Until he changes his team's offensive nickname, Daniel Snyder will forever remain on the mantle of shame.

Hall of Fame/Mantle of Shame Awards for 2013

Suzan Shown Harjo

SHAME: The lobby for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade treaty to fast-track energy projects that the U.S. and a dozen other countries negotiated in secret. The TPP, like NAFTA, the nearly 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, overrides U.S. laws, provides federal rights for foreign extractive companies in the U.S. and does not recognize any Native nations’ rights, not even the ability to intervene or to be heard in public processes. The Quechan Tribe found that out when it could not formally be heard against the Canadian Glamis Gold, Ltd., which would have destroyed its sacred place. Unions and other groups have called on Congress to slow down TPP approval.  

FAME: The non-profit legal organization the Native American Rights Fund, for developing the Cobell case, only to be shut out of reimbursement for attorney fees by the very private practice attorneys who owe the biggest debt to NARF for becoming multi-millionaires from the settlement that has paid just a few hundred dollars to the plaintiffs. NARF’s appeal for attorney fees is still under court consideration.

SHAME: Prattlers against “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act, who claim it does nothing to help Native people, Yet it contains a permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. And that’s just for starters.

FAME: Oce’Vpoka Cvko Rakko (Hickory Ground Tribal Town/Ceremonial Ground) and Mvskokvlke (Muscogee Nation) for diligently attempting to protect ancestors and the sacred Hickory Ground, near Wetumpka, Alabama, for carrying out their duties of care and respect and for educating others about the ongoing desecration by the Poarch Band and its persecution of Muscogee citizens for trespassing and other charges that have been dismissed.

SHAME: The Poarch Band for its casino on top of Hickory Ground, a ceremonial ground, burial area and historical site near Wetumpka, Alabama, and for barring Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizens’ access to the hallowed ground for ceremony and prayer, in violation of the American Indian /religious Freedom Act and other federal laws.

FAME: All Native students who wear and carry feathers they earned or have an honor song done at their high school graduation, and all their relatives and friends and school employees who support them. They are exercising Native national cultural sovereignty and teaching others how to respect our customs and traditions. They are to be applauded, supported and, if need be, defended.

SHAME: James Czywczynski for issuing an ultimatum to the Oglala Sioux Tribe to buy two 40-acre parcels on its Pine Ridge Reservation for $4.9 million. One parcel is the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 and contains hundreds of graves. Each parcel is appraised at less than $7,000, according to the Associated Press, and cannot be accessed with any known easement agreement. Czywczynski should have given the land or sold it at fair market value to the Wounded Knee Survivors Association and the Cheyenne River, Oglala and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes long ago. It’s still not too late to do so.

FAME: The National Museum of the American Indian and Director Kevin Gover and Board Members Manley A. Begay, Jr., Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Phil Deloria for hosting and supporting the NMAI Symposium on Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports, which attracted the greatest audience in NMAI history. It yielded more than one million hits on the Museum’s website and started the heightened media focus this year on the movement to end “Native” sports stereotypes.  

SHAME: Washington NFL franchise Owner Daniel Snyder for engaging in the time-dishonored practice of “chief-making” for exploiting the “Aleut chief”—who had never been to Alaska and who did not know the difference between being a chief and having “chief” as his childhood nickname. Snyder also gets shamed  for the four frail, aged Navajo Code Talkers who stood in the end zone in team jackets and were “honored” during halftime. Shame, too, on Snyder and his advisors for his “Bartering for Racism Tour,” where money rains on the minority of Native Americans who are fine with his racist team name, or who will say they are for a grant or contract. When he bargains for pieces of racism, guess what? It’s still racism.  

FAME: Rep. Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D-AS) and other co-sponsors who introduced the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act, H.R. 1278, on March 20, 2013: Reps. Tom Cole (Chickasaw, R-Oklahoma), Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, D.C.), Raul M. Grijalva (D-Arizona), Karen Bass (D-California), Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin), John Lewis (D-Georgia), Michael M. Honda (D-California), Donna M. Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Barbara Lee (D-California), Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), Corrine Brown (D-Florida), G. K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina), Andre Carson (D-Indiana), Yvette D. Clarke (D-New York), Donna F. Edwards (D-Maryland) and Bobby L. Rush (D-Illinois). Appreciation, too, for President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who lent their voices to the effort to remove the name of the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise.

