Thursday February 08, 2018

February 8, 2018 Full Episode Transcript

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The Current Transcript for February 8, 2018

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Listen to the full episode

Prologue

[Music: Theme]

SOUNDCLIP

The Black Panther has been a protector of Uganda for generations, now it is time to show the outside world who we are.

Black Panther lives

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: We already know it will be a box-office bonanza. It's outstripped all other superhero movies in presale tickets. But the expectations for Black Panther go beyond the big screen. Many believe this movie will spark the imagination and sideswipes the stereotypes as it offers up a story in a never colonised African country run by the world's smartest most technologically advanced people. At a time of Black Lives Matter and political and social tensions over race many see something potent and promising in Black Panther. Hear the discussion in half an hour. And while are Black Panther was getting set to debut; Chief Wahoo who was supposed to exit the stadium and the souvenir shop.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: Change the name of your baseball team and change the logo.

VOICE 2: It's a caricature. Get over it.

VOICE 3: Save the Chief.

AMT: The Cleveland Indians will hang onto that grinning caricature of a Native American as their mascot for one final year. Indigenous activists consider that a win, even a video is delayed. In an hour we're asking about indigenous voices in U.S. politics, sports and society in a country that has embraced neither truth nor reconciliation. But we're starting here:

SOUNDCLIP

I do not want to threaten- We do not really want to threaten what we will do as we move forward with the strategy as needed.

AMT: Rachel Notley's... Message in a bottle. I am Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

Back To Top »

Is Canada one country or 13? Trudeau must end the Alberta-B.C. pipeline fight, says business leader

Guests: Rachel Notley, Perrin Beatty

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: Both Horgan and Notley are just playing politics.

VOICE 2: We all need oil. We all use oil, but just her adversarial almost childish bullying style approach to this, it is kind of like a US style.

VOICE 3: When I go to the wine store I ask for B.C. Wine and I can tell you until that pipeline crosses your border, you do not yet have a bottle of wine from me.

VOICE 4: You know I work in an elementary school and this is the kind of very childish and frankly ridiculous behavior that I see in school age children.

AMT: Callers from Alberta and B.C. have at each other and their political leaders on a joint CBC radio call-in show this week. They are reacting of course to the growing feud between their provinces, after B.C. moved to put new obstacles in the way of a pipeline expansion that would carry Alberta bitumen to the Pacific Coast. The wild rose province shot back shutting down electricity negotiations and now a ban on B.C. Wine. It has led some to dub this dispute the War of the Roses. But there is serious business at stake. B.C. sells 70 million dollars’ worth of wine to Alberta every year. Christa-Lee McWatters Bond chairs the B.C. wine Institute and helps run a family vineyard. The vineyard is currently expanding from 8 employees to 28 but with a third of their sales going to Alberta and ongoing trade dispute could nip that growth in the bud.

SOUNDCLIP

It definitely will affect small company begins. It is unfortunate that the wine industry has been brought into an issue that really doesn't have anything to do with us. So we've been caught in the crossfire of a political issue that we're a little bit confused as to where our industry has been.

AMT: Crista-Lee McWatters Bond, chair of the B.C. Wine Institute. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is unapologetic. I spoke to her yesterday. Hello.

AMT: Hi how are you. I am curious to know why you are choosing to ban the import of B.C. wine.

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well basically because, as we've been saying for the last few days, unfortunately the B.C. government has chosen to threaten to bring in legislation which is illegal and unconstitutional and which jeopardizes the future of the multi-billion dollar project which is of great importance to not only the people there but about the people of Canada. And so our view is that we need to get the attention not only of B.C. But also of the federal government in terms of how significant and serious this is. It was our view that this was the most strategic way to turn up the volume while at the same time doing the least amount of damage to the people of Alberta.

AMT: So what do you expect this ban to do?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well as I've said we're not keen on having to engage in trade wars or these kinds of things. In fact Alberta it has the most open market in the country and we've been a leader in promoting cross-border free trade because we understand that that's important to the growing of Canada's economy as a whole. But when you have a provincial government that suggests that it is going to engage in unconstitutional lawmaking to hold up a project which is, as I've said, worth billions of dollars and which has federal approval, that too is a problem for the Canadian economy. So we're making the point that it is necessary for the federal government to step in and assert its authority to ensure that we are able to operate as one national economy. So this isn't just about an Alberta versus B C thing. This is in the national interest and this is in the interests of working people across this country.

AMT: And now the B.C. Premier, his government has made its answer through the B.C. agriculture minister who has said and I'm quoting here "We bring a lot of Alberta beef into this province and I would rather not go down that route."

RACHEL NOTLEY: Uh hm. Well I mean that's a good thing and I'm sure folks will suggest certain things. I mean the reality is that liquor is something that provinces control you know what comes in and what did and what's not. Beef is not one of those things. And so you know I have no doubt that people will be frustrated on both sides of the border. But the reality the way to avoid that is for the government of B.C. to respect the rule of law, for the minister of environment in B.C. to walk back his assertion that he has the ability to make decisions about what goes into provincial pipelines and for the federal government to insist upon it. That's the easiest way to back away from this.

AMT: Have you started a trade war?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well I think we have not. I think quite frankly when you look at the value of the Kinder Morgan pipeline to the economy of Canada and its relationship to tens of thousands of jobs not only in Alberta but across this country, and you look at that the B.C. Government's clear threat to use unconstitutional and illegal means to stop it, that is where it began this. That is what created huge uncertainty not only to the project but generally to investment across this country and that is what has triggered this problem and it is the removal of that action that will end this problem.

AMT: Is B.C. really your problem or is Ottawa your problem?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well as I've said I mean obviously B.C. is the one that is purporting to engage in lawmaking that is illegal in effect and unconstitutional. Obviously the government of Canada is the player that is best positioned to bring this to a resolution.

AMT: Prime Minister Trudeau has said he is monitoring this and that he is standing up for their national interest, is he?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well I mean we appreciate the statements that the prime minister has made already and we have said that. I mean he was pretty strong about in Nanaimo, saying that the project will go through. But what we need for him to do is to speak specifically to the degree to which the federal government will allow B.C. to carry on with the strategy that they think they have the ability to engage. Because what that amounts to is essentially the illegal harassment of a project that the federal government has deemed to be in the national interest.

