This week in #SettlerNonsense: Federal Indian law is a really badly written fiction story, Kevin Bacon is afraid of dirty handprints, Formation is cool but hmmm, and no Vanessa Hudgens... no.
This week in #Settler Nonsense (2/18)
It's the end of the week which means time for a new edition of "This week in #SettlerNonsense" a weekly review of some of the things that are just plain #SettlerNonsense.
#1: Antonin Scalia admits that the Supreme Court is just making shiz up as they go... in Federal Indian Law.
This article -- written by April Youpee-Roll about her experience meeting now deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia highlights one of the things that we've been saying about Federal Indian Law for a long time. It's just sort of made up based on whatever #SettlerNonsense happens to be in fashion at the moment. In her article she talks about meeting Scalia at one of his book signings. (Read her whole article. Seriously. Do it.)
As I handed over my book, I decided to go with, "I just wanted to thank you. When I was 10, I came to watch oral arguments in my family's case, and you joined the majority in our favor."
Take Sovereignty for instance ---
First Indians are sovereign because THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SOVEREIGN.
Then Indians are sovereign because "help we need you to help us cause we don't know how to help ourselves."
Then Indians are sovereign because "you're obviously sovereign governments, obviously. I mean you were making treaties with other countries long before the United States became the United States."
Then Indians are sovereign because "that's what the damn treaties say!"
But then people are like "but having sovereign nations within our nation is hard. Also we want all the land. Boo hoo."
So then the Supreme Court one day says that Indians are not sovereign they are "domestic, dependent" sovereigns and everyone who reads the Supreme Court decision goes "wait? What is that?"
They don't know. They just made it up.
We can play this game all day with Federal Indian Law. Like the freedom of religion. EVERYBODY has freedom of religion. Until one day the Supreme Court goes "except. Well not Native Americans. Okay, really it's not anybody. Because really the government can do whatever it wants with its land so long as they aren't directly targeting a religion." And the people go "wait? WHAT?" #TheyDontKnow #TheyJustMadeItUp
Argument for arguments sake. I guess the Supreme Court is supposed to make stuff up, that's kind of what they do. However, in the case of Federal Indian Law there are actually MANY MANY texts and ideas they could pull from that aren't just "made up" but instead are based in legal precedent. They don't have to make it up. It's just they ignore and/or don't know any real information about Native people, their histories, and their continuing societies and cultures. Why don't they learn about that in school? College? Law school? Clerking? #SettlerNonsense
#2: Kevin Bacon's new move is about a kid who steals haunted Indian artifacts from an Indian site and then the whole family has to put up with the scary Indian spirits that are coming to get them because...
WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP TAKING SHIZ THAT DOESN'T BELONG TO THEM? #SettlerNonsense that's why. This belief that all those things are yours for the "taking" because they don't belong to anybody anymore right? All the Indians are dead now, at least all the Indians that had cool rocks.
WHY ARE INDIAN SPIRITS ALWAYS SO MAD AND SCARY? #SettlerNonsense because they know deep down that Indians are just sort of pissed about all the #SettlerNonsense. This makes our Indian ghosts scary beings that want to come and make little kid's lives miserable. Also, in a world ruled by #SettlerNonsense Indian spirits tend to overreact, the way all Indians did back in the day. [sarcasm ahead!] GEEZ SORRY okay, we made you move out of your house, Cherokees. SORRY okay, we tried to take your children away from you and put them into schools where they were often abused. The whole "you guys are so sensitive" that even after you die you over react to things like some kid taking a rock is #SETTLERNONSENSE
WHY IS THIS THE FILM BEING MADE BY HOLLYWOOD? When there are so many other films that could tell much better stories? We can make a move about scary Indian spirits that haunt rocks but they don't make movies about scary white spirits trying to come in to some Indian families house and tell them they live there now. That's some real #SettlerNonsense
In Hoopa some of our First People who prepared the world for us went into the rocks/rivers/trees etc. This is a good thing. They are always with us. And they provide for and care for us as we provide for and care for the earth and all of its beings.
NOT-- "ooooo scary spirits in the rocks."
