Native American Heritage Month

NOVEMBER 2022

Image by Alesha Sivartha, Book of Life, 1898

Thanksgiving Floats the Media Bubble

My social media bubble encircles friends and acquaintances who are–for the most part–kindhearted.

I’ve grown weary of folks who shame communities online, drawing attention to someone’s weight, faith, dress and even Indian-ness.

Shaming abounds on my Twitter feed, which I’ve slimmed down so much (to avoid vulgarities) that it is emaciated.

Most of my social media friends who are tribal members and others who have Native ancestors (and those who don’t) celebrate the Thanksgiving feast, judging from the grinning selfies and sumptuous table spreads they post.

My mother and all of her family–dating back to the execution of the Pine Ridge reservation–were raised in tribal communities.

And my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all celebrated Thanksgiving, just like our forebears, who offered thanks for the autumnal harvest.

Rather than dismissing the tradition because of its colonial overlay, I like to think of Thanksgiving from an Indigenous perspective of honoring family and our bounty.

When I see a post from a tribal person that mocks those of us who celebrate the day, I wonder how anger and fear became interwoven with “us” versus “them.”

I am truly tired of the fractures we hear that are bent on dividing communities.

Shameful how some Indigenous folk shame other Native peoples.

And I am embarrassed that I am part of a network of people who practice and study journalism and communication that often embrace–and encourage–the cleavages among the body politic.

When I become queen of the universe I will require the social and political pugilists to find common ground.

I will require that adversaries meet face-to-face across the Thanksgiving table to talk through their problems.

And they cannot leave the table until they reach a modicum of agreement.

That is all.

###

Thanksgiving

24 November 2022

I honor the Native Peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather here in the Pacific Northwest.

#framing

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#kiyuska

#lakota

#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

#nativepress

#nativescience

#nativewaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#november

#oglala

#osage

#pineridge

#sioux

#thebuddhaway

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

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Native American Heritage Month

NOVEMBER 2022

Pictured: Oscar Howe (Yanktonai Dakota) is a modernist painter who shared his Sioux culture worldwide (1973). Credit: Digital Library of South Dakota (photographer not named).  

OSCAR HOWE

The Dakota Modern Exhibit

Where identity is baked into aesthetics

One of the most respected American painters of the last century–Oscar Howe–was born in 1915; the same year Babe Ruth hit the first in his string of 42 home runs for the Boston Red Sox.

And in 1915, Hollywood saw its first blockbuster film that would rank number one for nearly 25 years, until the epic Gone with the Wind premiered in Atlanta.

Like David O. Selznick’s cinematic opus based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Birth of a Nation famously championed Southern gentility and virility while denigrating enslaved Blacks as stupid and animal-like.

While some Americans were consumed by baseball and movies, the year 1915 also simulated an erasure of the first Americans.

James Earle Fraser debuted his 18-foot-tall sculpture of “The End of the Trail,” which premiered at the Pan-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco in 1915, and depicts a Native American slumped over his horse.

Both man and horse keel downward, dejected…collapsed.

The sculpture came to symbolize the death of Native ways of life in North America.

Thousands of prints and photographs of the statue were sold “following the Exhibition,” noted Shannon Vittoria in an article on the statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern of Art (the MET).

Pictured: James Earle Fraser in his studio with “End of the Trail” Sculptures (1910). Photographer not identified. Syracuse University Libraries, New York.

Vittoria writes:

In 1918 Fraser began producing bronze reductions of the sculpture in two sizes. Today, an online image search for “End of the Trail” returns tens of thousands of results, as the work has been endlessly reproduced in paintings and in prints, on posters, T-shirts, pins, bags, belt buckles, and bookends.

It was even featured on the cover of The Beach Boys’ 1971 album, Surf’s Up.

Despite its appeal as a popular American icon, Fraser intended the work as a pointed commentary on the damaging effects of Euro-American settlement on American Indian nations confined on government reservations. Seated upon a windblown horse, Fraser’s figure slumps over despondently, embodying the physical exhaustion and suffering of a people forcefully driven to the end of the trail (Vittoria, 2014).

In contrast, Oscar Howe (Yanktonai Dakota) spent his adult life examining the resilience of Indigenous. peoples and the Dakota culture through his powerful paintings.

What Dakota Culture Wrought

One example, which can be seen now through 14 May 2023 at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, is a painting titled, “Fleeing a Massacre” (1969), which depicts a woman in her buckskin dress, galloping on a bloody horse, set against a black sky, encircled by symbols and shapes.

Pictured: “Fleeing a Massacre” by Oscar Howe, 1969. Photo credit: BankWest, Pierre, South Dakota.

