Joy Harjo's Web Log
Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
More from Elisa
The following would be my answer.
IS it enough that I write my name and I choose a password
to insert my answer in the blog?
You can check an answer, before posting, can't you?
Mrs Harjo, thank you for your answer.
I have written to an Italian TV program and an Italian newspaper about this abuse, but I have got no answer up to now. I will do what Gail is suggesting (thank you!): I will forward emails and information.
The Lega Nord is one of the most narrow-minded Italian right party. To give you an idea of the kind of people voting for this group, their first (or one or their first) slogan was: “Ours is hard” (Noi ce l’abbiamo duro, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV6U0p0ie8s ) meaning male penis. They used to go around with a T-shirt with this slogan during their first political campaign…
Today they are “fighting” (they always use words and slogans, as they were making war to someone) for the liberation of the Padania (which is the “Po” river valley and the region around). They want to free the Padania, to stop immigration of Southern Italians, African and Eastern people, and they want their region to become more and more independent (federalismo) in Italy.
Searching on the Web, I have find out, that the Umberto Bossi, the Lega Nord boss, copied the manifesto with Native Americans from the one of a right group (Lega Ticinese) in Lugano, in Canton Ticino, in Switzerland: also in Switzerland they are making a politcal campaign against immigration ab/using Native Americans’ history: http://new.ticinonews.ch/articolo.aspx?id=3643&rubrica=2
Bossi liked it and copied it.
I have read (http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/Politica/?id=1.0.2013633915), that Calderoli, a Lega Nord Senator, commented on their manifesto: “We are getting like Redskins, but we are red out of anger, because we are the target of a dangerous colonization and victims of an imported criminalization. We are getting really furious, because someone wants even to let them immigrants vote, as it happened to the Indians, when someone else came to choose their chiefs. We do not want this history to be repeated”.
…It’s a shame, this comparison is a shame.
You are all right, Gail, our political situation is incredible: the Italian political, social and economical situation is at its lowest point. Decadence is everywhere, Mafia, corruption…. All over the world. I would be pleased, if we would deserve better politicians. This would mean, we would react and do something to change the situation. We will vote in 2 weeks. And Berlusconi is on TV again for his political campaign, with his whig, lifting and his list of charges for corruption…
Thank you for your kind answer.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Letter to the Alaska Daily News regarding Racist Radio Remarks, Excellent Letter
("This Letter was published in the ADN today. I found it to be a refreshingly progressive statement amidst the sometimes backward opinions I've seen in the letters to the Editor of ADN." from my friend up north Candyce Childers.)
White Alaskans should work toward being gracious guests
As a lifelong white Alaska woman, I have been thinking hard about all of the confusions that enabled my two white brothers to speak so hurtfully about Alaska Native women during a KBFX 100.5-FM radio show.
I believe in the intrinsic value of all humans, including these men. I urge all white people to resist the impulse to separate ourselves from the men, and to think that there are 'good' and 'bad' white people. All white people are good, but we have also become terribly confused about what it means to be human. We are good, but we have participated, whether consciously or not, in the racism that has perpetrated the genocide of Native Americans. This ongoing legacy set the foundation for these remarks.
The suspended hosts will be required to take 'sensitivity training.' I think all white Alaskans need this training. What can white people do? We can remember that we are all living on Native land. We can work on remembering our own stories and traditions. We can reclaim our own heritages. We can reach for each other and help each other heal. We can commit ourselves to eliminating racism and genocide once and for all, so that we can be the gracious guests we truly want to be in this magnificent land.
-- Christine Marie, Juneau
Friday, April 18, 2008
In Tucson Two Weeks Ago, the Desert Was Blooming
Photo c Joy Harjo 2008
Hate Speech in Anchorage on Station KBFX
Letter to the Editor:
Anchorage Daily News
On April 10, one of the radio personalities "Woody and Wilcox," on Station KBFX, made brutally offensive racial remarks on their morning show. The two were bantering about what it means to be a real Alaskan. One asked the question "Have you ever made love to the Yukon River or peed in a Native woman?" How often have you heard a single sentence that racist and that sexist?
