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"The Indians in the Lobby"

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  • rvsjr
    Indian Comics Irregular #70 On The West Wing recently, a tribal chairman and his assistant were scheduled to meet a White House official the day before
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 15 12:48 PM
      Indian Comics Irregular #70

      On "The West Wing" recently, a tribal chairman and his assistant were
      scheduled to meet a White House official the day before
      Thanksgiving. Because the official had left already, the Indians
      staged a "stand-in" in the lobby, refusing to leave until they got
      satisfaction. Let's see how an Emmy-award-winning TV show handled
      its first Native encounter.

      The good: The pair were from an obscure but real tribe, the
      Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. (They're in Wisconsin but came
      from New York originally.) This is more proof that honest creators
      can and do use real tribes in fiction (see ICI #68). Actor Gary
      Farmer (Cayuga) is related to the Mohicans, a nice (if probably
      unintended) touch. The Indians' grievance--waiting 15 years to get
      approval for a health clinic and sewage plant--seemed all too

      The bad: The Indians' recitation of their woes was a West Wing
      staple: sincere but pedantic. The idea of Indians standing
      stoically in the lobby suggested the old wooden-Indian stereotype.
      That a tribal leader would stoop to a hippie-style protest--or that
      the White House staff would let him--didn't seem plausible.

      The ugly: The press secretary finally offered the Indians a meeting
      the following Monday, with the White House to pay their expenses.
      After taking a moral stand, literally, the Indians' reward was the
      same meeting they sought originally.

      Oh, well. I give "West Wing" a solid B for effort. That's about
      three grades better than most shows get these days.

      For more on the episode, go to

      A Turkey for "Ed"

      "Ed," the whimsical show about small-town America, also did a
      Thanksgiving episode. No need to list the good, the bad, and the
      ugly in this case, because it was all bad. Based on this
      episode, "Ed" is of those shows meriting an F.

      The ever-nostalgic Ed was upset because Stuckeyville had canceled its
      Thanksgiving parade. He carried on about how the Pilgrims had
      sacrificed everything to be free. After suffering such hardships as
      wild animal attacks, they deserved a celebration, he said. And so
      did the people of Stuckeyville.

      The problem: Not once did Ed mention Indians, the linchpin to the
      Thanksgiving story. He said nothing about how the local Wampanoag
      saved the colonists from sure death. The implication was the
      Pilgrims survived on their own and thus earned their turkey meal.

      Nor did Ed say anything about the Pilgrims' real motives for their
      voyage, which ranged from economic opportunism to religious
      fanaticism. It was a classic case of what author James W. Loewen
      calls American myth-making. Thanksgiving is our national origin
      story, he claims, where we tell ourselves how great we are for being
      God's chosen.

      To top it off, the show-ending parade didn't show any Indians, as far
      as I could tell. Not even white folks dressed up as Indians. It's
      as if they reenacted the Civil War but forgot to include the South.

      The turkey talk continues at

      All the News I See Fit to Print

      If you can't get enough of my so-called multicultural perspective,
      you're in luck. I've started a Web log of all the interesting news
      and commentary I come across each day. The subject matter includes
      racism, stereotyping, violence, the culture wars, and of course comic
      books and PEACE PARTY.

      Visit http://www.bluecorncomics.com/news.htm to learn what's
      happening from Indian Country to Afghanistan. Bookmark the page and
      return often if you find it interesting. And tell a friend.

      Rob Schmidt
      Blue Corn Comics
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