Mabel McKay

The Life and Work of Mabel McKay

The Autry’s first-ever solo show dedicated to a Native American woman’s life and work. Mabel McKay (1907–1993), a Long Valley Cache Creek Pomo woman from Northern California, represents a fascinating modern figure who maintained traditional ways. McKay is celebrated not only as a master basketweaver, but also for her many roles as traditional healer, advocate for her community and the environment, and teacher who shared her knowledge of Pomo traditions worldwide.

Widely considered to be one of the greatest California basketweavers of all time, McKay’s masterworks are highlights of the exhibition. A homey tableau reproduces McKay’s work environment, and other personal items in the exhibition include her deerskin dress, doctoring suitcase, and the lunch box she carried to her job at a cannery. The exhibition also reveals the “Life of a Basket,” introducing the many stages of cultivation, harvesting, and processing necessary to prepare materials, as well as a variety of weaving techniques used in Pomo basketry. Punctuating this section is a dramatic wall of over 50 Pomo baskets, including examples incorporating feathers, shells, and beads. Across from the wall, a selection of some of the world’s tiniest baskets—several the size of a kernel of corn—are displayed and reproduced on a video screen for up-close observation.

As explored through more than 200 cultural materials and original multimedia storytelling, McKay credited her weaving talent to her relationship with the Spirit, and she shared her healing practice with both Native and non-Native patients. She also lectured widely on Pomo traditions, and the exhibition features examples of Pomo material culture, as well artworks from fellow California Indian artists Harry Fonseca, Frank LaPena, and Dugan Aguilar. The exhibition marks McKay’s political activism with installations on the American Indian Movement occupation of Alcatraz and protests against the Warm Springs Dam on Lake Sonoma, which flooded grasslands used for basket-making.

The Autry

The Autry

December 9th, 2016
CHRISTINA FORRER

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Feet of The Devil, 2016
Cotton, wool, silk, and rayon
20 1/2 x 57 inches

Through December 17, 2016

Grice Bench

December 9th, 2016
Jennifer Rochlin | Faint Heart

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Somewhere Midnight, 2016
Ceramic and Glaze
14 1/2 X 12 inches

Opening Reception Sunday: December 4. 2:30 – 4:30 PM

South Willard Shop Exhibit

November 30th, 2016
BOOK SIGNING FOR NICHOLAS GOTTLUND AND RICKY SWALLOW

SAT DEC 3RD 3PM-5PM- SOUTH WILLARD

During the signing the artists will display a selection of ephemera from their respective collections- a gesture extending from ongoing enthusiasm and exchange of printed matter between the two.

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Nicholas Gottlund, Holding the Frame

Four color offset printing.
Foil stamped soft cover.
9.75 x 11.25 inches, 208 pages.
Ota-bind lay-flat binding.
Designed by the artist.
Published by Lodret Vandret & Gottlund.
Edition of 500.
Special edition of 10.
2016

Holding the Frame presents an accumulation of work including his Beholder and Spanner series as well as the ad hoc tools of the print studio. In addition to his photographs and sculptural works Gottlund has contributed an experimental text which is hacked, ripped and pieced together from other artist’s writings, design manuals, book reviews and press releases.

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Ricky Swallow, SKEWS+

Off-set printing in B/W and color.
250 white, 250 black foil stamped covers.
7.5 X 10 inches, 44 pages.
Designed by Nicholas Gottlund.
Photography by Fredrik Nilsen.
Published by CANYON RATS.
Printed at typecraft in Pasadena.
2016

SKEWS+ collates a visual inventory of Swallow’s bronze sculptures from 2015, most of which were exhibited together as the exhibition /SKEWS/ at David Kordansky Gallery last fall. The pacing and simplicity of the publiation seek to ground the objects in print as a sympathetic material record to the experienced sculptures. Somewhere in this shrink wrapped volume are two CANYON RATS bumper stickers designed by Sun An and Nick Gottlund.

November 29th, 2016
No we can’t just get along

By Charles M. Blow
NY Times Published:
November 23, 2016

Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported, Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an “open mind” on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can’t simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never — never — forget that.

As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio, the slime factor was overwhelming.

After a campaign of bashing The Times relentlessly, in the face of the actual journalists, he tempered his whining with flattery.

At one point he said:

“I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.”

He ended the meeting by saying:

“I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along well.”

I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.

You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.

I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty.

You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies “destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.” You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushrooms in a marsh.

You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes.

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth.

It’s not that I don’t believe that people can change and grow. They can. But real growth comes from the accepting of responsibility and repenting of culpability. Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.

I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.

November 28th, 2016
Closed for Black Friday

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We will reopen Saturday

November 23rd, 2016
Thomas piketty: we must rethink globalization or trumpism will prevail

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‘The abandoned and decaying manufacturing plant of Packard Motor Car in Detroit, Michigan’ Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

The Guardian Published:
Wednesday 16 November 2016
By Thomas Piketty

Rust-belt romantics don’t get it: the middle class is being wiped out too

Let it be said at once: Trump’s victory is primarily due to the explosion in economic and geographic inequality in the United States over several decades and the inability of successive governments to deal with this.

Both the Clinton and the Obama administrations frequently went along with the market liberalization launched under Reagan and both Bush presidencies. At times they even outdid them: the financial and commercial deregulation carried out under Clinton is an example. What sealed the deal, though, was the suspicion that the Democrats were too close to Wall Street – and the inability of the Democratic media elite to learn the lessons from the Sanders vote.

