48 posts tagged Ruth Hopkins
Fighting with Spirit: How Greasy Grass was Won, By Ruth Hopkins
In ceremony, Sitting Bull gave 100 pieces of flesh. He went without water for two days and two nights. At Deer Medicine rocks, Sitting Bull was given a vision. During his life, Sitting Bull had several visions that came true. Yes, Tatanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull) was a Chief, a statesman, and an exemplary warrior who was a sash wearer and member of the Kit Fox Society and the Midnight Strongheart Society, but he was also a respected holyman. He was a prophet.
In his vision, Sitting Bull saw soldiers riding on horseback, falling asunder into his camp. Their hats fell off. They fell like grasshoppers, he said. It was then that a voice told him: “I give these to you because they have no ears.” To Sitting Bull and other Lakota this vision meant they would have a great victory over the bluecoats. Sitting Bull’s vision occurred just two weeks before the Battle at Greasy Grass.
During the Battle of Greasy Grass, Sitting Bull did not fight because he was older. Instead, he gave his strong medicine to his nephews White Bull and One Bull, who did.
When Custer attacked, some warriors were just getting out of Inipi. They grabbed their weapons and started fighting right out of the sweat lodge. Was this because Custer caught the Lakota sleeping? No. The Lakota knew the 7th Cavalry was coming. Those men were in Inipi because ceremony and prayer are central to living Wolakota. We don’t compartmentalize our spiritual beliefs and keep them separate from the rest of who we are. This isn’t Sunday church service. Ceremony is life. We are to live our sacred ways every day the best we can.
We are a prayerful people, a soulful people. Spirituality is key to our identity as Oceti Sakowin, and the same can be said for many Natives who practice their traditional ways. We are spirits inhabiting bodies and there’s no defeating the spirit of a Native who is the living embodiment of his or her ancestors. This is something the Western Empire never fully understood, although they realized it was powerful. That’s why the government outlawed our sacred ceremonies for decades. We should all be thankful to those who kept them safe so we could pass them onto future generations.
Each of us is fighting a difficult battle- be it personal one, or for your family or community. Some fight addiction or trauma, others fight poverty, oppression, environmental destruction, or societal ignorance. Some of us are simply born to rage. Yet no matter your battle remember this: do as your ancestors did and consult the spirits. Let them help. Sitting Bull did. Purify yourself with sage and cedar. Pray. Sometimes that’s all you have, but it may be all you need. Arm yourself with the pipe, the canupa. This is the missing piece of our current puzzle, folks. Returning to the ways will bring healing and mend the sacred hoop.
‘Siouxper Drunk’ shirts Worn at the University of North Dakota’s Springfest, By Ruth Hopkins
Native mascots personify the widespread systemic racism against Native people that still prevails in the subconscious of western society. The Fighting Sioux-esque ‘Siouxper Drunk’ tees worn at UND’s Springfest by UND students are proof positive that Native mascots are harmful and degrading to Native people, and that retiring all race-based mascots is not only appropriate, but necessary.
The ‘drunken Indian’ caricature is one of the worst stereotypes about Native people that there is. Historically, imbibing is not part of Native culture. There are many Native people, Oceti Sakowin included, who do not abuse alcohol.
Europeans introduced alcohol to the Indigenous population in America. Prior to their arrival, Native people did not drink alcohol at all. Since then, Europeans have been pretty successful at using alcohol to subdue & assimilate Natives.
Alcoholism is a serious issue in Indian country and its nothing to laugh about. According to the CDC, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is the #5 cause of death among Native Americans. In 2010, 15,990 Natives died from alcoholic liver disease alone. Another 25, 692 died from alcohol-induced deaths, not counting accidents and homicides. In fact, 1 in 10 Native American deaths are alcohol-related.
The tiny town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, located just over the border from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, rakes in millions of dollars for beer companies every year by profiting off the misery of Lakota addicted to alcohol. These people who are sick live short lives full of pain and suffering. Families are destroyed. Now tell me again, how is ‘Siouxper Drunk’ funny?
The fact that a whole group of students were able to walk around UND’s Springfest in ‘Siouxper Drunk’ t-shirts without being stopped speaks volumes. Why would faculty, staff, students, and community members choose to ignore such blatant racism? Didn’t anyone have the good sense to feel embarrassed or ashamed of such a discriminatory display? By allowing such open, aggressive hostility against Natives, you are complicit. If you disapprove of such behavior, stand up and be counted.
