21 December 2007

happy holidays, brady braves!

here at the bbb, we've been slacking on bringing you brady bravin' goodness. not much bloggin' for the holidays.

as the elections draw closer, we encourage you to check out http://www.richardsonforpresident.com/ to read about someone who KNOWS and has the SUPPORT of many Native folks ... okay, so he doesn't have the support of part-time super-"indian" chuck "washo" norris, but gov. huckabee can have all 10 votes from them fictional texas cherokee rez-idents ... btw, a close relative of this brady bravin' editor was eating in the same restaurant as "washo" the other day in addison (dallas area), where chuck resides ... some folks get all the luck ...

peace ...

21 November 2007

St. Paul Pioneer Press update ...

Brady Braves: remember the november 13 St. Paul Pioneer Press headline about adrian peterson's knee injury: "The Vikings must now fight the battle of... Wounded Knee"? (see our november 14 post for additional info.)

replying last friday to a brady_braves_bureau email, the senior sports editor wrote, "Thank you for writing. I can't tell you how bad I feel about this [headline]. I will say to you what I have been saying to everyone who has written to us about this. In hindsight, it was a poor choice of words, and I apologize for that. We absolutely should have been more sensitive. I appreciate your feedback."

and we appreciate this sincere apology. we are glad to say that we won't be placing the st. paul pioneer press sports folks into the bureau of brady braves "hall of shame." besides, the hall is so crowded already with the chief wahoos, wannabe yahoos, billy jacks, and those texas-rangerin', infomercialin', mike huckabee endorsin' chuck "chuckabee" norrises.

16 November 2007

First of the Mohicans?

hey, brady bravers ... espn.com is playing indian via speech today ... they're addressing "mohawk" hairstyles in college football, asking who is "first," not last, "of the mohicans." greg garber's article "does the mohawk make the man?" begins, "Some believe it was University of South Florida senior linebacker Ben Moffitt. Others credit junior center Jake Griffin. If it's a stalemate, freshman wide receiver Carlton Mitchell is more than willing to claim responsibility for being the first of the Mohicans." man, we at the bbb didn't know mr. mitchell was "indian." playing ball for south florida, he's playing indian a long way from home, eh? as garber actually takes the time to add, "The Mohawk was first identified on Mohawk Iroquois Indians in upstate New York by a Dutch Reform church minister named Johannes Megapolensis more than 350 years ago."

we pity the espn fool because everyone knows that the mohawk began in 1980s hollywood with [cue the theme music] the A-Team.

14 November 2007

knee injury in minnesota = wounded knee,1890??

the bureau is a fan of adrian peterson, not necessarily because he plays for the vikings up the road from the bureau's new home but because he played college ball at OU aka the university of oklahoma. and yes, we wish him a speedy recovery from his knee injury against the packers this past sunday.

but folks like those at the St. Paul Pioneer Press aren't helping much with their tuesday, november 13, headline about peterson's injury: "The Vikings must now fight the battle of... Wounded Knee." as observed by professor eric buffalohead, the headline is used for "a story on Adrian Peterson's injured knee. Why on earth does it reference Wounded Knee? What does a football injury have to do with the 1890 massacre of over 300 Lakota men, women, children and elders by US Soldiers in 7th cavelry? This headline only appears in the print version, not online. Spread the word to let the Pioneer Press know they should be apologizing for such poor taste in choice of a headline."

or how about this blogger titling his post as "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Is the NFL Any Good Any More?" referencing dee brown's novel yet still "playing" with serious words in order to make a reference to a football player's injury? man, these folks look to be trying out for the bureau of brady braves' hall of shame ...

05 November 2007

post-halloween ...

hey, brady bravers ... did you have a pseudo-"indian"-free halloween? no little pseudo-"indians" running savage-like in your neighborhood? did you not see that peanuts t-shirt the other day in kohl's department stores on which marcy is dressed up as a witch and her friend peppermint "hey, chuck" patty dressed as an "indian" with single-feathered headband? or how about the sweatshirt at another store with winnie the pooh trick-or-treating as an "indian"? man, winnie, say it isn't so. thought halloween costumes were more about witches' hats, mummy cheesecloth, ghost bed sheets, and teenage mutant ninja turtles, not about faux "indian" pipes, faux "indian" buckskin, faux pocahontas mini-skirts, and faux headdresses. some adults, apparently a couple of faculty and/or staff members, at a major university in ohio didn't get that memo, from what i've heard. they dressed as "indians" like so many others have done and continue to do. must have been a case of post-wahoo-losing blues from not making it to the world series ... again ...

or what about blackface costumes? since 2001, there have been many recorded instances (and no telling how many undocumented) of blackface parties hosted by predominantly white fraternities. the "mummy" costume gets replaced by blackface "mammies." the white sheets for caspar-like ghosts get transmorphed into kkk costumes. from auburn's 2001 party (disturbing pics included) to colorado college's 2007 golf outing (in which four of the players reenacted sitcom characters from family matters) to blackface at yale university last week (and blackface stops in-between at virginia, texas a&m, connecticut, syracuse, etc.), blackface ain't slowing down much. (the bureau here especially encourages brady braves to check out that link to an impressive article from two students at yale.)

and don't forget brownface "south of the border" and twisted "cinco de mayo" gatherings, such as those at university of delaware and uc-santa clara. they remind us, among other things, that racialized costumes aren't limited to appearances on october 31 of each year.

happy post-halloween,

bureau of brady braves
update on nov 6: another instance of blackface, this one with a homeland security employee who won an award for best costume: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21644765/

22 October 2007

this just in: Real Native Defeats Psuedo-"Indians"

after the red sox were down three games to one in the american league championship series, i predicted they'd come back and knock out those pseudo-athletic "indians." sure enough, last night, the boston red sox defeated the wahoo-logo-wearing cleveland "indians" 11-2 in game 7. and guess who assisted in that KO? red sox outfielder jacob ellsbury, a real native, a dineh/navajo. when asked why one should cheer for the sox, blogger pepe lepew's top reason was, "The Red Sox have an Indian on their roster, not on their hat." well said, mr. lepew (who also reported that foxnews.com had a headline on oct 17 reading "Indians Scalp Red Sox").

and another twist? a 1675 law banned real Native Peoples from entering boston, and the law was never repealed. finally, in 2005, politicians voted to repeal the archaic law. that's good news for ellsbury.

wonder, though, if boston could replace the law with a new ban, one which keeps out bad redfaced impersonations of "indians," like "chief wahoo" with his grinning pearly whites? (man, the bureau of brady braves ain't ever known an indian with such white teeth! that's what i told a dental assistant once a couple of years ago when she had me reclined in the chair for a teeth cleaning, and there above me on the ceiling? a giant "chief wahoo" poster. yet another way to get kids to relax in the dentist's chair, eh? but at whose expense?)

09 October 2007

chris "clueless of columbus" berman

so, it's already october 9, brady bravers. continuing to be quiet in the blogosphere but busy elsewhere in life. had hoped to return strong to blogging, but don't give up on bradybraves.blogspot.com. perhaps middle buffalo and the other braves will get fired up soon and send out smoke signals as misguided as chris berman's comment last night on ESPN. the bob costas of ESPN, berman told viewers yesterday, "happy columbus day!" and then went on to associate "columbus" with having "discovered america." what a trip. i thought the notion of a european "discovering" a place already inhabited by millions was rather passe, like so-last-century. apparently, berman (who's known for adding in clever middle names to players' names) didn't get the memo. and i guess he's never heard the bureau of brady braves' friend's call for changing "columbus day" to "stolen land day." maybe frybread man can "chief noc-a-homa" (going ol' school here for those keeping score with pop culture references) some sense into the baseball-announcing berman.

