26 June 2008

Custerology: far more than the study of "Custer"

hey, brady braves ... michael elliot's l.a. times op-ed "the patriots who killed custer" (6/25/08) can be read at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-elliott25-2008jun25%2C0%2C3134423.story ... recommended reading is elliot's new book custerology: the enduring legacy of the indian wars and george armstrong custer ... as the author states in the intro, "my focus is on the continuing production of knowledge of Custer and the nineteenth-century Indian Wars in which he fought. Custerology therefore includes not only those who seek to honor the memory of Custer and his Seventh Cavalry but also those who celebrate the indigenous resistance that defeated him—and believe that by doing so they are providing historical redress for the injustices suffered by American Indians” (2)

working as a presentist (i.e., one who looks at how history matters today), elliot later writes what we see as one of the strongest past-present-future connecting passages in Custerology: “The secret to the historical power of the Battle of the Little Bighorn is that the defeat of the Seventh Cavalry means that twentieth-century and now twenty-first-century whites can commemorate the violent work of Western expansion without having to feel entirely guilty about the fate of the American Indians whom the United States attempted to conquer. Custer’s loss so sharply resists the tides of history, as commonly understood, that it has seemed to one generation after another as though it were the outcome of some unknowable, preternatural force. The spectacle of defeat explains why generations of Custerologists have pored over the arcane details of this one conflict in the Indian Wars when so many others remain relatively neglected; why Custer continues to exert power as a romantic hero even when the larger public sympathizes with his foes; and how a historic event can be transformed into an object whose aesthetic appeal rivals that or artistic masterpieces” (187)

and for those wes anderson fans in the brady bravispheres: any book willing to open, as elliot does in his book's first sentence, with reference to eli cash (owen wilson's character in the royal tenenbaums movie) has gotta receive a look ... not to be confused with the neglected (by elliot) johnny cash who sang the peter-lafarge-penned tune "custer" (on the bitter tears album) criticizing the general ("to some he was a hero, but to me his score was zero, and the general he don't ride well anymore") ... eli cash is an "indian" playin' character who writes a book about custer, saying, "Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is ... maybe he didn't?" and so, Custerology continues for the next generation and the next and ...

18 June 2008

Stephen Colbert: "1/13 Chickasaw" yet not enrolled to be the Biggest Loser

brady bravers ... if ya didn't catch Winona LaDuke last week on The Colbert Report, check it out at http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=173622 ... you can see that the self-identifying "1/13th Chickasaw" Stephen Colbert received a fitting Ojibwe nickname from LaDuke: "giboodiyez," translated into English as "smarty pants." [our brady bravin' spelling is likely incorrect, though we did attempt to locate the term in our handy copy of A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. closest word we saw was giboodiyegwaazon, or pants.]

Colbert (who, incidentally, played an anti-Indian teacher in a "playing Indian" episode of Strangers with Candy a few years back) closed the segment with satirically calling the Indigenous-activist-Harvard-educated LaDuke an "oppressed elitist" ... (looks like Colbert got elitism confused with those intellectual Harvard Class of '08 snobs/graduates who recently de-intellectually snubbed their commencement speaker J.K. Rowling) ... perhaps LaDuke, who was momentarily at a loss for words, could have chimed back with Harvard's initial founding as being an educational institution for Indians? ... or just simply remind him that he's a "giboodiyez."

speaking of pants, did ya hear about the current recruitment efforts for a "Native American" to be dropping pant sizes on the next season of the TV show Biggest Loser? (and you compained about lack of representations of Ind'ns on American television?! shame ...) man, of all the shows out there, we're talking Biggest Loser? don't sound like much competition for John Redcorn or Adam Beach's character on Law and Order: SVU ...

speaking of Beach, he was on Ellen last year ... an interview in which not one direct mention of Beach's Indigenous-ness was included, even during his discussion of his role as Ira Hayes in Flags of our Fathers ... yet Colbert repeatedly focused on LaDuke's Ind'nness, attempting to have her be a spokesperson for all Ind'ns ... interesting dichotomy of interview approaches there ...

11 June 2008

givers to indians ...

Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg) is scheduled to be on Colbert Report (Comedy Central) thursday night at 10:30 Oklahoma time.

National Native News reported june 11 that an organization is donating $1.22 million to 209 tribal libraries for resource enhancement. good to hear of building up resources to reach Native Peoples. but following the mathematics smarts of mike brady [all brady braves know mike's an architect when he's not being an expert on "indians" in the grand canyon], that's around $5,834 for each library, barely enough for the complete brady bravin' DVD collection, a Whirling Rainbow gathering, day-old frybread, and a box of Red Men Club ballpoint pens, ennit? (had to mention the pens as one of our brady bravers apparently used one with "Red Men Club" printed on it to sign a restuarant receipt yesterday.)

will any of those libraries purchase CDs by the Turtle Island Quartet in hopes of hearing Native-authored classical sounds? as stated on the Quartet's site, "Its [group's] name derived from creation mythology found in Native American Folklore, the Turtle Island Quartet, since its inception in 1985, has been a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in chamber music for strings." but the main "Native" thing happening here is found through appropriation of the name "Turtle Island." (looks like Turtle Island Foods enjoys playing with "Indian" names, too.)

for Indigenous classical, the Bureau of Brady Braves highly recommends instead Brent Michael Davids (Mohican).

02 June 2008

quote of the day: john wayne and indians ...

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them.
There were great numbers of people who needed new land,
and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves"
~John Wayne (quoted in Roberts/Olson's 1995 biography John Wayne)