This was hate speech, intended to amuse bigots. Some listeners were shocked; but many Natives, while sickened, thought it was all too typical of Alaska's race relations. While our country does not put people in jail for what they say; it is also true that we should not tolerate vulgar, race-baiting over the public airways. On behalf of the statewide Native community, the Alaska Federation of Natives calls upon Fox Radio's managers to take immediate disciplinary action against the individual or individuals responsible.
AFN's complaint is not just another example of political correctness. Sexual violence against indigenous women in the U.S. is as widespread as it is vicious. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped/sexually assaulted than are other American women. As noted by Amnesty International,"... sexual violence against indigenous women is the result of a number of factors, including a history of widespread and egregious human rights violations against indigenous peoples in the United States.... Indigenous women were raped by settlers and soldiers in many infamous episodes....Such attacks were not random or individual; they were tools of conquest and colonization."
Alaska ranks number three among all 50 states in terms of such racial and sexual violence against indigenous women; and now we can understand part of why the numbers are so bad. The Klan has its n-word; neo-Nazi groups tell Auschwitz jokes; and here in Alaska, Woody and Wilcox think that brutalizing Native women is funny. As Alaskans, all of us can do better than this
One can only imagine the look on the face of some young Native girl who heard that remark, when she looked up and said: "Mommy, what does that mean?" What it means, young lady, is that this man feels that you are less human than he is - and that you deserve to be punished for it.
What Woody and/or Wilcox said on FOX Radio is at least as bad as what Don Imus said about the Rutgers women's basketball team. He was fired for it.
President, Alaska Federation of Natives
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Earthlink Email Problem Today
If anyone has emailed me today, please try again. I've received only about 5 emails, not my usual 50 or more. When the system goes down like this, all emails sent during this time are lost, not retrievable.
Muscogee Nation News April Column 2007: We Are All Teachers
(Because of the nature of culminating events involving abuse of power by teachers, in my personal and academic life, I've decided to post this column a month ahead of time.)
We have many teachers in this life. Some are human, some animal, plant, and others who are part of our experience. Some are physical; some not. Our first teachers are our parents. They shape our minds, direct the entrance to this life. A kind word or nod can literally shift the direction of a day; even remake the path of a life. Many times I have heard how a teacher stepped in when no one else heard, and gave exactly what was needed.
One teacher of mine wouldn’t necessarily think of herself that way. From her I have learned a reverence for the earth as a being, for the water, a reverence for reverence. I have learned about paying respect for the gifts of the spirit. I have learned to accept the uniqueness of my own experience, and the uniqueness of others. I have seen her help strangers as well as family. Many homeless Indian men used to stop at her shop because they knew she’d give them food, talk to them as human beings. She is kind to all without question, and always does anything to the best of her ability. She's a hard worker. She would not want me to post her name here and would be embarrassed if she knew I was talking about her. She's a true teacher.
A cruel word or misdeed by a teacher can cut off the circulation to a part of the spirit. A singing child might never sing again. A young artist might turn their back on their finest gift. (I was once that child.) Gifts are like children. They come to us or through us, and they need to be nurtured. Still, they don’t belong to us. Gifts are there to be given back to the people.
There was once a man of our people who I admired. I looked up to him. He had been given many gifts. The knowledge of the ancestors had been passed down to him. I wanted to learn from him as I do from any of our elders I seek out. All of us eventually become the last generation and we have to pass on what we know so it can grow. He had something he was given to teach all of us. Instead he betrayed my trust by a disrespectful act. I was devastated, angry, and then sad. Then I realized that the truth of his character had been speaking to me all along and I hadn’t wanted to listen. I saw what I wanted to see, not the man as he really was.
Sometimes the wisest teachers come from within us. We can get so caught up in the surface running-around mind that we can forget to listen to and to trust the wise teacher who lives within each and every one of us. That wise one will always lead you in the right direction. It will always tell you the truth of the matter. It will tell you which direction to walk, and which direction to walk away from….and it always speaks and guides in a compassionate manner. (And how many times have we disregarded that teacher?)
