11 July 2008

These Lands of Ours-Yours-Theirs

To the Brady Braves in Comanche Country, you know our Nation’s Homecoming (54th Annual Pow-Wow) is coming up July 18-20 in the usual locale: Sultan Park in Walters, OK, with usual temps, so says Weather.com, of 100, 99, and 98, respectively. Good thoughts to all the dancers, including the Comanche Little Ponies. And don't forget, as stated on the flyer, "Committee not responsible for accidents, theft or divorces." Ayyyy--snaggers beware ...

To Brady Braves in Westerville, OH, with time-travelling abilities, you can check out “Otterbein College Summer Theater” as they perform A. R. Gurney's Indian Blood (June 26-29). Thanks to a fellow brady brave who brought this news to the bbb’s attention. This play focuses on a Buffalo (the city, not the animal or that big dude from Houston in an early episode of Conan O'Brien) family in the 1940s, though our informant was hoping for a “postmodern, revisionst take on Buffalo Bill's Wild West.” As a NY Times reviewer says with the following “Indian” eye-catcher [not to be confused with an “Indian” dream-catcher at your local dollar store]:

"Eddie ascribes his penchant for the milder forms of troublemaking to a drop or two of Indian blood [that he received from another character—his grandfather] in his veins." Wha? No great, great, great Indian Princess grandmamma responsible? And no “greats” before the grand? A revolution to the evolution of determining 1/1032 Indian blood descendants, ennit? Naw, just another piece of non-Native writing playing with Indianness through a character that associates the mild wild with savagery. ("Eddie, a student at the private Nichols School, uses his historical Indian bloodline as an excuse for a lewd drawing he made in class.")*

*Incidentally, the preceding portion of this blog post has been nonsensically sponsored by http://www.dnatribes.com/, which eerily popped up as a banner ad in the email we received informing us of the Indian Blood play. Perhaps the DNA folks, then, can assist Eddie. Or he can just claim Cherokee—most everyone else does, not counting that handful of pseudo-Wampanoags in Utah.)

To Brady Bravin’ fans of Barbra Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed comes her new book This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation. (June 23 footage of Ehrenreich on Chickasaw-in’ Colbert Report here.) “Their” as in “Native Peoples,” ennit? And associating Ind’ns with the present through the verb “is”?! (unlike Wendell Hunt’s book This Land WAS Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans. [capitalization added]) Hold up, though—turns out her new book contains, as Publishers Weekly states, “62 previously published essays that show the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.” Where're the Ind'ns?

A play off of Woody Guthrie’s classic 3-chordin' “This Land is Your Land,” Ehrenreich’s book title—like Guthrie’s song title—refers to Americans without addressing who’s been on these lands far longer than Italian immigrants and Swedish settlers combined, without addressing whose creation stories talk of originating here, without addressing the ambiguities of “your land” and “my land” and wondering who’s being included/excluded in the process and who’s being strongly urged to “share.”

Commendably, however, Ehrenreich uses “Their” to refer to that elite corporate America 1% who bring in more $$ than almost all the rest of Americans together. And so, Ehrenreich’s “Their” as the mighty, mighty monetarily rich—not Native Peoples—does evoke a joke from Vine Deloria, Jr.’s, Custer Died for Your Sins: when a White person asked an Indian “What did you call this land before [certain land-hungry, power-wielding, pre-"corporate America"] Europeans arrived?” the Ind’n simply replied, “Ours.” But "This Land is Ours Land" would be grammatically awkward; thus, in brady bravin' logic, we now understand.

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