01 October 2007

coming soon ...

greetings, brady braves ... hope you had a good august and a good september ... coming soon: the return to the blogosphere of peter "middle buffalo/leaping lizard" brady ... wonder if he gets a mention in maureen mccormick's (actress who portrayed marcia brady) upcoming book? thus far, the media's attention is on that brady brave sister known as "dove of the morning light."

be well, friends,

bureau of brady braves

27 July 2007

a bloggin' hiatus ...

hey, brady bravers. due to this and that and another, the bureau of brady braves is closing, as far as new posts go, in august and september. the bbb continues to welcome your ideas at brady_braves_bureau@yahoo.com for what you would like to see the bureau address in the fall. we sure appreciate the attention you've shown, and we will see you in october with brady braving goodness once the bureau relocates and resettles, this time in minnesota, and once the staff returns from the bloggin' hiatus to bradybraves.blogspot.com … take care.

23 July 2007

blackface, a redface cousin ...

check it out: blackface, german-style, as reported and impressively commented on at BlackWomenInEurope.Blogspot.com. english translations appear beside these degrading german ads.

"some teachers suck, no teachers sucks even more."

"i'm waiting for my last day in school, the children in africa still for their first one."

"in africa, kids don't come to school late, but not at all."

"in africa, many kids would be glad to worry about school."

20 July 2007

brady brave thought of the day ...

"Once we abandoned ourselves for television, the box that separates the dreamer from the dreaming. It was as if we were stolen, put into a bag carried on the back of a whiteman who pretends to own the earth and the sky. In the sack were all the people of the world. We fought until there was a hole in the bag." ~Joy Harjo, "A Postcolonial Tale"

12 July 2007

INDIANA-nizing INDIAN play

hey, brady bravers ... INDIAN play appears to be alive and well in southern INDIANa ... here are pics from a trip to the hills of brown county last month ... the left one is from one of those ol' time photo studios. poor guy couldn't decide whether to play cowboy, indian, or cavalry; so he went for the white-indian trifecta. regardless, bobby "little bear who loses way" brady will be glad to welcome him into the brady brave hall of shame.

the other two are off a back road in brown county. the sign with the older "indian" welcomes ya to "camp palawopec." another sign (not pictured) a few miles earlier depicts a younger "indian," suggesting that you may age by the time you get to the camp but that everyone can be a "kid at heart" when they join in redface revelry? the pic on the right is a "tipi" out on camp palawopec's lawn. i hear this lone "tipi" will star in the upcoming disney flick Last of the Tipis.

turns out this camp palawopec has a website, which includes this pic of one its campers in "warpaint" doing a bad grizzly imitation. just $495 for a week at the camp. more payin' for playin', eh?

btw, no chuck norris spottings in indiana. where ya at, walker?

06 July 2007

pay to play? part II

following-up to a previous post ... the bureau of brady braves declares here and now that one does not have to pay to play [NDN]. during the past two ventures to a local toys r us for the latest in elmo gear, the bbb has spotted the dvd version of disney's peter pan playing on a tv near the registers. and both times, it's been different scenes in which non-native characters play "indian." (is that all they do in that movie?) having seen this reminds us that we brady braves don’t need to pay to play.

rather, just hang out in toys r us and watch peter pan. for further authenticity in "indian" play (authentic pseudo-"indians"?), be like zack "running zack" morris in that 1990 episode of nbc's teen sitcom saved by the bell in which running zack dresses up in full headdress for a class presentation. for how-to instructions, tune into tbs. or tune into tv land and nick-at-nite and superstation wgn, where you can learn from barney "chief noogatuck" fife how to choke on a pipe in the andy griffith episode "the pageant," learn from granny clampett how her great-great granny "scalped redskins" (her words) in the hillbillies episode "family tree," learn from peter and bobby brady (before they receive "indian" names) how to run around in construction paper feathers, clap hand to mouth, and yell "woo woo woo" (or is it "waa-waa-waa"?), and learn in a 2006 episode of disney's suite life of zack and cody how to construct a headdress.

really, brady braves, why pay to play when you can learn the ways of opie's tomahawk club in andy griffith and bart's pre-teen braves in the simpsons? why pay to play when you can learn how to "count to five in american indian" from ralph malph in happy days? and the list of "how to play" as according to sitcom stars goes on and on--from 1950s lucy to today ...
or scratch the above and just call up chuck "walker, texas ranger" norris for all your brady bravin' occasions. unless he's busy infomercialin' the latest in fitness equipment or hangin' out on the bogus texas cherokee rez in hallmark channel reruns, walker should be ready to show you a few moves he swiped from billy jack.


02 July 2007

Descartes Indians

brady braves:
here's your peter "middle buffalo/leaping lizard" brady thought of the day,
courtesy of drew hayden taylor:

"Descartes Indians"
"I think Indian,
therefore I am Indian."

01 July 2007

playin' cherokee

hey, brady bravers ... if'n you're lookin' to pay to play [indian], then check out this ad by Reverend Tim Cottonmouth:

"This here's the Reverend Tim Cottonmouth. Speakin' to ya from the national I Wannabe a Cherokee network in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ...

Ifn your having a little tribal uncertainty, ifn the drum is telling ya the Apache, the Choctaw, the Osage is not fer you, ifn ya say Iroquois and the white man thinks you're from the Middle East, then come on down to the Cherokee Meeting House.

Ifn y'all had bad credit, a turn a bad luck, think to yourselves, Indian brothers and sisters, maybe y'all need a new identity. An' ya can have it right here, no questions asked an'no references needed. Y'all had grandmommas, ain't no more needed than that. ...

Send us your money now, Indian brothers and sisters. ... Don't be left out of the new Cherokee Nation.
Cherokee. We mean Indian."*
*source: Cherokee novelist Betty L. Bell's Faces in the Mooon, pages 57-58

or as a real Cherokee friend has reported to the BBB, beware of a woman on the powwow trail who claims to be Cherokee and pronounces Tahlequah, the home of the Cherokee Nation, as Tuh-lee-kwuh! wonder if she also drinks Cherikee Red? (yes, a real sugar-filled drink owned by a subsidiary of Dr. P/7-Up)

as the BBB, in academic settings with ethnic fraudin' professors, has sang it before (along with a martin guitar) in the key of D:

all the world's a cherokee / at least that's how it seems to me / people talkin' loud in the academy / when they don't even know a real cherokee

28 June 2007

the siouxpranos

greetings, brady bravers ... we've been at the native art market in INDIANapolis and been away camping brady brave style in southern INDIANa ... will resume bloggin' bravely, brady bravely, soon ... meanwhile, check out our cousins' artwork at http://www.noconaburgess.com/ and http://www.quanahparkerburgess.com/ ... and for those looking for the sopranos, indian-style, check out the siouxpranos ...

21 June 2007

paying "indians" to play "indian" ...

thanks to Newspaper Rock (Where Native America Meets Pop Culture) for Indian Country Today link to an article entitled "paying to teach and 'play indian.'" folks across the u.s. continue to pay for "indian" spirituality. as D'Shane Barnett (Mandan and Arikara) was quoted in the article, "People cannot claim to understand our ways with one breath and then offer to sell them with their next breath.''

here at the bureau (a free site, incidentally, for all the brady bravers out there, unlike supposed "new age native healing" sites where you, too, can find the inner-"indian" for just $99), we don't want to disrespect those who are trying to find their way in this world. but some folks are profiting from other people who, as Barnett has been told by "a couple of different medicine people," are "filling a void.'' cultural appropriation time and again for hundreds of years here, and it continues time and again. (NBC's Today Show, as the bbb has mentioned before, helps to promote it.) many people are seriously hurting, are in need of healing, and others are cashing in on that.

here at the bureau, we'd add that in many settings, the phrase paying "indians" has interelated ambiguities: 1) paying as a verb, as in non-natives forking over money to "indians," which in quotes here, means those pseudo-"indians" who base their work on non-indigenes' understandings of indigenous approaches. 2) paying as an adjective, as in the new pseudo-"indians" becoming "indians" through payment. continuing today's language lesson, bobby "little bear who loses his way" brady will now demonstrate it in a sentence: the paying "indians" are paying "indians" for playing indian to become paying "indian" players. thanks, bobby.

but pseudo-ers/pretenders don't need to pay to play. in the next bbb post, we'll share with you what to do. stay tuned ...

