Tag Archives: Smithsonian American Indian Heritage Month

SNAHM Guest: Cynthia Eden

Hi friends! Today we have the lovely Cynthia Eden guesting with us. As she says – November is winding down, and I know the rush is starting for holiday madness, but I hope we all take a minute and reflect. I love that Cynthia has such a rich background, but I think all of us can take a look back. I hope you’ll all chime in – especially since Cynthia is so beautiful and adorable. Seriously – you want to hate her cuz she’s basically so perfect but you can’t because she’s so nice. XD

Anyway, here is what Cynthia had to say.

Memories In A Box

Hi, everyone! It is such a pleasure to be here with you—a huge thanks to Limecello for inviting me over! When I was growing up, one of my very favorite things to do was to pull out the old box of pictures that my mom kept in the bottom of her closet (yes, these were the non-digital days!). In that magical box, my mother kept pictures of her relatives and my father’s relatives. They were grainy, faded photographs. The edges had turned nearly white because they had been touched so many times over the years. Continue reading

Happy Day of Thanks!

So I’ve realized that “Thanksgiving” is … not exactly the greatest most authentic holiday, not just because of the obvious consumerism, but also because it trivializes and appropriates Native American … well everything. There’s a blog post from the National Museum of the American Indian that says it much better, from someone who has much more right than I do to speak on the subject. It’s written by “Dennis W. Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Clan and San Juan Pueblo Winter Clan and a descendeant of Sitting Bear and No Retreat, both principal war chiefs of the Kiowas. Dennis works as a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C..” I hope you’ll read what he wrote. I had to include his credentials because … you did you read them?!

Anyway – here’s my otherwise awful contribution. I wanted it to look like kidart – so … heh I think the words are much worse than the image. Regardless I hope you all had a lovely holiday, ate lots of delicious food, and get all the deals your heart hopes for. And if you have a bit extra to buy me a gift … well that’s just gravy. 😉

SNAHM Guest: Pamela Clare

Hi friends! Time flies, yes? Today we have Pamela Clare is visiting with us today, and I’m so excited to have her share. I don’t know if you’ve ever read her I-Team stories, but if not, you really have to, and especially don’t skip book 1 – Extreme Exposure – which is one of my favorites. Anyway, what a timely post, and lovely yet painful – like so much of Native American history.

Naked EdgeAs a writer of Native descent, I’ve tried to cover Native issues in ways that make them accessible to the outside world. As a reporter, I spent years traveling back and forth to the Navajo and Lakota reservations covering a range of issues from forced relocations to the struggles of traditional native people to hold onto their culture and languages. As a fiction writer, I put my years of reporting on these topics into Naked Edge (I-Team #4). Continue reading

SNAHM Guest: Dabney Grinnan

Hi friends! So – it’s Smithsonian Native American Heritage Month and I’ve been extremely remiss in my posting I know, but we’re working on it. What I love about the Heritage Months is different voices and perspectives. Both what we might expect to be usual as well as the ~Unusual ones. I roped Dabney into writing a post for me based on a conversation we had about names – which led to this little tidbit about her. I hope you all give her a warm welcome.

When I was in kindergarten my grandmother, Pocahontas, came to my school and gave a presentation about our famous ancestor. I still have the newspaper article about my grandmother’s visit—it is, I suspect, the first time I was ever quoted by a reporter. When asked how I felt about “being descended” from the Indian princess, I shared I didn’t like it when my friends teased me about it and I was very glad I wasn’t named for her. Continue reading

SAIHM Feature: Dee Tenorio

Hello my friends! To close out my year of Smithsonian Heritage Month posts, we’ve got Dee Tenorio!!! You might think “haven’t we seen her before for this?” And yes! You have! Which is kinda cool to my mind, right? Extra double heritage! 😀 Please give Dee a warm welcome!