Many writers speculate the woman is Howe’s grandmother, Shell Face, who told Howe stories about their culture–a culture “so beautiful and so precise” and “full of truth.”

Shell Face cared for Howe after he was sent home from boarding school for Indians in Pierre, South Dakota, where he was placed when he was seven years old.

The language spoken at the strange school was foreign to Howe, as were the customs and practices of the teachers.

Howe became ill and depressed, and, when staff learned his mother, Ella Fearless Bear, had died, he was allowed to return home.

Shell Face healed him and shared countless lessons and stories of Dakota history and knowing-ways before Howe returned to school about a year later.

Howe said painting gave him a visual account of Dakota culture:

The formal Indian verbal poetic form is given a visual form. The intellectual impart a truth in culture while the emotive effect esthetic experiences.

The [Dakota] Indians tell of their culture and activities, being actually there and experiencing and enjoying their lives in nature. They described in detail a beautiful culture–so beautiful and so precise with so clear a picture with words and songs.

I have never read a book on Indians that equaled what I heard from these Dakota Indians. I heard the truth from them and responded by painting them in like manner of their words. So you see what my painting is–a visual response in the Dakota language to known facts: the Dakota Indian, his culture, activities, Indian art and processes.

The exhibit in Portland follows the arc of Howe’s artistic style, beginning with paintings from college days in the 1930s at the Santa Fe Indian School’s Studio.

In one of the last articles he wrote for the New Yorker before he died, Peter Schjeldahl called Howe a “leading light in what was dubbed Studio Style, which originated at the school.”

Howe learned the “Santa Fe Style,” and “paint[ed] scenes of Indian life in a flat, decorative way…the type of art being taught to Native American artists at that time,” according to a story from South Dakota Public Radio.

Howe would “reject this way of painting” in favor of a more fluid approach.

Pictured: Woman and Wolves, by Oscar Howe, 1946 (gouache on paper). Image downloaded from South Dakota Public Radio.

In fact, the Dakota Modern Exhibit lets viewers explore Howe’s paintings in their respective periods.

After discovering his Santa Fe Studio artwork, visitors witness shifts in Howe’s creations, which Schjeldahl says reflects “surrealism and abstract expressionism.”

Yet Howe refused labels.

When critics defined one of his periods as “cubist,” Howe rejected the notion and explained that geometric designs have long been part of Sioux expression, and that, foremost, his inspiration arises from the melding of existence and essentialism intrinsic to Dakota life.

Schjeldahl aptly described ecclectic, yet consistent, corpus:

A palette of russet, yellow, and black has precedents in the Lakota and Dakota crafts of hide painting and beadwork. But racial identity wasn’t so much asserted as baked into Howe’s pragmatic appropriate, and advancement, of sophisticated aesthetics.

###

7 November 2022

My mission is to honor my Osage (Wah-zha-zhe) and Kiyuska (Sioux) heritage, as well as honoring the Indigenous peoples on whose territories in the Pacific Northwest I now live, as a guest.

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#kiyuska

#lakota

#louisbenjaminlessert

#mahtotatonka

#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

#nativepress

#nativescience

#nativewaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#november

#oglala

#osage

#oscarhowe

#photography

#pineridge

#thebuddhaway

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

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Native American Heritage Month

NOVEMBER 2022

HONORING ANCESTORS

Pictured: My great-grandmother, Eva Agnes Herridge, and her older sister, Mary. Photograph taken around the early 1890s by P.A. Miller. Agnes was born in South Dakota and settled in Oklahoma–in Stillwater and Fairfax (one of the Osage villages)–with her family

For thirty days we honor American Indians after the United States sanctified November as Native American Heritage Month.

I hope you don’t mind if I start my first blog in November looking at my family tree on my mother’s side.

Perhaps the most noteworthy record comes from an East-Coast denizen—who, in his mid-twenties—embarked on an adventure to Indian Country in 1846 and wrote a book that became a best-seller.

The writer, Francis Parkman, hired my ancestor—Henri Chatillon—to guide him on his journey over the Oregon Trail.

Parkman wrote about his adventures in segments for Knickerbocker magazine in 1847 and then published The Oregon Trail as a book in 1849.

Parkman described meeting my ancestor in beatific terms:

His age was about thirty; he was six feet high, and very powerfully and gracefully molded. The prairies had been his school…

He could neither read nor write, but he had a natural refinement and delicacy of mind such as is rarely found, even in women. His manly face was a perfect mirror of uprightness, simplicity, and kindness of heart; he had, moreover, a keen perception of character and a tact that would preserve him from flagrant error in any society.