AMT: British Columbia argues that it is within its rights to consult with its citizens on how do we ensure its water and land are protected in the event of a spill. Do you accept that on any level?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Absolutely. I've been very clear that what you've just said and sort of the way in which premier Horgan has articulated in the last couple of days. That's absolutely true. We agree with that completely and we encourage them to do it and we'll stand with them in terms of their efforts to secure whatever resources they need from the federal government to ensure that their concerns around safety are properly addressed. And we've said that all along. But that's not the issue. The issue is that the Ministry of Environment suggested that while those consultations are going on the B.C. government were going to suddenly pull out of their back pocket a brand new authority, which they have from anywhere, to regulate what goes into pipelines now as well as going forward. And that's a new thing.

AMT: Can you use the courts and this?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Were looking at ways to do it. I mean obviously they've not actually enacted the regulation but the threat to enact the regulation actually has measurable consequences. And so we are looking at ways to get this matter before the courts and work more to see on that as the situation unfolds in the next few days.

AMT: In the meantime there seem to be a lot of angry people on both sides of the Alberta B.C. border.

RACHEL NOTLEY: I think that's fair comment. But you know as I said yesterday, Alberta is a province that's played by the rules. Albertans in concert with the energy industry, with environmental, with community members have worked very very hard to bring in one of the most aggressive climate change plants on the continent and we've done that in the face of probably the biggest recession that this province has to face in in several generations. So we have worked hard. We've rolled up our sleeves. We played by the rules and on behalf of Albertans we expect the rest of Canada to respect that and to remember that it's not even just about Alberta but that the amount of revenue that this project has to bring to the country as a whole is something that all of Canada should be worried about and care about ensuring rights.

AMT: How do you see this issue being resolved in a way that is satisfactory to you and your province?

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well you know as we've said all along, there are processes in place for the B.C. government to register its objections to the pipeline as they said they would in the last election. Those processes are in the courts and they respect the rule of law. So what we would suggest - and everybody has factored that process into their planning and their decision making. So we would suggest that the B.C. government step back from the assertion that they can start making up their own laws, in accordance or not in accordance with the Constitution, and instead respect the rule of law moving forward rather than coming up with fun and exciting ways to harass a project outside of the rule of law.

AMT: And if they don't?

RACHEL NOTLEY: I do not want to threaten as I've said. You know we will move forward. We're putting together a plan to ensure that all Canadians understand what this means to the country's ability to function as a successful economic jurisdiction and we'll continue to do that.

AMT: I just want to ask you about the politics of this. We have to NDP premiers who do not agree. Your rival Jason Kenney is supporting you. This is making strange politics right now, in Canada.

RACHEL NOTLEY: Well you know at the end of the day I think all of us have to think about it is we were elected to represent, regardless of who voted for us. It really comes down to who do we have an obligation to act for once you get into the job of leadership. And leading a province, in my case, leading a province that has been through a very very difficult economic time over the last three and a half years, what I know is front and center on my list of things I owe to the people of Alberta is everything I can do to help our economy through this recovery and to create jobs. So that's what I'm doing and it's not about partisan alignment. It's about doing the job I was elected to do.

AMT: Premium Notley thank you for your time.

RACHEL NOTLEY: Thank you, Anna

AMT: Albertan premium Rachel Notley spoke to us from Edmonton yesterday. We did request an interview with the B.C. premium John Horgan as well as B.C.'s environment minister or another representative of his government. No one was available to speak with us but the premier outlined his stand at a news conference yesterday afternoon.

SOUNDCLIP

I will not be distracted from that job while the government of Alberta chooses to take retaliatory trade actions against our province because we have chosen to talk to British Columbians about how to protect B.C.'s interests. I will be resolute in protecting the interests of this great province. I would suggest issuing a press release talking about our intention to consult with British Prime Minister is not provocative, it's not starting anything. And the premier Alberto's taken of course but I'm not going to be distracted by that so I'm going to focus on the things that matter to Brititsh Columbians.

AMT: Premium Horgan walked back the comment on Alberta beef from his agriculture minister in that news conference as well. Now when it comes to trade between the provinces there is much more than wine. The latest figures put the annual value of trade in goods and services at more than 30 billion dollars. Perrin Beatty is president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. He's in Ottawa hello.

PERRIN BEATTY: Hello how are you?

AMT: I'm well thank you. You've been around Canadian politics a long time, seen anything like this? h

PERRIN BEATTY: Never never. Never this sort of a stout between two provinces. We've seen instances between Quebec and Labrador on the issue of hydro corridors, or issues between Quebec and Ontario about labour operating across provincial boundaries but nothing of the sort of a trade war between provinces.

AMT: What's at stake economically for both provinces?

PERRIN BEATTY: Jobs, prosperity, opportunity for residents those provinces and of course revenues for governments. But it's more important than that. We're sending a message to the rest of the world that this may not be a good place to invest. If you were looking at making a multi-billion dollar investment in Canada or in some other country and you saw a project that had gone through all of the process; public hearings, all sorts of conditions set, the approval by the government and then found that the sub national government - the province - would simply step in and frustrate it you would think twice about whether this was a good place to invest.

AMT: And so what do you think should happen, Mr. Beatty?

PERRIN BEATTY: I think you know if the provinces themselves, the provincial governments themselves can't deal with this in a sensible way, it is important federal government step in. We have to decide at this point in Canada whether we are one country or 13. And it is incredibly ironic but at the same time as the prime minister is doing very good work on behalf of Canada in the United States to make sure that we don't get walls erected along the 49th parallel, that while he is away provincial premiers are erecting walls along the Rocky Mountains.

AMT: And so should he be back trying to negotiate between the two of them?

PERRIN BEATTY: Well he certainly will be back shortly. I think the key thing now is for Ottawa to send a very clear message that we can discuss and should discuss how we get our resources responsibly to the global markets. But the debate about whether we are going to get our resources to markets has ended. It's been a process. Decision has been made. The Public Interest has been declared and we will move ahead.

AMT: How do you read what is going on politically for both of these premiums? There has been the argument that Premier Horgan has no choice. He has made some promises to the people of B.C. He has a minority government, he feels strongly that he needs to go forward on the environmental front. Premium Notley at the same time has her own political pressures.

PERRIN BEATTY: This really an instance where the federal government has to save provincial politicians from themselves. So it is not surprising that what are you seeing is provincial politicians playing to their local provincial constituencies, arguing that they're standing up to defend them against evil people across the other side of the mountain. At some point the federal government may have to step in and say 'we're going to assert the national interest here'. It relieves them, the provincial premiers, of their responsibility of acting in an adult way.