Hillary won the popular vote by a whisker (60.1 million votes as against 59.8 million for Trump, out of a total adult population of 240 million), but the participation of the youngest and the lowest income groups was much too low to enable key states to be won.

The tragedy is that Trump’s program will only strengthen the trend towards inequality. He intends to abolish the health insurance laboriously granted to low-paid workers under Obama and to set the country on a headlong course into fiscal dumping, with a reduction from 35% to 15% in the rate of federal tax on corporation profits, whereas to date the United States had resisted this trend, already witnessed in Europe
In addition, the increasing role of ethnicity in American politics does not bode well for the future if new compromises are not found. In the United States, 60% of the white majority votes for one party while over 70% of the minorities vote for the other. In addition to this, the majority is on the verge of losing its numerical advantage (70% of the votes cast in 2016, as compared with 80% in 2000 and 50% forecast in 2040).

The main lesson for Europe and the world is clear: as a matter of urgency, globalization must be fundamentally re-oriented. The main challenges of our times are the rise in inequality and global warming. We must therefore implement international treaties enabling us to respond to these challenges and to promote a model for fair and sustainable development.

Agreements of a new type can, if necessary, include measures aimed at facilitating these exchanges. But the question of liberalizing trade should no longer be the main focus. Trade must once again become a means in the service of higher ends. It never should have become anything other than that.

There should be no more signing of international agreements that reduce customs duties and other commercial barriers without including quantified and binding measures to combat fiscal and climate dumping in those same treaties. For example, there could be common minimum rates of corporation tax and targets for carbon emissions which can be verified and sanctioned. It is no longer possible to negotiate trade treaties for free trade with nothing in exchange.

From this point of view, Ceta, the EU-Canada free trade deal, should be rejected. It is a treaty which belongs to another age. This strictly commercial treaty contains absolutely no restrictive measures concerning fiscal or climate issues. It does, however, contain a considerable reference to the “protection of investors”. This enables multinationals to sue states under private arbitration courts, bypassing the public tribunals available to one and all.

The legal supervision proposed is clearly inadequate, in particular concerning the key question of the remuneration of the arbitrators-cum-referees and will lead to all sorts of abuses. At the very time when American legal imperialism is gaining in strength and imposing its rules and its dues on our companies, this decline in public justice is an aberration. The priority, on the contrary, should be the construction of strong public authorities, with the creation of a prosecutor, including a European state prosecutor, capable of enforcing their decisions.

The Paris Accords had a purely theoretical aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. This would, for example, require the oil found in the tar sands in Alberta to be left in the ground. But Canada has just started mining there again. So what sense is there in signing this agreement and then, only a few months later, signing a highly restrictive commercial treaty without a single mention of this question?

A balanced treaty between Canada and Europe, aimed at promoting a partnership for fair and sustainable development, should begin by specifying the emission targets of each signatory and the practical commitments to achieve these.

In matters of fiscal dumping and minimum rates of taxation on corporation profits, this would obviously mean a complete paradigm change for Europe, which was constructed as a free trade area with no common fiscal policy. This change is essential. What sense is there in agreeing on a common fiscal policy (which is the one area in which Europe has achieved some progress for the moment) if each country can then fix a near-zero rate and attract all the major company headquarters?

TTIP was defeated by activists – Trump just exploited public anger over it

It is time to change the political discourse on globalization: trade is a good thing, but fair and sustainable development also demands public services, infrastructure, health and education systems. In turn, these themselves demand fair taxation systems. If we fail to deliver these, Trumpism will prevail.

November 16th, 2016
Paul thek

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Paul Thek, Untitled (Ferocious), 1971, Glass, steel, plasticine and dried flowers and foliage, 12 1/4 x 19 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches

November 12, 2016 – January 7, 2017

Hannah Hoffman

November 13th, 2016
Bernie sanders: Where the Democrats Go From Here

By BERNIE SANDERS
NY Times: NOVEMBER 11, 2016

Millions of Americans registered a protest vote on Tuesday, expressing their fierce opposition to an economic and political system that puts wealthy and corporate interests over their own. I strongly supported Hillary Clinton, campaigned hard on her behalf, and believed she was the right choice on Election Day. But Donald J. Trump won the White House because his campaign rhetoric successfully tapped into a very real and justified anger, an anger that many traditional Democrats feel.

I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.

Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans. Over the last 30 years, too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses. They work longer hours for lower wages as they see decent paying jobs go to China, Mexico or some other low-wage country. They are tired of having chief executives make 300 times what they do, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. Many of their once beautiful rural towns have depopulated, their downtown stores are shuttered, and their kids are leaving home because there are no jobs — all while corporations suck the wealth out of their communities and stuff them into offshore accounts.

Working Americans can’t afford decent, quality child care for their children. They can’t send their kids to college, and they have nothing in the bank as they head into retirement. In many parts of the country they can’t find affordable housing, and they find the cost of health insurance much too high. Too many families exist in despair as drugs, alcohol and suicide cut life short for a growing number of people.

President-elect Trump is right: The American people want change. But what kind of change will he be offering them? Will he have the courage to stand up to the most powerful people in this country who are responsible for the economic pain that so many working families feel, or will he turn the anger of the majority against minorities, immigrants, the poor and the helpless?