Henry [also known as Henri, the French spelling] had not the restless energy of an Anglo-American. He was content to take things as he found them; and his chief fault arose from an excess of easy generosity, impelling him to give away too profusely ever to thrive in the world.

Yet it was commonly remarked of him, that whatever he might choose to do with what belonged to himself, the property of others was always safe in his hands. His bravery was as much celebrated in the mountains as his skill in hunting; but it is characteristic of him that in a country where the rifle is the chief arbiter between man and man, Henry was very seldom involved in quarrels….

I have never, in the city or in the wilderness, met a better man than my noble and true-hearted friend, Henry Chatillon (Parkman, 1849).

The Oregon Trail

Parkman recalls meeting Native peoples throughout the months-long trek, most often describing them in unkind terms: animals and savages.

But when Chatillon received word that his wife—Sni Mahto (Bear Robe)—has become mortally ill—Parkman softens his stance:

The squaw of Henry Chatillon, a woman with whom he had been connected for years by the strongest ties which in that country exist between the sexes, was dangerously ill.

She and her children were in the village of The Whirlwind [a Sioux headman], at the distance of a few days’ journey. Henry was anxious to see the woman before she died, and provide for the safety and support of his children, of whom he was extremely fond. To have refused him this would have been gross inhumanity (Parkman, 1849).

Bear Robe—daughter of the Kiyuska warrior Mahto Tatonka (Bull Bear)—died during Henri’s visit.

Henri entrusted their surviving daughter, Emilie (or, Emily), to friends who raised her along with their own children.

Pictured: Henri Chatillon (left) hired an artist to capture Bear Robe’s life and death on a canvas painting that was discovered in the 1960s: hidden in the rafters of the home he shared in St. Louis with his second wife, Odile Delor Lux. Credit: https://www.demenil.org

The Sioux and Osage Connections

As Emilie approached the age to marry, Henri arranged a meeting between Emilie and Louis Benjamin Lessert—an entrepreneur and son of French and Osage families.

They wed, and, within the year, their first child was born: Julia—my great great grandmother.

Although Lessert was Osage, Irma R. Miller (a relative) writes that he embraced his wife’s kinship with the Sioux, and they carved out a life on the reservation at Pine Ridge where he managed a general store.

Indeed: many of the Lessert descendants today are enrolled with the Sioux and only a few of us—my family included—are Osage citizens.

But Lessert found the reservation system at Pine Ridge untenable under the leadership of Valentine McGillycuddy, who served as overseer from 1879 to 1882.

Lessert accused McGillycuddy of starving the residents at Pine Ridge, Miller writes.

Turns out Lessert was right: McGillycuddy cut so many corners that in a few years he was able to impress Washington by saving $50,000–funds that were earmarked to feed the Sioux, according to the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior (1886).

The United States government sent funds to McGillycuddy to secure food, clothing, warmth and shelter on the reserve, and yet the items seldom appeared.

Miller says Lessert and his family were kicked off the reservation for questioning McGillycuddy’s authority.

Lessert would later move to Nebraska, where he raised cattle.

He and Emilie had five children: Susan, Benjamin, Ollie and Samuel—who identified, like their mother, as Sioux—and the eldest, Julia, who married an Englishman—Edward Herridge—and brought her family to live with the Osages.

Julia and Edward raised one son and four daughters, including my great-grandmother, Eva Agnes Herridge Grove.    

I’m posting a picture of Agnes and her sister taken by a Kansas photographer who likely made his living “travelling the small towns” and “setting up a temporary studio for a day or a week,” according to a blog in 2021 by the writer of “Cabinet Card Photographers.”

Photographers would shoot an image and paste it onto a 6-1/2 by 4-1/4-inch “cabinet” card.

The cards needed no frame, and they could be placed on tables, desks or cabinets in family homes. 

I have the original cabinet card of Agnes and Mary, which I reckon is at least 130 years old.

Feels good to hold it close.

#

1 November 2022

I honor the Native Peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather here in the Pacific Northwest

#bearrobe

#bullbear

#cabinetcards

#charlesgrove

#evaagnesherridge

#framing

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#kiyuska

#lakota

#louisbenjaminlessert

#mahtotatonka

#maryherridge

#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

#nativepress

#nativescience

#nativewaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#november

#oglala

#osage

#photography

#pineridge

#snimahto

#thebuddhaway

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

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Taking Steps to Recognize Indigenous Peoples

Let’s Start with Names

Seek-Seek-Qua by C. Coleman Emery

When I returned home from a September camping trip, I opened my book (Night of the Living Rez) and found a plastic knife holding my place.

I had used the knife as a bookmark while reading during a rainstorm in a cabin in the woods.

