Till the day he died, George Wallace denied that he ever knew Asa Carter. He may have been telling the truth. From this back room, Asa Carter wrote the most famous racist rhetoric of the civil rights era, words that would reach and be remembered by more people than anything published by Forrest Carter. He was kept on for a while as a speechwriter until Lurleen Wallace died of cancer. By Wallace was ready to run for president and had to clean up his rhetoric.
In his TV commercials, Carter looked large, thick-set and barrel-chested, with dark, thick, Russian-like hair and eyebrows. In Carter and his wife, Thelma, sold their Alabama home and moved to Florida where Carter could get away from his political debacle. Within a year, a new Carter emerged, slimmer, darker all that Florida sun and with a new name: The name was chosen in homage to Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, the infamous Confederate cavalry general and a founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
And, like Wales, Forrest Carter went to Texas to begin a new life — one that was to definitively disprove F. From writing racist speeches, Carter turned to writing genre fiction. Carter was now spending time around Abilene, visiting his sons whom he referred to, for reasons that remain unclear, as his nephews and making new friends. He dressed in jeans and string ties and affected a folksy speech pattern.
He performed what he called Cherokee songs and dances for his friends. Carter was delighted to promote his book with personal appearances. Certainly the Wales novels appealed to the readers of pulp westerns and action-adventure novels. But Carter also seemed to make fans of thousands who wanted something more from their pulp — and the story he told shared important themes with his lone wolf, white-supremacist past. It is the Way. Tal-con caught the slow and so the slow will raise no children who are also slow … and so Tal-con lives by the Way. He helps the quail. Man upsets the harmony by empowering the weak.
Government corrupts nature by helping the weak. If a whole people got loose, then politicians seen they could get control. They would take over loose people and before long you had a dictator. Wine said no thinking people ever had a dictator. Perhaps no two books by the same author have ever had so few readers in common. Intrigued, he talked Clint into giving it a try; the next day Eastwood told Daley to buy it for Malpaso.
When Carter arrived, he was staggeringly drunk and proceeded to piss all over the office carpet. Daley had an assistant hustle him to a hotel. Again, he showed up drunk, and he pulled a knife and held it to the throat of one of our secretaries. He later said it was all a joke. I felt that that element in the script needed to be severely toned down. A handful of his old cronies in Alabama had made him.
The mask was crumbling, and brought with it a double blow from which Carter never recovered. First, his distant cousin Dan Carter, a historian and future biographer of George Wallace, wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times blowing the whistle on the identity of the new literary lion from Texas. For two years, Forrest Carter hung on in Texas, playing the local celebrity and trying to let Asa Carter fade back into the past. He played the folksy noble savage to the hilt, winning over both the panel and the audience.
I met Forrest Carter shortly after that at the Houston airport, working on a profile for the Houston Post. He was lean and sunburned and had a bushy mustache; he reminded me of an old photo of Wyatt Earp. Wearing a broad Stetson, he looked like a figure in a Remington painting in sunglasses. I asked him if Clint Eastwood would be involved in the rumored next movie about Wales. I told Carter that I thought his Wales novels were an attempt to win back the values on a mythical level that the Confederacy had lost on the battlefield.
I never got a chance to write my story. Shortly afterward, Forrest Carter was dead. Exactly how and why has never been made clear. Friends said that he had been drinking; rumors of Asa were starting to reach Abilene. A canceled speaking gig at a university here, a call from a local paper wanting to discuss the controversy there. None of us understood at the time, but after the tragedy we could see in retrospect he was turning into a nervous wreck. One night in June, Carter stopped off to visit one of his sons in Potosi, just south of Abilene.
Thelma Carter later resurfaced in Alabama, and has gone into seclusion, refusing to discuss her years with Asa. First was the news of his violent death. Added to that was the fact that many did not know he really was, or was suspected of being, the notorious Asa Carter.
Finally, most had never heard Carter talk of having a son. American Indian activist Vine Deloria Jr. There appears to be no simple answer to who Carter was, or exactly what his books are about, but for some the solution is to simply deny the apparent contradiction between the legacy of Asa and Forrest. Indeed, some continue to deny that they were even the same man. Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance: Newspapers and magazines hungered for stories about him but kept their research to a minimum. Reporters reveled in his many achievements: The story went that he had once trained with the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe; he had once sparred with none other than Jack Dempsey.