Will he have the courage to stand up to Wall Street, work to break up the “too big to fail” financial institutions and demand that big banks invest in small businesses and create jobs in rural America and inner cities? Or, will he appoint another Wall Street banker to run the Treasury Department and continue business as usual? Will he, as he promised during the campaign, really take on the pharmaceutical industry and lower the price of prescription drugs?

I am deeply distressed to hear stories of Americans being intimidated and harassed in the wake of Mr. Trump’s victory, and I hear the cries of families who are living in fear of being torn apart. We have come too far as a country in combating discrimination. We are not going back. Rest assured, there is no compromise on racism, bigotry, xenophobia and sexism. We will fight it in all its forms, whenever and wherever it re-emerges.

I will keep an open mind to see what ideas Mr. Trump offers and when and how we can work together. Having lost the nationwide popular vote, however, he would do well to heed the views of progressives. If the president-elect is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families, I’m going to present some very real opportunities for him to earn my support.

Let’s rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of well-paying jobs. Let’s raise the minimum wage to a living wage, help students afford to go to college, provide paid family and medical leave and expand Social Security. Let’s reform an economic system that enables billionaires like Mr. Trump not to pay a nickel in federal income taxes. And most important, let’s end the ability of wealthy campaign contributors to buy elections.

In the coming days, I will also provide a series of reforms to reinvigorate the Democratic Party. I believe strongly that the party must break loose from its corporate establishment ties and, once again, become a grass-roots party of working people, the elderly and the poor. We must open the doors of the party to welcome in the idealism and energy of young people and all Americans who are fighting for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We must have the courage to take on the greed and power of Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.

When my presidential campaign came to an end, I pledged to my supporters that the political revolution would continue. And now, more than ever, that must happen. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. When we stand together and don’t let demagogues divide us up by race, gender or national origin, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We must go forward, not backward.

Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, was a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

November 12th, 2016
Vince deloria Jr.

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link to film

Thanks to Dewey Nelson

November 10th, 2016
Life on the pine ridge reservation

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The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which encompasses more than 2.8 million acres, was established in 1889 [Patrick Strickland/Al Jazeera]

By Patrick Strickland
Al Jazeara November 2, 2016

Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, United States – Donald Morrison’s one-room home, hidden behind a row of trees, can only be reached via a half-kilometre dirt path.

He lives on his family’s ancestral land. His uncle’s and brother’s trailer homes are nearby. Donald’s yard is dotted with rusting automobiles – decaying and half-dismembered, excavated for car parts.

A few metres from the wooden steps leading to his front door sits the decrepit structure – made from a pop-up trailer, scrap wood and tarps – that he lived in for two decades before the local charity Families Working Together built him a tiny home in 2011.

Donald, 60, has lived on his family’s land his whole life. Time passes slowly in his corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation, and at no point in his six decades have local authorities connected his family’s miniature community of shacks and trailers to the reservation’s electricity grid or provided them with running water.

They use car batteries and generators for a few hours of electricity a day, and Donald heats up a five-gallon bucket of water on a wood stove to bathe and wash his clothes a few times a week.

The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which encompasses more than 2.8 million acres, was established in 1889 as Camp 334 for indigenous prisoners of war as white colonists pressed westward across the North American continent.

It is home to the Oglala Lakota, a tribe that is part of the Sioux people.

Much like Native American reservations across the United States, the 38,000-person indigenous community is disconnected from the state’s economic lifelines and untouched by development.

Among the most impoverished of these reservations, Pine Ridge is plagued by an 80 to 90 percent unemployment rate with a median individual income of $4,000 a year, according to the Re-Member nonprofit organisation’s 2007 statistics.

The US Census Bureau’s 2014 study found that more than 52 percent of residents in Oglala Lakota, the largest of Pine Ridge’s three counties, lived below the poverty line.

Against this backdrop of poverty and joblessness, public health has suffered, according to Re-Member. More than 80 percent of residents suffer from alcoholism. A quarter of children are born with foetal alcohol syndrome or similar conditions. Life expectancy – 48 years for men, 52 for women – is the second-lowest in the western hemisphere, behind only the Caribbean country Haiti

The tuberculosis and diabetes rates are eight times the national averages, while the cervical cancer rate is five times more than the US average.

On a bright but chilly afternoon in late October, Donald walks through his yard, past the outhouse, around the old rusting sedan his dog is chained to, and arrives at the bundle of firewood he chopped earlier in the week. He moves some inside his home and emerges after a few moments.

A bundle of wires connects the battery of his Ford pickup truck to a rumbling generator on his porch. This source of electricity allows him to watch a few hours of television each night before bed.

Donald and his siblings never attended school. And while he understands a good amount of English, he never learned to fluently speak any language other than his mother tongue, Lakota.

Although Channels Five, Nine and Twelve broadcasted the highly publicised presidential debates between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump, Donald explains that he was only able to watch the highlights on the news.

“It doesn’t really make a difference to us here,” he says of the forthcoming elections.

With neither Trump nor Clinton speaking to their specific needs, many Pine Ridge residents say they have been forgotten by mainstream society, abandoned by politicians and neglected by state institutions.

After years of pleading with the local tribal government – which administers the reservation on a semi-autonomous basis – and county authorities for running water and electricity, Donald resigned himself to spending his remaining years without either. “I eventually gave up,” he recalls. “They just say they can’t help me. It’s a waste of time.”

