Detoxifying Aboriginal Self-perception and Outward Identity with Buffy Sainte-Marie

Welcome to the Simon Ortiz and
Labriola Center lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture
and Community. [MUSIC] Presenting Detoxifying
Aboriginals, Self-perception, and Outward Identity with
Buffy Sainte-Marie. Sponsored by The American Indian
Studies Program, The Department of English, The
American Indian Policy Institute, The School of Art in
the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, The
Labriola National American Indian Data Center, The School
of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Women
and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation,
The Indian Legal Program in the Sandra Day
O’Connor College of Law, and The Heard Museum. And [KERES] to all of you. Hello, how are you? [SPEAKING KERES LANGUAGE] Thank you for coming to our
event tonight at the Simon Ortiz an and Labriola Center
lecture on indigenous land, culture, and community. [SPEAKING KERES LANGUAGE] With knowledge, we will see each
other in a positive way. I said in the Keres language
of [KERES]. That’s where I’m from,
from Acoma Pueblo. And it’s always good to see all
of you, all of the people who come to these events. Not just because of the current
speaker, but also because it’s good to gather
together in a body of people. Because that’s when we come
to know ourselves as [KERES], as people. That we are one group or one
community that is really related to one another
as human beings. Of course, we are ethnically
different from one another. You could say culturally
different. But we also share, I think,
a common humanity. [SPEAKING KERES LANGUAGE] That’s how we see each other. Because we see each other
together as this one in terms of oneness. And that’s what I believe
events like these show. That we are that one, who is
helpful to each other always. [SPEAKING KERES LANGUAGE] Because that is how we were
raised, no matter who we are. And even in maybe in
dysfunctional families, we know nonetheless who we are. Even though we’ve may for awhile
be not well in that dysfunction. But we are people. And people and sister and
brother to each other. So I want to introduce our
speaker tonight with a couple words about her. Buffy Sainte-Marie has been
a friend for many years. She’s actually a friend and
a sister to many people. Even people that don’t know her
personally, but because her words, the message,
and the language that she has used. To not only to tell about
herself, but with that same language, with those same words,
tell about others. Tell about the people, the [FOREIGN LANGUAGE], that we are. Because when a poet or a
singer or an actor or a spokesperson talks and uses
those words that help to bring us into that center of who we
are as family, then we know each other better. And I think that over
the years, this is the kind of work– brave and good work– that Buffy Sainte-Marie
has done. I remember hearing a song called
“Universal Soldier” when I was home. I was fairly young then. It must be 100 years
ago, right? I was coming from Puerto Rico. I was in the US Military in the
Army after I quit college because I didn’t like college
all that much. Now, college students here– you
don’t have to mind that. I hope you don’t mind that. But I felt I was learning
the wrong things. I was learning technical things
about America, the cold hard facts. And they all seemed to be bent
and twisted towards more Americanism. So I didn’t agree
with college. And so I quit, and did the
worst thing that a young man could do– join the Army, right? The Military– this was in 1963. It wasn’t quite Vietnam yet,
but it was getting there. Southeast Asia and what the
United States did, which was invade and occupy Vietnam. Well anyway, I went
into the Army and served a couple of years. And then, I was– actually three years in total,
but I was into my second year when I was in Puerto Rico. So I went home for Christmas. And on the way, I went to stop
off in some place in Georgia to see a fellow Military
member. A young man, at that time– young like me– who was from home. And Fred was stationed
at an Air Force Base. And he and I went out
one evening– the evening that I got there. I was– it was just overnight
that I visited. Anyway, we went downtown to have
some food and drink beers during my long time ago drinking
days, which I don’t do anymore. I stopped a way long
time ago– 20 years or so. Anyway, I heard this song. I was– we were both,
of course, young and in the Military. He in the Air Force,
and me in the Army. And this was really the early
years of the beginning conflagration in Southeast Asia,
which would become the Vietnam War. And I heard this song, “The
Universal Soldier.” And I was so struck by that song. I asked my friend, who wrote
that song, who was singing? And he said, he didn’t know. But he went to check
