Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is Becoming a Film

The film, which centers on a Spokane Indian Reservation teen who transfers to an all-white high school where the only other “Indian” is the school mascot, will mark the first known instance of a studio movie featuring a Native American protagonist. Jackman is eyeing a supporting role.

alexie

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For an industry that long has relegated Native Americans to the nefarious periphery (John Ford’s The Searchers), whitewashed them (Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in Pan) or lampooned them (Adam Sandler’s The Ridiculous 6), Part-Time Indian is a welcome change. Throughout its nearly decade-long run, the book continues to build momentum on The New York Times‘ best-seller list, hitting No. 1 for the first time in May. It remains a favorite among middle-school teachers for its realistic depictions of harsh issues including poverty and bulimia.

Alexie, who grew up on the reservation depicted in the book, is adapting the screenplay and will executive produce. He promises, “This is going to be culturally authentic.”

All this comes at a time when Native American actor and activist Myrton Running Wolf (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is petitioning SAG-AFTRA to reverse its policy of not recognizing tribal enrollment (SAG-AFTRA has maintained it is illegal to request tribal verification from potential Native American employees or show preference based on it). Read the full article | Hollywood Reporter

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We Imprint on What a Story Ought to Be

A preliminary reflection on the sad grandeur of my after-election shock allowed me the license to draw an analogy from the structure of stories: native American stories vs western fairy tales, African tales vs western didactic myths, Indian folklore, Japanese stories… The structure of these “other” stories is different than most western ones -saturated with conquest and blissful, or not so blissful, unions-. They do not consist of a single layer of reality. A structure which, disturbingly distorted on so many levels, fits our current post-election narrative -as do the plans for our future- of the “conquerors.”

An eloquent and clear comparison I just found in this article, about Japanese story structure:

Our Fairy Tales Ourselves: Storytelling
From East to West

[Kawai addressed the idea that reality is in fact slippery, in the Yubaba-Zeniba way. He writes: “Reality consists of countless layers. Only in daily life does it appear as a unity with a single layer, which will never threaten us. However, deep layers can break through to the surface before our eyes. Fairy tales have much to tell us in this regard.” What lies behind this layer of reality?

Kawai also introduces the concept of “the aesthetic solution.” In western fairy tales, Kawai notes, stories often resolve with a conquest, or with a wedding. Examples are numerous: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, etc. But in Japanese fairy tales, Kawai says, there is rarely this kind of union. Frequently, stories resolve with “an aesthetic solution.” And by aesthetic, Kawai specifically means images from nature.]

rats

 

The Eternal Greek Debt to Islam | The Abbasid Caliphate, al-Kindi and Philosophical Nuances

[European antiquity, philosophers largely wrote in Greek. Even after the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean and the demise of paganism, philosophy was strongly associated with Hellenic culture. The leading thinkers of the Roman world, such as Cicero and Seneca, were steeped in Greek literature; Cicero even went to Athens to pay homage to the home of his philosophical heroes. Tellingly, the emperor Marcus Aurelius went so far as to write his Meditations in Greek. Cicero, and later Boethius, did attempt to initiate a philosophical tradition in Latin. But during the early Middle Ages, most of Greek thought was accessible in Latin only partially and indirectly.

Elsewhere, the situation was better. In the eastern part of the Roman Empire, the Greek-speaking Byzantines could continue to read Plato and Aristotle in the original. And philosophers in the Islamic world enjoyed an extraordinary degree of access to the Hellenic intellectual heritage. In 10th-century Baghdad, readers of Arabic had about the same degree of access to Aristotle that readers of English do today.

This was thanks to a well-funded translation movement that unfolded during the Abbasid caliphate, beginning in the second half of the eighth century.]

alkindi

[Muslim intellectuals also saw resources in the Greek texts for defending, and better understanding, their own religion. One of the earliest to embrace this possibility was al-Kindī, traditionally designated as the first philosopher to write in Arabic (he died around 870CE). A well-heeled Muslim who moved in court circles, al-Kindī oversaw the activity of Christian scholars who could render Greek into Arabic. The results were mixed. The circle’s version of Aristotle’s Metaphysics can be almost incomprehensible at times (to be fair, one could say this of the Greek Metaphysics too), while their ‘translation’ of the writings of Plotinus often takes the form of a free paraphrase with new, added material.

