Thursday, December 13, 2012

Precious Grandson Born, December 10, 2012, 11 am.

I think I might get to be a grandmother at long last.  Here is granddaughter Celeste and our grandson, still unnamed.  They are beautiful children and a blessing.  I hope they will always feel that inside their hearts.

I hope I can be a grandmother consistently for a long time and influence in a good way these two young souls.  They deserve to have an easier life than their mother and grandmother did.  They deserve to be surrounded by goodness.  They deserve all that life has to gift.

Will and I will do our best to put all we can into it as if we were like those mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers who took being parents and grandparents for granted.   Will and I, however, know all too well what a miracle, what a vulnerable miracle, how out of our hands that great gift is.  We don't have much to say about it so we pray.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Malcolm X

This is the philosopher, world political leader, who had the most influence on our generation, Malik el Shabazz, Malcolm X.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I had forgotten Will made this short video when we went to Glen Cover, Sagoroe Te, to join the encampment there to save the shell mounds and protect that sacred area on the Vallejo Bay and estuary of our salmon:

Winnemem Ghost Tribe

Tonight, late at night, I'm looking through videos of the Winnemem to find one which Chief can use when she comes to Eugene to keynote for the Women of Color Conference January 25.  She will be speaking in classes, speaking at a keynote of women of color leadership on campus and she will be giving a keynote.  Caleen likes to show video and speak because it is hard to convey accurately who the tribe is and what our struggle to resist extermination of our way of life is to a crowd unfamiliar with the Winnemem without taking them through video to the place and among her people.  Without the technology people would not have reason to care if we exist or not.

I found this film and I want to save it here.  It was put together by California Watch, and it is about restoration.  Will and Toby McLeod have done films about salmon, ceremony but their documentaries have not focused entirely on restoration.  For good reason.  People's eyes glaze over as soon as that word is mentioned.  This weekend I told two friends, tribal, and people who care about the Winnemem that no matter how condensed, when I talk about recognition or restoration, people's eyes glaze over.  They were surprised.  I started one sentence, and their eyes glazed over.  Not easy to do.
But with the magic of video images, this little film is not so painful, especially since there are so many scenes of the village life and the beautiful sacred sites, the ceremony, the dances, the Chief and tribe.  So I'm thinking this should be added to the list of "Dancing Salmon Home" and "Ceremony is not a Crime."

What do you think?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lyla and Paige Traveling Through

Today is a special day.  Lyla and Paige are traveling through on their way up to Portland!  We had a dinner of vegetable stew and dumplings, Will's wonderful green salad, smoke salmon dip from Alaska from Katie, and corn bread finished by goatcheese and cherry frozen dessert -- like ice creme but doesn't make us sick.  We had wonderful conversations -- even while Lyla washed dishes.  Tomorrow before they leave we will go to Off the Waffle with Steve Morozumi.  Life is perfect!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Segorea Te

Corinna Gould, Ohlone leader, and good friend of Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu, speaks here about the precious estuary and cove, called Glen Cove by the media, and Segorea Te by the Ohlone and their allies.  This is the very place where the Sacramento River goes into the ocean and where our salmon would go from the sweet river waters to the estuary to grow up and then to the salty ocean.

Injunuity: Buried from Adrian Baker Animation on Vimeo.

This is the area that people tried to protect with the encampment at Glen Cove for months over a year ago. They seemed to win the battle, but were tricked. All the indigenous medicine plants gone. It's like a lawn there. WRONG!!!! And this area will be gravely impacted if and when Governor Brown surrounded by bad advisors, even those who claim to know about tribes and the issue, builds the peripheral canal which diverts all the water of the Sacramento south. The bay, our salmon's estuary, here in this place Corinna talks about will be gone.

"Dancing Salmon Home" honored by SFAIFF

At the Awards Night of the 37th Annual San Francisco American Indian Film Festival, an old and respected film festival, Chief Caleen Sisk accompanied with family and tribal members accepted the Best Documentary Award for the film.  Will and I found out when we saw the almost real-time post uploaded by cell phone by nephew Jesse Sisk, our tribe smiling ear to ear with the Chief in the center holding a humongous sculpture fashioned by Rance Hood, called "Film Indian." 

"Will, you won!!" I screamed from the office (really it's Jesse's bedroom when he gets here to go to LCC Culinary School.)  He ran in from his computer in the dining room.  We were online because the tribe was uploading as they could -- scenes of the venue, the winner of the music video category, then the long silence.  "That must be why they weren't posting anything," I said as he bent over my screen to see what his brain could not process -- the big lump the Chief held in her hands.  Yep!  Film Indian!

He could not believe it, stuck as the film was at the festival on a Tuesday noon.  Bad slot, but made even worse this year because it was Election Tuesday.  But people had come, and stayed put through 4 hours of other films for "Dancing Salmon Home."  Will asked the Chief to come up with him for the Q and A.  Lots of interest.  Lots of new learning about what happened in California to the tribes during the recent Reagan Era.  Crime.

On Tribal Ground was present at the SFAIFF, and the Chief gave an interview.  They will probably upload photos and the interview on their link.

On Native Ground

I tried to post their link on my link faves, but for some reason it does not receive youtube links.  It's mostly visual.  But now I've decided to write and post a blog about "Dancing Salmon Home" and Will, filmmaker and husband.    Catch up on films, music, and interviews of entertainment in Indian Country.

I want to take a moment to talk about Will because he does not think to talk this way about himself.  He's pretty special as a filmmaker.  He literally sees himself as an extension of the equipment.  Not diminishing himself.  As he says it, he has skills.  There is no god-like view of a talented man who calls his artistry skills.  I'm here to attest that his skills include his perspective on himself and his gift he brings into the world.  The power of the film is that the people (English word is "subject") in the film are portrayed by skillful editing in full power, their OWN power.  All documentary filmmakers can make powerful films.  But you must see the film to know what I mean.  He catches on film, moments which make it seem he is invisible.  And he is.  I've seen him.  Or more, I haven't seen him.  He's there but unnoticeable.  And for the interviews, maybe it's because he has been with the tribe so long and been teased by the young ones so long, but even then he almost gets away with the camera unseen.  Most of all, he "follows the people."  He picks up on them more than he looks at himself.  When he says (what he says often) "It's their film" he is being very accurate and when he says it is their film, he is not distancing himself as filmmaker.  He is moving closer and following, and with abandonment most directors and filmmakers don't do, he gives to the people, to the spirit and humbly follows.  Nothing in the way between him and them -- especially his ego.  He is one with the equipment.

Grandma blessed his camera and him a long time ago at her fire.  And he has not wavered from the purpose the Fire and his first Chief gave him.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cuba Impressions

In 2009, Will and I went on a trip which changed us.  It put things into perspective.  When living here, one can easily slip into the idea that this is the reality.  However, less than 100 miles of the coast of the United States is an Island Country, Cuba, which still exists free of the colonization of Spain, France and the United States -- the latest being the sugar industry and mobsters turning Cuba into their playground.  Cuban people have seen the worst of the worst empires have to offer.  In the Sixties, I remember the Cuban Missle Crisis, hearing about it in my Government Class.  Later in the late Sixties, I began to study about Cuba.  It became a role model country as America began to reveal itself in the youth revolutions around the war in Viet Nam.  It was a role model because it successfully waged a revolution and freed themselves from the bonds of colonialism.  Cuba is intriguing to our generation.

In 2009, we learned through Steve Wake's Documentary Film about a Nikkei group which visits Nikkei in Cuba.  Check out "Under the Same Moon."  That is a Japanese phrase which alludes to family, or deep friendships, separated by miles, and the steadfastness and longing of that separation, to be together, gazing up at the moon, and comforted, and hopeful for reunion -- under the same moon.

Will and I are going to be talking about our Cuban experience and our Cuban familia in our friend Jim Garcia's class.  At the same time, our good friend Noboro Miyazawa, has invited us to Cuba in 2014 to celebrate with the nation the first Japanese to reach Cuba, 400 years ago before it was blasted open and forced to live in a Western dominated era. 

Here is Cuba Expressions, and if you peruse earlier blogs, I have written about Cuba with longing and love.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Republicans Stealing Another Election Under Your Noses. No Shame!