Native students attend UND now, and dozens of Natives have graduated from there. Dakota, Lakota and Nakota Tribal members have degrees from the University of North Dakota. It’s appalling that UND would allow their own students and distinguished alumni to be openly harassed and humiliated on the basis of race by others who attend their institution and are subject to the University disciplinary system.
No one can tell me this act was not purposeful. Social media posts reveal that students wearing ‘Siouxper Drunk’ shirts knew exactly what they were doing. One individual, who’s Twitter handle is @Sioux_Sam, not only posted a picture of himself wearing the offending garment, he previously tweeted about having the shirts made and putting “the beer bong right into the mascot head.”
Heidi Klum’s Redface Photo Shoot, by Ruth Hopkins
Heidi Klum, I’m so disgusted with you. I can’t even look at you right now.
I’ve been a fan of Heidi Klum’s show Project Runway since episode one. I’ve seen every single season. As a Native woman who loves fashion, I was elated when Taos Pueblo fashion designer Patricia Michaels was selected for the show, especially considering how Native appropriation has run rampant in the fashion industry over the past several years. Patricia made it to the series finale and finished as the season’s runner-up. Heidi was supportive of Patricia too. She complimented Patricia’s designs and showed what appeared to be sincere appreciation for Native culture.
As a result, I never could have imagined that Heidi Klum would promote redface. Nay, I was sorely mistaken.
Heidi hosts a show overseas called Germany’s Next Top Model. Last Thursday Ms. Thang posted a gallery on Facebook under the title, “Here are my Beautiful GNTM Girls!” Lo and behold, the spread was plum full of some of the most stereotypical, patently offensive photographs of pouty, half-naked white women posing ever-so seductively in war paint and headdresses that I’ve seen in well, months (what can I say, we’re currently plodding through an epidemic of society fetishizing Native women).
It felt like I’d just been stabbed in the back by my taller, skinnier, blonder, German big sister.
Twelve photos total featured German Fräuleins using ‘peace pipes,’ feathers, tipis, and Native blankets for props. Maybe it was just my imagination, but I thought that even the horse looked a little embarrassed.
One picture shows a model in war paint with a single tear streaming down her face. Could we get any more cliché? Now we’re appropriating pretendians? Iron Eyes Cody, the famous ‘crying Indian’ referenced by pop culture, wasn’t even Native. Apparently even appearing to be Native by association makes one fodder for exploitation.
Perhaps we should have expected this from a country full of hobbyists that like to dress up like Natives and ‘play Indian.’ No matter, both scenarios are offensive and objectionable.
This isn’t the first time I’ve delved head first into confronting Native appropriation and why it’s wrong. I don’t know how I can explain it in any simpler terms. Natives are not costumes one can take on and off. When people dress up in stereotypical ‘Indian’ garb, they’re not only denying the existence of 566 distinct Tribal Nations, they’re mocking an entire group of human beings based solely on their race and heritage. Natives haven’t lost touch with what’s sacred either, and we do not take kindly to ceremonial objects like the pipe being used to hawk your wares, nor garner publicity for your second rate reality TV show. All who attempt to exploit and abuse what we hold sacred are hereby held to account for it. We stand for our ancestors and future generations of Natives in demanding that you respect us and our beliefs.
READ THE REST HERE: http://lastrealindians.com/heidi-klums-redface-photo-shoot-by-ruth-hopkins/
Feminism from this Native Woman’s Perspective, By Ruth Hopkins
…Some say white feminists should assist WoC in taking more of a leadership role in the movement for women’s equality. I’ll go a step further. Following the example of my Native grandmothers, I say, “Get out of our way.” We don’t need your permission. You’re welcome to join us in the fight, but we aren’t your lackeys. This isn’t no plantation. Instead of trying to speak for WoC, try listening. You might learn a few things.
Curiously, I don’t self-identify as a feminist- although to others, I probably sound like one. I agree with a great deal of the feminist platform: equal rights, equal pay, reproductive rights, etc. However, I part ways when it comes to who I am as a Native woman.
You see, I do things as a strong, empowered Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) woman that non-Native settler feminists do not understand, nor do they seem to want to. Through their colonial lens, they view sacred women’s ways as submissive rather than humble. For instance, they assume that because I wear a long dress or skirt to ceremony, that I’m being treated as an inferior. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wear my floor sweeping skirt out of respect for my ancestors, the brothers and sisters in my circle, and myself. To wear the skirt is an honor. When we cover our power of creation in modesty and dignity, we are shining examples of feminine beauty and the power of the deity White Buffalo Calf Woman herself flows through us.