An American president had granted him a special appointment to West Point; a grateful French nation had awarded him the Croix de Guerre for exceptional military valor. Born a Blood Indian in a teepee in the Sweetgrass Hills near the Canadian-American border, Long Lance had risen in celebrity through intellect, charm, courage and tremendous will.
He was, one reporter claimed, one hundred percent American. Written by a history professor at the University of Calgary, Long Lance is a carefully researched and well-illustrated study, presented in a fashion that would very much appeal to any adolescent reader and to any adult reader, for that matter. It is a remarkable story that bears some interesting resemblance to the more familiar Grey Owl legend. Long Lance was an American black born in in North Carolina, who through the next four decades, until his suicide in , assumed the persona of a full-blood Aboriginal Canadian or American, as the story evolved.
Despite reckless lies and ever-changing personal histories, he was able to fool most of the people most of the time, rising to international prominence as the spokesman of the aboriginal peoples. That he was not entirely able to fool all the people all the time lends the edge of a mystery novel to the story, as time and again he narrowly evades eventual and inevitable disclosure. But while the invented identity held, Long Lance attained wealth and fame, as a writer, editor, speaker, socialite, and even movie star.
In part the fraud began as an attempt to elude the foreordained fate that his birth had allotted him; but as he entered the aboriginal culture and history, he turned his talents and prominence to becoming a champion of their cause. Indeed, the theme of his story is balanced between the poles of celebrity actively seeking fame and material rewards , and service to his adopted culture. He shamelessly used his fabricated persona for personal advancement: At the same time, the prominence he thereby acquired was put to important social use in bringing the plight of the aboriginal population to a public that might not otherwise have paid attention.
It involved as well a significant cast of players: In all of these settings and with all of these people, the author provides careful detail and interpretation. The reader is moved along by a story of adventure and intrigue; but is in the process acquiring some very valuable insights into aspects of our history and culture. Gregor is a professor of educational history in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba. La grande supercherie de Grey Owl. En , il entra dans les forces canadiennes et subit, en France, des blessures qui allaient le tourmenter toute sa vie.
En , Grey Owl quitta Anahareo et se remaria. My Life with Grey Owl. The Story of Grey Owl. A Memorial to Grey Owl. Lovat Dickson Limited, Key Porter Books, The Mystery of Archie Belaney. The Making of Grey Owl. Western Producer Prairie Books, High schools offered classes in ecology.
Public school students painted posters decrying pollution. And television ads worked to remind everyone that the problem was real, here, and now. One was the first annual Earth Day, observed on 21 March A moving exposition on the sanctity of the land and the need for careful stewardship of it is still widely quoted as the bona fide words of Chief Seattle. He was the son of Francesca Salpietra and Antonio DeCorti, she an immigrant from Sicily who had arrived in the USA in , and he another immigrant who had arrived in America not long before her.
Theirs was an arranged marriage, and the couple had four children, with Espera or Oscar, as he was called their second eldest. In , when Espera was five years old, Antonio DeCorti abandoned his wife and children and headed for Texas. Francesca married again, this time to a man named Alton Abshire, with whom she bore five more children. As teenagers the three DeCorti boys joined their father in Texas. He had since altered his name from Antonio DeCorti to Tony Corti, and the boys apparently followed suit as far as their surname was concerned.
It was about this time Iron Eyes began presenting himself to the world as an Indian. Iron Eyes went on to achieve a full career as an actor, appearing in well over a hundred movies and dozens of television shows across the span of several decades. Although Iron Eyes was not born an Indian, he lived his adult years as one. He pledged his life to Native American causes, married an Indian woman Bertha Parker , adopted two Indian boys Robert and Arthur , and seldom left home without his beaded moccasins, buckskin jacket and braided wig.