I am pissed. So it begins. Election Night is never the end, Americans.   It's only the beginning. In our lifetime (some of you were babies) it began with dirty tricks on the DNC -- and Watergate which elected Nixon. Then we have Reagan's election where American lives were toyed with Iran Contra, giving aide to Iran privately to keep the US hostages in that situation so Carter's re-election could be sabotaged and the hostages coming home on Reagan's election day. Then we have the last Gore vs. Bush Florida poll fiasco and the"all to gentlemanly" Al Gore GIVING UP the election by conceding rather than fighting it. So THIS has to be fought! The Republican Party did not learn from Watergate any thing except they can get away with stealing elections and sabotaging the democratic process because the American public thinks that election day ends the work. It only BEGINS!!! Fight it now!

From America Blog:

“Glitch” wipes out 1,000 early votes in black FL neighborhood

Always Florida

There was a story over at NBC’s The Grio three days ago noting that at one Florida polling location, in a heavily black neighborhood, the number of people who voted early was suddenly “revised” from 2,945 to 1,942 – that’s a 34% decrease.
At first, polling officials blamed it on a “computer glitch.”  Uh huh.  And what glitch would that be?
The local supervisor of elections (SOE) didn’t inspire a lot of hope when speaking about another, smaller, change to the early voting numbers at another polling location:
Broward SOE spokesperson Mary Cooney acknowledged that the Sunday totals were revised, and said she would look into why.
“I can’t tell you definitively now,” Cooney said, “but I queried the person who posts those numbers and the most significant number he told me he changed was an instance where 1050 should have been 1150 — the numbers were transposed.”
He transposed the numbers by hand? And this is how Florida tallies votes?
The Grio followed up on the story the next day, Tuesday of this week, and got a different answer about the 1,000 vote discrepancy: now they’re saying “human error.”
The SOE chief says the changes, particularly at a polling place in a predominantly black neighborhood where National Action Network chief and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton and a group of pastors held “souls to the polls” rallies over the weekend, were the result of human error.
In a telephone interview with theGrio late Monday, Snipes said the SOE’s office runs two tallies — one manually calculated at the precincts by adding up the total number of voters swiped through an electronic voter identification system called EVID, which was purchased from a Florida vendor, and a second, electronic tally conducted at the Supervisor of Elections office after the polls close each day. The electronic numbers go directly to a database.  Snipes said the woman who tallied the votes at the E. Pat Larkins Community Center, which had its vote tally revised downward by 1,003, simply added the numbers incorrectly.
“The woman made a mistake,” Snipes said. “That was absolutely an addition error. The actual numbers are 1942 not 2945, so she made an addition error.”
In the future, they’re only going to report the electronic result, which still begs the question of which result is really correct, and what else do they do that might result in human error?  Not to mention, why did they first say it was a computer glitch?
And why is it always Florida?  Why always in a heavily Democratic precinct, and why do the errors always help the other guy?  Remember that Florida is already dealing with a widespread GOP voter fraud scandal.  From my earlier post of a month ago:
We reported last night that a firm doing business with the National Republican Committee and the Romney campaign was being investigated for voter fraud. The firm has done $2.9 million in business with the Republican National Committee this year alone, and another firm run by the same did $80,000 in work for Romney.
And, as I said last night, harkening back to all the faux outrage from Republicans claiming that ACORN was trying to steal the election: “Republicans accuse us of doing what they are, and we’re not.” AP has more:
What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county has now spread statewide, with election officials in at least seven counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter registration forms filled out on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida.
Lux said there have been forms that listed dead people and were either incomplete or illegible. He met with local prosecutors on Friday, but added that his staff was still going through hundreds of forms dropped off by Strategic employees.
Lux, who is a Republican, said he warned local party officials earlier this month when he first learned the company was paying people to register voters.
“I told them ‘This is not going to end well,’” Lux said.
Always Florida.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Danger of a Single Story

This is a wonderful speech told by an author who I am now very interested in reading.  Chimamanda Adichie talks in personal narratives about how a single story narrows a readers' mind, a nation's mind against others.  Adichie also shows how power and stories -- who writes them, who they are about, what they say -- intersect.  Writing is still so relevant.  Start a blog!  I invite you to check out my favorite blogs.  Three are news.  One is Angry Asian Man with whom I check to check my perception.  For example, when a newly published book slandered Richard Aoki, former Asian Black Panther, as an FBI snitch, I immediately went to Angry Asian Man and was comforted with his similar reaction, pissed, worried about the vulnerability of Richard's legacy since he died last year, and wondering what would happen.  Much to my relief, the Panthers stood by Richard.  Representatives responded by saying that these allegations have been leveled at many Panthers through the decades and is a tactic to break alliances.  Richard represents a cross cultural alliance.  The Panthers and APA community in Oakland held an event to make it more public.  I appreciated that, realizing it is not only the reputation of a good warrior, but it is the alliance of what we called Third World Peoples which was so precious to us.

Three of my favorite blogs are by people a good generation or two younger than I.  There is Racialicious, which is delicious discussions about race intersecting with pop culture written by many people.  "Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. "

Another blog is written by my young friend Marc Dadigan.  His parents are exactly my age.  I met Marc, in the MA program of creative writing and journalism at the UO.  When he graduated, he had no job, and had to get out of his apartment.  He embedded himself at the Winnemem Village in a little trailer, found a job working with mental health clients, and now is a great advocate for their human rights.  Not only that, he has become someone my friend Marcus Amerman calls a "super hero" -- an ordinary man who has unusual powers.  Marcus calls him "The Crusader."  That's because Marc's super power is his honesty in the face of the toughest challenges.  Crusader also suits him because he is fearless if the cause is justice.  He is writing a book about the Winnemem as well as what someone described as "carry water chop wood."  

The third blog which is new is by Monica Christoffels, a young Asian American woman, Filipina, who writes passionately, with such a true voice about taking action.  The first of her blog I've read is about her experience standing with those who are fighting tar sands in Toronto.  She takes the photos and writes the story so we can be right there with her -- this time with the powerful words of First Nations Women, always on the front lines for the Earth.

These two blogs have something in common.  They are told from the front lines, from the ground, from being there, from doing.  No armchair reporting.   I think that is why I am the most drawn to these blogs.

Grateful for the many stories people who show us the true picture of humanity, the true expression of real power.  As Chimamanda Adichie said, "A single story can break a person, but many stories can heal the break."  Read Marc Dadigan and Monica Christoffels and you will not pity the oppressed; you will embrace resistance!  It will take the veil from our eyes and make fire up our blood.

"Hozho" by Lyla Johnston

  I'm thinking that a measure of a successful life might very well be to have met Lyla, to stand in Lyla's loving light and to understand Lyla's poetry. To be 67 and all these things, I'm feeling pretty good today.  I wonder, if I need to say, Lyla loves.  Lyla loves every being, every thing.  To be satisfied to be loved by Lyla just might be the perfect State of Being.  Don't you think?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Dedicated to the YES and WE --  Bob Flor, Martha Choe, Marcine Anderson, Peggy Nagae, Bob Shimabukuro, Chisao Hata, Michael Kan, Alan Osaki, Lynn Osaki, Lori Osaki Wahl, Joe Wahl, Debbie McDaniels, Debbie Abe, Hugo Kurose, Stan Shikuma, Tracy Lai, Russell Baba, Jeanie Mercer, Bill Blauveldt, Nobuko Miyamoto, Peter Kwang, Janice Mirikitani, Sharon Hashimoto, Debbie Osato, Wendy Ng, Bettie Sing Luke, Anselmo Villanueva, Susana Wong, Carole Iwamoto, Lawson Inada, Frank Abe, Frank Chin, Curtis Choy, Shizue Shikuma, Lois Yoshishige, Remie Calalang, Iwalani Raes, Barbara Date, Steve Morozumi, Lynn Fujiwara, Bobby Lee, Bob Santos, Yuri Kochiyama and Rest in Peace, Al Robles, Philip Vera Cruz

This was the first UO Multicultural Alumni Reunion I've gone to since it began five years ago.  For me, it was like Medicine!

The experience began when APASU students asked me to speak on the "old days" which I did.  It was great fun to meet up with the energetic, dynamic, fun-loving, articulate, talented APASU  members and the other APIA students they were trying to recruit into the club.  And it was nice to be able to talk about the Seventies and Eighties and how AASU and what is now PACAlliance did together to change the landscape of the campus and of this city, wherever we worked, and always together across ethnic, racial, sexual orientation and economic lines.

