Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“It is not the big dramatic things so much that get us down, but just being Indian, trying to hang on to our way of life, language, and values while being surrounded by an alien, more powerful culture.” —Mary Crow Dog, American Indian activist

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day occurred in 1977, at a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on discrimination against indigenous populations in the Americas. But it wasn’t until 1991 that activists in Berkeley, California, convinced the Berkeley City Council to declare October 12 a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” Since then, there has been a growing movement to appropriate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. States including South Dakota, Hawaii, and Alabama (but not Colorado) have changed the holiday’s name, and many more cities have taken similar action.

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, this blogger intends to spend some quiet meditation honoring indigenous resistance and to contemplate how to best confront current injustices. For our readers, I’ve linked to some great posts and articles on the history of Christopher Columbus and on Indigenous Peoples’ Day below:

Blueness has a great post on Admiral Columbus at The Daily Kos. From the post:

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought Original Sin to the New World. The policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.…

Today,’ the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest is gone.

From Hispaniola, the Admiral and his works brought destruction too to all the native peoples of all the rest of the Americas—north, central, and south.

And to replace the falling bodies of the Taino, who died extracting gold and silver for him, the Admiral birthed the transatlantic slave trade, bringing to the New World in bondage people from the place where people were born.”

Racialicious has posted “An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters on Columbus Day,” in which Sasha Houston Brown writes:

“I doubt that you consulted the Navajo Nation about using their tribal name on sophisticated items such as the “Navajo Hipster Panty.” In fact, I recently became aware that the Navajo Nation Attorney General sent your company a cease and desist letter regarding this very issue. I stand in solidarity with the Navajo Nation and ask that you not only cease and desist selling products falsely using the Navajo name, but that you also stop selling faux Indian apparel that objectifies all tribes.

Urban Outfitters Inc. has taken Indigenous life ways and artistic expressions and trivialized and sexualized them for the sake of corporate profit. It is this kind of behavior that perpetuates the stereotype of the white man’s Indian and allows for the ongoing commodification of an entire ethnic group. Just as our traditional homelands were stolen and expropriated without regard, so too has our very cultural identity. On this day that America still celebrates as Columbus Day, I ask that do what is morally right and apologize to Indigenous peoples of North America and withdraw this offensive line from retail stores.”

There’s also a great excerpt from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States on Christopher Columbus at the Manifest Destiny blog. From the excerpt:

“When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure—there is no bloodshed—and Columbus Day is a celebration.

The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they—the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court—represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as “the United States,” subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a “national interest” represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media.”

Last year, on the Republic of Lakotah site, Glenn Morris and Russell Means did a great piece on why AIM opposes Christopher Columbus Day and Christopher Columbus celebrations. And today, the site has a great post calling out Occupy Denver and asking them to integrate Native peoples and methods into the Occupy movement. From the post:

“We have been waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever since that fateful day in October 1492, when a different worldview arrived—one of greed, hierarchy, destruction and genocide.

In observing the “Occupy Together” expansion, we are reminded that the territories of our indigenous nations have been “under occupation” for decades, if not centuries. We remind the occupants of this encampment in Denver that they are on the territories of the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Ute peoples.  In the U.S., indigenous nations were the first targets of corporate/government oppression. The landmark case of Johnson v. McIntosh(1823), which institutionalized the “doctrine of discovery” in U.S. law, and which justified the theft of 2 billion acres of indigenous territory, established a framework of corrupt political/legal/corporate collusion that continues throughout indigenous America, to the present.

If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations. Without addressing justice for indigenous peoples, there can never be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States. Toward that end, we challenge Occupy Denver to take the lead, and to be the first “Occupy” city to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland.” 

Kenya Believe It? We’re Giving Books Away!

Readers, there’s something you must know.

Don't be fooled by his scowl. Don is on the edge of his seat. He's giddy with anticipation. He can't help it that his face always looks like that. Photo Credit: AMC

You still have time to enter our Serengeti giveaway. This beautifully bound book could be yours:

Free book = victory

We’re absolutely mad (see what I did there?) about this book over here at Fulcrum. Not a day goes by without one of us cracking it open and ogling the glossy photos, and we’re so excited to share this book with our blog readers. Throwing your hat into this drawing is as easy as entering your e-mail and clicking “Sign me up!” in that e-mail subscription box in the upper right corner. And then you’ll have a chance to own a book that contains this:

This photo of a giraffe could be your new best friend.