His was not a short-lived masquerade nor one that was donned and doffed whenever expedient — he maintained his fiction throughout his life and steadfastly denied rumors that he was not an Indian, even after his half-sister surfaced to tell the story in and to provide pointers to the whereabouts of his birth certificate and other family documents.
Others also falsely claimed this mantle:. While the ruse lasted, Buffalo Child Long Lance was a hit on the lecture circuit and one of the darlings of New York society. His spree ended when the truth about his background was exposed in , and he killed himself with a shot to the head in Only after his death in did the world discover he was really an Englishman born Archibald Belaney.
Even if Iron Eyes was not a true-born Native American, he certainly did a lot of good on behalf of the Native American community, and they generally accepted him as one of them without caring about his true ancestry. Although he was no Indian, they pointed out, his charitable deeds were more important than his non-Indian heritage.
Actor Known for Anti-Littering Ad. In June of a writer calling himself Nasdijj emerged from obscurity to publish an ode to his adopted son in Esquire. He was my son. My son was a Navajo. He lived six years. They were the best six years of my life. At first, Tommy seemed like a healthy baby, albeit one who consistently cried throughout the night. Tommy suffered from a severe case of fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. Though Tommy looked normal, his crying continued and as he grew older he began to suffer massive seizures. He knew he was slowly dying. Nasdijj knew too, and he tried to give his son as full a life as time would allow.
Tommy Nothing Fancy wanted to die with his dad and his dog while fishing. She pounded the walls. But the hospitals and doctors never made it better. Though the conflict tore his marriage apart, Nasdijj continued to take his son fishing and, true to his last wish, Tommy died of a seizure while on an expedition.
It was as if a bolt of lightning surged uncontrolled through the damaged brain of my son. He was just a little boy who liked to fish. I was holding him when he died. The Esquire piece, as successful as it was heartbreaking, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and helped establish Nasdijj as a prominent new voice in the world of nonfiction.
As if losing a son was not enough, the memoirs portray a lifetime of suffering. There is nothing polite about cleaning up your mother in her vomit and dragging her unconscious carcass back to the migrant housing trailer you lived in. Though their time together was short and turbulent, Nasdijj says his mother instilled in him the Navajo traditions that now inform his work. His father, he says, was a sexual predator who raped him the night his mother died.
Like Tommy Nothing Fancy, Nasdijj claims to have fetal alcohol syndrome and to have been raised, with his brother, in migrant camps all over the country. Nasdijj knows how to pull heartstrings. In fact, he speaks of it almost exclusively. Death and suffering are his staples. His style is an artful blending of poetry and prose, and his work has met with nearly universal critical praise. Shortly after The Blood came out, Nasdijj writes, he moved back to the Navajo reservation, where word of his book and his compassion spread.
One day while fishing, a Navajo man and his year-old son approached him. But as his successes and literary credentials grew in number, so did his skeptics — particularly from within the Native American community. Sherman Alexie first heard of Nasdijj in after his former editor sent him a galley proof of The Blood for comment. Alexie was born hydrocephalic, a life-threatening condition characterized by water on the brain. At the age of 6 months he underwent brain surgery that saved his life but left him, much like Tommy Nothing Fancy, prone to chronic seizures throughout his childhood.
Although there was never more than? Conover, an award-winning journalist whose book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was taken aback. Nasdijj, however, rejected this suggestion and sent the angry letter, which Conover characterizes as a sprawling diatribe. Mueller, however, never responded, and the incident left Conover wondering whether he should have been more thorough in investigating Nasdijj before writing his review.
Several weeks later, Conover was contacted by an expert in fetal alcohol syndrome who had read his review. She informed him that while she sympathized with the plight of Nasdijj and his son, the symptoms described in The Blood are not actually those of FAS. This work is a memoir and represents, to the best of my ability and my memory, an accurate reporting of facts and events as I know them and as they have been told to me.
I have attempted to protect the privacy of people through the editorial decision to frequently change names, appearances, and locations, as these are not relevant to the focus of the work or the issues the work strives to deal with. Was this just standard legalese or was Houghton Mifflin concerned about the veracity of this book? Had Sherman Alexie actually gotten through to them?