We rented a two-room shack at Lake Olallie Resort, which is sequestered in what is now called the Mount Hood National Recreational Area, surrounded by firs, cedars and pines, and, of course, a lake.

We brought plasticware as well as silverware, and we tucked away bowls and plates along with a stovetop espresso maker.

We added headlamps, a chef’s knife, napkins, matches and books.

And the dog.

We typically pack light, but, having the car, we loaded up more than we needed.

We had no electricity and no internet.

Turns out the cabins had beds with mattresses (we brought sleeping bags and pillows), a wood-burning stove, table, chairs, and shelves with counter space.

Our friends—who stayed in another cabin—left their camp stove in our hut: a sign of real friendship.

We drank our coffee hot while they sipped cold brew.

I was delighted to find a kerosene lamp in the cabin.

The last time I saw one was in the 1970s, when such lamps were fashioned from blown glass for the hippie-class.

Folks would smoke pot around the glow of the lamp, which—today—has gone the way of soybean casseroles and waterbeds (the lamps, not the pot).

At the cabin, we got water at a spigot outside (the water tasted good) and we’d fill the tea kettle and settle it on the warm stove all day—for washing, bathing and making tea.

Our stay let us unplug and relax.

Whose Viewpoint?

We discovered our cabin has a name: Mount Jefferson’s View.

Although we couldn’t make out the view until our last day, the clouds finally cleared and we could see the mountain.

Our companions told us the mountain—like Wy’east (Mount Hood)—is a volcano, which explains the rocks I purloined while walking around the lake.

In addition to finding skipping stones, I discovered igneous rock with its tale-tell holes made by cooling lava.

I wondered what the peak meant to Native peoples in the area.

Without internet I had to wait until we returned home to learn that the area had been assailed by explorers who re-named everything.

Wy’east became “Mount Hood” and Seek-Seek-Qua became “Mount Jefferson.”

Some internet sites refer to the pre-explorer monikers as “Native American.”

But I learned the mountains had several names that reflected the assortment of people (and their languages) Indigenous to this part of the Pacific Northwest, homelands to:

Molalas, Kalapuyans, Chinookan Clackamas, Shinookan Wascos, Northern Paiute peoples, and Sahaptin speakers [who] all lived within the area…

…until they were forcibly removed.

Wy’east—a name offered by the Multnomah—has gained currency, according to the Cascadia Department of Bioregion, a Washington-based non-profit organization.

Another source reports the Molalla people called the mountain Nífti Yángint—Big Mountain.

Wy’east came to be renamed for a British naval officer who never saw the mountain.

A lieutenant who was part of the Vancouver Expedition in the late 1700s renamed Wy’east to honor a British Admiral, Lord Samuel Hood.

The Vancouver Expedition assumed the task of place-naming in a region occupied for thousands of years by Native peoples.

As a result, many Indigenous villages, communities and unceded territories were named after George Vancouver, the leader of the voyage.

Spurred on by hubris, the explorers permanently inked names on maps: an island and major city in British Columbia and a seaport in the State of Washington are all named for Vancouver.

And Vancouver claimed much of the territory (without permission from the Native peoples) for the British Crown.

He also re-named ancestral volcanoes: one for Baron St. Helens (the British diplomat Alleyne Fitzherbert); and one for the tallest peak in Washington for a rear admiral, Peter Rainier.

But I learned that Seek-Seek-Qua was named Mount Jefferson by Meriwether Lewis.

Lewis and [William] Clark’s journey to Oregon (1804-1806) was funded by Thomas Jefferson once he became president of the United States.

Jefferson was eager to lay claim to the Western territories, and

[W]orried that other nations might control the vast Trans-Mississippi region and compromise U.S. political and economic security. He had long feared that Great Britain would try to colonize the Pacific Northwest

According to the website Biography:

Jefferson asked Lewis to gather information about the plants, animals and Indigenous peoples of the region. Lewis jumped at the chance and selected his old Army friend Clark to join him as co-commander of the expedition

Like the explorer Vancouver, Lewis and Clark re-named countless landmarks on their journey.

Olallie Lake

Back at Olallie Lake, I find Seek-Seek-Qua surrounded by an intense azure sky once the weather clears.

White swaths of snow layer the volcano, which last erupted about 1000 years ago.

Seek-Seek-Qua is about 3,199 meters: about the height of nearly ten Eiffel Towers stacked on top of one another.

The view is unforgettable.

I would like the name of the cabin changed to “A View of Seek-Seek-Qua” and I would really like to see the name of Mount Jefferson changed.

As we approach the month of November, the United States celebrates Native American Heritage Month.