And this:

I know. It’s just too good to pass up. What’s that you say? Is there any way you can increase your chances of winning this gorgeous photo book?

Why yes indeed.

That's more like it. Photo Credit: AMC

To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one. (You can tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook.) Overall, that’s FIVE ways to win!

The giveaway ends on September 1, so enter now.

Big ol’ Native News Roundup

It’s been a while since we last did one of these Native news roundups, and there’s lots to tell—some of it great, some of it terrible.

The Suquamish tribe legalized gay marriage. The vote was unanimous, woohoo! And how awesome is this quote from the tribal chairman: “It was an important statement, but it wasn’t one that was a real struggle to make. We really saw this as a housekeeping issue.”

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a great exhibit on race and racism in the United States. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, and I can’t wait to go this fall. This video gives a little bit of insight into what the exhibit is all about (as with all YouTube videos that don’t feature cats playing the keyboard, I would recommend that you don’t read the comments if you would like to have a nice day):

Shari Valentine at Racism Review wrote a great piece on the lack of Native American judges and elected officials.

Racialicious posted on Native American images in video games.

Native Representations in Video Games from Elizabeth Lameman on Vimeo.

The rest of the excerpted article is over at COE. In middle school, I used to play Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in the computer lab with a bunch of other dorks cool kids. It was a sad day for them when a well-meaning teacher outed me as Native (probably in an effort to spare me from the war cries and rain dances that were busted out when someone successfully made a kill), and their white fascination with a pan-Indian stereotype of a stoic warrior with a back-to-nature spirituality shriveled up and died at the feet of their scrawny, Jewish Native classmate, who got a free pass from most gym days because of a terrible allergy to freshly cut grass. And it was a sad day for me when I read the Racialicious piece and saw that nothing had changed in more than a decade.

Speaking of Racialicious, my friends and family have had a lot of fun playing around with Native representation this summer. Amusement parks are particularly great places to find awful examples of representation:

Can you tell which is the real Native? Most people can't.

The news I’m most excited about is that the upcoming feature film More Than Frybread successfully raised enough money to complete their filming. I can’t wait to see this movie! By the way, if any of our readers are wondering if an actual frybread champion exists, the answer is yes. It’s my dad.

Link love: Native American Blogs

As promised, today I’m going to share a roundup of the Native American blogs I stalk read regularly on a noncreepy basis.

Beyond Buckskin: Jessica Metcalfe’s blog on Native American fashion. She recognizes Native American fashion designers of all stripes—from high-fashion haute couture to Etsy sellers who are just beginning to make a name for themselves. This past weekend, she posted a video from Zuni Pueblo (represent!) jewelry designer Colin Coonsis, who is one of my favorites, and her blog has introduced me to a lot of new designers, like Martini Couture. She doesn’t shy away from calling out non-Native designers for appropriation either.

And speaking of appropriation, Native AppropriationsMy Culture Is Not a Trend, and Hipster Appropriations each cover Native American cultural appropriation in pop culture in their own way. Adrienne, the blogger behind Native Appropriations, covers the good and the bad with thoughtful analysis (her post on the Pendleton brand is a great example of this). My Culture Is Not a Trend dishes up examples of appropriations with a side of biting commentary (I frequently forward the post on Native jewelry). Bree and Marquita at Hipster Appropriations focus on hipster racism and yuppie culture, plus sometimes they quote Inigo Montoya.

And finally, because we’re all book nerds here,  American Indians in Children’s Literature is a fantastic source for good children’s books and scholarly critique. I started reading Debbie’s blog because she was a kindred soul, writing about the racist imagery and characterization in the Twilight books while sparklevamp fever swept the nation. I kept reading Debbie’s blog because she’s Pueblo (represent!) and she has great book recommendations.

Do you read any Native or book blogs that you love?

Spotlight on Native American Reads

Since I gushed about Every Day Is a Good Day (just reissued! You can get it here, or here!) on my last book blog, I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t also share some of oldies-but-goodies from our backlist:

This anthology is an exploration of how Christianity has touched, grabbed, and assaulted Native lifeways. This collection encompasses a wide range of stories from best-selling authors and from new voices. My favorite short story in Writing the Cross Culture is Sherman Alexie’s “Jesus Christ’s Half-Brother Is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation,” in which he issues these wise words: “books and beer are the best and worse defense.” That is some fine truth-telling.

Pagans in the Promised Land is a post-colonial analysis of US federal Indian law and policy. Author Steve Newcomb makes the case that US reliance on ancient religious distinctions between “Christians” and “heathens” violates the bedrock doctrine of separation of church and state. It’s a fine cocktail of hegemony-busting and constitutional fundamentalism, two things which usually don’t go so well together, but in this case Newcomb marries them well.