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Anton Mueller, editor of The Blood, says no. He alleges a nomadic existence that is virtually free of specific names or places, rendering it difficult to substantiate his claims. A Google search brings up first and foremost his blog — http: Shortly after Nasdijj was contacted for this story, his blog was taken offline. A sampling of his almost daily blogs over several months suggests that one and perhaps only one thing is clear: Nasdijj is a very angry man.
If in the books his passion and fierceness are modulated and concentrated, his blog posts are full of rants and denunciations. Targets include the American health care system, government treatment of Indians, middle-class values and, especially, the publishing industry. Though his first book was thoughtful, even tender, as his career has progressed Nasdijj has increasingly taken the role of an artist whose willingness to push boundaries often borders on disturbing.
Surrealistic accounts of forcible incest by his father read less like rape and more like lukewarm trysts. His tongue in my mouth. He was a lousy lover with his tongue in my mouth. The same tongue that had just been inside my bowels. A recent post on his Web site featured a nude photograph of the open anus and testicles of a supposedly cancer-ridden teenager.
Nasdijj claims this was done in an effort to humanize the disease, but such pictures are often posted alongside graphic accounts of adolescent sexuality. Indeed, they are sometimes posted alongside naked sadomasochistic pictures of Nasdijj himself. I resent the fact that he seems to be ashamed of his notable ancestors i.
This kind of dribble [sic] should have been investigated prior to printing or should have been labeled as purely fiction. While such a review could easily be dismissed on its own, a Yahoo search of the name attached to it offers up a comprehensive genealogical site. The site then charts his family lineage back several generations to the s, and, indeed, as the review states, to the McCormick family.
Just like Nasdijj, Tina Giovanni also hosts a blog — http: It also was taken offline in the past week but has returned minus its archives. This obviously begs the question — who exactly is Timothy Patrick Barrus? Could the heart-wrenching Navajo memoirist actually have been the gay leather novelist in a previous life? The streets of downtown Lansing, Michigan, are crowded on a Friday night, but not with people — with squirrels.
They congregate in the middle of Washington Street, staring with incredulity as a lone car approaches. No one is around to notice. Two years later, Timothy Patrick was born. Tim Barrus was raised with his younger sister, Suzanne, in a modest three-bedroom home off of Aurelius Road close to the Michigan State University campus. His mother was in fact around throughout his childhood and is still alive today. He has no younger brother. Barrus attended Eastern High School in Lansing, where he was far from a slayer of suburban values.
He was a member of the student council, the forensics team, the forum club as well as a homeroom officer. Beneath his generally pleasant veneer, however, a simmering temper would occasionally boil over. He was one of those guys that was a little ahead of his time. Barrus graduated from high school in and a year later married Jan Abbott, a local girl from neighboring Okemos. According to a source close to the family, the couple took in foster children to make ends meet. In Barrus and his wife moved to Largo, Florida, where his sister, Suzanne, lived with her husband, Steve Cheetham.
Barrus attended community college while Abbott worked at Winn-Dixie to support him, according to Cheetham. You never knew if he was telling you something true, or part of his imagination or what. Cheetham never saw Barrus again. Nasdijj claims that he adopted Tommy as an infant and that he died at age 6. Address records indicate that the young family lived in an apartment on Cooper Avenue near downtown Lansing until It is unclear where they moved immediately after that. At some point, Barrus and his wife divorced, and he moved to San Francisco where he began to write — primarily for the gay leather magazine Drummer.
In he moved to Key West and, according to his friend Bill Bowers, took residence with his partner Adolfo. Barrus would later deny being gay. There he published his first book, The Mineshaft, a sloppy attempt at erotica, but one that nonetheless garnered him some attention.
It was in Key West where Barrus met Bowers, a local artist and photographer, and the two began work on a number of projects together. Bowers remembers collaborating with Barrus on an erotic-photo exhibit called Sadomasochism: After the opening night of the show drew lukewarm interest, Barrus assumed the fake name John Hammond and wrote an open letter to The Weekly News attacking the exhibit.