The next day was Homecoming Friday, and Twila Souers, Anselmo Villanueva, Marshall Sauceda and I were visiting the basement of the EMU where all our student unions are located.  I stepped into APASU to say hi, and there was Alan Osaki, Seattle, second APASU director 30 some years ago!  And with him, of course, Mike Kan, Los Angeles, third APASU director.  They were visiting UO for Alan's daughter, Alexa, who is choosing a college and with their wives, Gigi Kan and Alan's wife, Phyllis Verzosa.   It was great!!!  Alan posed at his old desk.  I teased him he needed to take off his shirt because he always worked in that cramped space in his undershirt.  BTW, the cramped office is gone.  They had posed in the part of the old EMU where the office once was right next to the bowling alley.  Both had totally disappeared with reconstruction!    Mike was going through the files, pulling stuff out "I did this!" When Alan observed there wasn't much in the file cabinet, Elizabeth, APASU leader whose energy is so much like yours, Martha, laughed and said "we have computer files now!!"  Alan's daughter was holding a East West Players flyer saying, "Dad?  Is this thing . . . typed?!??"   Elizabeth said, she had picked up a layout original, and parts of it had fallen off.  They put it in a file thinking, if they touched it it would destroy it, and as Elizabeth described, " like it was a sacred object or something. "    It was fun.

All the way back up I-5 to Portland where they were going to have a family thing with the Osaki's, the two, Alan and Mike, could not stop brainstorming.  Mike emailed me the next day, Saturday and between Saturday and today, Tuesday, he has sent me no less than 15 emails:

Mike wrote, "Yes, today was truly an unexpected blessing. You look great, sound great and haven't lost any of that infectious energy. After today, my wife Gigi has been encouraging that Alan and I make a return to Eugene and offer to the students a "success workshop" or "Be victorious or be a victim, but you cannot be both."Both Gigi and I are passionate about exposing young adults w the things they don't teach in school, real life stuff. The reality that you can become "successful" w/o compromising ones core values.  We were discussing how many from our group have gone on to achieve success & have remained grounded, evolved and still realize we are all part of a larger community.As for me, I know now that I may not alone change the whole world, but I can have a tremendous influence on my world, then allow the ripple affect to take its course.
You, Martha, Peggy, Kim & Chisao were and have been an influence on me, my global decisions and how I choose to influence others, I want you to know that and know that the work you do matters. Alan and I, along with many others are evidence that you and your efforts matter.  Please continue, we are your ripple affect.  With warm regards, love and gratitude

Then Mike wrote, As we drove back to Seattle, Alan, Phyliss & Gigi and I were discussing this project. Of course this was a 3 hour brainstorming session discussing many "what ifs" on many levels. We thought it appropiate to do something within this academic year, if possiible. With so much on the line in this current election, the impact of which, will affect the future of young people today for many years. They need to vote! so many are not registered, have no knowledge of the "issues" and the affect on their future, the place they take in their community, having an opinion, voicing their opinion, taking action, leaving a legacy, not just being a benefactor of the work of those that came before. I am looking at the need young AA people today need to realize the impact they have on a broad scale.

Talking points:
What programs and/or professional organizations exist and their purpose
Networking (with other university AA organizations. The seed of networking for career nd more)
Mentoring (never stops)
Success development and how to use it
Personal finances
Self development
Leadership development

AO was looking at the "after college" networking benefits for the students and community; (this could have far reaching impact, of course, you'd want to get AO's direct input of ideas and vision).

There will always be the need of developing leaders in worlds of community (politics), academics and business. As you appreciate; "Leadership is everything".

UO APASU could host something, keeping it local or invite OSU, UW, Portland & CA schools.

The financial impact could be minimized to the APASU budget (speaking for AO & I; we'd cover our costs).
Let's keep talking

Then Alan weighs in:  hey guys, sometimes it just feels right.  One of the things that alot of us have to offer are "leadership development lessons."  I look at what you, Mike, Gary, Martha, Peggy have done, and currently do, and it seems a shame to waste all that knowledge and networking experience without imparting it to the next new generation of APA leaders-to-be (generation Y?).  There were some sharp kids in that group who could, and I think would, soak up and use alot of what exists is our professional and community oriented histories.  I think alot of us have come across that same openess to want to understand the "lessons-learned" from politically and community aware friends of our own kids.

Some other related thoughts:  Whatever is done will create the right perception with the current UofO adminstration and will help provide a foundation argument of support for future campaigns and initiatives.  Whatever is done will be relevant to the thoughts and needs of other similar APA student orgnanizatons in the region.  Seattle, Portland, Corvallis, etc. (and of course that creates the right kind of attention to the community).  Last, parts of whatever is done can be tailored (and packaged) in the "language" of today's generation, i.e. use of video, music, visual and performing arts, etc.  

Of course, I responded.   We brainstormed this and we brainstormed that, who, what, when, where.   Alan Osaki starting emailing, then Mike talked with Peggy and she entered the email conversation.   Then Mike sends out no less than 5 sample colorful leaflets, with the concept of a Youth Leadership Conference.  He says Alan's son, Troy, (google Troy Osaki's poetry) started working on these leaflets amping it up for the youth.  Troy is now joining in the idea:  The first annual APASU Youth Leadership Conference is now on paper.

We start throwing out names.   I volunteer PACA.   Alan writes:  It looks like quite a group.  One of the things I always liked about Eugene, was that you had to either hang together or you would end up hanging separately!  Unlike other large west coast urban areas w large Asian populations like L.A., S.F. or even Seattle, in Eugene you couldn't afford to "do your own thing" or not be involved.  In that context, I agree involvement with the PAC Alliance would be essential and logical.


I'm thinking, perhaps, we should write a proposal to APASU framing what we are willing to do.  I email Robbie, APASU Director first to give him a head's up.  He goes to a meeting, and the energetic group ok's it  That is amazing to me.  I tell him, since he's virtually just going on faith, that I will have a proposal in to him.  I get up this morning and write it, the question spreading across the page in bright red  WHEN WILL WE HAVE AN ASIAN OR PACIFIC ISLANDER PRESIDENT?  I sent the proposal to everyone inviting edits, expecting them to have lots of changes.  Then the responses came in.

Peggy says:  This is turning into a family reunion!  It's wonderful and powerful.
Bobby says:  Wow. Looks like a fantastic idea! It's an honor to be part of this event and to working with all of you. Please mark me on board!!

Here's where it starts inside to out with me.  The proposal I wrote starts getting read.
Mike says, "Misa, when I think about you, I see love."
Peggy says, "After all these years, you have been there for ALL of us...Thank you so much!
Alan says,  "Wow!  That took some work - great proposal!  I forgot when you decide to do something, you "really decide" to do it!"

I teared up with Alan's email.   What the Hell?  As I wiped my eyes, I realized these were healing words.

The words "Wow!  That took some work.  Great proposal!  I forgot when you decide to do something, you really decide to do it" melted something frozen in me,  a sentence which not only affirms something I did today, but affirms how I am remembered from the past.  I am a member of a team.  I am a member of a team who brainstorms with fervor and does not say no to anything and it flows and flows, and begins to gel, and when it gels, it's still elastic.  I am loved back as I love.  And if anything is done for fun, there's no one left out.  I am part of a team which, by nature, is excited, energetic, passionate, happy, hardworking, sharing of skills, appreciative of each other and having fun.  At the end of a long phone call, Mike said, "Hey, Misa.  Are you feeling happy?"  I could hear the smile in his voice and he laughed as I shrieked, "I am absolutely thrilled!" to which he said "I can tell!"  That he was not put off with my happiness and that he was pleased I was happy was healing for me.
During the conversation, because I have issues, I said, "Hey Mike, did you know I'm tribal?  I'm still Asian, just not Asian American.  I'm Asian Winnemem."  God knows why I would bring it up except for the hurt.

He said, "Yeah, of course.  I heard about it.  We keep track of each other, you know.  You're all about love, Misa.  I'm not surprised."  To be seen as someone who loves, not someone who's less Asian was healing.  Someone knows me.

When I get dreamy and miss the Seventies and Eighties, I now know  this past weekend wasn't just a Duck homecoming but a real Coming Home.  I know now that I'm not remembering through rose colored glasses, I'm not waxing elegiac.  The Seventies and Eighties were  real.  Those were special days and, more important,  these special days are ahead of us.  We all feel it still.  We all are in love with those days.  It affected our whole lives.  It transformed us.  We tell each other, You Changed Me!  It kept us hopeful, idealistic, loving and unafraid.  It kept us a team.  Like Mike said, "we just picked up from where we were."    I've written your names, Friends of those beautiful times,  and I know there are more of you.  I miss you!  And we're going to do our darnedest to make the reunions happen again!!  Bring some love together!!

