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November 9, 2010

Two For Tuesday: Native American Heritage Month

Kate Hart
What is it? Post two of anything: book reviews, pictures, quotes, poems, songs, videos, rants, shout outs, whatever floats your boat. Just connect them somehow. That's it.

Today: I have mixed feelings about "awareness" months, no matter what the topic, mainly because they seem to imply that their topic doesn't matter the other 11 months of the year. But then again, obviously the topics haven't been mattering, so maybe it's better to matter for 30 days than none at all.

Obviously the issue is a lot more complicated than that, but I can't deny that if we have to choose a month to raise the profile of native cultures, November's the month to do it. All over the country, schoolchildren will  start making pilgrim hats and construction paper headdresses and fake tipis, and I will rage that the plains Indians wore headdresses, not the people in the Northeast - who also did not live in tipis - and for the love, will someone please at least attempt to tell children a Thanksgiving story that is in the least bit realistic... and so on and so forth.

Luckily there are a lot of folks on the internet raising awareness on a daily basis.

General Knowledge and Discussion:
  • Native Appropriations: "Discussing the use of Indigenous cultures, traditions, languages, and images in popular culture, advertising, and everyday life." Most recent posts include discussion of a Harvard frat's decision to throw a "Conquistabros and Navajos" party. To paraphrase Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers: REALLY, HARVARD? She also has an amazing guest post about the New York mosque controversy and the desecration of holy spaces.
  • My Culture Is Not A Trend: "Hi, I'm a Native American, and I'm fed up with the appropriation of my culture by those desperate to be trendy, hip, ironic etc." Tons of interesting conversation, a great deal of which is sadly instigated by hate mail the blog owner receives. 

More Specific:
  • Want to counteract the myths and stereotypes that your kids pick up? Lee&Low Publishers has a list of good books.
  • Like Native fashion but smart enough not to don a hipster headdress? Learn about Native American designers at Beyond Buckskin.
  • ETA: Unfortunately I'm late in posting this, but the Red Nation Film Festival went on last week in LA. And on their website, I found...  WTF. "To date there have only been 4 contemporary American Indian women stories ever produced in film history in the United States." I repeat: W. T. F. 
  • I found that website via Gil Birmingham. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT. I follow the dude who plays Billy Black in Twilight. And he tweets a ton of good info on indigenous causes and happenings around the country and abroad, so I'm not even going to pretend to be embarrassed.


  1. I'm with you on the "Cause of the Day" stuff wearing a little thin, but having grown up in "Indian Territory" (Oklahoma), I definitely have a soft spot for my Native heritage. My great grandfather was a Cherokee, and I spent many days working in the tribal public schools that still exist there today.

    Any support given is needed and appreciated. Thanks, Kate.

  2. I'm not too into awareness months/days/etc. For one, there are so many of them now, and some causes are even sharing months, etc. that it feels like, "so what?" Also it's impossible to have awareness months for all the people who should have awareness months. And I'm not convinced awareness months do anything. Mostly I just hear griping. Though I feel like if done properly, these types of things could be well utilized and make people think.

    To sum up: great post.

  3. Thanks Kaits!

    EJ, I'm in Arkansas now but my family is all Okies too, from all over the state. Where are y'all from?

  4. I'm in Arkansas too...just a shout out.

    The real stories are even better than the legends that get passed around. we just have to know them so we can share them.

  5. Thanks for the links, Kate, and I love the new layout! It's pretty.

  6. Actually the Iroquois (Northeast) did wear headdresses, they are just not exactly like the ones most people think of.

  7. Tamara, I know- I think we have the same zip code! :)

    Thanks Remilda!

    Sarah, I didn't know that! Thanks for telling me - maybe my Thanksgiving rage will be lessened this year. LOL

  8. Great post. I also wanted to point you to a blog that has really upped my American Indian awareness, and is related to YA, so probably up your alley. :)

  9. Hey, I'm Native and I'm with you, but don't Blog this, only "hipsters" read this crap. And from the looks of your audience that's all your getting.

    Oh and I cough wind of it by some other retard hipster.If your that pressured about it, get a JD and sue these fks for defamation.


  10. Thanks Amy, I like that one too!

    Anonymous, I'm not sure what your comment is supposed to mean - sounds to me like troll bait. But I find the word "retard" every bit as offensive as Native stereotypes. So knock it off.


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