at the jukebox. And it was Buffy Sainte-Marie. Those words, the music, and
the meaning of those words really struck me then. Of course, I didn’t really
know Buffy at all until several years later. Well, I guess I’m telling
that story because I was only a young man. But they meant something
to me. And those words,
that language– I would say, that commitment
to being human, and being willing to look at oneself,
and therefore, also look at others– was that phenomenon of a human
voice that became– I think– so important to many of
us in later years. Because Buffy Sainte-Marie
was indeed a story that was happening. But was also something that
America had to experience. And an experience like that is
something like poetry that you don’t really just hear it, but
you ingest it by realizing a story that is yours
and becomes yours. By– even if they weren’t, say,
uttered or written or created by you, but became part of how
you began to see yourself. And it’s been my experience to
see through some of the lyrics and some of the music and some
of the meaning, perhaps a great deal of it through
a person like Buffy Sainte-Marie. Buffy has, I think, some very
strong points to make. And these are that
she has always advocated, nonviolent struggle. Nonviolent– that we don’t have to be
aggressive or certainly aggravate each other. But to be certain of who
we are, and certain of what we are doing. And then, she has also been a
person who has concerned about education, especially those
needing education. I mean young people from
kindergarten all the way up to college or university. Education that is meaningful. And I think that she has always
been very positive about the challenges
that we face. Especially here, in the United
States of America, where there are many and enough challenges
for everybody. But you always have a positive
and a– more or less– a beneficial look forward
to those challenges. Because that is the way that
we will overcome and deal. Deal with and overcome
those challenges. And then, the sense of
solidarity that she has had with all the people. Especially those people who are
very much a part of the substance of who we are as a
people in our communities– the responsibilities
and obligations that must be exercised. I’ve always loved these kinds
of ideas and kinds of– I would say– patterning aimed at Buffy
Sainte-Marie has had. Who can remember
Sesame Street? Hey, everybody remembers
Sesame Street. Today, when she spoke about
Sesame Street was actually a way in which she was resilient
in a way that sidestepped some of the opposition that was so
politically thrown at her. Especially by two presidents– President Nixon and his
conservatism and republicanism and his other ways, as you may
know, and President Johnson. A democratic President, yes, but
also a President that was, in some ways, not as forward
thinking and not as progressive thinking as
people might have wished for him to be. And who were, more or less,
a cause of some of the censorship that was exercised. And it prevented Buffy
Sainte-Marie to be fully appreciated by the public
as a whole. And this really was a way in
which I think censorship and discrimination was exercised
against Buffy. Well, it was during this time
when she was on Sesame Street for five years. And the little kids– my nephews and nieces
were children then. And probably, I know
my own children– I have– they’re not exactly little
kids, they’re in their 40’s now. And they loved Buffy
Sainte-Marie. And I did, with Big Bird
and all, right? Well, this is the person that
Buffy Sainte-Marie is. So I hope with my few spare
words, I hope that we appreciate Buffy for who and
what she is– as a singer, as a songwriter, as a poet,
and as a sister and friend to all of us. So with those words,
I want to welcome– I want all of us to welcome
Buffy Sainte-Marie. Buffy? [APPLAUSE] [SPEAKING KERES LANGUAGE] Thank you, [KERES]. I thank the creator
for this day. This day when people
of good minds come together for a good purpose– to think about the past a little
bit, to acknowledge our presence in this world today,
that we share, and to think about the future. I want to thank the Heard
Museum and ASU. Thank you so much
for bringing me. We had a nice meeting today and
I met some great students and instructors at ASU. Going to talk a lot of
things here today. Some will tell you what you
really want isn’t on the menu. Don’t believe them. Don’t believe them. Cook it up yourself. And then, prepare
to serve them. That’s how they will learn. Don’t stand in the kitchen and
bitch that nobody’s making what you want. Make it, and then show them
how wonderful it is. I was a little kid– I didn’t play with Barbies. I didn’t play sports. I played art. I was in an adoptive
family, oof. Well, there were pedophiles
in the neighborhood and pedophiles in the house. It was hard. But when I was three, I saw a
