Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wilma Mankiller dies - leaves Trail of Triumph

Her first book, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, an autobiography, became a national bestseller. Gloria Steinem said in a review that, "As one woman's journey, Mankiller opens the heart. As the history of a people, it informs the mind. Together, it teaches us that, as long as people like Wilma Mankiller carry the flame within them, centuries of ignorance and genocide can't extinguish the human spirit." Here is the YouTube video played on Native Voices today:

In 2004, Mankiller co-authored Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women.

Washington (CNN) -- Remembering Wilma Mankiller, who died this week, isn't hard, because first of all, who can forget a name like that?
Wilma Pearl Mankiller, often had fun making fun of her name! What a perfect name. Perfect, that is, after you've won two terms as leader of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, traveled the world, acquired celebrity friends like Gloria Steinem and become one of the most famous American Indians on the planet.
[Her name was] Not so perfect in 1969, when you're 25 years old and a soon-to-be-divorced mother of two living in San Francisco. Try making a dentist appointment with a name like Mankiller or Crow Dog or Pretty Shield: half the time people would think it's a crank call and hang up on you.

But that was the least of her problems. Wilma Mankiller's biggest problem was being an Indian in 1969. We were so square, and so invisible.  (to read more:

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George Carlin speaking on the topic "Indians"

"Now the Indians...I call them Indians because that's what they are. They're Indians. There's nothing wrong with the word Indian.
First of all, it's important to know that the word Indian does not derive from Columbus mistakenly believing he had reached ' India .' India was not even called by that name in 1492; it was known as Hindustan. More likely, the word Indian comes from Columbus 's description of the people he found here. He was an Italian, and did not speak or write very good Spanish, so in his written accounts he called the Indians, 'Una gente in Dios.' A people in God. In God. In Dios. Indians. It's a perfectly noble and respectable word.
As far as calling them 'Americans' is concerned, do I even have to point out what an insult this is? ----- We steal their hemisphere, kill twenty or so million of them, destroy five hundred separate cultures, herd the survivors onto the worst land we can find, and now we want to name them after ourselves? It's appalling.
Haven't we done enough damage? Do we have to further degrade them by tagging them with the repulsive name of their conquerors? You know, you'd think it would be a fairly simple thing to come over to this continent, commit genocide, eliminate the forests, dam up the rivers, build our malls and massage parlors, sell our blenders and whoopee cushions, poison ourselves with chemicals, and let it go at that.... But no! We have to compound the insult.'...
I'm glad the Indians have gambling casinos now. It makes me happy that dimwitted white people are losing their rent money to the Indians. Maybe the Indians will get lucky and win their country back. Probably wouldn't want it. Look at what we did to it."