Saturday, September 25, 2004

Whoo. This guy writes LONG:

"As for the issues, I am also very interested in the notion of erasing lines between indigenous groups. In my travels I have always been amazed at the similarities I find in other indigenous peoples to my own people. Sometimes physical attributes are similar, however most often it's attitude. I feel as though I'm in the presence of my aunts and uncles and usually there is a level of warmth, humor, acceptance and understanding almost automatically. And a huge amount of respect for each other's ways of doing things and (sic) colonialistic experiences. The fact that your people are situated within the boundaries of a nation that my people are wrongly named after (Indian) is very ironic. I suppose that moniker is somewhat resisted by your peoples as well, correct? Are the recent conflicts a struggle between your tribe and the powers that be to not be consumed by that, I'm assuming, 'nationalistic identity'? I'm always interested in a dialogue around deconstructing words and labels like 'Indian' that have been decided upon and used in a 'blanket' way by the unnamed 'they' (keepers of the power whom we shouldn't question). Especially that label.

"Talking with people that are Indians from India I always want to ask what they think of that term being used to describe an entirely different group of cultures from another continent. We call ourselves Indian or slang-wise, 'Enden', the same way a black person uses the 'n' word. We know it's inaccurate and wrong but it's still an in-community way of calling each other. It's these types of basic issues that I confront, and see Native people on the North American continent confronting, each time we work to express ourselves. I also see that the immediacy of threats to our existence in the states as Native peoples is much more covert, it has gone underground to an extent and is couched in the bureaucratic quagmire of he Department of the Interior, our legal 'guardians' in our ward-of-the-court status as almost-sovereign nations.

"My point is, the genocide and conflict is still with us her in the states, but is couched in policy rather than outright confrontation as it sounds like it is in your case and it seems to be in many places around the world for Indigenous groups. At any rate, I do think there are some powerful issues to discuss here and Indigenous groups need to work with each other internationally, realizing these nationalistic boundaries are not drawn on the earth but oftentimes rejected by the earth itself. I have met and learned from many groups around the world and been reminded what is at the heart of our connections to the earth, each other and our collective ways of striving for a balance and protecting the identity of our relatives and extended families that form the cultures we are a part of. There is a revitalization, a remarkable sense of deja vu and a profound joy in the coming together of land-based peoples each from opposite sides of the world. I see it as a mending of the original world wide web, a critical re-connection and acknowledgment of the physical and spiritual ties that have been there in the past and continue to operate as undercurrents and movements of spiritual power. I don't call myself a medicine person, but I am aware of these connections. And, just as we watch the systematic eradication of cultures in the latest conflicts in the Middle east, we can ironically see what it takes to survive culturally and physically from that attack on culture. Culture, like culture (artists, etc.), is feared by power. That, I find fascinating too, the word culture. There are at least three meanings and depending on what community you grew up in, one of the three meanings will emerge first.

"I obviously think of my family of the Northern Cheyenne and our homeland first, and probably the petri dish last. I did a small mixed media piece a few years ago called Culture/Culture/Culture, that tried to examine the convergence of those three definitions. Sorry about my long-winded-ness, these are issues dear to me and that need to be discussed.

"As for the dvd's, I can get you several before you leave, no problem.
I will also send you copies of the children's books I published a few
years ago. So, peace to you and let's keep talking."

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

So I decided to e-open my correspondence with B. I find him interesting and would like to work with him.

Me" "I was thinking of you as ME, Ann and some of us are getting together as we all shared 9/11 - lots better than I make it sound not really since we were all up at Martha's Vineyard to get away from the dust. We were actually plotting DigiFlaherty back then....

Anyway I am leaving again for M on October 15 so I would like to pick up our e-conversation and see if we can get any conceptual ducks in a row incase I can follow up on anything there. I will be gone till Dec 15 but will occupy cyberspace. Hit me back and let's talk!"

And I got this from B in reply:

"Sorry I've been out of the loop, crunch time for some projects this month. I was there during September 11 too, had a show in the Bronx at Wave Hill so it's interesting I was in your thoughts. As for our dialogue, here's a tidbit. One thing I've always been interested in exploring is the implications of the camera (video or still) in the experience of my people. The camera has been turned on Northern
Cheyennes ever since photography became portable. I just worked through some issues around others (non-Natives) videotaping my people (the Youth RAP summer project) and me being the intermediary in the community. It's hard for me to turn the camera on my own people, much less allow others to (I'm very protective of my people based on past experiences). The history of exploitation is enormous with my people, especially around photographic and video images. Always being defined, that's us. So, my youth media project seeks to reverse that, however it raises questions as well around us turning the camera on ourselves or each other. Interesting dilemma. Anyway, food for thought. Has there been similar issues in your community?"

I am glad to hear from him.