Thank you for this comprehensive article Arlene, as well as your lifetime effort to better educate American children about the First Peoples. Your kind of work is truly needed, and when I read of your authoring and/or editing of nonfiction books and curricula regarding the original peoples, my interest was stimulated more and I thought I could relate my thinking on the subject. First, your work is much more welcoming and fruitful than some mainstream scholars who in effect work against First Peoples' interests when they don't realize that their works in the area of intellectual property rights in relation to indigenous peoples, do more harm than good when the bulk of their sources are from those documented, celebrated and recognized s the leading thinkers in the field) and they have few to no sources from the affected peoples themselves. The main problem perhaps with the bulk of sources above is they stem from compounded issues already slanted in ways that encourage and confirm outdated perspectives that view indigenous rights as anachronisms of the past, and as too often, peoples who do not "contribute", as exemplified by Cdn Prime Minister Harper's recent words that 'Aboriginal peoples WILL contribute...' (This, after his government's apology for the horrid Cdn chapter of forced residential schooling which sought to eradicate indigenous children's identity and mother tongues, and existence as a whole by purposefully locking in overnight - children in rooms with other children infected with Tuberculosis, which was a KNOWN contagious and deadly disease even then..but I digress). And Harper's idea of indigenous peoples contributing, means taxation is coming toward us, for our lands stolen and destroyed. Not for mainstream society to learn of, at last, our [u]American Indian Contributions to the World[/u], available for grades four to nine students. Unfortunately, the absence of indigenous sources has always been acceptable in mainstream academia, as related subject matter and its experts have long ago been established and institutionalized to the point where, in the example of Native Americans wanting college mascots to be repealed, the general public immediately defends how these symbols apparently honour us, and the ultimate result is our viewpoints are drowned out, and we are seen as petty and merely complaining about a major facet of American defined image portrayals which compelled both the American Psychological and Sociological Associations to step in just a few short years ago, and basically speak on our behalf that yes, these mascots are harmful to our identities. And yet no one speaks of the tens of millions of dollars these images brought in, and which have NOT benefitted financially Native Americans. Instead, the mascot issue, as seemingly petty as it is to some people, is what makes it in the news, and not the more pressing issues of the day. (For example, in the case of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations has recently brought the issue of consecutive underfunding of indigenous children's education to the United Nations). And the same harm as mentioned above, stems from undergraduates using non-indigenous sources when discussing intellectual property rights. When students from privileged Ivy League universities were running billion dollar capital and endowment campaigns in yesteryear of 1987, how are students from non-privileged and struggling for survival backgrounds and family life, and their educational institutions to be taken seriously in academic circles (if entertained at all) when the core issue of knowledge and its relation to intellectual property rights has always already been a God given right for those in the higher echelons of white middle class society? Arguably, it is their thinking and language which forms the backdrop of the United Nations, in the form of the international phoentic alphabet, or the IPA. One can also point to sources such as [u]The Cambridge Factfinder[/u] copyrighted in 1993, by the Cambridge University Press. Or how about the [u]Reader's Digest Book of Facts first edition copyrighted 1985 by The Reader's Digest Association Limited, in London. Or how about the more recent dictionary accompanying the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper's article? Very telling how information and knowledge is rather controlled indeed. Not to put this all on you personally, Arlene. These are just some things to consider, given the workings of a capitalist system that is almost wholly locking in conformity that ultimately serves the interests of the ruling elite and compelling the First Peoples' participation in the fight for acknowledgement alone, of our continuing existence and survival. Yet there are institutional, financial and political barriers purposefully designed to define and mold public perceptions that the First Peoples are inferiour and thus need to be treated as wards of the state when, without our assistance at contact, Euro-Americans would not have survived and thrived here. And now, with Diane Sawyer having asked perhaps the vintage question on the recent "20-20" segment of why the Oglala don't just leave their reservation, (their homeland), it spoke volumes as to why Euro-Americans left theirs, and moreover, not just in South Dakota, but why do the indigenous peoples live in the Fourth World is perhaps the unheard of question that scholars mentally masturbating over intellectual property rights, ought to start from. Maybe too, they ought to consider that access to knowledge/academic articles more often requires payment. One just has to point to the Project Muse. Maybe it is reasonable to conclude that our value systems of community, matrilineal societies and communally held lands and living from the land, and not in the big brother man-made grid, are in direct opposition to capitalists infected with the European disease, and who unabatingly project popular culture images of the rich and famineless. Thank you for your time and dedication Arlene, and again I extend my deepest gratitude for the supportive and much needed work that you have been doing, as the children are our future and our greatest hope that they will indeed lead us to the Renaissance era.
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:28