AMT: That also comes with baggage for the prime minister though, does it not?

PERRIN BEATTY: It does. That is the price of leadership. Those who stand for public answers ask for the privilege of being able to lead and there are times when leadership is desperately needed. This is one of them.

AMT: So how do you respond to what Premier Notley said in that interview just now?

PERRIN BEATTY: Well I fully concur with her in terms of the merits of the case. What B.C. is doing defies the rule of law and it's important to know this isn't a fight between the people of British Columbia and the people of Alberta. It's a fight between the government and British Columbia and Canada. Either we have the rule of law in the country or we don't. I don't favor boycotts. I think it's very unfortunate when people who are innocent bystanders, family business, those who have nothing to do with the conflict become collateral damage is simply not fair.

AMT: And how important is the trade relationship between B.C. and to their respective economies?

PERRIN BEATTY: Very important for both of them. They have the largest export market outside of B.C. for B.C. wine is Alberta. If we see some sort of tit for tat retaliation some people have suggested between B.C. and Alberta, that situation could become even worse. Beyond that it is important for Canada as a country. The dream of the Fathers of Confederation was that we would be one country with one market. Provincial premiers got together last year and trumpeted a new agreement there was going to take down trade barriers and yet were seeing barriers being erected along the Rocky Mountains.

AMT: I hear the frustration in your voice as someone who represents business.

PERRIN BEATTY: It's a very real concern both nationally, for business as a whole, and Canada for people looking to attract investment to Canada, but for those people were caught in the crossfire whose family business are on the line. It's even more desperate as a situation.

AMT: Perrin Beatty thank you for your time.

PERRIN BEATTY: Thanks for having me.

AMT: Perrin Beatty is president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. We reached him in Ottawa. Let us know what you think. You can tweet us @TheCurrentCBC or find us on Facebook or go to our Web site cbc.ca/thecurrent. We have some special programming coming up on The Current. Next week I am going to be in Halifax for the first of our special series called Facing Race. We will explore some of the most pressing race issues affecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Friday February 16th I'll be speaking to residents of Shelburne, Nova Scotia. One of the people you'll hear is Louise Dilisle who has lived there her whole life near the town dump. She worries that dump has had a devastating effect on her community.

SOUNDCLIP

This is a community of widows. Most of them in from the last generation are gone, died of cancer. The dump is a health issue to the black community in the south into Shelburne. Has been and still is until it's cleaned up properly. We don't know what we've been exposed to to that dump. People are dying rapid rates from rare cancers in this community, Black people. And we feel that from the dump. The navy base would dump stuff there. Like they go by in hazmat suits and dump stuff, bury all sorts of things over the side of that dump. That to me is environmental racism.

AMT: Louise Delisle lives in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. She's one of the guests are speak to at a town hall at the Halifax Central Library next week, next Friday February 16th. To sign up for tickets to attend this town hall as well as others coming up in Vancouver and Montreal, go to our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. You can also find out how to watch and join in on Facebook Live. You'll be able to follow along with the conversation there. We will tweet about the series using the hash tag #CBCFacingRace. The news is next and then:

SOUNDCLIP

Everybody in Africa, from Lagos to the coast are waiting for this blockbuster, that one time there will be an African hero in a comic book story and this is it.

AMT: One of the stars of Black Panther the new comic book superhero movie that is so much more. We are off to the movies right after the news. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

[Music: theme]

Back To Top »

Black Panther puts black lives on screen: How an African superhero is turning a fantasy into reality

Guests: Adilifu Nama, David F. Walker, Eliza Anyangwe

AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

[Music: Theme]

AMT: Still to come. After decades of protest from indigenous Americans that its logo is racist, the Cleveland Indians baseball team has finally agreed to remove Chief Wahoo from its uniforms. But as the time nearest to finally retire the tired caricature next year, there's something apparent in the news coverage that generated south of the border. Unlike Canada, American indigenous issues gain relatively little traction in US culture despite being everywhere from teams to toys. We are asking why that is in half an hour. But first coming not soon enough to a theater near you.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: You're telling me that the king of a third world country runs around in a bulletproof catsuit.

VOICE 2: My King.

VOICE 1: Stop it.

VOICE 2: A war is coming.. Let them come.

VOICE 1: I hope you're ready bro.

VOICE 2: I am just getting started. Let's have some fun.

AMT: The king arrives. That is the tag line to Black Panther, the latest and greatest Marvel comic book superhero movie. But this is one blockbuster with the potential to do more than break box office records. Black Panther to many is breaking new ground. And boy are movie goers excited. Listen to the kids at this Atlanta middle school after their teacher told them they were going to see it.

SOUNDCLIP

[Sound: Children cheering]

AMT: That unbridled excitement has translated to ticket sales. Black Panther has already outsold all other superhero films in presale tickets, ahead of its release next week. If you already have your tickets then you know Black Panther is the story of a technologically advanced African nation and its powerful brilliant leader who wears a super cool suit. It features an all-black cast with music by Kendrick Lamar and The weekend and while it may arrive with the usual commercial tie ins, many feel a Black Panther is tied into an important cultural moment as Hollywood's way of saying that 'Black Lives Matter'. I have three guests joining me to discuss this. David F. Walker is a comic book writer. He has penned Marvel's Luke Cage and Occupied Avengers, among other titles. He is a widely recognized expert on African American cinema and the author of Becoming Black: Personal ramblings on Racial Identification, Racism and Popular Culture. David F. Walker joins us from Portland, Oregon. Adilifu Nama is a professor of African-American studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He's also the author of Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes. He joins us from Los Angeles. And Eliza Anyangwe way is a London based freelance writer and editor and the founder of Nzinga Effect which seeks to promote the stories of African women and women of African descent. We reached her in a cafe in Paris. Hello and welcome to you all.

ADILIFU NAMA: Greetings.

DAVID F. WALKER: Thanks for having us.

ELIZA ANYANGWE: Hello.

AMT: Adilifu Nama, I want to start with you. What do you make of that excitement even jubilation that is building as this film is about to hit the theaters?