The official website notes that government agencies “join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.”

Perhaps we can start by asking Native communities to help such institutions find names that honor Indigenous ancestry and traditions.

Let’s start with the names.

Artwork of Seek-Seek-Qua © Cynthia Coleman Emery

25 October 2022

I honor the Native Peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather here in the Pacific Northwest

#Mthood

#framing

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#kiyuska

#lakeollalie

#lakota

#lewisandclark

#MtJefferson

#NAJA

#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

#nativepress

#nativescience

#nativewaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#nodapl

#november

#oglala

#osage

#pineridge

#SeekSeekQua

#thebuddhaway

#Vancouver

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#Wy’East

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Doing What’s Ordinary

Our puppy lived with his brothers, sisters and trainer for five months before we got to take him home.

We learned one important lesson the day the trainer handed over the leash: praise the pup royally when he goes potty outdoors, and don’t lavish praise when he behaves routinely–such as sitting on command.

I thought about the dog as I listened to the live report of the January 6 Commission’s hearing.

The Commission and press praised gutsy folks who have thus far recounted details of the behavior of elected and appointed officials serving under the impeached former president.

I have no doubt these folks show courage, unlike Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who refused to address the American public through the Commission.

Today one of the Commission participants said the former vice president–who also rebuffed the Commission’s invitation to come clean–deserves a medal for confirming the electoral college vote count on January 6, 2021.

Why would you award a medal of honor to someone who is carrying out his or her job as expected?

But…that’s his job, isn’t it?

Mike Pence’s duty as vice president is clearly outlined in the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The vice president’s responsibility, in concert with the Speaker of the House and the Senate, affirm the votes of the Electoral College.

Why would you award a medal of honor to someone who is carrying out his or her job as expected?

True: Pence defied a senile miscreant’s directive to break the law and declare the election rotten.

Like Pence, many have suffered from Trump’s bile including John McCain, a long-serving senator and decorated war veteran: “He’s not a war hero…he was captured,” the former president told a crowd in 2015.

Those who publicly questioned the former president’s sanity, integrity, morality and honesty have suffered, too: Many cling to the lie spread by Trump that Barack Obama was born in Kenya [he was born in Hawaii] while others joined in the disparagement of Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas, the face of the [Democrat] party.”

Context matters.

My pup doesn’t get a treat just because he has learned how to sit.

And Pence should not be decorated for doing what is right and just.

###

13 July 2022

Image Credit: Mike Lukovich, Atlanta Journal and Constitution

With acknowledgement and gratitude to the Native peoples on whose land I live, write and teach: the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and the denizens of all Indigenous nations

#barackobama

#deplorables

#elizabethwarren

#framebuilding

#framing

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#january6

#johnmccain

#kevinmccarthy

#kiyuska

#lakota

#markmeadows

#massmedia

#mentalhealth

#mikepence

#nancypelosi

#nativepress

#nativescience

#nativewaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#nodapl

#npr

#oglala

#osage

#pineridge

#pocahontas

#thebuddhaway

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

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Do Media Matter? Maybe, Not So Much….

Image from https://i.pinimg.com/

I get it.

We long for answers.

One step solutions.

But life is complicated, and we can’t solve our problems with shortcuts.

There’s no single pill to make you slim and no simple test to show you’re smart.

Lately I’ve read news stories about the magic pill and the silver bullet as solutions.

But pills and bullets don’t solve problems.

The question is: how do our problems arise?

May I offer my advice?

If you hear a problem stems from one single source—whether rational gun ownership or a woman’s right to control her body—take a breath.

Life is complicated and deserves your thoughtful attention: not your gut reaction.

This week NPR interviewed a fellow academic—someone I don’t know–who looked at American television programs on abortion and their impact.

No surprise to hear that mainstream entertainment (not internet or subscription TV) historically presents two sides of the issue: pro-life and pro-choice.

What caught my attention?

The researcher said such views impact public opinion on abortion.

Wow.

I long for concrete evidence to offer my students that media impact opinion.

I dug deeper.

I looked for the researcher’s findings that show how television impacts public opinion about abortion, but I found nothing—nothing in the communication journals and nothing in the journalism reviews that referenced the researcher’s work.

Today I lost a little faith in NPR.

The reporter took a shortcut and someone failed to fact-check the story.

I teach propaganda and disinformation and misinformation, and I ask students to check the credibility of their sources and to judge according to the source’s agenda.

NPR failed.

And I take a deep breath.