Donald and his 67-year-old brother Roland, who lives in a trailer home a five-minute walk over the subtle hills that bisect their family’s land, survive the first two weeks of each month on food stamps.

During the second half of each month, they get by on canned meat and ramen noodles donated by charities and locals. When the donations aren’t enough and they have enough gas money between them to make the 48-kilometre drive to the nearest town, they get boxes of scrap meat from a meat processing facility.

Roland left the reservation for the first time in his life in April, when he was airlifted to a hospital in Rapid City for an emergency surgery after he slipped in the snow and shattered his hip while chopping firewood.

Only able to move with the help of a walker, Roland, who wears a dirt-covered jacket and repeatedly pulls up his oversized jeans as they sag from his waist, says he will never be able to pay the $2,000 in medical bills through the small amounts of cash he gets doing odd jobs for neighbours and ranchers. “I can’t work until the spring now,” he says.

Roland went to a voter registration booth in town last month to get free coffee, but the brothers say neither of them intend to vote on November 8.

The office of John Yellowbird Steele, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe authorities in Pine Ridge, did not return Al Jazeera’s numerous calls for a comment on this article.

The tribal government exercises jurisdiction over crimes committed by tribal members and other indigenous people on the reservation. Over the years, however, federal authorities have reduced tribal sovereignty on Native American reservations through various pieces of legislation

‘Intense conditions of colonialism’

More than 5.1 million people in the US identify as fully or partially Native American or Alaska Native, according to the US Census Bureau. Up to 2.5 million identify as fully indigenous Native American or Alaska Native. Of that total, more than half do not live on reservations.

Despite widely varying conditions in indigenous communities, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs estimates that “per capita income in Indian areas is about half that of the US average, and the poverty rate is around three times higher”.

Reservations, including Pine Ridge, also exercise varying degrees of semi-sovereignty under the US federal government.

Nick Estes, a University of New Mexico PhD candidate whose research focuses on indigenous history and decolonisation, argues that the persistent problems stemming from Pine Ridge’s intergenerational poverty are rooted in America’s colonial history.

Misunderstanding the ways in which Native bodies are made poor and [are] criminalised makes it impossible to understand the structure of settler colonialism as a precondition for that poverty

Clinton, Trump and the rest of the American political establishment are incapable of providing lasting solutions for the Lakota of Pine Ridge or the rest of the 566 federally recognised tribal entities in the US, he says.

The present-day poverty gripping many indigenous communities – on and off reservations – is firmly rooted in the historical laundry list of massacres, ethnic cleansing, land theft and broken treaties endured by indigenous people in North America, says Estes. “The fact is that Natives are poor not because they failed at civilisation. Before colonisers came we were not considered poor. We had plenty,” he argues.

On December 29, 1890, the US army carried out one of the bloodiest massacres inflicted on indigenous people in North America at Wounded Knee, where soldiers killed between 150 and 300 Lakota led by Chief Spotted Elk (also known as Chief Big Foot) for defying the reservation borders imposed on them by American authorities.

Civilians were subsequently hired to dump the bodies in a mass grave.

More than 100,000 indigenous people were forced to attend Christian boarding schools that started with President Ulysses Grant’s 1869 Peace Policy and continued throughout the late 20th Century.

Separated from their families, children in these schools “experienced a devastating litany of abuses, from forced assimilation and grueling labour to widespread sexual and physical abuse”, recounts a 2007 Amnesty International examination.

In 1973 on Pine Ridge, around 200 members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a civil rights organisation founded in 1968, and Oglala Lakota activists occupied Wounded Knee to protest against a political crackdown by tribal president Dick Wilson.

Wilson, who had created a private militia to suppress dissidents, was backed by US law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The activists demanded that Wilson resign and the US government respect treaties.

After a 71-day stand-off with law enforcement, the activists ended the occupation without securing Wilson’s resignation. Dozens of the tribal government’s opponents were killed in the subsequent years and the US government refused to interfere, arguing that it could not force the autocratic leader to step down.

In 1977, AIM activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for allegedly killing two FBI agents in Oglala, a town on Pine Ridge, two years earlier. Amnesty International and other rights groups have cited “concerns about the fairness” of his trial and conviction, and many activists consider Peltier a political prisoner.

“Misunderstanding the ways in which Native bodies are made poor and [are] criminalised makes it impossible to understand the structure of settler colonialism as a precondition for that poverty,” Estes says.

Citing “the intense conditions of colonialism”, Estes links this history to present-day poverty, as well as increased rates of police killings and incarceration. “It’s not just something [that happened] in the past. You can’t heal from something that continually inflicts wounds upon you. The trauma is continually being inflicted.”

Children pay poverty’s price

Local teacher Cheryl Locke lives in a small wooden home, blue with a white trim, in a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill in the Evergreen neighbourhood north of Porcupine, a town situated 38 kilometres from the Pine Ridge’s primary town and namesake. She shares the two-bedroom abode with her four adult children and two small grandchildren.

Cheryl, who has been a fifth-grade teacher for more than 16 years in Pine Ridge, has witnessed generation after generation of children pay the consequences of poverty, alcoholism and rising drug use.

