Indian country essays on contemporary native culture

Living the Heritage of Lac du Flambeau The perception that we were rejecting outsiders brought rounds of reporters to Lac du Flambeau to write about the currency of confrontation; and some anthropologists Cleland ; Handrick researched the historical patterns of resource use among the Chippewa. But amid the clash of cultures, ethnographers never found their way to Lac du Flambeau to ask about the modern meaning of practice transformed through time and treaty rights.

No one asked about the maze of tribal membership and politics; the empowerment of inter-tribal process; or the social act of spearing with a formerly feuding cousin. No one asked about the heritage, experienced and imagined, Flambeau and foreign, tentative and transforming, from which we act. No one asked us who we are or what it signifies to hunt and spear through treaty rights. The organization urged politicians to stop the practice of our treaties, adopting two Indians one from Lac du Flambeau who spoke in the exclusionary language of our heritage: Congress is derelict in its duties to abrogate the treaties which were made for full-blooded Indians….

Native American Culture Essay

There are no longer full-bloods, the treaties should be abrogated because they no longer apply. Indians with very little Indian blood are receiving benefits because of ultra-liberal interpretations of the treaties in recent years. His brother, Tom Maulson, then our tribal judge and spokesman for our spearers, began the season counting quota through the night, spearing with his son: Stocky like his father but blond-haired like his mother, Fred is a high school freshman who already has his own car and intends to join the Army after graduation. The American Indian Movement was now more welcome here, accepted for their willingness to drum within the dark at boat landings and walk the paths of counter-protests.

In the rhetoric of rallies and reporters, Maulson was called a radical by Others and some Indians.

General Characteristics

His stance was strengthened by white witnesses, who arrived in carloads from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee to stand in solidarity with the spearers. I remember Indians pressed together around the drum, separated from white witnesses and protesters by a human chain-link fence of strained police.

We sang invocations to the past and warrior words of Wounded Knee in the escalating drumbeats of aim involvement. But there were no Indian guns within these circuits of resistance.

There were no fists or fights. As the numbers of white witnesses to racism grew in these explosive seasons of spring spearing, notebooks, flashbulbs, and video cameras became the weapons of Indians and their supporters. In the now-familiar litany of protests, one parr member carried a speared, stuffed walleye pierced through the gut. As the season accumulated talk of quota violation and gunshots aimed at Indians in the sullen darkness of the spearing grounds, Butternut landing became a lasting symbol of the endless contestation over treaty rights: Six hours of racial taunts and beer drinking marked a protest by nonIndians at Butternut Lake in Ashland County during the worst incident of the fifteen-day Chippewa spearfishing season Sunday night.

The Lac du Flambeau Chippewa spearfishing there were far outnumbered by the protesters. Throughout the protest they remained in their boats, out of reach of the protesters straining against a police chain. Lakeland Times, 5 May 1 Four non-Indians were arrested, and in the constituted language of repeated rallies the voice of PARR was answered by the Chippewa: Representatives from Lac du Flambeau and several other tribes marked the end of the spearfishing season with a show of strength, unity and ceremony at Butternut Lake in Ashland county. A heavy show of law enforcement also prevented many anti-treaty rights protesters from showing up at the landing.

In the midst of questions of abuse of power by the tribal judge, protests at spearfishing boat landings, complaints about treaty rights comments allegedly made by a grade school aide, and adult and youth baseball teams boycotting Lac du Flambeau, there was a calm in the eye of the storm. Chippewa tribes from northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan returned Thursday to the scene of an ugly racial protest by whites to reaffirm their heritage.

Throughout the night the strong steady thread of the ceremonial drum knit the tribal people together in a show of unity. Lakeland Times, 5 May 1 29 30! Valaskakis Indian Country My brother tells about the caravan of cars, Indians of all ages wearing armbands of red, white, and blue, manoeuvring past jeering beer drinkers; the eagle sighted at the landing just before four boats slipped into the darkness, each spearing one symbolic fish from the waters, surrounded by racial reaction, and the differing realities of ourselves and Others expressed in treaty rights: I still remember what someone said to us, that it has taken us a hundred years to get back to this lake.

It became an identity thing and a rallying point. McBride Negotiating Futures We watched repeated summers swell this tourist territory, families on vacation uninterested in the underlying chant for change. Almost inaudible above the motorboats dragging water skiers and fishermen along the lakes, a Republican congressional delegate from Milwaukee introduced a bill to abrogate the treaties.

