Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ethnic Studies Students are Cuteness

Even at the end of a long week, after a long podcast and under a bright unflattering light, Ethnic Studies brings the cuteness. This is Rashne, Maile, Ma and Kit (who just defended his MA thesis, congratulations Kit!) after our podcast last week.


I'll try to get some folks together for another one soon, I had lots of time to read and write on the train to and from Oregon. My panel went really well at ethnohistory, I brought the race card and I played it.

It was hard for me to find pictures of the longhouse where our panel was that showed it in any way how I feel about it. When I came to University of Oregon the NA students met in old ratty (the scrabbling eating food kind) barracks behind the swanky law school. We ate there, sang there, attended ceremonies. It was our place, our kids played outside, it was crappy and broke ass and ours, set in back of the shiny expensive Knight Law Center at Nike U, by the parking lots.

The longhouse went up quickly it seemed and was so beautiful, huge kitchen, fireplace, wood everywhere and many windows. The last time I was there was one of the best days of my life, after graduating from Ethnic Studies my friend Chris Finley (my sister really) and I had our families and friends there to eat and visit. So coming back three years later and reading a paper as a graduate student was meaningful.

These pictures are from the architects website, they come closest to how it looks to me.



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Friday, November 07, 2008

A Change Is Gonna Come

Tonight Ma Vang, Rashne Limki, Maile Arvin, and Kit Myers came over to my apartment to record a podcast. Rashne is fresh from long hours canvassing in Las Vegas, she and Kit are our obsessive politicos so they take on election talk with some input from the rest of us. We talked for nearly an hour, a little about our work but mostly about the state of the union, race and Ethnic Studies. The title is a link that will take you to the podcast.

I'll post pictures when I get them, they are on Rashne's camera with her personal photos of Barack and Michelle Obama.

I'm leaving town to go read a paper at the Ethnohistory conference at my alma mater, University of Oregon. The conference is at the Hilton but our panel is at the Many Nations Longhouse, a beautiful building on campus near the law school. We used to have a WWII barracks we used for our gatherings, and that was good, we had our own space, there was room for the kids to play outside. But this newer building is something. The last time I was there was the day I graduated in 2005, we had food and family and friends came to spend time after the ceremony. It was such a happy day.

Here is the panel I am on, my family is coming, I'm looking forward to it.


Practicing Native-Centered Ethnohistory in Oregon

Gray Whaley (Southern Illinois University), Organizer

Lynn Stephen (University of Oregon), Chair

Gray Whaley (Southern Illinois University) and George Wasson (Coquille Indian
Tribe/University of Oregon)
"Collaborating on Ethnohistorical/Family Biography";

Robert Kentta (Confederated Tribes of Siletz)
“The Siletz and History(s): Old Friend and Familiar Foe"

David Lewis (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, University of Oregon)
“Termination of Western Oregon Indians: Economics, Politics, and Oral
Angela Morrill (University of California, San Diego)
“Colonialism, Factionalism, and Klamath Termination”

Pam Endzweig (University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History),
Stephanie M. Wood (University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History) and
Elizabeth Kallenbach (University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History)
“Weaving History and Community through Museums Collections: Documenting
Native American Baskets at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History”

Lynn Stephen (University of Oregon), Discussant

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I know that there is pain but you hold on for one more day, things will go your way! Hold on for one more day!

I'll be putting up a new podcast in a few days. Certain current events, writing a prospectus, Maile is working on her MA thesis and recently spent a month in Hawai'i. I'm hoping we can get Kit Myers and maybe even Rashne Limki to come and talk, they have been true believers and taken more than a little crap from me, who wants to believe but has been Scully to their Mulders.

They get to gloat. So, new podcast coming soon!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Glen Coulthard's "Subjects of Empire"

I've been having a fling with this paper by Glen Coulthard "Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the 'Politics of Recognition' in Canada" and clicking on the title of this post will link you to a website where you can read it for yourself. A few months ago my friend Chris emailed it to me and I read it, gave a copy to my advisor and two other professors, including Denise Ferreira da Silva with the suggestion he be invited to speak at our weekly Ethnic Studies colloquium. I also gave a copy to Maile and I realized that I should just post the link.