When Indians Feast…

ConvictedI’m an Indian—Chumash, Apache and a wee bit of Maidu, though nowadays, everyone just calls me Native American—so as you can imagine, that makes Thanksgiving a little complicated. It’s hard to celebrate a day that is universally recognized as the day that sealed the fate of my people. As a kid, the story of saving the pilgrims was told less as a unity tale and more of a cautionary one: no good deed goes unpunished. You gotta be careful who you help and all that. It’s understandable, of course, that the elder Indians wanted us to learn from what was considered the mistakes of the past. There wasn’t many of us left and lets face it, historically Indians had a habit of believing what they were told and then getting burned for it…literally.

So, let’s go ahead and picture young Dee trying to reconcile her culture with today’s society. Teachers didn’t like it when I protested wearing a paper pilgrim hat in second grade. They were less happy that I felt making a paper headband with two feathers stapled on was a racial stereotype and that a girl wearing a full on headdress was not only wrong but bordering on blasphemous. No, I could not bring up the small pox or that the pilgrims eventually turned on the Indians who saved them. We were supposed to think on the importance of the one day they came together in peace and harmony.

But it wasn’t that simple for me. The whole time, the lessons in my head fought with what was in front of me. Thanksgiving is bad….juicy turkey. Thanksgiving is bad….cute turkey parade! Thanksgiving is bad….smells so goooooooooood! Thanksgiving is bad….two days off school!

Four Weddings and a Fiasco: Wedding WishesClearly, a compromise had to be made.

Thankfully, Mom had the answer…she always does. Thus, our family created “Turkey Day”. It’s not thanksgiving to us, it’s the day we eat a hell of a lot of inexpensive turkey, watch a ton of movies and pretty much don’t move except to get more pie. Sure, it’s pretty much what everyone else does, but the root of it doesn’t feel like betrayal to our people this way. It’s about being together, pooling our resources so all of us have more than enough to eat and laughing together for hours on end. It’s how my family celebrates that we’re still here. It’s also how we plot surviving Christmas, but that’s another story…

Thank you, Dee, for this post. I think it brings up a lot of issues people just gloss over, or don’t even know (remember?) – especially with how this holiday has turned to consumerism. A good reminder to think of others, and reflect.

It’s been a long year of many unplanned things. I started working on Smithsonian Heritage Month features in 2012, and I never imagined it’d turn out like this. I’m glad I went on this journey of exploration and I’m thankful you were all with me on it. Forward and such!

Thanksgiving

Hello my friends! So, today is Thanksgiving. I’m sharing a video from The History Channel with you.

Thanksgiving is a nice time of year for people to reflect, and spend time with their loved ones. To say what they’re grateful for, and what is good in their lives.

This year, I’m also celebrating American Indian/Native American Heritage Month so I feel like I’d be remiss if I just posted a picture of pie topped with whipped cream. (Which I considered – cuz that I could do, as opposed to a kid turkey hand craft thing.)

I think this is important to consider too, from National Geographic Kids! (I feel like it would’ve been important if we had been taught this too…)

Native Americans and Thanksgiving

The peace between the Native Americans and settlers lasted for only a generation. The Wampanoag people do not share in the popular reverence for the traditional New England Thanksgiving. For them, the holiday is a reminder of betrayal and bloodshed. Since 1970, many native people have gathered at the statue of Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts each Thanksgiving Day to remember their ancestors and the strength of the Wampanoag.

So, I hope you have a lovely holiday. I also hope you consider a little bit of the history too. Be well. <3

SAIHM Feature: Alex Powell

Hello my dears! Today we have a really thought provoking post from Alex Powell, who is another first time guest to ALBTALBS! I really hope you’ll read it and think about what she says.

Rangers Over RegulusHello, my name is Alex, and I’m Limecello’s guest for Smithonian American Indian Heritage Month.

I’ll start off by saying that I’m First Nations, which is what we call Native American in Canada. My people live in the Cariboo Central Interior of British Columbia. My birth mother is from the Saik’uz band of the Carrier nation, also called the Stoney Creek band.

You might have heard of it, perhaps not. There was a biographical book written about one of the people from my band called Stoney Creek Woman: The Story of Mary John that was quite famous in Canada for a few years, when I was young.