###

With acknowledgement and gratitude to the Native peoples on whose land I live, write and teach: the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and the denizens of all Indigenous nations

#defendpdx

#framebuilding

#framing

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#january6insurrection

#kiyuska

#lakota

#massmedia

#mentalhealth

#nativepress

#nativescience

#nativewaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#nodapl

#npr

#oglala

#osage

#pineridge

#rachelmartin

#tanyamelendez

#thebuddhaway

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

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Improvisation: A Formula for Teaching

Artwork by the inimitable Victor Juhasz

Winding up spring term’s college classes, I ask students what they know now that they didn’t know ten weeks ago.

The weight of ideas learned in one class is stunning, but what’s more impressive is how students learn how to make sense of concepts in framing and communication.

For example, a critical element of how information gets framed in mass media arrives on the heels of who has an interest in how the story unfolds.

Researchers call this frame building–a practice when frame sponsors create a narrative that gets broadcast widely.

Frame Building

A classic example of political framing arrived when the term inheritance tax shifted to death tax.

It is remarkable to discover that the term death tax didn’t appear in mainstream news randomly:

The phrase death tax was created by a smallish tribe of super-wealthy Americans (frame sponsors) who hoped to shirk their duty to pay taxes: taxes that fund community schools and roads.

Who pays inheritance taxes? One percent of Americans.

A gross estimate–based on the US Census of roughly 335 million–would be about 3,335 people impacted by the inheritance tax.

That’s about the number of endangered wild tigers remaining in India and the student population at the University of North Carolina in the small berg of Asheville.

For my Oregon readers, the number of millionaires affected by a death tax is about the size of the towns of Oakridge or Jefferson.

Still: Republicans struck down the tax which could help build communities at no cost to 99 percent of Americans.

Shysters at Work

During our class, hard evidence revealed that a handful of shysters hoped to reframe the 2020 US election.

Emails to the departing White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, urged his help to fabricate a fib that the election was fraudulent in order to reinstate the loser.

Meadows’ emails were turned over to the committee investigating the January 6 mêlée at the United States’ Capitol, where five souls perished because of The Lie.

One of the shysters is Ginni Thomas, who epitomizes the frame builder: an individual with leverage, courtesy of her political and social position, and courtesy of access to resources.

She has the power to boost The Lie.

Thomas’ emails were reported widely in March–from the Associated Press to the New York Times–calling the election “the greatest heist in our history” and framing Joe Biden’s win as “the end of Liberty.”

Thomas–who is married to Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas–is considered a “vocal right-wing activist,” according to Jane Mayer, a New Yorker magazine writer. Mayer writes:

“[Ginni Thomas] has declared that America is in existential danger because of the ‘deep state’ and the ‘fascist left,’ which includes ‘transsexual fascists.’ Thomas, a lawyer who runs a small political-lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting, has become a prominent member of various hard-line groups. Her political activism has caused controversy for years” (Mayer, 31 January 2022).

Improvisation Enriches the Experience

Students got the chance to see real life unfold, breathing energy into theory.

I could pivot the class in line with current events, thanks to training in improvisation and yielding to the moment.

While Ginni Thomas will be a minor footnote in American political history, she embodies a real moment in time when the powerful few–regardless of how or where they gained their power–attempt to sway opinion.

We learned in class that the Teaching Moment is not theoretical.

The Teaching Moment is practical.

We need to ask: Who are the folks empowered to leverage change?

###

7 June 2022

Image Credit: Victor Juhasz

Today’s blog is dedicated to the students who plunged into the Framing class and leaned into improvisation: Jenette, Audrey, Dante, Frank, Nathan, Grace, Nya, Benjamin, Leah, Faith, Reese, Lola, Emma W., Jill, Cassidy, Chioma, Benardo, Marilyn, Katy, Dennis, Emma V. and Lindsey.

With acknowledgement and gratitude to the Native peoples on whose land I live, write and teach: the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and the denizens of all Indigenous nations

#framing

#framebuilding

#massmedia

#ginnithomas

#clarencethomas

#deathtax

#january6insurrection

#janemayer

#nativescience

#defendpdx

#nodapl

#nativewaysofknowing

#indigenouswaysofknowing

#nativewriter

#nativepress

#kiyuska

#osage

#oglala

#lakota

#pineridge

#wahshashe

#whatstrending

#thebuddhaway

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All Things are Relative in Camp Land

Our humble cabin

Our long weekend trip to the East Coast from the West took an unexpected turn: camping.

I had booked an AirBnB that would be a close drive to our family–son and daughter-in-law–and one that welcomed–even encouraged–dogs.

Photos online showed a hand-made wood cabin with a quilt-covered bed next to a wood-burning stove, surrounded by trees, creeks and wildlife.

It looked inviting.

I read that we would wash dishes with bottles of water they trekked in, and that the shower was outside.