ADILIFU NAMA: Well I think there's multiple points. I mean, one, let's give credit to the trailer. I think whoever cut the trailer, put it together and they put up a powerful image and compelling music that people are going to do the next round of trailers. They need to talk to the people who did this one. The other dynamic I would argue if we get right into kind of the racial implications of the film, is that we've had about 41 years of science fiction as a film genre that has dominated the imagination of the American audience in the past, and even the world, starring with Star Wars great. This particular film, I would argue is not the black Panther comic book reader coming to the Metroplex but I would argue that it is in this representation of the first black science fiction film. I think it has a certain type of resonances in terms of 40 years of the use of a genre that has primarily excluded black folk from the technological, the super science, the fantasy scale of phenomenal achievement. Now we get to see this packaged in such a powerful, compelling way that it's capturing the imaginations of young black folk in particular who want to live in this moment and see in this moment something that represents what they think they are and probably will be, or could be in the near future for our future.

AMT: Eliza Anyangwe, how do you interpret the fervor over this film?

ELIZA ANYANGWE: Thank you and apologies for the noise in the background. I am excited as a reader and a fan of comic books particularly the fan of the Marvel Universe and theatre. There is a sense that we finally have a film that does justice to the fact that black people, African people specifically, and I think that distinction is important to talk about African people living in the imagination, African people living in a technologically advanced future, African people being the smartest in the world where the dominant narrative is one of death, destruction and disease, here is a film that says this is exactly the opposite. And so it has captured the imagination of people from that continent and descendants of that continent who have known within them that they are part of a greater narrative but have failed to see that narrative represented in the popular culture and in the media that they consume.

AMT: Davis F. Walker, to what extent do you share that excitement over Black Panther?

DAVID F. WALKER: No I have incredible excitement. I'm a nerd at heart with young people especially. I will see just for the sake of argument under the age of 20 here in America, these are young people that were raised with Barack Obama as president and have known, to a large extent, nothing other than a black president of the United States. And now we're stuck with what we're stuck with. And I think for young people part of this excitement is that for the last year or plus what we started seeing - with the Black Lives Matter movement and the police brutality - we saw so much victimization. We saw so much hate. We saw so much racism rearing its ugly head, not that it had ever gone away or just sort of hiding but now it's back out there. And this goes back the history of film. Whenever there are films with large black casts and marketed towards a black audience part of it was the fulfilment of escape fantasies. Whether it was the fantasy, the need for justice, the need for revenge that sort of thing and I think that's part of this excitement is there a generation who had a lot of hope for eight years and that hope has sort of is in question now, and film as providing something for them that that real life cannot provide. And more importantly what film does as the sort of modern equivalent to ancient myth, it allows us as Black folks whether it we are direct African descendants or African Americans or African Canadians or African wherever, it gives us a sense of place in the larger human community which unfortunately is denied to us, most of the time our humanity is denied to us and in a lot of pop culture.

AMT: Adilifu Nama I know you make the point that it goes well beyond the comic book to sci fi, but briefly for our listeners who are not comic readers, who is Black Panther? How popular is the comic?

ADILIFU NAMA: Well in some regards to capture the popularity of the comic, is to almost box yourself in, to some type of tangible notion of its impact. I would argue that the popularity of the comic is more measured by its popularity in terms of the Black imagination that the comic book in and of itself has a very limited [unintelligible]. It starts in 1966 with T'Challa challenging the Fantastic Four to be a battle of sorts, so that he can test out his new powers so that he can face claw - one of his most local villains and can be successful. So he starts off as anti-hero. Then he gets a limited run in the early 1970s, comes this kind of like a psychic member of the Avengers here and there, gets another run in the late seventies. But the Christopher Priest as well as Reginald Hudlin reboots of Panther the primary source material for the film and I can say because I was able to view the film in a screening. So I've seen the Black Panther and I will just get right to the point. I really enjoyed the film. I give it a nine out of 10. I guess I have an unfair advantage in one sense. But no spoilers

AMT: I was going to say no spoilers but then you're free to say whatever you like but no spoilers [laughs].

ADILIFU NAMA: Right. No spoilers. So that comic run in terms of who to T'Challa is and the being receptive to it. Like most comic books they have like a very small readership but dedicated readership.

AMT: Eliza you described the movie as Afro futuristic gold. Tell me more about how you see it.

ELIZA ANYANGWE: Well what I meant by that was the presence you know - and I'm not an expert in Afro-futurism but I've seen this growing trend of conferences and events focusing on Afro-futurism. It's this idea of conceiving a future from an African perspective. So when I talk about Black Panther being at Afro-futuristic gold I was just musing at the interplay of different things. So there is obviously the technological element which you find in a lot of science fiction and in a lot of futurism, the role of technology in the future. Then there is this element of nature and it struck me that as part of the ways in which T'Challa becomes Black Panther it gets its strength, he has to eat this herb. And then I think what really clinched it for me was reading about and learning about the fact that again his strength comes from the knowledge of its ancestors. And you know I was born in Cameroon in West Africa and very much across the African continent - you see it also with a lot of Diaspora communities - is the role and importance of the ancestors. While I don't read very much science fiction, I didn't know if that connection with technology, the spiritual nature and this notion of ancestors featured in those other realms as well. So those are the things that seem to me to situate this story very much in an Afro-futuristic context.

AMT: David F. Walker how do you think this movie compares to or will compare to past Hollywood representations of African Americans as well as Africans?

ADILIFU NAMA: Of course that will remain to be seen. I haven't seen the movie yet but I think it is definitely going to - if I was a betting man I would say that it's going to give us a representation in many ways the likes of which we've never seen before.

ADILIFU NAMA: Good bet.

DAVID F. WALKER: What is that?

ADILIFU NAMA: That was a very good bet.

AMT: He is affirming your expectations.

[Laughter]

DAVID F. WALKER: And I think what we're going to see you know Black Panther is produced by by Marvel and Disney - and I'm not saying this any sort of disparaging way. Disney has a lock on what the world wants. They understand it. They are experts and they've learned a lot, they've made mistakes along the way for sure but they don't go into tent-pole films like this with half-baked notions. And they're really in the business of selling dreams and fantasies to people all over the world. And this is a dream in fantasy that you know that for myself I've had ever since I was a kid, working at Marvel, working for Marvel you know I've been writing The Cage. The Cage was a hit show on Netflix. The moment, when I saw the first episode of cage I remember thinking 'when I was a kid I never thought this was going to be possible'. I never thought I would see this. When I saw the first Black Panther four showed up in Captain America Civil War. There was this moment that, even as a man in his mid-40s, honestly I reverted back to being probably not even 12 years old, probably like seven or eight years old because there is an age when you're a black person growing up in America - and I'm assuming the rest of the world - and you're too soon in pop culture. There comes a point where you become profoundly aware of the absence of people that look like you. They don't even necessarily have to act like you or be like anybody you know. But it's just the fact that there is nobody there. For me it meant I did not have a place in these epic worlds. And it also made me think 'well can I get a job creating these things? Because if there is a black person making these movies at least get somebody in there' right. I meet with young people all the time and I try to tell them that no one can stop us from dreaming and no one can stop us from activating our dreams and turning our dreams in to some semblance of reality, even if that reality is a fantasy or sci fi film. We can do that and I'm hoping that this movie will do well.