Sometimes indigenous folks crack a smile; you know, in between fighting for basic civil liberties and crying over litter. Just a little gallows humor there, dear readers. Visions for the Future is a seriously good collection of Native artists and their work. All too often, Native art is reduced to chicken-feather dreamcatchers made in China and those terrible Lee Bogle paintings (not even going to give the courtesy of a link, they’re that bad), and the truly great art being produced by actual Natives is pushed to the margins. There’s some great protest art  in this book from young native artists like Bunky Echo-Hawk and Thomas Ryan Red Corn.

Next week, I’m going to spotlight some great Native bloggers (because I know you can never get enough). Happy reading, everyone!

Heading to the NAISA Conference

Dani Perea, Fulcrum’s sales and marketing associate, is heading to Sacramento, CA tonight for the Native American Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Annual Conference, which runs May 19-21. With more than 900 members from over a dozen countries and many Indigenous nations, NAISA is a professional organization dedicated to supporting scholars and others who work in the academic field of Native American and Indigenous studies. Founded in 2008, NAISA hosts the premier annual scholarly meeting in Native studies, and Fulcrum is very happy to be a part of this year’s conference and meetings.

Here’s what Dani had to say about the upcoming conference:

I’m very excited to be representing Fulrum at the 2011 NAISA conference this week in Sacramento, CA. In addition to showcasing our great list of Native American and Indigenous titles, I’ll be scouting for new projects and authors, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m looking forward to meeting new activists and scholars, as well as catching up with some old friends.

Dani will go straight from the NAISA conference in Sacramento to the 2011 Book Expo America in New York. We will have an update from Dani and marketing manager Katie next week as they set out for New York. Have a great time at NAISA, Dani!

Contributor Lurline McGregor on the memorial edition of “Every Day Is a Good Day”

Lurline McGregor, contributor to Every Day Is a Good Day, blogged about the memorial edition of the book. The rest of Lurline’s blog can be read by clicking on the excerpt below.

Lurline McGregor's blog

In Remembrance of Wilma Mankiller

President Obama said this shortly after the passing of the former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, last April, “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma Mankiller today. As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America…Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work.”

This June, Fulcrum will release the memorial edition of Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women (978-155591-691-6, $18.95) by Wilma Mankiller, giving readers a rare and often intimate glimpse into the lives of Native women.

In this illuminating book, twenty indigenous female leaders—educators, healers, attorneys, artists, elders, and activists—come together to discuss issues facing modern Native communities. Every Day found its genesis with Mankiller, who over a period of several years, engaged indigenous women in conversation about spirituality, traditions and culture, tribal governance, female role models, love, and community. Their common life experiences and shared values gave them the freedom to be frank and open and a place of community from which to explore powerful influences on Native life.

Here are some of Mankiller’s words from this beautiful book. We hope they inspire you as they do us:

“I learned at a fairly early age that I cannot always control the things that are sent my way or the things that other people do, but I can most certainly control how I think about them and react to them. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative. I believe that having a good, peaceful mind is the basic premise for a good life. My sense of faith, hope, and optimism stems in part from being a Cherokee woman.”

“My family taught me a lot about love… I now know what a rare gift it was to have parents who did not condition their love on our behavior or personality or even whether they agreed with or entirely understood us. Even when they thought what we were doing was dead wrong or they disagreed with us, they encouraged us to develop our own understanding of things… I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not always known that there were people who loved me.”

“Traditional indigenous knowledge systems and stories acknowledge that the rivers, rocks, trees, plant life, and celestial world are alive with spirit and meaning. When traditional indigenous people speak of their relatives, they are referring to every living thing, not just human kinship. The very identity of traditional tribal people is derived from the natural world, the land, and the community. They understand their own insignificance in the totality of things.”

Richard Hetzler Discusses The Mitsitam Café Cookbook

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Fulcrum’s featured author, Richard Hetzler, Executive Chef of the Mitsitam Cafe and author of The Mitsitam Café Cookbook (Fulcrum Publishing, 9781555917470), recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Richard discussed with us how he came up with the dishes for the Mitsitam Café, the seasonality of using indigenous ingredients and what his favorites recipes are in the cookbook.

