Category Archives: Social

Holding On to A Racing Tradition

“Indian Relay, a type of bareback horse racing practiced by Native American tribes in the plains states, blends heritage and danger. For one family, it’s a shared passion that means everything.” V. J. Blue, The New York Times

Richard Long Feather, left, with his sons Jace, in white shirt, and Jestin. Credit- Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Excerpt: Holding Tight to a Racing Tradition, Photographs and Text by Victor J. Blue, The New York Times

“Richard Long Feather is searching for his son Jace among the bareback riders as they storm toward the grandstand at the Crow Fair. Stepping away from the rail and onto the dirt of the track, Richard raises his arms above his head as a signal: In one motion, he is telling Jace where to aim and warning Jace’s horse to slow down. Before Jace even reaches his father, he leaps from the back of his horse. Hitting the ground bounding, Jace grabs a handful of mane of a second horse, held by his brother, Jestin, and swings himself onto its back. Jestin slaps the second mount on the rump, and it fires back onto the track. Richard hands off the first horse to a fourth teammate and braces for the next exchange. Dust swirls. The crowd cheers.

This is Indian Relay.

For the Long Feathers, races likes these are both a family undertaking and a deep-rooted passion, a form of competition practiced and sustained by Native American tribes in the plains states. In Indian Relay’s traditional form, one rider completes three circuits of a track, changing his mount after each loop.

Richard, who works as a maintenance supervisor at a local hospital, loading his horses into his trailer after an evening of training.

Each race features up to eight teams consisting of a rider, three steely handlers and three horses. The competitors ride bareback, using only reins and a whip to stay on. As the rider approaches the starting line for each successive lap, he leaps from a running horse onto a fresh one. It is dangerous, athletic and intensely competitive.

Richard Long Feather, the head of his family and his team, was born in 1963 on the Standing Rock reservation, which straddles the border of North and South Dakota and which is home to the Hunkpapa band of the Lakota to which he belongs. Raised by his grandparents, he spoke only Lakota until he was 5. The first horse he rode was yoked to his grandfather’s wagon as it delivered water and provisions to isolated families…As a teenager, he began entering so-called suicide races — unofficial cross-country competitions on improvised courses. After his uncles recruited him as a rider for their Indian Relay team, he built a reputation as a tough rider and dependable breaker of colts.

Richard’s thoroughbreds, failures on the racetrack, now carry his son in Indian Relay races.

As an adult, he and his wife, Virginia, settled their young family near Fort Yates, N.D., where Richard taught his children to ride. The Long Feathers entered their first Indian Relay in 2013… Training for relays is a constant said of the 6 a.m. agility workouts that fill his winter months…Conditioning for the horses starts early, as well. ‘This year we started and there was still three feet of snow on the ground,’ he said. ‘Make ’em jump through those big snow banks. It just builds ’em up.’ In the springtime Jace and Jestin move to the track to train the horses in pairs, working on their exchanges. These split-second handoffs are the key to Indian Relay success. The top relay teams all have quality horses, but every competitor knows a relay is won or lost in the exchanges: If the two transitions are not performed flawlessly, it will not make much difference how fast the horses are…It isn’t just the riders who have to be skilled athletes. The setup man who holds the next mount as the rider circles the track — on Richard’s team, this is Jestin’s job — has to be a great horseman, too. ‘t’s impossible to hold a horse still for longer than a minute,’ Real Bird said. ‘You’ve got to let a horse be a horse.’ And the catcher — Richard, on Team Long Feather — who must stop the speeding horse that arrives has to be fearless. ‘He’s going to get run over,”’Real Bird said, ‘and he’s got to be O.K. with that.’

Richard blessing, or “smudging,” his horses with sage before a race at the Crow Fair.

As post time nears, Richard fills a can with dried sage and lights it. While the boys wrap the legs of the three horses they will run — Cabaret, Mr. Coke Man and Runaway Cal — Richard makes his way from stall to stall, wafting the gray smoke over the horses’ backs, half-singing prayers in Lakota for speed and safety in the race.

Ken Real Bird, a Crow horseman, calls the races at the fair. He has seen the sport grow from a bush-league pastime to a high-stakes competition, with purses worth tens of thousands of dollars. No one knows for sure when Indian Relay began in its modern iteration. The Shoshone Bannock Tribe in Idaho claims to be the originator of the sport, but Real Bird notes that the first Crow Fair, in 1904, had horse racing.

The first heat goes well for the Long Feathers. The exchanges are smooth, and Jace runs hard for second place but is caught at the wire and finishes third. It is good enough to secure a spot in the Sunday’s championship race, but Jace knows it won’t be easy. Teams are getting better every year. ‘Two years ago, you could be good and win anywhere,’ he said. ‘Now, you’ve got to be good just to keep up.’

Richard Long Feather feeding his horses.

The Crow Fair races offer unsatisfying results for the Long Feather team: Jace finishes in fifth place, though the family still heads home with a check.