piano and it changed my life. I never took any lessons. I’m actually self-taught. And as a matter of fact, I found
out a few years ago that I’m actually– get this– dyslexic in music. I had never heard
of such a thing. But as Einstein had a dyslexia
for certain kinds of math that he couldn’t do, he used a
different part of his brain to accomplish what he wanted
to accomplish and what he wanted to see. That’s how I make music. So I taught myself how to
play when I was three. And I’m not kidding,
it was play. And to this day, it’s
still play. That’s why it’s good. That’s where we need to
protect our children. It doesn’t take a lot
of figuring out. We need to allow our children
their playtime. That’s where creativity
comes from. You don’t learn creativity
in schools. You learn creativity
because it’s fun. You keep your nose
on the joy trail. And you reach the world in
a different kind of way. So why didn’t– I didn’t play Barbies. And I didn’t play sports. And when I was in school– or even in high school– the class that I just could
not fathom, that I flunked every time, was music. I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t understand
notation. Why would anybody even bother? You here a song, you sit
down and play it. And the emphasis on play– the emphasis is not a work. In the recording industry as a
person who has big fancy art shows in Saskatchewan– by the way, I have two of
my neighbors here from Saskatchewan. And I was so pleased
to see them. Thank you for coming tonight. So I’m a self-taught artist. And here we are in a beautiful
museum that shows all different kinds of art. Some of it has taken a
lot of perspiration. And some of has developed
solely because of the inspiration and the kind of
work that truly is play. So you’re looking at a person
who’s had a lot of success– although, out of challenges in
the money world or in the political world because of
what I chose to express. But you are looking at a person
who really enjoys art. I love it. And I live for it. People are sorry for me because
I’ve been on the road for 50 years. I live in Hawaii on
a farm with a– I have 21 goats and a kitty
cat and an old horse and a bunch of chickens. I live in the mountains way
in the middle of nowhere. And I play music and I paint. And then, I go on the road
and I meet people. And it’s beautiful. I’m just the most fortunate
person you’ll ever run into to have this kind of double life. So when I– went to University of
Massachusetts, by the way. They’re got all my college
degrees at the University of Massachusetts. And I majored in Oriental
Philosophy because I loved the creator. And I loved talking to
people from different parts of the world. When I went to the University of
Massachusetts, I thought I was going to become
a veterinarian. And then, I met chemistry. And I realized that what I
really am is not a scientist, but a pet lover. [LAUGHTER] Which is kind of the same thing
as playing music, as opposed to obeying a teacher
who’s going to hit with you if you play the notes wrong. See? See the difference? It’s kind of metaphor for
all of life, whether or not you’re an artist. And I got to admit, I think
everybody’s an artist. I think when you take little
kids to the beach, they all make art. You take away from a
four-year-olds to the beach and they’ll make pictures
in the sand. They’ll make architecture
in the sand. They’ll dance, they’ll sing,
they’ll use their imaginations. They’ll make drama. Most of the grownups are not
smart enough even to notice that this is true creativity. We’re made in the image
of the creator. We are meant to be creative. We create our families. We create our artworks
and our music. We create our world, if we
have the guts to step forward and do it. And stop listening to whoever it
is in the back of our heads that sounds like our sixth grade
teacher saying, no, you got to do it wrong. You’ve spelled it wrong,
forget it. You’ll never be a writer,
you can’t spell. You can’t type, so you
won’t be able to tell stories, right? There’s a lot of these little
nagging dumps that we have. But if you’re an artist or if
you’re a student, you must get beyond that for the sake of the
rest of us who will share in what you bring forth
in your life. So when I finished college
and I started singing, it was 1964. And I started singing
the little songs that I would write. And sing to– sing off campus in a coffee
house, or sing to the girls in my dorm. All of a sudden, everybody
loved these songs. “Universal Soldier,” that Simon mentioned, was one of them. But there were many others. And it was real diversity
kind of music. In the record business, you’re
supposed to make one kind of song 12 times so that they
all sound alike. And then they can sell
it because– I don’t know. You figure it out. You know, all the– every Motown
