Massacre of the Innocents” by the European artist Francois Joseph Navez.

Mr. Monkman’s image of the child — a reference to the damage done by the forced placement of Indigenous children in white-run boarding schools — appears in the second Met-commissioned painting, ‘Resurgence of the People.’ Here we are in an imagined future. Centuries have passed since “Welcoming the Newcomers.” Terrible things have happened to the planet. The only remaining bit of solid earth is an island guarded by armed white nationalists and soon to be submerged by a churning oil-slicked sea.

Indigenous people now command an open boat, of a kind familiar from contemporary news photos of refugees. People rescued in the first painting are now rescuers themselves, pulling in and tending to whoever swims toward them, including a white businessman wearing a chunky gold watch and Hermès tie. All of the boat’s rowers are Indigenous; more than half are women dressed in contemporary traditional styles…And once again Miss Chief presides over all, leads the way forward.

She’s modeled on the title figure in Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” one of the Met’s most popular American art attractions… Even in the Met’s two-story-high Great Hall, the two pictures read clearly, vividly, particularly “Resurgence of the People” with its more organic composition, toothsome colors, and skillfully managed use of painted light…If the museum intends to sustain this engagement, as seems likely under its current director, Max Hollein, commissioned projects like this one (and Ms. Mutu’s) are one way to go, leaving trophy displays of celebrity collectibles to art fairs.”

The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)

Through April 9 2020 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.

Agate House at night-by Melany Sarafis

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM TALKING-FEATHER!

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

Happy New Year Gif courtesy PicGifs.com.

Early Christmas Gift for Zuni Pueblo!

“The Zuni Pueblo said it has been awarded $5 million as part of a federal grant for tribal-designated housing entities across the United States.” ICT

Excerpt: Zuni Pueblo gets $5 million grant to construct housing, ICT

Zuni Housing Director Mike Chavez told The Gallup Independent last week that the tribe is in dire need of housing and that the grant will help. He says if the tribe had 900 homes available right now, it could fill all of them. He was at a housing-related legal symposium in Las Vegas when he learned about the award.

Hand-painted Zuni Pottery from Misson Del rey

Chavez said it is the first time Zuni Pueblo has been awarded funds for housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Competitive Indian Housing Block Grant.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM TALKING-FEATHER

Agate House at night-by Melany Sarafis

 

Category: Culture

The Inuit Sharing Old Traditions With New App

“A social media app geared toward the outdoor lives of Inuit launched Wednesday with features that tie traditional knowledge to smartphone technology. The Siku app named after the Inuktitut word for sea ice, allows users to trade observations about dangerous conditions, document wildlife sightings and trade hunting stories… It also allows travellers to add in the traditional terms for potentially perilous conditions using their own language.” The Canadian Press

Puasi Ippak tests out the Siku mobile app… (The Canadian Press:HO-Arctic Eider Society)

Excerpt: Inuit sharing ancient knowledge of ice, sea and land with new app  The Canadian Press

“The app was created by a team of developers assembled by the Arctic Eider Society, a charity based in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, and launched at a conference in Halifax on Wednesday.

Joel Heath, the executive director of the society, says the project was born from a desire by Inuit elders to document and share oral history with young people.

Heath said during the launch at the ArcticNet conference that Inuit hunters are out on the ice or land most days gathering food for their communities, and they have unique needs that existing social media like Facebook and Twitter don’t address…Through the app, hunters can upload such information into Siku and tag other areas of interest, such as particular wildlife they’ve tracked.

A file photo of Joel Heath, of the Arctic Eider Society. (Google Canada:Aaron Brindle)

Safety is among the key attractions of the program, said Heath.

During his presentation, he explained how one hunter testing Siku had placed a triangular warning sign on a map of an ice field near Sanikiluaq in the spring, providing a traditional Inuit term for its dangerous condition.

‘It looks like a normal tidal crack … But he knew the difference that if the wind comes across this kind of crack it can break it open,’ he said.