There have always been outsiders who valued the lasting distance of our presence: woodland skills and spirit-soaring pow wows, teasing humour that targets the too serious or self-important, mixed with the spiritual mystery of leaving tobacco at Medicine Rock. There are those who appreciate our past and praise displays of glass-cased artifacts; and 31 32!


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Few fascinated outsiders persevere to pass the ambush of daily interaction that reflects inward isolation, the tests of toughness and motives, the sharing with others and laughing at yourself. Fewer still are interested in penetrating the concentric circles established in the grocery store, the restaurants, the post office, the tribal council meetings, arenas open to the daily contestation of discourse: a sharp raising of the head, a glazed stare, a frozen smile, all invitations to silence or to conversation.

Immutable settlers and intermittent tourists tend to stay in compounds by the lake or drive in determination to Minocqua, never touching the experienced reality of Indian life in Lac du Flambeau or recognizing the daily signs of transformation. The casino brings outsiders here who never really see the reservation or speak with Indians; and we continue to feel uncomfortable in the unpredictability of tourist towns that have spread across our ceded land.

In this era of boom boxes and blaring radios, when protests are organized by email and websites, the quiet of the spearing grounds remains ambiguous. As the winter ice lifts off the lakes, we manoeuvre through the shallows, always listening for footsteps on a broken branch, always watching for car lights coming through the woods. In the spring of , the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa continued to spear over twice as many walleyes and muskies as each of the other five Great Lakes Chippewa tribes Masinaigan, Summer 2. The violent voices of parr had faded in the succession of court cases and fines that emerged in the s, when Chippewa spearers laid charges of harassment.

But a group of spearers faced vulgar voices and slashed tires that spring 1 , and there was talk of revived protest, and whispers of military militias and Aryan brotherhoods. Living the Heritage of Lac du Flambeau There is now a coalition called Alliance for Freedom that has converged on congress to press for the termination of reservations and Native rights, and a charitable organization that issues tax receipts called Citizens for Equal Rights Foundation Masinaigan, Summer In the apprehensive silence on the spearing grounds, Indians and Others remain rooted in the crosshairs of conflicting futures.

For eight years after treaty rights became a way of life, our tribal chairman was Tom Maulson, the leader of the Walleye Warriors Whaley with Bresette during the dangerous period of rally rhetoric. Since the turbulent s, expanded tribal services in Lac du Flambeau have been housed in buildings named for past and present Elders, including the tribal council offices, the library, the clinic, and the fish hatchery.

There is a new grade school for children of the town and tribe. Everyone intermingles in this arena of commercial enterprise. Tourists crowd the blackjack tables and hunt along with Indians for open slot machines, and in this glittering enclave with no clocks and no windows, no one speaks of spearing.

Built by Indians and many others, the George W. You ask 33 34! Valaskakis Indian Country me who I am. In Lac du Flambeau, some Chippewa still disapprove of spearing, declaring it a disaster for Indians that we brought upon ourselves.

Introduction to Indian Cultural Heritage –Indian Culture and Tradition - General Awareness Series

Other Indians, suspicious of the museum, the casino, and other economic enterprises, work to reconstruct the remembered traditionalism of the Old Village. We still battle with Others and struggle with one another over jobs and houses, over blood quantum, tribal elections, and resource revenues. Old jealousies, big families, new money, and urban influences push the pendulum of tribal power with new determination.

There is recurring conflict over the distribution of meagre casino profits, disagreements over monies allocated for per capita payments to tribal members, or to social services, housing, and buying back private land within the reservation. But in the current era of old treaties and new traditionalism, every Lac du Flambeau Chippewa recognizes our reality.

But in the conversations and actions that construct E! For Indians, resistance is national, tribal, even local; assertions of cultural persistence expressed in petitions, court cases, demonstrations, and deaths that are remembered and reconstructed in the discursive struggles of today.

For other North Americans, Indian resistance is movement, a progression forward or backward in incidents of action that are episodic explosions of political confrontation, which are ahistorical and unpredictable. These differing perceptions of social reality folded in upon one another at Wounded Knee, where the media became a player in redefining the representations of Indian resistance.

Wounded Knee was not the first incident of national Indian protest, nor was it the first time that the media was drawn into Indian conflicts with Others. But at Wounded Knee, like Oka, the media mapped modern warriors onto the contours of Native resistance in representations of armed conflict and expressions of Indian radicalism that resonated across the deeply rooted borders separating Native and other North Americans.

