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Tag Archives: Native American Literature

Why We Should Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day

We need to resist against hate, xenophobia, and all forms of oppression against Christopher Columbus for what he has done to Indigenous people. We shall celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.

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Indigenous People’s Day: Resistance in the Epoch of Christopher Columbus

 

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Please support Indigenous Peoples’ Day all over the cities and towns in the country, “Columbus Day” is a commonly used as a white privilege label to support to any bigotry, hostility, and discrimination against Native Americans and its use is often politically motivated. That is why I do not support Christopher Columbus’s legacy in secrecy, war, and violence in Native American lands. To date, if Columbus was alive today, hate crime charges without question where the trial is necessary for Columbus.

There are plenty of literature reviews on Native Americans and criminal justice, found one of the literature reviews focusing ethno-violence and found not a single case of Native Americans as victims of racially motivated violence. It makes them deeper than an invisible cloak. It is literally bad! What had Native Americans done to them? Kurt Vonnegut writes in his book, Breakfast of Champions: As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North American for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.”

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What is Indigenous People’s Day? It is about celebrating of the Indigenous peoples in North America to celebrate their culture, language, and arts. It is important to appreciate them as part of humanity and it is also difficult to imagine and understand the current strains of Indigenous peoples where they face the connections with colonialism. As for Columbus’ trial, according to the United Nations: 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

 a: Killing members of the group;

b: Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

d: Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e: Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (Article II)

Do we need to celebrate Columbus Day what he has robbed Indigenous Peoples lives? It should be student-centered, human-centered, and love-centered that we need to retain our knowledge about Indigenous People in schools. Also, it can be educator-led that we need strong educators to bring in stronger awareness that impacts learning. At a human compassion, we all need a healthy terminology such as Indigenous People’s Day.

Finally, it should be Hate-Free, as Indigenous People deserve an education without financial hardships. They deserve a chance to thrive in their lives, without facing hate and racism daily. We need teachers and learners clearly to share a common interest in positive meaning and we need to re-invest Native American literature more often in our public schools and universities. Can we channel our knowledge toward the essentials of teaching and learning about Indigenous People’s Day? Please visit this YouTube video with captions provided:

 

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

We All Have Struggles

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Cherokee Story of Two Wolves:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Good day, folks!

There is a new norm that there is a Deaf returned citizen is attacking a Deaf returned citizen. Since I will use the middle name to justify who the Deaf returned citizen is, the name is Nicole. I can understand Nicole’s anger. I am reading a book at this hour called Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Nahh really made me think for days and days. I really regret that I did not read that book earlier in my life. It is better to read that book than waiting too late. Nahh writes:

“A good teaching is the kind of teaching that you can apply directly to your life, so that you can transform your suffering. When you are angry, you suffer as though you are being burned by the fires of hell. When you feel great despair or jealousy, you are in hell.”

Nicole’s anger who is full of anger makes sure I LIVE IN THE PAST and the false statements made against me was reckless and tried to make sure I taste harm or emotional suffering and harm my reputation what would be called character assassination. I do not need ANGER. Since I am part of Deaf community, I need to remind Nicole—“Community” means—it is a NOUN, as in dictionary: A feeling or fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes; interests, and goals.

My goals in Deaf community is to bring positive attitudes and empower Deaf returned citizens is my biggest interest right now. Nicole is a returned citizen, too. Do not preach DOUBLE OPPRESSION. Am I part of Deaf community? Nicole has had no authority to think that my figure should not belong in Deaf community. Attacking me is not going to work at all. Let it go. Another quote from the same book I am reading above:

“When a person’s speech is full of anger, it is because he or she suffers deeply. Because he has so much suffering, he becomes full of bitterness.”

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As a Deaf returned citizen working hard to change my life around, the damage is even more hurtful. I believe in hope. I have a story to tell, since activism has long been one of my passion and since I knew that to make inroads into the circles of empowering Deaf returned citizens as much as I can. Again, I do not need to live in the past. For the last time before I go, again, the wonder of the same book above shares the most important thought of the day:

“To be happy, to me, is to suffer less. If we were not capable of transforming the pain with ourselves, happiness would not be possible.”

Anger is not the answer. I became better person to deal with the growing pains first and learn how to change my life around for the betterment. It is the only way to go. I do not need to live in Nicole’s shadows.

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely coped in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

References:

http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2010/11/two-wolves-native-american-legends.html

http://www.virtuesforlife.com/two-wolves/

 

Behind Trump’s Eyes and Ears

Standing Rock: One of Many Branches in the Tree of Humanity

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I stand with the Standing Rock—the oppression against Native Americans is long enough and sick. I decided to join the march and rally for Standing Rock today. Water is life for all of us—some of you do not realize how much sacred water is to us. Growing up in a small town in Washington State—the name of town: ‘Yacolt’ which means haunted place or place of evil spirits also known “the valley of lost children.”

Yacolt, a town in the northeastern part of Washington State, a Native American storyteller once said, “Many years ago a small tribe of Indians went huckleberrying on the prairie and some of their children were mysteriously lost. Since they could not find the children they concluded that they had been stolen by evil spirits. Thereupon they called the prairie Yacolt, meaning ‘haunted place’.” (In Names MSS. Letter 138.) I had lived there for 20 years—on 400 acres—as a kid, I learned how to build a tepee by myself.

