Poster for 1933 film 'Eskimo' (or 'Mala the Magnificent'), starring Ray Mala.

'Headline News,' a Poem by Joan Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane
6/14/13

Every day, we see news about the image of the Indigenous. Johnny Depp plays Tonto. Pressure builds to change the name of Washington's NFL team. The fashion world continues to use and misuse Native traditions as it sees fit. These stories are all in the news -- yet the news itself is a story. A headline expresses a point of view, and tells the reader what is important. Something complex becomes oversimplified.

Here, Joan Kane works with found material -- literally, headlines from a newspaper. 

HEADLINE NEWS (COMPILED FROM A HISTORY OF THE ALASKAN NATIVE AS PUBLISHED IN THE HEADLINES OF THE NOME NUGGET FROM 1901 TO 1976)

ESKIMOS HAVE VARIOUS THOUGHTS
ABOUT WOLVES.       FATHER TOM SAYS
ESKIMO LIFE DISTORTED BY CHEECHAKOS.

FOSTER WANTS TO KNOW WHO INTIMIDATED
NATIVES.       ESKIMO ENTERTAINMENT WELL
RECEIVED.        SCIENCE CONFIRMS
ESKIMO BELIEF ON POLAR BEAR LIVER.

DRUNKENNESS NAMED AS MAJOR PROBLEM OF
NATIVES.       HEALTH CONDITION OF
NATIVES UNFAVORABLE.       CLAIMS
ESKIMOS IN ALASKA HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED.

NATIVES MAY TAKE POLAR BEAR FOR FOOD.      
ALASKA ESKIMOS SAID TO HAVE RADIOACTIVITY.
BOTH ESKIMOS AND WHITES ARE SUBJECT TO
COLD WEATHER.      FAKE
ESKIMO ART.       ESKIMO BEAUTY QUEEN.

U. OF ALASKA MUSEUM ADDS
ESKIMO MARIONETTE.      THREE
ESKIMOS BURST OUT OF SUBMERGED
PLANE IN SELAWIK.       U. OF ALASKA MUSEUM ADDS
ESKIMO MARIONETTE.

ESKIMOS TO GET ICE BOXES.      AN ENTIRE
ESKIMO VILLAGE MOVES FROM KING ISLAND TO
NOME.         200 ESKIMOS DIE OF FLU.

ESKIMOS MEET AGAIN. KING ISLAND
ESKIMOS PUT ON PRE-HISTORIC WOLF DANCE
FOR M-G-M.   ALASKA

ESKIMO SAYS SHE DOES NOT LIKE U.S.
ESKIMO ARTIST PAINTS LIFE THE WAY IT WAS
IN DAYS GONE BY.

ESKIMO GIRL WANTS ASSAILANT’S SCALP.

NATIVE GIRL SUICIDES ON PUBLIC STREET.

ESKIMOS VISUALIZE HELL AS FINE PLACE TO LIVE.

Joan Kane is Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary's Igloo, Alaska. She earned her bachelor's degree from Harvard College and her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Kane's awards include a 2007 individual artist award from the Rasmuson Foundation, a 2009 Connie Boochever Fellowship from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, a National Native Creative Development Program grant, and a Whiting Writers' Award for her first book, The Cormorant Hunter's Wife. She received the 2012 Donald Hall Prize for her second book, Hyperboreal. She is recipient of the 2013 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Literature Fellowship, the 2013 Creative Vision Award from United States Artists, and will be the 2014 Indigenous Writer in Residence at the School for Advanced Research and faculty for the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her official site is thecormoranthunterswife.com.

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