Center for Columbia River History

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Sun Sep 26 19:02:10 MDT 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerard Donnelly Smith [mailto:smitgm at]
Sent: Friday, September 24, 1999 7:03 AM
To: Craven, Jim
Subject: Re: Center for Columbia River History

> Dr. Smith is absolutely correct in saying that without the funds granted
> the Clark Admin. the Totem Pole ceremony would not have taken place. But
> that is not the whole story. In the early stages of the ceremony project,
> were not conscious of paying homage to the powers-that-be in terms of the
> perfunctory inclusions of individuals based on titles rather than their
> actual ongoing contributions to the project (signing a check, especially
> public monies is relatively easy).

Dr. Smith's response:
Of course not, that was never an issue. However becasue one must show
resepect, even if one is not given respect, the powers-that-be must be
invinted, or one threatens future benefits. Although one might argue, those
benefits come with future strings attached, that state of affairs is

Response (Jim C): Dr. Smith's response is correct and makes my point
clearly. If "inviting" (all were "invited" with equal status as everyone
else) the powers-that-be is necessary to prevent a threat to future
benefits, then this makes the case that the powers-that-be were more
interested in their own special presence rather than the cause itself.
Otherwise, why would anyone seriously interested in the issues and meanings
connected with the totem Pole ceremony and associated Indian issues be so
small-minded as to impose a form of "conditionality" or threaten
present/future funding as a result of not being given the kinds of special
notice they feel is proper "protocol"?

This may seem like a small matter but it is not. As Dr. Smith was once told
by former and failed Dean Fulton after a Senate meeting at which he spoke
up, "You hang out with the 'right' people and good things happen." That
indeed should be the motto (in Latin) of Clark College. Be a "team player"
and all sorts of "good things" happen; march or dance to the beat of a
different drummer, express contrary opinions and facts in an open way, you
will be marginalized, demonized and slandered--all in the back rooms of
course. You will not be on one of the "in-teams", you will not be one of the
"insiders", and not only you will be marginalized and demonized, anyone
associating with you will be similarly treated.

The reason why Indians are not big on "protocol" and "Roberts' Rules of
Order" is they have seen all these instruments/veneers of "civility" used by
the most uncivil to conduct and promote the most "uncivil" machinations,
hypocrisy, control and yes, even out-and-out genocide while maintaining a
veneer of "civility". Traditional Indians don't care about titles, degrees
etc because we have seen (as I have seen often at Clark) individuals with
all sorts of letters behind their names speak and write pure worthless crap
while posturing and pretending and dressing up all sorts of ugly
machinations under various guises and veneers. In the traditional Indian
World, it matters only what you say, know, do and for whom you say, know and
For a "Native American" Literature class, I highly recommend Ohiyesa's "The
Soul of an Indian" on these points.

This was not intentional, there was no
> intentional slight, it is just that in the Indian world, there is no real
> notion of a given ceremony being required to include and pay homage to
> individuals because of formal titles or positions in an organization.

Dr. Smith's response:
Yes, but we do not live in a strictly "Indian" world.  Though there is no
notion of paying homage to individuals with titles in the Indian world, that
notion does exist at Clark College and the dominate culture. Negotiating a
balance between the two cultures should be attempted, and I think the
students of the NASC did that.  Neither Professor Craven nor I control the
club. Dr. Hasart and Dr. Johnson were invited by the students in the club,
because those students wanted to acknowledge the support they had received
from Clark College.

Response (Jim C): Yes, paying homage to individuals based solely on their
formal titles and positions, rather than actual contributions, is indeed an
essential aspect of the "dominant culture". And what exactly have such
"protocols" brought us? Is this dominant culture healthier and stronger
overall as a result of such protocol? Indeed "protocol" may demand that a
Henry Kissinger may be accorded all sorts of honors based on his titles and
positions with no reference to the fact that we hanged people at Nuremberg
who had less innocent blood on their hands than Kissinger has. Is this a
good thing?
And even here at Clark, "protocol" is often situational. For example, at the
last graduation, did Dr. Johnson stand up or mount the podium as a former
president of Clark as "protocol" would suggest? No. I suspect not because of
the mess at Clark that he and his cronies left; and all of that was done
with a whole lot of posturing, pretending and "protocol".