I met him at the conference in Athens although I missed seeing him on a panel. I introduced myself, told him how much I liked his paper, that I was starting a fan club and would need head shots. I KNOW! I know.

It's just so smart and helps me in thinking about my prospectus for my dissertation. I agree that recognition from the state only reinforces those colonial relationships and is not transformative. What he suggests, based on the work of Frantz Fanon, is "collective self-recognition" and that is what I am hoping to find examples of for my project although articulating it is not getting easier. Well, not getting easier as quickly as I would like.

Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference

Last week I went to Athens, Georgia to present a paper at the NAIS conference. I wanted to spend the least amount of time away from my son, so I arrived Friday afternoon missing a day and a half of the conference. There was plenty of conference left to blow my mind.

Andrea Smith read a paper that nailed me to the wall. I'm going to write about it from memory because I cannot find my notes, please know any mistakes in understanding are mine. Using Audra Simpson's theory of "ethnographic refusal" she said that when we as indigenous scholars refuse to be containers of truth we become unintelligible to the academy. She said we have to be revealed as containers of truth and do not have rhetorical agency, it is not our ideas that are valuable but ourselves as indigenous truth-tellers and when we refuse that role and theorize we cannot be understood. She got a big laugh when she asked, "Does Foucault tell the truth about French people?"

She said that we struggle for inclusion, and that if they only knew how nice we were they would let us in. That becomes our job, berating them for not including us. I felt like she was singing my life with her words.

Before I left I had lunch with my advisor and he was telling me about the proposed description for an indigenous studies faculty position. There are NO indigenous faculty at UCSD. There are few students. The description had to include California as a focus of research and I found it limiting. I was also troubled by the inference, that Andrea Smith made clear to me, that the scholar will be the "container of truth." My advisor is excellent and I was able to talk to him about all of this for over an hour when I came back from the conference, and the job description is proposed only and will change. Still, coming home from this amazing conference has been a letdown, the mirror Andrea Smith held up showed me how isolated I often am.

I decided to take a History seminar this term. I have never worked with this professor but I have met him, he is on the committee for several of my cohort members. The seminar is Race, Colonialism and Nationalism and there are a lot of basic texts I wanted to read before I qualify in the fall. The writing requirement is not heavy, it is enough to allow me to write towards finishing up my literature review for my dissertation prospectus which is my main task this term. Wednesday we were reading Lisa Lowe's Immigrant Acts. She is a professor at UCSD in literature, I know she is brilliant, we read most of her book as undergraduates and in some ways I felt the trauma of that time, always struggling with ethnic studies to recognize indigeneity.

In the class discussion I told myself to be quiet, not critical, even if Lowe assumes colonialism began in the Phillipines. If you have met me or listened to the podcast you know that I was not able to remain quiet for long. I gave her book respect and then said, what if she wrote this book with the assumption that this is a settler society? The three times she mentions Native Americans she includes them in the food group laundry list, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans. I also mentioned that in her book Homebound, Yen Le Espiritu does what Lowe does not and connects colonialism here to the Phillipines and Vietnam.

The class was interested, then the professor talked back to my critique, I guess I did not smooth the way as well as I hoped, saying that Lowe is one of his best friends and one of the smartest people he knows and by that time I was in my safe place.

For three years I have not seen my sister, Chris Finley, my dear friend from our glory days at University of Oregon. She is a graduate student at University of Michigan and presented an excellent paper. Here is a picture of us, taken by Audra Simpson in between panels.

