Black Mesa mines: Native Americans demand return of their ancestors’ bones

Article from The Guardian about Black Mesa Mines:

Another terrible example of exploitation. It’s so painful to watch these photographs of destruction and see how the sacred lands of the Hopi and Dinè Peoples are being desecrated.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-15 um 22.49.42


Navajos in Utah want protection for ancestral lands: “Dine Bikeyah” Land Proposal

The proposal for a national conservation area would preserve Cedar Mesa and adjacent areas that are filled with some of America’s oldest archaeological treasures that need urgent protection, also known as the “Dine Bikeyah” land proposal, is fast becoming a large issue for the state of Utah, federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, and local entities such as San Juan County. Watch the video now to hear from Utah Navajo themselves how important this land is and go beyond “Into America” and get additional perspectives from the people in their own words.

Freiburger aufgepasst!

Jetzt gibt es für alle Freiburger keine Ausrede mehr:

INTO AMERICA – THE ANCESTORS’ LAND läuft am kommenden Samstag, 8. November, um 17 Uhr im Kommunalen Kino (Urachstraße) in Freiburg.


Das Koki ist ein super schönes Kino, mit gemütlicher Atmosphäre – nicht zu groß und nicht zu klein. Und dank der Winterzeit ist 17 Uhr die neue Film-Primetime!

Ich freu mich auf Euch



Lost in Translation: Germany’s Fascination with Native Americans.

The recent public attention in the New York Times about the Karl May Museum and how the German fascination of Native Americans is still strong today throws the spotlight on the museum, which also has a festival, that claims to “honor” Native Americans. Now, the controversy is about human scalps that were on display at the museum itself but have since been removed. The museum is now working harder than ever to keep and maintain good relations with Native Americans themselves while displaying artifacts by talking and negotiating how to implement best practices together. Please clink on link for entire story.

Lost in Translation: by New York Times (August 17, 2014)


Visual representation of one of Karl May’s most popular imagined Indian character creations: “Winnetou”


The imagined ideas of Germans and Indians fighting side by side with each other as portrayed by the fictional character: “Old Shatterhand”

In the film “Into America: The Ancestor’s Land“, we address the American fascination of Indians and Westerns and how Hollywood is known the world-over for its famous landscapes and indigenous peoples, including Germany. However, Karl May is a popular writer of Germany who claimed to live with and know Native Americans (which is disputed as well according to the media piece here), and his ideas, fantasies, and stereotypes of Indigenous peoples in the United States still live on. It is the cooperative nature and equal partnership of representation that we hoped to achieve in making the film in order to get away from such stereotypes including cultural misappropriation and incorrect representation.


The outside of the Karl May Museum in Germany that houses numerous collections of American Indian materials.

Picture from Karl May Museum of scenes of believed American Indian life

Picture from Karl May Museum depicting scenes of believed American Indian life.

Native Americans in the United States are confident that the museum will do the right thing, as they are committed to doing by partnering with tribes and their representatives, and let us consult with them to view collections of numerous artifacts and objects in the museum’s possession to assist in determining their origins, cultural significance, any funerary items and/or human remains. It is one of the best ways to honor Indian people.

Screening in Göttingen on Friday


This time our film will be screened at the well-known Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival in a very special location, the old Paulinerkirche of the University’s Library.
I am really excited to return to Göttingen, a place I came to enjoy the last 6 years because of its sunny atmosphere. It is a place with great people who care about social and global issues around the world.
A whole spectra of the current life of indigenous societies and peoples around the world will be presented, giving a platform to voices seldom heard.
INTO AMERICA will be screened in the Cultural Heritage Session together with two other exciting films – Returning Souls and Touching Objects – that also deal with topics such as cultural identity, well-being and home, on Friday, May 30th at 10.50am.
Looking forward

New Fight brought to Utah Lands Issues using “racist” methods?

San Juan County showdown slated for Saturday at Recapture Canyon

(click to see story)

There is a new fight that is brewing against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the residents of Utah, namely in the small town of Blanding. While it might be understandable the frustration they are feeling because of the ineptitude of the BLM and its disorganized and seemingly arbitrary delineations of land demarcations, they do still have a job and they need to be accountable for doing it. Thus, the backlash against the federal government is beginning to culminate in the local White Mormon residents of Utah vs. the BLM, especially in the wake of the FBI raids of 2009 when they claimed that the alleged law-breakers were arrested with excessive force using “overkill” force by the feds.

Billboard upon entering Blanding, Utah: both Indians and artifacts

Billboard upon entering Blanding, Utah: both Indians and artifacts

As stated by “This Saturday, angry residents of San Juan County, Utah, plan to illegally ride their ATVs through Utah’s Recapture Canyon—an 11 mile-long stretch of federal land that is home to Native American archeological sites—because they don’t think that the federal Bureau of Land Management should have designated that land off-limits to motor vehicles. The protest was meant to be a local affair. But on Thursday, Bundy, the rancher who wouldn’t pay the feds grazing fees and sparked a gun-drenched showdown in Nevada, called on his supporters to join the anti-government off-roading event, E&E Publishing’s Phil Taylor reported. Bundy, whose crusade against the federal government became tainted by his racist comments, is looking to spread the cause from cattle to cross-country cruising.”

All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) can do damage on trails with fragile ecosystems and irreplaceable archaeological sites of indigenous ancestors which are all over San Juan County

This time, the BLM is the target for this same demographic and is supported by the son of Cliven Bundy of Nevada who is recently become somewhat popular among staunch Republicans as a poster boy for American land-owners against the BLM but is also…a recorded racist in talking about African-Americans. Apparently, these same people have forgotten that it is not a question about them owning the land or the government land because it is not their land: it is Native American land.