song kind of sounds like the same? Well, I just never
fit into that. Also, I was a songwriter. And it wasn’t exactly
legal with the folk police at that time. Song writers– you
know, we didn’t know about song writers. Because you were supposed to be
singing 400-year-old Welsh folk songs which are
very beautiful. And lucky for me, I was around
genuine folk singers like Pete Seeger and Joan Baez and Ewan
MacColl who were seeing those folks songs. And I did it. I sang a few of those
400-year-old Welsh folk songs. But most of mine, I had written
the weekend before so they didn’t really count. So anyway, here I was all of
a sudden with a career. All of a sudden, in 1964, ’65,
I’m in my early 20s. I was a young singer with
too much money. I was flying all
over the place. I’d be one day in South Dakota
on a reservation. I’d go to the airport. I’d fly to Paris. They were not too many Native
American people. There were not too many
indigenous people who had that opportunity. But I did, and I’m so
grateful for it. So don’t ever put me
up on a pedestal. I was the luckiest of anybody. I got to see the world without
leaving the reds. I got to bring the reservation
to the fancy stages of Europe. And I got to bring that glitz
and shine to the reservations. I got to bring rock and roll
to the reservations, and to bring the reservation
to rock and roll. And it was always
such a pleasure just to be with people. I’d be in Stockholm or London
or Rome or someplace. And there would be audiences who
wanted to know about the people back home. And that really touched me. It touched me. And I never became the kind of
Indian who was protesting because I was racist against
white people. It wasn’t like that. I always felt sorry for
white people in– especially in Europe. Well, no– think of it. This is what they never
tell you in school. They never tell you in any– I don’t know one university who
has the guts to say it the way that it really was. I mean what was it that
got off that boat? –Conquistadors, right– these men. What were they drinking– orange juice, Coca Cola? No, we were attacked by gangs
of alcoholics who themselves were oppressed by a feudal
system that– it hit them before it
ever got to us. There were serial killers on
the thrones of Europe. And nobody says it. There were serial killers on
the thrones of Europe. That’s what was going
on in Europe. Ferdinand and Isabella– it was the Inquisition. And nobody ever says it
in Native Studies. We were discovered during
the Inquisition. It was the worst possible time
for European people to be going all over the world and
meeting the indigenous people of the world. It was terrible timing. But it wasn’t because they
were white, it was bad leadership. Every now and then, you can get
bad leadership in a group. That’s what was going on. It takes the racism out of it. It wasn’t that they
were European. They were being oppressed
by those same people. Their job was to come over and
oppress indigenous people where they found them. They didn’t know. The same time in Europe, Henry
VIII was on the throne. He didn’t just kill a few
wives, my friends. Hundreds of thousands of people
tortured, murdered– because he wanted it. In Eastern Europe, Vlad the
Impaler was on the throne when American Indians were
discovered. Charming, Vlad the Impaler– Dracula– that’s what happened. And nobody says it. Say it. Because it takes the
racism out of it. Bad leadership– we need good leadership. We need it in our communities. We need it in our homes. We have a dysfunctional world. We can fix it. Good leadership– start it in the home. Start it in the community. Teach it in the schools,
it’s good. So here I was, in the ’60s, with
this head and this heart, a young singer with
too much money. I’d been all– I was going all over
the world. I was going to Australia. As a matter of fact,
we just got back a couple of months ago. I’m still going back and forth
to Australia, back and forth to Europe. There’s a lot of countries
over there a lot of good people. And what I noticed on the
reservations were that there were many, many students who
didn’t know how to negotiate the path from where they
were at to college. So I started a foundation called
The Nihewan Foundation for American Indian Education. And you know, I’ve got
an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. And I’ve been on
Sesame Street. And I have all these albums. And I’ve done many, many
CBC specials in Canada. You know, I’ve got awards. I’ve got two medals from
the Queen of England. And you know what means the most
to me in my whole life? I found out about 10 years
ago that two of my early scholarship foundation
recipients had gone on to become the Presidents
at Tribal Colleges– Tribal Community Colleges. And one of them, Doctor Lionel
Bordeaux, he started the American Indian Higher
Education Consortium. See, so have some hope
