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08/07/2008

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Ann Otoole

"Nany Kayo: I'm rich"

There goes the Indian res cred.

Anyone who has really lived with an Indian or around them knows they are no different from anyone else.
Nany is obviously into material wealth given that one statement that revealed the true western white man capitalistic credo involved.

I've potlached plenty and plenty of people have been kind to me. I have no material wealth irl and I have little desire for such things. I need what I need to exist in a technological culture.

But to see people claim "Indian cred" and then behave like the stereotypical wealthy USA man is disappointing.

Time to get to work. I have potlaching to do in the form of rents to pay that helps others stay "in the game".

Prokofy Neva

Well, in fairness to her, I actually think she meant "I'm rich in traditions," i.e. my culture gives me a kind of spiritual wealth, but I could be wrong.

I don't have a problem with that; it's admirable. Why I felt the need to publish this was because of the discrepancy between the fine ideals portrayed with promoting Native culture, and the reality of just being an ordinary asshole, unchanged by these fine moral traditions supposedly uphold.

Perhaps it's a fine tradition to go and start by slapping someone in the face first and telling them you are better than them and they are shit, but that just seems like plain old-fashioned insecure infantalism to me.

John Lopez

Arizona has the most reservation land of any of the 48 continental states, both by raw area and percentage of land.

My wife is an epidemiologist and does research that often relates to the reservations and border county health and so I have had an opportunity to learn quite a bit about the native lifestyle.

There are some exemplary people there: amazing folk who are dedicated to the welfare of their people and working as best they can within the constraints of being a conquered people.

Statistically speaking, however, be glad you don't live there. Disease, poverty and alcoholism define the lives of the majority who remain on the reservations. The old traditions (and languages) are vanishing; replaced by the either the despair of generations of decline or the abuses that come so easily along with distributed wealth from the casinos.

This is not to disparage those who do good works, bother to maintain some of the old culture or have left the reservation but wished to maintain some connection to their heritage. It is simply a statement of the grim reality that I have seen in the data that comes from those places, and from my encounters with those who live the daily life there.

melponeme_k

I can't stand when someone proclaims they are Native from the top of their lungs. It indicates to me that they don't know the first thing about being Native.

They never experienced the full force of racism because their skin is not white nor the horrors of drug and alcohol addiction in the native community.

I am Native, I don't have to proclaim it, it is as plain as the color of my skin. However due to many circumstances I am not recognized as Native because I'm not affiliated with a tribe. You need to be in a tribe to claim Native rights. I refuse to get a blood quorum certificate too, it strikes me creepily fascist.

I did have my DNA test through the National Geographic project. My closest ancestors are in Russia among the Sami people.

I don't like fetishizing cultures either. All people, no matter where they developed did the best with the hand they were dealt. And hopefully we are working towards something better.

Prokofy Neva

That's quite a statement, melponeme.

I think it's generally a good thing to learn more about Native cultures. We had such expunged histories to read when I was in grade school, and this is now being restored -- but of course, it's swung in the opposite direction such as to be terribly PC.

I always am given pause by culturalists who insist that you can never learn "enough" about their culture, and they always through you off balance, and put you in the wrong. They always approach the task as one of fierce protectionism surrounded by a combination of insecurity, neuralgia, and defensiveness -- covered often with arrogance and even violence. I suppose this is the hallmark of a "conquered people" but hell, there are plenty of conquered peoples all over the world.

Everybody has a story. As I noted, if my ancestors flee an artifical famine and wind up in North America working in a saloon for the canal diggers or guarding a parking lot, well, how exactly am I some sort of imperialist racist conquering blah blah blah? I can play victimology too. And so can many immigrants who fled all the series of wars and terrors and mass murders of Europe and Asia and Africa and Latin America. Seriously, everybody has a story; if some get out on top, if they flee one horror but commit another one on somebody else heedlessly or even maliciously, well, can you wallow in that forever, generation after generation? At a certain point, it's about moving on, trying to play the hand that's dealt and all that.