Lani, Me, Chris

we conference by a simpson

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tenure For Andrea Smith

If you listened to the first podcast, Madel and I were talking about Cherokee scholar Andrea Smith and how angry we were when Critical Gender Studies refused to hire her at UCSD. She is an amazing scholar and feminist and she was just denied tenure at University of Michigan. Here is a recent email that came to me:

--Please Distribute Widely and Join Our Local Action Campaign!--

Native Feminism Without Apology!

Statement of University of Michigan Students and Faculty in Support of Andrea Smith's Tenure Case

On February 22nd, 2008, University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) issued a negative tenure recommendation for Assistant Professor Andrea Lee Smith. Jointly appointed in the Program in American Culture and the Department of Women's Studies, Dr. Smith's body of scholarship exemplifies scholarly excellence with widely circulated articles in peer-reviewed journals and numerous books in both university and independent presses including Native Americans and the Christian Right published this year by Duke University Press. Dr. Smith is one of the greatest indigenous feminist intellectuals of our time. A nominee for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Smith has an outstanding academic and community record of service that is internationally and nationally recognized. She is a dedicated professor and mentor and she is an integral member of the University of Michigan (UM) intellectual community. Her reputation and pedagogical practices draw undergraduate
and graduate students from all over campus and the nation.

Dr. Smith received the news about her tenure case while participating in the United States' hearings before the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Ironically, during those very same hearings, the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that restricted affirmative action policies at UM specifically were cited as violations of international law. At the same time, there is an undeniable link between the Department of Women's Studies and LSA's current tenure recommendations and the long history of institutional restrictions against faculty of color. In 2008, students of color are coming together to protest the way UM's administration has fostered an environment wherein faculty of color are few and far between, Ethnic Studies course offerings have little financial and institutional support, and student services for students of color are decreasing each year.

To Support Professor Andrea Smith: The Provost must hear our responses! Write letters in support of Andrea Smith's tenure case. Address email letters to ALL of the following:

Teresa Sullivan, Provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs, LSA,
Lester Monts, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, LSA,
Mary Sue Coleman, President,
Voice your ideas on the web forum at

To Support Women of Color at Michigan and the Crisis of Women's Studies and Ethnic Studies: Attend the student organized March 15th Conference at UM!!!!
Campus Lockdown: Women of Color Negotiating the Academic Industrial Complex is free and open to the public. Speakers include renowned activists and scholars
Piya Chatterjee
Angela Davis
Rosa Linda Fregoso
Ruthie Gilmore
Fred Moten
Clarissa Rojas and
Haunani-Kay Trask.

For more information and to register, visit:


Educated . United . Diverse . Supportive . Active . Powerful
The Students of Color Of Rackham

In my opinion, Andrea Smith is an exciting creative scholar who gives so much to students, not even necessarily her own. As an undergraduate I was a member of the Native American Student Union when one of our co-directors raped a member. She dropped out, he didn't and his friends joked about it in our student lounge. Some of us got together to address our safety and our expectations, also to alert the rapists home community about his actions. As a result when Andrea Smith came to our campus to give a talk she asked to have lunch with us and advised and encouraged us. She deserved better than this, and I'm glad that the students at University of Michigan are organizing to support her.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Don't Stop Believing

Hello! I finally finished my thesis, "Deconstructing Factionalism in Klamath Termination" and sent it out to my committee, I am defending it on February 14th, tentatively. I learned so much about myself working on this thesis, and I learned so much from Madel and Miget. It was hard to let it go, I wanted to keep working and making it better. But I had to stop, now it is time to work on my prospectus for my dissertation. I really do not know what it will be about, when I do I am sure I will let everyone know.

Madel and family moved back to Belau! She kept saying she needed to go home and she did leave and I miss her so much already. She is going to be working on her dissertation, "Pacific Subjectivities: 'Routes and Roots' of Indigeneity and Militarism." She is an amazing scholar and I am so excited about her work. If you would like to read her prospectus move your mouse over the title and the link will take you to the site where it is posted.

Miget keeps up with his blog, No Rest for the Awake - Minahaget Chamorro, and is working on a conference here at UCSD in March, "Postcolonial" Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World that will offer some amazing scholars and speakers. Come if you can!