I'm not sad anymore because I know that whenever any group of us come together, even 30 years later,  there is enough love to keep us for a long time, just like that, as if no time had passed.  And that is enough.  That is all I can ask for.  I am blessed beyond measure!

Thank you, brothers and sisters AND APASU for some healing love.

Well, Martha just weighed in. " Hi Misa, just saw this and will reply. We are in Dubai right now and waiting to get on our NYC flight !!" and then "It is wonderful to get your and Misa's email. I am super excited to participate so count me in..We are currently in Dubai and tentatively scheduled to fly to NY if Sandy calms down enough to open the airport. I'm giving a speech to the Korean American foundation on Thursday and will be back in Seattle Sunday.Would love to talk with you and see what I can do to help. Thanks so much for the great idea for a reunion and excited to see the next generation in action!"

ONE HUNDRED PER CENT, YES!  We're all "in" for the adventure, and calling it fun, calling it family, calling it love, calling it rabble rousing in just three days of an incredible flurry of emails, from Seattle through Portland, then Eugene to LA, east to Montana and around the globe to Dubai.  Alan just wrote:  Whew...!  Finished reading.  Re the dates, ditto Mike... Re. the keynote speaker, I think it also depends on who we are talking about and what the goals and intent will be.  Possibly, someone who can tie things together and also be a segue to open the door to future strategies (we are thinking future, right?).  Some other thoughts .... Mike talked about a goal of uniting generations to learn from each other.  That is, with the experience learned over the last 40 years, it's almost criminal not to communicate certain lessons to the next crop of young leaders.  And when you tie that in with the natural loyalty all folks of our generation have with their respective alma mater (Ducks, Huskies, Bruins etc) other possibilities arise.  There are API alumni from the 60's & 70's throughout the west coast who I'm pretty sure feel the same way about their school, the way we all feel about Oregon .... Anyway, I can smell fun times ahead!   

I'm going to bed now having read Alan's last email to us: 
Unlike the Rightous Brothers ....  We've got that lovin' feelin' back!  

My heart feels so good, I got on my blog and cut all the hurt feelings out of this piece.  They're gone.  Those are the feelings in the past, waaaaay in the past, and I'm going to leave them there.  The present is Love -- more grey in the hair, but excited, always, open always, and united.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Hits Cuba

My sister just Facebooked me about Hurricane Sandy.  The article says that it hit Santiago de Cuba with a force of a level 2 hurricane, 110 mph.  It referred to a death in one of the other Caribbean islands but no news on Cuba except where it hit.  Other than a short paragraph: 
Hurricane Sandy, strengthening rapidly after crossing the warm Caribbean Sea, slammed into southeastern Cuba early Thursday with 110 mph winds that cut power, damaged homes and blew over trees across the city of Santiago de Cuba, we don't know much."

However, I know for sure that the rest of Cuba would probably have sent all the trucks in the country going that direction to move things out of homes which needed a safe place because with the blockade things like appliances are hard to replace, that the doctors made sure all 100 of their patients had enough medicines and some were put in hospitals which are built most safely, that all the school children living away, went home early making sure their rooms were ready for families, because schools are also safe buildings, that even small children have a task, and that the school children and others made sure that the dead branches were cut, sewers cleaned, that all was in preparedness, because they would have tracked this hurricane and not having to worry about the profits of the hotel business, and attending to their attitude, that the human being first, the people would have had enough advance notice to take care of things the best they could. The elders, the sick, the disabled, those pregnant, visitors and guests in homes would all have been accounted for so that they would be in the safest situation possible. But I am still concerned and will be praying for them.

But what will happen on the northern seaboard in the United States.  

One of the best things which can happen with the end of the blockade the US has put on Cuba is the flow of ideas -- one of which is HOW to prepare for surviving a Hurricane.  Or will capitalism be able to adopt such a model.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rest in Peace Dear Jimmy Mirikitani

Master Artist and precious elder of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, Jimmy Mirikitani, died Sunday, October 21, 2012, with his close friend, Director Linda Hattendorf closeby.  Linda was told by the elder Nisei ladies at Tule Lake "You're a good Japanese daughter," and she was and is.

I am one of the lucky ones to have met Jimmy at Tule Lake Pilgrimage the first three times he attended.  I missed the next two pilgrimages.  I am sad that I missed seeing Jimmy.  Please check out the website.  The link is on this blog.  I'll write more later.  Right now, we're all a little stunned.

Russell Means Tells America, Welcome to the Reservation

This is a profoundly interesting analysis of the current American situation, Reagan's policy to allow corporations usurp our individual rights, and turning all of American into a reservation where, as Means describes, there are no freedoms.  I am buying his book!  That being the case, then

certainly all Americans need to watch this, be able to see the belly of the beast, and join the ongoing resistance of the American Indians, as Russell Means prefers to be called.  I'm going to read his book Welcome to the Reservation.  Clearly it is a book written for the rest of America, and he is doing it out of the goodness of his heart for all the good people he met along the way, with the gift of wisdom gained while digging into the historical documents and learning the truly revolutionary spirit of those documents, and the part played by the tribes they met and were transformed by.  These are not documents written by monarchists but by a collective that glimpsed something better and were inspired by the possibilities of that glimpse -- the Iroquois Confederacy, the Narragansett, the Pequot, the Wampanoag, all the first nations people of the land.


I was asked by APASU at UO campus to speak as a founding member of their organization on campus for their Wednesday Dinner before the Multicultural Alumni week for Homecoming.  Dedicated to John Beckwith with "You were right!  Everything is their fault!"

           For APASU's event before the Multicultural Alum Event, Gerlinger, 10/24/12
           Forty some years ago, I moved to Eugene.  It was the Year of the Rooster.  I was 24 and never so alone and  so alienated in my life.  Even on campus, I remember having whip lash whenever I sighted black hair.  No one like me.  Imagine this campus without anything, no OMAS, no MCC, no Diversity Vice Presidents, faculty, no Ethnic Studies and definitely no student unions. The year was 1969.  As the Winds of Change on the West Coast at San Francisco State and, on the East Coast, at Columbia U, with student strikes shutting down their campus for Ethnic Studies, for their histories, poets, writers to be included in the curriculum, for the right to have student unions, for the right to have staff of color, and when the concept Third World Peoples was first used and heard, we were on the verge of the same kind of change at the University of Oregon. 

            The UO was not going to mess with student strikes so in the summer of '69, I was able to sign up for a Black Literature class taught by a Columbia professor!!  He was not African American; however, he often encouraged the leadership of two African American students in his class.  Turning the class over to students was a first to me.  It was exciting!  I even remember the first insight one of the students gave us.  William Faulkner cannot write the Black Experience.  In Faulkner's books, Black characters only come alive when a White person is in the room. 

            It was not until fall of 1972, when I left teaching to pursue my Fifth Year certification, that I caught a small article in the newspaper which was to change everything for me.   A class called Asian American Experience was being offered and I signed up, excited to meet other Asians in this "city of people" where I was the only brown spot.  I loved the sound of it -- Asian American -- because that time was the first time, Asian American was used and heard by many of us -- when the idea that we have the right and the responsibility and the self-determination to decide for ourselves what we called ourselves, not oriental, not foreign, not "other " was powerful.   In naming ourselves, we left nothing at the door and we brought our ancestors' stories and our own poetry and songs on our backs into these ivory tower.  But I get ahead of myself because something else came first.

            The Asian American Experience class was taught by John Beckwith, Chinese American from the Seattle area, who is now a lawyer in Seattle -- who may even be a retired lawyer in Seattle.    That first day, there he stood in front of his motley crew of Asian students, jeans, white t-shirt, red bandana tied around his head pacing, wide gestures, huge voice.  We took notice!  San Francisco State Student Strike was in this room as far as we were concerned!! 