We do not need to be men. Being an Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) woman is enough. In fact, the ancestors taught that we are more powerful than men. After all, Ina Maka (Mother Earth) was the first Indigenous female. Women carry the power of the Great Mystery within our wombs. We care for our men too, because we love them and we want them to be strong, and be the best version of themselves. We are not adversaries; we are partners. We are one as a People and Nation.
Within the bounds of mainstream society, I think feminism is needed to overcome the screaming domination that is global patriarchy. As for myself and other traditional Native women like me, being a woman is all the power we need. Feminism isn’t the answer; returning to traditional lifeways is. Our strength as women is within us, whether western colloquialisms apply or not. It doesn’t change who we are. We aren’t asking for your blessing, nor do we need it. We mean what we say, and our words lead to actions. We are causal agents who create movements. Look to the legacy of strong Native women who’ve not only birthed Nations, but fought for them. We lead in our own way. Our hearts beat strong and fierce. We will speak for ourselves and through those we’ve deemed worthy.
Let’s Talk About Sex, By Ruth Hopkins
Our precolonial grandmothers were honorable women with self-respect, and for that reason, they were sexually responsible. While many of my grandfathers had more than one wife, the women were hardly submissive “Yes-women” who kept their heads down and did what they were told. They played leadership roles, selected their mates, and were free to divorce their husbands whenever they chose. Polygamy was more a practice of necessity; men with more than one wife had to provide for all his wives and children. In my Tribe, it also wasn’t uncommon for men to take in the widows of his brethren. This practice saved lives.
Traditionally, Native women engaged in family planning. Lithospermum ruderale (Stone seed), as well as Hydrastis canadensis (Yellow puccoon) and Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace) seed were all used as methods of birth control. Stone seed root was drank as a tea. The root was also dried, burned and inhaled like incense. Queen Anne’s Lace seeds were made into a tea or eaten. After intercourse, women’s sage was used as a hygienic wash. Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yams) were eaten to boost reproduction, and are still believed to promote fertility. Bear grease was used as an aphrodisiac, and a lubricant.
Let’s not ignore the obvious: without reproduction, none of us would be here. Sexuality, housed in the ancient ‘reptilian’ portion of our primal brains, is hormonal and instinctual. It does us absolutely no good not to talk about it- in fact, it hurts us. We shouldn’t make the mistake of excluding any portion of us from the whole: just as we must care for ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, we should take care of ourselves sexually. It’s healthy. Part of why our ancient ancestors had good sexual health is because they talked about it. There were no hushed tones and shame around the subject in appropriate company. Discussing values meant discussing sexual behavior and topics like consent; one’s right to say, “Yes,” or “No.” Mothers taught their daughters about their bodies, about womanhood, and the responsibilities that came with it. Coming of age ceremonies were performed. Becoming a woman was not only acknowledged, it was celebrated. These rites must continue today. They are life instructions and cannot be ignored. We neglect them at our own peril.
READ THE REST HERE: http://lastrealindians.com/lets-talk-about-sex-by-ruth-hopkins/
Honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy by doing what your Presidential predecessors failed to do and free Native activist Leonard Peltier.
By LRI writer Ruth Hopkins
Yesterday Lastrealindians.com called out Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld for their ‘Cowboys and Indians’ fashion show. They’ve now responded with a half-assed apology.
Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld Jump on the Native Appropriation Bandwagon, By Ruth Hopkins
I was an admirer of Karl Lagerfeld’s designs, so you can only imagine my disappointment when I saw photos from the Chanel’s Wild West inspired pre-Fall Show held in Dallas, Texas this past Tuesday eve. The show featured Native prints and white feather headdresses. Turquoise, feathers, fringes, and beadwork were also on display, along with plenty of cowboy hats and boots.
First, let’s get something out of the way. I don’t care what you’ve seen in old Hollywood movies or what pop media has told you: pairing cowboys and Indians as a matching set is trite and problematic at best. Being a cowboy is a profession. Being American Indian is about what race you’re born into. When someone dresses up like a cowboy, they’re taking the guise of someone who wears chaps and rustles up cattle. When a person wears an ‘Indian’ costume, they’re mocking an entire group of human beings based on their skin color and heritage. What’s even more disturbing is when society as a whole seems to encourage this practice, given that collectively, anyone with a colonial or pioneer ancestor is descended from someone who was agreeable to the stealing of Native lands as well as the massacre of Native women and children ala Manifest Destiny.
