Indians at Obama's Inauguration
- Indian Comics Irregular #179
Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th president of the United States had several good moments and a few bad ones involving Indians. Let's review what happened.
While preparing for the inaugural parade, the Wyandotte Roosevelt High School Marching Chiefs received a letter protesting their Indian mascot. They were going to cover it up until the head of Oklahomas Wyandotte Nation gave them his blessing. My response: The tribe might have a say in using the Wyandotte name, but not the generic Chiefs name and logo.
In his inaugural address, Obama talked about settling the West and dissolving the "lines of tribe." Oops. Indians had already settled the West when the whites arrived, and America's tribes don't want their lines dissolved.
In his benediction, Rev. Joseph Lowery hoped for a time when "yellow will be mellow" and "the red man can get ahead, man." Oops. "Yellow" as a term for Asians is considered offensive these days.
Groups from 11 tribes in five states--North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Alaska--participated in the parade. The groups included the Crow Nation's Horse Mounted Unit and the Suurimmaanitchuat Dancers. Obama, who was made an honorary Crow during his campaign, reportedly waved to the horsemen.
On the terrace of the National Museum of the American Indian, VIPs watched the inauguration in comfort. "The Indians had the best seats in the house," according to one writeup. Between events, people went from floor to floor, eating, schmoozing, and catching up with friends.
They also viewed an NMAI exhibit titled "A Century Ago...They Came as Sovereign Leaders." It told how Geronimo, Quanah Parker, and other chiefs traveled to Washington DC in 1905 for Teddy Roosevelt's inauguration. They asked him for better treatment and he said no, because he thought Indians should give up their cultures and assimilate.
The day before the inauguration, LaDonna Harris (Comanche) received a Lifetime Legacy Award for her decades of work for Indians. The following evening, tribal leaders attended the 11th American Indian Inaugural Ball. Stars such as Keith Secola, Gary Farmer, and Joanne Shenandoah entertained the guests, who were dressed to the nines in tuxedos and evening gowns.
As the new president was sworn in, the White House website rolled over to the Obama version. Alas, there was no mention of Indians in the long to-do list. The disabled, the LGBT community, and sportsmen were on the agenda, but not America's fourth branch of government (federal, state, local, and tribal).
Oh, well. To read all my Obama postings, go to http://www.bluecorncomics.com/prez08.htm .
Besides "Twilight" (ICI #177), a few other fall releases had Native aspects:
* In "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," a band of "Aztec" dogs living in Mexican ruins counsels the title character.
* In "A Quantum of Solace," a Bolivian strongman tries to overthrow the indigenous nation's government.
* In Adam Sandler's "Bedtime Stories," Rob Schneider plays a stereotypical Indian chief.
Meanwhile, the acclaimed "Frozen River" (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/froznrvr.htm) earned two Academy Award nominations: Best Actress for Melissa Leo and Best Original Screenplay for Courtney Hunt. Kudos to Hunt and company for this recognition.
For more on the subject, see http://www.bluecorncomics.com/namovies.htm .
Blue Corn Comics