Slate recently published a pretty remarkable round-up of this year’s outrage. Why is it remarkable? Because every day there was something to be pissed about. From Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” to released photos of Kate Middleton’s bare bottom, Twitter was ablaze with fiery tweets in 2014 and Slate has chronicled it all.
Thanks to my friend and fellow journalist, Lindsey Anderson, I found out that I made the cut!
When I saw Pharell (who I have met IRL and am actually a big fan of) wearing a headdress on the cover of Elle UK magazine, you know I had to say something. And, apparently Slate took note and shared my tweet.
Despite all of the many times celebrities have been shamed for cultural appropriation faux pas, it seems the controversy surrounding Native American headdresses and cultural appropriation lives on. Nicki Minaj recently shared a photo of herself topless and wearing a headdress (that may or may not be a Native American one) to announce her upcoming tour. (Le sigh…)
For more of my “outrage” in 2015 and beyond, follow me on twitter @amystretten.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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!
Those who apply before April 10th will be given priority consideration, but AAIA will accept applications until the position is filled.
AAIA is an amazing organization and offers scholarships and other assistance to Native communities. According to their website, “The mission of the AAIA, is to promote the welfare of American Indians and Alaska Natives by supporting efforts to: sustain and perpetuate their cultures and languages; protect their sovereignty, constitutional, legal and human rights, and natural resources; and improve their health, education, and economic and community development.”
Please spread the word about this incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the Native American community, while earning an income, too!