It's 2014 -- which means I get to repost blogs in "year in review" format and call it a new blog entry!
Hello Everyone! After an extended break up to Hoopa and out to town, one kid friendly New Years Eve Pajama Jam (complete with jammie fashion show) and a carload of dirty clothes I am finally back in front of a computer. I'm starting off 2014 with a recap of a few blog entries as my "year in review" on the old bloggity blog.
These are in no particular order, though I have to begin with the Walking Dead one because, dang, that thing got AROUND and at one point it was sent to me in an email telling me I should read my blog.
I've had some emails asking about what's up for 2014. In 2014 I am writing - a lot. I have a dissertation to write. I'm finishing a book. I'm finishing some short stories. I'm finishing a documentary with Wren Usdi Productions. AND I plan to write more blogs. So hopefully you have liked me on Facebook which is where I update when I post.
Thank you to everyone who sends me comments, emails, questions and stories. I read each and every one even if I can't write you a personal reply. And to my friends and family for constantly inspiring me to write more... And to my daughter - for being awesome sauce.
And now-- on to the BLOG YEAR IN REVIEW (with updates!)
Excerpt from the blog: Anyway, Indians. When I started watching the Walking Dead I immediately thought about Indians. And when people tell me “Man, Indians, they are always going on and on about genocide and stuff and they should just get over it” I often pause and say “Well, consider the Walking Dead…”
Lawrence Gross (he’s a scholar and a Native person) talks about “Post Apocalypse Stress Syndrome” where he says that Native American people have “seen the end of our world” which has created “tremendous social stresses.”
California Indians often refer to the Mission System and the Gold Rush as “the end of the world.” What those who survived experienced was both the “apocalypse” and “post apocalypse.” It was nothing short of zombies running around trying to kill them.
Think about it. Miners (who were up in Northern California, where I am from) thought it was perfectly fine to have “Indian hunting days” or organize militias specifically to kill Indian people. These militias were paid. They were given 25 cents a scalp and $5 a head. (In 1851 and 1852 the state of California paid out close to $1 million for the killing of Indians…)
In effect, for a long time in California, if you were an Indian person walking around, something or someone might just try to kill you. They were hungry for your scalp and your head. They had no remorse. There was no reasoning with them. And there were more of them then there was of you. (Zombies. But even worse, living, breathing, people Zombies. Zombies who could look at you and talk to you and who were supposed to be human. Keep that in mind. The atrocities of genocide during this period of time, they were not committed by monsters -- they were committed by people. By neighbors. By fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters.)
Read the full entry here: http://cutchabaldy.weebly.com/1/post/2013/12/on-telling-native-people-to-just-get-over-it-or-why-i-teach-about-the-walking-dead-in-my-native-studies-classes-spoiler-alert.html
*Update* Dear lord, this thing went everywhere! Over 11,000 likes to date. I can only say thank you to everyone who took the time to read. Even the person who wrote and told me "This could have been a lot shorter." (I do read and consider each of your comments by the way. And yes - I have to approve them but that is because otherwise I get a lot of spam on the blog. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts and stories.)
In Which I freely admit that I cried when I watched Dusten Brown have his daughter Veronica Brown taken from him in what amounts to a legalized kidnapping of a Native child simply because a "nice white couple" wanted her
Yes. I have emotions. Excerpt from the blog (that was republished on Native News Network!):
Dear Dusten Brown:
I never know where to begin. The truth is that I have started, re-started and changed this letter many, many times. And after much deliberation I always seem to start the same way. Dusten, I am sorry.
I am sorry for every ignorant internet comment, every misinformed and lazy reporter, every single time I ever watched Dr. Phil (before and after he did that awful, biased show about your daughter). I am sorry for reporters not wanting to tell your story, for people who believe they have all the information without doing any research outside of their one-sided view from the adoptive couple.
