Suzan Shown Harjo: Hall of Fame and Mantle of Shame for 2015

A Iroquois Nationals player tangles with one from the Canadian lacrosse team. Photo from World Indoor Lacrosse Championship / Facebook

Activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne / Muscogee Creek) presents the Hall of Fame and Mantle of Shame Awards for 2015:
FAME – Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team for winning the silver medal in the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship Games. Held every four years, this year’s top rankings in September are a repeat of the 2011 rankings: Canada took gold, the Iroquois Nationals silver and Team USA won the bronze. The competition involved over a dozen countries, whose lacrosse teams were hosted for the first time by the Haudenosaunee, Iroquois Confederacy, at Onondaga Nation, which is a few miles from Syracuse, New York. The Nationals travel to other countries with Haudenosaunee passports. Upon arrival at Onondaga this year, the other countries’ teams were granted Haudenosaunee visas.

SHAME – England and any other country that has failed to recognize the Haudenosaunee passports and papers as legitimate.

FAME – Carol Emarthle-Douglas (Northern Arapaho & Seminole) and “Culture Burdens” – her basket of 22 women in traditional outfits bearing baskets from their Native cultures, some woven into the basket, some appended to it – which won Best of Show and Best of Class in the 2015 Santa Fe Indian Market, August 21; Best of Diverse Arts winners Jamie Okuma and Sandra Okuma (Shoshone Bannock & Luiseno), Mother and Daughter, and their two-mannequin fashion installation, "The Haute Couture of the Indigenous Kind: Yesterday and Today," with detailed depictions of the evolution from traditional to contemporary dress and accessories; Best of Moving Arts winner Kyle Bell (Thloptlocco) and his “Native Evolution,” a documentary film about the portraits of Steven Grounds (Yuchi & Navajo/Seminole/Creek); all other awardees and other artists who were part of this year’s Market; Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo) painter and other artists, who produced the performance art installation at the Market’s opening preview event, featuring faces of missing and murdered Native women sprayed with red and yellow paint from vintage fire extinguishers; and Dallin Maybee (Northern Arapaho & Cattaraugus Seneca), Chief Operating Officer of the Market’s parent organization, Southwest Association of Indian Arts, whose ledger art won Best of Show in 2007, for the stellar exhibitions, participation and scope of this, the first Market produced under his direction.

SHAME – 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals for overturning the federal district court decision in the contest over the remains of Jim Thorpe. The lower court had relied on the 1990 Native American Repatriation and Graves Protection Act to rule on the side of the Sac and Fox Nation and the Thorpe sons, who want to bring Jim Thorpe home to Sac and Fox territory – where he said many times he wanted to be buried – from the roadside attraction outside of the Borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, to which his remains were sold by his widow. The appellate court applied the “absurdity doctrine” to the case and substituted its judgment for that of the U.S. Congress – which enacted NAGPRA on unanimous consent voice votes – by ignoring what the House and Senate said they intended and ruling that Congress couldn’t possibly have meant what it made law. Ignoring the 25-year history of thousands of repatriations conducted under NAGPRA, the appellate panel did not heed the amicus brief supporting the petition for rehearing and presented by former Senator and Representative Ben Nighthorse Campbell, an original sponsor of the Act and chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the panel with oversight responsibilities for NAGPRA’s implementation, who told the panel that its interpretation of congressional intent was in error and that Congress intended what it said it intended. And shame on the U.S. Supreme Court for failing to grant certiorari in the Thorpe case and for allowing such an absurd decision to stand.

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Suzan Shown Harjo: 2015 Hall of Fame / Mantle of Shame Awards (Indian Country Today 1/4)

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