Category Archives: AMERICAN INDIAN

Matika Wilbur’s quest to photograph & document untold stories from citizens of every federally recognized American Indian tribe

Woman taking a photoMatika Wilbur’s quest to photograph & document untold stories from citizens of every federally recognized American Indian tribe

 

By
Dr. Anthony G. Payne *
(American Indian name, “Summer Cloud”)

When I was a boy (back in the Middle Ages – 1960s) we American Indians* were portrayed on TV and the movies as hopeless drunks, savages who spoke broken English at best, rapists, turncoats, and other equally unsavory characters. Newspapers and news shows did little better with most of the stories I read or saw focused on Native crimes or poverty, mostly in a “isn’t that too bad let’s move on now” vein. As though this weren’t enough I was surrounded by plenty of white adults and children who thought nothing of tossing out racist jokes and comments about American Indians (and African Americans and Hispanics as well) without batting an eyelash. Bigotry was acceptable and in some quarters applauded.

Of course, much has changed in the intervening years if only the fact overt racism has been replaced in many quarters by subtler versions. Gone are most of the Hollywood movie stereotypes but not the notion among many that American Indians are all steeped in poverty or stone-faced in the face of suffering, past and present.

Enter photographer Matika Wilbur, a member of both the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, who decided to use her considerable artistic gifts & perspective to capture the faces of members of all the federally recognized American Indian tribes in an ambitious project she calls “562” (The number of federally recognized tribes when she began her odyssey in 2010, with more having been added since). In-a-word she wants to debunk the many false, hurtful images and stereotypes that surrounded Native American culture and society and to reassert the fact that Native peoples had not only survived centuries of marginalization, wanton cruelty and wholesale extermination but have held on to their own identities, heroes and sense of pride.

A November 23 2013 piece by NBC news had this to say about Wilbur’s mission:
One of those stereotypes is the image of Indians clad in feathers, nearly naked running across the prairie, whooping it up like what’s oft portrayed in western cinema. Also the caricature image of Indians as mascots.

With that in mind, Wilbur said the project is meant to drive conversations about the ubiquitous appropriation of Native American culture and to discuss how U.S. citizens can evolve beyond the co-opting of indigenous images and traditions.

“I hope to educate these audiences that it’s not OK to dress up like an Indian on Halloween,” she said. “I’m not a Halloween costume. I hope to encourage a new conversation of sharing and to help us move beyond the stereotypes.”

Wilbur added that she hopes her photos — her craft — will display the “beauty of (Native) people and to introduce some of our leaders to a massive audience.”

Wilbur is not, of course, the first photographer to focus on American Indians. In 1906, photographer and ethnologist Edward S. Curtis was commissioned by J.P. Morgan to go out and capture the “disappearing” race on film. Given the fact that over a century has passed since Curtis’s undertaking, Matika’s quest is not just welcome but long overdue.

Readers who’d like to invest in Matika Wilbur’s vision can do so by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matika/project-562-changing-the-way-we-see-native-america/description

* I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

© 2014 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. This update copyright 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

Living the faith is countercultural & radical

messianicjew-06

Following Messiah and living the faith authentically is countercultural & radical. One way to do so is in community as a lay monk or nun (Married or single, Catholic or non-Catholic is OK)

FYE (For Your Edification): Brother “Practicing the Presence of God” Lawrence was a lay monk.

In keeping with this:

Getting back to pre-paganized Christian beliefs & practices

Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Instrument for Global Transformation by Dr. Ed Silvoso

The Real Jesus by Rev. Bert M. Farias

 

Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote

I became a democratic socialist in 1985 because, in large part, this approach seeks to address many societal and Red_Rose_(Socialism)other ills by addressing underlying (as opposed to superficial) causes. Many of these problems and their solutions lie in redressing specific moral failings such as unbridled corporate greed, which is something democratic socialists such as Senator Bernie Sanders tackle head-on with genuinely progressive, transformative ideas and proposed legislation. And, at the heart of democratic socialism, is a sharing and “level the playing field” ethic that is consonant with core Jewish and Christian beliefs and teachings.  Luke Tomycz “cores the apple” on an article titled “Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote” which I wholeheartedly recommend you read and then share with others in your orbit: https://medium.com/@ltomycz/bernie-sanders-and-the-christian-vote-2350b31a6bbf#.94h2wp30g

Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote

 

In praise of the color blue

By

Summer Cloud

Let’s talk color. Specifically the color blue. Does this happen to be your favorite color? If so, you share this affinity with about 29% of other people (including “yours truly”) according to a 2012 poll (Click to read how blue ranks in popularity worldwide). But what does blue mean to you anyway?

The mental linkage between the word “blue” and being down or depressed aside, blue is an uplifting color in that it characterizes bodies of water (unless overrun with Styrofoam cups and pollutants or algae or such) and the skies above on a sunny day.

Scientists, of course, have found many interesting properties about blue light. For example, blue light at wavelengths of 670 and 830 nanometers ameliorates multiple sclerosis symptoms. And there is this: recently Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars captured images of a blue sunset on the red planet! (Click to access a CNN story on this phenomenon)

Read the rest of this entry

Virtual cloud watching for you

Magestic clouds (So West Texas)As a boy in Lubbock (Texas) I spent many lazy summer afternoons just lying prone on a bed of rich green grass and cloud watching (While, yes, looking for recognizable patterns or characters). I bet you did your fair share of childhood cloud watching too. If  so, you’ll appreciate this video immensely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf1P4WuQ8Lk 

And here’s a perspective-expanding book to read while you cloud watch: Faces in the Clouds by Stewart Guthrie, Ph.D.

Choctaw Doc

The 562 Project: Matika Wilbur’s ambitious project to photograph citizens from every American Indian tribe

self_portrait-Matika1

Professional photographer & fellow American Indian Matika Wilbur is busy doing something that is 100 years overdue: Photographing American Indians in ways that beautifully captures their spirit & joy & perseverance.  What she needs is funding — which you can help with by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matika/project-562-changing-the-way-we-see-native-america and giving.

Thanks heartily from “Choctaw Doc” (Dr. Anthony G. Payne – member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

My 2-17-2014 EXAMINER article on Matika and the 562 project: http://www.examiner.com/article/matika-wilbur-s-quest-to-photograph-citizens-from-every-american-indian-tribe

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