And I am sorry that I participated in this. I am sorry that I tried to present this case as "complicated" when it is not complicated. I am sorry that I thought I had to be nice. I am sorry that I wrote that the adoptive couple were not "bad people" and that in my effort to be "reasoned" I erased their malevolent intent and continued attempts to perpetrate injustice. I am sorry that I believed in "justice" and "reason" and that I didn't immediately understand that your case was a call to action, not a call for support.
Read More: http://cutchabaldy.weebly.com/1/post/2013/09/on-separating-veronica-brown-from-her-father-dusten-brown-a-letter-to-dusten-brown.html
*Update* I almost cannot do an update justice in this situation. (In the end, Veronica was taken from her father by two people who then turned around and sued him for their lawyers fees and who refuse to drop the charges in their state. This effectively bars him from visiting her. They took his daughter and they also want his money. They are diabolical...) For the most up to date information I would suggest visiting the Standing Our Ground for Veronica Brown Facebook page to learn more about the continued unethical adoption practices that separate daughters from fathers (Native or otherwise). This is an issue I continue to teach and talk about. It is something that my friends and I plan on addressing in numerous ways because Veronica Brown belongs with her father.
In Which I go see another (as in an additional, as in people keep writing these things and then acting all "surprised" that Native people don't fawn all over and fall in love with their continued musings about how real Native people are dead) play about a "famous" Native person.
Excerpt from the blog: I suppose the one thing I can’t get out of my head, that thing I woke up the next day repeating was the last line of the play. At the very end of the play Crazy Horse is left on stage alone and he pulls back a curtain to reveal the Pine Ridge Reservation, supposedly, maybe, the “modern” Pine Ridge - a trash filled, barren, wasteland. Crazy Horse cries. He says “The Lakota have nothing.” He calls this place the “pitiful remnants” with pennilessness, depression, and “despair of an empty life.”
And he says “The Lakota are finally defeated.”
Before he turns his back on us and mutters. “It is better to be dead.”
It is better to be dead.
Did this play, did this author, did Crazy Horse just tell me, a living, breathing, singing, dancing, loving, laughing, joking, mothering Native woman that it is better to be dead than the Native person that I am? Did Crazy Horse just tell me, he would rather be dead, than to be a part of the living, breathing, singing, dancing, loving, laughing, joking, mothering, fathering, grandparenting, Lakota people?
It is better to be dead.
I left the theatre flabbergasted and… pissed. THIS is what passes as art? THIS is what people call material to “enrich, engage, educate, inspire and entertain” (that’s from the message from the Executive Producing Director in the program BTW).
It is better to be dead than to be an Indian?
Read the full blog entry here: http://cutchabaldy.weebly.com/1/post/2013/11/in-which-i-go-see-crazy-horse-and-custer-so-you-dont-have-to-a-play-review-for-crazy-horse.html
*Update* There were protests held at the theatre by a group of Native people. The play house seemingly responded by allowing comments to be posted to their Facebook, but not refusing to stop the show. But then if you check their Facebook now they seemed to have edited the comments speaking out against the play? Also, they would only post reviews with semi-positive spins on the production of the play. Which is too bad for them as there was an opportunity for real dialogue and collaboration to create a more meaningful play that actually complicates the all too overused "dying Indian" trope.
In Which I Explain Why I Wear "Indian" Jewelry (short answer: cause it's awesome) and also how Hupa people been "blinging" since the year 1.
Excerpt from the blog: My interest was peeked by this idea - "why do I wear Indian jewelry?" I get the sentiment of what she is trying to say, so I'm going to offer my two cents, because I have two cents to offer, and because I think we need to have multiple people talking about the same issues because we want people to understand that "Indian" people aren't just one or two people who got interviewed for a movie, they are all different kinds of people from all different kinds of places. We want more than once voice, more than one view. The complexity of what it means to "be an Indian" is a far more interesting and important conversation then "what do all the Indians think about (insert random subject here)?"