I feel like someone needs to make a trailer for what this movie would be with a Native family instead... The spirit shows up and makes dirty hand prints everywhere and the Native grandma is all "who's been touching my couch with dirty hands!" And then the kid gets in trouble and the spirit is all "aren't you freaked out now? I have dirty hands." And the Native kid is like "not really. I'm pissed. Stop getting me in trouble dude." End trailer. #MakeBetterMoviesHollywood
#3: Everybody is talking about Beyonce and how they are gonna get their behinds in Formation and I'm just over here like "wait, the director of Formation was also the director of No Doubt's WTF Native Appropriation video?"
Maybe you don't remember that video? It was ALL KINDS of #SettlerNonsense. Gwen Stefani was dressed up as an Indian. She then gets kidnapped by white lone ranger kind of dudes? And they drag her around, tie her to a wall, and threaten her with guns. All the time she is singing "do you think I'm looking hot?" #NotReally
I wrote about it here. http://www.cutcharislingbaldy.com/blog/an-open-letter-to-no-doubt-not-so-hot
What I said then was something like:
The video also features a tee-pee village, Gwen doing some sort of smoke signals dance and sending up red smoke, scenes of cowboys getting drunk and heading out to the tee-pee village to shoot point blank at Indian people. It features Gwen in a weird swimsuit thing dancing in front of a bonfire in combat boots while telling us that we can go ahead and check out her ragamuffin. There's a lot of feathers, a red dress, a tee-pee hideaway which is for some reason filled with a hookah, an African mask and a bunch of other vaguely ethnic looking stuff. And a dog.
Turns out the director of this No Doubt #SettlerNonsense video was Melina Matsoukas and she is also the director of Beyonce's new video causing all this conversation. And this conversation. And this conversation.
One of my favorite Hupa's in the world texted me the day that Beyonce dropped her Formation video and was all "I LOVE THIS VIDEO."
Me too, It's pretty awesome.
And then I find out that it's directed by the same person who thought that No Doubt's video was okay? How do you not walk off that set? How do you not go "listen, this whole part where we have Gwen Stefani dancing around in a Tipi that includes a Hookah and some African masks. It's like Cultural Appropriation threw up in there and she's dancing around in it. I JUST CAN'T. "
There is so much vision in the Formation video. The song is one thing (I love the song) but the imagery that is put along with it, the celebration, the modern nod to a rich and deep culture. It is not Beyonce dressed up in old timey clothes playing -- it is saying "this is a part of who we are and a part of who I am and I am proud."
So what does this mean? I haven't decided yet. There is something to be said about how the appropriation of Native people is so accepted. Also, how little regard there is for how their culture also builds who they are as strong people in modern times. I just haven't been able to really put it in to words... yet.
#4: Vanessa Hudgens and her boyfriend carved their names in Red Rocks in Sedona, AZ
And the world went "Stop with your #SettlerNonsense Vanessa Hudgens."
#5: The Bundy Militia literally pooped all over Native American artifacts
Sometimes people say "Cutcha, what is #SettlerNonsense" and instead of trying to write some kind of eloquent explanation like:
Settler Nonsense is the narrative of loss that is so prevalent in discussions about Native people. We are always losing something, our languages, our futures, our health, and our cultures. In this story, if we haven’t lost these things, we are on our way to losing them, one step away from an extinction that often feels inevitable and in many ways, improbably, accidental. Natives are always in the last stages of their existence. We have long past the time of the last Mohican or the last of our tribe. This is to solidify the settler colonial desire for an eventual inheriting of this land, a rightful, uninhibited, ahistorical passing of ownership from the poor, dying Indigenous to the stronger, healthier, more vibrant settler colonial society.
But instead I'll just say: #SettlerNonsense is a bunch of white dudes taking over some federal land and demanding that it be given to them because they have "rights" to it and then digging a trench and pooping all over it. Also it's kind of #SettlerNonsense that they couldn't just go "discover" it in the first place because, and as we come full circle, our own legal system says that the United States owns the land by "right of discovery."
The head of the militia keeps going on about how the land belongs to "the people" and you have to laugh because in his #SettlerNonsense he's partially correct.
The Burns Paiute tribe are "the people" of that area. The land was never ceded to the government. So if that land should be returned to anyone it's the tribe. Anything else is just flights of fancy, like you're making it up as you go along. Which, as we have established from the beginning is exactly what they are doing.
Palate Cleanser: The opposite of #SettlerNonsense is
Thank goodness this movie doesn't have Kevin Bacon in it because otherwise Zambo Dende would just be wandering around leaving dirty hand prints everywhere and acting like that's doing something. #MAKEBETTERMOVIESHOLLYWOOD
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...
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