 But in
> the early stages, there were some problems in securing funds until it was
> suggested/settled that the "titled" powers-that-be were formally

Well, Professor Craven knows about the eariler stages.  Janice Starkey got
the ball started.  I only joined in to help keep it going. By that time Tony
Birch, Jim Walker, and others were very supportive, and tried to accomadate
our needs, and respect Native American traditions.

> To say that we cannot judge intentions at any time I find lacking in
> substance and practice.

I find Professor Cravens rebuttal here contradictory, for in statement after
statement concerning his own rhetoric, he says only he knows what he
intended to say when others misread or are offended by his statements.  I
assert again, we can not know of someone's intentions unless they state
them, or we have evidence from past fact that they "may" do something
similar. I have no evidence that anyone in the administration "intended" to
use the ceremony as a photo opportunity. I assume they don't mind having
their pictures taken at such events, but I assume they come because they
wish to support student activities.

Response (Jim C)

Again "knowing" in the epistemological sense is different from "inference"
although inference may lead to "knowing". But since we are discussing
"protocol", is it not "protocol" (of the "dominant culture") for an
administrator showing up for a filmed speech to make an attempt to meet and
speak with the invited speakers? Is is not "protocol" (for the "dominant
culture") for someone honored at a ceremony or event to come before and stay
after the honoring portion of the event or ceremony? Is is not "protocol"
for those demanding special mention of their names on the literature of the
event to attend at least some of the functions not related to their being
filmed by TV or given special honors? These and other arrogant slights to
the organizers and speakers are part of the basis upon which I have
"inferred" intentions of some of the powers-that-be. I do know that some of
the participants brought these and other matters to my attention (some I
witnessed personally) and they indeed felt very hurt and slighted eventhough
they themselves were not into protocol but only asked that any protcol be
respected for all (discriminatory protcols are something Indians are quite
used to).

 In law as in society as a whole, we do and must make
> inferences and judgments about intentions based on recurring and
> patterns of behavior.

Response DR. Smith:
What pattern of behavior shows that President Hassart was not sincere in her
support of Native American issues at Clark College?  Yes, she did not attend
any of the presentations. I wish she would have, but this does not mean she
only intended her appearance at the ceremony to be a "photo op."

I will note for the record however, that I can attest that Dr.
> Hasart and Dr. Jackson recently have shown some real sensitivity to the
> plight of particular at-risk Clark students and former students who happen
> to be Indian and to some Indian causes.

And I am sure they will continue that support.

Response (Jim C) I have written the truth as I believe it and have offered
my reasons for my conclusions. I have used the names of particular
individuals only when directing positive comments because the names are less
important than the behaviors noted which did indeed occur and caused invited
guests (with some very special insights and abilities to see deep inside
people) some pain.

> As someone immersed in Indian Country in myriad ways, I can attest that
> Indians are sick and tired of professional "Indianists" (researchers and
> book writers who have no concrete activism in Indian Country and use
> and Indian causes for Curriculum Vitae building) and Indians and Indian
> issues being used as "props" for photo-ops, institutional image-building
> etc.

I agree with Professor Craven wholeheatedly here.  However, some of these
people are also well-intentioned.  I know Professor Craven believes that it
is the "well-intentioned" people who cause the most trouble; however, why
should not those who wish to help be encouraged?  Sure there are crooks and
posers and frauds, and we should expose them.

 When Maya Angelou, a superstar came to Clark, for a fee of $20,000 plus
> a food/bar bill of $5,000, there was a huge turnout from the Admin with a
> line-up for with-celebrity-photos and autographs. When Harriet Nahane, Dr.
> Robert Ward and Uva Jane Ankenbauer and all the other speakers and
> who came asking only small amounts for their expenses and labor, many of
> those who were listed under acknowledgements for the events were nowhere
> be found to hear what was being said.

Yes, this is sad.  It does make one wonder about priorities.

 The real issue was not just the
> erection of the Totem Pole or the ceremonies, the real issue was also to
> have real Indian voices and expressions of Indian cultures introduced and
> heard. This was especially important in that we are charged with teaching
> campus-wide abilities which include Global/Multicultural awareness, and I
> for one am frightened at the thought of some on campus teaching anything
> about Indians or anything non-white given the gross insensititivities and
> base ignorance some of them have already demonstrated.
Well, then Professor Craven should I teach a course on Native American
Literature, or should I have that course cancelled?  I am a literature
teacher, and I have read widely in Native American literature. Though I have
met and talked to many Native American authors help some get published, and
though I have been and advisor for the NASC, I have never lived on the
reservation, nor have I been an Indian activist. I am a white-man and as
such have encountered much resistance to participation.  I fully understand
such wariness and mistrust. Can a white person teach minoritiy literature?

Response (Jim C) How can Dr. Smith say these people are "well-intentioned"
and yet say we cannot infer intentions without direct from-the-mouth
evidence? Now he is inferring "intentions". Some who call themselves
"well-intentioned" demonstrate patronizing behavior. Some who call
themselves "well-intentioned" want Indians to act according to their own
"civilized" standards and within their own "civilized" parameters. Some want
Indians to be "quaint" and dance for the tourists, burn sweetgrass and
dress-up "Indian", but when it comes to discussing and analyzing real
issues--life-and-death issues--of Indian Country they want no part of it.
They don't mind a little poetry or literature from a "circuit Indian", but
they want no part of someone like Harriet Nahane, a poor, "untitled" (except
Pacheedaht Chief and Venerated Elder) who talks about the horrors of the
Indian Residential/Boarding Schools, pedophile rings using Indian children,
etc. all done in the name of "Christianity"; that might offend some
potential donors or some self-professed missionary types. They want "safe"
and "respectable/titled" Indians who patronizingly and solicitously handle
the non-Indians who are patronizingly and solicitously are handling them.

> As I noted I speak only for myself and no one else. But if Dr. Smith wants
> to talk about how much of available funds were allocated for this
> event, then let's take it further and ask how much of the available funds
> have been allocated for all sorts of other like events  relative to what
> allocated for this event, the problems in obtaining funding without
> conditionality etc.

I know how much money was allocated. I know how many times the NASC went
back to ask for more money, and I remember who came up with the money. The
students worked hard, but when they needed extra funds, the student
government came through. I'm not sure what the history was before I become
invovled, but after I become the NASC advisor, we had little trouble getting
the exact amount we asked for, and then more when we found that money was
not enough.

> I gave my opinion and am open to counter-evidence and counter-opinion as
> that expressed by Dr. Smith. I am, however, unpursuaded by his
> counter-opinion myself.

Dr. Smith's response:
As Professor Craven has noted, he is unpersuaded by my counter-evidence and
counter-opinion.  I was unaware that I was refuting, nor was my intention to
offer any contrary facts. Only to add my opinion as to "intentions."  This
is what I and is the only thing I said that went contrary to Professor
Craven's original email: "Whether or not this was photo opportunity or these
people were sincere, I cannot assume. They were supportive, they came, and
they spoke good words.  I cannot read their minds and would never claim to
know someone else's intentions."  I never said Professor Craven couldn't
assume he knew someone's intentions, only that I couldn't not assume such
insight. I am surprised that his inspired such a lengthy response.

Response (Jim C.) Again we have a contradiction: To say they came and spoke
"good words" is a conclusion about intentions. In the traditional Indian
World, "Good words" are "good" not only when the sentiments are "good" but
also when they are spoken or written for "good" reasons with honest
"intentions". We have all sorts of examples of people who know the "right"
buzz words and cliches and sentiments, but nominally "good" words can be and
have been used throughout history for very ugly purposes and to cover very
ugly intentions. Here Dr. Smith makes a tacit inference/conclusion about the
intentions of some; that's OK, no problem, I just disagree with the
inference or conclusion based on my own observations and those of others,
but here inferences and conclusions about intentions are indeed being
made--pro and con.

> On a final note, as an economist, I deal with allocations of scarce
> resources to satisfy competing wants and needs. If these proposed
> are to be supported with public or Foundation funds, will other potential
> projects, possibly those dealing with burning issues in Indian Country
> today--beyond "debunking some myths held by a few attending the
> conferences"--be equally financed or even considered?

It would be beneficial to Clark to have a real conference on Indian issues
as Professor Craven suggests.  Why can't we host a free Peltier rally?  Why
not a conference on the Native American Holocaust?  Why not invited Ward
Churchill or Gerald Vizenor?  How about $25,000 for the first Clark College
Native American Holocaust. How about we cut some money loose for a Native
American Studies program.  We can get Paula Gunn Allen to help us set one
up.  I'm not an economist, so I don't understand why Clark College can't do
some of these things.

As always, Professor Craven's insights are valuable, and we cannot deny his
contribution to Native Americans here and elsewhere. He is passionate about
this cause, and it is a just and righteous one.  I will take issue with one
thing more.  I do not march to a unique drum or drummer, I  Dance.

Response (Jim C) I thank Dr. Smith for his own very valuable contributions
and insights which are considerable. I have read Ward Churchill extensively
and find his work first-rate in terms of scholarship and in terms of
content. But rather than spend $25,000 or some superstar fee for a
"superstar", why not bring in some Indians no one has ever heard of and
really listen to what they have to say. Why not bring in some Indians who
live on the rez and who are putting their lives on the line to fight against
Tribal corruption, US Government abuses and parochialism, rampant and
threatening diseases, kidnapping/forced adoption of Indian children, sexual
and physical abuse, rampant substance abuse, treaty violations etc?
Why extend and promote this vacuous celebrity culture? Are only "big names"
worth listening to? Why not use some of these big fees to find, reach out to
and help at-risk Indian and non-Indian students? Why not use our precious
and scarce resources to set up ongoing structures and programs rather than
one-shot speeches that give the illusion something of substance has been
done just by the funding and giving of the speech?

Finally, my friend Gerry asks why my responses have been so extensive.
Because there is a lot more involved here than this particular event being
discussed, the ability or lack of ability to "know"/infer intentions or
specific inferences/conclusions etc. This event was a metaphor and
concentrated expression of a wider reality in my opinion. There is a whole
lot of "protocol" (and posturing and pretending) going on here at Clark.
There is a whole lot of "insider/outsider" stuff going on here at Clark.
There is a whole lot of favorable decisions/funding for the "favored" going
on here at Clark. There is a whole lot of "credentialism" and titleism"
going on with those most obsessed with protocols and titles often delivering
very little of substance themselves --and even sabotaging substance of
others who might threaten their self-images, little turfs and/or cause some
cognitive dissonance problems.

And finally I agree that we might tap into some of the ample Foundation
funding for some of the issues and causes mentioned by Dr. Smith. But as
important as those causes--and others--are to me, I would argue for funding
only on the basis of the merits of the causes and those merits vis-a-vis
other equally worthwile causes in the context of scarce resources to be
utilized for competing needs. I will not "hang around the fort" or "dance"
for the money or seek to become an "insider" for whom "good things happen"
at the expense of saying and defending what I truly believe to be true. This
is no way, should be taken as any kind of suggestion that Dr. Smith would do
otherwise himself as he has taken courageous stands at personal expense

Jim Craven
(end of debate on this subject on my part)

Gerard Smith

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