I like to tell people "Well, at our last meeting of all the Indians we decided THIS is what we think about whatever issue or idea you are asking me about." Those meetings are pretty top secret. Often times I'll even localize it for people, when they are asking me "What do Hupa's think about...?" I'll say "Well, next week we're having another meeting of every single Hupa person and I can ask them what our official feeling is about that..."
I have always been taught in my family, and I notice a lot of people do it now, to say "I have been taught" or "I believe" or "What I know" or "What I heard." This is an oral history thing to me, a long tradition of "Tell me where you're coming from" and "understand that might be different for someone else." It's all about relativity, which Vine Deloria, Jr. wrote a lot about.
Read the full entry here: http://cutchabaldy.weebly.com/1/post/2013/01/5-reasons-i-wear-indian-jewelry-or-hupaswe-been-bling-blingin-since-year-1.html
*Update* Still rocking my Native jewelry. That picture is of my elk horn hair stick that I got for Christmas -- made by my brother. And yes, the jewelry is still awesome.
In Which I Write A Letter To A Dude - who wanted some "feedback" on a less than original appropriation of Native culture.
Excerpt from the blog: I wasn’t going to weigh in, because I’m busy, but also because many of my fellow Native community members were doing an awesome job offering reasoned responses to yet another example of cultural appropriation gone wrong. (This implies, of course, that there is cultural appropriation gone right, somewhere, out there, in the land of cultural appropriation. It probably has something to do with the Cheesecake Factory making Navajo Tacos, though I hear their frybread leaves something to be desired…)
First – a quick and dirty run down history. There is a company. This company wants to make a tshirt. The artist at the company designs one. It’s has an Indian looking guy on it with some feather headdress and earrings and whole bunches of generic “Indian” looking designs in the background. And underneath it says “Chief Life.” A bunch of people respond. Some like it, some don’t, some are concerned, some are concerned about people being too concerned. Friends of mine get involved. The artist asks for honest feedback about the design. People give it to him. He says some people are rude, some people aren’t, but mostly he thinks they are rude. He is surprised by the response so he “redesigns” it to be an Aztec guy, and not some generic Indian guy. (This seems to mean from the pictures I’ve seen that he changes the generic designs in the background to Aztec writing symbols and also adds some Aztec design looking earrings and an Aztec shield to the guys forehead. Everything is the same. It’s like, Mr. Potato-Head Indian Style. Exchange your cultural appropriation parts for others, make an entirely new Indian Mr. Potato-Head.)...
Read the full entry here: http://cutchabaldy.weebly.com/1/post/2013/03/humboldt-county-t-shirt-controversy-thats-all-up-in-my-facebook-or-native-american-mr-potato-head-now-with-aztec-parts.html
*Update* The response from people to this entry was amazing. I still meet people IRL who quote this blog entry to me. I haven't heard much on the t-shirt front since it happened. I was in contact with the artist a few times via Facebook. He said I misquoted him. I did not.
Here we go 2014!
Cutcha Risling Baldy is an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. She received her PhD in Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis. She is also a writer, mother, fan of "The Good Wife" and "The Walking Dead", who likes to go for long walks on long piers...
(5) Top Posts
On telling Native people to just "get over it" or why I teach about the Walking Dead in my Native Studies classes... *Spoiler Alert!*
Hokay -- In which I lead a presentation on what happens when you Google "Native American Women" and critically analyze the images or "Hupas be like dang where'd you get that dentalium cape girl? Showing off all your money! PS: Suck it Victorias Secret"
In which we establish that there was a genocide against Native Americans, yes there was, it was genocide, yes or this is why I teach Native Studies part 3 million
5 Reasons I Wear "Indian" Jewelry or Hupas...we been bling-blingin' since Year 1
Pope Francis decides to make Father Junipero Serra a saint or In Which I Tell Pope Francis he needs to take a Native Studies class like stat
I need to read more Native blogs!
A few that I read...