Blogs > Cliopatria > Still More Noted

Jan 25, 2006 3:40 pm

Still More Noted

History Carnival #24 goes up at The Elfin Ethicist on 1 February. Send nominations of exemplary history posts since 15 January to JonathanWilson*at*letu*dot*edu. An early modern edition of Carnivalesque goes up at Pilgrim/Heretic on 4 February. Send your nominations of early modern history posts since 6 November to valdemoro*at*sbcglobal*dot*net.

At Rhine River, Nathanael Robinson reviews The War That Made America, which is running on PBS.

While one accusation of literary hoax is disputed, Matthew Fleischer,"Navahoax," LAWeekly, 25 January, claims yet another. This one is quite a story.

Scott McLemee,"Stolen Words," Inside Higher Ed, 25 January, reconsiders plagiarism; and a prominent scholar at Notre Dame is accused.

Hugo Schwyzer fisks a CNN report about sexual harassment on American college campuses.

Only the New York Times would launch a blog by putting it behind a subscriber-only firewall. Yet one more thing to ignore at the Times. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.

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Thomas Brown - 2/3/2006

Amazingly, Burrus is not even the most notable gay Indian impostor. The uncrowned king of this tiny genus--who I will not name here--not only parlayed his bogus double minority status into a successful writing career, but also got his work dramatized and broadcast on PBS, holds a tenured professorship at UCLA, and founded his own tribe of which he is chief. Then he got his tribe federally recognized as a sovereign Indian nation without ever undergoing the usual vetting by the BIA as to the group's historical bona fides. And now he is going to cash in big time with a casino in Sonoma County, CA. Burrus is a piker compared to this master. If any investigative journalist wants a juicy apple to bite into, there you go.

Jonathan Dresner - 1/27/2006

I'm not saying that suffering itself is not a suitable subject: I'm saying mostly what you're saying, that elegant (or, often, deliberately inelegant) suffering is a literary end rather than a component of a broader story.

David Lion Salmanson - 1/27/2006

If you rule out intense suffering, I think you rule out most of Greek tragedy (sacrifice my daughter or go to Troy? Sleep with my mother and poke out my eyes etc.) The modern trend is that the suffering is only for the sake of suffering, not for some larger end.
And really, the mistakes pointed to in the manuscript were so obvious to anybody who has even taken one class on the Navajo that it is apalling how easily this was faked. White shamanism is a pervasive problem. It is one of the delicious ironies of the Ward Churchill case that the guy who has outed more white shamans than just about anybody else was himself, a white shaman albeit of the academic rather than New Age variety.

Jonathan Dresner - 1/26/2006

One aspect of the Nasdijj piece reminded me of something which has bugged me for a long time about the product I see coming out of college creative writing programs: a heavy reliance on intense suffering or "edgy" sexuality to create drama. It bugs me that the editors didn't question or alter the disturbing sexual imagery -- I have no problem with a memoirist talking frankly about sexual abuse, but the language is really borderline -- particularly when put into the context of the guy's other work.

The idea that only really extreme experiences are "authentic" seems to be all too common.... (c.f. Pluss)

Manan Ahmed - 1/26/2006

dang, i just read the piece. are the editors really that gullible? and Education of Little Tree was written by a klansman!!! why was this news absent when the movie was out?

David Lion Salmanson - 1/26/2006

This cracks me up. Start with the fact that there is no double j in standards Navajo orthography and it should have been obvious that the guy was a fraud. Even better, he is hiding out in the Sierra Madre in New Mexico? Perhaps the Sangre de Cristo mountains but not the Sierra Madre, which are in California.
When I go to Borders, half the books on the "Native American studies" shelf are white shamanism. It is pathetic.
And the history of "Redface" goes back well further than Carter, see Phil Deloria's Playing Indian for examples going back the Revolution.
The author of the hatchet piece makes a few whoppers of his own though. For example, Tony Hillerman isn't universally reviled on the rez. Many Navajos believe that his parents taught at a boarding school on the big rez and that he "grew up Navajo." For the record, Hillerman, never set foot on the big rez until he was an adult and has also been recognized by the Navajo Tribal Council for service to the tribe. Which is not to say that he is universally loved, just that there is a wide variety of opinion on Hillerman.

Barry DeCicco - 1/25/2006

It's astounding, particularly as the NYT has an excellent example in the WSJ. The WSJ sells their factual content, while their Opinion Journal is free (and not worth it).

Hugo Schwyzer - 1/25/2006

Ralph, this is a good reminder I need to be back here posting soon...


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