November is Native American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2008 07:19pm | Post a Comment


The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Back in 1990, President George H.W. Bush named November National American Indian Heritage Month. The purpose of the observance is to highlight the roles America's aboriginal peoples have played in the country's history. It's kind of interesting. I'd say that the main role Natives have played in regard to American history was armed resistance and reluctant subjugation. It's kind of like Israel having a National Palestinian Heritage Month, Turkey having an Armenian History Month or Sudan having a Darfur Day.

I suppose, somewhat begrudgingly, that most Natives today have come to accept the fact that America is here to stay least until 2012. Furthermore, Natives have, in many cases, actually been supportive of America and contributed to her history, to be sure. For example, not only did many Native nations align themselves with the US and its colonial antecedents at various times, but they also served as really good trackers and proved to be natural ecologists who demonstrated their intrinsically environmentalist natures by using every part of the bison and coming up with 30 different names for snow.

                              Don't worry, I will use every part of you                                                                     Hmm... what kind of snow is this?


Now, one thing I don't get is why we're supposed to differentiate the hemisphere's various indigenous people along the present day lines of colonial-imposed boundaries. For example, why are the Uto-Aztecan-speaking Comanche and Hopi lumped in with Alaska's Aleuts and separated from their Uto-Aztecan cousins, the Aztecs, just because the latter chose to cross a then-non-existent border? It gets especially confusing when you realize that there are/were various people like the
Míkmaq, Inuit, Lingít, Niitsítapi, Cree, Algonquin, Kanienkeh, Blackfoot, Tohono O'odham and many others who lived on both sides of the future US's borders as if they weren't even there (namely, because they weren't). Though far from hegemonic, to distinguish between Canada's "First Nations" or "Aboriginal Peoples," the US's "Native American" or "American Indian" population and Latin America's "Indios" or "Pueblos Indígenas" along the lines of their colonial destructors is not only nonsensical but ignorant, at the very least, and possibly a bit racialist.

Clearly, since the presence of Mounties indicates that this is Canada, these can't be Native Americans, right?

Anyway, though the stated aim of Native American Heritage Month is to honor contributions only of the U.S.'s indigenous peoples (you know, the usual Sakajewa, Pocahontas and the Navajo Code Talkers stuff), it's not going to stop me from addressing the contributions and existence of non-U.S. Natives from the blogversation as if there's some kind of pan-Native solidarity.



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The Employee Interview Part IX: Sabrina

Posted by Miss Ess, August 17, 2007 04:36pm | Post a Comment
Almost One Year of Employment

ME:  Hi.  So Sabrina, you are a newish arrival to San Francisco.  What do you love about living here?  Why did you move here?

S:  I didn't really tell anyone I was moving out here, I just did it.  I was on a self journey and I was so done with Boston.  I've been called a hippie my whole life so I figured I might fit in here.  My parents would call me "Greenpeace" when I was a kid.  I liberated a petting zoo when I was in high school cause I was a vegan straight edge kid.  I used to be a brawler, big time.

What was the first show you went to see upon arriving  here and where was it?

It was at the Elbo Room and it was the first week I was here.  It was a metal band from Japan and I don't remember the name of them.  I had really long hair and little Lennon glasses on.

So you were really going for the hippie thing!

Dude, I was so surprised-- people were just smoking weed indoors and it was kind of ok.  It's not as acceptable there [Back East].  It's just not as open.

What's your favorite place to see a show?

Great American.  The Lipo Lounge is pretty rad.  Edinburgh [Castle] is rad because they have the fish and chips you can order from next door!

So you're not vegan anymore?  

I'm a lactose intolerant pescaterian.

I'm not a big dancer and in order for the dancing to happen for me there must be a careful balance of the right tune and the right amount of inebriation.  What music has to be playing in order to get you to dance?

I kinda can't just dance to just anything either!  It's gotta be like 90s hip hop R&B stuff or like really bad music I wouldn't listen to if I wasn't drunk but that's so fun to dance to.

What record have you listened to a billion times that you think more people should be aware of?

Ooooh.  The Owls, any of their stuff.  The self titled album is still one of my favorite records to this day.

When you are making art, what do you like to listen to?

I was listening to Alice Coltrane, Universal Consciousness when I made these earrings. [Miss Sabrina is rocking beautiful soft brown feathers from her ears.]

When you were a kid what was playing in your house?

Neil Young, straight up.  Just classic rock all day long.  My step dad and I were both really stubborn and I would always pretend that I didn't like it but he'd always catch me singing it.

When I was a kid and my parents would play Neil, my brother and I would always complain about his voice but ever since I got a bit older he's the greatest thing in the world to me.  What was the first music you heard that made you really into music?

I guess the stuff my dad listened too but there were some pretty bad bands...I was so emo, like Sunny Day Real Estate and old Modest Mouse

Yeah they got really bad when they signed to Epic.

But that stuff like Sad Sappy Sucker is so awesome.

I like Lonesome Crowded West.  What was the first concert you ever went to?

Blink 182 with their original drummer.  That's embarrassing!  It was either that or the Misfits and GWAR and my parents got so pissed cause they [GWAR] were like spitting blood on people and they read about it in the paper the next day.  I wore vinyl pants.  It's not like I wore them on a normal basis, but its like, we were going to see the Misfits and GWAR and we were in 6th grade.  Both shows were at the Palladium in Worcester.

Were you involved in the music scene when you lived in Boston?  What was it like there?

Oh yeah.  Oh my god when I was younger Boston was rad.  It was like ska punk. I had the checkerboard mini skirts and stuff and I was hella straight edge.  The Goonies were awesome.  They were straight edge and they had a song called "Kill 420" and I remember being there when they played that and I was like "Yeah! Drugs are bad!"  I would see them like twice a weekend.

Do you have a favorite local band here in the Bay Area?


What's your favorite Joanna Newsom song?

"Peach Plum Pear" makes me cry every time.

What did you think of the show in December?  I remember that you were there.

I was so there and I was heaving the entire time.  It was amazing to be so close up.  I have this hand thing and I think it's important to be able watch people's hands when they are playing an instrument like that.

Yeah I think watching her play makes it an entirely different experience.

Everyone there was crying. It was one of the most emotional shows.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

James Taylor, Greatest Hits, the first one, cause he lives on the Vineyard now [Martha's Vineyard]. I grew up with that.

What have you been listening to the last week?

Count BasieModern Lovers.  Dinosaur Jr.  The Mamas and the Papas.

What has been your best find here at Amoeba?

I found this record -- it's Southwestern Native American chants and it's really intense.

Aren't they not allowed to record that stuff?

That's why it was so cool to find a record [like that]....It was like some Museum of Natural History kind of thing.

You should listen to Mariee Sioux!  What is your favorite part of working at Amoeba?

I think it's just the people that come in and out and the people I work with and the free education I've gotten.  I've been schooled and I love it!  Everyone here is really talented and are comfortable with themselves and have introduced me to new music which has helped me figure myself out.

Thank you for your time.
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