Hours later, the satellite map showed how the crack had widened enough that Ski-Doos on the wrong side of it wouldn’t be able to return.

The hamlet of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut.

‘It shows how [a hunter] taking a few photos and tagging can mobilize Indigenous knowledge,’ said Heath.

The app has four main types of posts: Social, Wildlife, Sea Ice and Tools. There are 80 Arctic species listed under Wildlife, including birds, fish and land animals. Users can make posts that include observations of individuals, groups, tracks, nests and dens, as well as fields such as habitat, diet, body condition and other details about rare or unusual events.

The Social button is where users can post about hunting trips and share photos, tagging them with location and other information.

The project was the winner of the 2017 Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada, bringing $750,000 in funding.”

 

Paiute Tribe Has the Only Native Cannabis Lounge in Las Vegas

“Nevada law restricts marijuana consumption to private residences until 2021, but sovereignty exempts the Las Vegas Paiute.” D. Hernandez, The Guardian

Benny Tso, the former chair of the Las Vegas Paiutes, stand inside Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace. The dispensary is owned by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. Photograph- Jeff Scheid

Excerpt: ‘The tribe has taken over’: the Native Americans running Las Vegas’s only cannabis lounge-Dan Hernandez, The Guardian

“A couple seated at a high-top table smoked a joint, while six tourists in a circular booth nearby drank THC-infused beer and reviewed the flower menu. It was the morning of the Southern Paiute’s traditional hunt, when tribal youth learn to shoot and harvest mule deer as adult ‘providers’, but Benny Tso, 43, was stuck in the Las Vegas Paiute’s new cannabis tasting room, taking meetings and making calls.

The Tudinu, or ‘desert people’, from whom the Las Vegas Paiute descend, have lived in southern Nevada  for more than 1,000 years, spending summers in the mountains and winters by a valley spring until the area was taken over by white settlers. They worked as ranch hands for several decades, and in 1970, the Las Vegas Paiutes became recognized as a sovereign nation, after which they launched several businesses.

Customers gather at the NuWu Tasting Room on Saturday 5 October 2019. Photograph- Jeff Scheid:The Guardian

In 2017, they opened the NuWu Cannabis  Marketplace, a glass-walled, big box structure that half resembles a car dealership. NuWu – which means ‘the people’ in Southern Paiute – sits on the tribe’s colony one mile away from the neon-lit Fremont Street Experience.

Last month, NuWu became the go-to dispensary for many in Las Vegas, and not just because it’s the only one with a drive-thru window. NuWu opened Nevada’s first cannabis tasting room in October. Sovereignty exempts them from a law that restricts marijuana consumption to private residences until 1 July 2021…for the next 21 months, this 55-member Southern Paiute band has the pot lounge business all to itself.

‘We laughed at first about it. Like, ‘oh crap, we’re going to be weed dealers?’ said Tso, who served as the tribal council chair for over 10 years. ‘After we got the jokes aside, we started digging into the numbers. It was just a different way to generate revenue for the tribe when we realized we needed to do something to put our people in better situations. Within a year and half this is going to compete with our other businesses,’ Tso said of NuWu Cannabis Marketplace. ‘I think we’ve prolonged our tribe by three to four more generations.’ He noted that federal assistance for healthcare, education and law enforcement services has dwindled since the recession…Occasionally, NuWu has to cut people off. But overall the experiment has gone so well that two to three other Native American tribes visit each week to learn about the industry some are calling ‘the new new buffalo’, a reference to the term used for casinos when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988…The strength and ingenuity they have used to survive centuries of marginalization has parallels to the Las Vegas Paiutes’ creation story, which states that their ancestors roamed the desert as ants until a great flood forced them to crawl up a mountain and ascend trees. When the water receded, they returned to the ground and became ‘wo legs’ – human beings – and an especially communal, hardworking sort.

‘We do get teased because we’re city Indians, but a majority of us know our culture and that’s the point,’ said Tso, whose arms are covered in tattoos of traditional Paiute symbols and tools.