Richard Long Feather’s horses grazing after competition.

As the sun rises the next day, Richard pulls into his driveway and unloads the horses. Restless after hours in the trailer, they sprint off over the prairie. In minutes, they are out of sight.”

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!

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Happy New Year Gif courtesy PicGifs.com.

“Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story”

“Using brief statements that begin ‘fry bread is,’ Kevin Noble Maillard, who is a member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation tribe, creates a powerful meditation on the food as ‘a cycle of heritage and fortune.’  The beautiful illustrations are by Juana Martinez-Neal.” Publishers Weekly

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard

Excerpt: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

In each spread, descriptions of fry bread range from the experiential (flavor, sound) to the more conceptual (nation, place). Bolstering the bold statements, spare poems emphasize fry bread in terms of provenance (‘Fry bread is history/ The long walk, the stolen land’), culture (‘Fry bread is art/ Sculpture, landscape, portrait’), and community (‘Fry bread is time/ On weekdays and holidays/ Supper or dinner/ Powwows and festivals’).

In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children carrying ingredients and learning about each statement.

A fry bread recipe concludes the book, and an author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history (“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians”). Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62672-746-5

Category: Culture, Social

The Seminole Tribe Sending Supplies to the Bahamas

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida has airlifted some 35,000 cases of bottled water over the past five days. Now relief efforts are moving to the sea in light of rapidly changing weather conditions.” S.H. Schulman, ICT

Photo credit-Seminole Tribe-ICT

Excerpt:First by air, now by sea; Seminole Tribe boosts relief effort as new storm forms By Sandra H. Schulman ICT

“Tribal spokesman Gary Bitner says for the past five days water was trucked using Seminole Gaming vehicles and then flown to the Bahamas by Sheltair Aviation. Now it’s being loaded onto shipping containers and shipped by boat.

The urgent delivery took a turn Friday when the government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for the region. The Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence are expecting tropical storm conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The new storm first referred to as “potential tropical cyclone nine” which later became Tropical Storm Humberto, may produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches and maximum sustained winds near 30 mph through Sunday with as much as seven inches in the northwest and the central Bahamas. This is frightening news for the islands that experienced such massive devastation and flooding earlier this month…The tribal council will be meeting next week after the storm has passed to re-evaluate relief efforts and the best ways to provide them.

The tribe’s aviation department had been making three roundtrip flights a day since last week with two helicopters and a single-engine Pilatus PC-12/45 airplane. Deliveries were made in cooperation with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which operates the Grand Bahama International Airport at Freeport.

‘The Seminole Tribe has a long and important history with the people of the Bahamas, and we are committed to helping them in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,’ said Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As for now the Seminole Tribe of Florida say their eyes are now on the coming tropical storm.”

 

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United Houma Nation Braces for Tropical Storm Barry

“Louisiana tribe [United Houman Nation] evacuates citizens to shelters provided by federally-recognized tribes ** Updated Saturday 9 am EST” P. Talahongva, ICT

Chief August Creppel of the United Houma Nation

Excerpt: Tribes brace for Tropical Storm Barry, By Patty Tala hongva, ICT

“Tropical Storm Barry is expected to be a full-blown hurricane by the time it hits land in the gulf coast early Saturday morning. It is the first hurricane of the season.

For days Chief August Creppel of the United Houma Nation, south of New Orleans, and his staff have been issuing warnings and preparing its 17,000-plus members to evacuate 24 hours in advance. The tribe’s headquarters is in Golden Meadow along the gulf and in the direct path of the storm. Most of the members live in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish which are both under emergency evacuation orders by local officials.

This photo was taken in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Some tribal members didn’t rebuild after Katrina. (Facebook)

‘Definitely thousands of our people will be affected by the hurricane,’ warns the chief. He also serves as firefighter and will be on duty until Monday morning.

‘We have a radio station,’ says Creppel. ‘I have a council of people in different areas who keep in contact with local communities. We also have a tribal website we put out information.’

On the front page of the tribe’s website is a form members can fill out to report storm damage and request funds for repairs once they return home.

Tribal members packed their bags and piled furniture high on Thursday to try and avoid the expected floodwaters as much as possible. Nothing is guaranteed because the storms seem to be increasing due to climate change.

A Category 1 hurricane used to be ‘no problem,’ said Chief Creppel. ‘Normally our people would just ride it out, but now it doesn’t take much high water and our people are already flooded.’

Because they are only state-recognized tribe he will not get direct federal aid to help his tribal members. They will rely on state assistance, the goodwill of donors and emergency-assistant groups like the Red Cross, which has already contacted the tribe.

‘We can do more for our people once we get federal recognition,’ he says. ‘Right now, I’m trying to push through Congress to get a bill passed.’

The Tunica Biloxi tribe has a big pavilion and are set up to host storm evacuees. Tunica is a three-hour drive away.

Houma citizens can also seek shelter with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw which is a five- to six-hour drive away. Both of those tribes are federally-recognized.”