As she speaks, her six-year-old grandson Tyrell sits on the gray linoleum living room floor and practices tying his shoes. Hanging on the wall behind him is a painting of Sitting Bull, an indigenous chief who united the Sioux tribes in the 19th Century.

Born in nearby Wounded Knee, Cheryl moved off the reservation for university and returned to help give back to her community through counselling and teaching. Explaining that many of her students live in crowded homes with multiple families and little parental supervision, she says: “There’s overcrowding and no [study] supplies at home, or no beds. Some of them sleep on floors or wherever they can, and then they’re expected to perform 100 percent.”

During the first few years that she was a teacher, Cheryl would grow frustrated when students came to class tired and unprepared. “After a while, I understood where they’re coming from because of what their conditions were at home.”

To make matters worse, teachers like Cheryl often struggle with underfunding and a lack of school supplies, turning to nonprofit organisations for help

“Some of them – maybe their parents were out and they weren’t supervised …. Some of them get themselves up and get on the bus …. One of them mentioned [recently] that there wasn’t enough room in their house …. They said ‘There are people sleeping on the floor of the kitchen’,” she explains.

With many parents on the Pine Ridge Reservation suffering from alcoholism and a growing number of locals grappling with addictions to narcotics and stimulants, like methamphetamines, Cheryl has to play the role of social worker as well as teacher.

The hardest part of the school week, she says, is the first two days, when many students return from restless weekends.

“Thursday and Friday they dread so much – they don’t want to go home; because some of them will be going back into homes [with] drinking or they’ll be neglected and they’ll be caring for themselves,” Cheryl says, explaining that many students don’t get a proper meal beyond the school cafeteria.

Teachers on the Pine Ridge reservation struggle to find ways of providing hope to younger generations amid the lack of educational and professional opportunities. The suicide rate in the reservation is twice the national average for all ages, and four times the national average for teenagers, according to Re-Member.

Cheryl says she felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness and heartache when a former student of hers committed suicide last year. The student, who had advanced to the eighth grade, was found by her younger brother, who was in Cheryl’s class at the time.

“The student, who I’m not going to name, was a very smart girl. She was top of the class,” she remembers solemnly. “Her brother found her … it really affected him and he [later] tried to do the same thing.”

Between December 2014 and February 2015, five local youth aged between 12 and 15 committed suicide, local media reported at the time. The streak of suicides prompted tribal officials to declare a state of emergency.

Yet the suicides weren’t limited to the young.

Down the road from Cheryl’s home, her brother Darrell works on his car as a powerful gust of wind blows dust across his barren lawn.

Darrell, who survives on disability cheques from the federal government due to a leg injury that rendered him unable to work more than a decade ago, saunters across the yard and sits on a plastic lawn chair.

He unfolds a newspaper from December 2014, pointing to the front page picture of his 30-year-old son Allen, who was shot and killed by police at his home in Rapid City, where he had moved 10 years earlier to find work.

Standing with his young son Sincere, Allen wears a backwards baseball cap, a striped blue polo shirt, black jeans and beige work boots. There is a smile on Sincere’s face and an oversized shirt draped from his shoulders. “Another Native shot dead by Rapid City police,” the headline reads.

“Allen was a working man … he loved his family,” Darrell says. “I thought I’d be the first one to go – at least before my kids. I didn’t think this would ever happen. Nothing like this. It was a big shock to me.”

The police had been called to the house by Allen’s wife, who was worried because he was intoxicated, under the influence of drugs and sitting on the kitchen floor with a knife.

A statement later released by the police claimed that Allen was holding a knife and charged the officer. Witnesses admitted that Allen had a knife.

“It’s a good day to die,” the report claims Allen said. It also described the incident as “suicide by cop” and said a toxicology report found alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamines in Allen’s system.

Cheryl Locke is a fifth grade teacher who has witnessed generation after generation deal with the consequences of poverty, alcoholism and drug use [Patrick Strickland/Al Jazeera]

‘A liquid genocide’

Along the winding roads on the outskirts of the village of Oglala, there are small neighbourhoods of a dozen or so shacks and ramshackle trailers. Many of them are federally-funded developments.

Cars pause by the side of the road and wait for a row of vehicles led by men on horseback. The men hold flags of the Oglala Lakota Nation, the American Indian Movement and Turtle Island, a name many indigenous people use when speaking of North America.

Alcohol was used as a tool of manipulation to take our lands, take our resources – they needed to keep us drunk and deluded

Olowan Martinez

Olowan Martinez sits on the back porch of her aunt’s home in Oglala, as the setting sun gradually disappears behind the hilltops.

Olowan, a 43-year-old mother of three, isn’t paying attention to the current presidential elections.

“Politicians give big words and big promises,” she says. “When it comes down to it, the people back here on these dirt roads are forgotten.”

Olowan says she struggled with alcoholism for years before eventually giving up alcohol 11 years after her mother’s death.

Alcohol has inflicted tragedy upon her family time and again. Both of her parents died of alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver. Her brother was killed by a drunk man. Her 16-year-old daughter’s boyfriend was killed by drunk driver in a head-on collision last year.

Describing alcohol as “the white man’s piss”, she argues that widespread alcohol and drug use were used to prevent indigenous people from organising politically: “Alcohol was used as a tool of manipulation to take our lands, take our resources – they needed to keep us drunk and deluded.”

