A few people asked for a summary of Celilo Falls Revisited
presentation at the Kennedy School on Monday night. I'm mostly doing this from raw memory, so this is highly subjective -- things that caught Sanguinity's ear and how she understood them, as opposed to being anything close to an objective account -- and all inaccuracies should be attributed to me, not the speakers. The Q&A in particular got intense: I sincerely hope that I did not mischaracterize anyone's statements, and I welcome corrections.
For reference, Celilo Falls is/was an ancient and major Native cultural site of the mid-Columbia, important as a fishing ground, and as a gathering and trading site. Celilo Falls had spiritual significance, as well. Chinookan and High Plateau cultures abutted at Celilo, and during both the fall fishing season and the spring festival of the First Salmon, Native people came to Celilo from much farther away than just those two cultural areas.
In 1957, over the protests of tribal peoples, the Army Corps of Engineers built the Dalles Dam and inundated Celilo Falls and most of Celilo Village.
- The presentation was standing room only, which is apparently atypical of the History Pub series. Many Native people were present. The white members of the audience ran toward elderly, and appeared to be regulars. We came straight from grrlpup getting off work, arriving twenty minutes early for the presentation, and had to grab a chunk of wall next to one of the fire exits. Because it was so crowded, there was some talk of doing an encore presentation, so that people who had been turned away could attend at a future date.
- Quite a few "how we came to be here tonight" preamble speakers. Background on the History Pub series (I hadn't been aware of the Holy Names Heritage Center, nor their connection with St. Mary's Academy). The Confluence Project, which is installing artwork by Maya Lin at various key sites of the Columbia watershed, including Celilo Park.
- Chuck Williams (Cascade Indian Elder, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde; author of Bridge of the Gods, Mountains of Fire: A Return to the Columbia Gorge) spoke mostly about the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and the work it has done to protect and restore treaty fishing rights. Highlights:
( Protecting tribal fishing rightsCollapse )
- Thomas Robinson, photo curator of the Confluence Project, spoke second. His bit was mostly a chronological tour of Celilo Falls and Celilo Village, via photographs.
( Celilo Falls, 1860 - 1957Collapse )
- Linda George Meanus was the final speaker. She's Chief Tommy Thompson's granddaughter, and the Linda of Linda's Indian Home.
( family photosCollapse )
- And then the Q&A. Which was when shit got political.
( Shit gets political.Collapse )
- And then we left, because we didn't want to listen to the "thank the financial backers" part of the evening. Also, we'd been standing for two and a half hours, and my neck hurt from craning to see around tall people.
guinity: settler-colonial society fucked up some shit
, and then fucked up some shit some more
, but the tribes have been working hard at un-fucking-up that shit, and in the cases where they really can't un-fuck it, they are doing what needs done until the day when the fucked-up shit can be fixed properly.
And as part of that doing what needs done and the proper fixing of things, everyone is invited to the First Salmon feast, because some things -- Salmon being a gift, and the proper sharing of gifts -- are more important than who fucked up what.
Oh, and also, just as a reminder: the tribes have been at Celilo Falls for 11,000 years, and that dam isn't going to last forever.This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
What I'm Reading:
Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity.
Because it has been rec'd and rec'd and rec'd, and when I got it from the library grrlpup
said, "ooooo! I envy you reading that for the first time!" I'm only a few pages in, but I love
the detail that she got made as a spy for looking the wrong direction when crossing the street.What I've Just Read:
Terry Pratchett's Dodger
. It took me an age and a day to finish, despite enjoying it. Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew RPF (guest-starring Sir Robert Peel, Angela Coutts, Joseph Bazalgette, Benjamin Disraeli, Sweeney Todd, and others), and is an extended riff on Oliver Twist
and (I presume) Great Expectations.breathedout
's How the Mouth Changes Its Shape
(Sherlock, 132K words), which is a 1950s butch/femme genderswap, set in the heart of the post-war London lesbian scene. Obvs, I came out forty years later and on another continent altogether, but this captures so very well so much of my emotional memory of how woman-intensive the lesbian community is/was (there are essentially no male characters in here, because that's the way lesbian society often is/was), of the delicious thrill of having your own spaces, of the fuckery of a whole new set of social roles and expectations, of how tenuous intergenerational cultural continuity is, of the way lesbian history and straight-women's history intertwines (hint: typically not in a good-for-lesbians way)... The author has done her research, too, with lots and lots of footnotes, for those who like that. At the seventy-page mark (out of 324, according to my ereader) I was already mourning the fact that I would, someday soon, reach the end.
