Harjo: Another ignorant bozo writes about Natives
"Sometimes someone pops out something so ignorant about Native peoples that you have to set aside your priorities and say, ''Hey, bozo, cut it out!''

Thomas Sowell provided just such a jolt with his column, ''Cultural Heritages''. He's an author/economist who became the darling of the wingnuts when they discovered he was both African-American and opposed to affirmative action.

Sowell writes that he was traveling in Navajoland and heard some ''bright and cheerful'' Navajo ''adolescent boys'' who were ''being led on a bicycle tour by a couple of white men, one of whom was apparently their teacher on the reservation.''

Sowell doesn't give the names of the Navajo boys or say anything about them, except this: ''I was surprised when someone asked them in what state Pittsburgh was located and none of them knew. Then they were offered a clue that it was in the same state as Philadelphia but they didn't know where Philadelphia was either.''

Sowell went on to speculate that the boys were ''being taught other things, things considered 'relevant' to their life and culture on the reservation.'' And he was off on a diatribe against ''multiculturalism'' and ''outsiders who want all sorts of cultures to be frozen where they are, preserved like museum exhibits'' and defined by ''historic grievances.''

Because Sowell's encounter sounded unusual, I took a survey among a dozen friends who often travel all over Navajoland. None ever happened upon this kind of scene.

The scenario of Navajo kids riding bikes with a non-Navajo teacher and another adult is not regular fare on the Navajo Reservation. And ask yourself, how often does Pittsburgh pop up in casual conversation, on or off the beaten bike trail? I'm not saying it didn't happen - I'm just saying."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Cultural heritage and family duty (Indian Country Today 6/29)

Related Stories:
Harjo: HBO buried history with 'Wounded Knee' (6/15)
Harjo: The Indian tobacco wars in the Northwest (05/25)
Harjo: Imus has a record of insulting Natives (04/27)
Harjo: On the passing of Dad, Freeland Douglas (4/13)
Harjo: Nothing honorable about 'Chief Illiniwek' (02/23)
Harjo: GOP calls Indian health care 'race-based' (02/12)
Harjo: House needs Indian Affairs Committee (1/26)
Harjo: Mel Gibson makes his own Macacalypto (1/22)
Harjo: President Ford and federal Indian policy (1/5)
Harjo: Resolve to help Native people in 2007 (1/2)
Harjo: The 2006 Mantle of Shame Awards (12/25)
Harjo: Tribal money lands in hands of anti-Indians (12/8)
Harjo: Thanks for protectors of sacred places (11/23)
Harjo: A call for change after 2006 elections (11/17)
Harjo: GOP self-destructs at an amazing rate (10/27)
Harjo: From Abramoff to Foley, Whiteman magic (10/13)
Harjo: Sen. Allen uses 'R-word' with impunity (9/29)
Harjo: Urban Indian health funding still at risk (09/08)
Harjo: Sen. 'Macaca' Allen no stranger to racial gaffes (8/31)
Harjo: Ross Swimmer still taking care of Indians (08/21)
Harjo: Good people being taken out by snakes in DC (07/21)
Harjo: Ann Coulter's failed supermodel career (06/23)
Parents, museum visit stirred Harjo's passions (6/16)
Harjo: Mascots preferred over real Indian people (6/12)
Harjo: Poarch Creeks worked against Native people (6/5)
Harjo: Indians forced to pay price for Abramoff (04/28)
Suzan Harjo: Girl-empowerment for Indian Country (04/15)
Harjo: Scientists study Ancient One but learn nothing (03/17)
Harjo: NY Times story on drugs accurate but untrue (02/27)
Harjo: Pseudo-Indians should pay for identify theft (02/10)
Harjo: Indian art world suffered severe losses (01/20)
Harjo: The Mantle of Shame Awards for 2005 (1/4)
Harjo: Indian people have no word for 'mascot' (12/9)
Harjo: My photo album of Vine Deloria Jr. (11/24)
Harjo: 'Scooter' Libby scandal and Rosa Parks (11/11)
Harjo: White man's words trump Native views (10/21)
Harjo: Native nations stand up to 'Fighting Sioux' (10/03)
Harjo: Indian people know what it's like to be uprooted (9/23)
Harjo: We can prove that Native people ate corn (08/26)
Harjo: Hanging onto mascots, toys of racism (08/12)
Harjo: Elite group wants control over dead Indians (08/05)
Harjo: O'Connor trampled on Native religious rights (07/08)
Harjo: Ruling expected any day on use of R-word (06/17)
Harjo: NCAA should ban all 'Native' imagery (05/27)
Harjo: Native people, like 'extinct' bird, survive (05/13)
Harjo: Native women aren't safe in Indian Country (04/29)
Harjo: Characteristics of the non-Indian Indians (04/08)
Churchill tells Suzan Shown Harjo: Kiss my --- (02/17)
Suzan Shown Harjo: Churchill went 'tribe-shopping' (2/11)
Anti-fry bread column stirs Indian Country passions (02/07)
Harjo: Eliminate fry bread and other 'Indian' foods (01/21)
Harjo: The 'good' Indians versus the 'hostiles' (12/17)
Harjo: Pine Ridge election about character (10/29)
Harjo: Anderson harassed Indian reporter over BIA death (07/02)