in yourself. I did a couple of really small,
little things with the opportunity and the advantages
that I had. And other people went out,
and they maximized them. They did things that I couldn’t
possibly have done myself because I wasn’t them. Each one of these
is so unique. We have to learn how to
treasure each other. There’s no competition. It’s not a contest. There’s a song that times that
I was telling the students this afternoon. I’ll tell it to you. It’s called “Look
at the Facts.” It says, “It ain’t money that
makes the world go round. That’s only temporary
confusion. I ain’t governments that
make the people strong. It’s the opposite allusion. Look at the facts and you see
they’re only here by the skin of their teeth as it is. So take heart and take care
of you link with life. Life is beautiful, if you’ve got
the sense to take care of your source of perfection. Mother Nature, she’s the
daughter of God and the source of all protection. Look at the facts and you’ll
see she’s only here by the skin of her teeth as it is. So take heart, and take care
of you link with life.” You know, every now and then,
you hear people saying, yeah, we’re all one. You know, we’re one– we’re all one. We’re all together. We’re like a science
experiment. We’re not all separate. We can work together. Don’t get discouraged when you
turn on the breakfast news and that is the way it is. It’s only temporary. We’re going through changes. Don’t get discouraged when
you’re mad at your politicians. You ought to be mad at them. We put them up on a pedestal,
and they do this? The bozos. But we can still– in our communities, in our
families, in our classrooms– we can still encourage
wonderfulness. We can inspire and
we can become– we can be inspired. They are only temporary
confusion. Simon mentioned the
blacklisting that happened to me. And I’ll tell you what
that was about because there’s a reason. Lyndon Johnson– you know, he
didn’t like me because of “Universal Soldier” and my
stance against the Vietnam War and my big mouth, right? And it wasn’t until maybe
sometime in the ’80s that I walked into a radio station
in Toronto. And the interviewer who was
interviewing me, he said, “I want to start this interview
by apologizing to you for having gone along with
censorship.” And he had a letter on White House stationery
commending him for having suppressed my music
which, “deserved to be suppressed.” Nixon too– but he was worried because I
was letting people know. And many other people in the
American Indian movement and other Native American
organizations and communities– we were letting people
know all about the theft of Indian land. Most of it was resource
rich, right? Pine Ridge, you know
it was uranium– uranium. An eighth of the reservation
transferred in secret to the government. That’s the part they never even
tell you about Annie Mae Aquash and Leonard Peltier. Yeah, it was money and
greed motivated. So what I want to tell you about
that is it shouldn’t make you afraid of
the government. It shouldn’t make
you hate the US. These guys are elected for
four skinny years. And they do as much as
they want to do. It’s a power trip. It’s not America. It’s not the US. It’s an administration. And you know how they do it? I found out how they do it. I– as soon as I got done with
that interview– which just progressed and continued like
a regular interview. And then, I went home. I didn’t think much about it. But I called my lawyer, and I
said, will you find out if I have FBI files or something? Now, this the ’80s. And Johnson was– he drowned my career
in the ’60s. Didn’t you ever wonder? How come I didn’t– how
come I was all over television in the ’60s? How come I never toured
in the southwest? Find out who owned
concert halls. Find out who owned
the newspapers. Find out who owned the
local TV stations. Find out who owned the
local radio stations. It’s the same people who
were ripping off Native people for resources. It’s the same reason that
we have fracking all over the US today. So the way that they do it
is through networking. Lyndon Johnson, he signed
the paper, OK. But it’s not as though they’re
hunting me down. It’s not as though they let
you know that you’re under surveillance. I got my FBI files. They don’t tell you. Instead, a couple of guys go in
the back room and they make phone calls to their
cronies at NBC, at ABC, at radio stations. Well, it takes a few
phone calls. The word gets out, especially
in the ’60s and ’70s, yes it did. So you never heard about Buffy
Sainte-Marie concerts. You know, very seldom– I don’t know what. I may have done five concerts in
the southwest in 50 years. Meanwhile, in Canada– I mean, you haven’t heard from
me probably since the ’70s. My recording career was
wiped out in the ’60s. And then in the ’70s, I
went to Sesame Street. And then, you– that kind of recording