Which, I have. *sniff* But hey, I can rec it to you, and so I am.What I'm Reading Next:
I might try to push through George Aguilar Sr. (Kiksht Chinookan) When the River Ran Wild! Indian Traditions on the Mid-Columbia and the Warm Springs Reservation,
in advance of attending Celilo Falls Revisted
at the Kennedy School next Monday, during which two tribal elders will be talking about Celilo Falls
.This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
Hmph. From MultCoLib's 2013 Everybody Reads flyer:
Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1868-1952
Curtis's massive photographic projects document all aspects
of life, landscapes and society of Native Americans.
...I would have said something more like, "Curtis's massive photographic projects are an excellent primary source for documenting white American efforts to define and construct Native identities, most notably the concepts of 'authenticity' and 'the vanishing race.'" But then I'm bitchy like that.
The 2013 Everybody Reads
books are Alexie's Ten Little Indians
and Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
. Aside from my discontent with the Curtis rec, the program looks pretty good overall. Of particular interest:
- A talk by Dr. Comanche Pewewardy on Native Slipstream. I know Dr. Pewewardy only slightly, but respect immensely everything I know of him. (Feb 5, 6:30-8:00, Central Library)
- A screening of Smoke Signals, with a discussion afterward led by Sky Hopinka, who is a Native filmmaker that I know from the PSU chinuk wawa group, and again, someone I have immense respect for. (Feb 7, Hollywood Theater 7:30 pm)
- A lecture by Dr. Grace Dillon on Transnational Indigenous Science Fiction, Film, and Television. Grace was my Native Studies prof, and is the editor of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. If you're on my access list, you've heard me sing her praises to the skies, and then some. (Feb 10, 2-3:30, Central Library)
There's other good stuff, too. And I would hope so: NAYA
was involved in the planning, as well as PSU's Indigenous Nations Studies program.This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
Remember back when
, when I linked to that one story, "The Battle of Little Big Science
," the NDN science fiction story about Celilo Falls that made you
) cry? The one that had at least a couple of us going around thereafter saying "Save Bingo!"
The author, Pamela Rentz, has published an anthology, yay! Red Tape Stories From Indian Country
! (ebook via Smashwords, lots of formats, no DRM)
I've previously read three of the stories in the anthology, because after reading "The Battle of Little Big Science" I immediately went and hunted down what I could find of hers. "Estelle Makes the Casino Run
" is horror, available online. "Social Security" was published in the anthology for a local writing contest, and it killed me that it would be hard for y'all to get your hands on, because it's about what happens on the rez, post-apocalypse, when the U.S. government collapses. (And it is good.
I like it much better than the William Sanders story on the same premise in Are We Having Fun Yet?
, and it's a rich contrast with where Daniel Wilson goes with that question in Robopocalypse
But now you can get your hands on that story! Also, more stories! Stories what I haven't read yet! Because I am just that excited about this anthology that I am plugging it before I have read it.
(Well, mostly before I've read it. I read the sasquatch story last night after downloading the anthology. Parts of the sasquatch story make me go snerk.
And then I was super-obnoxious and made Grrlpup stop what she was doing and listen while I read snips and bits aloud to her.)
...anyway, did y'all hear? Pamela Rentz has published an NDN speculative fiction anthology
. You might like it and stuff. :-DThis entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
Three picture books. The first is for a younger age group than the later two, but I'm not the best source for age estimates.7. Cynthia Leitich Smith, illus. by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, Jingle Dancer.( No praise could be too high.Collapse )8. Tim Tingle, Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light.( deserves much of the praise that it gets, but some reservationsCollapse )
There's not much that I can say without spoiling things I was happy to not have spoiled, but I did want to discuss disability as it appears in the book, so I'll put that under cut-tag: ( disability discussion, spoilersCollapse )( post-spoiler wrap-up thoughtsCollapse )9. Joseph Bruchac, A Boy Called Slow.( boyhood of Tatanka Iyotake, aka Sitting BullCollapse )This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
(So freaking far behind on posting my books for this year. Not gonna hit fifty, I don't think, but there's at least another fifteen or more books that I haven't posted about yet. But this one is seasonal, and it has to go back to the library, so way fast...)26. Thomas King (Cherokee), Coyote Solstice Tale.