I’ve learned how to embrace and appreciate Native American stories encouraged by my grandmother. What disgusted me the most that the schools I attended had tribal-themed mascots promoting discrimination, harassment of students and stereotyping of Native Americans: Fircrest Elementary School (Falcons), Wy’East Middle School (Warriors), and Hudson’s Bay High School (Eagles).

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My grandmother was born in Oregon to her Cherokee mother. I was proud to call Great Pacific Northwest my home—surrounded by Native American spirits there. Mount St. Helens was only 30 minutes back road drive from my home. Yes, the same famous Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 killing 57 people including one person named Harry S. Truman (not the president) whom my grandfather knew him, I was six years old that time and I do remember that time seeing my family getting everything ready to make sure we were safe for couple of days.

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The ashes are still fresh in my mind today. It was one of all-time classic stories in my life. One day, my grandmother gave me an old book to read in early 1980  and I saw a picture of Mount St. Helens eruption told by Native American stories right before May 1980 eruption (Something like 500 years ago). That picture I had to google was the exactly I saw and I was very surprised to see this picture after all those years. After that, Native American spirit has been flourished into my blood more often. My senior capstone where I decided to sign up to learn about Environmental Education through Native American Lenses—a HUGE CHANGE in my life. The course was all about:

What are Native American perspectives and how can they affect/inform environmental education? How does environment shape our lives and our relationships? How does your own heritage impact who you are today?

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After seeing severe oppression towards Native Americans at Standing Rock, the evil spirits had came back risen by white privileges, I stand with them and will not let them haunt our spirits again. Reflecting on the social identity of Native American people one sees that Native Americans belong to a category whose attributes are part of our larger, popular culture. As a result of the treatment of Native American people in literature and in the media, an extrapolative leap and try to imagine what your world would like if you were a Native American.

Most white people, if they were lead to think about Native Americans, soon make this extrapolative leap, for they have little else to guide them: they have not read about Native American language and culture, and extrapolation must stand in for real knowledge. If it happens that you know someone who is a Native American, another way of apprehending their culture is open and the Native American are trying to send a message that their culture is open. It takes on the characteristics of that particular Native American person, as in:

“It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the winds of the air and all green things; for these are children of one another and their father is one Spirit.”–John Neihardt, author of Black Elk Speaks whom I learned in my Native American Literature course.

The mainstream of western society has attempted for many years to convert the Native Americans into the White-Indian, at the cost of losing cultural traditions, religion, and language of the Native American people. Starvation, incarceration, and enforced “white” education have all been used to turn these Native Americans into cookie-cutter second class citizens. Land and land resources for subsistence also continue to be overlooked and taken without compensation.

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Today with the march and rally was very inspiring! It was worth my time–the speakers were awesome. Not only that but the ASL interpreter was there with a big heart interpreted what the Standing Rock was really about. There were some important people there–few of them are famous celebrities.

I felt great–I did my civil duty today! You should do the same thing, too! I stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock and all the water protectors! Hate crimes against Native Americans—enough! Remember 1851 Dakota Land Cession Treaty—enough of ignorance! Remove all the Native American mascots in schools and sports. #NoDAPL

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-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

Fools Crow: Roots and Branches of Native American Literature

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Today is James Welch’s birthday—a famous Native American writer whom he passed away in 2003. When I looked up Google, there was a Doodle of James Welch honoring his contributions. I did not realize today was his birthday—so, I am writing a post to honor him. When I signed up for American Indian Literature course as a student, I really enjoyed his book, Fools Crow, it really hit me hard a lot what Native American literature was about. What impressed me the most is that he was a founding author of the Native American Renaissance—I remember my professor was talking a lot about Mr. Welch. He had asked all of us to read his books as required and write no more than 15 pages essay.

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I was really intrigued how Welch, in his book, Fools Crow, was able to show the tension in traditional values of the Blackfeet Indians during time of cultural and historical change. In the beginning of the book, younger Pikuni males (includling White Man’s Dog, who later becomes Fools Crow) are planning to embark upon a horse raid. Gaining horses for the tribe is viewed favorably and earns the Pikuni respect and a level of responsibility within their group. However, the younger Pikuni in the novel seem to be more focused on the personal glory attained in the plundering of horses from the Crow Indians.

I loved how Welch illustrates the life of the Pukini through storytelling. In this sense, he is preserving written tradition as important to Native American culture and a theme in Native American writing. For instance, rather than just describe the Sun Dance ritual, he describes Fools Crow’s experience of transcendence as he dances:

Fools Crow listened to the faraway rumble of Thunder Chief and felt his step becomes lighter. He felt in his heart, in the rhythm of the drum, a peculiar kind of happiness—a happiness that sleeps with sadness. And the feeling made his head light and he was removed from the others, dancing alone, singing a song that had to do with his life in this world, and in that other world he visited from his vision…. [Fools Crow, page 390]

My best time in that course I took, the book I was also required to read, The Jailing of Cecelia Capture written by Janet Campbell Hale, I decided to write both books in my final essay, Cecilia Capture and the Welch’s Narrator: An Examination of Two Cultures in a Search for Identity. if it was not for James Welch, it would not have published. Thank you, Mr. James Welch for the characters of Native Americans come to terms with its challenges, and continuing survival, with humor, and perhaps a sad recognition that they must continuously face and sometimes capitalize on derogatory stereotypes to ensure their survival.

Be sure to celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

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The Pin I Am Proudly to Hold!

-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.