            John Beckwith's lectures were exciting.  His invitation to lively, high pitched, passionate argument was exciting.  We didn't read books, but every day there were  handouts pushing us to respond, rethink, remove brainwashed stereotyping,  hardly ever agreeing completely but completely engaged.   We wrote. Where there was a lack of material, we wrote the material.  During that hour and a half, twice a week, it was all about CREATING a movement.  We had to FIND our literature, UNEARTH our history, COMPOSE our own songs and bring the beat of the Taiko Drum to America.  When we did the first organizing, you know what I mean, we were cooking it, we were sharing, we were arguing, we were laughing a movement into shape in the homes of community people.   Community would drive to campus, pick up the students and head for the coast to spend the day at Strawberry Hill.   All the while we were talking about issues carried up and down I-5 from L.A. to British Columbia across to NYC -- reunification of Korea, the American war in Viet Nam from an Asian perspective, -- identity, always identity, Asian Men and Asian Women dynamics, and, of course, our two class projects.

            Our class project was to start two clubs -- one on campus and the other in the community.  For a decade, the two organizations were really just branches of the same.  On campus, we worked through the bureaucracy with the help of community to win our room, the Asian American Student Union, or AASU, and were crammed into a long narrow space resembling one of the alleys of the EMU Bowling Alley right next door.  Aren't we always crammed by some bowling alley?  We had the smallest room, but we did not have the least people.  The Community Group was called Asian American Community Group.  Very plain and inoffensive.   We still exist, but understandably we changed our name, now PACAlliance -- Pacific Asian Community Alliance and AASU has become APASU, Asian Pacific American Student Union.

            As a student union/community group unit, we were able to accomplish many things through the next decade.  Remember, we didn't really have a decent budget from IFC.  A lot of our activities were done in community homes.  My house became the motel for guests, and party site.  In those days, there was a steady stream of people going up and down I-5 carrying in backpacks, books and anthologies they wrote and published themselves,  stopping at  APASU's all along the way.  There was always an audience, food, a place to sleep and a party wherever you stopped.   Chris Iijima, Nobuko Miyamoto, Lawson Inada, Frank Chin, Janice Mirikitani,  Political Prisoners Movement, Free Cho Sul Lee Movement, Reparation and Redress Movement, The Tule Lake and Manzanar Pilgrimage organizers, Unity, an Asian American Socialist Organization, Seattle Taiko, the Noh Buddies musicians, "Chop Suey" the first Asian American Musical, Shasta Taiko, they all stopped in Eugene, hosted by APASU and in the homes of community members. 

            More than often we'd get a carful or two and head off for a pilgrimage, a conference, an Obon, a Filipino I-District pig barbecue, an opening, a rally and represent,  forming an I-5 family which lasts today.   Our first major conference attracted Asians from all over -- and they came to share their own projects.   We called the conference "A Tribute to John Okada" the first true authentic Asian American voice who died an unappreciated genius, resisting editors of publishing companies and their efforts to whitewash his novel,  No No Boy, an honest portrayal of the pain and betrayal of being Japanese American during WW2.    The Asian American Ethnic Pride Movement was alive and well in Eugene too, and the heart of it was APASU and the community group, now called PACAlliance
            Exciting as the AASU was, everyone will tell you the most transformational and the most treasured gift which came out of our Student Union in the late 60's through the 80's were the strong alliances -- make that friendships -- make that family -- we built across student union lines with BSU, NASU, MEChA and ourselves and the political movements of that time we were part of.  We were part of the Free South Africa Movement and everyone helped with Reparation and Redress.  We worked the pow wows, making sandwiches and lemonade for the drums, and NASU was there to help us host our traveling guests.  We supported the HEP program, and all of us ended up at the Longhouse over coffee, beading, and conversation.    We stood with NASU to support a Longhouse, the first in the nation, to be on a college campus.  We joined other student union women and LGBTQ for a parallel women's conference in support of Jan Oliver, First Black ASUO Student Body President who questioned why the UO Women's Conference appeared to be about White Heterosexual Feminism only.  Not everything was direct action.   In between lots of celebrations, pow wows, potlucks, parties.     We went to IFC meetings together, supporting each other, and you know how important that is to crowd the room.

            We changed the landscape of the university when we were here.  Some of us taught the first ethnic studies, although no credit was given in the beginning.  Together we unearthed those federal funds earmarked for students of color finding them buried in remediation classes and fought alongside our faculty allies to have them appropriately administered which began the Council for Minority Education, CME.  The CME had an Asian American as its first administrator, Gary Kim, who had led the charge in the first place.  The CME legacy is OMAS, MCC, and all the culturally relevant classes on campus.   The CME legacy is OMAS, MCC, and all the culturally relevant classes on campus.   Although gutted, enough of CME remains to make the difference between the campus we experienced, no recognizable point of entry or support to what Students of Color coming to this campus experience today.   I want you to know that from the beginning , APASU and APASU members were in  leadership positions in making this campus work for everyone so that you  understand that we belong in all parts of any diversity design on this campus today.

            These multicultural relationships still last today.   The skills we learned working together as well as the network of influence we now have all around the country with one another is the greatest gift gained at the UO.  It made me a better teacher.  I hear that same testimony from tribal leaders, judges, CEO's, community organizers, business people, artists -- that these multicultural networks and the work we did together, made us better and more successful than anything we gained at the University of Oregon.

            I support you APASU.  I am very proud of you for carrying on a great legacy.  Your work makes this campus safer and richer.  Granted, it may be a little different in terms of issues, the role you play in the history of movements, but what remains the same is that you contribute, you represent, and you endure.  APASU's historical roots is the message I leave with you tonight, and that is "We cannot do anything alone, and together, we can do anything we Dream."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Outside the Belly, Following the Sacred.

"Outside the Belly" blog is proud to present a photograph by Kayla Carpenter, Hoopa, a young leader and good friend.  I pushed some buttons just to see what would happen and my blog design completely disappeared with the Rakaia River of South Island, New Zealand.  So it was time to find another picture, and here was Kayla's ready to upload, permission and all.  I hope it's ok to use it for my blog because it carries a meaning with it.

Grandma Florence, Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader took us into her home, introduced us to all her sacred places and invited us:  The Winnemem Way of Life is a Hard Life but the Best Life in the World.  We found that to be true, refugees from an Empire, the Monster's Belly.  Now we have a good view of the belly, on the outside, tribal in an empire, federally unrecognized, a ceremonial life among secular and having to struggle for freedoms people take for granted to the point they don't even know the meaning of the "freedoms" they believe themselves to have.  Definitely the Winnemem take nothing for granted and the struggle is hard, and every victory sweet and shared.  Everything good ripples out.

So thank you Kayla, for the perfect picture for my blog.  Salmon spawning.  Salmon sacrificing their lives for Life.  At the end of its Life Cycle, everything grows from it.  The Chief says that scientists have found salmon DNA in the trees.  She says, "we need more salmon in the trees."

I cannot imagine a more important being for humans to follow, a being which knows both river and ocean, the being who lives its whole life to reproduce and to help everything to live, a being who struggles against all odds to do its sacred responsibilities.  The Chief talks about the great salmon who hurled themselves at the dam over and over and over again until they killed themselves just to go another 100 miles further.

I am once again reminded of the Cuban artist and school principal when we were conversing and joking about living in the Belly of the Beast, reminding us with encouragement, "But remember!  Jose Marti said, 'I have lived in the Monster and I have seen its belly!!' "  I named my blog with the insight of the great Cuban philosopher and revolutionary, and I write about my life as a grandchild of immigrants who have found her place outside the belly with my tribe, unrecognized and undefeated, the Winnemem Wintu. 

Expose the Dirty Secret

Peter DeFazio, populist and favorite Congressman of Oregon, broke from party ranks (Democrat) to join Republican (aka racist xenophoic) to vote for and pass the criminalizing of our borders, to the south that is.  I am still outraged by it.  My efforts have been puny.  In public places whenever the Congressman comes home to march in the Eugene Celebration Parade  "De Fazio!!  Immigration Justice!!!"  By this time, no one would know or care what I meant if I were to say something about building the wall between Mexico and the US and making a War Zone from our neighbors to the South.  He comes to speak, "De Fazio!!!  Immigrant Justice!!!"  I'd feel foolish the only voice shouting if I weren't so angry.

Here is a video which brings it ALL home.  Now, I plan to show this video whenever I have the chance, of the brave people of Maricopa County, AZ, who refuse to do nothing while the racist Sheriff Arpaio takes that piece of legislation De Fazio helped pass and wages violent illegal war on indigenous, undocumented and Latino citizens, men, women, and children.  Please watch this, and pass it on widely!!  There is no justice in the United States.  At some point, all the dirty national secrets must come out!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

State Religion

Science is a religion.  It's world view derives from dividing the whole, isolating each elemental pieces. "Taking apart" or dividing into categories and boxes.  Science is also human centered.  Knowledge is valued according its usefulness to the human being and human endeavor.  The driving endeavor is "can you sell it?"  then "can you make a profit, year after year after year."