Hammond wants to show his ignorance he should do some heavy research before he rejects his very own brothers. Bad is good too, sometimes better. Lars Eighner grew quite tired of his routine. The two soon began a three-way correspondence with another gay writer, T. Witomski, which lasted for several years. Though he never met Barrus in person, Eighner came to know him quite well through his letters and phone conversations.
Barrus would routinely harangue Eighner with long soliloquies about the evils of publishing. According to Eighner, Barrus and the established gay writer John Preston had a one-sided literary rivalry — and Barrus was the perennial loser. That Barrus might have adopted a Native American persona to facilitate his career strikes Eighner as completely in character.
Similar behavior was routine when Eighner knew him. The pair fell in love fighting alongside each other, and upon their return to America they used their feelings for each other to battle the physical and emotional scars inflicted on them by the war. Anywhere, Anywhere was praised in the gay press for revealing the previously untold gay experience in Vietnam. In a article he wrote for the Lambda Book Report, however, Barrus claims to be a Vietnam vet, or so it seems: Not that I had sex with them. No one was telling? Barrus, a natural mimic, would routinely take stories that had happened to Preston or Witomski, and tell them as if they had happened to him.
Eventually, word got back to the other two that this was going on and they both fell out with him. In , with his bridges burning in gay publishing, Barrus met and married his current wife, Tina Giovanni, in San Francisco and disappeared. Eighner never heard from him again. And neither did the Internet until , when something and someone curious emerged. In an article now available only through the archives of an obscure Australian company called Infant Massage Australia, a kinder, gentler Barrus appeared in a service article on how to be a loving father.
Sometime between then and the Esquire article that launched his career, Nasdijj was born. Peering out from behind a pair of silver-framed glasses, Irvin Morris sits at his office desk thumbing thoughtfully through a weathered copy of The Blood. A quiet man with sad, dark eyes and a closely trimmed head of raven black hair, Morris is focused as he reads, occasionally sighing in dismay when something he sees disturbs him. A giant fake plant hovers over him, draping plastic leaves onto a sizable portion of his cluttered desk. He looks up briefly from the text? Morris has suspected for years that Nasdijj is not who he says he is.
This came as news to Morris, who is fluent in Athabaskan. Not long thereafter, Morris got a call from Sherman Alexie asking if he would take a look at The Blood. After reading the book, Morris felt certain Nasdijj was not Navajo. Only people who are extremely traditional live in hogans. Navajo Rose, for instance. Navajo Rose is a character in The Bloodwho, Nasdijj writes, lives in a hogan near his on the reservation. Navajo Rose is illiterate and, though Nasdijj says she graduated from high school, she somehow has never seen the inside of a library. Morris bristles at the condescending tone.
But the error that really made Morris crazy was a culinary one. To thank Nasdijj for his lessons, Navajo Rose routinely brings him Navajo tacos made of mutton. Like a rabbi eating pork or a Hindu beating his cow, they are culturally incriminating, and the book is littered with them, he says. Nasdijj writes that when he was a boy, his mother used to have religious sings for him to familiarize him with his culture.
Like holding a church service for yourself. This, says Morris, is misrepresentative in that it wrongly portrays the Navajo clan structure as an authoritarian caste system. It is also factually incorrect. If his mother had a clan, he has a clan. Indeed, in the long history of Indian appropriation by whites, the Navajo have become the primary target. Of particular ire to the Navajo is mystery writer Tony Hillerman. For the past several decades Hillerman has written detective stories from the perspective of his Navajo protagonists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.
Though not actually claiming Navajo ancestry, Hillerman infuses healthy doses of Navajo spirituality into the story through his characters — sometimes accurately, sometimes not. So much so that Morris claims the existence of at least 14 white authors living in nearby Gallup, New Mexico, writing Navajo murder mysteries.
Of course, white appropriation of Native identity far predates Tony Hillerman. His book Education of Little Treewas a critically acclaimed best-seller, and despite being outed as fraudulent decades ago, it is, remarkably, still in print. The Nasdijj persona lacks the spiritual ambitions that Indian appropriators have historically tried to capitalize on. He mentions Navajo spirituality as if only to prove he is familiar with its conventions. Instead, his preoccupation is the social world: His Indians are often both spiritually and monetarily poor, sometimes gay, and have AIDS and FAS; mainly they are powerless and sometimes homeless little boys.