Don’t forget this when you speak to your children, your parents, your friends and relatives, even your enemies. Don’t forget as you step out into your day or lay your head down at the end of the day. We are all teachers to each other.
c Joy Harjo March 31, 2008 Albuquerque
Muscogee Nation News March Column 2007
Though I landed home two weeks ago, I am still returning from a two-week trip to India, where I spent time primarily in Kolkata (known by it’s Anglicized name as Calcutta), and Shantiniketan, New Delhi and Agra, as well. When traveling it can take awhile for the spirit to catch up to the body. You literally enter into a different realm. Even flying from Tulsa to Kansas City is a miraculous shift. You step out into a different air, a different story. Walking or riding a horse you move about in the land and have time to adjust. From Tulsa to Los Angeles is a more dramatic shift, from Honolulu to Kolkata in a series of flights that took over 24 hours, was a shock.
Imagine stepping out into a population density of 15,475 people per square mile. This is the population density of Kolkata as of seven years ago. It’s grown since. The population density of Okmulgee is 1004 people per square mile; in Tulsa it’s 2,152 people per square mile. It can be overwhelming. The extremes between poverty and wealth are as dramatic. For many from Kolkata, most living in the Okmulgee area would be considered wealthy.
One image stays with me as we were being driven in heavy traffic through the city for a performance. The traffic included ox-driven carts, motorcycles that often carried whole families, bicycles hauling lumber and other stacks of goods, buses, trucks, tankers, and small bicycle or motorcycle motor taxis. We are stopped at a light. To the left on a concrete island is a shantytown of families. A father is very proud of his infant daughter he holds carefully on his knee. She wears a crisp, yellow dress. Behind him his wife and her sister are visiting in the kitchen, chopping vegetables. The few pans are hung with care. They are going about their life in one small room with dignity, though just inches away the traffic surges, punctuated by horns honking. Despite the difficulties, there was dignity. (An immense concept of dignity began shaping my mind there.)
Several languages overlapped: Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, and English as well as other tribal languages. (Yes, English came from tribal languages.) And West Bengal is one of many states in India, each marked by linguistic diversity, so much like our own North America. I began to understand how infected we are with the disease of cultural diminishment in this country. We’ve unconsciously digested the “vanishing Indian” myth. India showed me another possibility. Imagine our country as a country of thriving native languages and cultures, like India. It’s possible.
So I took a look at how we got into this mess, and I found Rabbit:
In a world long before this one, there was enough for everyone until somebody got out of line.
We heard it was Rabbit, fooling around with clay and the wind.
Everybody was tired of his tricks and no one would play with him; he was lonely in this world.
So Rabbit thought to make a person.
And when he blew into the mouth of that crude figure to see what would happen, the clay man stood up.
Rabbit showed the clay man how to steal a chicken.
The clay man obeyed.
Then Rabbit showed him how to steal corn.
The clay man obeyed.
Then he showed him how to steal someone else’s wife.
The clay man obeyed.
Rabbit felt important and powerful.
The clay man felt important and powerful.
And once that clay man started he could not stop.
Once he took that chicken he wanted all the chickens.
And once he took that corn he wanted all the corn.
And once he took that wife, he wanted all the wives.
He was insatiable.
Then he had a taste of gold and he wanted all the gold.
Then it was land and anything else he saw.
His wanting only made him want more.
Soon it was countries, and then it was trade.
Any thought, action or dream
Rubs up against everyone else.
The wanting infected the earth.
We lost track of the purpose and reason for life.
We began to forget our songs, we forgot our stories; we could no longer see or hear our ancestors, or talk with each other across the kitchen table.
Now Rabbit couldn’t find a drink of fresh water.
The forests were being mowed down all over the world.
The earth was being destroyed to make more and Rabbit had no place to play.
Rabbit’s trick had backfired.
And now his clay man was too consumed to run with him.
Rabbit tried to call the clay man back, but when the clay man wouldn’t listen Rabbit realized he’d made a clay man with no ears.
c Joy Harjo 2008
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