For the past three decades, artist David Bradley (Minne...)
For the past three decades, artist David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa) has been a recognized voice from Indian Country, exploring and confronting through his art questions of identity, self-determination, and self-portrait, and bringing to the surface issues about which he is passionate. His ironic, vivid, vibrant paintings are saturated with the artist's powerful and evocative depictions of the Indian experience and perspective. Bradley's paintings interweave historical and political truths, social and personal narrative, and cultural critique. Native people take center stage in world art, challenging imbedded assumptions, reconsidering history and deconstructing its icons. A post-modern trickster, Bradley redirects the gaze of American life from an Indian point of view--an outsider observing the world with paradox, incongruity, fantasy, and humor.
Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations
(Nation to Nation explores the promises, diplomacy, and be...)
Nation to Nation explores the promises, diplomacy, and betrayals involved in treaties and treaty making between the United States government and Native Nations. One side sought to own the riches of North America and the other struggled to hold on to traditional homelands and ways of life. The book reveals how the ideas of honor, fair dealings, good faith, rule of law, and peaceful relations between nations have been tested and challenged in historical and modern times. The book consistently demonstrates how and why centuries-old treaties remain living, relevant documents for both Natives and non-Natives in the 21st century.
Suzan Shown Harjo is one of the leading Native American activists in the United States.
Suzan Shown Harjo was born on June 2, 1945. For the first 11 years of her life, Harjo grew up on a farm in an Oklahoma reservation, much aware of her Native American heritage and the obstacles faced by her people. Like so many others on the reservation, the Harjo family was poor; their modest home was without indoor plumbing and electricity. At that time, young Suzan's idea of wealth was to be able to put ice cubes in her drinks, the way they did at the drugstore in town. A citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, she was born with the spirit of a fighter, which her difficult early circumstances could not destroy. As a girl, she was determined to carry on the legacy of her great-grandfather, Chief Bull Bear, who was a leader in the Cheyenne resistance against government oppression during the latter half of the 18006. Harjo also showed early literary promise, writing poetry from the time she was a young girl. Between the ages of 12 and 16, Harjo lived with her family in Naples, Italy, where her father was stationed in the U. S. Army.
After her return to the U. S. , Harjo worked in radio and theater production in New York. The roots of her activism date back to struggles of the mid-1960s for religious freedom and civil rights. She and her husband co-produced "Seeing Red, " a bi-weekly radio program on WBAI-FM in New York City, the first regularly-scheduled Indian news and analysis show in the United States. In addition to her duties as a journalist, she served as the station's director of drama and literature and produced hundreds of plays and other programs for broadcast. Also while in New York, Harjo helped to found the Spiderwoman Theater Company, an improvisational group. She played various roles in repertory company productions and sang in Gilbert and Sullivan performances. But, as the years, passed, she felt a growing obligation to help Native Americans. In 1974, Harjo moved to Washington, D. C. , where she served as a legislative liaison for two law firms which were involved with Native American rights. Then, in 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed her a congressional liaison for Indian Affairs, a job in which she helped plan and draft legislation, including laws that would protect Indian lands and tribal governmental tax status. She also worked for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), an organization devoted to safeguarding the rights of Native Americans. When the 1980s ushered in a new president whose Republican agenda was far different than that of his predecessor, Harjo's activities shifted to battling proposed budget cuts in Indian programs and attempts to turn over control of tribal and federal schools to the states. She also continued to champion legal cases involving treaty rights, individual civil liberties, land claims, environmental protection, and restoring federal recognition to tribes that lost their official status as Indians as a result of the government's termination policies of the 1950s. In 1984, Harjo returned to the NCAI, this time as the organization's executive director. Over the next six years, she provided the leadership for the NCAI's national policy activities, focusing in particular on legislative and litigation efforts and cultural concerns. She lobbied on behalf of the nation's nearly two million Indians who faced massive cuts in their federal funds during the Reagan administration. One of Harjo's biggest concerns was the decline in health clinics on reservations; poor health care led to a higher mortality rate among Native Americans, who already suffer high incidences of cancer, diabetes, suicide and alcoholism. The year 1984 also marked the beginning of her role as founder and president of The Morning Star Institute. The organization focuses on protecting sacred lands and developing cultural rights policies to protect tribal names, symbols, history and music. In addition, the organization conducts programs and sponsors events in the areas of Native arts, cultural and traditional rights, youth, the environment, and leadership training. In addition, Harjo is the co-founder and vice president of Native Children's Survival, dedicated to "the healing of Mother Earth and her children. " Since the 1970s, Harjo has proven to be not only a high-profile spokesperson for Native Americans, but she also is a savvy lobbyist who has been able to deliver the goods. She has been instrumental in securing the return of one million acres, including holy lands, to the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Zuni, Taos, Mashantucket, and other Indian nations. She also has conducted more than 450 successful legislative efforts, including extending the amount of time a Native American can sue for damages against third parties, creating protections for Native American children, and instituting protective measures for Indian lands and tribal governmental tax status. Among the general public, Harjo may best be known for filing a lawsuit with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office to stop the Washington Redskins from using that name and logo, which Harjo and six other prominent Native Americans claim is demeaning to their culture. The football franchise declared a First Amendment "free speech" defense against the lawsuit, but the trademark board agreed with Harjo that the case merited further study. Harjo and other Native Americans were successful in stopping the University of Oklahoma from using the "Little Red" mascot and name; the Dartmouth University Indians also changed their name as a result of pressure from the group. Several colleges and high schools around the country have stopped using names and mascots that refer to American Indians. "I am really heartened [by the name changes], " Harjo told the Los Angeles Times during a 1994 interview. "That is a really good sign of America growing up and shining a light on racism. " Another area of concern for Harjo is television and movies. She has spoken out against the portrayals of Native Americans in films such as Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, and Cheyenne Autumn. She did, however, praise the characterizations of Native peoples in the television series, Northern Exposure. "The problem with most movies is that they are still about the good-hearted, good-looking white guy, " Harjo told the Los Angeles Times. "The stories are secondarily about Indians. And they use a whole different language to refer to us. " She continued, "We don't eat corn--we eat maize. We don't walk, skip, or jump--we roam. We don't have music or songs--we have chants. We don't have church services--we have rites. All that suggests we are either not here or we are so different that we don't fit in any place. "Harjo also has stood up against the federal government in a fight to allow Indians to acquire eagle feathers and body parts for use in religious ceremonies. While federal laws make it illegal to kill bald eagles because the bird is a threatened species, the laws do allow exceptions for Indians to use feathers and body parts, which they obtain from a federal repository set up to take in carcasses from eagles electrocuted by power lines, hit by automobiles or killed illegally. Under special circumstances, Indians can get permits to kill eagles. In 1997, however, an Indian man in New Mexico was prosecuted for shooting a bald eagle for a religious ceremony. Harjo spoke out, telling the government, "Stop prying. You don't need to delve into the details of this particular man's religion. " Harjo, the mother of an adult son and a daughter, has explained that her efforts are fueled by one thing: protecting the cultural heritage of her children and grandchildren. "What I do is for them, " she said. "My parents did stuff for me. We're always doing things several generations out to protect the rights of our people, through our families. That's really how I define myself. I'm a mother. "