NAISA Mascot Panel
Photo courtesy Joe Horse
From left, Migizi Pensoneau, Bobby Wilson, Tara Houska, Amanda Blackhorse, Simon Moya-Smith, and Dallas Goldtooth speak on a panel about the detriment of Native American mascots at NAISA in Washington, D.C. on June 6.

5 ICTMN Writers Participate at Indigenous Studies Conference

Gale Courey Toensing

Five of ICTMN’s writers participated in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s annual conference this year.

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association—NAISA—is the premiere international and interdisciplinary professional organization for scholars, graduate students, independent researchers, and community members interested in all aspects of Indigenous Studies.

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ICTMN culture editor Simon Moya-Smith, Amanda Blackhorse, Steve Newcomb, Glenn Morris, and Dina Gilio-Whitaker all headed to Washington, D.C., from various parts of the country to take part in NAISA’s seventh annual meeting and conference held at the Hyatt Regency June 4-6. Links to each writer’s works are included below.

Moya-Smith and Blackhorse took part in a roundtable discussion called “More than Just a Football Team Name: Ending the Legacy of Racist Native Mascots.”

Moya-Smith brought his journalistic perspective to the subject. “This was an opportunity for us to provide an insight into what we’ve been doing to heighten awareness of the harm Indian mascots do on society,” he said. “My contribution on this panel was to talk about my experience as a journalist covering the matter, but also as an activist... There’s no such thing as objective journalism. The only difference is that I don’t veil my opinion.”

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Blackhorse, Diné, is a mother and activist. She and four other plaintiffs won a case against the Washington football team that stripped it of six of its seven trademarks. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and posts on Twitter @blackhorse.

“Speaking on that panel provided a platform for advocates, some who’ve been at the forefront of addressing the mascot issue, to speak from our experiences,” Blackhorse said. “This platform allowed us to speak to indigenous academia, how this issue has evolved over the years, how it harms Native children, critical moments in the movement, as well as how media has played a critical role in our advocacy.”

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Newcomb, one of ICTMN’s most prolific columnists, and Morris participated in a roundtable discussion called “Postmortem on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.”

Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008). He has been studying U.S. federal Indian law and international law since the early 1980s.

Pagans in the Promised Land

“The purpose of the panel was to communicate the view, despite how distasteful it is, that the text of the UN Declaration, as a document for the liberation of original nations and peoples, was dealt a mortal blow shortly before it was adopted by UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007,” Newcomb said. “As professor James Crawford stated in his Foreword to Antonie Anghie’s Imperialism, Sovereignty, and the Making of International Law (2005), ‘From the beginning, international law was not exclusively concerned with the relations between states but, and more importantly, with the relations between civilizations and peoples. Moreover, these were relations of domination.’ (Crawford’s emphasis) Articles 4 and 46 of the UNDRIP, for example, were included by states in the Declaration as an attempt to maintain rather than end such relations of domination between states and those peoples termed ‘indigenous.’”

Article 4 says, “Indigenous Peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.”

Article 46 says, in part, that “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.”

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Morris (Shawnee) is a member/spokesperson for the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. He is a professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he directs the 4th World Center for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics. He has been active in the defense of Native nations at the United Nations since 1981.

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Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville) is a freelance writer and Research Associate at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies and a master’s degree in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Check out her blog here. Gilio-Whitaker took part in two panels: “Indigenous Pedagogies” and “Resisting Boundaries,” a collaborative project (with Dr. Rudolph Ryser and Heidi Bruce) of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, which she presented on behalf of the group. This research project is a chapter in a forthcoming book called Hand Book on Indigenous Knowledge and Research Methods in Developing Nations.

“Fourth World Theory was initially introduced to the contemporary political lexicon in the early 1970s at the beginning of the global indigenous ‘engagement’ movement and the height of the North American Indian civil rights movement, with a book titled The Fourth World: An Indian Reality written by the late Secwepemc Chief George Manuel,” Gilio-Whitaker said. “Manuel advanced the idea that Indians were not just nations within states, but also nations within larger geopolitical processes. Struggling to maintain their cultural and political identities, they existed simultaneously within and beyond the conceptual limits of the state. Yet, this liminal existence describes the existence of peoples far beyond and far earlier than Europe’s founding of the ‘New World.’ Since Manuel’s seminal book a half-century ago, a body of scholarly work has been built on the concept now referred to as Fourth World Theory. Applied within the context of Fourth World Geopolitics, FWT bridges international relations theory and indigenous studies, offering a conceptual framework that recognizes the international political character of Fourth World nations while de-naturalizing the modern state system. It also recognizes the struggles for political self-determination of nations far older than 500 years.”

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aliberaldoseofskepticism's picture
Submitted by aliberaldoseofs... on
So that's five actual indigenous people who will be joining NAISA. Interesting. But then again, given that I've heard a NAISA member claim a Métis has a 'US-centric' perspective...