I had high expectations for this, based on Coyote Columbus Story
(which I adore beyond measure) and other work of King's. Unfortunately, this one didn't live up to those expectations. I like the meta about commercial Christmas intruding on everything
, and of course
Coyote would be very, very susceptible to commercial Christmas consumer mania (and unrepententedly so!), but I expected more layers, more snark, more slyness, and either it wasn't here, or it went right past me whoosh.This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
Consider this an addendum to my Dear Doer of Darkness letter
: if I include the quoted bits below in the letter itself, that letter runs very, very long.
Alternatively, you may consider this a shameless plug for why you
might want to read The Bird Is Gone
, by Stephen Graham Jones. (Because it is cracktastic and gleeful and slices like knives!)
From the Glossary of Terms:
( ...and the attendant web of see-alsosCollapse )
- Natty Cooper
- 1. a martyr -n. 2. the first INDIAN on the moon / original LUNAR BOY. -n., Bio. 3. was made a posthumous holy clown for whispering 'gold' into his headset to the American audience, then hopping away forty feet at a time, hiding for three oxygen-rich (lunar) days in which he's supposed to have consorted and cavorted with imperialist Martians, trading military secrets and traditional recipes. -n., Entert. 3. was ultimately fined 28.2 billion dollars by a temporary consortium of television networks and federal space programs, which he tried to pay in wildly irregular installments of rancid beef, glass beads, and IOU notes -n., Legis. 4. assassinated en route to the TERRITORIES by American PATRIOTS dressed up as redcoats -n. Hist. Syn. 1. 'Gnat Man' 2. 'Coop.'
Can you see why I love this book so much?This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
)19. Eddie Chuculate, Cheyenne Madonna.( Read more...Collapse )
Overall: beautiful, nuanced, with lots of emotional depth. I'm definitely
keeping an eye out for his next book. 20. Louise Erdrich, Shadow Tag.
Irene America is Ojibwe; a Ph.D. candidate; her Famous Indian Artist husband's primary, career-spanning and -defining model; mother of three; and a woman who keeps two diaries: one "private" diary, which she hides in the back of the filing cabinet knowing full well that her husband is reading it behind her back, and the truly-private diary, which she keeps in a safe-deposit box.( Read more...Collapse )This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
First, from moniquill
: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS SHIT?
, re the call for submissions for a new anthology, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations
. From the look of it, he wants the kind of colonialist "romances" and "adventures" that dominated the 1880s through the 1930s or so. (Except, yanno, they didn't stop writing that shit in the 1930s.)
(To give you a taste of the horrible, he names King Solomon's Mines
and "voodoo in Africa" as possible inspirations. At another place in the precis, he states that he specifically does not want any ucky history coming into play in the stories.)
...yanno, I wasn't really aware that we were running short of stories in that tradition. Normally, if people are feeling nostalgic about the niftyness of being white during that era, I would just recommend dipping back into the vast body of work published during that half-century. (Sure, you have to put up with the in-your-face racism and colonialism of those stories, but be honest, it was the racism and colonialism that made all that niftyness possible.) He couldn't possibly have read it all
, could he? Since when did we need more of it?
Second, have a pair of posts about C.S.E. Cooney's "Household Spirits" at Strange Horizons and Podcastle:
I'm not going to read the story, so no commentary from me. I trust Moniquill and Tablesaw.
What I'm gonna do with my time and brainspace instead of reading that story, is recommend an American Indian science fiction story that is
worth reading: "The Battle of Little Big Science
", by Pamela Rentz, at Expanded Horizons
. Rentz is enrolled Karuk. 
And as local peeps should recognize the instant they click through: the story is about Celilo Falls. Celilo Falls.
(And for those of you who don't know about Celilo Falls, the story explains.)
In fact, one of the things that I like about Expanded Horizons
, and which similarly leads me to trust it, is that they explicitly pay attention to the issue of whether or not the author has an investment in the people(s) that the story is about. I know that they do this not
because they say they do in their mission statement, but because they make it transparent on every single fucking story.
F'rex, they have this handy Authors of Color
tag. In fact, it is possible to click the American Indians
tag and scan down the list to see whether the "Authors of Color" tag is present on a story or essay, and thus whether or not the editors have been considering issues of whose voices are getting airtime.
Dear Strange Horizons:
you could do this, too! (return
)This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
Yeah, so I've been seeing discussion around of that Cowboys and Indians episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
I tried to stick to my guns and not watch the damn thing, but wev, I broke.
Debbie Reese provides a helpful synopsis and embedded video: "Settler ponies" and buffaloes in MY LITTLE PONY (new TV series)ETA
From the My Little Pony wiki:
I was expecting it to be bad -- "magic friendship" does not strike me as a useful perspective to interrogate colonialism from -- but the episode is a lot worse than I had gathered from Debbie Reese's synopsis.