His community may need NuWu to be that mountain they climb in the event of a perfect storm, since the tobacco shop revenue plateaued years ago, right as healthcare costs rose to levels unmet by federal support.”

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Native Sean Sherman Finding His Roots Through Food

Sean Sherman The founder of The Sioux Chef, a company devoted to Indigenous foods, created recipes to showcase tribal diversity across the lower 48 states.”M. Nilsson, The New York Times

Sean Sherman Credit…Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times.

 

Excerpt: Sean Sherman’s 10 Essential Native American Recipes By Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times.

“Growing up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s, I ran wild with my cousins through my grandparents’ cattle ranch, over the hot, sandy South Dakota land of burrs and paddle cactus, hiding in the sparse grasses and rolling hills… Back then, there were no restaurants on Pine Ridge, just one grocery store and a couple of gas stations dotting the immense reservation. Our kitchen cupboards were stocked with government commodity food staples — canned fruit, canned meat, powdered milk, bricks of yellow government-issued cheese, and dry cereals and oats packaged in white cardboard boxes with black block lettering… I often think of my great-grandfather, who was born in the late 1850s and grew up like any other Lakota boy, riding horses bareback to hunt with a bow and arrow. At the age of 18, he witnessed the Lakota and Cheyenne victory against the United States government at the Battle of the Little Bighorn; he also encountered the aftermath of the Wounded Knee massacre, where hundreds of Lakota men, women and children were viciously slaughtered.

Later, his children were forced into boarding schools, forbidden to speak their Native language, required to learn English and to become Christians. Through the 20th century, these harsh efforts at assimilation began to erase thousands of generations of Indigenous traditions, wisdom and ceremonies.

As soon as I was 13 and legally eligible to work, I got my first job, at a steakhouse in Spearfish, S.D. I knew a little about cooking: As the oldest child of a busy working mom, I was often the one who got dinner on the table for my sister and me. I swept floors, bussed tables, washed dishes, prepped food and eventually became a line cook…Through my career as a professional chef, opening restaurants and cafes in Minneapolis, I gained experience cooking Italian, Spanish and other European cuisines.

But it wasn’t until I spent time in Mexico, observing how closely Indigenous people live to their culinary traditions, that I realized I had very little idea of what my own ancestors ate before colonization.

So I began to research the history of our land before the Europeans arrived…In piecing together so much of the story that has been lost, I learned that the original North American food system was based on harvesting wild plants for food and medicine, employing sophisticated agricultural practices, and on preserving seed diversity. My ancestors used all parts of the animals and plants with respect, viewing themselves as part of our environment, not above it. Nothing was wasted.

Chef Sean Sherman -Photo- Food Stylist- M Ruggiero.

In 2014, I started a business, The Sioux Chef, with a focus on identifying, sharing and educating people on the authentic Indigenous foods of North America, from Mexico to Alaska, with dishes free of the colonial ingredients Europeans introduced: wheat flour, dairy, cane sugar and even beef, pork and chicken. Our team connected with Indigenous chefs, farmers, seed keepers, academics and leaders to create menus for feasts that we served in tribal communities. We obtained seaweed from Maine to season Atlantic oysters, and white cedar in Duluth, Minn., for a venison roast. Elders tell us they haven’t tasted these flavors since childhood… The Times asked me to choose dishes that, viewed together, form a portrait of Native American food in the United States.

I am not interested in recreating foods from 1491 — rather, I hope to celebrate the diversity that defines our communities now. And so these recipes offer a glimpse into the range of dishes Indigenous chefs and cooks are making today, and highlight ingredients from the regions they reflect… The true foods of North America may not be available at every grocery store or even online, and they are not coming from industrial farms: They are seasonal and vary from region to region.In many of these recipes, I offer substitutions, but hope readers will want to experiment with true regional ingredients, sustainably harvested.”

View Sean Sherman’s Native American Recipes Here

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