July 26, 2007

Yeagley, the phony "American Indian" victim

from the Bad Eagle journal

Today there is a great topic on the national call-in radio program Native America Calling. It is called “Don’t Speak For Us” and it’s all about the David Yeagley’s of America, and how these opportunist Indians of unverified lineage are misinforming the public on Native history and culture. While Indians are swimming around in the cosmopolitan waters of today’s American culture, the Yeagley’s are out there peeing in the pool.

NAC (Thursday, July 26, 2007) — Don’t Speak For Us: Non-Native authors, scholars, filmmakers, anthropologists, scientists, lobbyists and government officials often seize opportunities to speak on behalf of Natives. This leads to controversy over accuracy, interpretation, legitimacy, and in some cases, false representation of Native people. What consequences does this present? Our guests are John Trudell, activist/artist from the Santee Sioux Tribe and Hanay Geiogamah, a Kiowa professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
Yeagley, the anti-Indian, dishonors Americans Indians seemingly at every turn of a phrase. He claims removing so-called “Indian” mascots amounts to a modern-day cultural genocide against “Indians,” but fails to see the mascots as harmful to Native People. Yeagley wrongly argues that preserving (even “making more”) mascots is the thing to do, but again he conversely dishonors Natives as a result.

However Yeagley is simply playing “the victim” yet again; Yeagley falsely behaves as if he were personally worried that Native people will be forgotten if these inaccurate “Indian” mascots are erased. Sometimes Yeagley will argue that removing mascots will erase whatever is left of the “dying” Native cultures, but fails to point out that so-called “Indian mascots” only represent fake “Indians,” phony “Indian dances” and make-believe “Indian cultures.”

Even further, Yeagley’s false victim stance is generally meaningless for American patriotism as well, because retiring fake “Indian” mascots does not harm any portion of American culture, but only serves to improve it. Would America “fall” if all the fake “Indian” mascots were retired? No. Yeagley’s pro-mascot chatter is wholly without merit, both from an Indian standpoint and an American one.

Yeagley loves to pontificate about the taming of the West by nature of white superiority, but the facts send Yeagley’s ideas off to Neverland. To learn more about the truth of the takeover of Indian lands, I suggest a book far superior to any of Yeagley’s blear-witted ranting.
New Indians, Old Wars by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn Addressing Native American Studies' past, present, and future, the essays in New Indians, Old Wars tackle the discipline head-on, presenting a radical revision of the popular view of the American West in the process. Instead of luxuriating in its past glories or accepting the widespread historians' view of the West as a shared place, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn argues that it should be fundamentally understood as stolen.

Firmly grounded in the reality of a painful past, Cook-Lynn understands the story of the American West as teaching the political language of land theft and tyranny. She argues that to remedy this situation, Native American studies must be considered and pursued as its own discipline, rather than as a subset of history or anthropology. She makes an impassioned claim that such a shift, not merely an institutional or theoretical change, could allow Native American studies to play an important role in defending the sovereignty of indigenous nations today.