Launching Dec.20th: A Project on Cultural Revitalization Through #Quebec #FirstNations Women

Mark the date: will be launching on December 20th! The contact form is already active on-site. Louise Watson is the French anthropologist who began this project, who recently successfully presented her dissertation. Glad to have met her when she contacted me in 2016 to speak at a solidarity demonstration for Standing Rock in Berlin.

“Circle of Voices is a digital anthropological research project aiming to bring educational awareness about the situation of indigenous women and youths, and more broadly about indigenous rights. It was conducted with young women from the Atikamekw, Abenaki and Wolastoqiyik/Maliseet Nations in Quebec. It explores the process of cultural revitalization through four themes: land, language, art and spirituality. The activities entailed in the project are: participatory photography workshops; sharing circles; sound recordings and video clips of traditional practices; intergenerational dance workshops (fancy shawl); and personal narratives (biographical interviews). is a tangible attempt providing an answer to: what is the potential of the web space to convey academic knowledge and invite indigenous expertise and perspectives?”



At Red Rising Magazine-“Professions-What do “Real Natives” Do?”

My latest think piece at Red Rising Magazine, featuring a photo of our graphic artist Natasha John, from our documentary Forget Winnetou!. Please visit RRM for the full article.

The definitions of “real Indian” as opposed to “not authentic” Indian, based on ancestry or blood quantum level, or additionally on physical appearance, dress, behavior and attitude, can be compared to deciding what is a traditional or non-traditional profession as a means to judge dedication or connection to heritage and culture. This all being distinctly aside and separate from non-natives claiming to be natives, or those with distinctly questionable native heritage appropriating and then benefiting from being “Native” in non-native circles, mind you.

In whatever indigenous tribe, people or group, for the majority the reality and understanding maybe that there isn’t (or shouldn’t be) division between anything done, spoken, achieved or studied so as to be considered non-traditional or traditional. It is all connected. There is no compartmentalization of belief, activity or work. In everything you do, whether recognizable to others as “native”, it is Native because you as a Native did it, accomplished it, and added to it from who and what you are.”

Deeds, Not Words ~ Indigenous Day of Action – Oct10 — RED POWER MEDIA

Indigenous Day of Action #DeedsNotWords Justin Trudeau. It is time for DEEDS, Not WORDS, that truly respect Indigenous Rights. First Nations in Canada are waking up to the reality that the Trudeau government has a big smiley face for a front man, but when it comes to business, nothing has changed. This government approved the Site […]

via Deeds, Not Words ~ Indigenous Day of Action – Oct10 — RED POWER MEDIA

My Poem in Red Rising Magazine Issue #3: Land & Water-Coming Mid-May!

red-rising-magazine-web-logoRed Rising is a nonprofit Indigenous magazine from Winnipeg, MB. “Issue #3 “Land and Water” coming May 13th features new pieces from Christi Belcourt, Red Haircrow, Tabitha Martens & more.”

“Red Rising Magazine will have a launch party featuring Winona LaDuke at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House at 715 Main Street from 6:00 to 9:00. The event will be featuring special guest Winona LaDuke, celebrated Anishinaabekweg warrior who spoke the immortal words: “Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.”

Entry is $5, which also gets you a copy of the new magazine. The event will feature readings from contributors to Issue #3.

With this issue we wanted to create a space for writers to share their perspectives on land and water from their respective territories to reflect the historical, contemporary and future realities, and to get people to think critically about the environments we live in.

– Winona LaDuke
– Tabitha Martens
– Angelina McLeod
– Audrey Logan
– Craig Settee
– Faith Charity

This event will be preceded by an event for the youth on Wednesday May 11th: an arts workshop teaching creative writing, poetry, drawing, screenprinting and songwriting. This will be at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Center (430 Langside Street) from 6:00pm to 9:00pm facilitated by Tasha Spillett, Lenard Sumner, Jasmine Anderson, Justin L’Arrivee and Charlie Fettah.

Idle No More In Germany

idle-no-moreNote: Idle No More is definitely global, and natives 1st Nations and others from the Americas support it and welcome those around the world who also feel this important cause.

One of the things being asked however, is that Native American traditions, songs, dances, ceremonies history, etc. be respected. We do not in any way support non-natives drumming, singing or doing ceremonies, especially those who are non-native who have used our Peoples and cultures as a means for personal profit and fame for whatever reason, no matter how sincere they claim they are.

My point in writing is really to highlight to natives posting from North America who haven’t been in Germany or here recently, because they may not truly know the seriously difficult situation natives face here because of the number of hobbyists and “German Indians” who are pretending to be natives, selling ceremonies and who basically have many museums, art galleries, individuals etc. fooled into believing they are natives or tribally supported when that is not the case.

 * * * *

Like many things associated with Native Americans in Europe, movements like Idle No More can be problematic. No, not for its message, for that is right up my proverbial alley and what I’ve been promoting and fighting to bring for years: we don’t have to assimilate, don’t need to, and our voices should be heard and our sovereignty recognized and respected.

As Chelsea Vowel, Metis journalist at The Huffington Post said in the article, I’m In A Life Threatening Abusive Relationship With  My Government, “We have been backed into a corner and we are literally fighting for our lives. We are literally dying, in so many preventable and unacceptable ways. I’m not being poetic or hyperbolic here and I don’t just mean culturally. We are dying.”