This insistence on learning about another culture always from a sense of entitlement and rage never has reciprocity. That interlocutor is never learning about *your* culture, and never aspiring to get a bit of perspective.

I don't think we need to all hold hands and sing Kumbayah, either, however. I like what the chief said.

John Lopez

If you took away "victimology" from that comment, you missed the point. The point is that there is very little left to be proud of, even the standard "native culture" drivel, as that culture has been extinguished and replaced by learned helplessness. There are exceptions ... but they are just that.

On the other hand, a land mass larger that several east coast states (the Navajo nation is a huge landmass) with a quarter million people born and bred with a victim mindset is, in my book, a bad thing. As you point out, the world is full of conquered people. Sometimes that doesn't work out so well though.

Rita J. King

This is a thought-provoking post about a complex subject. The Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project is a joint effort between Dancing Ink Productions (of which I am CEO and Creative Director and Joshua S. Fouts is Chief Global Strategist) and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (where we are both Senior Fellows).

I just want to clarify one point...when you wrote "they think virtual worlds aren't segregated spaces but can be used for understanding various cultures," you were only half right. We are constantly mindful of the fact that like cultures in the physical world, virtual worlds are segregated (to begin with, only those fortunate enough to have the time and equipment for participation are even in virtual worlds) which rules out many valuable perspectives.

As you rightly noted, "everybody has a story."

Prokofy, your blog is regular reading at Dancing Ink Productions, and even on the occasion when I disagree with your ideas or the manner in which they are presented, I am always taken with your passion and insight, and your unapologetic, thought-provoking approach. You're a great, fiery writer.

While we have not yet had any proper YouTube responses, we have had people in our Ning group post videos for us to use as material for the project (www.dancingink.ning.com) and we continue to have people from all over the world providing their diverse thoughts and ideas as the project takes shape. Thanks for adding yours to the mix.

Prokofy Neva

I just want to clarify one point...when you wrote "they think virtual worlds aren't segregated spaces but can be used for understanding various cultures," you were only half right

Rita, I merely quoted that line *directly from your own site*. I didn't misquote it. And I simply don't take seriously any argument that starts out, 'But the people in Lesotho can't hook up to virtual worlds," because in building the Internet, and doing all the sort of "progressive" projects out there (like, say, "Global Voices,) nobody gasped and said, "OMG Lesotho doesn't have Internet connection." They work so that it can be had. They don't say, oh, it's a hopelessl bourgeous thing.

Virtual worlds make the leftist "progressive" so much more guilty, I suppose the graphic card is just that much more expensive, or the bandwidth just that more demanding. But people from Brazil, Poland, Russia, etc. don't sit around moping about their third-world status or lack of income because the more entrepreneurial ones see it as a place where skills, or easy aquiring of skills, can get you advantages. So I simply ignore all the poor mouthing of all the would-be "third world protectors" in the U.S. and Europe who find virtual worlds as just so much bourgeois excess -- people from Africa simply walk around them and do projects anyway, and thank God for it.

I don't think any valuable perspectives are somehow blocked or precluded from Second Life over the high technical requirements. Good Lord, there have been so many people wringing their hands over just this issue, including yourself (!) that it isn't the issue some imagine. There is nothing to preclude do-gooders from using Second Life for free, or merely $25 US a month, and hook up even to an African or Asian village if they like and bring forth the perspectives they feel are absent, just as they do with the Internet, even if people cannot log-on.

I'll take a look at the Ning videos, thanks for the link.

I think you're setting the bar too high asking for YouTube responses. I myself am a member in good standing of bourgeois first-worldly affluence, am I not, even at my modest level? And yet I don't have a good webcam and video display hook-up, it's too expensive, and too hard.

I'm glad you can appreciate my blog. As you can imagine, I'm not Carnegie Council material. I'm happy to play "Understanding Islam," but I want to play it with Muslims who want to understand the West, too. And where are they? You would think I wouldn't have to look far or hook up to a virtual world to do that, as I find plenty of them who have fled or emigrated to the United States because of awful conditions in their homelands.

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