Resilience

The election and the first days of a new and controversial Presidency have captured the news and national attention. For the most part, Standing Rock has slipped to back pages and Indian media websites, even as President Trump tweets and signs executive orders demanding a speedy resumption of pipeline building. The sheer number of tweets and executive orders helps obscure this news.

Life–1973

Water problems on one reservation and a lawsuit over education on another creep into the news, but, for the most part, Indians and tribal concerns are background noise once again, caught occasionally by a local press, or by an environmental media newly awakened to Indian allies, covered regularly only in Native news outlets.

But, I would argue, now is exactly the time we should be looking at and to tribes for guidance in dealing with current social, environmental, and political issues: Indians have the kind of history and standing that might instruct us now—while reminding us of Read The Article

American Indians, water, and the public good

Later, alternate title: “First Lessons From Standing Rock”

The late historian and activist on behalf of American Indians Alvin Josephy believed that Indians in America would solve the drug problem before others figured it out. “Indians,” he said “are still capable of ‘group think,’ of thinking for the tribe rather than focusing on the individual.” Josephy also believed that Indians still had things to tell, especially about the land, because they had lived on and with it for millennia.

from Huffington Post

Standing Rock is Group Think in capital letters. It has  attracted tribal members from Indian Nations across the country, white environmentalists, and veterans of all colors, who are now joining the water protectors in force in uniform. These veterans, schooled in tribal thinking (as illustrated in Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging), and realizing that Indians have and do serve in the American military in greater numbers than any other sector of American society, are there Read The Article

Indians and Environmentalists

This before election results are in, knowing that one candidate thinks climate change is a hoax, and that neither candidate has acknowledged Indian efforts at stopping the Dakota Access pipeline—or, for that matter, having talked at all to Indians or about Indian issues and concerns.

There are three pieces in today’s New York Times that reflect advances and show the need to continue Alvin Josephy’s long-ago efforts at bringing the environmental community and Indian communities together.

The first of course is about the environmental community backing the Indians at Standing Rock in their fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline by targeting big banks that are financing the project (perfect roles for such groups). The second and third articles—and a closer look might have revealed more—were about the smog in Delhi, India, which is literally choking the population with industrial overload, and another about oil companies, that, to varying degrees and seeking to serve their own best economic self interests, Read The Article

Alvin Josephy, Cornplanter, and the Kinzua Dam

Sorry for the long time between Josephy Library blog postings. Now that kids are back in school, I plan to get back with some kind of regularity!
Did anyone hear the recent NPR interview with the Seneca Nation’s new president, Robert Odawi Porter? I had been digging through Josephy speeches and writings looking towards an anthology of his work that is still relevant today. And looking especially at articles and speeches that had to do with environmental issues. Alvin came to these concerns through Indians, of course. I remember him saying that he first learned that Peabody Coal was strip mining coal and wreaking havoc on Hopi and Navajo lands in the southwest—and went on to see the havoc that the strip mining and coal fire emissions were wreaking on everyone in the Southwest.
But back to the Seneca. The NPR interview sent me to Alvin’s December 1968 piece in American Heritage Magazine, “Cornplanter Can You Swim,” republished in
Read The Article

Josephy, Indians, and the Environment

This is from the transcript of an interview that Jack Loeffler did with Alvin in August 1995, File 3, page 37, 38, 40 in the Josephy Library at Fishtrap archives.

Several times in the interview Alvin refers to subjects that he will or will not address in his memoir (A Walk Toward Oregon, published in 2000). Here he describes his conversion from being a “pro-development guy,” who wanted to see the West–the “other half of the country”– developed as the East had been, to seeing the country in an ecologically sounder and more sustainable way. You have to read A Walk Toward Oregon and know something of his extensive work on Indians to get the whole picture, but here is the shorthand: companies and government agencies were screwing the Indians–and oh, they were screwing a lot of other people too in the name of development and profit. At least some environmentalists were taking a longer view of things, Read The Article