If the events at Wounded Knee have begun to fade from popular memory after thirty years, the echoes of Oka are still heard in Native voices and seen in media images of Indians today. Mohawk heritage is laced with a sense of political impatience that simmered long before the incidents that began in Oka. The discontent developed through three centuries of cultural and political displacement and territorial confiscation, most recently experienced at Kahnawake in the appropriation of Mohawk land for two bridges over the St.

Gail Guthrie Valaskakis

Lawrence River, a canal around the La Chine rapids, a super-highway into the city of Montreal, and a dump for urban refuge. But like the common culture and kinship that link these communities together and tie them to the conflict on the Mohawk reserve of Akwesasne, their struggles over control and community are, at the same time, similar and related, but local and specific. For non-Natives, the crisis at Oka began when the barricades were built. But for Mohawks, the crisis, which was rooted in centuries of dissension and exclusion, began many months earlier.

The seeds of conflict were sewn when land claims were ignored in a move to extend a golf course into the grounds of an ancient Indian cemetery in Kanehsatake, a patchwork of Mohawk reserve land intertwined with the town of Oka forty-eight kilometres from Montreal.

General Characteristics

Their vigil was vocal but peaceful, a statement of heritage and heresy voiced without the guns that attract media attention. Winter dissolved into spring and then summer. In June, when the weary voices of the women in the Pines became shrill, the mayor of Oka obtained an injunction against the protestors and summoned police to remove them. The women called upon Mohawk warriors to defend their vigil, to resist their removal from consecrated land; and the festering wounds of Kanehsatake transformed from a campfire into a barricade.

In the heat of the moment and in the aftermath of Oka, many questions were raised about the role, nature, and function of the media in a democratic society—or in a military crisis. And like most academic writing on militant Indian events, the press misread or ignored the relationship between media representation, cultural appropriation, and the emergence and reporting of Native resistance. Indians are an ambiguous presence in the narratives of popular culture that the media express and circulate, and, as Vine Deloria, Jr. In contrast to the majority of media images, when the Mohawk barricades came down on 26 September , sixty people ended their occupation of the alcohol treatment centre at Kanehsatake: twenty-seven Indian men of various tribes and one non-Indian sixteen-year-old, sixteen Indian women four from British Columbia , six children, and ten reporters.

For the media, there has always been one dominant image of Indian struggle, one dominant narrative of Indian confrontation: warriors and the militant stories they tell. Montreal, Quebec. The common assumption is that Indian warriors are obvious symbols of violent claims to power, visibility, and identity.

Edmund Carpenter n. Rights and Wa rr i o r s identity, tells us little about the emergence, persistence, and meaning of warriors in Native popular culture and social formation, about what warriors mean to the political and cultural identity of Native people and their communities, or about the role media play in these processes. Media images of violent Indians are, like other Indian cultural products that represent Native people, a double-edged sword for Indians themselves.

Back in the good old days your average aboriginal could at least depend on existing stereotypes to amble though the rough spots. Nowadays, with Indians going prime time on a regular basis, you really have to work to be recognized as a bona fide Indian. In tense social situations all you really needed to do was grunt a little, remain stone-faced and talk about your grandfather.

Like the companion myths of the frontier or the pioneer, neither of these representations drawn from social imaginaries of the savage as noble or evil, lazy or militant, allows newcomers to identify Native people as owners and occupants of North American land, as sovereign nations absorbed in the struggle of their tenuous position within nation-states that were carved out in companies and constitutions, proclamations, and promises.


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Some dudes wore a third, extra-thin braid as a scalp lock. The barbs of insiders that test and tease Indian warriors are always interwoven with memories of warrior power and pain.

Indian Country Essays On Contemporary Native Culture Indigenous Studies Full Version PDF Book

Even in , when warriors at the barricades in Kanehsatake and Kahnawake wore khaki camouflage and bandana masks, Indian braids represented the history of policies and practices that forbade Indians from wearing long hair and signified the heritage of resistance. Braids recall the shaved heads of Indian residential schools, the flowing hair of Indian Elders, and the plaits of Plains warriors, who emerge in western novels and films and transform in the collective memories of Indian Country.

Like Sitting Bull in Ruoff , who sang of his surrender in , Indians remember: A warrior I have been now it is all over a hard time I have. The stories of warring nations are spliced with the ambiguity of shifting alliances. Indians were sometimes allies, sometimes enemies in the North American contests over commerce, resources, and sovereignty that remapped Indian lands for colonial settlement.

Some Indians fought with the Americans in battles over British control in Canada, and other 43 44! When the bloody struggle of the War of was finally over, the boundaries between the two countries were intact. Indians who had fought the enemies of Others were now the only adversaries.