It’s a particularly dramatic example of something that is characteristic of the Greek-Arabic translations more generally – and perhaps of all philosophical translations. Those who have themselves translated philosophy from a foreign language will know that, to attempt it, you need a deep understanding of what you are reading. Along the way, you must make difficult choices about how to render the source text into the target language, and the reader (who might not know, or not be able to access, the original version) will be at the mercy of the translator’s decisions.

Here’s my favourite example. Aristotle uses the Greek word eidos to mean both ‘form’ – as in ‘substances are made of form and matter’ – and ‘species’ – as in ‘human is a species that falls under the genus of animal’. But in Arabic, as in English, there are two different words (‘form’ is ṣūra, ‘species’ is nawʿ). As a result, the Arabic translators had to decide, every time they came across the word eidos, which of these concepts Aristotle had in mind – sometimes it was obvious, but sometimes not. The Arabic Plotinus, however, goes far beyond such necessary decisions of terminology. It makes dramatic interventions into the text, which help to bring out the relevance of Plotinus’ teaching for monotheistic theology, repurposing the Neoplatonic idea of a supreme and utterly simple first principle as the mighty Creator of the Abrahamic faiths…]

Full article here | AEON

 

Standing Rock | A Professor’s Plea to Keep this Pure, and Non-Violent | Still…

[Odysseas Elytis | Axion Esti -excerpt]

A lone swallow amidst the precious Spring,
it takes painful labor to turn the Sun,
the dead by the thousands to grind on the wheels,
and the living their blood to shed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

God, my Master Builder, You too amidst the lilacs,
God, my Master Builder, You too inhaled the scent of Resurrection

_________________________________________________________________

[In the southern heart of North Dakota, we may be witnessing the beginning of a national and international pan-Indian renewal of First Peoples, Indigenous Peoples, Native Americans. Anything that helps rebuild Indian pride, cultural confidence and a firm and solid assertion of Native American rights is a good thing for all of us, for all Americans.It is past time to bring the Two Cultures into legal and cultural parity, and to end the long train of domination by the Recent Americans over the Original Americans.

Still….]

dakotas

CLAY JENKINSON: Standing Rock — A Plea To Keep This Pure — And Non-Violent

Precedent | Federal Warrant to Recover Stolen Acoma Pueblo Ceremonial Mask Auctioned in France

ACOMA

http://www.indianz.com/News/2015/04/10/leader-of-hopi-tribe-sues-over.asp

The leader of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, Mr. Herman Honanie, and the Holocaust Art Restitution Project filed a lawsuit over the auction of sacred property in France in 2015 .The tribe tried to halt an auction last December but was rebuffed by the board of auction sales. The same board had also refused to halt a different auction of sacred property in June.”These two decisions close the door to ANY tribal group AND their members to file any cultural claims in France involving auction houses, regardless of title-related merits,”

Ori Z. Soltes, the chairman of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, said in announcing the lawsuit with Chairman Herman G. Honanie of the Hopi Tribe.The U.S. Embassy had asked authorities in France to halt both auctions in order for the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and other tribes to examine the items being sold. The diplomatic entreaties failed despite international pressure that accompanied the June sale.The Annenberg Foundation purchased some items at that auction and returned them to the Hopi Tribe, the San Carlos Apache Tribe and theWhite Mountain Apache Tribe

Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim went to France and acquired seven masks at the sale in December when a personal appeal to the the Drouot auction house failed.

Things went a bit differently for the Acoma Pueblo tribe this year.

