Saturday, December 17, 2011

We've Moved

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...But don't worry. This site will be left up for you to go back and read old posts and to share my articles with your friends. I just won't be updating this particular site anymore.

New posts on this blog are moving over to my blog on WordPress. Jazzed About Stuff will always post music on Mondays, and will try posting other stuff on Wednesdays and Fridays as well. So if you've ever found this blog interesting and you want to read more, click on this link, and subscribe for more more blog posts on the issues as well as other interesting things.


Friday, December 16, 2011

The Talk of Strange Culture

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Imagine; one day you wake up and the love of your life is gone forever. Death takes her away and leaves you with a terrible sense of grief and loneliness. You’re hearts heavy, and when you pick up the phone to call the paramedics, the FBI show up at your door.

This is the story of Steve Kurtz, an associate professor of art at the State University of New York, Buffalo. Kurtz woke to find that his wife had died in her sleep due to heart failure, but instead of being able to grieve over the sudden loss of his wife of 27 years, Kurtz’s project full of harmless Petri dishes preparing an art exhibition on genetically modified food for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was confiscated by the FBI.

Within hours of their arrival, the FBI whisked Kurtz away under the suspicion of bioterrorism, his wife’s body was confiscated for autopsy twice, and his home quarantined with his cat locked away inside without food or water.

Even now, seven years after the incident and two years after the final trial verdict, the public still doesn’t know how easily an innocent civilian behavior can become a suspicious act, how sneaky labels aren’t telling anyone what they are actually consuming, or the amount of restriction the government’s placed against the public’s first Amendment right.

It’s scary to think that this has all happened, that this situation turned into as big of an issue as it did, and that people are even frightened for being detained for sharing information and saying what’s really on their minds.

Below is a film done by Lynn Hershman-Leeson, who artistically “bends the nonfiction form to her own unconventional will” and pieces together a series of re-enactment, news clips, interviews that retell the story that everyone should have been told.

And here is the link for the updates on Mr. Kurtz’s trial.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Another Bullet in the Government’s Gun

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Here's a little something I wrote for a class. I think it's appropriate in sight of the recent passing holiday.

(Tom Toslino, Navajo, as he arrived at Carlisle and-after 3 years)

The House Concurrent Resolution 108: Another Bullet in the Government’s Gun

When one thinks of America they often think of the “American dream” and the “land of opportunity” where individuals young and old, and of every shape, color, and creed can make a name for themselves. They envision a wonderful life with all the joys and perks of a middle class standard family in a proper first world setting, but what many individuals have quickly learned throughout the existence of this mixed up melting pot of a country we call the United States is that this dream doesn’t happen for everyone, and that equality in this young country isn’t always seen. The House Concurrent Resolution 108, is really just one example of the years of scrutiny that one minority group in particular are subjected to, and it’s only one piece of the puzzle that almost killed an entire diverse culture and loaded another bullet in the government’s gun.

The House Concurrent Resolution 108 was actually passed August 1, 1953, and it declared that the U.S. Congress should enact a policy that would abolish Federal supervision over American Indian tribes. The American Indians were subjected to the same laws, privileges, and responsibilities as other U.S. citizens. The crucial point of the matter is that it actually led to the beginning of an era of termination policy, in which the federally recognized status of many Native American tribes was revoked. This “resolution” ended government responsibility to tribe members and withdrew legal protection to territory, culture, and religion. The decision opened the flood gates for states with large Indigenous populations like California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Nebraska, to do whatever they wanted to the Native Americans. But the sad fact is that this wasn’t the first time the Native Americans were mistreated and pushed around by government.

This all actually stated when the first early English settlers landed on the big hunk of rock that we now call America. The “Americanization” of the Native Americans from 1790 to 1920 was the era where these new non-native people tried to “civilize” the Indians. Unfortunately though, during the process, the helping hands from the missionaries destroyed their culture by subjecting the native people to attend their churches, study and only speak English (and on the other side of the continent, Spanish) and leave their tribal traditions behind. And it was the Dawes Act of 1887 that officially offered less of the land that they already owned to the Native Americans if they became U.S. citizens and gave up their traditions.

After the Act, ninety-three million acres of land was hashed up and redistributed, mostly going to single individuals and not the original tribes, but losing their land wasn’t their biggest problem. From the year 1857 to the year 1920, assimilation had taken children from their families, killed individuals, and nearly destroyed the Native American culture. Tribes fought in the Supreme Court during the assimilation era of 1890 to 1928, but were instead just ignored, forced to relocate in smaller sections of land, and the children taken away and locked up in boarding schools where they were taught English and were not allowed to ever use or teach their native tongue.

The assimilation continued throughout the centuries and later led to the Indian Termination policy that lasted from the mid 1940’s to the 1960’s. The termination policy was the government’s belief that the Native Americans were better off further assimilated into mainstream America. The Native American Indians ultimately were no longer exempt from federal or state taxes and, as a result, the education, health care, and economy suffered tremendously due to the lack of government funding. By 1972 there was a seventy-five percent dropout rate for the Menominee Tribe, and students who did graduate and wanted to go to college couldn’t receive any scholarships under the new laws. There was really no health care and many of the Native American people fell into poverty before constant protest and cases fought in court finally allowed the Native Americans to regain their sovereignty. But after centuries of the incessant raping of the Native American Indians culture and land no amount of sovereignty could piece back together all that they had lost after the American government shot its gun.

Works Cited
Americanization of Native Americans, Wikipedia. November 27, 2011.

Indian Termination Policy, Wikipedia. November 11, 2011.

The House Concurrent Resolution 108, Wikipedia. July 22, 2011.