Indian Pride In The Ivy League
At Dartmouth College, André Cramblit felt like an outsider. But at his latest reunion, he found that Native roots and considerable privilege mingled pretty well:
Landing in the middle of the luxurious Ivy League was an eye opener, given my modest upbringing. My roommate was the son of a president of a prestigious East Coast university. In my dorm’s freshman orientation group, I found myself sitting next to the Crown Prince of Ethiopia and a girl whose father bought her a professional soccer team for her 18th birthday. Also among my classmates were Michael and Nelson Rockefeller, Jr.
Most of my four years of college were spent living at odds with the political ideals and financial lavishness of these newfound “chums.” By going to this reunion I was putting myself back in that cauldron. But it turned out that, having all grown older, my classmates and myself had also grown a bit wiser, more open-minded and accepting.
I felt honored to be part of the memorial for our classmates who had passed on. It was a moving and poignant ceremony. I shared part of my Native Karuk culture by singing at the event and was amazed at the impact. Several people came up to me to express their appreciation for my role. I spoke to more classmates during the weekend than I talked to during my four turbulent years in Hanover.
Despite the discontinuity between the majority of my classmates and myself that exists even today, regardless of the angst of issues such as Dartmouth’s Indian mascot, and notwithstanding the financial chasm that separates most Native alums and our schoolmates, perhaps there is a bit of Dartmouth green in my blood after all. http://bit.ly/2avRZSv
Threading An Editorial Needle
A photo essay in the July issue of Smithsonian magazine by Luci Tapahonso (Navajo) is both powerful and problematic, writes Peter d’Errico:
Tapahonso’s essay focuses on the infamous boarding schools, whereat Native children were kidnapped from families and forcibly inducted into American culture under the motto “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Tapahonso focuses on the survival of Native Peoples from that experience—survival that carries deep scars, passed from the children who were kidnapped to their children.
The boarding schools were a knife stabbed into families and clans. The Canadian government has acknowledged this in what they call a “reconciliation process.” In the U.S., the federal government has done far less.
You can tell that the Smithsonian editors had trouble figuring out how to present Tapahonso’s text—and the photographs by Daniella Zalcman—without angering the politicians who vote their budget. The essay’s formal title reads, “For More Than 100 Years, the U.S. Forced Navajo Students Into Western Schools. The Damage Is Still Felt Today.” But the essay is one of three whose overall headline is “American Exiles: Leaving Home.”
“Leaving Home” sounds tame—even romantic—compared to “Forced.” The boarding schools were one element in a long—and still ongoing—effort to make Indians disappear as nations, to force them to become Americans. Many have succumbed.
If the Smithsonian were really to present the full history of the federal government’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples, the spread would be titled “American Holocaust.” That would stir up even greater anger in Congress than the 1995 controversy about the museum’s atomic bomb exhibit, or its 2003 exhibit about the Arctic and climate change.
Still, we can be thankful that Tapahonso’s essay made it through the gauntlet. http://bit.ly/2a3B457
A Case Of Selective Memory
The recent mass shootings of innocent people echo the Native past, writes Harlan McKosato, even if some don’t recognize it:
When there is a history of violence, bigotry and racism that is such an influential part of the past, it makes almost perfect sense that at it will manifest itself in what we’re seeing today here in America, Europe and elsewhere. When I watch or read news about what happened in Nice (France), Orlando (Florida), or Dallas (Texas), it’s almost as if I’m witnessing a distant scene from Wounded Knee.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at the Republican National Convention about people “living in fear” because of all the violence taking place across the country. Imagine being a Native American when Europeans viciously and maliciously came after our lands and resources. Do you think tribal people lived in fear for their lives, their children, and other family members?
Ever heard of the Andrew Jackson Indian-removal era and the Trail of Tears? Then came the U.S. Cavalry, who were infamous for attacking Native villages at dawn. Talk about living in fear.
I am not sympathetic to Islamic radicalism. I’m not saying that any particular kind of violence is justified. I am just sick and tired of hearing the media talking about how the Orlando massacre was the worst in U.S. history. That’s not correct. Why don’t they ever report about the massacres that Native people suffered?
Many Native people have healed through prayers and have let go of hatred and the resentment toward white people. Others have not. But as long as we act as if racism and violence never existed until the last few years, it will just be prolonged. http://bit.ly/2abdfx2