15 June 2007

greetings ...

a big brady brave greeting to the million brady brave readers out there. (a million or a hundred, something like that with some zeroes in it.) many thanks to old friends and new ones for reading. many thanks as well to those of you writing the bureau of brady braves (brady_braves_bureau@yahoo.com) with your praise and kindness. many thanks to www.racialicious.com/ for posting the bbb's bit on the civil rights game (back in march) and more recent bit on martha stewart. in a bit of a bloggin' slump right now as we work on several projects and likely prepare to relocate the redface "bureau" to elsewhere in indian country. (may soon return to central time zone, i.e., texas time). also rethinking the current brady brave boundaries and approach for the content here.

meanwhile, the bbb still expects to return with posts next week, quicker'n you can say carol-marsha-jan-cindy-mike-peter-bobby-greg-alice-sam-tiger-cousin oliver-and chief eagle cloud. (a special smoke signal shout-out to angie, brady bravin' fan! this list-a-familiar names is dedicated to you.)



08 June 2007

Playing "Indian," The Week in Review

this week ... the Bureau of Brady Braves spotted a quick instance of redface in a rerun of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957-1960, CBS). the usual characters of lucy, ricky, ethel, and fred performed a skit set in the wild west. fred played a bartender; lucy played an "indian." with tomahawk in hand, she tackled fred behind the bar. they reappear in a few moments with fred's bald head now covered with lucy's hair, and lucy wears a bald skincap. so, playing "indian" means here: scalp or be scalped? of all american sitcom characters (and that includes thousands since the 1940s), lucille ball (the actress) may have played "indian" more than any other non-native character: in I Love Lucy episodes "the adagio" (as an "apache" dancin' 'round foolishly) and "the indian show" (as a hiawatha-wannabe) and in The Lucy Show (as the "wife" of an "indian chief" who gives her the state of utah for a wedding gift).

and where can you, like the bbb did this week, catch Lucy in redface? on a local Christian channel. no, not surprising. for the bbb, a local Christian channel supplies viewers with occasional "indian" players in the forms of Little House on the Prairie, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Beverly Hillbillies (i.e. "wholesome" family programming for ... you know ...) Ever thought about what constitutes family programming on Christian channels? ever thought who's included and who's excluded, exploited, and exoticized in their comedic programming?

earlier today, on superstation wgn, aired an episode of the sitcom home improvement. looked like an early episode, maybe season 1, in which the youngest son and his cub scout friends want to play "indian" like some other cub scouts they know did: by constructing a tipi and eating "beef jerky made from real meat," as the youngest son said. i had heard recently from a Ho-Chunk friend about home improvement and "indian" play. i'm guessing she was referring to this episode.

yesterday, on everybody loves raymond, a guest character (who's better known for portraying uncle leo on seinfeld) teased frank, ray's dad. there was talk of the macho, tough-talking frank petting a pet bunny that ray and his brother had when they were little. and the guest character said that he and frank's other friends were going on and on about it. while motioning like he was banging drums, frank's friend said, "it's like tom-toms. [chanting] 'Frank pet a-bunny, Frank pet a-bunny.'" a strange bit within the realm of "indian" play? [note: the bbb is not known for watching a lot of tv, especially since not much good is on tv. all three of the above references, for example, were caught while flipping channels during a time (5:00-6:00 pm) that the bbb's 10-month-old daughter was not chewing on the remote.]

elsewhere in playing "indian" this week, a "California man won $3.2 million on penny slot machines at the casino owned by the Pauma Band of Mission Indians." okay, not exactly playing "indian," but still worth noting it's the biggest prize ever in penny slots in California.

the bbb emailed martha stewart's tv people about the "katonah" trademark but no response. not surprised.

recently-retired "chief illiniwek" (formerly of the university of illinois) is currently accepting offers for summer gigs. so, for your next lone-ranger-and-tonto-themed birthday party, atlanta braves' tomahawk chop soiree, or intimate new age gathering, consider hiring "chief illiniwek" for your entertainment. call 1-900-ANTI-N-D-N, ask for the "Retired Racism" department, and tell 'em the BBB sent ya. first 50 callers receive a free foam tomahawk.

to read about three real indigenous folks (all Navajos) not playing "indian," but instead receiving doctorates in engineering in spring 2007 from the university of arizona, check out this article at indiancountry.com. congrats to all three and to all other indigenous graduates! the bbb wishes you well. may you use the education to benefit your peoples, your nations, yourselves.

31 May 2007

Martha Stewart, Playing with "Indian" Names?

Well, this was a rare moment: a story on Indianz.com involving Martha Stewart. She has a place (i.e., 153-acre estate purchased in 2000 for the trifling cost of $16 million) in Katonah, NY. Now, Stewart wants to trademark “Katonah” for some of her products. Never mind if Katonah residents (of the Village Improvement Society in Katonah) are not pleased. Never mind if today’s descendants of Chief Katonah of the Lenape Nation are not pleased. As reported by Jim Fitzgerald, AP, Diana Pearson, a Stewart spokesperson, says Stewart "seeks to honor the town and the hamlet by using the word `Katonah.'"

And I suppose the Hornell Brewing Company had “honor” in mind when it slapped the revered name Crazy Horse on malt liquor bottles in 1992. (Crazy Horse, says David Wilkins (Lumbee) in American Indian Politics (2001), “is remembered as a staunch Sioux nationalist who remained committed to his people throughout his short life. He never signed a treaty with the federal government, and he opposed the use of alcohol by his people” (229)). I suppose Liz Claiborne, fashion guru, also had “honor” in mind when her clothing company threaded Crazy Horse (and Cherokee) on tags. Although one of Stewart’s lawyers said that his client’s use of the name “will not stop Katonah residents - or anyone else - from using the name Katonah exactly as they always have," what will happen? Likely, Katonah becomes synonymous with Martha Stewart products (much to Stewart’s delight, the BBB imagines), not with Lenape People, not with descendants of Katonah, not with respect for Indigenous Peoples, not with honor for Katonah, New York, residents. To Ms. Stewart and Ms. Stewart followers: One’s intentions do not always match the effects.

As said before in “Indian” mascot debates and other contested arenas, it is difficult to honor those who are not honored, including Autumn Scott (Ramapough Lenape), the New Jersey State Commission on Indian Affairs co-chair. “We trust,” Scott explains, “that Martha Stewart intended no malice in seeking to have her corporation trademark the name of one of our great ancestral leaders, but for her to say she is doing so to honor him and our tribe is absurd, especially when it is being done solely for profit.” Although Stewart is talking of honoring the town, a place of refuge for her, the town is named after the Lenape (Delaware) leader. Stewart, then, would do well to address certain Native People’s warranted concerns. So far, she has greeted them with silence.

Stewart may not talk, but we Brady Braves can. Thoughts of righteous anger can be sent to television@marthastewart.com (address available at www.marthastewart.com, more specifically this page) A customer service number available at www.marthastewartstore.com is 1-800-357-7060.

26 May 2007

sweat lodges and rosie ...

yes, the bbb knows the major tv networks are easy to slam when it comes to their misunderstandings and exclusions and disrespectful visible representations of indigenous peoples. but silence from us is not much of an option. so ... yesterday, on the may 25, 2007, edition of the today show on nbc, the bbb tuned in just in time to see dana dickey, a white female, promoting various spa therapy treatments. and then ... it was time to promote, as ann curry announced rather awkwardly and somewhat hesitatingly "the native american sweat lodge." (just one lodge, eh? and it's the lodge, eh?) here we go again ... now, the bbb likes curry, the person-of-color interviewer in this segment of the show, but she was nearing a borderline of brady bravin' indian play by not questioning (and thus, accepting) dickey's native-inspired new age talk. curry listened intently as the new ager spoke of using [and profiting from the promotion of] sweat lodges, which are part of what dickey described as the spa treatements' "multi-billion dollar industry."

no discussion of cultural appropriation/theft followed. no discussion of non-native personal gain via native practices. note: not saying that all non-native new agers (and king of the hill's new age-indian john redcorn) are just seeking profits. but some folks (non-native and native) are playing "indian" for ill-gotten gain and profit. so, for the today show at least to mention/acknowledge (though it didn't even come close) that cultural appropriation has been going on (and going native) for hundreds of years on these lands at the expense of many indigenous peoples would be a good step. see bluecorn comics, shari huhndorf's going native and carter meyer and dianne royer's selling the indian: commercializing & appropriating american indian cultures.

meanwhile, on the may 26, 2007, edition of abc's good morning america, one of the obvious headlines was rosie's early exit from abc's the view. gma addressed many of the major rosie controversies, including her shouting match with co-host elizabeth, her calling out kelly ripa for a homosexist remark, and her battles with trump. but no mention of her racist "ching-chong" bit. it's little surprise here at the bbb that it didn't make gma's "list" of rosie-on-the-view moments. perhaps not surprising either to those who called out rosie, including poet beau sia's "open letter" video on youtube, after her ching-chonging yellowvoice/yellowface, a cousin of redface.

