November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

click image for information and poster download.

 

What’s really up with Zits? Time travel Sherman Alexie style in Flight.

Hehehehehehe. Okay, if you have no appreciation of dark humor stop reading right now and stay far away from Flight–far far away. Got it? I’m warning you. This is no sweet flight of fancy tome.  Our hero is an angry fifteen year old male of Irish and Indian origin with some serious grief and father issues–among other things. Now sit back and sip your hot tea, latte or bloody mary and think about a young man who refers to himself as Zits. If you can’t relate then it’s probably in your best interests–and mine (yes, I do fear homicidal repercussions from unhappy readers)–to go nowhere near this particular Sherman Alexie book.  That said, last night I stayed up very late reading Flight via flashlight outside on the front porch–much to the dismay of anyone who had their doors or windows open to receive my hooting laughter when I turned to page 146.  Some folks do not find boiled birdies funny–and I do understand that such minds exist. On the other hand, there are minds, such as mine and apparently Alexie’s, which find self boiled birdies absolutely hilarious–especially in the context of a potentially violent encounter between a homeless Indian man and the usual well-heeled white dude. If by some means, like using your local public library, you garner a copy of Flight you too will be in serious need of comic relief by the time you turn to page 146. Though, hopefully, you’ll have found other darkly comic things to chuckle loudly about before page 146. But you’ll also have encountered several incidents of mayhem, murder and molestation along the way.  The lives of foster children are not all filled with sugar mommies and daddies. Nor do many events in American history since 1492 recount pleasant Thanksgiving din dins between Europeans and Indigenous folks.

Ever wonder how to diffuse the building anger of teenager? Well, Sherman Alexie offers one way–history lessons of the “not me” and the “me?!” variety. Yep, direct confrontations of some dark sad truths of reality provide the fodder for the adolescent mind to chew heartily on and time travel, complete with out-of-body experiences, is the medium.  From the Battle of the Little Bighorn to the grief ridden friendly skies of a private flight instructor Alexie takes us on a journey through history. Along the way he’ll shred your heart, sew it back together without anesthesia, and then shove it back into your chest.  You’re going to need every last piece of humor to endure the operation.  If you’re not laughing when Harry Potter takes a swan dive–then you might be dead and gone. Or you’ve abandoned Alexie’s exploration of time travelling adventures as an instruction manuel. Each episode serves as a short story with ethical issues galore. FBI agent Hank Storm may not get your heartstrings trembling–but Gus, Bow Boy and Small Saint could very well lay you flat on the floor demolishing an extra-large box of kleenex–or soaking an extra-large cotton hanky.

Zits experiences violence in many forms via his out-of-body time travelling–and this makes him seriously consider his pains of loss, abandonment and identity. Children NEED fathers–preferably decent men who care about their welfare. That lacking, one must find family where one can. Sometimes the concept of ‘family’ has not a damned thing to do with genetics and biology. It’s got to do with who gives a damn.

I’ve been a fan of Alexie’s work ever since reading his collection of poems and short stories The Business of Fancydancing. Yes, there’s a film by that title too– and it’s a great film. But–it was the text that had me wanting to scream and laugh from one page to the next. Ever felt bushwhacked by a writer? Well that’s how I felt while reading The Business of Fancydancing. It was great. Disturbing at times, but great nonetheless. I will never forget the story of the man, Eve and the post office. Hell, I’ve never entered a post office since and not thought of the story. The same holds true for Flight. It will not numb or bore you to tears. Not sure you can relate yet? Okay, who has had bad acne? Raise your hands now.

The Official Website of Sherman Alexie–be forewarned–it’s a tad off kilter:  http://www.fallsapart.com/

International Indigenous Conference April 4-6, 2012, Indigenous Environmental Network News!

 

RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH: RESTORING INDIGENOUS LIFE WAYS OF RESPONSIBILITY AND RESPECT

International Indigenous Conference APRIL 4 – 6, 2012 

Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence Kansas

In April 2010, a historical moment occurred.  More than 32,000 people, including Indigenous Peoples, social movements, small farmers and some world governmental leaders, converged in Cochabamba, Bolivia for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.  Two outcomes of this conference were the Cochabamba Peoples Accord and the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. The Accord and Declaration gave voice to peoples of the world experiencing the effects of climate chaos and its many accompanying issues, including  depletion of freshwater and other natural resources and the problems of food security, poverty and environmental crises, along with the financial meltdown within the United States and globally.

During the Cochabamba world conference, President Evo Morales of Bolivia officially proposed that the United Nations adopt a declaration that recognizes that Nature or “Mother Earth” has certain inherent rights that we humans must respect and defend. The adoption by the United Nations and national and local governments of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would expand the class of holders of legally rights and would initiate a global process of transformation.

Our prophecies and teachings tell us that life on Mother Earth is in danger and is coming to a time of great transformation. As Indigenous Peoples, we are accepting the responsibility designated by our prophecies to tell the world that we must live in peace with each other and the Earth to ensure harmony within Creation.

Our Indigenous lifeways are the original “green economies.”  This is more than an abstract philosophy. Our Mother Earth is the source of life.  Water is her lifeblood.   The well-being of the natural environment predicts the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual longevity of our Peoples.   Mother Earth’s health and that of our Indigenous Peoples are intrinsically intertwined.  When our homelands are in a state of good health our Peoples are truly healthy.  This inseparable relationship must be respected for the sake of our future generations and for the well-being of the Earth herself.

Alliances are being formed, globally of Indigenous and non-indigenous groups and individuals committed to creating a system of jurisprudence that sees and treats nature and Mother Earth as a fundamental, rights bearing entity. A paradigm, that is based on Indigenous thought and philosophy needs to be forwarded which grants equal rights to nature and which honors the interrelation in all life.

This is the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st Century. How do we re-orientate the dominant industrialized societies so that they pursue human well-being in a manner that contributes to the health of our Mother Earth instead of undermining it? In other words – how do we live in harmony with Nature?

A 3 day conference has been scheduled at Haskell Indian Nations University, in Lawrence, Kansas, April 4-6, 2012 with Indigenous Peoples together from the North and Global South to learn more and to have a discourse about this Rights of Mother Earth, Rights of Nature movement.

 

We invite humanity to come together to improve our collective human behavior so that we may develop a more sustainable world.  We can preserve, protect, and fulfill our sacred duties to live with respect in this wonderful Creation.  We have the power and responsibility for change.

Tom B.K. Goldtooth

Indigenous Environmental Network

Dr. Daniel Wildcat

Haskell Indian Nation University

Click here to Print Invitation Letter (PDF)

Sponsoring Hotel: Holiday Inn, Lawrence, Kansas. Reservations at a discounted rate of $69.99 per night + tax until March 27th – BOOK NOW! Mention the Conf (+1) (785) 749 – 8932
Conference Registration Fee Includes:

Continental Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: April 4, 5, 6, 2012

Banquet, Entertainment, Printed Materials and more 

 

Community Indigenous Environmental Groups: $ 50.00          

College Faculty & Staff: $ 70.00          

Elected Tribal Officials, Federal, State and Local Governments: $110.00

Professionals (Attorneys, Allied Organizations): $150.00

Payable by Check, Cash or Money Order or Tribal Invoice


For questions and Conference Attendance Reservations contact: 

Shereena Baker 1-785-550-8592 or email: shereena_rose@hotmail.com

or

Karen Dallett 1-415-561-4522 extension 112 or email: karen@rightsofmotherearth.com

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