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In The Hoop

Welcome to In The Hoop, Indianz.Com's occasional column about assorted Indian issues.

Cowgirls and Indians
The Santa Fe Indian Market is known for its wheeling and dealing but one incident in particular stood out to In The Hoop.

It seems that the wife of a well-known country singer (and Santa Fe resident) tried to sweet talk an Indian artist out of his hard-earned money. After balking at the $2,000 price tag on one of his exquisite paintings, she said she'd buy the piece for $1,000.

The artist wasn't about to hand over his hours of "honest work" for a 50 percent discount, though. But I only have $1,500, pressed the wife.

The artist still wouldn't budge.

Then, she suddenly remembered her "friend" had $500, just enough to meet the artist's needs. So she handed over the cash in what she thought was a done deal.

She must have not thought the artist would actually count the cash. Because when he did, she was $100 short.

Confronted with the attempted swindle, the wife begrudgingly forked over the Ben Franklin, telling the artist how "good" he was at bargaining.

This must have been what it was like "negotiating" treaties with the United States government.

Norton Strikes Back
The recent hiring of public relations spin doctor Eric Ruff over at the Department of Interior appears to have put Gale Norton on the offensive. What else is compelling the Secretary to engage in a letter-writing campaign?

Norton and her staff -- more well known for communicating, consulting and cooperating, all in the spirit of conserving -- seem to have taken up a new C: complaining. In a letter to The Los Angeles Times this week, Norton complains that a recent article "misrepresented" the Bush administration's position on drilling on public lands.

It turns out Congress is to blame for wanting to drill lands, writes Norton. Who knew?

The letter comes on the heels of another one written by John Keys, Norton's commissioner at the Bureau of Reclamation. Keys recently directed a missive to The Washington Post, but as Mark "Who Owns Indianz.Com?" Pfeifle complains, the paper never published the letter.

"I wanted to make sure key reporters and the American people had an opportunity to read it," writes Norton's press secretary on the DOI web site.

But at least Norton and staff can claim victory since The New York Times did publish a "correction" to one of its stories. Drilling in the Great Lakes isn't part of the Bush energy plan but if it happens, he sure won't complain.

Call us cynics, but In The Hoop is waiting for the Interior to "correct" more than 100 years of mismanagement of Indian trust funds.

Where's Our Drum Group?
Speaking of Norton, she recently announced she was starting yet another one of her famed public-private partnerships by teaming up with some B-list entertainers to promote fire safety.

Included in the bunch is Wayne "Where's Pocahantas Bones?" Newton. For those who don't remember, the Vegas croonie whose tribal heritage we can't seem to remember at this time, stumped heavily for President Bush during the campaign. The fund-raising appears to have paid off.

But In The Hoop is disappointed that no drum groups are part of Norton's new effort. We were hoping for public service announcements by The Black Lodge Singers or Eyabay.

Maybe next time.

In Your Hoop
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