Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Native Americans on gay marriage, junk food...

Xochitl; CC Liu, Ashley Wells, (eds.) Wisdom Quarterly;; Take Two (
Cleaning, restoring, and hiking Hahamongna, sacred Tongva land, Native Los Angeles

Navajo Nation rainbow flag (dbking/

How some Natives dealt with homosexuality
It may be that gay marriage is not accepted by traditional Native Americans, like California's Chumash (ranging from Malibu to San Luis Obispo). They nevertheless found a progressive and inclusive solution to gender-bending, transsexuality, and homosexuality: "Two-spirit people."

San Francisco march (
Two-spirit is a modern umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans for gender-variant individuals within their communities.
Non-Native anthropologists have historically used the term berdaches (almost exactly like the analogous Afghan/Pashtun bacheh) for individuals who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles in First Nations and Native American tribes.
The complex social psychology of sex and the social construction of gender among Native Americans and ancient Asians can teach us a great deal to allay our unconscious sexism (GJ)
Ancient Afghans and Chinese in America
But this term has more recently fallen out of favor (in Afghanistan as well). Third and fourth gender roles historically embodied by two-spirit people include performing work and cross dressing, that is, wearing clothing associated with the other gender
Some tribes consider there to be at least four gender identities: (1) feminine men, (2) masculine men, (3) feminine women, and (4) masculine women. The presence of male two-spirits "was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples" (Brian Joseph Gilley, Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country, 2008). According to Will Roscoe, male and female two-spirits have been "documented in over 130 North America tribes, in every region of the continent" (Will Roscoe, The Zuni Man-Woman, p.5, 1991).
Transsexual and transgender Native Americans existed, and were even accepted and assimilated, before Western contact (Transgender Society/de Batz, Illinois,1735)
Banning Native American Gay Marriage
Tell Me More (
But we need gay marriage or they win!
The Navajo Nation has has prohibited same-sex marriage since 2005, when the Dine Marriage Law was passed. Now, critics are challenging that ban.  As the largest reservation in the U.S., the Navajo Nation straddles the borders of three states: New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Utah has been embroiled in its own same-sex marriage battle recently (the state halted gay marriages Monday).  But these state laws do not affect the Navajo Nation ban. Michel Martin, the excellent host of NPR's nightly Tell Me More, recently sat down with Deswood Tome, a special adviser to the president of the Navajo Nation and activist Alray Nelson of the Coalition for Navajo Equality. LISTEN

Impact of The Long Walk felt 150 years later
Laurel Morales, Fronteras Desk (Take Two, Jan. 24, 2014)
The Long Walk for Navajos and Apaches (Bosque Redondo Memorial/Shonto Begay)
Navajo Artist Shonto Begay says, “I could feel and hear the cries of the people the trail the heat the cold. I had to be deep deep inside that to try to bring out the echoes of the cries on the trail.”

January marked the 150th anniversary of what Navajo and Mescalero Apache people call "The Long Walk," similar to the forced death-march known as the "Trail of Tears."

Native American (SuperG82/flickr)
In 1864 the U.S. Army forced the Navajo and Apache to walk 400 miles from their assigned reservation in northeastern Arizona to the edge of the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico. As expected thousands died during that long, arduous journey.

These days, so many Navajos like musician Clarence Clearwater have moved off the reservation for work.

Clearwater performs on the Grand Canyon Railway -- the lone Indian among dozens of cowboys and train robbers entertaining tourists.
“I always tell people I’m there to temper the cowboys,” Clearwater said. “I’m there to give people the knowledge that there was more of the West than just cowboys.”
Clearwater retraced his great-great-great-grandfather’s footsteps 50 years ago for The Long Walk’s 100th anniversary. Along the way he learned a song about going home. LISTEN
  • A history of discrimination denying affirmative action
Native American Junk-Food Tax?
"Advocates Vow To Revive Navajo Junk-Food Tax" (AP/NPR, April 22, 2014)
This mouth-watering burger is a delicious vegan melt with baked fries (Vegan)

Don't tell anyone they're good as in healthy.
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona - Facing a high prevalence of diabetes, many American Indian tribes are returning to their roots with community and home gardens, cooking classes that incorporate traditional foods, and running programs to encourage healthy lifestyles.
The latest effort on the Navajo Nation, the country's largest reservation, is to use the tax system to spur people to ditch junk food.
Sobochesh berries (
A proposed 2 percent sales tax on chips, cookies and sodas failed Tuesday in a Tribal Council vote. But the measure still has widespread support, and advocates plan to revive it, with the hope of making the tribe one of the first governments to enact a junk-food tax.
Elected officials across the U.S. have taken aim at sugary drinks with proposed bans, size limits, tax hikes and warning labels, though their efforts have not gained widespread traction. In Mexico, lawmakers approved a junk food tax and a tax on soft drinks last year as part of that government's campaign to fight obesity.
Navajo President Ben Shelly earlier this year vetoed measures to establish a junk-food tax and eliminate the tax on fresh fruit and vegetables. At Tuesday's meeting, tribal lawmakers overturned the veto on the tax cut, but a vote to secure the junk-food tax fell short. Lawmakers voted 13-7 in favor of it, but the tax needed 16 votes to pass. More

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