Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Indian Identity


New!Does Smudging Belong in the Workplace?

Author:Toby Sawyer

This short case describes a conflict among the staff at an urban Indian center about the use of smudging in the workplace. An employee used a smudging ritual to cleanse the office after a hostile client stormed into the center and threatened his ex-wife and the staff. He was subsequently arrested. The center staff is divided about the appropriateness of using smudging in the workplace. The director must make a decision about how to handle the situation.

New!The Aftermath of Redskins Indian Mascot Decisions: What’s Next?

Author:Gary Arthur

For decades Indian mascot names have been generally regarded as stereotypical and racist. Because of the divisive nature of Native American mascots, school systems from middle school through college level have in the past and are now coming to terms with changing these names. The “Redskins” mascot name is particularly offensive. A number of high schools have dropped the Redskin mascot name, but the decisions, procedures, judgments, and residual effects of change within these school systems and communities differ. What happens after a mascot change and how this impacts communities who for many decades used these names in their school systems is an area that can be as critical as the decision to change itself.

New!What should be displayed? Native arts in museums and on the runways

Author:Melanie King

This case study considers questions of how, what, and where Indigenous arts should be displayed and the responsibility museums and other public institutions have in representing other cultures. This case will also address cultural appropriation seen in popular culture as an extension of the issues created in part by collectors of Native arts in the public and private spheres and the result of divorcing Native objects from their original context. Additionally this case will explore how objections have been met and what this indicates about changing attitudes and values.

New!Whose Story Should Be Told

Author:Barbara Leigh Smith

This case tells the story of controversial murals in a prominent federal building in the historic Federal Triangle district in Washington D.C.  American Indian employees who work in the building, which is now headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, want the murals removed, saying they perpetuate inaccurate and demeaning stereotypes of Native Americans and create a hostile work environment.  The mural dispute raises issues about the connections between government and the arts and difficult questions about leadership, public policy, stereotypes, historical integrity, civil rights, and cultural politics.  These conflicts illustrate important issues of rights vs interests and the relationship between Native concerns and the so-called “national good.”

Should Indian Sports Mascots Be Repealed?

Author:Gary Arthur

Concerns about racism, a lack of sensitivity to diversity, stereotyping, sexism, oppression, and lack of Native American entitlement make up a partial list of issues raised in connection with the use of Native American mascots. Those who support mascot use contend that these mascots praise the traditions and culture of the Native Americans. Language supporting the monitoring or banishment of Native American (NA) mascot use has been introduced in the courts, in school districts, and in at least one national athletic association. Besides the list of concerns voiced by those who oppose the use of NA mascots, the issue of indigenous peoples being entitled to identify for themselves how symbols of their culture are interpreted seems to be pivotal in dealing with this conflict, and may even be the focal point at which groups can begin to reach some type of understanding or agreement.

skwadi’lic, Board Feet, and the Cedar Tree

Author:Kurt W. Russo, PhD

This case examines the way in which cultural frames of reference influence our perspective on what constitutes real and true knowledge of nature. The case provides a description of the aboriginal landscape of the Lummi Indians of Washington State that gave rise to and sustained their unique social imaginary and lifeway. The case then examines how the Lummi Indians have worked to protect the remaining old-forests that are integral to their cultural traditions. The case brings to light two main points: 1) how values and perceptions influence the interpretation of this information by land management agencies and 2) how values and perceptions are shaped—or marginalized—by culturally determined frames of references.

Indian Interrupted: The Story of an Indigenous Man

Author:Ane Berrett

The development of a “self” is an on-going and lifetime process. This case study examines the story of a Native American man, cut off from his land, his culture and his people of origin. It explores the negotiation of his native identity through the lens of Erikson’s developmental stages and the impacts of “Indian identity interrupted.” It explores the bio-psycho-social impacts of trauma as they relate to the fracture of identity and strategies for healing.

Issues in Contemporary American Indian Art: An Iroquois Example

Author:Gail Temblay

This case examines issues that an indigenous artist faces when trying to define the direction her work might take as she leaves the university and thinks about her place in the indigenous and mainstream arts community. It deals with topics like tradition and modernity, the place of art inside and outside the indigenous community, art and tribal sovereignty, and examines the way in which two important contemporary Iroquois artists act as an example for a young artist as she questions her role as she contemplates entering the contemporary art world and choosing a graduate program to prepare herself to address issues that relate culture and art.

Indian Identity in the Arts

Author:Kuckkahn, Tina

This case examines questions relating to the issues of Indian identity within the field of Native arts, both in terms of the creation of art and Native arts administration. The case looks at the Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990 and the impact of the application of the law to Indian artists and Native arts service organizations. The question of "who is an Indian artist?" as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act has legal, cultural and community implications. The question of "what is Indian art?" has many implications for the field of indigenous art and comprises a wide range of viewpoints.