Corine Fairbanks in Native Condition. Discussion »
Corine Fairbanks-Oglala Lakota
Some Native people have mentioned that focusing or organizing around these "every day little issues" is a waste of time, reciting chic clichés like "there are bigger fish to fry" or "pick and choose your battles wisely". Clearly, those that feel we have not chosen are battles wisely, have no aptitude for strategy.
Arguing that these "little everyday issues" are not worth mobilizing against is like saying "Don't worry about those termites eating up the house."
American Indians that are comfortable with oppression and have embraced assimilation, suffer from at least one of these two diseases: apathy and egoism.
Our communities are becoming infested with apathy and egoism (individualism) at a fast rate and with epidemic proportions. Those afflicted with these maladies believe the greatest effort they can make toward preserving their Native culture is by signing on to a Face Book group site or attending a local powwow. This is as far as the individual will go to connect to a collective and communal effort.
By contrast to yesterday's discussion of "Apathoids" in Indian Country, "Egothoids" are so "Indian", they are super Indian!
They sport the tattoos, drip with the turquoise jewelry, wear colorful animal and Native themed t-shirts with bears, wolves, and eagles. Some even don an American Indian Movement t-shirt. Egothoids strut around with these long and extremely spiritual Indian names and end every sentence with "Aho! "
Usually, Egothoids have a twisted definition of "tradition" and "respect". Not only is it twisted, they employ a double standard to those values, for example; they demand RESPECT, but do not give it. Egothoids do not organize for the community as they claim, but rather they agitate, confuse, and wreak havoc. Egothoids are creative story tellers with illusions of grandeur. If they are not busy acting in some Hollywood film or tv show, then they are either out selling ceremonies, and Indian names.
There are countless examples of how dominant society views us as objects for entertainment instead of the dignified human beings that we are. The stereotypes and cultural mockery is limitless, ludicrous and all of them insidious.
Seemingly harmless marketing logos of unhappy stoic looking chiefs, to international broadcasting in television and film, such as, MTV's "Cowboys and Findians" episode of the show "The Dudesons In America," - using of Jim Crow-era racial stereotypes and next the "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," where American Indians get cast only as werewolves, which only perpetuates the myth of Native werewolves running around bare-chested and in cut off shorts while everyone else, including the vampires, wear clothes implying somehow we posses a "wild sensuality" and are less civilized.
Numb colonized-minds think that these are small infractions and they are tolerable, yet, how we are portrayed in the media is ultimately how we are perceived universally.
Here are two examples:
"Get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun and enforce the law," was what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said to then New York Governor David Paterson on how to collect sales tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations in August 2010.
"In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of Native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil." - American Family Association leader Bryan Fischer
The common theme with all of these examples is that these incidents portray Indians as primitive people of the past, savage, villains, evildoers, and terrorists. Apathoids and Egothoids are unable to "connect the dots" in how these "little issues" are the building blocks to the larger problems we face in our communities.
Standing up for the respect and dignity of our people is a necessary ACT in addressing all of the issues in Indian Country - because they are all connected; from poverty, foster care, faulty legal systems, third world living conditions, to substance abuse, domestic violence, violence perpetuated against us, and violence against each other.
These "little issues" do nothing to build the dignity or self respect of our communities and especially our children. If a person does not have a strong sense of self worth as part of their foundation, what do they do? They self mutilate and act out in self destructive ways.
Corine Fairbanks is Oglala Lakota and is the director for the American Indian Movement Southern California Chapter. Ms. Fairbanks is a proud mother of five children. She is active on the Board of Directors for the American Civil Liberties Union Affiliate Santa Barbara chapter and also on the Grant Making Committee for the Fund for Santa Barbara.
posted January 12, 2011 10:50 am est
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