I only recently found this out, because I was adopted at birth by the people I now know as my parents, both of whom have British backgrounds.

It’s not uncommon for First Nations people to be disconnected from their culture here. The marks left on the collective psyche of my people by the Indian Residential Schools are still affecting us. Many people tell us that we should simply “get over” it, as if it were a high school break-up instead of over 100 years of my people’s culture being systematically destroyed.

And it wasn’t destroyed by burning our books, for we had none. And it wasn’t destroyed by burning down our villages either. It was done by taking our children from us and abusing them until they didn’t remember how to speak their own language or the stories passed down that existed only in memory.

“Get over it,” as if it’s ancient history, and we should just move on.

The last Indian Residential School in Canada closed in 1996. I was seven.

Across BordersMy birth mother, whoever she was, was an alcoholic, trying to drown out the memories of physcial and sexual abuse, of her classmates dying from tuberculosis, of being forced to forget her own culture and assimilate.

I worked at a law office for a while, when I was younger. The lawyer I worked for was working for First Nations people who had been at those schools, to try and get some restitution from the government for what was done to them. Most of them couldn’t get through their statements without crying, leaving the office with red eyes and tear-stained faces.

All the money in the world could not fix this, could not make them forget the abuse and torture they were put through, the culture and language lost to them.

I myself speak English perfectly. I also speak French and Japanese. I don’t speak any of the Carrier language, which is considered endangered, as so few people speak it now.

I’m telling you all this because history would like to forget the things that Canada has done, just as it likes to forget the Chinese head tax and the Japanese internment camps. It remembers the Underground railroad well enough, as if this will make up for the hurt their country has caused.

Currently, there is an inquest going on in Canada, trying to discover why so many First Nations women go missing and turn up murdered. There are also camps up all over Wet’suwet’en nation to combat companies that want to put oil pipelines through their land.

Rocking HardI’m telling you this because people like to call us dirty, and lazy, and stereotype us with drug and alcohol abuse and prostitution. They call us “Native Americans” as if we are all one people, rather than an extremely diverse group of nations. I am not the same as the Ojibwe in the east, or the Apache in the south. I’m not Blackfoot or Cree from the plains, and I’m not Inuit from the north.

I’m Carrier. My people built pit-houses to survive the harsh Canadian winter, and food caches to keep away wild animals from our food. We didn’t wear war bonnets like the tribes from the plains, or build longhouses like the coastal tribes.

I’m telling you this because when people write about us, I want them to know the truth, as harsh as it is.

I also want you to know, that we’re not lazy or dirty, and we’re not all substance abusers, and our women are not all prostitutes.

I’m a published author, I have a degree in English, and I’m applying for an MFA at UBC.

I have friends from all over the country that are doing just fine, apart from having to deal with micro-aggressions and racism. We’re going to university, we have jobs, and we are still fighting to be recognized when most people would rather forget us and put us in museums, as if we were ancient history. We’re rediscovering our own culture like outsiders.

Not all our stories are tragic, but you have to remember our history.

I’m a writer, and many of my peers want to write about Native American characters. They always ask me what they should be careful of, because there is a huge different between a well-rounded character with a developed backstory and a stereotype.

The noble savage is a stereotype.

The sexy savage is also a stereotype.

No one should let ignorance stop them from writing a well-rounded character with a First Nation’s background. All one has to do is ask. Ask about our history, and what our culture is currently like. Do research and interviews with people who are First Nations.

There are not very many First Nations characters in mainstream media today. The ones that do appear follow the well-known stereotypes or are played by white people.

I want to change that. It’s the reason I became a writer to begin with, to bring characters to life that are from different walks of life than most characters in the spotlight of mainstream media. And I’ll start off by telling you a story. My story.

I am Alex, and I’m Carrier.

That’s my story. Not all the story, of course, but it’s a start.

Thank you so much for sharing, Alex. My heart breaks for all the wrongs and indignities that have been put on so many innocent people.