AMT: Eliza, I want to ask you about that as well because you've spoken about the 'othering', how 'othering' it can be, never to see yourself in a film.

ELIZA ANYANGWE: Yes and actually what I put my perspective on what has just been said which was very rich is slightly different because I didn't grow up in a context where I saw people who look like myself every day. I grew up all over the African continent and came to Europe came to the UK specifically for university, having not gone to McGill which is my first ambition. That makes a huge difference in the run up to - So once the Black Panther trailer was out you started to see on social media conversations where - while we were all excited together - the film does speak from an American perspective. So there was a lot of negative sentiment on Black Twitter last year about the use of spears. You know people are looking at that and seeing that as ancient technologies and not being very forward thinking and then this was juxtaposed with Africans on the continent also on Twitter saying 'Actually, no. We are proud of that'. So while the film is going to bring us together we are definitely not represented in these worlds. One film does not a diverse industry make. If we are in a place where we are now able to say 'Actually yeah the accents are particularly solid' African accents from anywhere right. They're not white Southern Africa. They're not quite East Africa. I'm not quite sure what's going on there. I mean certainly proud of this movie and still think actually there is something about this which is an African American conceptualisation of Africa. So I would like to get to the place where the African protagonists or the African villan can be far more nuance, far more diverse because there are those layers even within the thing.

AMT: I want to take a step back in time. And I have a clip here from the trailer from the 1972 movie Blacula about an Asian African prince who turned into a vampire.

SOUNDCLIP

[Music]

Rising from his tomb to fill the night with horror. [Gunshots] Blacula, Dracula's soul brother.

DAVID F. WALKER: Deadlier even that He. I am sorry I had to

[Laughter]

AMT: Who wants to help us connect the dots from Blacula to Black Panther?

ADILIFU NAMA: I would consider what we've seen, what you'll see in the Panther is a form of astral blackness. A S T R A L astral blackness, a type of Blackness that transcends and operates on multiple levels from magic to science to time travel to ancient ancestors to the present moment. So there's a very deep transcendent representation of blackness that does not comport to notions of what is simply reduces to urban cool or urban menace or root it exclusively in a racist past. But there's also another thing that I think is going be important here is that there's a lot of Black role magic in this film. The portrayal of women as counterpart, as strong counterparts, as dynamic, as funny, as in witty and sensitive. I think there is more dynamic portrayal of black women in the film. So saying all that in relationship to Blacula, actually one of the films I actually like out of that horrid blaxploitation genre - Is that this film, Black Panther, is not derivative in the same way that Blacula was. Blacula is the black version of Dracula. I would argue the Black Panther as a film is reaching beyond that type of very simplistic trope.

AMT: Who else wants to jump in on that?

DAVID F. WALKER: I remember as a kid seeing Blacula and William Marshall played an African prince who gets turned into a vampire. And for me that was the first time I ever saw a representation of an African that wasn't the stereotype savage with a loin cloth and [unintelligible] nose, that sort of thing. I think part of the reason why this is specifically American audiences and African American audiences are so excited about Black Panther is that most of us in America - most black people in America - don't have a true concept of Africa or African roots. We have a continent that we talk about as if it’s a single country, as if its you know a single country maybe at best the size of Montana or something like that. I can't tell you where in Africa my ancestors came from. I can hazard a guess at knowing how the transatlantic slave trade operated. But I also can't trace you know someone who's studied genealogy and has traced his family back as far as I can, I have never been able to get back there. I've never been able to find out. So Africa exists in my mind in a lot of times in a very romanticized and very like something I wish that I knew. And I think that Black Panther is fulfilling - again film is after a wishful thinking. It is a fantasy and growing up seeing Tarzan movies that wasn't necessarily the Africa that I wanted to be from. Hey hey maybe it's kind of cool but white guy is still Lord of the jungle. You know we're running around like savages and they have this whether you call it Afro-futurism or Astral - What was it? Astral Futurism is that it?

AMT: Astral Blackness. I want to pick up on this there because we talk about politics. I am going to play one more clip for you that speaks to how some people, and you will hear in a minute, actually characterize the continent of Africa. Here we go.

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VOCE 1: We have a president that says every African country is a [beep] hole country. How does that lament you as dad?

VOICE 2: It's like disappointing and it is hurtful. It really is hurtful more so, like everyone feels anger. But after that anger it is really hurtful because like you are looking down on a whole population of people. You are so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and have beautiful everything. Like this the leader of the free world speaking like this. But on the other side this's been going on, is that people talk.

AMT: Okay well that is Van Jones on CNN interviewing Jay-Z which speaks to some of what you saying about how it scared Donald Trump obviously the characterization of African countries. Eliza, how does the current political and social climate in U.S. affect the horn thinking around this film?

ELIZA ANYANGWE: The timing to be talking about people who are black and proud and astute and complex is phenomenal. You know I was probably profane when I was talking to your producer before about what kind of response this is to a presidency such as the U.S. presidency at the moment. And I think that people who may otherwise have been fairly sort of laid back and relaxed and waited for week three of the movie before they went to see it are now responding, almost as a kind of extension of political action and of their activism, to say 'actually we are deeply excited to be able to conceive of the world in a different way to the way in which the leader of the free world - of the supposed free world - conceives of it'. So I think that political context is really interesting. I think from an African perspective whatever that is given that there are 54 countries on our continent that is definitely bigger than Montana or Nevada [laughter] you know that there will be a whole host of responses. A lot of which will just be 'Wow! Exciting' and there will be people who like 'actually I don't particularly like comic books so I won't see this'. I think there is whole engaging with the discussion and then there are also a younger generation of African creatives and filmmakers who are not waiting anymore to respond to the tone the debate sets in the west and then, see you grapple with what their polices within it. So actually perhaps a lot of the navel gazing or soul searching that happens with this film is rightfully so searching within the diaspora to really understand - after so many centuries both physical and then sort of all other forms of oppression - who are we and we be proud of where we come to because Black Panther is a sort of African imagining but it's still very much an American movie. I would really hope that this is the catalyst for greater diversity in stories.