Since the death of her parents, Martinez has become one of the Lakota activists leading the charge against beer stores in Whiteclay, a town on the South Dakota-Nebraska border just three kilometres from the Pine Ridge village.

Whiteclay is a single road bisecting two columns of decrepit stores, most of them shuttered. Among the closed businesses are four small beer stores that sell a combined average of 13,000 cans per day, or upwards of four million a year, according to the Alcohol Justice watchdog group. Most is believed to be smuggled into Pine Ridge, where alcohol has been banned by the tribal government.

With a population of 12, Whiteclay is actually a shell entity registered as a town, with a few small buildings and no neighbourhoods. The closest police station is located more than 30 kilometres away.

In 2013, Martinez was arrested in Whiteclay as protesters blocked off the road into town to prevent delivery trucks from taking beer to the stores. She was dealt a series of charges related to allegations of vandalism, criminal mischief and making threats. The legal proceedings are ongoing.

Citing the high rates of alcoholism and foetal alcohol syndrome, she says Whiteclay’s beer stores are creating a “liquid genocide” against the Lakota people in Pine Ridge by selling alcohol to people who suffer from intergenerational alcoholism.

“Whiteclay has been there for more than 100 years with one intention – to sell us alcohol. And that’s what it does,” she says, laying the blame for increased violence at the feet of the storeowners.

In August, Sherry Wounded Foot, a Lakota woman from Pine Ridge, drove into Whiteclay. The next morning, the 50-year-old was found beaten to the brink of death. Police suspect she was attacked and assaulted, although no officers were in Whiteclay at the time of the incident.

Wounded Foot died 12 days later. Her family worries that the mystery surrounding her death will go unsolved, according to local media.

To make matters worse, the advent of drugs, namely methamphetamines, in recent years have left Olowan horrified. Over the summer, she says she ran down dealers in her neighbourhood and nearby villages to warn them not to speak to her children. “We were going to houses and made sure they knew not to speak to my children,” she says

On October 16, Olowan’s nephew, Vinnie Brewer, was shot dead in what was believed to be a dispute over a methamphetamine deal. Several men walked up to him in the parking lot of a youth centre and opened fire, killing him on the spot.

In response to Brewer’s death, tribal police put curfews in place for those under 18 – 9.00 pm on school nights and 10pm at the weekends. There are just 24 police officers on the reservation, but an additional 20 officers have been requested from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency within the US federal government.

Speaking at a press conference following the killing, tribal president John Yellowbird Steele said: “If a person sits down here, he can connect the dots. It’s several incidents of our tribal members being murdered. And it’s all related to drugs.”

Back in her home the day after her nephew’s killing, Olowan smokes a cigarette as she speaks about his death. “I’m scared for my people. I hope we come together and start policing our own neighbourhoods,” she says.

“With the Whiteclay issue already being [present], I’m hoping there is enough awareness about saving the minds of the young people [in regards to methamphetamines].”

‘What can I do to make it better?’

Jerome High Horse, a 66-year-old from Pine Ridge’s Wanblee village, helps his elderly neighbours by standing guard outside their homes when there seems to be a peak in robberies by drug dealers and criminals.

He is a tall man with a single braid that protudes from beneath his cowboy hat. On his left forearm, he has a homemade tattoo, faded from black to grey over the past four decades: “Jethro N’ Theresa”, it reads.

Jerome sits on his porch smoking a cigar. Behind him, a horse head is painted on the sidewall of his house.

The father of seven believes that standing guard is part of his duty to create a safer environment for people already struggling with poverty and other problems.

His adult life has been split between working as an engineer off the reservation and returning home for lengthy periods to carry out charity projects.

Along with his parents and nine brothers and sisters, he grew up in a two-room shack with a dirt floor. Although he was able to pull himself out, he says the level of poverty and institutional neglect gripping the reservation makes it impossible for most people to be as lucky as he’s been.

When Jerome was a teenager, he was sent to a Christian boarding school. On the first day, he says the teachers and nuns forced the students to dip their heads in vats of chemicals.

“They took all the boys behind one of the buildings by the garage [at the school]. They dipped our head in [the tubs]. They thought, as Indians, we are lousy and have bugs,” he recalls, shaking his head

The next morning, they shaved the students’ heads. Whenever he spoke in Lakota, the nuns would slap the tops of his hands with a ruler.

“When I was 14 years old, I decided there’s got to be a better way to live; because I’ve seen the struggles, the disrepair. The thing that kept us together was [doing things like] cutting wood for the community.”

After graduating from high school and moving off the reservation, Jerome served two years, from 1970 to 1971, in the US army during the Vietnam war.

In 2010, Jerome and his wife Theresa retired and moved back to Pine Ridge. Within two years, they founded Families Working Together, a local charity to help impoverished residents of the reservation. “I asked, ‘What can I do to make it better?'” he says.

Families Working Together collects donations from around the nation, including money, food, building supplies, medicine and other necessities. They are currently building a home for a homeless father and son in Wanblee on a lot of land acquired from the tribal government.

“We are always bringing back truckloads of food and anything and everything you can think of. And we have a lot of people who don’t have electricity and water,”Jerome says. His organisation also builds tiny homes and does home repairs for people living in crumbling shanties.

“That’s how we operate. We all take care of each other. I grew up with that concept. I was always led to believe that, as Indian people, we’re going to be treated different because of who we are. If there’s one value we have, it’s to look out for each other. That way of life is a good way of life.”