I reasoned we could always complete our ablutions at son & daughter’s.

My decision was based on my uncertainty about the pooch: would he behave in a modern hotel with linens and bedspreads and carpeting–even in a pet-friendly place?

This was our maiden voyage with the pup, who had never before travelled far, much less stayed in a hotel.

So we settled for a semi-outdoor adventure during a warm Spring weekend in what the owners call the Magic Forest.

Pooch growled at the goats, frolicked in the grass, chewed on dandelions and obeyed the potty rules like a trooper hound.

Me? Not so much.

Turns out people’s potty was a short trek from the cabin to a wooden outhouse.

Last outhouse I remember using was at the Rez during Sundance before the Pandemic.

And at Pine Ridge we weren’t staying overnight, so the outdoor privy was fine in a pinch.

But facing a four-day weekend in the forest surrounded by mosquitos and ticks and beetles and deer and porcupines and geese and lions and tigers and bears gave me pause.

The outhouse was clean and relatively bug-free, not too smelly, and offered plentiful paper and bottled water for cleaning.

I imagine myself a brave soul, not just for taking the toilet in stride, but for finding a tick behind the pup’s left ear: a hitchhiker from our potty trek.

Husband-doctor brought tweezers in his carry-on, so the pooch was soon saved.

We decided to take the pup into town for a bath and made our bed while Husband scoured the pillows for bugs.

He smashed a spider, and I cried: Hey, that could be a relative!

Not everyone is cut out for camping.

###

Photo of the Magic Forest cabin and outhouse by the author

#Nativewriter

#Nativescience

#Osage

#cynthialcoleman

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Little Theories

The Duality of Science and Morals

Hand-painted multiple screenprint with collage on panel by Shepard Fairey, 2016. Please see the end of the post for more information

Science and morals have something in common.

Both cling to a common foundation.

That is, scientific and moral-ethical theories each wrap around core beliefs supported by experience, practice and everyday existence.

For example, Natives of the North-East American continent apply their experience living in snow and ice to forge shelters and make clothing, hunting and fishing supplies.

Like Western scientists, Indigenous folks place weight on suppositions supported by evidence.

Science supports a rationality that weaves experience and evidence that create our knowledges.

But science is not enough.

Moral and ethical foundations exist to steer us to behaviors that help—not harm—human and animal creatures and our environs.

Such thinking segues to how experience and evidence are harnessed to understand how our planet is warming with alarming effects.

In Portland, we learned our region earned first place for the worst air pollution on earth after two summers of wildlife fires.

The scale of Portland’s changing climate makes sense to those of us who have lived through the fires, the haze, the smoke and the falling ash.

The New York Times reports that our heat wave “would almost certainly not have occurred without global warming,” according to experts.

Qualified folks with the training, experience, brain-power and knowledge of the warming planet—those most skilled at addressing the problem and the solution—are often silenced by the cacophony of politics, ideologies, beliefs and rumors.

The rationalists face off with the brutes.

I learned this week that one voice of reason has been silenced by a squawk of greed.

In Portland, we learned our region earned first place for the worst air pollution on earth after two summers of wildlife fires.

A senator from West Virginia—one whose “family fortune is largely derived from coal” and who holds the record for taking “more money from fossil-fuel interests than any other senator”—said he would refuse to support President Joe Biden’s pick for the Federal Reserve Board, according to Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker magazine.

The democratic senator’s vote means a loss for Biden’s choice, due to the makeup of Congress: 50 republicans and 48 democrats, which means the democrat from West Virginia holds the ace.

That’s assuming Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Angus King of Maine, who are independents, would vote with democrats.

Hands down: Manchin votes with the republicans.

The ruckus raises the question:

How does an appointment of a qualified, seasoned expert to the Federal Reserve Board scare senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia?  

The connection, according to Mayer, is that Biden’s pick to serve in the top ranks of the Federal Reserve Board—Sarah Bloom Raskin—said publicly that climate change poses a threat to our economic stability.

And Manchin’s personal interests in drilling for oil, fracking for gas and mining for coal—combined with his well-known ties to the fossil fuel industry—put greed above ethics.

As the central bank of the country, the Federal Reserve System—or “Fed”—is responsible for careful planning and thoughtful policy-making on managing threats to the US economy.

In other words, managing our national banking system requires sobriety, rationality, experience and evidence.

Global warming impacts the financial system in myriad ways: from making decisions to replace fossil fuel use with sustainable options, to responding to extraordinary risks from extreme heat, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and more.

Manchin’s brutish move to block Raskin’s appointment to the Fed is a gut-punch to rationality borne of experience and evidence.