AMT: We have to leave it there. Thank you all three of you for weighing in today.

DAVID F. WALKER: Thank you.

ADILIFU NAMA: Thank you very much for having us.

ELIZA ANYANGWE: Thank you for having us.

AMT: David F. Walker In Portland, Oregon. Adilifu Nama in L.A. And Eliza Anyangwe in Paris. Stay with us. This is The Current on CBC Radio 1.

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'Stop caricaturing us': Why removing Chief Wahoo as Cleveland Indian mascot matters

Guests: Tara Houska, Paul Chaat Smith

AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current. Yesterday we brought you my conversation with a panel of young people Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Muslims under the age of 35, all of whom live full time in Israel or the Palestinian territories discussing their lives and visions for peace. They may live in a divided society but they are shared one sentiment: Disappointment with their political leaders. One of my guests was Haggai Matar a 34 year old Israeli journalist who said he feels disillusioned with Israeli leaders.

SOUNDCLIP

Definitely don't represent me, personally. The way they have been building a continuing the occupation and siege and tearing communities apart. Unfortunately, they do represent a majority of Israelis that I am just not part of.

AMT: After that conversation we heard from many listeners including some who thought that, while all our panellists may have been disillusioned with their leaders, they were all also critical of Israel's policies. Edward Weinberg writes: 'I found the views presented very interesting but unfortunately I think they do not reflect the majority of either group. I think you would find that for the majority of Israelis the settlements and the obvious harm they're causing to the possibilities of peace between the two people is not the most important issue. It is security. Where are the moderate Palestinian voices that seek to live with Israelis and not threaten them physically? Once this happens the majority of Israelis will become more accommodating as they were willing to be in the past.' Haya Newman writes: 'I am disappointed with the choice of Israelis for the interview. They do not reflect the Israeli agenda. It was all about the Palestinian issue and none about the Israeli cause of being under siege from all sides of their borders.' And Goldie Newman of Toronto had this to say: 'I had to turn off radio this morning during your interview. I wish for peace as well but to talk about walls security as though there was no reason or justification. What about the rockets and suicide bombers? It just isn't fair to people who fear for their lives'. Others felt the segment brought little heard voices into the conversation. Ayu Ratih of Vancouver writes: 'For years I have been waiting for CBC to be more balanced in its reporting of what's been dubbed the Israeli Palestinian conflict. I usually barely hear Palestinian voices. I also don't hear much of the dissenting voices from Jewish Israelis. I can't imagine the waves of counterblast you'll suffer from this unusual reporting. Thank you CBC'. And Sarah avMaat of Antigonish, Nova Scotia writes: 'Many times I have felt CBC coverage of Israel Palestine to be, at best lacking in context, at worst biased toward the right wing Israeli view and sometimes missing altogether. So it was extremely refreshing to hear from young Israelis who holds a more open minded view and to give relatively equal time to the two Palestinians'. Well as always we want to hear what you think about our programming you can find us on Facebook or on Twitter @TheCurrentCBC or send us an e-mail through our website cbc.ca/thecurrent.

[Music]

AMT: You are listening to The Current CBC Radio One I'm Anna Maria Tremonti.

SOUNDCLIP

ANNOUNCER: While the team has been called the Indians for more than a century, Cleveland baseball is parting ways with its logo Chief Wahoo.

[Crowds cheering]

ANNOUNCER: The team may no longer wear the logo or display it on signs or banners beginning in 2019.

I honestly never thought it was going to change.

I think it was give as an honor name so I don't see a problem with it.

ANNOUNCER: Commissioner Rob Manfred in administration said Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game.

Chief Wahoo is the pride. That is our logo. So the [unintelligible] with those haters

If that is what they need to do because it offends people then that's what they should do, as long as they don't phase out the colors the red white and blue, I am good

ANNOUNCER: Coincidence or not, the unions have not won the World Series since 1948. About the same time Chief Wahoo adorns their uniforms.

AMT: Well mixed reactions from fans in Cleveland, Ohio after news last month for their baseball team the Indians will be dropping their Chief Wahoo logo. Indigenous rights advocates there have long campaigned against that logo as well as the team's name, not to mention the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks and more. But interestingly stories involving high profile pro sports teams seem to be some of the only stories about indigenous issues regularly discussed in U.S. news media. That stands in contrast to the situation in Canada where indigenous issues have gained more attention and traction. Tara Houska is an Ojibwe tribal attorney and member of the Couchiching First Nation. She works on environmental issues and is the co-founder of Not Your Mascot. Tara Houska joins us from Duluth Minnesota. Hello.

TARA HOUSKA: Hey how are you?

AMT: I'm well. I'm interested to know how big a deal is that the team will get rid of that Chief Wahoo Mascot.

TARA HOUSKA: I think it's a step definitely in the right direction and it's good to see progress after so many years of resistance. You know these mascots and logos have been protested literally for decades, long before I was born since the 1960s. There have been indigenous peoples at the stadiums all across the country when they're when there are Native American imagery and stereotypes and caricatures being used.

AMT: So this has gone on for decades.

TARA HOUSKA: Yes people have been resisting these mascots and logos for a very very long time.

AMT: So how do you react to these fans? They say they love the chief. Some of them dress in for Chief Wahoo red face.

TARA HOUSKA: It's a situation where the racist treatment of indigenous people and the open use of red face of indigenous people has become intertwined with this team pride and this sense of 'you're not a real person and I'm just wearing my version of you'. You know I don't think most fans are intending to be offensive to Native people but when confronted with a native person of which you know unfortunately because with genocidal policies the United States is losing 2 percent of the population. But when you're confronted with that and you're saying 'hey it's not okay for you to dress up as my race'. I should hope that Indigenous people should be listened to.

AMT: How much vitriol have you faced then for speaking out to have these names and Largos changed?

TARA HOUSKA: I have had incredible insults directly by fans to my face, saying things like 'go back to the reservation' or 'get off our fields squall' and that kind of situation.

AMT: And do you see this push to change sports team mascots fitting into the wider fight for indigenous rights and recognition in the US then?

TARA HOUSKA: Absolutely. I mean what we're trying to say now only stop caricaturing us and stop stereotyping and putting these racist stereotypes into our shoulder and hurting our children self-esteem. It's not just that it's also recognize that the real people are still here. If you really care about our issues so much, if you think that this is a non-issue, it should be so easy to change. This is one of the most low hanging fruit issues of basic respect and decency.