Back in her home, Olowan Martinez says the Pine Ridge reservation shouldn’t be the subject of pity. “People look at our communities here on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation … and all you see is the poverty, the violence and the bad. But there’s so much good that came from here – not only for our homeland but for all indigenous nations,” she says.

“They tried to wipe us out, they stuck us on this reservation, this POW camp, and thought we’re going to die off. But this is our land. We were made from this land. So, we survive and here we are today. We’re still here.

Thanks to Dewey Nelson

November 10th, 2016
TThe fear of being unneeded

By THE DALAI LAMA and ARTHUR C. BROOKS
NY Times: NOVEMBER 4, 2016

In many ways, there has never been a better time to be alive. Violence plagues some corners of the world, and too many still live under the grip of tyrannical regimes. And although all the world’s major faiths teach love, compassion and tolerance, unthinkable violence is being perpetrated in the name of religion.

And yet, fewer among us are poor, fewer are hungry, fewer children are dying, and more men and women can read than ever before. In many countries, recognition of women’s and minority rights is now the norm. There is still much work to do, of course, but there is hope and there is progress.

How strange, then, to see such anger and great discontent in some of the world’s richest nations. In the United States, Britain and across the European Continent, people are convulsed with political frustration and anxiety about the future. Refugees and migrants clamor for the chance to live in these safe, prosperous countries, but those who already live in those promised lands report great uneasiness about their own futures that seems to border on hopelessness.

Why?

A small hint comes from interesting research about how people thrive. In one shocking experiment, researchers found that senior citizens who didn’t feel useful to others were nearly three times as likely to die prematurely as those who did feel useful. This speaks to a broader human truth: We all need to be needed.

Being “needed” does not entail selfish pride or unhealthy attachment to the worldly esteem of others. Rather, it consists of a natural human hunger to serve our fellow men and women. As the 13th-century Buddhist sages taught, “If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one’s own way.”

Virtually all the world’s major religions teach that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the center of a happy life. Scientific surveys and studies confirm shared tenets of our faiths. Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives. In Germany, people who seek to serve society are five times likelier to say they are very happy than those who do not view service as important. Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel.

This helps explain why pain and indignation are sweeping through prosperous countries. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies.

In America today, compared with 50 years ago, three times as many working-age men are completely outside the work force. This pattern is occurring throughout the developed world — and the consequences are not merely economic. Feeling superfluous is a blow to the human spirit. It leads to social isolation and emotional pain, and creates the conditions for negative emotions to take root.

What can we do to help? The first answer is not systematic. It is personal. Everyone has something valuable to share. We should start each day by consciously asking ourselves, “What can I do today to appreciate the gifts that others offer me?” We need to make sure that global brotherhood and oneness with others are not just abstract ideas that we profess, but personal commitments that we mindfully put into practice.

Each of us has the responsibility to make this a habit. But those in positions of responsibility have a special opportunity to expand inclusion and build societies that truly need everyone.

Leaders need to recognize that a compassionate society must create a wealth of opportunities for meaningful work, so that everyone who is capable of contributing can do so. A compassionate society must provide children with education and training that enriches their lives, both with greater ethical understanding and with practical skills that can lead to economic security and inner peace. A compassionate society must protect the vulnerable while ensuring that these policies do not trap people in misery and dependence.

Building such a society is no easy task. No ideology or political party holds all the answers. Misguided thinking from all sides contributes to social exclusion, so overcoming it will take innovative solutions from all sides. Indeed, what unites the two of us in friendship and collaboration is not shared politics or the same religion. It is something simpler: a shared belief in compassion, in human dignity, in the intrinsic usefulness of every person to contribute positively for a better and more meaningful world. The problems we face cut across conventional categories; so must our dialogue, and our friendships.

Many are confused and frightened to see anger and frustration sweeping like wildfire across societies that enjoy historic safety and prosperity. But their refusal to be content with physical and material security actually reveals something beautiful: a universal human hunger to be needed. Let us work together to build a society that feeds this hunger.

November 4th, 2016
Harry dodge

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Image: Harry Dodge, Mysterious Fires, 2016, video still, color, sound, 24:30 min.

Harry Dodge: The Inner Reality of Ultra-Intelligent Life

The Armory is proud to present the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles of the acclaimed, interdisciplinary artist Harry Dodge. For the past two decades, Dodge has been a pioneer in a variety of spheres, including video art, sculpture, drawing, performance, screenwriting, feature film production, and DIY queer community-making. The Inner Reality of Ultra-Intelligent Life features the premiere of two new video works made especially for the exhibition, Mysterious Fires and Big Bang (Song of the Cosmic Hobo), paired with an array of earlier work, including sculptures and drawings, which showcase the evolution of Dodge’s interests and trajectories over the past decade.

In his new video work, Mysterious Fires, Dodge plays a human-level machine intelligence being interviewed by a concerned interlocutor (played by Cay Castagnetto); the video reflects the artist’s interest in the fast-moving, ethically-charged field of robotics and machine intelligence. The conceptual, pedagogical discussion in which the two characters engage is faceted throughout by their amusing interpersonal dynamic and idiosyncratic means of verbal delivery, which extends to include other members of the filming crew, breaking the proverbial “fourth wall.” In short, while performing a script primarily concerned with the terrifying gloom of absolute instrumentality (the future of machine intelligence), the characters and crew frequently interrupt themselves with wit, affection, delight, error, flattery, and absurdity.