A federal judge has granted a warrant to recover a sacred shield that was stolen from Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico.The shield was taken from the reservation sometime in the 1970s. Somehow it ended up in the hands of an auction house in France, where it was almost sold to the highest bidder in late May.”The ceremonial shield was stolen, taken and removed from the Pueblo of Acoma in the 1970s and transported in interstate and foreign commerce,” a July 20 complaint submitted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico reads. “The shield was smuggled out of the United States and taken to its current location in Paris, France.”The warrant was approved on Tuesday. It authorizes the seizure of the shield “whatever means may be appropriate.””You are, therefore, hereby commanded to arrest the Defendant Property as soon as practicable by serving a copy of this warrant on the custodian in whose possession, custody or control the property is presently found, and to use whatever means may be appropriate to protect and maintain it in your custody until further order of this court,” the warrant reads. (read the full article | Indianz.Com)

MASKS

 

Obama the Monument Maker

Wild landscapes are not the only places that have been protected by our President. Barack Obama has also pushed the National Park Service to be more multicultural in interpreting America’s past. Toward that end, he has established history-minded national monuments honoring César E. Chávez in California; Harriet Tubman in Maryland; the Stonewall Inn in New York; Belmont-Paul, home to the National Woman’s Party, in Washington, D.C.; and the Honouliuli Internment Camp, where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II. These places are reminders of the struggles for equality and dignity that have been part of the nation’s history. (The New York Times | Sunday Review | Douglas Brinkley, 8/27/2016)

[As president, Barack Obama has visited more than 30 national parks and emerged as a 21st-century Theodore Roosevelt for his protection of public lands and marine reserves. His use of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives a president unilateral authority to protect federal lands as national monuments, has enabled him to establish 23 new monuments, more than any other president, and greatly expand a few others.

On Wednesday, he set aside some 87,000 acres of federal land along the Penobscot River in north-central Maine as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The action will safeguard the wild country around the 5,267-foot Mount Katahdin, the state’s highest peak. Then, on Friday, he announced a fourfold expansion of a marine monument designated by President George W. Bush off the coast of Hawaii.]

PARKS

[In 1907, the San Francisco Bay Area businessman William Kent presented the first President Roosevelt with a 295-acre old-growth redwood grove in Marin County, Calif. Today it is Muir Woods National Monument. In 1943, the second President Roosevelt accepted a gift of 222,000 acres in western Wyoming from John D. Rockefeller Jr. The president designated the pristine valley Jackson Hole National Monument, later incorporated into Grand Teton National Park.

Only a fool would argue that the Roosevelts were wrong to have saved those scenic wonders. The same can be said of President Obama’s actions last week.

Teddy Roosevelt became the first president to use the Antiquities Act when he set aside Devils Tower in Wyoming. Two years later, he protected more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon, offering this rationale as development threatened to overrun it: “Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Since preserving Devils Tower, he and 14 of his successors have designated some 150 national monuments.]

SCORE BOARD

[Wild landscapes are not the only places that have been protected. President Obama has also pushed the National Park Service to be more multicultural in interpreting America’s past. Toward that end, he has established history-minded national monuments honoring César E. Chávez in California; Harriet Tubman in Maryland; the Stonewall Inn in New York; Belmont-Paul, home to the National Woman’s Party, in Washington, D.C.; and the Honouliuli Internment Camp, where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II. These places are reminders of the struggles for equality and dignity that have been part of the nation’s history.]

Article by Douglas Brinkley , a history professor at Rice University and the author of “Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America.”

The Potential Power of Legal Precedent… in a Global Can of Too May Worms

Destroying history is now being charged as a war crime | The Huffington Post

An Islamist fighter has pleaded guilty in the Hague for destroying parts of the fabled West African trading city of Timbuktu, in the International Criminal Court’s first case based on the destruction of cultural artifacts.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has admitted today (Aug 22) to razing all but two of the city’s 16 mausoleums as well as a mosque dating back to 1400 during a raid by Islamist radicals in 2012. Ahmad told the tribunal in the Netherlands that he regretted “the damage [his] actions have caused.”

In March, Ahmad was charged for “war crimes of intentionally directing attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion,” according to the court. “Deliberate attacks on cultural property have become actual weapons of war,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said during proceedings today.

The case also marks the first time an ICC defendant has pleaded guilty. The trial, likely to be over within a week because of Ahmad’s guilty plea, should lead to one of the ICC prosecutors’ few wins.

Of more than 30 indictments at the ICC, only three defendants have been convicted—Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Germain Katanga, and most recentlyJean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former politicians and rebel leaders from Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICC’s inconsistent track record has invited accusations that the court’s limited authority renders it ineffective.

WARCRIME

Confirmation of charges hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi | ICC | Flickr