Harjo: The 2007 Mantle of Shame Awards

"This year has been filled with so many acts worthy of a place on the Mantle of Shame that there simply isn't room for all the deserving. But don't think that the anti-Indian wingnut writers or Team Abramoff didn't make the cut. I just can't bear to write another word about them this year. Ditto for the Mel Gibson's uber-tacky Macacalypto and Ward Churchill's bizarre ''Dances with Identities.''

Kudos to anyone who tried to do anything about anything this year, especially if you helped someone in need, stood up for Indian rights or committed resistance art. The following is for you.

The 2007 Mantle of Shame Awards

Congress and the White House - for not reauthorizing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. A very special place is reserved for Justice Department lawyers who want to exclude traditional tribal healing and the majority Native population: urban Indians.

The White House and Congress - for not enacting a cause of action to defend Native American sacred places. The Forest Service and Justice share a special place for supporting ''yellow'' snow on the San Francisco Peaks and opposing tribal traditions there.

The White House and Congress - for not clarifying the definition of ''Native American'' and returning the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to the original intent of Congress.

The Federal Communications Commission - for its Dec. 18 adoption of media-ownership rules that move toward deregulation and away from diversity, favoring big media consolidation over minority- and woman-owned broadcast outlets.

The pope - for not withdrawing the doctrine of discovery papal bulls that have wrought so much havoc on Native peoples of this hemisphere. Judges who are raining injustice on Native Americans share this award for relying on 15th-century European religious law to continue to separate Native peoples from Native lands; for penalizing Native plaintiffs for barriers and passage of time caused by others; and for ruling on the side of non-Natives who may be disturbed in the future, while disregarding the disruption and damage to Native peoples that have taken place already."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: 2007 Mantle of Shame Awards (Indian Country Today 12/21)

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