Cancer? Bombard the body with something which will kill  the invading cells. There will be collateral damage, but that is the cost of war. If enough "good cells" live and can grow, then survival is possible.

Salmon? Invent costly equipment which can isolate that gene which allow scientists the ability to predict when a salmon will spawn.  Prediction is control and regulation.   Nature is wise.  Salmon, even those who enter into the rivers at the same time, will come upriver at different times, some stopping in the pools.   It has something to do with relationship with the water, things that grow in water, around water, conditions of the ocean and water, conditions of other living things which the salmon relies upon, or feeds.  I suppose this society would call it "unpredictable."  But that is just how Nature is.  Everything but regulated and predictable and controlled by the human being.

Teaching science? Sixth graders will learn about water and wind and sky. Seventh graders will learn about creatures and plants. Eighth graders will learn about earthquakes and other phenomena. Release these trained people into the world in 12 years of schooling and they won't be able to see the whole and only see the parts, or have faith that the parts identify, explain, and is all there is to Life, especially the part called Human which stands apart, always in all situations.

Diminishing natural resources?  Go to war to dominate what's left.

This is not human nature.   There are countries around the world and human beings within this Empire we live in who live another value system which have roots into the past -- sustainable world views,  ways of life.   The value system of capitalism gone amok is a recent aberration.  If the human being does not follow common sense, tradition, legacy from an unbroken past, and buy this non culture of waste and hoarding and profit based thinking, they will become mutant beings with no foresight, whose heart cares for nothing more than the paper they've printed for money, who glut on the future of their children leaving them only ruin and waste and suffering.  Individualism without responsibility -- separated from the generations, and from the clan, and no past no future, no future generations. This government believes that amassing weapons of mass destruction of the earth determines who is the "fit" who will survive. 

Does it really? 

Will this empire survive?  These mutant beings born from colonialism and capitalism, can they feed themselves without the back breaking labor of other human beings? Can these beings keep warm without sacrificing the great rivers, the pure air, without digging up the innards of Mother Earth? Can they make a fire without a match.

Dark thoughts in a dark time in the Monster.  Make sure you stand where you can see its belly.


One thing my mother told me when she saw the road I was going on as a Winnemem Tribal Member was to share that Grandpa had Ainu blood, if not heritage.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe she just thought that might explain why I went the Winnemem way.  But that could be because our family don't  fit into the individualistic American way, our grandparents from a village in the mountains of the Gifu River.  Maybe that could be answered by the fact I was desperately homesick for our clan-like family, less contemporary like the immigrants from port cities like Hiroshima, Yokohama.  We were definitely old fashioned. 

It is true that Grandpa's facial features are not necessarily Japanese.  His nose is high bridged. His eyes doesn't have that fold.   Uncle George took after him and shares some of those less Japanese features.   Grandpa's values were nature centered.  I had assumed that he was more  Shinto and Grandma more Zenshu.  Couldn't his reverence for nature come from that source.  He lived in the mountains. However, didn't he talk about ancient rocks filled with kami with his little granddaughters.  Now that I'm 67, I know those things to be deliberate.   People did not really talk about being Ainu back then for the same reason people hid their indigenous roots in this country -- so their children would be safer in a racist society.

But I was warmed with mom's support explaining I might be a "throwback." She also shared that back in the day Grandma taught the girls with the onset of puberty that they would stay apart during those times in the old country but now that they were in America, they were going to do as Americans do.  She said Japanese were like the native people here in that way.   She explained she hadn't thought about it until she noticed that's how we were raising the girls -- a time for rest, and to be waited on.  I don't know.  I don't know if it were memory or kindness.

I appreciate my mother for her acceptance; that is the main message she gave me.

In a recent casual conversation with friends about hair -- that there was no one Asian Hair --  the listing off of Chinese, Filipina, Korean, Chinese, I turned to my  blunt speaking Japanese friend, and asked, "Do you think I have Japanese hair, Mike?"  I was teasing him because I'm sure he saw many things which were not Japanese about me.  He laughed a bit nervously, and said, "noooooooooooooo?"

 I laughed and said, "I embrace my salmon loving Ainu hair. "  I don't really know if I have Ainu in my background, but I do know that Mike and several others suspect there's something going on because of my being tribal.   I do know when my nephew showed me the Ainu women's hair tossing dance  I felt a little bit like when I first saw the man who fathered me when I was in my late 50's after not seeing him since I was two -- recognizing myself in his features, and the way he walked.  A strange feeling because there really wasn't any tie which remained for either of us which was familial, if ever it existed in the first place.

 Enjoy the You Tube piece.   I hope to witness this dance someday, as I hope to witness the salmon of the river systems of Hokkaido, and to meet the Bear People of the northern mountain islands of Japan.  The Ainu once were all over Japan, certainly in Honshu where my family is from, but through oppression they now live only in Hokkaido.   In an article I googled by Simon Cottorill he writes:   Most indigenous groups have experienced distressing cruelty, and narrative accounts of their struggles tend to be elegiac in tone. Japan's Ainu people have undergone suppression of their culture and livelihood, and subsequent denial of their existence. However, the Ainu's recent history is marked by considerable achievements, such as international recognition and the Japanese government's 2008 declaration recognizing their indigenous status. In spite of and often in reaction to continuing obstacles, the Ainu have successfully used the international forum to advance towards their domestic goals. Simultaneously, they have often reshaped their culture to successfully engage with contemporary demands.

I had seen a film and learned they are everywhere in Japan, though not noticed.  They resist extinction and there is an Identity Movement all over Japan to bring back some of their cultural ways and I had heard they are finally allowed to help the wild salmon stock but I cannot find anything that talks about it.   The Japanese government who had invested everything into hatchery fish.  Japan operates the most extensive hatchery operation in the world, according to an Evaluation of the Effects of Conservation and Fishery Enhancement Hatcheries on Wild Salmon Populations.  Studies show that supporting hatcheries only does not solve the problem.

Meanwhile, look what happens to the wild salmon from testimonies submitted to the 2011 UN DRIP by the Ainu:

The city government of Monbetsu, a municipality in Hokkaido Prefecture (traditional Ainu territory), authorized a plan to build an Industrial Waste Dumping Site near the Monbetsu river on February 26, 2010. The Monbetsu River is one of the most important places for the co-existence between the Ainu culture and the natural environment, and an important site for autumnal salmon spawning in the Monbetsu area. A traditional ceremony (Kamui Cep Nomi) to thank the deities for providing the Ainu with lots of salmons was revived in 2002, and the ceremony is conducted every autumn by the local Ainu community.

Prior to the authorization, the local Ainu community in Monbetsu, working in collaboration with local Japanese groups supporting environmental conservation, demanded that the city government respect the UNDRIP including land, cultural and environmental rights and the principle of "Free, Prior and Informed Consent" (FPIC) and review the plan from the indigenous peoples’ perspective. However, the city government, unfortunately, has not given any consideration to the Ainu rights and has now authorized this project. As a result, the construction work has been already started, and the local Ainu people have sent application to the Prefectural Pollution Examination Commission (PPEC) to look into the matter.

In 2010, 56 indigenous organizations and 25 supporting NGO and NPOs joined together to gather signatures to a petition calling on Hokkaido prefecture to halt construction plans.

That's the spirit!

If Grandpa were mixed heritage Ainu, even from way back, and if he yearned to claim it, I would be honored to be a throw back granddaughter.  But if not, my nature loving Ojichan, I carry you with me into the Winnemem World because there, I do not have to leave my precious elders and upbringing at the door like one does in the larger society. 

Much to my surprise, while channel surfing after writing this, Anthony Bordain is traveling in Hokkaido.  And strangely enough, considering what I've been writing, he is visiting the Ainu cultural center and museum.  Later he visits the home of his host.  He sits down to a stew of Ainu traditional vegetables which I know includes wild onion.  This soup had C(h)ep, or salmon.  This is their most important food and called "fish of the spirits."  They are prevented from fishing.  I don't understand where or how they get the fish the fish drying outside their homes strung under the eaves of their roofs.  Perhaps it's meant they can't fish out of season anymore.  The man talked about how first they wash the gutted fish in salt water, then dry it outside -- two months, then smoke it and dry for another 2 months.  That's not not the only way the cook salmon but that is how they preserve the salmon.  Bordain liked it.  They talked openly about the oppression.  From the 1860's -- what a time that was all around the world -- land was taken, and forced assimilation.  That's period Japan had sent their experts to the US to learn how to be an empire.   And that's when they took that wrong road which pretty much affected their culture too.   Their policy toward the Ainu seem just as oppressive as the Americans.  Bordain is registering shock.  He doesn't know his own country's policies toward indigenous peoples.    