21 May 2007

Welch's "Indians"

According to http://theimaginaryworld.com/fod17.html, Welch's Grape Juice used to present the adventures of Pow and Wow, the "Woo Woo Indians," along with Foxy-Loxy, on its packaging. More images at the above site ...

The adventures of Pow 'n' Wow are in the Americana past, but some of today's Muscogee Creek and Cherokees in Oklahoma--real Indigenous Peoples, not caricatures--are apparently using Welch's grape juice for grape dumplings. As reported by Indian Country Today, though, "the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah said some Cherokee cooks continue to make their grape dumplings by gathering and cooking wild grapes, called 'possum grapes,' instead of grape juice." That's good to hear, not good saleswise for Welch's and Pow 'n' Wow, but good for Native folks.

19 May 2007

"Michael's Tribe," Part II

[Part I of the BBB response to the My Wife and Kids 2002 episode "Michael's Tribe" can be found below.]

A side storyline in “Michael’s Tribe” involves Michael’s teenage daughter Claire and her plan to sneak out of the house with Tony, one of her friends. Learning of the plan from his son Junior, Michael asks, “How?” To which Junior replies, “Are you asking me a question or are you speaking ‘Indian’?” After Junior explains how Claire’s friend will arrive at midnight and use a ladder to climb up to Claire’s room, Michael turns to storytelling to recruit the Indian Princesses to help him catch Claire and her friend.

MICHAEL. Many, many moons ago, there was Princess Claire-awatha. She was the daughter of the greatest chief ever. One day a brave from another village came to steal away Princess Claire-awatha and this made the chief very, very angry.
RACHEL. Wait a minute. Claire-awatha? Is this just a thinly veiled reference to your actual life?

Michael tells the Princesses of Claire’s plan and asks them to help make sure Claire stays “here in the village” (i.e., at home). Next, the Princesses prepare for what Bald Eagle labels as “war” while dancing senselessly and chanting “hi-ya uh-ya-ha hi-ya uh-ya-ha” with their chief. Chief Bald Eagle also leads the Princesses in a rendition of “the sacred song of our Indian People.” In unison, they sing “three little, two little, one little Indian” from the well-known Septimus Winner nineteenth-century minstrel song (and later nursery rhyme) “Ten Little Indians.” “Indian” players in My Wife and Kids unabashedly sing a tune about the counting of “Indian” deaths. As Kanatiyosh (Onondaga/Mohawk) states, “Asking children to sing ‘Ten Little Indians’ is pure racism. The song is an Indian annihilation song that the Pioneers sang to their children to sooth [sic] their fears. If you remember the song, they count up and then they count backwards until there is only one Indian boy left.”

The time arrives, Bald Eagle tells his warriors, “to prepare our faces for war with paint.” The girls, who now wear a headband with a single feather, shout in excitement as they line up to physicalize redface. Donning a red, white, and blue headdress, Michael tells them, “Step forward, close your eyes, and look to the moon” before he slaps their faces with a paintbrush. Next, he teaches them the war dance and soon begins to do the robot dance. When one of the Princesses recognizes the familiar dance, Bald Eagle declares, “Oh, you are wise. That’s because we must be brave like robots.” Not surprisingly in this episode of dehumanization, “Indians” are objectified into robots as everyone performs the robot dance.

Having prepared for war, the Chief and his Princesses attack. When Tony arrives to the house, he begins to climb a ladder to Claire’s upstairs room. The Princesses hide in the bushes and, upon Bald Eagle’s command, hit the young man with toy arrows. Bald Eagle instructs them to take Tony away. Viewers then see Claire’s friend tied to a chair in the living room while the Princesses yell and run circles around him. Rachel, the supposedly educated one, asks Bald Eagle, “Do we get to set him on fire now?” She sounds well-versed in Hollywood footage that depicts “Indians” dancing around captive White men who are tied to wooden stakes. In The Flintstones “Droop-Along Flintstone” (1961), for example, White characters Fred and Barney are tied to stakes by “Indians.” Whereas their wives Wilma and Betty rescue them, Bald Eagle in My Wife and Kids declares, “We should let [Tony] go back to his village so that he may tell others what happens when they try to mess with our women.”

To recognize and applaud his efforts for the Indian Princesses gathering, Kady says, “Daddy, I had a good time tonight. You’re the best chief ever.” In a self-aggrandizement of confirming his ability to be a pseudo-“Indian,” Bald Eagle replies, “You got that right.” If the use of “best” can mean the best in playing “Indian” in one of the most anti-Indigenous, disrespectful, and misinforming American sitcom episodes in television history, then Kady may be onto something.

17 May 2007

My Wife and Kids "Michael's Tribe," Part I

Yesterday, the episode "Michael's Tribe" of the former ABC sitcom My Wife and Kids, starring African American actor Damon Wayans, aired on a local Fox affiliate. "Michael's Tribe," as the following Brady Brave Bureau response may reveal, entails disturbing illustrations of redface.

Michael Kyle (Damon Wayans) serves as the adult “Indian” figure while his youngest daughter Kady is like Opie Taylor with his interest in “Indians” in several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. At first, Michael hesitates to play “Indian” not because of its potential disrespect to Indigenes but because he is more interested in a sports game on television. When he hears that his daughter’s “Indian” Princesses group will be camping at the house of a family he does not know, Michael demands that the camping be at his house. As he tells his wife Jay/Janet (portrayed by Tisha Campbell), “I’ll be the chief. I’ll watch the game and then I’ll go out there and play ‘Indian.’” Jay explains that he will not have time to see the game because he will be with the girls “the whole day and night” and thus, too busy “[teaching] them the culture and the history of Native Americans, the arts, crafts, dancing, all of that.” Obviously, one “day and night” would not suffice in teaching effectively about the millions of heterogeneous Indigenous Peoples and hundreds of Indigenous nations, yet effectiveness in education is not a characteristic of learning about the sitcom’s “Indian.” Not wanting to back down after volunteering, Michael replies, “Fine, I can do that.” As the rest of the episode unfolds, he shows that he is clueless about as well as racist towards Indigenous Peoples. The only clue he has is being well-versed in Hollywood “Injun” stereotypes, which suffices for the sitcom’s “Indian.”

Calling himself “Chief Bald Eagle,” Michael sits lazily near his radio in the backyard and listens to the game. At one point, one of the Princesses brings him a beer. In return, Bald Eagle gives her the “Indian” name Little Fetch-Me-Beer. When Jay reminds Michael that he must teach the girls about Indigenous Peoples, he interrupts her by speaking in a Hollywood “Injun,” broken English monotone.

MICHAEL. Silence! Maiden no tell Chief how to act, what to do.
JAY. Michael, if you ever want to get into this maiden’s wigwam again, you’ll do as I say.
MICHAEL. Whoa. Poked-out hiney.
JAY. Hey!
MICHAEL. I see where you have hidden sacred drum. Can’t wait to bang drum slowly.

Jay’s threat of withholding sexual relations leads to Michael expressing his desire to “bang drum slowly,” an obvious reference to sexual intercourse. Michael’s comparison between a Native drum and his wife’s backside is one of the most vulgar jokes in “Indian” play throughout the history of redface in Amerian sitcoms. It represents a large shift in what has become acceptable to say in sitcoms. Unfortunately, to use a revered Native object like the drum for a sitcom’s sexual metaphors and innuendos is reflective of contemporary sitcom material.
Michael’s main resistance to seeing the game is a White, red-headed “Indian” Princess named Rachel. Known to Michael as “Little Pain-in-Butt,” Rachel repeatedly has reservations about Michael and his un-educational tactics.