Here in Germany, you don’t have the apathy towards natives generally seen in North America, but often you have those who admire natives to curious degrees, yet primary focus on past aspects: romanticized with native appearance, clothing, etc. from the 1800’s especially.

They admire those who “dress” natives, always speak in words of pronouncement; they seem to expect all natives to be thankful for their attention, helpful and forthcoming whenever asked questions, and some can quickly dismiss you, even saying you’re not really Indian if you don’t concede with their wishes or requests… whatever those happen to be. In other words, you have to be the Indian they want you to be in order to be a real Indian, while in the US for example, they want you to act the way they want you to for their own convenience, if they acknowledge you at all.

I received an invitation to participate in an Idle No More rounddance here in Berlin, on January 13th at Pariser Platz near Brandenburger Tor around 13h (shout if you know about Indian time ;-). It is said to be in support of the Idle No More movement in North America. Ironically, I’ve noted for many groups in Germany that if it is a “name” thing, you’ll have eager participants for such, but if it is an everyday fight, can-we-get- some help/understanding/support you’ll get a hundred questions which you may answer, yet still receive a negative or non-commital reply. Or the universe help you if you want to present natives in a positive 21st century light.

For example, I was approached to possibly write/collaborate with a theatre group to do a Native American presentation. When asked for my idea, I wished to show natives as what we also are: more than regalia wearing people of the past and curiosities in the present. I didn’t hear back, but that’s alright as I shared my message, and I wasn’t a native who collaborated in such a way the producers had their excuse to use native themes, clothing, etc. holding their personal native up as justification and clearance, as if they can speak for all the People.

But back on theme: After traveling three days to return to Germany after visiting in the family in the US, I was exhausted today as well as having caught the flu. I fell asleep this afternoon after reading the invitation…and I dreamed. If you’ve read any of my other posts you’d know, but I say again I am a dreamer in a certain sense of the word. I interpret dreams but also dream them strong, for often they give me clarity on situations and events. In this dream there was a gathering where natives were supposed to speak, to represent but I was uncertain and cautious as to who these natives would be, what they would say and agree to.

In the dream: These natives were supposed to speak before the president and his representatives, and I saw their clothing, their dances and thought to go among them but they didn’t speak the words I knew the People spoke. I was not welcome among them but I quickly found I did not wish to be among them anyway. They knew the steps to the dance and the words to the song and they called each other brother and sister, but their heart was not of true knowledge and understanding. They did not want to hear my questions or make explanation on why they were as they were.

Such dreams can often merely represent our fears and concerns. Dreams can expound on feelings we haven’t been able to face during conscious hours. Sometimes they can confirm after we’ve questioned and almost decided on answers. They can divine, give guidance and show future possibilities, but sometimes they can also just make us think deeper.

An Idle No More demonstration in Berlin, Germany or any other place can be a good thing for raising awareness, but there is also awareness needed about the fact we are not pictures from a book, or a study made by non-natives, we are not avatars to aid people on their general journeys of self-awareness just because they assume that’s part of what we do. To them we have to be spiritualists, dancers, painters or artists, etc. that only deal with Native topics or themes.

They seem to conveniently forget or don’t wish to also accept we can be anything we wish lawyers, doctors, heavy metal guitarists or cooks, etc. and can/are still Native Americans. We are not clichés. We are not those who you want to take pics with only if we are in regalia because then we are really Indians but otherwise not so much.

An Idle No More demonstration in Berlin, Germany or any other place can be a good thing for raising awareness, but with the number of hobbyists and others who have appropriated or misappropriated nativeness it can also be a time for them to dress up and play Indian again. To speak for us, when they don’t even want to listen to us most of time unless we are “being native” to their satisfaction (i.e. sharing our ceremonies, speaking about life back home, how it is on the rez, etc).

There are some genuinely interested in helping or associating with Native Americans. It is interactive, cooperative and respectful that we are a range of beliefs, backgrounds and personal styles like any other group. Those who created this event might be this type but with the mix of participants some of who may be coming out to be native, to rounddance, I can’t say I feel comfortable with that. I have several solid reasons and experiences regarding, which I won’t go into with this post.

It is enough: When I see an event like this suddenly have hundreds of Germans “liking”, “joining” and “participating” when they wouldn’t get involved previously, didn’t want to hear about real 2012-13 native life and concerns unless it had a popular name and sticker or t-shirt that says, “I danced for Idle No More”?

I have supported and worked within indigenous movements and continue to do so. I will do so from wherever in the world I may happen to be and long after the trending goes away. I will not be a participant at the  “Idle No More” event in Germany’s capital Berlin on January 13th and its solely based my quote: “Be my friend all the time if you are a true friend, not just sometimes. Be my friend because of who I am, not what I am or what you want from me.” I will be there covering the event for Indian Country Today Media Network, however.

As an editor there rightly asked, reflecting my questions too, because this is something we are naturally wary of, especially considering the problem of Indianism and hobbyism in Germany (please see my article here):

“Does this group consist of people who have researched Native Americans, or are they romanticizing them? In other words, does it constitute actual support or some measure of cultural appropriation that doesn’t really add anything to the discussion or the movement?”

Post on other native topics: