Friday, November 18, 2011

the learning never stops

So, I changed the subtitle of my blog from "in which a New Yorker learns the ways of the natives," to the present one. I was chided for my earlier subtitle, because "native" is not a word to be used lightly out here. To me, it meant whoever lives here long enough to qualify, as in, "You're a native New Yorker," a line from a song. That is not the way it was understood in an area that has a high percentage of Native Americans, who are referred to as Native. There can be no irony there, however unintended the insult.

I resisted at first because, after all, I didn't mean it that way. But that's no excuse. I won't get into the problems and issues of the Native community, but I'm much more aware of them now. It seems quite often I'm in the car at around 11 AM and the program on KUNM is "Native America Calling," with host Harlan McKosato. I just looked at his photo and I had no idea he was so young and good-looking. He's got one of those radio voices and I gotta say, these people who have issue-based informational shows, like Mary-Charlotte on Santa Fe Radio Cafe, are way impressive. I asked Mary-Charlotte one time if she has researchers, and she laughed. And yet she knows all about her guests, what they've written, what they think. NAC is more about people calling in, it's kind of a forum to give voice to the Native community on different issues, with various guests. If this was carried by a radio station back east, I certainly didn't know about it. Listening to the callers and Harlan's guiding of the conversation is eye-opening.

Then last week I went to a talk by Charlene Teters, who has work in the SITE Santa Fe exhibit Agitated Histories. Her work is all about confronting people with the stereotypes of Native people, and she's been creating this work since the 70's. So I guess all this started to make me think I might use a little more sensitivity, even if my New York cynicism kicks in from time to time, it's not about me. Think about it, Braves fans!