Landmark Judgment Returns Bones to Tribes

skeleton brown

Ancient skeletons to be returned

California Kumeyaa Win the Dispute 

The US Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on a lower court ruling that will, in effect, allow ancient bones to be returned to American Indians in California.

The judgment means a landmark legal decision recognizes the authority of Native tribes to assume control over ancestors and artifacts, despite claims by scientists that returning the 9,000 year-old bones to the tribes is a “tragedy and a disgrace.”

The case at hand involves two skeletons—a woman and a man—discovered on state property in San Diego in 1976. Since then, the bones had been the subject of empirical study until local tribes requested the bones be returned.

Science writer Carl Zimmer notes that tribes went to court in 2006 to have the skeletons returned. Continue reading

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Politics, Trump and the Black Swan

Insanity Diagnosis


Bloody Trump Painting by Sarah Levy

Politics, Trump and the Black Swan

I wrote recently about how the metaphor of The Black Swan—not the film but the metaphor in decision-making—describes how random events rivet our attention.

Writer and scholar N. N. Taleb notes The Black Swan describes a rare and extraordinary event or individual that gains momentum in news, politics and behavior.

The terrorist attacks on US soil in 2011, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the rare hatching of a black swan are examples of unexpected phenomena that have profound effects on how we respond as citizens, and how we make decisions—lay-folk and law-makers alike.

Today’s political scene sets the stage for The Black Swan metaphor, judging from the vast coverage in mainstream press, television news, Twitter and Facebook squibs.

Donald Trump is the modern-day Black Swan: like voyeurs witnessing a train-wreck, we can’t turn away.

Continue reading

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Zika Virus: The New Black Swan

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish


A new fever is helping us examine how human foibles frame our behavior.

I’ve just read about The Black Swan—not the film—but the rare event that startles us and captures our attention.

Like a car-wreck, our gaze is glued to The Black Swan—a random phenomenon, says N. N. Taleb, who wrote the best-seller, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

Rare occurrences not only engage us: they can reframe our perspectives and alter our behaviors. Continue reading

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The Oregon Stand-off: Where are the Indians?

piaute from amertribes

Paiute family

A lesson in ideological framing

When news of an armed stand-off at a wildlife refuge in Malheur County broke, I tried to wrap my brain around the event unfolding in my home state.

What did the protesters want?

I’m wary of how conflicts are framed in print and broadcast media—as are folks who have asked on Twitter: would the police response be different if the protesters were Black? Muslim?

How about American Indians? Continue reading

Posted in american indian, authenticity, framing, Indian, journalism, native american, Native Science, Paiute, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Clooney’ s cash cow


Coffee salesman Clooney

Still: it’s about the money

Amsterdam still has the feel of a sweet, old city.

Nice, when you consider the commercial ubiquity of traveling to foreign lands.

If you travel to Rome you can chomp chicken at KFC and if you stay in Hong Kong you can buy a Coke at 7-11.

Here in Amsterdam–a city resplendent with canals and crumbling churches–you can find a Subway sandwich shop while walking down an ancient street or spy an American Apparel store on the upscale West side.

Fortunately the old-city feel survives the onslaught of Americana, with one exception. Continue reading

Posted in advertising, authenticity, Bob Garfeild, Bob Garfield, framing, George Clooneu, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, overseas advertising celebrity, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Does Trump Coverage Matter?

trump pic

Are you following national politics?

Then I invite you to think about the news coverage of Donald Trump from 2 perspectives.

First: think of your gut feelings. Second, think of the empirical evidence.

Ready? Let’s begin.

Trump receives a boatload of news coverage.

And, amazingly enough, this is despite the fact that several reporters have promised to disengage from coverage of Trump.

Yet, coverage persists. Continue reading

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Is there a doctor in the house?

National Native American History Month: Less than one percent

Wak-O-Apa (Megan, in glasses) and Wee-Hey (Rachel)

Wak-O-Apa (Megan, in glasses) and Wee-Hey (Rachel)

First daughter broke through a chunk of the glass ceiling in November—a tribute to her passion and persistence—and an important event tucked in the shadow of National Native American History month.

Wak-O-Apa joins a small enclave of experts—those who hold a doctor of philosophy degree—a little less than 1.7 percent of the US population.

The accomplishment is perhaps more impressive when you look at the number of American Indians who hold a PhD.

Americans who consider themselves White comprise the group that annually earns the most PhDs–about three-quarters of all doctorate-holders (some 24,000 folks in 2012). Continue reading

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