RACHEL. This is ridiculous. All we’re doing is waiting on you hand and foot.
MICHAEL. Yes, yes, because you are a maiden, and a maiden must tend to the needs of the chief.
RACHEL. You gotta be kidding. You’re overly simplifying things. The Native Americans had a very advanced culture.

Speaking of oversimplification, Rachel generalizes by speaking of a singular, monolithic “culture” from the past. The hundreds of cultures from historical and contemporary times are ignored. “Despite the cultural differences among tribes,” academic and activist Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw) explains, “many non-Indians believe that all Indians are alike” (20).Rachel then explains that Indigenes “were the first to openly accept gay people.” Is she referring to all Indigenous Peoples of all Indigenous nations? What time period does she have in mind? To apply almost any concept or belief as representative of all Native Peoples is, to say the least, a major fallacy. Michael has no understanding either. His response to Rachel’s comment on accepting homosexuality is a made-up reference to “the tale of Little Drop the Tomahawk,” which is an “Indian”-specific version of jokes about men dropping bars of soap in locker room showers.

part 2 of the bbb's analysis of "michael's tribe" will appear in our next post.

11 May 2007

another racial masquerade ...

brownface, a cousin to redface, has surfaced again, this time at the university of delaware in a twisted cinco de mayo frat party. after learning that their racial masquerading has brought disrespect and hurt to many latina/o peoples, some partygoers have apologized. for their apologies, the bureau of brady braves has decided not to induct them into the Brady Brownface Hall of Shame. pictures from the "south of the border" party can be seen at http://www.campuslaraza.org/racism.html.

at the Campus Alliance de La Raza site is the following: "My name is Brian Brady and I am the president of Phi Sigma Pi National Co-Ed Honor Fraternity. I, as president, and we as the Executive Committee are deeply concerned and offended by the actions of a number of our organization's members and non-members [at the University of Delaware] ... Such conduct ... is unacceptable, immature, and hurtful to others." (the rest of the letter can be read at the aforementioned site.)

in line with our e-research center's name, we at the bbb are asking, "who is brian brady? a distant cousin to greg, peter, and bobby? a nephew of mike brady? a brady family member still waiting to receive his indian name in the grand canyon?" sounds like brian brady is against brownface. cool. but what about redface? due to the sitcom family history, the surname "brady" is ever suspect at the bbb, ya know? ;)

08 May 2007

welcome, friends ...

greetings, brady bravers and blogwindow-shopping, potentially soon-to-be, y'all come back now, ya hear, brady bravers! the staff here at the bureau of brady braves has just returned from an indigenous studies/native studies gathering in norman, oklahoma. to those we met in norman and to everyone else, welcome to the bbb.

after your visit here, the bbb encourages you to check out www.voicingindigeneity.blogspot.com for good podcastin' times from good podcastin' folks ...

brady bravin' the blogosphere,


29 April 2007

Smurfing "Indians"

above, that's Rain Dancer, Spear, and Indian Smurfette. in case you didn't know, the smurfs in europe are trying to make a comeback with the Blue Imps Smurf Collection. in 2005, new versions of "classic" smurfs, like papa and smurfette, were released. in 2006, halloween smurf figurines. and now in 2007, joining the company of "classics" and dracula smurf, werewolf smurf, and other costumed smurfs is ... a Native American series of 8 smurfs?

not surprised. the company is in wales, UK. the figurines are made in germany. and for those familiar with playing "indian," you know it's an international thing. don't have real Indigenous Peoples in your country? then the (il)logical step is to make some, right? then you, too, can join in redface revelry. and be sure, as the smurfs do, to construct "indians" from the past, from former imagined times, in misinformed ways that have been going on for hundreds of years ... if you'd like to let 'em know what you think, the company's email is thewebs@blueimps.com. for now, we at the bbb place the new "indian" smurfs in the Brady Brave Hall of Shame. congrats to peace pipe smurf (below) and the others ...

24 April 2007

Louise Erdrich, Not Playing "Indian"

long time no redface. the bbb has been behind in brady bravin' the blogosphere. looks to be that way until around mid-may.

for now, the bbb applauds Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) for declining an honorary degree from the University of North Dakota due to the school's continuing use of the "Fighting Sioux" mascot name. Ms. Erdrich is a good example of one who is not playing "indian" here. for a Native person to accept the degree from a school with such a nickname would be playing "indian" by approving and conforming to the expectations
of what Robert Berkhofer has called the White man's "Indian." a big brady brave bravo [not to be confused with greg "johnny bravo" brady] to Ms. Erdrich.


12 April 2007

Disney's Revolutionary "Indians"

Set in Boston at a hotel, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody targets young Disney viewers as it follows the adventures of twin teenage White brothers Zack, the carefree troublemaker, and Cody, the studious dreamer. In the 2006 episode “Boston Tea Party,” Boston city hall plans to transform Liberty Park, one of the boys’ hangouts, into a paved lot. Cody writes a lengthy letter of protest in which some of the key words, he announces, are “boldfaced” for emphasis. Zack, growing tired and, as he calls it, “boredfaced,” inattentively listens to his brother and falls fast asleep. The episode then goes into a dream sequence of flashing back to what I label a redfaced reenactment of the Boston Tea Party.

Set in 1773, the year of the Tea Party and three years before the official founding of the United States of America, the dream depicts the non-Native cast engaging in talk of revolting against England’s high taxes on imported tea and of forming their own country. That same year, a group of American colonists in Boston dressed as Mohawk “Indians” to disguise themselves while throwing English tea overboard. Like the real colonists in Boston, the characters’ plan is to dress as “Indians” and dump the latest shipment of English tea into the Boston Harbor. In the next scene, several characters are seated on Liberty Park’s lawn and constructing their “Indian” headdresses. “During our raid on the tea ship,” one character explains, “these Indian headdresses will disguise us so the British won’t know who we are.”

For colonists to have played “Indian” at the real Boston Tea Party and in The Suite Life’s reenactment functions as far more than mere disguise. To be pseudo-“Indians” enabled colonists to take on characteristics they linked with “Indianness.” For one, the colonists associated “Indians” with courage. To be dressed as “Indians,” Cody adds, “will show [the British] we can fight!” The Suite Life plays on the Euro-American rationale of believing that all “Indians” are warriors who will go to any length to protect themselves and their homelands.

To associate “Indians” with violence occurs again in the next scene. Dressed in their exotic “Indian” regalia of feathers and beaded necklaces and belts with multicolored paint on their faces, the non-Native characters enter the hotel and celebrate their off-screen dumping of the tea. Another character, who did not play “Indian,” sees them and yells, “Indians!” After the pseudo-“Indians” duck in fear, she screams, “Indian attack!” One of the “Indian” players proudly responds, “We’re not Indians; we’re revolutionaries!” As a signifier of revolutionary and uninhibited freedom, “Indian” denotes who is not British. Attracted to what they perceive as Indigenous characteristics of exoticness, freedom, courage, and violence, the “Indian” players in The Suite Life, like the historical American colonists, looked to become different from the British. The Boston Tea Party, Philip Deloria states, “offers a defining story of […] American character.” It functions, he adds, as “a catalytic moment, the first drumbeat in the long cadence of rebellion through which Americans redefined themselves as something other than British colonists” (see Deloria's book Playing Indian, pg 2). The Tea Party portrays a pictorial semblance for colonists to assume an authentic American identity.
To play, not be, “Indian” enabled the White revolutionaries to move away from being British and towards original Americanness in the form of “Indians,” America’s original inhabitants. Thus, White revolutionaries in Boston engaged in playing “Indian” to serve their purposes without claiming permanent “Indian” identities. In the process, they perpetuated the notion of “noble savagery,” which Deloria denotes as “a term that both juxtaposes and conflates an urge to idealize and desire Indians and a need to despise and dispossess them” (Playing Indian 4). The Suite Life characters ethnomasquerade as “Indians” one moment, fear an “Indian” attack the next, and then proudly proclaim to be non-“Indian” revolutionaries.