His actions can be explained by corruption: fraternal and moral.

Climate change poses a threat to our economic stability.

By fraternal I mean his responsibility as an elected official to his publics for their sound welfare.

He has corrupted this responsibility by putting his greed first.

By moral I mean his duty to uphold personal integrity and honesty.

He has corrupted this morality by abandoning integrity and honesty.

The loss of rationality laced with deceit undermines our democracy.###

18 March 2022

Image is from the Mutual Art website, which featured a 2016 work called “End Corruption” (2016) by noted artist Shepard Fairey

I acknowledge the Native peoples on whose land I live, write, and teach, including the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and other Indigenous communities in my region of the Pacific Northwest

#janemayer

#sarahbloomraskin

#federalreserve

#ustreasury

#defenddemocracy

#whatstrending

#dirtyjoe

#occupypolitics

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Twisted Truths

M.C. Escher image, untitled

Twisted Truths

I just learned about a bill that will allow Florida schools to restrict how faculty teach American history in primary and secondary schools.

The news report notes Governor Ron DeSantis says “woke ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and our institutions.”

What is “woke ideology” and what does he mean by “our history?”

I checked a few websites where DeSantis refers to “woke.”

Being “woke” is “dangerous” and needs to be “defeat[ed] on all fronts,” DeSantis says, as quoted in Mother Jones.

The danger, the governor claims, is that wokeness “delegitimize[s] the founding of this country, the principles that the founders relied on, our institutions, our Constitution, to tear basically at the fabric of our society.”

If being woke means being aware, then teachers should be encouraged and rewarded for scrutinizing how histories are interpreted

Seems that “woke” means to denounce generally, and specifically, shows a willingness to re-frame what the founding principles mean.

Framing the argument of “woke” as a way to restrict what we teach in schools is a feeble rhetorical move on the part of the governor.

The governor has seized the word “woke” from progressives to suit his own agenda.

Woke emerged from Black American lexicon in the 1960s to mean “self-aware,” according to the media platform Mashable.

Today the term means “aware.”

Re-imagining “woke” as a clarion call for doddering politicos in Florida reveals two things: a ham-fisted ploy to co-opt the rational class’ verbiage while attempting to confuse viewers and voters.

If being woke means being aware, then teachers should be encouraged and rewarded for scrutinizing how histories are interpreted.

You cannot delegitimize history but you can twist truth to meet your needs.

Historians—competent ones—discern histories through the lens of context and try to leave their biases at the door.

Politicians—incompetent ones—harness their ideologies to histories that never took place and allow their biases to shape their truths.

As for “our” history, DeSantis’ forebears on both sides of his family emigrated from Italy, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The governor has seized the word “woke” from progressives to suit his own agenda

The Tampa Bay Times says DeSantis’ great-great grandmother arrived at Ellis Island shortly after Congress passed The Immigration Act of 1917.

“Among other restrictions on ‘undesirable’ immigrants, it barred illiterate people from entering the United States,” says the newspaper.

DeSantis’ relative could neither read nor write, and despite the newly passed law, America embraced her.

Today in Florida, her great-great grandson chucked the welcome mat, taking a radical position on immigration by blocking “illegal aliens” from entering Florida, reports the Miami Herald.

So: considering DeSantis’ history, what is “our” history?

For DeSantis, the narrative is clear: all his ancestors emigrated to America.

In turn, he slammed the gate on “aliens.”

“Our” histories are not the same.

During winter 1917, DeSantis’ great-great-grandmother sailed for weeks and weeks before arriving in New York.

That same winter, my great-grandmother—Eva Agnes Herridge Grove—gave birth to her fifth child: Bill Junior.

While Agnes and William Grove were raising their children in Osage territory, The United States attempted to divvy-up Native American lands and sell the remaining territory to folks who settled North America from places like Italy.

As members of the Osage Nation, Agnes and her children were entitled to parcels portioned off by the Federal Government.

Any Osages who weren’t counted on the rolls lost their land to the US government, which auctioned off Indian properties.

All told, some 90 million acres of land were stolen from Native Americans during the four decades of the Dawes Act.

That’s about the size of Italy—with the island of Corsica thrown in for good measure.

Being “woke” means being aware of the truths of history as well as the twisted narratives that—in DeSantis’ words—“tear at the fabric of society.”

Those who truly “tear at the fabric of society” pass laws that restrict citizens from voting, judge individuals based on which bathroom they choose, dodge paying their taxes, and use guns, knives and bludgeons to strip Congress of its power.

Yes: it boils down to the job of teachers.

Our duty requires us to be “woke.” ###

11 March 2022

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#osage

#trending

#floridalaws

#saygay

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