The Other Issue

      I mentioned that during my long absence from blogging that I had resolved a couple of issues while busy at work for the Winnemem Wintu cause.

     Rather than an issue, I would call the second phenomena a steep and rigorous learning curve.

     The Chief is unique as a member in her generation.  Her generation suffered from all the bad government policies directed at the tribe as well as the trauma of her parents' generation.  Her parents generation suffered the loss of tribe by the drowning of their homeland, the lies of the BOR and Congress in promises made of "like land."  A huge loss.  The Chief's generation lost even more.  In the 1980's all their rights as federally recognized tribes disappeared over night -- the health care, the educational support, but more important their rights.  As she succeeded Grams as Chief of the Winnemem, she found that all agreements made with the Winnemem became null and void without any discussion because the tribe had become federally unrecognized.  There are repercussions to loss.  Alcoholism.  Early death.  Christianity.  But, in spite the trauma, the Chief stayed true to the Winnemem Way.  No self destructive detours.    The Chief is a survivor of genocide -- chemical warfare of alcohol and drugs, the cultural genocide brought in by bad government policies and Christianity.  The Chief followed her ancestors.  She brought the tribe back to live in one Village, all the young children raised by all of them.  She brought back the coming of age ceremonies for both the boys and the girls so that they could grow to be good Winnemem.  She brought back the War Dance in 2001 at Shasta Lake Dam, the "weapon of mass destruction" used against the Winnemem Way of Life.
     With War Dance, the Winnemem stopped the funding to raise the Shasta Lake Dam higher, something which would have drowned all the rest of their sacred places on the river, at least 40 and perhaps as much as 80.  With the War Dance, the news of which went around the world, she was contacted by New Zealand that the Winnemem salmon still flourished in their South Island Rivers, salmon which we all had believed were gone forever with the building of the dam.  With the return to the Winnemem village, with homeschooling instead of public school, with the return of the men and women's coming of age ceremonies,  in just a generation,  there is 100 percent sobriety.  In just one generation the  younger generation is stronger than the older generation.
     The Chief made connections internationally, first through the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples becoming a member of their permanent forum.  She connected with New Zealand Human Rights Commission and the Maori people and took her tribe to South Island to do ceremony for their salmon.  She began to create a Salmon Restoration Proposal for above the dam which would bring the salmon back home from New Zealand with the partnership of the Maori, the New Zealand Fish and Game.  The Chief was able to work with the state legislature and Councilman Jerod Huffman to pass a Joint Resolution (AJR 39) with which CA recognizes the Winnemem Tribe and urges the US Congress to return Federal Recognition to them.
     What I leave off here that many of these accomplishments were shared by another person, a life partner.  He had some challenges.  Bringing people together was not his forte.  He had some gifts.  Bright.  Hardworking.  And talked boldly about commitment to the Winnemem values -- water, sacred lands, ceremony, -- and coined the "long journey to justice."  After 25 years, raising a daughter, bringing his precious elders, mother and father, to live with the Winnemem, and when they passed on, buried them in the Winnemem cemetary, brought his cousin with Down Syndrome to be taken care of there, he chose a trite and sad way to desert the tribe and it affected us all.  He slipped out, left behind all his responsibilities, and turned a disdainful, selfish, hateful face toward the Chief, the opposite of his past loyalty and affection.   So, the Chief was left to herself to find the way for the sake of her tribe, and her adult children.  And she had to do this on her own.  She did.  She traveled to every sacred place and following the spirits, and taking the full blow of the pain by herself, she undid this most personal treachery suffered by the Winnemem and step by step, piece by piece, brought back balance and brought her children and his cousin out of harms way.  Her heart was literally broken.  She began to heal physically also.
      The past year, are when the lessons began to become apparent.  That is what this blog is about.  The hard won lessons led by a Great Chief.  I believe that Caleen Sisk will go into Winnemem history as one of the Great Chiefs, a great communicator all over the world, a great leader of human rights, water, sacred lands, a great teacher, and a great spiritual leader who brings her people back to their way of life.  Now that we are in the part of our history when all the backroom deals have come out in the open, the treacheries have faces, the enemies have made themselves known and nothing is hidden, we must be strong and unified.  We are now facing the Forest Service Law Enforcement.  We have survived a possible  paid plant's disruption of our tribe.  We have met with the BOR and Westlands and they have shown us their destructive plans.  Those who don't believe in the Winnemem way have shown it through word and action.  Those who do believe have lined up with the Chief, Hoopa, Maori, AIM, environmental activists.

       Being born Winnemem is different from not being born Winnemem.   When a tribe must break new ground, in a bigger arena, and the rules change, that tribe must be unified.  There is only one way to be unified in the Winnemem Tribe and that is to follow the Chief.  We are not a tribal council tribe.  We are not the US government.  We're Winnemem with a strong successional government.  Our leader does not go it alone, a charismatic, ego-centered individualist.  As the Chief says, our leaders have 100 Winnemem leaders behind them.  And our leaders follow the ancient ways.
     I have found that it is very natural for the Chief's people who were born Winnemem to adapt which helps to show a unified front.  In times of change, I have found that for others, not born Winnemem, may fall on their own past upbringing, experience, college degree, personal quirks.  Sometimes, it feels like a tribal council election, people pushing their own agenda, looking for support.  Eventually, the realization that most follow the Chief stops maneuvering, alien to the tribe,  and that plays itself out until it kind of just peters away.
     I'm not born Winnemem.  But I've avoided this maneuvering because I really really know that I am not born Winnemem as does Will, and we know that the smartest thing to do is to follow the survivor of the Winnemem holocaust, and that would be our Chief.  To follow a law degree, or one's former  experience, or a parliamentary or Greek democracy model just doesn't get us to the goal as a unified tribe.
     The young ones are stepping up.  As believers, as Winnemem born Winnemem, as celebrants of their own coming of age, they are unfazed, and ready for this time.

     Allies have stepped up.  The allies find us.  Our work is inspirational to them.  They are drawn to the work.  Those who saw the Winnemem as celebrities have backed away.  Too much work.  Never stops.  The work is probably one of the reasons the Nowhere Man left.  All the assumptions voiced in the past that other tribes won't support the Winnemem, that activists may not respect the tribal ways have been proven to be just that -- assumptions.  And finally on the corner in front of the Federal Courthouse on Bechelli, holding up our signs "Ceremony is not a Crime" and the AIM contingent, Wounded Knee and the AIM Banner with us, students from several California universities traveling to be with us, the ACLU, and hearing the friendly honks of solidarity from many trucks, suv's and cars of Redding, the assumption that there is not support in Redding can be dismissed.  Gary said that we were stupid to have a rally in Redding because we will be shot by rifles and killed -- not true.  Could have been true, without a doubt, but not true.

Adversity will make us stronger.  We prayed to survive 2010-2011, but I did not realize how good things could be at this moment in 2012, even with bad news and new challenges.  The tribe has come together, stronger and more unified than before.  We've lost some people along the way, but we have learned their absence, just as their presence in the past, has had a good effect as people jostle and adjust to the empty spaces, as things change because it is another mix.  Sometimes I think to myself that that person would have loved these times, but then I think, perhaps these times would not have happened if things had not changed -- not to be meant personally -- it's just how things are with fluctuations.  It's a humbling insight that we are all expendable, and it's ok.  Things go on and it feels good, just as good, as the past.  The Chief is radiant.  Her body has changed with diet, with weekly exercise, she receives many compliments.  She is stunning at Sixty.  I remember the way she was treated, teased for being heavy, made to feel unattractive.  That woman is gone.  One, she is beautiful and vibrant.  Two, she would not put up with that treatment from anyone anymore.  She has perspective on herself.  She is also finding that like Grams, she CAN lead on her own. Today, I can't even bring back how it felt, things have changed so dramatically.  We are filled with things to do, grateful for the second wind we seemed to have caught, and the strong ties with the sacred lands, the Maori, new allies, our ancestors, the younger generation, invigorated with the direction we are going even with possibilities of more citations and arrests, because we have been tested and learned that there is confidence in following the ancestral way.

