By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Don't Call Me Chief!
Steve Jackson did a wonderful job reporting on University of Colorado professor Ron Grimes's struggle with whether a European-American ought to be teaching Native American studies ("Family Feud," August 3).
Perhaps it would be better for colleges and universities to establish a general rule that Native Americans are to be the only ones to study and teach their own tradition and values. Why? Because even well-intentioned European-Americans have trouble respecting the sanctity and privacy of the many and varied Native American peoples. Because even well-meaning European-Americans have difficulty teaching Native American religion and culture, critically and contextually. Because even well-purposed European-Americans fail to make sure that representative native voices are heard in their classrooms.
We lack the "requisite attitude," to quote Professor Grimes: "a combination of humility, collegiality and sensitivity."
The taxpayers of Colorado have cause to rejoice in the fact that the University of Colorado at Boulder is able to fund Native American studies. This is among the most important knowledge that will help usher the present student body into the 21st century. They will know when to go to the wigwam and beat their tom-tom and when to sit in the tepee and play with their peepee.
You don't have to be a gerbil to teach zoology, but only Native Americans are qualified to teach Native American stu-dies. Obviously these NA teachers will reject all research papers and texts by Euro-Americans. This will put them back to square one, because the bulk of this literature was amassed at a time when most NAs were still on reservations studying Beadwork: Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced, and Thunderbird 101. In fact, if it were not for interested Euro-Americans, there would be little in the way of a collected body of literature to teach from.
If these divisive forces at the university continue on track, one of the best courses in NA studies they could teach would be Survival Techniques of the Great Basin Diggers, because we are all going to end up "picking shit with the chickens" trying to serve these special-interest nitpickers.
Also, doesn't it follow that if only NAs are qualified to teach NA studies, then Euro-Americans should be barred from electing these classes? Isn't what this country needs, is to become more exclusive?
The White Stuff
This letter is in response to Steve Jackson's "Bad Medicine," in the July 27 issue. I was moved and terribly sickened by your article regarding the "rape" of Kayla Moonwatcher, if that is indeed her birth name. Let me preface my opinions by saying that I hold no sympathy for rapists, and I do not condone this act of violence against women. However, there are two issues here: the rape of a woman and the rape of American Indian spirituality.
As an American Indian, I have always been taught that our religion and ceremonies are not for sale and that they are not to be taken lightly and without respect. If you do not perform ceremonies correctly, or if you use the medicine in the wrong way, bad things will happen to you. Apparently Ms. Moonwatcher was not taught this. I do not know of anyone who is legitimate who treats our ceremonies as Ms. Moonwatcher has admitted to in your article. "From now on, house blessings will be $200"--that in itself is sacrilegious.
My friends and I have had lengthy discussions regarding white people in our ceremonies and traditions. Many American Indian spiritual leaders do not allow white people in their ceremonies, because they lack the capacity to truly understand and accept our ways and are always looking for a way to get rich or explain what they cannot. It appears that Ms. Moonwatcher fits into this category.
Ms. Moonwatcher and all of you other want-to-be Indians: Go back to your Christian churches and leave us alone. We don't want you in our spiritual ceremonies or traditions until you have had to suffer like we have. Perhaps only then will you find the true meaning of spirituality and start a religion we might want to belong to (not).
K. Culbertson, enrolled member of the Assiniboine Sioux Tribe
It is most unfortunate that our Native American spirituality has become bastardized to the point that our so-called medicine men are acting like the great evangelists of the Christian faith, e.g., Swaggart, Bakker. P.T. Barnum was once quoted as saying, "There's a sucker born every minute," and these suckers (whites) are part of the problem. If you create a situation for vermin to feed, they will come. As a result of these new-age whites trying to "find" themselves in a religion in which they have no right meddling, they have created quite the feeding frenzy.
If the whites want to involve themselves in an Earth religion, let them explore their white roots. All religions were once Earth-based. But that was before they hung the guy on the cross and discovered that they could control the masses for fun and profit.
Sorry for your misfortune, Kayla.
Well-written article, Mr. Jackson.
R. Ketcher, enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma