My newest piece for Fusion: Appropriating Native American Imagery Honors No One but the Prejudice

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Artwork courtesy of Lalo Alcaraz of Pocho.com

 

I was a sophomore in high school, about 15 years old, when a rather hostile group of cheerleaders and football players cornered me, yelling, as I sat on a bench in the quad between classes. “Don’t you have school pride?” a cheerleader shouted. “You should feel proud! We’re honoring your people!” one football player hollered.

I was the only Native American (as far as I knew) at Woodbridge High School in Irvine, California. Irvine is a planned city in Southern California and one of the safest cities in the United States, but I didn’t feel safe that day.

I had met one-on-one with the principal, my guidance counsellor, a few teachers and several students to share my negative feelings toward our school’s mascot – an anonymous Native American “warrior” with long, flowing, jet-black hair, a large nose and huge muscles. I guess I thought if I made it known that I felt appropriating Native American imagery was offensive, they’d stop. I was outnumbered, though, and my personal feelings didn’t matter. But that’s the thing: As Native people, especially as urban Natives (what we Indigenous people living in urban centers call ourselves), we are almost always outnumbered. So, we go unnoticed and unheard. Our opinions never really matter.

Students wore goofy, cartoonish costumes of our mascot (and his equally tasteless “warrior princess” girlfriend) at pep rallies and games. The pair would dance and do occasional acrobatic moves, as they made their grand entrance to the deafening sounds of the school’s marching band, playing the quintessential Hollywood fight song that, for me at least, conjures up images of a scene from an old Western movie: “savage” Indians on horseback approaching a village of settlers…Uh-oh, there must be trouble.

…To read more, please visit: http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/ABC_Univision/native-american-imagery-appropriation-redskins-disrespectful/story?id=20286034

Please follow Fusion @ThisisFusion & follow me @AmyStretten

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A little #NativeAwesome to get your day started

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love and represent for Aboriginal DJ group, A Tribe Called Red.  Here’s a video that might give you a glimpse into why that is.

As an urban Indian with what is best described as a “pan-Indian” identity, these talented artists produce music that bridges the gap between traditional and modern; Native and mainstream.  I connect with their musical movement so deeply, that each piece feels like another song in the soundtrack of my life.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do and it cures any lingering Monday blues.  Have a great week, y’all!

And, remember:  It’s [always] a great day to be Indigenous!

-NativeJournalist

New job with the Seminole Channel!

Hey hey!

Lonnnnnng time no post!  But, I’m back(!) and excited to announce that I have moved down to South Florida to work as the Host and Multimedia Journalist for The Seminole Channel (which is owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida).  It was difficult to say goodbye to New York City, but the rest of Indian Country was calling.  (Not to worry, though…NYC has not seen the last of me!)

For those who are interested or have asked where they can watch The Seminole Channel, it currently airs on Directv and is only viewable by Seminole Tribal members living on one of the six STOF reservations.  But, there are plans to expand our audience and eventually share content with other Indigenous news networks soon.  I will be sure you let you know when and where you can view our content as our reach continues to grow.

We tape the show in front of a green screen because the set is virtual. I hosted this show solo because my co-host was reporting in another state.
We tape the show in front of a green screen because the set is virtual. I hosted this show solo while my co-host was reporting in another state.
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Just a little self-promotion 🙂

I moved to South Florida to work for Seminole Media Productions because I care about Indigenous people and telling Indigenous stories, and I am very excited to be a part of an incredible operation with passionate and dedicated media professionals.  I am excited about collaborating in an effort to make SMP an even more successful operation than it already is…The possibilities of what we can and will achieve are endless!

-NativeJournalist

Recap: “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” – U.N. Panel

We held an interesting panel discussion called, “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices,” last week at the United Nations to commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and brought together Indigenous journalists who share news for, by and about their communities from their corner of the world.

In case you missed the interactive panel discussion,  here’s the video:

Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices

Screenshot of of the LIVE webcast of “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” organized by the United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The panelists were: Nils Johan Heatta, Chairman of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network; J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a professor at Wesleyan University and radio producer; and Angel Tibán Guala, Director of the television of Movimiento Indígena Campesino de Cotopaxi (TV MICC).