NEVER let the Chief face jail alone ever again!
     As I said we were all tested, and we all learned.  We definitely did not know the terrain -- none of us knew, from activist lawyer right on down the chain.  Without really getting into it, we made mistakes during this transition of Forest Service being benign or friendly to the Forest Service becoming bullies and oppressors, the biggest mistake being to allow our Chief to be criminalized by herself.  I say if this were a game of chess, it is over for us. I wrote a lot of lessons here, but deleted them.  The main thing is, we should follow the Chief.  Why?  She is following the ancestors.  She is the connection to the future and past.  She is the receiver of War Dance messages.  She is a survivor of the Winnemem Holocaust.  She is an exceptional leader,  a leader for the times, and a leader the world listens to.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Open Letter to Regional Forester Randy Moore

To Regional Forester Moore:

Now that the shameful citations case against Chief Caleen Sisk has ended with the DA finding it without merit and throwing it out, the next step is to ask you what you hoped to accomplish by presenting yourself to the world as an administrator who says one thing to the press and another thing to your law enforcement, says one thing to the Chief in a meeting then another thing when you are being called by our lawyer to use your leadership to avert injustice.  We asked you to  be honest and show integrity and stand by the agreements for a safe ceremony rather than let your law enforcement loose to "do their own thing" to our ceremony and participants.  It is documented on video what the head law enforcement officer wanted to do.  No longer was he and his men there to insure a safe closure for ceremony as you promised.  As he said himself, "Well, I figure, if THEY can't use a motor boat, YOU shouldn't be able to either."  That is called micro-aggression.  That is called white privilege.  That is called racism.  AND that attitude was what you backed up rather than the  agreement that you and the Chief hammered out, that she was assured the USFS would assist the tribe complete a peaceful and dignified ceremony.  

As for the second citation, our Chief is not ignorant about the ways of paper.  The paper which bears her signature, and for which she was being cited on the second citation is not the draft she signed.  It was a "cut and paste" version with a forged signature.   One has to wonder, "were we being set up."   Was Marisa's ceremony intended to be a mess, attacked by US Forest Service from the very beginning. 

I am ashamed of the USFS and my friends who are Forest Service employees felt ashamed of the USFS representing Region 5 and Shasta Trinity in California. 

I still smart at your cavalier comment when our lawyer informed you that your law enforcement were making an issue about our single motor boat we use to ferry elders arose, threatening to tow it.  We had the assurance  that our boat would not be a problem  by the administrator you asked to sit in for you and gave the authority to work things out with us while you were on your trip.  Leaving the phrase about the boat off the agreement is a mistake which lies with you.   If the buck stopped with me, or any young person I helped raise, our immediate response  when the lawyer called about "Law Enforcement gone rogue" would be an apology and immediate and clear reminder to the officers that t YOU were in charge of the operation and the agreement made with the Chief stands.  But what did you say?  "Well, if it's not written in the document . . " as if the document and its mistake was in charge.  You said, " Why don't you use golf carts for the women?"    I am one of those "old ladies" you sarcastically dismissed by saying we could ride golf carts up and down the steep rocky cliff to get to Marissa's camp to witness her making her first medicines and cooking her first acorn soup.  You know as well as I that golf carts would maximize threat to our life producing more injuries than stumbling and rolling down.  Sarcasm and disrespect to elders was your response.  Simply put, you didn't care.  Your decision to stand with your officers, untrained in cultural respect, and armed, endangered and criminalized all the elderly women, the Chief and the ceremony.   IF the Chief had not followed her ancestors and traditions, there would  have been a ruined ceremony, Marisa's special time sabotaged.    Chief Sisk  did not own the boat, run the boat, nor did she get in the boat.  At sixty years old, she is a strong woman in all ways.  It is we that needed the boat, yet she was cited.  The Chief was put at risk and criminalized by you, Regional Forester Moore.  You asked her at a meeting, "why would you say that Caleen?" when she voiced her concerns about permits criminalizing her ceremony.  Now we know the answer to your rhetorical question:  by manipulation of permits, by leaders who desert the goal to go along with poorly trained, narrow minded law enforcement officers because they don't care.  That's how.  

You were represented by rude, armed men in uniforms who rumbled  in on the Fourth of July and treated the Chief and supporters with disrespect as is well documented by video and seen around the world, at the UN, in other countries, as well as all around the country.  You are represented by uniformed armed men who sat with binoculars watching our precious celebrant and her youthful supporters across the river from us.  That sickened us.  It seemed so perverted.  They should know better.   You are represented by uniformed armed men who bothered us every day.  We were ready to go across to help Marissa ready the acorns, and could not do it because they were threatening to confiscate a boat.  We were ready to take Marisa to find her medicines and cooking rocks when we were delayed by intimidation and harassment again.   Marisa's celebration and feat happened at midnight because of your law enforcement.   Then your culturally incompetent, bullying officers came on the day after ceremony with their dogs, guns and citations and arrogantly snorted that they LET us have a respectful ceremony by not arresting the Chief the day before -- ignorant that all four days were ceremony and the celebration was only part of it.   Ceremony is not like Christmas morning.  Ceremony is all that goes into it.  Each day something was happening with Marissa, although delayed.

You met Marisa.  You wished her well.  You said in the papers you wished her to have a successful, safe and peaceful ceremony.  Marisa learned what government's good wishes for her means through your actions.   We told you that she was  to be the next Chief.  When you gave law enforcement officers the "go ahead"  to use Marisa's ceremony for their  "war games maneuvers," your message to Marissa stands as  a message to the next generation.  Is that your intention?   Our young future Chief has a strong heart, and we have not regrets that we entered in working with you and the USFS in spite of the treachery.    It is better for her to have seen the truth.  It is sad that the truth is to have exposed the ugly side --  the bigotry, and double tongued talking.  Is that the reputation you want with tribal people, someone who does not keep promises and who can't control his law enforcement who do whatever they want to Native people?

When my friends and new acquaintances in the Forest Service feel ashamed and apologize,   I tell them, "the tribe is not sweeping this with a broad brush; it is not you. "   There is a  problem with the USFS and it showed up in the Department of Agriculture's own report on USFS relations with tribal peoples.  The findings show that despite the fact that there are rules and agreements made between the tribes and the United States government regarding sacred sites and freedom of religion, unfortunately, it depends on the woman or man who sits in the seat of authority in each forest and for each region whether or not those inalienable Constitutional  rights which they vow to protect will be done.  In Region 5 with you in charge, in the forest where Christi Cotini is in charge, there is a big problem which I understand in DC higher officials want fixed -- or so they say.

As a woman with more grey in my hair than you, I will say, that my grandmother taught me that the human being can become a good person.  And as it has been said by every elder in my life, and I have found that to be true -- it is only by our  actions that we clarify our ideals and intentions.  I pray that you will become that good leader, that good person, Mr. Moore.   The fact is, no matter how many good Forest Service people express how sorry they are for the treatment we received, there is only one person who could bring back  pride for the Forest Service and move forward into a better day with the tribe -- and that is you.   I believe you do have the leadership ability to say those strong words which build character.  I believe you can signal a step forward from the injustice, intimidation and ignorance which we were bombarded by during ceremony,   the disrespect of the citations our Chief has had to endure for the past several months. 

Perhaps you are worried how an apology would play in the press?    Doesn't have to be public.  Not at all.  Person to person with the Chief.  Native people do not crow and boast about something as serious as a sincere apology.  It is sacred.  Apology is a signal that someone is understanding right from wrong, and has good will.    You appear not to know the culturally appropriate importance to contact and talk with the Chief directly rather than through two ore more other go-betwees.  I say that because you have never contacted Chief Sisk.  Sometimes the papers get the information of your message first.    She is a leader and more accurately, she is a tribal leader who is respected all around the world and all over this country.   Perceptions are everything is a wise saying I've heard.   By observing your past actions  it is easy to arrive at a perception  of a man who may have a problem with women leaders, or perhaps with tribal people.

 I believe what my grandmother said, and what life has taught  me.    If perceptions of you formed by treatment of the Chief, treatment of the ceremony is not reflective of how you see yourself and your leadership,  I pray you have all the courage you need to show through clear actions what your true ideals are,  your attitudes toward women leaders and tribes,  and how you carry on your own leadership from this day forward.

Sincerely, Misa Joo, Winnemem Wintu
"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.