Awaking from his dream, Zack is inspired to save the park, a symbol of his joy in America. This time, he does not resort to “Indian” disguise. Instead, he checks the park’s historical significance of a huge tree in the park and learns of its ties to the Revolutionary War. While waiting for a permit from a local historical preservation society, Zack and other characters stage a protest on the same lawn where the “Indian” headdresses were constructed. The encouragement and revelation from Zack’s dream of “Indian” players reaches fruition as a permit is issued and the park is saved from the awaiting demolition crew.

“Boston Tea Party” never mentions that most of its cast, like Boston colonists in 1773, dressed as “Mohawks.” Instead, it refers to generic, tribeless “Indians.” In the epilogue, the female character who yelled “Indians!” in Zack’s dream enters the hotel lobby with her hair styled into what she calls a “Fauxhawk,” or a fake Mohawk hairdo. Now, she, too, joins the “Indian” play, but in a more subtle manner. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that the scriptwriters were aware of the ambiguity here as they temporarily transformed numerous characters into faux Mohawk “Indians.” But I do not credit The Suite Life of Zack and Cody with knowing of the offensiveness and disrespect associated with redface.

05 April 2007

Playing “Indian” and Speaking Back in Song

let's begin with a song on playing "indian" in the form of cigar-store wooden indians ...

“kaw-liga” (1953) excerpts by hank williams, sr.
KAW- [Dm] LIGA, was a wooden Indian standing by the door
He fell in love with an Indian maiden over in the antique store
Kaw-liga [A], just stood there and never let it [A7] show
So she could never answer "YES" or [Dm] "NO"
He always wore his Sunday feathers and held a tomahawk
The maiden wore her beads and braids and hoped someday he'd talk
KAW-LIGA – [A] too stubborn to ever show a sign
Because his heart was made of knotty pine.
CHORUS [D] Poor ol' KAW-LIGA, he never got a kiss
[G] Poor ol' KAW-LIGA, he don't know what he missed
[D] Is it any wonder that his face is [A7] red
KAW-LIGA, that poor ol' wooden [D] head

tribal poetics, tribal politics
at the 1992 university of arizona “poetics and politics series,” 13 indigenous intellectual writers, like joy harjo and simon ortiz, “not only examined the extraordinary emergence of Native American literature, but presented that literature within a living context.” yes, a living context, unlike w/hank williams’ kawliga, because indigenous peoples are still here, though that may be contrary to some mindsets.

i’m considering poetics in musical expression and politics in social constructions of race. namely, i situate this discussion near the poetics in Native Americana and the politics of playing “Indian.” Native Americana is an Indigenized lyrical-musical hybrid of Americana/roots/alternative folk music. and I’m thinking of the politics of playing “Indian” in American culture as it appears in sports mascots, television, and movies. my purpose is to shed some light on how tribal poetics and tribal politics are intertwined, how, more specifically, Indigenous songwriting and Indigenous scholarship inform each other in this interweaving. for many indigenous peoples, politics and poetics already intersect. they’re already related, all part of a larger circle. You might say that indigenous peoples are not only the original inhabitants of this land but also the original interdisciplinarians on this land, contrary to the one-dimensional stereotypes we may see elsewhere.

for Arigon Starr, a Kickapoo musician, songwriter and playwright, she connects the process of playing “Indian,” of enacting redface, with the absence of respectful Indigenous representations in tv and film. in fictional tv and cinema, to play “Indian” is a process in which non-Native characters appropriate and/or fabricate Indigenous identities and perform on-camera as “Indians.” As Arigon Starr says [chords added],

"please do not touch the indians" excerpts by arigon starr
[D]They put a white guy in tan makeup/[D]They put a [G]black wig on his D]head[D]
It's no wonder we ain't on tee-vee / [D] They all [G] think we're [A] dead
They write songs and they make movies / About Indians long ago
All those pictures never look like / Indian folks I know

Please do [G] not/Touch the [D] Indians / they’re my [G] world / My only[A]home
Please do [G]not/Touch the[D]Indians / Way[G]ya hey[A]ya/Way[G]ya hey [D]yo

Old time westerns show warriors / As fools and as a liars
Cartoon Indians dancing around / A captive set on fire
A producer takes a call / From a studio on the phone
They want him to make "Geronimo" / With Sylvester Stallone

Please do [G] not/Touch the [D] Indians / they’re my [G] world / My only[A]homePlease do [G]not/Touch the[D]Indians / Way[G]ya hey[A]ya/Way[G]ya hey [D]yo

with Native actresses and actors as the invisible on American television, representations of redface stand in as the visible. Playing “Indian,” w/its artistic expressions, w/its intentions to entertain, and w/its power to wield influence on audiences, also brings about entertainment at Native People’s expense and brings about disrespect and brings about misinformation, which, in turn, lead to political-poetical protest in Indigenous intellectual songwriting by Indigenous intellectual-artists like Litefoot, a consciousness raising Cherokee hip hop artist and actor. (yeah, he’s that NDN in the film Indian in the Cupboard, not to be confused with the sequel ... White Man in the Pantry). Litefoot's song “What’s it gonna take?” asks what it will take for intercultural peace. Speaking on racial hypocrisy, he asks why Eminem gets called a racist for saying the N word while hip hop folks who go ’round wearing Cleveland NDNs and Atlanta Braves hats aren’t called out for perpetuating the objectification of native folks. Eminem gets called out while biz markie and flava flav wear headdresses and ignore Indigenous tradition and respect for tribal leaders in certain indigenous nations who wear headdresses.

like Arigon Starr, Litefoot, turns to televisual redface and tries to make sense of television’s colonial discourse, asking, what’s it gonna take for respect?

can you speak to me about what the world screams to me
Disrespect so d*** blatant whose reality's on TV
Got the money to buy the box, What's this comin out my box?
It ain't respectin me! What the f*** is on my TV?
Saturday Night Live got a comedian named Billy Smith
He don't look like no ’skin I know and he ain't funny for s***
He got a cowboy hat on and of course a braid out the back
But he don't talk good English and oblivious to why he's laughed at
I guess basically what Lorne Michaels and Jimmy Fallon tryin to say is,
I'm in the past what you doin here trying to be today
That me and my people just some washed up has-beens
That we couldn't even tell a joke or be funny to get some friends
SNL saying the same as the movie biz and Hip Hop
We only good with feathers on we don't exist when they off
I punch the remote feelin like my whole race is a joke
I wanna grab em by the throat but instead I burn this Cedar for hope

and Litefoot goes on to talk about being invited to perform at a hip hop concert in NY in 2003 w/busta rhymes and other predominantly African American hip hop artists. But as litefoot explains and as cristina veran reported in "rap, rage, REDvolution," he was not too welcomed.

Show time and its chaos the coliseum's sold out
Jadakiss spits, Ludacris grabs the mic and out
Before Busta Rhymes, it's time for Litefoot and his crew
I jumped on stage; Grass Danced and I spit the truth
Then the crowd split between cheers to "F" this skin
I thought this was America people? Guess we ain't equal again.
Now a year later I'm watchin' the Grammy's - It's 2004
The crowds praisin Outkast dressed like Indians jumpin round on the floor man
(And that ain't disrespectful)

So what's it gonna be for you and me to see
That we brothers and sisters we all need equality
This world ain't just white it ain't all black either
Takes the brown, yellow and red to complete the people

susan shown harjo, a Cheyenne activist, agrees that outkast and cbs, who aired the grammys, didn’t show respect. Harjo describes the scene: "Andre 3000 [of outkast] wore the kind of wig that white guys wear in movies to 'look Indian'; each of the women dancers wore a wig of long braids, topped with a headband and a solitary green feather, standing upright. Above knee-high silver boots, they wore sea-foam tops and shorts with shake-your-tailfeathers fringe. And, there was the USC Trojan Marching Band, not in the usual helmets and burgundy and gold colors of the University of Southern California, but in green and white uniforms and plumes, with green and yellow paint on their faces." "Whoever dreamed up the production," harjo adds, "was going for an Indian effect, but it more closely approximated the Jolly Green Giant and dancing vegetables on crack."

this is a way by Harjo, like by many Natives, to approach offense with humor. It’s part of trying to speak back and to decolonize the images/words/and discourse in representations of redface. It’s what Haunani Kay-Trask calls “a collective resistance to colonialism.” For me, it’s not about being politically correct; it’s about being humanly respectful; it’s about being respectfully human; it’s about raising awareness/consciousness that something like outkast’s grammy performance and other recent instances of playing “Indian” are rooted in hundreds of years of colonization. We cannot take what may look like isolated instances and separate them from a larger historical and contemporary context, or like that Arizona poetics and politics series says, a larger living context.

in closing, please remember that just because it’s play, don’t make it okay.

