Sunday, February 06, 2005

They can have my bread when they pry it from my cold, cholesterol ridden fingers.

Suzan Shown Harjo is protesting frybread. Don't get me wrong, I love Harjo, she's done some really great things. Her work on the mascot issue is first rate. Great woman. But I really love frybread.

I think there's something in the native metabolism that turns goofy over sugar and carbs. Type II diabetes is twice as common amongst Indians than it is in the general population, much of which is due to the diet available to people on the rez: sugars and starches. But a lot of it is that native people seem to go goofy over sugar and carbs. My grandfather is an ice cream junkie, he'd probably sell his soul for a case of drumsticks. My big vices are Mountain Dew and blonde women. So I live the stereotype, get off my back about it. I love the sugar, and I am what is politely known as a carb junkie. Beats heroin, I guess.

Frybread isn't technically a "traditional" food, as it depends on flour which was not available in the pre-contact world, but then many things which are now more or less traditional were introduced by Europeans. Things like horses, sheep, and frybread. The popular notion seems to be that Indian cultures should somehow be frozen in amber, preserved at the precise moment Columbus made landfall. But like all cultures Indians societies are living, growing entities which are constantly changing and adapting; regalia is now made using modern fabrics, the horse has become an integral part of numerous tribes, and certainly we've had a little luck using firearms.

But really, I just love frybread.


The flaming dipstick in the White House released his budget proposals for this year. "President Bush's budget will propose slashing grants to local law enforcement agencies and cutting spending for environmental protection, American Indian schools and home-heating aid for the poor... The Bureau of Indians Affairs would be sliced by $100 million to $2.2 billion. The reduction would come almost entirely from the agency's effort to build more schools."

Good news, because it's not as if Indian schools are the worst in the nation, clearly what's needed is a cut in the funding of the most underfunded "educational" institution in the United States. Indian schools in general are desperately in need of an overhaul, or preferably razing and rebuilding. Previous analysis by the GAO indicated that BIA schools are spending more than comparable schools on facilities, but less on instruction. In spite of this disparity, in school year 1999-2000 65 percent of BIA schools were graded as being in "less than adequate condition," compared to a national average of 24 percent. In October of 2002 the backlog of unmet maintenance expenditures stood at $642 million, which was actually an improvement over the $900 million backlog in 2000.

Indian schools have been neglected for years, and the facilities now represent a disproportionate drain on available funding, which is inadequate to begin with. Previous (and long overdue) increases in funding available for construction and renovation were beginning to address the problem that many BIA run schools are not up to speed, and some are outright dangerous to students, and now we have cuts. Cuts directed at the poorest and most undereducated demographic in the United States, to fuel tax cuts for the wealthiest and most pampered.

How do Republicans stand on this issue? "I stand with the president that we need to eliminate wasteful spending and we need to look through all the programs," said House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa.

Educating Indian children = wasteful spending.

Let's just call it No White Child Left Behind.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Dave Anderson Resigning As Head of BIA

"Anderson, 52, earlier removed himself from decisions on which tribes get federal recognition, a designation that would allow them to run casinos, among other things. He also declined to be involved in Indian gambling issues to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest, given his past work in the gaming industry."

I didn't understand his excusing himself from either recognition or gaming issues, regardless of his previous experience in the gaming industry. May as well have excused himself as head of the BIA due to his previous experience as an Indian. I think this is symptomatic of the expectation of an antagonistic relationship between the BIA and tribes.