career never recovers in the record business. Meanwhile in the rest of the
world, people would not believe that people don’t know
about me big time in the US. They didn’t– in Canada, they just
don’t believe it. They said, no, you’re kidding. Because the work that I started
in the ’60s has continued– especially in Canada– right up to the present day. “Idle No More”– [CHEERS] “Idle No More,” in case
you don’t know– “Idle No More” is
an activism– it’s a grassroots movement, a
true grassroots movement. It’s not an organization with a
president a vice president, and you know, and then the
rest of everybody. No, it’s not like that. It’s a true grassroots movement
started by four women in Saskatchewan, three
of them aboriginal. And they are– the things that they are active
about, the things they’re trying to fight against
are the same things that most of us have
been objecting to for many, many years. But now everybody is standing
up together saying, uh uh. I’m not going to sit down
and take this anymore. What spurred “Idle No More,”
which has become global by the way. What spurred it was a bill– I think it’s C43, is it? Anyway, a bill– it’s over 500
pages long, and it’s written in fine print legalese. The darn thing was passed. Most of the legislators
didn’t even read it they have admitted. And how exciting it is if you’re
with a group of young people, they’re driving to, like
a flash mob– you know what that is? It’s like these people are using
social media to let each other know, OK, we’re all going
to go down to the park and we’re just going
to be present. And we’re going to attract some
attention to the fact that this bill not only attacks
the environment through doing away with The
Navigation Act, and doing away with protections to the
environment, and doing away with Indian treaties,
wholesale. It has been passed by people who
didn’t even read the bill because it’s deliberately
confusing. I think that ought to be illegal
in every country. I mean, these are our countries,
Canada, the US, and the others, yeah? This is not the feudal system
anymore, unless we allow it. It’s choices– unless we allow it. So imagine how nice it
is for some teenagers going to flash mob. And one of them pulls
out a treaty. Opposed to a 500 page deceptive
document, Treaty 1 is four pages long. Anybody can understand it. That’s what we need. That’s what we need– simple, direct, honest. easy, on the level
of all of us. What else do I want to
tell you about– maybe Sesame Street? Are we getting– Sesame Street was wonderful. It was my chance– as Simon kind of alluded– it was my chance to– I mean, when my record career
all of a sudden wasn’t the same as it used to be. And when I’d show up, like
I would do a concert in Philadelphia. And there would be maybe a
couple thousand people in the auditorium. And they’d say, we can’t find
your records anywhere. And I would call the record
company and they’d say, well, we shipped them. And they never would arrive. I just figured, ah, that’s
just business. And I figured probably that when
I didn’t have any more radio play, I just thought,
well, that’s the way the record– you know, singers
come, singers go. I had no idea there was any
blacklisting going on. So anyway– I still wanted to
reach people. Because I had a message,
especially in those days, about Native people,
Native situations. I really had thought– from my
very first album when I sang “Now that the Buffalo’s
Gone”– I really thought that if the
kind of white people that I had met at the University of
Massachusetts, if they understood the situation for
Native American people, they’d want to help. And that was right, to
a very large extent. So I still had the same feeling
in my heart when Sesame Street called me up. And they said, how would you
like to come be on Sesame Street like Stevie Wonder and
Burt Lancaster and everybody else and count from one to 10? And I said, nah, I’m
kind of busy. But have you ever done any
Native American programming? I was talking to the
right people. They called me back. They said, let’s discuss. So the first show that I did
with Sesame Street was that Taos Pueblo. And did anybody ever see that? It was the cutest thing. A few people saw it. Here’s Big Bird, right? He’s in– we’re all in a truck. And there’s a bunch of little
Indian kids with us in the pickup truck, right? And Big Bird’s up here,
and he’s saying– they cast me as Big Bird’s
best friend. And I– because I could see
Snuffleupagus, his imaginary friend, right? So Big Bird, he’s all
wiggly and antsy. And he says, “Buffy?” I’m
saying, “What is it, Big Bird?” And he says, “I’m
kind of nervous.” “What’s the matter, Big Bird? What is it?” “I heard
there were Indians around here.” [LAUGHTER] And of course, all the little
kids, they jump up. Oh, yeah– I’m Navajo. I’m from Taos. I mean, that’s the