- The pony town and leaders are fun and vibrant and cute. The buffalo are dour and grim; their leader is a bore. There are a variety of distinguishable characters in the pony town; among the buffalo, there are only two distinguishable characters and the remainder are interchangeable "braves".
- The ponies will *die* if they can't keep their orchard, because that's their food supply -- this is said several times over. (Yeah? Why do they need to do their not-starving right exactly there, as opposed to not-starving somewhere else? The town has existed for only a year -- I presume that each of these ponies had been successfully not-dying elsewhere for many years previous? And if there was in fact some compelling humanitarian need for this town to exist, maybe you could fucking tell us?)
- The buffalo stampeding tradition is justified by "we've always done it this way". (Stodgy inflexible unreasonable stick-in-the-mud much? Also, it sure doesn't sound all that compelling next to the *death* thing that the ponies keep going on about.)
- The buffalo spend a lot of time stampeding in this episode. From first introduction, to the final battle: stampeding. Stampeding wall of buffalo, threatening to derail the train. Stampeding wall of buffalo, threatening to flatten the town. Oh, fuck it, I'll say it: stampeding horde of buffalo, threatening to overrun civilization itself.
- The very first time you see the buffalo they're assaulting the train and kidnapping ponies. We never see the ponies being unilaterally violent toward the buffalos. Yeah, the buffalos later apologize for having kidnapped a pony -- that hadn't been their plan -- so the whole violent-buffalo thing isn't as bad as it could be, but let me say it again: we see buffalos being violent; we do not see ponies being violent.
- When we next see one of the kidnapped characters (not actually a pony, but nevertheless aligned with the ponies), the buffalos are taking orders from him: they stop threatening the other ponies at a wave of his hand. (A direct, unsubverted use of the "The natives thought he was a god / a king / a better Indian than the best Indian among them" stereotype.)
- There's this "cute" thing that the ponies do, where they substitute in the word "pony" for humanity-type words. With the result that the main cast goes around worrying before the battle that "Somepony will get hurt!" (What, it doesn't matter if the buffalo get hurt?)
- When preparing for the battle, the buffalo sharpen their horns and put on war paint. The ponies bake pies. Later we learn that the pies are weapons, but until that reveal: violent buffalo; peaceful, industrious ponies.
- ...and then there's the mildly irritating thing where the buffalo wait until the 12th toll of the bell to stampede. Because clocktowers are that culturally compelling and universal. Also, getting noon from the clocktower instead of the sun? That's about railroads, their timetables, and all-important railroad time trumping local time. Why the hell would buffalo be running their lives by railroad time?
- But the truly enraging moment is that the whole reason the buffalo make peace at the end is because buffalos like pony food better than buffalo food (which was earlier shown to be disgusting mush). Settler colonialism benefits buffalo. Because pony-culture is just. that. wonderful.
In other words: Indians used to eat nuts and berries, but now they've got pizza, so it all worked out in the end.
I almost feel like I'm phoning it when I say: fuck you, your magic friendship, and the pony it rode in on.This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
Four more non-fiction books for middle grades about Native Americans. For context, these are the POC-authored books that were in the Pacific Northwest bucket-of-books
.13. Richard Nichols (Tewa Pueblo), A Story to Tell: Traditions of a Tlingit Community. Photos by D. Bambi Kraus (Tlingit).( Sweet photoessay of a girl and her grandmother visiting their Tlingit hometown.Collapse )14. Danielle Corriveau (Inuit), The Inuit of Canada.( Oh, I loved this.Collapse )15. Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Sicangu Lakota), The Nez Perce.( Still walking that kinda-subversive, kinda-hegemonic line...Collapse )16. George M. Cochran (Cherokee), Indian Portraits of the Pacific Northwest.( 1959, and reads like it. No, really: hegemony all the way down.Collapse )This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.
A few days back, coffeeandink
wrote a review of Shaun Tan's The Rabbits
. One of the things that struck me about her review is how differently
we see the book, despite both of us having deep admiration for Shaun Tan's illustrations and a very large area of agreement about settler colonialism. (F'rex, her point about John Marsden's afterword: excellent.
Go read it and reconsider the history you were taught.)( The RabbitsCollapse )
However, that is all preamble. What I really want to discuss was one of the features of Marsden's text that I consider to be colonial: the imagined indigenous viewpoint.
There is a long colonial history of playing Indian, of settler-colonists assuming Native roles and cultures for themselves. 
