Archive for Indian

Russell Means Passes

Posted in Education, History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by urbannight

Sitting here, checking my email, I see that Russell Means has died.  I actually realized I have tears in my eyes over this.  There may be a lot of people today who don’t know who this man was. 

This is the image with which most people will be familiar.

He was an Oglala Sioux who worked very hard to bring the plight of the American Indians to the attention of everyone else in this country.  He made some bad choices in his life, and occasionally in the way he handled some incidents.  But he was a man who had a hard youth, overcame his additions, found a cause, and devoted himself to trying to make this country a better place.

He didn’t isolate himself to just helping his own tribe or just North American tribes.  He was an activist for all indigenousness peoples on the American Continents.  After fighting the ‘system’ he also tried to work within the political machine as a Libertarian.  When he was older, he did a little bit of acting and wrote an autobiography, “Where White Men Fear to Tread”.

His entire life was about overcoming: overcoming alcoholism, overcoming drugs, overcoming bad choices.  He still made questionable choices.  He is a good example of a person who tried to be good, to do good, but sometimes fails, sometimes does the wrong thing, and has to never stop trying to rebuild.

Dirk Lammers and Kristi Eaton of the AP wrote a better overview of his life than I could, so I’m just posting the entire text of their article for the Associated Press:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Russell Means spent a lifetime as a modern American Indian warrior. He railed against broken treaties, fought for the return of stolen land and even took up arms against the federal government.

A onetime leader of the American Indian Movement, he called national attention to the plight of impoverished tribes and often lamented the waning of Indian culture. After leaving the movement in the 1980s, the handsome, braided activist was still a cultural presence, appearing in several movies.

Means, who died Monday from throat cancer at age 72, helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee — a bloody confrontation that raised America’s awareness about the struggles of Indians and gave rise to a wider protest movement that lasted for the rest of the decade.

Before AIM, there were few national advocates for American Indians. Means was one of the first to emerge. He sought to restore Indians’ pride in their culture and to challenge a government that had paid little attention to tribes in generations. He was also one of the first to urge sports teams to do away with Indian names and mascots.

“No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewelry,” Means said, recalling the early days of the movement. And there were dozens, if not hundreds, of athletic teams “that in essence were insulting us, from grade schools to college. That’s all changed.”

AIM was founded in the late 1960s to demand that the government honor its treaties with American Indian tribes. The movement eventually faded away, Means said, as Native Americans became more self-aware and self-determined.

There were plenty of American Indian activists before AIM, but it became the “radical media gorilla,” said Paul DeMain, editor of News from Indian Country, a national newspaper focused on tribal affairs.

“If someone needed help, you called on the American Indian Movement, and they showed up and caused all kind of ruckus and looked beautiful on a 20-second clip on TV that night,” DeMain said.

Means and AIM co-founder Dennis Banks were charged in 1974 for their role in the Wounded Knee uprising in which hundreds of protesters occupied the town on the site of the 1890 Indian massacre. Protesters and federal authorities were locked in a standoff for 71 days and frequently exchanged gunfire. Before it was over, two tribal members were killed and a federal agent seriously wounded.

After a trial that lasted several months, a judge threw out the charges on grounds of government misconduct.

Other protests led by Means included an American Indian prayer vigil on top of Mount Rushmore and the seizure of a replica of the Mayflower on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Mass.

“The friendship between Russell and I goes back almost 50 years,” Banks said late Monday night. “I lost a great friend. But native people lost one of the greatest warriors of modern-day times. Truly, he was a great visionary. He was controversial, yes. But he brought issues to the front page.”

But Means’ constant quest for the spotlight raised doubts about his motives. Critics who included many fellow tribe members said his main interest was building his own notoriety.

Means said his most important accomplishment was the proposal for the Republic of Lakotah, a plan to carve out a sovereign Indian nation inside the United States. He took the idea all the way to the United Nations, even though it was ignored by tribal governments closer to home, including his own Oglala Sioux leaders, with whom he often clashed.

For decades, Means was dogged by questions about whether the group promoted violence, especially the 1975 slaying of a woman in the tribe and the gun battles with federal agents at Wounded Knee.

Authorities believe three AIM members shot and killed Annie Mae Aquash on the Pine Ridge reservation on the orders of someone in AIM’s leadership because they suspected she was an FBI informant.

Two activists — Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham — were both eventually convicted of murder. The third has never been charged.

Also in 1975, murder charges were filed against Means and Dick Marshall, an AIM member, in the shooting death of a Sioux man at a saloon in the town of Scenic, S.D. Marshall served 24 years in prison. Means was acquitted.

His activism extended to tribes beyond the United States. In the mid-1980s, Means traveled to Nicaragua to support indigenous Miskito Indians who were fighting the Sandinista government.

Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Means grew up in the San Francisco area and battled drugs and alcohol as a young man before becoming an early leader of AIM.

He was a handsome young man.

With his rugged good looks and long, dark braids, he also was known for a handful of Hollywood roles, most notably in the 1992 movie “The Last of the Mohicans,” in which he portrayed Chingachgook alongside Daniel Day-Lewis’ Hawkeye.

He also appeared in the 1994 film “Natural Born Killers,” voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film “Pocahontas” and guest starred in 2004 on the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Means also ran unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988 and briefly served as a vice presidential candidate in 1984 on the ticket of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

Means always considered himself a Libertarian and couldn’t believe that anyone would want to call themselves a Republican or a Democrat.

“It’s just unconscionable that America has become so stupid,” he said.

Means often refused interviews and verbally blasted journalists who showed up to cover his public appearances. Instead, he chose to speak to his fan base through YouTube videos and blog posts on his website.

Means recounted his life in the book “Where White Men Fear to Tread.” He said he pulled no punches in the autobiography, admitting to his frailties but also acknowledging his successes.

“I tell the truth, and I expose myself as a weak, misguided, misdirected, dysfunctional human being I used to be,” he said.

Means died at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D. He announced in August 2011 that he had inoperable throat cancer and told The Associated Press that he would forego mainstream medicine in favor of traditional American Indian remedies.

Means’ death came a day after former Sen. George McGovern died in Sioux Falls at the age of 90. McGovern had traveled to Wounded Knee with then-Sen. James Abourezk during the takeover to try to negotiate an end to hostilities.

“I’ve lost two good friends in a matter of two to three days,” Abourezk said Monday. “I don’t pretend to understand it.”

Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said wake services for Means’ will be Wednesday on Pine Ridge, and his ashes will be scattered in the Black Hills on Thursday.

Image of a Crow Indian as Inspiration

Posted in Art, Education, Life, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by urbannight

Johnny Depp and a Crow Indian

A lot of folks are criticizing Johnny Depp for his choice of costume in the upcoming Lone Ranger flick in 2013. Some say it looks like a Halloween costume, others say he is disrespecting N..A.s. He says the he has Creek or Crow ancestry and a lot of folks disbelieved that. And he ‘did’ say in an article about the movie that he wanted to portray, Tonto as more than just a sidekick to the Lone Ranger. So i did a little research on the makeup and costume and found this stunning portrait of a Crow warrior taken from an authentic photograph. So what is so disrespectful here?
By: Karen King

Note from me:

I found this on Facebook.  So I tried to find the source of that photo.  I haven’t yet, but I found others. I did find the above crow image for sale.  It appears to be a painting that was probably inspired by the 1908 Curtis photos.  I found a lot of more modern paintings that were clearly inspired by the photos.

Two Whistles, Crow Indian, Photo by Edward S Curtis around 1908.

This photo shows the white face paint and it looks like there might be black lines down the front. It is a bit hard to tell. He is wearing a hawk headdress made from the bird itself, not just the long feathers.

Medicine Crow, 1908 E.S. Curtis

Another very similar shot without the face paint. It is hard to tell if it is the same man or not. I am leaning towards that as the nose, lips and chin look the same.  The head is tilted farther back in one than in the other.

Crow Shawman, 1908, E.S. Curtis

I left the spelling the same as the photo was labeled. This headdress is made from an eagle. So far, based on a VERY small sampling, the full bird headdress seems indicative of medicine men.

If there was any real complaint, it shouldn’t have been the appearance of his costume, which my be more accurate than not, but rather that it should have been that they are depicting the Crow Indians from Montana rather than any of the nations of the North American Southwest.  Which, I think, would be more appropriate.

As a weird side note, I found some exaggerated art of the crow topknot they sometimes did. It looks strangely like Kia’s weirdly huge bun. If you watched Lexx, you know what I mean.

Almond Chicken as I know it.

Posted in Food, Life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by urbannight

For several years I have been craving Almond Chicken.  The Almond Chicken from back home.  The Almond Chicken from my college years.

When I was in California, it was a chicken stirfry with almonds on top.  Here in Omaha, it is another variation of a chicken stirfry with almonds on top. 

Back home, it was a large piece of boneless chicken that was breaded in a breading that included crushed almonds.  It was cooked so the outside was a bit crunchy, sliced neatly, topped with a special sauce and sprinkled with more crushed almonds.  It was wonderful.  I miss it so much. 

Nothing I’ve found anywhere else come close.  I have not been able to figure out what the sauce was or the exact breading composition to try to recreate it correctly.  

Since I can’t have what I want, I think I will pick up Indian take away.  Probably a lamb vindaloo with the particularily fluffy fried bread they have rather than ordinary naan.