Yes, cowboys and Indians existed during the same time period and occasionally fought one another during western expansion, but American Indians are still very much alive. You don’t get to leave us in 1899. No matter how much the powers-that-be would like to pencil in our extinction, we remain. American Indians live on reservations, in cities, and everywhere in between. We walk among you. We are part of American society here and now, in 2013. We work, shop, and pay taxes like everyone else. Brand new American Indians are being made and born as I write this.
Unlike everyone else who immigrated to this continent and embraced the idea of assimilating into the melting pot that is mainstream society, American Indians held onto their ancient cultures, languages, beliefs, and ceremonies; ones that predate the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, our ancestors fought for them under pain of death, and hid them when they were made illegal- for us, their children. Because our ancestors loved us, the Federal government’s policies to terminate and assimilate us failed. We haven’t lost touch with what is sacred. It is now our responsibility to keep these ways, see that they are respected, and hold those who attempt to exploit and abuse them accountable.
Over the past several years, Native appropriation in popular culture has become an epidemic. I don’t understand why this practice continues, despite protests from many Natives and their allies. With each incident followed by outrage and demands for the offensive behavior to end, as well as an apology and request for some remediation, it gets harder and harder for appropriators to feign ignorance. This leads one to believe new incidences of Native appropriation are purposeful, i.e. grandstanding on one’s white privilege by the offending party.
Native Appropriation Month, By Ruth Hopkins
You know, in the United States of America, November is officially designated “Native American Heritage Month”- but with all the exploitation and denigration of American Indian culture and identity that’s been perpetrated by mainstream society lately, perhaps they should cut the bull and go ahead and call it “Native Appropriation Month.” The past several weeks have been absolutely replete with full on character assaults against real Indigenous people. Contrary to what pop culture would have you believe, we are very much alive, and our existence is much richer and more vibrant than any of their fabricated portrayals of us.
There have been so many incidences of Native appropriation over the past 30 days (literally thousands) that it’s impossible to discuss them all, so I’m opting to highlight a few here, in no particular order. READ THE REST HERE: http://lastrealindians.com/native-appropriation-month-by-ruth-hopkins/
The Emperor Has No Clothes: a Native Perspective of the Government Shutdown, By Ruth Hopkins
So here sits the grand Ol’ U.S. of A. National Parks, landmarks, museums, zoos, and the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program will close its doors. Scores of government agencies will be staffed by a paltry skeleton of essential personnel, who will be working without pay. For example, over 94% of all Environmental Protection Agency employees will be sent home, on furlough. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also bare bones. Who stays in office? The Internal Revenue Service and Federal Courts. Yay! (*sarcasm*) The President and Congress will also continue to receive full pay and benefits.
Natives are hardly trusting of the Federal Government, and with good reason. Genocide by disease, starvation and outright massacre, colossal theft of our lands and resources, attempts to assimilate us by kidnapping our children and outlawing our ceremonies, the Trail of Tears, the Trail of Broken Treaties, and ongoing acts of terror against not only American Indians but Indigenous peoples abroad, all under the banner of Manifest Destiny and The Doctrine of Discovery, are proof positive that this new Roman Empire is not only deceitful, but negligent and culpable of crimes against humanity itself. The colonial forefathers of this country claimed a divine right to rule it. I’ve got news for you. It was a sham, a hustle, a con. This form of government now fosters a greed driven, power hungry, capitalistic fascist theocracy where mega corporations and lobbyists pull the strings while millions of numb, apathetic, brainwashed citizens drool in front of TV screens, ignorant of their own power. It is a cancer upon Ina Maka (Mother Earth) and must be excised. Change must come, or it will be forced upon us. The Emperor has no clothes!
Trayvon was hunted down by Zimmerman. In solidarity with the millions in the streets demanding #JusticeForTrayvon
& in prayer for his love ones, a Timely & Poignant piece from Ruth Hopkins
By Ruth Hopkins, Lastrealindians Editor
Lastrealindians just celebrated its first birthday on New Year’s Eve 2012. It’s been quite a historic journey thus far. While there were many other great news stories, columns, and creative works that we published in 2012 that we hope you’ll go back and read, here’s our agreed upon Top 10 Lastrealindians.com News Stories of 2012.
READ THE REST HERE: http://lastrealindians.com/the-top-10-lastrealindians-com-news-stories-of-2012/