way they were. They never stereotyped me. We did things on
breastfeeding. We did things on sibling
rivalry. I mean, I was breastfeeding
my baby. And I asked them, I said, how
would you like to do this? On television– I mean, you can see it today. It’s on YouTube. But then, somebody
takes it down. And then, somebody
else puts it up. And somebody takes it down. So I think a lot of those
Sesame Street shows you can still see. But the reach– all of a
sudden– that I had with Sesame Street was into the
hearts and minds and homes of little kids and their
caregivers. How important is that? Now, you might think, oh,
it’s your living room. Five or six people are there. But Sesame Street was shown
three times a day in 72 countries of the world. Now, that’s impact. That’s real impact. Yes, we did a lot of Native
American programming. But the people at Sesame
Street– just like the people that I had met in my early
career in Europe– these kinds of Europeans were
not the kind of Europeans that got off that boat. So again, I learned that
it’s not about race. It’s about leadership– leadership– no matter who you are and
where you come from. There are a lot of
people who– in this day and age– of Indians
and everybody else– we have, as aboriginal
people in the world– I mean, I say aboriginal. And that’s one of the words
that we use in Canada. I think most of my Native
American, aboriginal, First Nations friends, we throw
around these words. So for me, there’s no political
correctness. We kind of just throw them
around wherever they’re most appropriate. So it’s real hard
to offend me. And I think that
most aboriginal people that I know– whether they’re from the
Americas, or even from Arctic Scandinavia where I play a lot,
or Maori people in New Zealand, Aboriginal people
in Australia. I’ve worked with a
lot of teachers. And I don’t think I know any
of us who don’t have a big hole where our self-esteem
ought to be. And it’s because unfortunately,
the education system affects us all. And it’s quite narrow. I don’t want to say it’s full
of baloney all the time. But it’s just not wide enough. And it’s up to us
to widen that. It’s up to us to cook
it up ourselves. And then, prepare
to serve them. That’s how you change it if you
want to change something. You don’t give them the
information in an enema, no. You cook it like a
beautiful gift. You use the arts. You use good authors. Oh, you can still raise cane. You can still carry a sign
and be very serious. But you have to understand
your audience, Native American friends. You have to understand your
audience when you’re trying to educate people who have never
had freaking chance to learn about us, anymore
then we have. We haven’t had a chance. In my Cradleboard Teaching
Project– which was an initiative of the
original Nihewan Foundation– we started out with
scholarships. But when I started the
Cradleboard Teaching Project, and I’d go from reservation
to reservation talking to teachers and school boards. For instance, I went
to Akwesasne. Teachers would be ashamed. They’d say, I don’t know enough
about Indian people. Nobody knows enough about
Indian people. That’s why we’re here, right? All of us– I mean, Simon’s a scholar. I’m a scholar. We have attended convocations
of American Indian scholars and of indigenous scholars
all over the world. The work is not done yet. It may never be complete. Every day is new. We are growing. We’re evolving. We’re changing. And we need to. And it’s a pleasure. It’s play, growth, living
tomorrow, examining your head, being curious about what’s
in somebody else’s mind. This is fun. This is play. This is not something to
get all tired beat yourself up for, no. I know college is hard. I’ve got a lot of college– as a student, and
as a teacher. And it can be hard, and
it can be stressful. But learning itself can
be so, so beautiful. It really can. Just because college
is hard, don’t ever give up on learning. Because there are two versions
of your direction, there are two versions. One of them is full of stress
like traffic, right? And the other one is like
being in the forest and learning from the creator. We are made in the image
of the creator. We are creative. That’s our green light
to creativity. Like it or not, folks, we are
creating the future– even tonight. We are. This is our choice. I have to give your
reading list. I’m a teacher. Are you ready? Bury My Heart at
Wounded Knee– yes– by the late librarian,
Dee Brown– what a wonderful writer. It’ll break your heart. It’s about what happened in
the 17 and 1800s, and how Native people got to be
in the position that so many are in today. Indian Givers, by Jack
Weatherford– that won’t break your heart. You’ll just go, I never
knew that, unreal. Little skinny yellow paperback,
buy one for yourself, buy one to give
to your friends. Trust me on this one– The Female Brain by Dr.