01 April 2007

coming soon to the bbb ...

* an exclusive bbb interview with recently-retired "chief illiniwek" of the university of illinois

* a report from a recent conference presentation by the bbb on redface in american culture

* the establishment of the Brady Brave Hall of Redface Fame

until then, be brady. be brave. be ... a brady brave.


28 March 2007

Greg, Peter, and Bobby = "Indians"?

Any resemblance between Alice and Gen. Custer?

In The Brady Bunch episode “The Slumber Caper” (1970), Marcia, the oldest daughter, prepares to have a slumber party. The Brady family of Mike and Carol and their children Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy and housekeeper Alice does not try to reenact the June 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana, in which Custer and his men of the Seventh U. S. Cavalry were killed by an alliance of indigenous nations. Rather, they make explicit references to Custer and “Indians” and metaphorically reenact the battle in their home.

Marcia’s parents plan to go out for the evening and leave Alice in charge of the “fort,” as Mr. Brady says, if she is willing. “Oh, I don’t mind holding down the fort,” Alice replies. “Just bear in mind those were the last words of General Custer.” Sensing that trouble will occur in a houseful of children, Alice aligns herself with the defeated General Custer and the Cavalry. To play Custer encourages her to be strong and courageous yet aware that defeat and destruction may be imminent. Mr. Brady recognizes Alice’s new pseudo-identity and prepares to jokingly “tell General Custer to take her boots and saber out of mothballs.” Alice reassures him that she can oversee the slumber party: “Remember, you have left the cavalry in charge.” Alice’s self-alignment with Custer implies that she, a White female, associates herself with a White male. Rather than applying the WWFD ("What Would Fonzie Do?") strategy by making parallel references to Crazy Horse, who fought the Seventh Cavalry, Alice relies on standard rhetoric from White heroes who “protected” American homelands from “Indian” attacks. For the scriptwriters of “The Slumber Caper” to associate Alice with Custer may sound like innocent fun; but to speak of Custer, one must include “Indians.”

In The Brady Bunch, the “Indians” are marginalized and compared to children in the process. Because the Brady boys eagerly plan to sabotage the party, they are positioned in the episode as the “Indians" but playing “Indian” on a metaphorical level. Reminiscent of nineteenth-century White American mindsets that feared “Indian” attacks at any given moment, Brady Bunch writers equate three boys and their juvenile behavior with “Indians” who fought for their homelands and survival. The girls camp in sleeping bags in the living room, which could serve as a symbolic locale of a central area of the Little Big Horn battlefield. When the girls listen to a ghost story in their camp, Bobby howls like a wolf from the kitchen, suggestive of an “Indian” hiding before an attack. Later, a lit-up toy skull in the refrigerator frightens Alice. Then she and the girls see a fake spider in a sleeping bag. Possibly associating the multiple “Indian” tribes at Little Big Horn with the three antics by the three Brady boys, Alice remarks in cliché fashion, “It looks like there’s more than one tribe on the warpath.”

The boys’ sabotage concludes once the girls start itching profusely because of the itching powder that the boys planted in the sleeping bags. Upon Alice’s command, the young ladies sprint upstairs, hence fleeing the battlefield, to wash it off. While Custer was in charge of the Seventh Cavalry, Alice extends her duties to oversee not only the girls (read: innocent White female Americans) but also the boys (read: wild “Indians”). As Custer and the cavalry rolled into one, Alice is to protect the girls from the boys’ savage attacks. But she, like Custer at Little Big Horn, fails.

In the epilogue on the following day, Mr. Brady notices another prank. Alice hands a box of cookies to Mr. Brady, who finds a fake spider inside, perhaps the same one from the sleeping bag. “The party’s over,” Alice comments, “but the melody lingers on.” Similarly, the Battle of Little Big Horn ended long ago, but its impact surfaces today. As evident in rerun versions of “The Slumber Caper,” Custer’s (and hence, America’s) defeat by Indigenes in June 1876 linger on in American imaginations.

22 March 2007

senseless in memphis ...

as i sit here and watch the men's basketball teams from texas a&m and memphis battle for a spot in the elite 8, i am reminded that the cleveland "indians" baseball club has been invited (along w/the st. louis cardinals) to play in major league baseball's inaugural Civil Rights Game in memphis on march 31, 2007. so, here's a game devised to recognize and to remember "the home of the National Civil Rights Museum and the city where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968." and mlb invites the "indians"? (and invites them to a city that's part of the "trail of tears"?) the playing goes beyond a sport when "indians," led by their "chief wahoo," are involved. we're talking playing "indian"; we're talking redface. but heck, why not make it an all anti-real "indian" day by inviting the atlanta "braves," too? and since the game is in memphis to call attention to african american civil rights, why not change the name of cleveland "indians" to cleveland "blacks"? or as artist oscar arredondo suggests, the cleveland "negroes"?

so many folks still not getting it, eh? sports fans' claims to honorable intentions of the use of "indian" imagery, intentions of being pro-"indian," do not dismiss nor outweigh the disrespectful effects that many native peoples experience. an example of one of those effects? ironically, many pro-"indian" mascot/logo/image critics verbally attack the real native peoples who call for the eradication of such "indian" representations. so, those critics honor their "indian" images and "indian" objects, their "indians," but they disrespect and dislike the real natives?
reflecting back to a protest years ago of the university of illinois' mascot "chief illiniwek," tim giago (oglala sioux) writes, "I joined the protest one year as a newspaper reporter. I walked near the protestors taking pictures as they marched. I was once again overwhelmed by the degree of hatred aimed at these protestors. Profanity such as 'F- you squaws' or 'Get the hell out of here you drunken Indians,' rained down on the protestors on their march to the stadium. My God, what a proud tradition! How can a people exude such hatred for real Indians while honoring a phony chief?"

and check out what cleveland's general manager mark shapiro said in response to his "indians" being invited to memphis: "The history of civil rights needs to be honored. The pursuit of civil rights, for compassion and for tolerance, needs to be fought for not only in our game, but also in our country and in our own organization. It's that belief system and that history that is the root of our pride and why we are participating in this game." sounds like "our country" and "our pride" isn't about including indigenous peoples. sounds like "compassion" and "tolerance" aren't to be shown to indigenous peoples. sounds like mr. shapiro isn't used to being objectified, dehumanized, commercialized, exploited, and all else that accompanies being associated with a ridiculously racist image known as "wahoo." instead, mr. shapiro is among those who continue to objectify, dehumanize, commercialize, and exploit native peoples through the use of "wahoo" and "indians."
to reward his hard work and dedication to promoting playing "indian," we at the bbb are now making mr. shapiro an honorary brady brave.

