Monthly Archives

September 2013

A friend of 3 Generations shared her outrage at this photo of a Philadelphia Eagles fan brandishing a knife through an Indian man’s head, a most bizarre way to demonstrate loyalty to a football team. By any standard it is a sadistic, racist, ugly image. But how does it look and feel to a Native American?

Our friend, a member of the Lakota Nation, told us “I like football, I like the sport but this picture embarrasses me as a football fan. It pisses me off. It offends me. For any other ethnic/racial/sexual orientation group, had it been their heads sitting on that knife, there would be a tremendous uproar, and rightfully so. But since we have been de-humanized by being mascots, mainstream society says it is ok, it’s not ok”.

For her and others this is really a double whammy – an evil image and the misuse of Native American culture to create mascots. Some people argue that being a mascot is a way of honoring Native American culture, but our friend does not agree: “It’s hard to raise children to be humble, to truly have an interest in the old school culture, when they are constantly seeing pictures of Indians as mascots, how can you be proud of yourself when everyone views you as a cartoon? I’m not a cartoon, my children are not cartoons, we are human beings”.

Nor are these mascots representative of what being a Native American really is: Redman Tobacco, Fighting Sioux, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians hardly reflect real people living real lives. As she also pointed out: “I’ve never run around doing a war hoop. I don’t run around patting my mouth making noises. I often wash clothes, go to work, play board games, play with my dog, play with my cat, talk to my children, drink coffee in the morning, have deep conversations with my husband, and pray. So I ask society, why is it ok to have Indians as mascots? Is this how you really view us? Why?”

The term redskin has a murky history depending on whose version you have been taught, but it is always considered disparaging. Indeed the only context in which it is acceptable today is when referencing mascots, but acceptable to whom? Most Native Americans associate it with the 18th and 19th Century practice of bounty hunting. Under the colonial government huge bounties were offered for the scalps of Native men, women and children. They were a manifestation of a cruel and genocidal practice. “Bounties were placed on the scalps of Indians. Bounties were placed and given, for the scalps of my ancestors. Who paid for those bounties? Trappers, traders, and yes, the government”.

She finished by explaining that when she sees this picture she sees an expression of imperialism and colonialism. “Speaking up and speaking out when things like this happen, includes speaking for my relatives who were never given the opportunity to do so. We may ask for respect, but we never ask to be honored. Being honored in the real sense, is humbling, not infuriating”.

Mascots do not honor, they betray. Time to rethink the obvious.

 Sgt. Dan Steele getting "techy" with Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States and Vivian Graubard and Danica Macavoy of CGI

Sgt. Dan Steele getting “techy” with Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States and Vivian Graubard and Danica Macavoy of CGI

This week, Jane Wells and TRICKED star, Sgt. Daniel Steele, were invited to participate in the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The meeting’s theme, ‘Mobilizing For Impact’, brought together hundreds of the world’s leaders and thinkers and provided Jane and Dan with the ideal platform for them to share their work. On Tuesday, Jane participated in the ‘Storytelling: A Tool For Action’ session in which she shared 3 Generations’ efforts to utilize storytelling as a tool for both survivor healing as well as advocacy. On Wednesday, Dan spoke on the ‘Human Trafficking: Sporting Events as Opportunities for Advocacy’ panel, sharing his personal experiences fighting sex trafficking in Denver and discussing how we can combat human trafficking at the upcoming Super Bowl*. Jane wrapped things up yesterday, speaking at ‘The Myth and Promise of Data for Social Impact’ session in which she discussed 3 Generations’ efforts to coordinate cross-sector support for our film, TRICKED, and action in combating domestic sex trafficking.

Reflecting on his first experience at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting Dan feels that, “participating on the panel at C.G.I. was a truly great experience. Not only were the other panelists extremely knowledgeable and compassionate, but the audience was participative and fully engaged in the discussion. I felt honored to be included with such an impressive group.” Jane seconded Dan’s comments, adding that the most exciting thing to her at C.G.I. was, “the promise of collaboration and the heartfelt offers of members of this administration to support everyone’s efforts in fighting human trafficking.” As an organization, we’re so proud to see Jane and Dan standing alongside so many of the world’s most innovative thinkers and leaders. Their dedication, and the dedication of every other leader at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, shows not only the impact that one individual can have, but more importantly, what can come from the concerted effort of a group of dedicated leaders. Let’s pray these feelings of hope last!

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Incredible experience today in Detroit, Michigan filming the story of Holocaust survivor Mania Salinger for the upcoming documentary film Night Will Fall. The filmmakers are using a green screen and a red camera so they can place Mania alongside footage of her younger self from the liberation of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany. She was one of the survivors who greeted liberating British troops on April 15th, 1945. She was filmed by the British Army film unit and is part of my father, Sidney Bernstein’s film Memories of The Camps – the film that was never shown. Today Mania identified herself in a still from my father’s film. She told us that of all the camps she lived in during the war (including Auschwitz) Bergen-Belsen was the worst: “It was a death camp. You lived day after day waiting for a piece of bread”.

Since the conclusion of the Bosnian genocide in December of 1995, recovery has been slow and steady. Today, however, a considerable step in the path to justice was made with Aleksandar Cvetkovic’s indictment for the genocide of Srebrenica in July 1995.

Further history was made today with Holland’s Supreme Court order that the Netherlands compensate the families of three Muslim men who were expelled from the UN compound in Srebrenica and consequently killed by Bosnian Serb forces. The case opens the Netherlands up for further compensation and “sets a precedent that countries providing troops as UN peacekeepers can be held legally responsible for crimes.”

Check out the articles below.

Indictment filed for genocide in Srebrenica, World Bulletin, September 6, 2013

Netherlands to pay compensation over Srebrenica massacre, The Guardian, September 6, 2013

It has been 10 years since the genocide in Darfur began and 6 years since our director, Jane Wells, helped produce the Emmy nominated documentary, The Devil Came on Horseback, starring Nicholas Kristof and Brian Steidle. While it seems that the lull in the Darfur conflict has caused the media and general public to tire of the issue, Kristof is still at it. Reporting on Darfur, Kristof warns that the increasing reports of massacres and killings are beginning to sound all too familiar. Check out the his New York Times article below.

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