Our expert discussants were: Monika Ille – Director of Programming, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada; Keoni Lee – General Manager, ‘Ōiwi TV, Hawai’i; Emil Her Many Horses (Ogala Lakota, United States), National Museum of the American Indian, “Our voices on the Air : Reaching new audiences through indigenous radio”

And, we screened videos from: Komi Television (Russian Federation); TV MICC (Ecuador); Indigenous Information Network (Kenya); DJ Atama Katama (Malaysia)

I was thrilled that there was tons of buzz on Twitter and Facebook about the day and the panel itself, especially given the significance social media has in enabling every day people to share news that is important to them without the costs required for a broadcast TV studio or radio station.

I really thought I’d be nervous moderating the panel (which lasted nearly 4 1/2hours!), but I wasn’t.  I felt really comfortable sitting on stage, leading the conversation and soliciting questions from the audience.

The highlight of the day was getting to meet U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon!  Aside from providing a poignant address, he took a great photo!

Amy Stretten with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

Another fun moment was the interview I did before the panel with a Slovenian radio station:

Radio Student FM 98.3 “Staroselci Na Twitterju”

While I have no idea what is being said (aside from my interspersed sound bites), it’s a pretty interesting listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you happen to catch the panel discussion?  If so, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments section below!

Let’s keep the conversation surrounding Indigenous media going!  Feel free to tweet me @AmyStretten.

Have a great day!

-NativeJournalist

“Sopranos Azteca” – Hot New Video from A Tribe Called Red x Javier Estrada

Still from “Sopranos Azteca” by A Tribe Called Red x Javier Estrada

Just when you thought A Tribe Called Red couldn’t get any better, they come out with a fierce new music video with incredible Monterrey-based DJ Javier Estrada!

Not only did this collaboration produce “Sopranos Azteca” – a visual/musical feast for the eyes and ears, but they are promising that this is just the first video of a three-part series!  (I think I’ve died and gone to heaven!)

As Isabela Raygoza of Remezcla.com explains, this piece (like the majority of the group’s music videos) leverages more than just classic Hollywood fodder about Native people and intoxicating, hard-hitting, “pow wow stepping” beats:

“…it goes further into history highlighting today’s most common misconceptions about colonization. Dubbing the popular TV series The Sopranos, the characters discuss the meanings behind Columbus Day and the indigenous populations, bringing both sides of the debate to light: whether Columbus was a slave trader who inspired the genocide of indigenous people or a grand conquistador and hero to America. “

What I love most about ATCR (and other young, Indigenous artists I’ve come across in recent years) is their desire to both celebrate and honor Native traditions (be they music, visual imagery, stories, etc.) and push the conversation forward – carefully carving out a unique, creative presence into the foreseeable future.  We are just as relevant as ever thanks to musical pioneers like A Tribe Called Red.

***

If you’re in the Tri-State Area and are dying to experience an Electric Pow Wow, you should definitely be at SOB’s in New York City next Saturday (May 31st)!  A Tribe Called Red will be holding it down, representing Ottawa and Canadian Aboriginals (whether they know it or not!), so be sure to find a way to get there!

But, if you can’t make it to NYC, ATCR will be Pow Wow’ing in these other fine cities this summer:

May 26 Montreal – Eastern Bloc
June 01 Boston –  Good Life
June 19 Winnipeg – Winnipeg Jazz Festival
June 20 Regina – TBD
June 21 Edmonton – The Works Festival
June 22 Ottawa – Special Event
June 23 Peterborough – Ode’min Giizis Festival
July 08 Ottawa – RBC Ottawa Bluesfest
Aug 03 Montreal – Presence Autochtone

***

If you love Indigenous arts + culture stories like this one and are interested in news featuring rising creative Native minds from the US, Canada, and beyond, please consider signing up for updates on the launch of my newest project NativeRemix.com!  You will be notified via e-mail as soon as the site goes live!

We are still looking for more bloggers, videographers, and photographers, as well as artists to feature!  If you, or someone you know, would like their work published or promoted on NativeRemix, please e-mail editor@nativeremix.com.

Please follow us on twitter @TheNativeRemix and “like” us on facebook/NativeRemix!  (We also welcome any advertisers who would like to reach our audience.)

