In today’s paper I read that President Biden reversed Trump yet again, effectively returning to a 2014 policy that forbade the use of antipersonnel landmines in all but the defense of South Korea. It seems that a lot of what Biden does reverses previous government policy. And nowhere as much—or as effectively—as with Indian affairs, where the reversals overturn decades and even centuries of American government policies.Read Rich’s Post →
This weekend “media tycoon” Byron Allen told a TV audience that he now owned the Weather Channel and intended to bid on the Denver Broncos. While the NFL is in a dispute over the lack of Black coaches in the league, Allen intends to be the first African-American owner of an NFL team. NFL rosters have, of course, long been filled with African-American players. The league is more than 60 % Black, but coaches are few, and owners none.
In another, quieter announcement this week, President Joe Biden nominated Harvard University Native American Program Executive Director Shelly C. Lowe to serve as the 12th chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up on an Arizona reservation. The National Endowment for the Humanities is our national institution that celebrates “culture.”Read Rich’s Post →
Chuck Sams, Jaime Pinkham, and Deb Haaland Federal Government appointments were my good news last week. It turns out I stopped short in my research into what is going on in the Biden Administration, and made an error regarding government agencies at the same time. Thanks first to my friend Geoff, who advises that:
“The Army Corps of Engineers is within the Department of Defense, not Interior. Mike Connor, who will be the Asst. Secretary of the Army for Civil Works after confirmation… is Native too, Taos Pueblo. Jaime [Pinkham] Acting in his position, will be one rung below him, so both Native. Bob Anderson, also Native, is the Solicitor to Secretary of Interior, a critically important position, was Senate confirmed.”
And friend Elnora caught another of my misses—Brian Newland. Read Rich’s Post →
With fires and covid raging, and the messy retreat in Afghanistan, it’s a murky time. So good news in the Department of the Interior is welcome!
Chuck Sams, enrolled on the Umatilla Reservation, where he has served in several tribal government positions and as a recent Governor Brown appointee to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, will, if confirmed, direct a National Park Service system made up of 423 national park sites throughout the United States. Among the national park sites are 63 national parks, 85 national monuments and other sites such as national battle sites and national shorelines.Read Rich’s Post →
Well, it’s kind of my horn, but mostly my friend and mentor, Alvin’s horn. And mutual friend and co-editor Marc Jaffe’s horn. And editor (Alvin’s own long-time editor) Ann Close’s horn. She steered us through the project, and then passed it on to Keith Goldsmith at Viking Penguin. So a chorus of horns—maybe a band!
The book is The Longest Trail: Writings on American Indian History, Culture, and Politics, by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., edited by Jaffe and Wandschneider. It’s in three sections, based on three concepts that Alvin drummed into us over years: First, that the standard narrative of American history has omitted Indians—they have either been sideshows or impediments to the march of Euro-American civilization, not treated as actors in the American drama, the actions, decisions, and accidents that have all gone to make us the nation we are.
Second, Indians have something to teach us still about living with the rest of creation. There were democrats and autocrats, farmers, warriors, slavers and medicine people among them, but the indigenous people of the Americas saw themselves as pieces of the universe, not its commanders.
Finally, Alvin believed that Indian survival is a kind of miracle, and that it owes to resilience and a relationship to land that, until quite recently, Euro-Americans did not even try to understand—our notion being that land is a kind of commodity, like labor and capital, that can be bought and sold quite independently of the people long rooted to it.
So we scoured Alvin’s books (many of them still in print after decades!) and we looked at pieces he had written for large publications and small, the New York Times and Idaho Yesterdays, and we nudged as many of them into the whole as we could make room for. And we got Bobbie Conner to write a foreword, and Cliff Trafzer, Jaime Pinkham, and Mark Trahant to write intros to sections—and as of today it is out in the world!
Library Journal liked it, and a bunch of “vine” readers at Amazon—whoever they are—gave it five stars, and Viking put it in their teachers’ catalog and is sending copies to Indian Studies departments as we identify them. (“Books are now available at the Josephy Center or your local bookstore.”)
I tell people that I thought Alvin was leaving me a few books to deal with, and I am indeed learning to be a librarian. But I didn’t realize at first that he left a mission too, an admonition to continue to learn and tell the Indian story. As Marc Jaffe says, after six or seven decades in the publishing business, “putting Indians into American history” is a pretty good project, one he’s delighted to pick up on in the name of our old friend and his fellow Marine, Alvin M. Josephy Jr.