Feature, October 26, 2006
We knew it: Kristen Hinman's "Basketball by the Book" confirms what colleagues and myself have known for years. Donald Davis Jr., named in the article, was a student in my district for years. He attended middle school a stone's throw away from the address listed in Charlack. I have seen Donald around town and kind of questioned him about playing at Vashon. The first thing out of his mouth is his so-called residency on University Drive. It's almost like these kids have been coached on what to say.
These people have been cheating for years and I'm glad that someone has had courage enough to bring it to light. I would also like to see the academic-eligibility side of some of these players looked into (not mentioned in the article). This proves all along that Mr. Irons is not looking out for the welfare of his players just himself.
Keep up the good work!
G. Martinez, St. Louis
It's time something was done: How far back does this go? Is it fairly safe to assume that this was the practice all along, or within the first few years of Irons' reign? If so, shouldn't all their championships be stripped? Enough rhetoric; everyone's known this for years it's time something was done.
They didn't hesitate stripping Pembroke Hill's titles a few years back when they used the ineligible Rush brothers. Oh, but that's a rich, private Kansas City school, which won't make too many political waves. If you attack Vashon, it will look like "the system" is coming down on poor black kids once again.
I played on a team that lost to Anthony Bonner in the state championship game, and they looked like they were all nineteen years old (some actually were). All five starters went Division I. That just doesn't happen in a normal neighborhood high school. Like I said, everyone knew.
Jim Sheedy, Kansas City
News Real, October 26, 2006
Show empathy, but be honest: In regard to Chad Garrison's "Going Native," I agree with Kathy Dickerson: If you are not from an indigenous group, don't pretend to be one, because "real Native Americans" can see the fakeness through your actions. We are happy to share our dances through intertribal dancing, but don't try to pass off as a real Native American if you're not. At our powwow we prohibit "gimmick" toys and anything that may be offensive to the tribe. We also advise the vendors about the American Indian Arts and Crafts act.
I'm a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. (Although this letter is my personal opinion and not necessarily that of my tribe.) I have also gone through the period when it was not popular to be an Indian and was kicked out of a drugstore, so I understand Dickerson's stand. Show empathy, but be honest!
Harold Comby, Philadelphia, Mississippi
We're out there: Who's Indian? I agree about the problem of wannabes and people taking advantage of what they have no right to and making a circus of culture while profiting economically. However, I need to stand up for a small minority of we "white Indians" who stand in the background, despising these wannabes but having no real say-so in the matter, appearing to be white ourselves. This minority of people have spent their whole lives either raised with or living side-by-side with Indian people and have participated in their culture. Many of us are a quarter or an eighth blood and you can't see it.
I am blonde and blue-eyed; my one grandfather is Cherokee Osage from Oklahoma. My wife is full-blood Taos Pueblo; her daughter's daughter is blonde and blue just like Grandpa (me). A few white people I know have spent many years with native people and have adopted many of their ways, and the people accept those people as one of their own due to the merit of their life and service to those people.
Just remember we are out there. Our hearts are native and nobody can change that.
Ed Sarten, Ruby, Alaska
Enough with the wannabes: The fact that Dolores Santha altered her birth certificate to indicate her parents' race as "red" is attested to by the vital records section of the Michigan Department of Community Health. When I sent them a copy of the document for verification, they replied that "[t]he race of the parents on the copy you provided does not match the race shown on the original record." Not mentioned in Garrison's article is the "enrollment" card Santha uses in addition to the altered birth certificate. Anyone can purchase one of these cards from the National American Indian Enrollment Agency in New Mexico, for $25. The fellow selling these worthless cards has made at least $165,000 from his questionable practice.
What matters most is not "where your heart is" but what one does to continue the stereotyping of the American Indian and the twisting of cultures and traditions. While most of these folks might be sincere, they are nonetheless causing damage to a people who have endured hundreds of years of governmental genocide, assimilation policies, stereotyping and discrimination of all types.
Nor is it a matter of Indians arguing with other Indians. It is a matter of American Indians becoming tired of wannabes and wannabe organizations, which are just one more method of attack against their survival. To the Thunderbird Society's Lora Garrett, I would say that American Indians are alive and well today, despite the varied attacks against their cultures. They can "retain" their own "culture, language and traditions" without help from those who have never lived in those cultures. We don't need non-Indians to tell us how to think or practice our traditions, thank you.
Back to Dolores Santha: I enjoy studying military history, especially American Indian involvement in wars since the pre-Revolution era. And unless it's the world's best-kept military secret, there was no "all-Indian brigade" in World War I. A great debate occurred between having American Indians in segregated or integrated units; the integrated unit faction won. The unit with the most American Indians was the 36th Division, with around 600 represented in the Company E of the 142nd Infantry Regiment as well as in the 358th Infantry Regiment. Half of these had already served in the unit before the war, as it was a Oklahoma-Texas National Guard unit. There were also some largely Lakota units, such as Battery B of the 130th Field Artillery, Battery C of the 147th Field Artillery and companies of the 351st and 355th Infantry Regiments. Most of the 12,000 American Indians who served in WW I were scattered and integrated throughout the army.
David Lowe, American Indian Heritage Support Center
What ever happened to tolerance? As a French-Canadian by birth with Metis friends in Canada and many indigenous friends here in New Mexico, I would like to offer an opinion about infighting amongst native peoples. Stop!
I am an undergraduate student in Native American Studies with a minor in Navajo language here at the University of New Mexico. The people closest to me here are my fellow native students and faculty, as well as the Navajo family that has claimed me as one of their own because of my caring for their son and brother who has now passed on. I have never hinted at being native, nor would I, even if I discovered that some of my wandering ancestors might have intermarried, thus making me Metis.
If you are not native, admit to it and express what may be just a great respect and even love for native peoples and their beautiful way of life. And if you are native, try to be more tolerant and receptive to these people who approach you honestly as your ancestors were.
I don't have a romanticized, Dances with Wolves mentality. What I have is a strong belief in native philosophy and spirituality, as opposed to the coercive and genocidal teachings of Western thought and spirituality. I would hope that all native peoples would find their way back to their true roots and receive those blessings that await them.
Robert-Paul LeMay, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The thinner it is, the brighter it shines: I am a Cherokee by blood, and of the Wolf Clan. My ancestry traces back to 1635, a descendant of Amotoya Moytoy of Chota. My relatives are on the 1851 Siler rolls and the Gunion-Miller roll of 1909. All eastern band of Cherokee.
I have known the Thunderbird Society as a Native American support group, not a Native American Indian society. There is much difference between the two groups. The Thunderbirds support and preserve Native American traditions by having powwows; the monies go to the Native peoples. They are an "intertribal-minded" group who support all the indigenous people. I do not know how many "carded" Indians they have in their group, but they can be admired for their hard work in trying to continue to respect and preserve native cultures. Folks like Kathy Dickerson would do well to integrate with the T-birds as a "carded" Indian, to help the society with their mission, not try to destroy it by talk of separateness. Ever wonder why there were 500 nations here instead of one? Because of such actions and words of Dickerson and their group. One would think that it is time for all peoples to come together, as we have learned nothing but bloodshed and hate in the past and now the present.
It has been spoken that Indian blood is like gold: The thinner it is, the brighter it shines. When tradition is mentioned, people think of tepees and living a nomadic life. Perhaps it was just that. But as time went on and European culture with its tools of iron were introduced, tradition changed; stone tools were replaced by iron. That is well-known fact. People of nonnative blood were adopted into different tribes across this nation. Blood became thinner and thinner, and we have done well because of this. Our children have an easier life now because of change, we are living longer lives, and we have the freedom to pray to our Creator.
So what difference does it make how much blood quantum we have? For the way of our ancestors was change and preserving the ceremonies that are sacred to our people. Powwows were started as gatherings of the peoples. Let us be traditional and continue these gatherings, united as one people.
James Goodin, Winona