For now we are not doing any podcasts and so this blog will be on hiatus until I do not know when. I want to thank you for listening and reading and encouraging us with your support.

Here is a snippet from my thesis acknowledgments, it is the custom to give thanks and respect to everyone who helped you and you know if you are reading this that Madel and Miget have been a large part of my intellectual and academic life.

"During nearly the entire writing of this thesis two people, Michael Lujan Bevacqua and Madelsar Ngiraingas were a huge part of my intellectual life. Thank you for many conversations that became the podcast Voicing Indigeneity, and for your intellectual generosity and of course for the songs. From the start Madel offered her mentorship to me and helped me figure out the hard parts of this trip through academia. Miget also offered support and a new eye when I did not know how to see things. I am grateful to both of you."

Thank you to all the folks who talked with us on the podcasts, our guests and our listeners. It has been so worthwhile.

Madel told me her favorite pictures were the ones we took with Leroy's weapons so here is one for the road.

Don't mess with this

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lakota Sioux Secede from the US

Published on Friday, December 21, 2007 by Rapid City Journal (South Dakota)
Lakota Sioux Secede From US, Declare Independence
by Bill Harlan

Political activist Russell Means, a founder of the American Indian Movement, says he and other members of Lakota tribes have renounced treaties and are withdrawing from the United States.

“We are now a free country and independent of the United States of America,” Means said in a telephone interview. “This is all completely legal.”

Means said a Lakota delegation on Monday delivered a statement of “unilateral withdrawal” from the United States to the U.S. State Department in Washington.

The State Department did not respond. “That’ll take some time,” Means said.

Meanwhile, the delegation has delivered copies of the letter to the embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa. “We’re asking for recognition,” Means said, adding that Ireland and East Timor are “very interested” in the declaration.

Other countries will get copies of the same declaration, which Means said also would be delivered to the United Nations and to state and county governments covered by treaties, including treaties signed in 1851 and 1868. “We’re willing to negotiate with any American political entity,” Means said.

The United States could face international pressure if it doesn’t agree to negotiate, Means said. “The United State of America is an outlaw nation, we now know. We’ve understood that as a people for 155 years.”

Means also said his group would file liens on property in parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming that were illegally homesteaded.

The Web site for the declaration, “Lakota Freedom,” briefly crashed Thursday as wire services picked up the story and the server was overwhelmed, Means said.

Delegation member Phyllis Young said in an online statement: “We are not trying to embarrass the United States. We are here to continue the struggle for our children and grandchildren.” Young was an organizer of Women of All Red Nations.

Other members of the delegation include Rapid City-area activist Duane Martin Sr. and Gary Rowland, a leader of the Chief Big Foot Riders.

Means said anyone could live in the Lakota Nation, tax free, as long as they renounced their U.S. citizenship. The nation would issue drivers licenses and passports, but each community would be independent. “It will be the epitome of individual liberty, with community control,” Means said.

To make his case, Means cited several articles of the U.S. Constitution, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and a recent nonbinding U.N. resolution on the rights of indigenous people.

He thinks there will be international pressure. “If the U.S. violates the law, the whole world will know it,” Means said.

Means’ group is based in Porcupine on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

It is not an agency or branch of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Means ran unsuccessfully for president of the tribe in 2006.

Lakota tribes have long claimed that the U.S. government stole land guaranteed by treaties — especially in western South Dakota. “The Missouri River is ours, and so are the Black Hills,” Means said.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1980 awarded the tribes $122 million as compensation, but the court did not award land. The Lakota have refused the settlement. (As interest accrues, the unclaimed award is approaching $1 billion.)

In the late 1980s, then-Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey introduced legislation to return federal land to the tribes, and California millionaire Phil Stevens also tried to win support for a proposal to return the Black Hills to the Lakota.

Contact Bill Harlan at 394-8424 or

© 2007 The Rapid City Journal

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