AMT: So you were involved at the protest against the Dakota access pipeline at Standing Rock. How significant was that for indigenous Americans?

TARA HOUSKA: I spent six months my life out living in North Dakota fighting that Dakota access pipeline. It was a beautiful moment of solidarity with indigenous peoples around the world. I mean it garnered all the attention and got so many people to be aware not only of the fact that the indigenous struggle is continuing, that we face a government system from the States and from you know the federal government that regularly runs over indigenous rights but it's also a conversation about corporations and water and our rights as citizens and what we really want for our future. It was an incredibly empowering moment of seeing hundreds of indigenous nations come together to unify under one cause and has led to the creation of resistance camps all over North America and around the world. You know people being inspired and understanding like and recognizing we can do this. We have the space to do this and we have a lot of people who will even what we're doing.

AMT: How hard was it to get mainstream media coverage in the United States?

TARA HOUSKA: The mainstream media when it comes to environmental issues especially it is incredibly difficult to get those onto any mainstream platform. You know you're talking about you're directly challenging a corporation. You're directly challenging the same folks who are lining the pockets of a lot of our politicians who were corrupting our government's systems. And you know the mainstream it's an uncomfortable situation of exposing that when at the end of the day- I mean there's corporations are in charge of those platforms as well. So getting our message out actually the more effective tools were social media and creating our own content and sharing that online with people. That was receiving more hits and more views than the mainstream publications were.

AMT: You're talking about the environmental aspect to that and I'm talking about the indigenous protest aspect of that. We can talk about both. So the fact that it was an indigenous protest, do you think that also stopped the mainstream media from covering it as the as they might have?

TARA HOUSKA: I don't think it necessarily stops mainstream media but it definitely put a different spin on it. You know when you have a mainstream media source trying to cover indigenous issues from their perspective, you see a lot of black language being used like aggressive, aggressive protesters, aggressive Indians, angry people, like these kind of wake the trope of typical imagery that you see when it comes to reporting on native people.

AMT: The Standing Rock protest stood up striking, looking in from Canada, and the movement in the U.S. does not seem to be nearly as prominent as it is in Canada. How would you compare the two?

TARA HOUSKA: Yeah I mean we're seeing this incredible resistance tapping into the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Canada right now. You know we're on this side of the border I'm now engaged in a struggle with my own treaty territories and my own people's treaty territories. And the Nishnawbe nation is facing Line Three. It's another tar sands line. You know I think there are differences for sure in the treatment of Native people when it comes to coverage of native issues on either side of the border. I think that there is more space given to Native people on what's now Canada. But I think that the issues that we face are very similar. We face a lot of the same problems and a lot of the same disrespect and you know not upholding of treaty rights on both sides of the border. So there is a significant resistance on the US side. It's just you know we don't hold as much space in the mainstream narrative unfortunately.

AMT: Tell me about your nation. It straddles the border, does it not?

TARA HOUSKA: So Couchiching First Nation is located on the Ontario side of the Ontario Minnesota border. So I happened to be born on one side of the lake and the other side is my reserve [chuckles]. There is just an invisible line that passes through the lake that people have been on for many many many many generations.

AMT: And so how did you grow up?

TARA HOUSKA: I grew up in the border town that was truly a border town. It's an international border town. The reserve was right across the lake and I grew up with largely you know a small population in a mostly white folks and myself and my cousins and a few others but knowing that the reserve was right there across the border.

AMT: And so what do you see in the Indigenous rights movements in Canada and the U.S. in the evolution of both? What do you see in terms of similarities and differences?

TARA HOUSKA: I see that overall the messaging and the narrative is very similar. We are trying to protect the water and we're trying to protect future generations. And I think that message is really starting to resonate with a lot of people as they see climate change really taking hold and they see wildfire's and hurricanes and extreme weather and you know the changing of seasons in a different time. People are recognizing this as a reality that's happening and native people know that it's happening and have not lost their connection to the earth. We have not lost who we are when it comes to knowing where the earth is, knowing where its health is and that we're trying to do this for all people. We are trying to protect the water for all generations. It's not just an indigenous issue. It is something that unites us all. We all need to survive.

AMT: So given what you have been fighting for, you got some success with the Chief Wahoo mascot. Is this a moment in time for Native American rights? Is there some kind of a turning point coming?

TARA HOUSKA: I hope that this is a turning point. I hope that this becomes at least a snowball of recognizing that that type of treatment is no longer acceptable, it never was in the first place, that if we're going to try to move forward and be a progressive inclusive society that means including every voice.and the people that are impacted by this are people are affected by this should have a say in where we're at. I think you know the fact that with mascots specifically in 2005 the American Psychological Associations came out with several reports recommending the retirement of Indian mascots because they empirically show it's harmful to the self-esteem of Native youth. It should have been done at that point. There is no reason to continue this conversation. If I’m offended you're not offended`, find a native person that's okay with it. No no matter if your friend or not that's a reality, that should have been the turning point. But unfortunately we continue on. And so I hope that Wahoo being retired opens people's eyes and it reminds them that this is not okay. And also thinking about Standing Rock and Native people holding more space in the mainstream. I hope that we see a change in the way that Native people are treated and in giving respect to make them say protecting our homes and when it comes to representation and how we want to be treated.

AMT: Tara Houska thank you for speaking with me today. Thanks for your thoughts.

TARA HOUSKA: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

AMT: Tara Houska tribal lawyer and co-founder Not your Mascots. She's also the national campaigns director for Honor the Earth and she joined us from Duluth, Minnesota. Of course when it comes to representations of indigenous Americans in American culture it goes well beyond pro sports teams. From the Tomahawk missile to the Jeep Cherokee to the Land O'Lakes butter package and Pocahontas costumes at Halloween. My next guest has thought a lot about why indigenous imagery and names are ever present in American life, while their real lives in issues are absent from most political discourse. Paul Chaat Smith is a Comanche author who has written several books including Everything you Know about Indians is Wrong. He's the associate curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and he's in Washington D.C. Hello.

AMT: Hi.

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: How do you explain why not Native American images and names are so widely used?

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Well I used to have a simple answer when I first started writing about this. And it was sort of allowed about irony and appropriation in just a very wrong headed thing that happens that we need to eradicate. As I've looked at it more closely I've seen it actually a little bit to my surprise as a source of potentially great power. Basically I've come to conclude that the United States is kind of obsessed with Indians even though the U.S. ignores Indians. You know that's because most Americans live in places where there are very few Native people and mostly what they know are abstractions. But the abstractions these imaginary Indians are with Americans from their earliest memories throughout their entire lives, every kind of product, street names, places. So it's a really deep phenomenon that goes far beyond simply one aspect like sports mascots.