I hope to see you next week!

-NativeJournalist

NativeRemix.com has a new logo!

Thank you to everyone who entered my logo design contest at 99designs.com!  And, thank you to everyone who gave me their input on the designs I was considering!

Here is the design I have chosen…I hope you like it!

Click the photo to sign up for updates on the launch of NativeRemix.com!

NativeRemix.com is a multimedia arts + culture news site for Indigenous youth of the U.S. and Canada that is currently in development.  The site will feature work created by artistic Native talent from all parts of Indian Country with a focus on the younger, Indigenous audience.  

We are currently looking for writers/bloggers as well as Native artists (musicians, singers, DJs, dancers, painters, photographers, videographers, fashion designers, etc.) who would like to be featured on our site.  We also welcome advertisers who are interested in reaching our target audience.

If you, or someone you know, would like to be a part of NativeRemix.com, please send an e-mail to: editor@NativeRemix.com!

Please sign up for updates on our launch date at NativeRemix.com,  follow us on Twitter @TheNativeRemix, and “like” us on Facebook: NativeRemix!

Thank you again to everyone for your support thus far!

Have a wonderful weekend,

-NativeJournalist

A chance to win $200! & New Indigenous Arts + Culture News Site Launching Soon!

This photograph doesn't really relate to my project, but I adore it. (As you can see by my Twitter account: @amystretten)

As some of you may (or may not) know, I’m a Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism fellow (please excuse the horrid photograph– I didn’t get to choose it!) and am creating a multimedia arts + culture Indigenous news site for Indigenous youth of the United States and Canada called NativeRemix.com.

Below is a video about our “pitch day” – when I won a seed grant to fund the project!

The mission of the site is to provide creative, culturally relevant content to Native youth, highlighting the growing international Indigenous artistic movement.  (So, instead of focusing on sad, depressing news – you know, those stereotypical stories EVERYONE has heard over and over again – we’ll focus on the inspiring, uplifting stuff.)  And, I’m lucky to have an amazing team of Native content producers on board to help me get this project off the ground!

NativeRemix.com will feature profiles on cutting edge Indigenous artists like Aboriginal DJ group A Tribe Called Red, singer/songwriter Kyra Climbingbear, rising fashion designer/artist Sho Sho Esquiro, burgeoning comedy group The 1491s, and accomplished “Thoshography” photographer Anthony “Thosh” Collins!

Those are just some of our ideas…We want your ideas, too!

The purpose of the site is to expand the platform Native artists currently have and be the “go to” place for creative Native content from all corners of Turtle Island!  We’re taking a for us/by us approach to reporting on the Native art world.

With that said, we’re still looking for writers, content producers, and advertisers.  If you want to share your take on the latest Native fashion trend or artistic movement in your community, send your thoughts to us at editor@nativeremix.com.  We welcome content submissions from any and all Native writers, bloggers, journalists, artists, and fans alike!  This is your opportunity to add your voice to the conversation and have people take note.

If you have a product or business (say, an Etsy store or t-shirt company) that you would like to advertise to Native youth (age 14-34) and the young at heart!, consider being one of our founding advertisers and e-mail editor@nativeremix.com for more information about incentives and our ad rates.

Please sign up for updates on the site and our scheduled launch date, by signing up at NativeRemix.com!  (You will be rewarded with a free A Tribe Called Red album download for doing so.)

…Please help us out and spread the word – Our success depends on you!

You can follow NativeRemix.com on Twitter (@TheNativeRemix) and “like” us on Facebook (FB/NativeRemix)!  Your support is much appreciated!!!
And, again: If you, or someone you know, would like to contribute to the site or be featured by one of our writers/content producers, please be in touch! E-mail editor@nativeremix.com to submit comments/questions/suggestions, story ideas, etc.

[NativeRemix.com = Native culture…Remixed!]

Now, for the important stuff…

So, how can you win $200?  It’s easy! – Just enter my contest at 99designs.com and create a winning logo for the NativeRemix brand!  If you’re not a designer, you could encourage a friend who is a designer to enter and split the winnings however you see fit!

I would LOVE for a Native designer to win, so please tell all of your friends to take a shot!

Have a great weekend…and good luck to anyone who enters!

-NativeJournalist