Through disruption and play, Mysterious Fires asks its audience to consider where fallibility, care, love, and laughter (affect) belong in a situation of absolute, super-charged intelligence—especially if intelligence is defined as the virtuosic mastery of goal-achievement. The work’s methodology also relates to contemporary conversations about the relationship between sociality and making, as crystallized in poet and critical theorist Fred Moten’s remarks: “Form is not the eradication of the informal. Form is what emerges from the informal. So, the classic example. . . . is “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye – and of course the title is already letting you know: goddamn it, something’s going on! This song emerges out of the fact that something already was going on. . . . What emerges is a form, out of something that we call informality.”

The artist appears once again in Big Bang (Song of the Cosmic Hobo), here as a low-rent automaton in an urgent quest to launch a small group of cosmic particles back into a state of pure potentiality. In this film—created via a series of in-camera edits—a cyborg (a shirtless Dodge with a Chroma key green cardboard-box robot head) purchases a particle board cabinet at IKEA and, after gloriously smashing it to bits with a sledgehammer, scatters the dust at a Grand Canyon scenic overlook. In swift order, the work invokes questions about consumerism, materiality, and the possible fecundity of dissolution or destruction.

The sculptures and drawings that accompany these video works, which stem from different points in the artist’s career, have been curated for their poetic discussion of the possibilities for moving beyond a desire for purity—primitivism, neo-Luddism—and into a state of ecstatic contamination, be it machinic, affective, or intersubjective

The Armoy

October 30th, 2016
Why Dakota is the new keystone

By BILL McKIBBEN
NY Times: October 28, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — The Native Americans who have spent the last months in peaceful protest against an oil pipeline along the banks of the Missouri are standing up for tribal rights. They’re also standing up for clean water, environmental justice and a working climate. And it’s time that everyone else joined in.

The shocking images of the National Guard destroying tepees and sweat lodges and arresting elders this week remind us that the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of the longest-running drama in American history — the United States Army versus Native Americans. In the past, it’s almost always ended horribly, and nothing we can do now will erase a history of massacres, stolen land and broken treaties. But this time, it can end differently.

Those heroes on the Standing Rock reservation, sometimes on horseback, have peacefully stood up to police dogs, pepper spray and the bizarre-looking militarized tanks and SWAT teams that are the stuff of modern policing. (Modern and old-fashioned both: The pictures of German shepherds attacking are all too reminiscent of photos from, say, Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.)

The courage of those protesters managed to move the White House enough that the government called a temporary halt to construction. But the forces that want it finished — Big Oil, and its allies in parts of the labor movement — are strong enough that the respite may be temporary.

In coming weeks, activists will respond to calls from the leaders at Standing Rock by gathering at the offices of banks funding the pipeline, and at the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, for protest and civil disobedience. Two dozen big banks have lent money to the pipeline project, even though many of them have also adopted elaborate environmental codes. As for the Corps, that’s the agency that helped “expedite” the approval of the pipeline — and must still grant the final few permits.

The vast movement of people across the country who mobilized to block fossil-fuel projects like the Keystone pipeline and Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic need to gather once more. This time, their message must be broader still.

There are at least two grounds for demanding a full environmental review of this pipeline, instead of the fast-track approvals it has received so far. The first is the obvious environmental racism of the whole project.

Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri just north of Bismarck, until people pointed out that a leak there would threaten the drinking water supply for North Dakota’s second biggest city. The solution, in keeping with American history, was obvious: make the crossing instead just above the Standing Rock reservation, where the poverty rate is nearly three times the national average. This has been like watching the start of another Flint, Mich., except with a chance to stop it.

The second is that this is precisely the kind of project that climate science tells us can no longer be tolerated. In midsummer, the Obama administration promised that henceforth there would be a climate test for new projects before they could be approved. That promise was codified in the Democratic platform approved by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which says there will be no federal approval for any project that “significantly exacerbates” global warming.

The review of the Dakota pipeline must take both cases into account.

So far, the signs are not good. There has been no word from the White House about how long the current pause will last. Now, the company building the pipeline has pushed the local authorities to remove protesters from land where construction has already desecrated indigenous burial sites, with law enforcement agents using Tasers, batons, mace and “sound cannons.”

From the Clinton campaign, there’s been simply an ugly silence, perhaps rooted in an unwillingness to cross major contributors like the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which has lashed out against the many other, larger unions that oppose the project. But that silence won’t make the issue go away: Sioux protesters erected a tepee in her Brooklyn campaign office on Thursday. If Mrs. Clinton is elected on Nov. 8, this will be the new president’s first test on environmental and human rights.

What’s happening along the Missouri is of historic consequence. That message should reverberate not just on the lonely high plains, but in our biggest cities, too. Native Americans have carried the fight, but they deserve backup from everyone with a conscience; other activists should join the protest at bank headquarters, Army Corps offices and other sites of entrenched power.

The Native Americans are the only people who have inhabited this continent in harmony with nature for centuries. Their traditional wisdom now chimes perfectly with the latest climate science. The only thing missing are the bodies of the rest of us joining in their protest. If we use them wisely, a fresh start is possible

October 28th, 2016

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October 28th, 2016
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