Philip Deloria even wrote a whole book about it
. While I will not go so far as to suggest that white authors cannot, or must not, write from allegedly indigenous points of view, non-indigenous authors, and most especially white authors, must
be aware of (and think hard about) the colonialist tropes of playing Indian when they write from an alleged indigenous point of view.
There are two points about "playing Indian" and white people writing children's books about indigenous people that I wish to bring forward.
In "A Tribe Called Wannabe
" (pdf), Rayna Green writes about an incident when white historical re-enactors went through some trouble to learn how to play lacrosse, and even make "authentic" lacrosse sticks, in order to "authentically" re-enact the roles of historical Iroquois and Ojibway in a particular battle. When asked why they didn't just invite contemporary Iroquois and Ojibway to play those roles -- people who already had the relevant knowledge -- the white re-enactors eventually admitted that the point of even doing the re-enactment was that they had wanted to play the Iroquois and Ojibwe roles themselves. Green writes (emphasis mine),
The need to replay the roles, replay the battles, replay the historic scenes is there, especially when the distance of time has not resolved the historical ambiguity about the actions of one's ancestors, or when the reconstruction of the past seems more glorious than the present. ... In that world, not only do Indians not play Indian, but the role for whites to play is not the one they want. They already know that role. It is the "Indian" they want and want to be.
When one lives in a settler-colonialist state, when one is ashamed of or conflicted about one's settler privilege or the actions of one's ancestors, it can appear to be emotionally simpler, easier, to identify with an indigenous viewpoint. "If I had lived then," so many of these books and movies say, "I would have done differently. I would have been on the side of the Natives." 
Almost always: would have done. Would have been.
Almost never: am doing.
Do you know what I long for? Truly, truly long for, from these white children's book authors who are guilty and unsettled about their settler's privilege? Books that engage
with that. Books that discuss how to be white and in possession of settler-colonial privilege, how to look that in the face without going into a destructive tailspin of amnesia, guilt, futiliy, and appropriation. 
I know all y'all don't have a lot of role models for constructive engagement. Speaking as a concerned observer: omg do you need them.
And not only do you need them, your children need them.
Your children deserve to believe that it is possible for them to grow up to be ethical, responsible, people of good conscience, even though they grew up white in a settler-colonialist state. Stop and consider for a moment: what is it saying to your children that so many of you are writing books about settler-colonialism in which you cannot even bear
to cast yourselves as white people?
And yes, I am recommending that you try to write about engaging with settler-colonialism as a white person even knowing full well that a chunk of you will find new and irritating ways of botching it up. Botching it up pretty much goes with the territory. What I am hoping for is that some of you figure out, and then start sharing around, something useful. Because we really need more useful.
With respect to the second point I want to bring forward, here's Andrea Smith, writing in "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supermacy
" (pdf) 
, elaborating on a major point of Rayna Green's:
...the current Indian "wannabe" phenomenon is based on the logic of genocide: non-Native peoples imagine themselves as the rightful inheritors of all that previously belonged to "vanished" Indians, thus entitling them to ownership of this land. ...After all, why would non-Native peoples need to play Indian -- which often includes acts of spiritual appropriation and land theft -- if they thought Indians were still alive and perfectly capable of being Indian themselves?
Why would non-indigenous writers need to write from indigenous viewpoints, if they thought indigenous people were still alive and perfectly capable of expressing their own indigenous viewpoints themselves?
...that's a serious question, actually.
While you're chewing on that -- or perhaps to help you chew on that -- here's something I've noticed about "indigenous viewpoint" books:
Those books that are by indigenous authors? Quite frequently manage to surprise me. There is a truth, a fact, a bit of history, a perspective, an interpretation, an experience. Something that I hadn't realized, nor considered the possibility of. It is quite usual for indigenous-authored books hit ground that is not commonly discussed. And because these books contain something surprising, it matters whether these books exist or not. In many, many cases there would be a loss -- even if the loss is only easy access to an idea -- if any one of these books ceased to exist.
Those "indigenous viewpoints" books that are not
by indigenous authors? Only very rarely contain something that surprises me. 
Most of them are rehashes of rehashes of rehashes. Given that, how much value does any one of these books have?
Mostly, I'm getting really, really
tired of books that are written from an imagined indigenous viewpoint. Leaving aside the occasional amazing book 
: I think you're doing yourselves a disservice. I think you're doing us
a disservice. And these books are usually a lot more colonial than their authors want to believe that they are.ETA:
Continuing the discussion:( footnotesCollapse )This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments. You may comment there (using OpenID) or here.