16 March 2007

Hualapai and the Skywalk

it has become a u.s. national story among mainstream headlines that typically don't welcome news from indian country. but this new headline, like most headlines in this "indian" gaming era of mainstream anti-"indian" gaming news, is sometimes not one that praises indigenous peoples. this time, the headline's about the Hualapai and their newly-built Skywalk in the Grand Canyon West area. (today, buzz aldrin was among the guests at the Skywalk opening ceremony.)

some critics say that the Skywalk (which 120 people can simultaneously be on at the rather "steep" (yes, poor pun intended) price of $25 each) is unnatural and is desecrating the Earth. the underlying message? that building the Skywalk onto the Earth does not fit with non-Native interpretations of "Indian." so many non-Native peoples (and Natives who internalize non-Native ideas/imaginings of "indianness") have difficulty in not equating all Indigenous Peoples with having oneness with nature, with Mother Earth.

why is it that many non-native writers cannot see native peoples as non-static beings? why can some people not see "indians" in economic ventures, in business, in doing what they can to benefit their elders, their young, their people? in line with the work of the bbb, some might ask, "are the Hualapai playing 'indian,' more specifically, playing a form of the white man's "indian"? in his opinion piece, writer john weeks would have you believe so, that yes, they're playing. yet who is john weeks or any non-Hualapai peoples (which would be everyone in the world except for the around 1,400 enrolled citizens) to say that the Hualapai should not do this? i haven't walked a mile in their moccasins (or shoes for non-moccasiners).

neither has the brady bunch. in the first 3 episodes of season 3 in 1971, including "grand canyon or bust," the brady family (soon-to-be brady braves) ventured to the grand canyon to learn, as patriarch mr. brady said, about the Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, and Navajo. Peter, the middle son, asks the origins of “such strange names.” it sounds like many critics have peter's "strange" mentality as they find the Skywalk to be strangely at odds with how they view what "indians" should (and should not) do to maintain an image of playing their version of a white man's "indian."

for me, i like to hear from folks who know what it's like for the Hualapai, such as Robert Bravo [not greg "johnny bravo" brady], a citizen of the Hualapai Nation. in an interview with Kim Landers of ABC Radio, Bravo spoke on the importance of the Skywalk: "This is going to benefit, you know the Hualapai nation, Hualapai children, and that's the beauty of it. It's going to create jobs for us, it's gong to create the revenue that we need, you know, for schooling, different departments that our tribal government has. So it's definitely exciting." on a less critical level, i also can't help but think of the Skywalk as reminiscent of the carrier that Luke rides in at home on Tatooine early on in the original Star Wars. (and seriously, i thought of that carrier/transportation device before seeing that Skywalk is very similar to Luke's surname: Skywalker). may the force [of brady brave power] be with you.

11 March 2007

calling all brady braves ...

If you wish to be a brave Brady and want to receive your very own BradyBrave “Indian” name, then you need to join the Brady Brave Blogspot e-club.

Here's how:
1) First, say Brady Brave Blogspot five times as fast as you can. Master this tongue twisting feat so that you will not forget the name of this site.
2) Second, leave a comment/request for the bbb, and you just might receive an honorary “Indian” name, intended to be as frivolous and hokey as any episode of the Brady Bunch.
3) Third, please feel free to share with us any instances of or personal interactions/ confrontations with “redface.” For instance, does your high school or college have an “Indian” mascot? Did you play cowboys and “Indians”? Have you seen non-Natives fiscally profiting from their appropriation of Indigenous ways? Have any good “Cherokee princess” stories? Ever worn Liz Claiborne “Crazy Horse” clothing? Seen any “Indians” on TV lately (including in reruns)?
4) Fourth, feel free to invite other potential Brady Braves. With enough readers, the bbb can be a site for Brady Braves to gather 'round the fire and revel in redface resistance.

10 March 2007

The Fonz's "Indians" ...

One might expect a long-time national news journalist and well-known anchor to be well-versed in his choices of words and adages. Yet on the March 9, 2007, edition of NBC’s Nightly News, its anchor and managing editor Brian Williams showed his ignorance or, if he’s aware of the historical context of what he said, then he gave a glimpse of his prejudice. Speaking on the “U.S. invasion in Iraq,” Williams interviewed U.S. General David Petraeus.

WILLIAMS: But it's been the crux of the anger problem for a long time in ways the people haven't realized. they [Iraqis] go from, a lot of these people had p[o]wer and water before the U.S. entered, and it's been four years. They have very little of both now. When is the cavalry coming? Is that fair to ask?
PETRAEUS: It is fair to ask. Actually, the cavalry has come and has come repeatedly. Unfortunately this is yet another area in which al-Qaida Iraq has sought to do anything it can to derail the new Iraq.
Once again, U.S. ("US") versus al-Qaida ("THEM") gets framed in historical U.S. military ("US") versus the “Indians” ("THEM") terminology. How is it that Native Peoples come to be equated with al-Qaida? (Or what about this parody of the racist minstrel song "Ten Little Indians" that replaces "Indians" with "Talibans"?) Although one can counter that Williams and Petraeus did not explicitly mention Indigenous Peoples, their references to the “cavalry” obviously imply the unmentioned. (And no, I'm not talking political correctness here. I'm talking about dis/respect. It's like times have changed, but deep-rooted mindsets have not.)

So, we at the bbb now wonder, "What would the Fonz do in response to these 'cavalry' remarks?" As a long-time non-Native Indigneous ally throughout the series Happy Days, the Fonz once said, “I don’t like the Cavalry, man. I like the Indians!” Us, too, Fonz. Us, too.
But hold your horses and hold down the fort and wait! The Fonz said in the same scene of the same episode ("Fonzie the Flatfoot," the one in which he becomes a cop and is looking for heroic inspiration to save the day), that he identified with the hero status of the Lone Ranger. Well, nevermind, Fonzie.

At least Brian Williams doesn't wear a mask when he marginalizes "Indians." Just makeup ... a hint of redface? ;)

07 March 2007

here's the story of a lovely lady ...

"... until the one day when this lady met this fellow, and they knew that it was much more than a hunch that this group would somehow form a family. that's the way they became the brady ... [braves?]"

this blog's name is inspired by the 1971 brady bunch episode "the brady braves", in which the white brady family, including carol and mike and their six children and housekeeper alice, become the first situation comedy, or sitcom, family to be “adopted” into a Native “tribe.”

escaping from their regular suburban America confines, the brady bunch open its third season with a three-episode adventure to the grand canyon. there, they attend an exhibition of supposedly hopi dancers doing what mr. brady says is a “rain dance.” concerned with authentic "indianness," cindy, the youngest brady, asks if they are “real Indians.” later, when she and her brother bobby wander from their campsite and become lost, they encounter young native jimmy pakaya, who eventually serves as their guide back to camp.

“Gee! An Indian boy!” cindy exclaims. he runs; they chase. (a reversal of circling the wagons?) later, cindy is concerned again with ethnic authenticity. “Are you a real Indian?” she asks. the Bradys soon learn that Jimmy has runaway from home because he is “tired of being an Indian.” he wishes to “be an astronaut” instead. how does a profession replace an ethnic identity? (reminds me of vine deloria, jr., saying that many natives are putting their work title before their tribal affiliation. reminds me of jeff corntassel saying, "I am a Tsalagi [oklahoma cherokees' own name for each other] first and a trained political scientist second.") “Jimmy,” mr. brady says in his fatherly manner, “You can be both of those things. You can be proud of your heritage and be what you want to be.” yeah, jimmy ... an astrondian! or better yet, an indonaut!

after mr. brady reunites jimmy with his grandfather chief eagle cloud (portrayed by jay silverheels of tonto fame), the “chief” says to the bradys, “I ask you to journey to our village tonight. In a ceremony, I will ask you to become members of my family and tribe.” He assures them that they will have a “groovy time.” (first "indian" to say "groovy" on primetime tv?) to set the stage, Native flute music plays and a few “Indians” sit in the distance. Chief Eagle Cloud stands and declares, “All these people [the Bradys] sitting around this fire shall belong to my [unnamed] tribe from now until forever.” he then gives “Indian” names to each of them.
and here we go ...
Mike: Big Eagle of Large Nest
Carol: Yellow Flower with Many Petals
Greg: Stalking Wolf
Marcia: Willow Dancing in Wind
Peter: Middle Buffalo, then Leaping Lizard (Peter rejects both)
Jan: Dove of the Morning Light
Bobby: Little Bear Who Loses Way
Cindy: Wandering Blossom
Alice: Sq--- in Waiting

and to return to a slightly modified theme song etched into americana consciousness, "that's the way they became the brady [braves]."