SHAME: Sonic sign in Belton, Missouri, before the Kansas City – Washington game: “KC CHIEFS WILL SCALP THE REDSINS FEED THEM WHISKEY SEND 2 RESERVATIONS.” After the game, another sign declared: KC CHIEFS – WILL SCALP THE RED*KINS DRAIN THE FIREWATER -- OUT OF THEM.” Several years ago, the Sonic corporation was rebuked by national Native action for leading the charge in Oklahoma against the tribal-state tobacco pacts and for being a part of the nationwide lobby group to abrogate federal-tribal treaties. 

FAME: The broad coalition that won reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, with the historic provision recognizing the inherent sovereignty of Native nations regarding pursuit of pertinent crimes. Kudos to Wilson Pipestem (Osage & Otoe-Missouria), Rep. Tom Cole (Chickasaw, R-Oklahoma), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), Terri Henry (Cherokee) and Deb Parker (Tulalip).

SHAME: The French judge who ruled for the auction house and against the Hopi Tribe and created a judicially sanctioned black market pipeline for stolen sacred objects and cultural patrimony of the Hopi and other Native nations from the US to Paris. Shame to the auction house owner who mischaracterized both the French judge’s ruling and US law as holding cultural items as desacrified once they pass into private hands.

FAME: Darrell Robes Kipp, Apiniokio Peta (Morning Eagle), Blackfeet language warrior of extraordinary wisdom and dedication, who walked on this year at 69. Educator, author and historian, he co-founded in 1987 Pikuni Nizipuhwahsin, The Piegan Insititute, with community-based projects, such as Cuts Wood School immersion program for grades K through 8. He inspired many others in the Native heritage languages revitalization movement with such succinct lessons as, “No one needs permission to save your language.” And, “Start saving your language today.”

SHAME: The Supreme Court ruling against Onondaga land rights for the same non-legal reasons that it has applied to the Cayuga, Oneida and other cases—that too much time has passed and that providing any justice would simply prove too disruptive to those who have benefitted from the land thefts. And shame to those justices who displayed such stunning ignorance of federal Indian law and Court precedence in the Baby Veronica and Bay Mills arguments.

FAME: Native people who became leaders of prominent museums this year: Jim Pepper Henry (Kaw) of the  Heard Museum; Della C. Warrior (Otoe-Missouria) of the  Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; and W. Richard West, Jr. (Cheyenne) of the Autry National Center of the American West and the Southwest Museum. They joined Kevin Gover (Pawnee) of the National Museum of the American Indian and Patsy Phillips (Cherokee) of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Added to the many Native heads of tribal museums and cultural centers, they prompted Henry to quip, “Indians are colonizing the museums.”

SHAME: The British Museum for talking with Grand Ronde officials for two years and then refusing to return any of their cultural items that were “collected” in 1850 and which are hidden away in the Museum basement. Greece has been trying to recover on artistic and moral grounds its Parthenon Marbles, statues stolen by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s and bought by the Museum, where they are on display today. Museum insiders say that repatriations to Native Americans and others will not be done until and unless Greece acknowledges the Museum’s “ownership” of the Elgin Marbles. 

FAME: DeLanna Studi (Cherokee) for representing Native People so well in her one-woman stage show, in her film work and as chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Native Americans Committee.

SHAME: Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s “joke” about an antelope hunt in his home state, Wyoming, in which the loser had to dance with an “Indian squaw.”

FAME: The 1491s for continuing to deliver the goods, show after show, and for winning all the smart, funny, inventive and all-too-true awards that we should have in Indian world (and for their individual community work that does not go unnoticed).

SHAME: Native nations that are in full meltdown. How can you tell? When at least one person in each faction is an embezzler, a predator or looks and acts more like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford or former Rep. Anthony Weiner than like your national and culture heroes—and if more of your young people want to be vampires than Indians.     

FAME: Oneida Indian Nation for its energetic, effective campaign to educate the public through ads in target cities where the Washington franchise played this season and its outreach to non-Native communities and the NFL; the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin for its persistent, ongoing efforts to address issues of racism in sports through shareholder activities and Fed/Ex; HONOR and the American Indian Movement for their excellent educational advocacy in conjunction with the Washington games in Wisconsin and Minnesota; and the Houston Independent School District as the latest to take district-wide action to end “Native” stereotypes in its schools’ athletic programs.