Cliven Bundy

Cliven Bundy of Nevada

Let me restate that so it sinks in: If this is a question about being an American with freedoms and rights to own land without as much government interference or regulation, then you couldn’t be more spot on when talking about Native American communities, everywhere, including there in Utah, who have had to deal with not just the government but the settler-colonial agents of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny since the beginning of this Western imposed nation-state you call America. This argument does not include Indians because we are older than America and preclude these “rights” that were written for a similar crowd at the time of the Constitution (white land owners who were business man and developers). Whose land is this? This is Indian land. It has always been our land. It will always be our land. We are not going anywhere. We will not leave. This is our home. The sooner both ranchers like Bundy or San Juan citizens like Phil Lyman can get that, the more they can get to the root of the problem: Land issues.

Phil Lyman, San Juan County Commissioner leading ATV protest

Phil Lyman, San Juan County Commissioner leading ATV protest

Could it be that they are so desperate to talk about land issues that they are willing to use racists and their sons as symbols of their fight? Or is that just a natural inclination of San Juan citizens according to the treatment of American Indians in the local area in a number of cases (i.e. disrespectfully selling and collecting Native American artifacts in 2009, attempting to defy the Antiquities Act and Eastern Lands Bill for land use open to everyone by Congressman Bishop in 2013, etc.) Even Bundy’s argument misses the mark because there were the Dann Sisters, of the Western Shoshone tribe, who tried to fight for their land and their ranch but were not as publicly recognized or given as much attention about their land issues as Bundy seems to be getting now. Maybe its because the sisters didn’t say anything racist. I don’t know.

Western Shoshone sisters of Nevada

Western Shoshone Dann sisters of Nevada

Utah officials and citizens are hiding behind their “rights” as American citizens that they pretend to respect but are willing to literally tread upon their own government for their own benefits. In addition, they disrespect the local Native American populations as well by not listening, respecting, or leaving the artifacts that are not supposed to be collected alone. They are willing to destroy ancient archaeological artifacts and sites that are supposed to be protected, preserved, and acknowledged as spaces that should be respected. In this day and age, with both Native and non-Native peoples sharing a community and land, there is no excuse for this kind of ignorance mixed with privilege and power from a powerful group “asserting” its “rights” over another marginalized group. It is appalling to me the conduct of a supposedly Mormon town towards their own nation and other sovereign indigenous nations that live there in the area such as the White Mesa Paiute, Ute Mountain Tribe, and the Navajo. Do these Blanding citizens have no other way to show their protest than to destroy the place that they love by riding ATV’s over it and not including Native American perspectives in this conversation?


Ancient indigenous archaeological sites

Ancient indigenous archaeological sites of San Juan County

Yale University Screening of “Into America” on April 1, 2014



It was a gorgeous and sunny day at New Haven, Connecticut just after a snowy day had dusted the campus early the previous morning. We were able to tour the campus and the Native American Cultural Center at Yale with all the interesting and deep history of the place and the town.


Thank you to the Native American Cultural Center and all the native students who came to support the film screening and the lecture by Brown University faculty! We want to especially thank Tyler and his organizing efforts and thinking of us to bring us here. All the students and faculty were amazing and very warm and made us feel comfortable with their welcome song by the Blue Feather Drum Group.




Thanks to all who were able to come and make the trip to see us, feeding us with a great dinner, and asking great questions about the film!

This event was sponsored by:

The Indigenous Graduate Network,

Native American Cultural Center,

Yale Group for the Study of Native America,

Ethnicity, Race, and Migration

American Students

Native American Law Students Association

Association of Native Americans at Yale

Yale American Indian Science & Engineering Society

Yale Native American Arts Council

Blue Feather Drum Group


Antioch University Film Screening in Seattle, Washington on March 22, 2014


The screening for the Contemporary Social Issues series at Antioch University in Seattle, Washington on March 22, 2014 was a great success. Helen Yellowman and Angelo Baca presented the film and fielded questions after the film. Regrettably, director Nadine Zacharias was not able to attend via Skype as we strive to present and represent the film as accurately and correctly as possible as a shared project. However, she was busy with the YoungDok presentation in Germany and we also anticipate some great photos from that event sometime in the near future. I think that coordinating these things are challenging since Germany is so far away and the time difference is great but we do what we can!


Helen Yellowman speaking to the crowd at Antioch University on March 22, 2014

The best part of the experience was sitting down with people after the screening and talking with them one-on-one with the audience after the event was over at a nearby cafe. It was good to take the time to know the people who came and speak with them in a more traditional Navajo way, especially with the presence of my grandmother who wanted to know who they all were. She did a beautiful job of visiting and talking as everyone there was very respectful listening and introducing themselves to her. Her presence reminded us all of the unity of family and how she so easily becomes everyone’s grandmother with everyone around her becoming her grandchildren. My admiration and awe grows each time I witness adults and young people alike become children right before our eyes near her.

Speaking with Shimasuni (grandmother) Helen Yellowman at dinner

Speaking with Shimasani (grandmother) Helen Yellowman at dinner

I want to thank Native Gathering Students at Antioch University in Seattle and Susan for organizing at Antioch University for doing a great job of putting the event on, being welcoming and warm hosts, and putting the word out to the community for the screening while getting us a nice space and providing food, even traditional blue corn mush! Thank you very much for all your hard work and “it is well” (ya’at’eeh).