Louann Brizendine. Don’t get confused. There’s a guy who came out with
a book a couple months ago called, The Power
of the Female Brain. Uh uh, that ain’t it– Dr. Louann Brizendine,
The Female Brain. The End of War, by
John Horgan– oh, it’s good. John Horgan– he’s a Professor of Alternative
Conflict Resolution in a college– I think– in New Jersey. You can find it online. And he’s on YouTube. Look him up– John Horgan, like Morgan
with an H. He points out things
like about choices. Because people will tell you
that we have war because of greedy bankers. But no, you can have
greedy bankers and still not have war. It takes a buy in of a lot of
people to make the perfect storm called war. And it takes a lot
of people sitting there and doing nothing. That’s us, sometimes, yeah. Oh, we have war because there’s
not enough resources to go around. The most horrifying wars in the
world have been fought by the richest countries
in the world. It’s up to us to keep an eye on
the people that we elect so they don’t destroy themselves
and us with them in their greed and madness. Oh, we have war because
of male aggression. No, you can have male aggression
all over the place and still not have war. There are many, many factors
that go into to having war. The End of War, this book by
John Horgan– it’s about four inches by five inches. And it’ll take you two
hours to read it. It’s practically just a list
of that kind of thing. And boy, is it ever good. OK, now– I’m going to tell you the words
to a song– oh, by the way, you can find a whole lot
of videos and songs at my website,
But you have to spell it right. It’s S-A-I-N-T-E hyphen
M-A-R-I-E. And if you abbreviate it, you go
to a porn site in China or some place. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know, figure it out. Anyway, this is song that has
a Canadian word in it, eh? That wasn’t it. [LAUGHTER] It’s a Cree word. And the word is keshagesh. And keshagesh literally means
“greedy guts.” And it’s a name that we used to have for a
little puppy who used to eat all his own, and then want
everybody else’s. You know the type. So it says, “I never saw
so many business suits. Never knew a dollar sign
could look so cute. Never knew a junkie with
a money jones. He’s singing, ‘Who’s selling
Park Place?’ Who’s buying Boardwalk?’ These old men, they
make their dirty deals. Go in the back room and see
what they can steal. Talk about your ‘Beautiful
for spacious skies.’ It’s about uranium. It’s about the water rights. Got Mother Nature on
a luncheon plate. They carve her up and
call it real estate. On all the resources and
all of the land, they make a war over it. Blow things up for it. The resignation out at poverty
row, there’s something cooking in the lights a low. Somebody’s trying to
save Mother Earth. I’m going to help them to save
it and sing it and pray it. Saying, ‘No, no, Keshagesh–
you can’t do that no more. No, no, Keshagesh– you can’t do that no more. No, no, Keshagesh– you can’t do that no more.’ Old Columbus, he was looking
good when he got lost in our neighborhood. Garden of Eden right
before his eyes. Now, it’s all spyware. Now, it’s all income tax. Old Brother Midas looking
hungry today. What he can’t buy, he
gets some other way. Send in the troupers and
the Natives resisters. It’s an old, old story, boys. That’s how you do it, boys. Look at these people. Lord, they’re on a roll. They want it all. They want complete control. Want all of the resources,
and all of the land. They make a war over it,
blow things up for it. And while all our champions
are off in the war, their final rip off here
at home is on. Mister Greed, I think
your time has come. We’re going to sing
it and pray it and live it and say it. Saying ‘No, no, Keshagesh. No, no, Keshagesh– you can’t do that no more.'” I’m going to show you another
little piece of music if you like. [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] Thank you, [KERES]. I’m just about done here. Just to remind you– some will tell you. Some will tell you what you
really want isn’t on the menu. Uh huh– we write the menu. We write the menu,
if we want to. It’s up to us. The choices are there. I thank you all. I think we’re going to have a
question and answer, yeah? I’m sorry that the books
and CDs did not arrive. Somebody– I don’t know. Somebody did not count for
them getting held up in customs or something. [LAUGHTER] If– no, no these
things happen. These things happen. No, they do. They happen. But obviously, somebody
just should have sent them long before. And I already scolded
somebody, so you don’t need to. But if you are interested in
books and records and things, you can find them at my
website, which is I thank you very much. Thanks again, to ASU. Thanks again, to the beautiful, beautiful Heard Museum. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]