The Mitsitam Café, a Zagat-rated restaurant, has been delighting the palates of museum guests ever since opening its doors in 2004. Now food enthusiasts and home cooks alike can make these accessible recipes centered around locally-grown, seasonal ingredients from their very own kitchens.  Replete with beautiful photographs of the finished dishes, the cookbook showcases the Americas’ truly indigenous foods in ninety easy-to-follow, home-tested recipes. Pick up a copy of The Mitsitam Café Cookbook today and try a Cranberry Crisp with Cornmeal Topping for the holidays, the colorful Peruvian Potato Causa, or the fresh Juniper-Cured Salmon Sandwich.

You were on the team that researched and developed the groundbreaking concept for The Mitsitam Café: serving indigenous foods that are staples of five Native culture areas in North and South America. What sort of research on Native American cuisine did it take to develop the menu for The Misitam Café and to compose the recipes for The Mitsitam Café Cookbook?


We did a lot of research on the life ways of the different tribes represented in the café. We utilized both the internet as well as history books and speaking and learning from the indigenous peoples of the regions. We also held five focus group tastings on the five regions represented in the café, and invited Native Americans from those regions to taste the food and give us feedback on how true to the mission we were.

We also looked at how we could source native products from Native Americans. We started relationships with a couple of key Native American businesses that we still use today. The first is Quinault Pride Seafood in Washington  State — we currently source all of our wild salmon and other seafood products from them. The other is the Intertribal Bison Cooperative. We source all of our buffalo from them and currently purchase 250,000 pounds a year.

For the recipe development in the café, we wanted to use native ingredients that were indigenous to the regions we are representing in the café and put them together in a way that appealed to the everyday consumer. We quickly realized that with the seasons, we could change the menu and represent a larger amount of native foods.

How does The Mitsitam Café Cookbook differ from other Native American cookbooks?

I think the book differs in that it gives you a more contemporary look at native food and how the ingredients can be used today.

The seasonal menu at The Mitsitam Café changes on each equinox and solstice — can you explain the process or reasoning behind that, and is that concept carried out in The Mitsitam Café Cookbook?

We felt it made the most sense and gave us the opportunity to feature other native ingredients that are not available year round. Native Americans were experts at living off the land and what they had. They would not have eaten the same foods all year-long such as fiddlehead ferns that are only available in the spring every year.

Yes, the concept is carried out in the cookbook as well. The book features 92 recipes from about 3 of the 4 seasons in the café, from everything like fiddlehead ferns to rich and hearty soups and stews for the winter months.

Do you have a favorite recipe from The Mitsitam Café Cookbook, or one that you recommend readers try right away?

My favorite recipes are the moles — they seem very complex but truly are very simple, have so much flavor, and give you wonderful talking points when entertaining friends and family. You can discuss how chocolate is used in savory cooking and how it adds a wonderful complexity to the dish.

For more information on Richard Hetzler and The Mitsitam Café Cookbook, please visit

Introducing Fulcrum’s Newest Bloggers


Allow us to introduce ourselves…  The three of us, Dani, Katie and Brynn, will be blogging weekly for Fulcrum Publishing, bringing you all kinds of juicy information on Fulcrum’s wonderful authors, upcoming releases and interesting thoughts regarding books and the constantly evolving publishing world.  We hope that you will join us on our blog each week, and please also feel free to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and at

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Dani Perea

Hello blogverse, I’m Dani Perea, the new Sales and Marketing Associate here at Fulcrum. I just moved to Colorado from Boston (or as we say, Bawston), MA. I came to Fulcrum because I loved its History and Native American titles. When I am not blogging for the press, I enjoy crafting steampunk hats and goggles, and rigorously training for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Brynn Flaherty

Hi Fulcrum blog readers – I am Brynn Flaherty, Fulcrum’s new Marketing Assistant.  I just moved to Denver from Aspen, Colorado, where the beer really does flow like wine.  Although I am not a Colorado native, I have lived in this lovely state for 10 years and can think of no where I’d rather be.  Well, maybe a tropical island or two…but Colorado is home, and I love to get outside and enjoy the mountains as much as I can.  I am thrilled to be a part of the Fulcrum team, and I look forward to blogging and taking part in all things marketing.

Katie O’Neill

Hello! I’m Katie O’Neill, and I am the Marketing Manager at Fulcrum. I love my job and am thrilled to be joined by these two amazing women, and to embark on our exciting journey together. I’ve lived in Colorado for two years, but I am still not quite used to the snow, after living in Phoenix and San Francisco for many years.  When I’m not furiously answering emails and phone calls during the work week, I like taking long hikes with my very sweet and energetic Lab puppy, George. Or, sleeping.