AMT: So some of it is not necessarily negative, street names things like that.

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Well a lot of it is so generic. It's hard to say it's positive or negative. I guess what I've come to is in the case of some examples like the NFL team here in Washington you know it's a dictionary defines slur. It's not a close call that name should be retired in the case of chief White House in Cleveland you know any objective person would say you know 'that looks like from another time, that looks like a racist caricature'. So those are pretty easy examples. Many other things are in a grey area. What's so striking is that overwhelmingly all of it is presenting Indians in as in a favorable light, as that as the noble Indian and is heroic. And so I think there are things that should change but I'm sort of interested in looking at just how freaking weird this phenomenon is and how deep and pervasive and what it says about the United States as it tries to think about its relationship to American Indians.

AMT: When does it say about the United States?

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Well I think that to me it's a way of processing this undeniable truth that the United States as a national project came a great cause to native people. What I've come to sort of maybe grudgingly admire is that the US hasn't airbrushed that out of its past. It has not said 'no, none of that ever happened'. I think Americans know that truth and it is a hard truth because the United States is in the eyes of its citizens a very special country, better country, that is always trying to live up to its ideals. And so you have these two things. You have African slavery foundational the country you and the dispossession of native people. How do you come to terms with that when it's so contrary to the idea of what the U.S. wants to be? So in a way the imagery and Indian is heroic and weapon systems that are those things are this way a kind of psychologically process the sort of dark truth about the country.

AMT: Well what sort of impact are those symbols and logos and names have on indigenous Americans? h

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Well you know for indigenous people in the U.S. they receive differently. For most Americans there they're sort of like wallpaper of American life. So they're normalized and you don't really look at them or think about them too much. Obviously Indian people see them differently. I think could be an overstatement to say it's overwhelmingly- it's entirely negative. Some of it is, some of it isn't. That some Indians even today are proud that there are sports teams named after them. I think there is probably a minority view now but I don't think it was such a minority view at other times. And as far as place names all of that, I think it's a more nuanced reaction to it. One of the great struggles for American Indians in the United States politically going back 100 years, the American Indian will be in the 1970s which I've written about, a lot of it is about invisibility. It's that actual living Indian people are invisible to most Americans. So this imagery certainly has a negative impact of imagining that we're all gone for one thing and that the only Indians that people actually see are these abstractions of Indians.

AMT: It's interesting that even the language you use, we talk about indigenous people we say Aboriginal people. We don't say Canadian Indians, you say American Indian.

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Yes. The number one question we get at our museum here in Washington is why do you say Indian and not Native American. In Canada of course you have multiple descriptors categories. So it becomes something you know we sort of have to explain. Most native people in the US still we still call ourselves Indians. Some people consider that negative, Indian people do. Native American is fine. But it certainly is different than in Canada. Obviously indigenous people in here and have a lot more say in the daily national life for the country than native people do here in the U.S. .

AMT: You have an exhibition now at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian entitled Americans. What kind of things will we see there?

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Our visitors come in and most of them think they never met an Indian. They know very little. And they also know a lot of what they think they know is probably mistaken. So one of the challenges for the museum is to have it be something more than a place for a cultural tourism, where people come in and then they learn about the Cheyenne and their artistic production, their spiritual beliefs and their history. We realize it's a problem if people think that's so detached from their own lives and their own history. So it became where did you start. So basically when you come into our exhibit the first thing you see is 300 objects in images that show Indian are embedded in American life from before the country was founded. So that ranges from a natural Tomahawk missile to prototype to a typewriter ribbons that have Indian names on them, to brake fluid, posters for it airlines, software, all these things that have no connection with each other are represented and advertising with an image, often in a headdress. So the weird thing about it is that it becomes a way to add value to all sorts of products and that's just one aspect of it. We would argue it's a particularly American phenomenon that has no actual parallel for it lasting centuries, for expanding every conceivable range, every demographic. You'll see posters from the Grateful Dead Kanye West and Lynyrd Skynyrd and all that use the same motif of an Indian score wearing a headdress. So yeah what do these things have in common? The answer is really nothing except that they add value and they somehow speak to a certain authentic American quality.

AMT: It's interesting. They add our year and yet when it comes to the real people who are Native American you feel devalued.

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Absolutely. Indian people have limited political and economic power in the United States and you know again I think it's this idea of wanting to acknowledge the United States and Indians are inextricably linked, and wanting somehow to feel a way to come to terms with that psychologically. So there are a lot of aspects to it. You know it isn't a simple phenomenon.

AMT: What differences you see between Canada the U.S. and I'm in that kind of front?

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Well I spent time in Canada in the 1990s following the Native art scene up there which was really really happening thing. And it was actually that I was there are Saskatchewan is the summer after [unintelligible]. So there was huge coverage about the takeover but what I saw was basically in the national news and the discourse in the newspapers, Indians were present more or less all the time. Even after [unintelligible] faded. And so that's the really dramatic difference between the US and Canada that it's no news to Canadians that native people are a significant part of of the nation, in the national life, have a voice, have issues that are heard. Until Standing Rock happened, I would say the United States no issue in the last 20 years possibly since it got as much attention as as the sports mascot issue.

AMT: As you know Canada had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is working through what we call reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And you will be told by many that that is not good enough. But do you see a time when America will go through its own kind of process of acknowledgement and reconciliation with need of Americans?

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: That's what many of us hope for. I cannot say that I believe that were close to that right now. But there hasn't been a national conversation about those things. So if The President of the United States made a statement in prime time you know acknowledging these things it wouldn't have the same kind of impact that had happened when The Prime Minister of Canada gave a speech before parliament about boarding schools. It was like a national event. There simply isn't the level of work that's taken place to where Americans understand these issues enough to go through that process. So I don't think or close to it now but it certainly is a goal.

AMT: Well Paul Chaat Smith, it is really good to talk to you. Thank you for your perspective and your insights into this.

PAUL CHAAT SMITH: Thank you.

AMT: Paul Chaat Smith associate curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, author of Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong. He joined us from Washington D.C. That's our program for today. Stay with Radio 1 for Q. Comedian Louie Anderson drops by the Q studio to chat with guest host Jay L. Richardson. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. Thank you for listening to The Current.

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