There are no parents in their lives, other than the author, and an absence of embracing and strengthening culture. He uses these impoverished characters, including his own persona, as a springboard to attack the dominant white culture, which has, apparently, spurned him. In the pantheon of self-appointed Native spokesmen, this puts him more in the company of contemporary gadfly Ward Churchill, who uses his dubious heritage as a soapbox for an airing of his political ideology and personal grievances.
The question that remains is how these frauds are perpetrated in such abundance. A writer, seemingly white in appearance and lacking anything resembling a verifiable personal history, turns in a manuscript filled with sage-like wisdom from an ancient and secretive people and no one bothers to check the facts?
There is a Chinese proverb: How is it that a toad this large comes to stand in front of me? James Dowaliby can tell you. A former vice president of Paramount International Television Group, he decided to pick up a copy of The Boy after reading a review and noting it was about fatherhood, a topic Dowaliby considers too rare in publishing. A single father himself, Dowaliby was astonished by what he read: By the end of , a feature-length adaptation of The Boy was greenlighted for development.
After securing the film rights to The Boyand the Dog Are Sleeping and negotiating the deal with FilmFour, in early Dowaliby was finally ready to get down to the business of making a movie with Nasdijj. Alexie says he begged Mueller to reconsider releasing the book. According to Alexie, however, Mueller was unmoved by their conversation. After his unsuccessful meeting with Mueller, Alexie sent a letter to Houghton Mifflin, asserting that the author was a fake who had borrowed heavily from several Native writers, including himself. But his accusations were dismissed, and the publication went forward.
It showed up in the editing process. His instability wore me down. Sending inappropriate e-mails to people like Ted Conover. But I would say that it was mainly because of his instability. Nasdijj found a new agent, Andrew Stuart, and eventually secured a multibook deal with Ballantine. The Boy was published with the specter of The Blood hanging over the proceedings. By the time Dowaliby began trying to make a film version of The Boy, he was stuck with a giant toad standing in the road in front of him.
Following a few weeks of discussions, FilmFour and Dowaliby agreed to solicit a prominent British screenwriter, who had previously scripted a film about Navajo code talkers, to adapt the book. The writer had spent significant time on the Navajo Nation researching his film and had acquired a great deal of knowledge and respect for the Navajo culture. Immediately after reading The Boy, however, he called Dowaliby with his concerns. For both creative and liability purposes, Dowaliby was already fact-checking the book and he promised the writer he would look into the matter further.
Dowaliby then began the almost daily routine of trying to draw honest information from Nasdijj about his past. He had little success. Dowaliby needed specifics; Nasdijj gave him none.
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The producer intensified his background check of Nasdijj and found out about the Alexie incident. As the deadline for hiring the writer neared, Dowaliby concluded that Nasdijj was either unable or unwilling to confirm the details necessary to back up the truth of his story. Dowaliby refused to go forward with the film until he got answers. Nasdijj refused to speak with him, claiming that he had moved back to the Navajo reservation.
Though Dowaliby will not repeat what they discussed in confidence, he admits that she came clean about a number of things. Dowaliby then contacted FilmFour and told them the project needed to be dropped. For as long as white writers have been impersonating Indians, Indians have been exposing them as frauds.
Yet despite remarkable investigative successes in uncovering the truth, their efforts have been largely ignored. Harjo, who is Muscogee Creek and Cheyenne, has had her own battles outing those she believes to be Native American impostors. Though he has no specialized training in the field, he rose through the university ranks to become chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, largely on the basis of his claimed heritage. Yet as Harjo and other journalists have pointed out, he is not an enrolled member of any federally recognized tribe.
Despite the insistence of both the Cherokee and Creek nations that Churchill is not one of them, Churchill maintains his position as a professor of ethnic studies and is frequently paid to lecture on Native and political issues around the country. The same is true in Indian country. Give me preference as an Italian citizen as opposed to noncitizens. Give me a job. Give me grant money. But given the response of many, including prominent publishers and Oprah Winfrey, to the James Frey affair — that his message of redemption is true and so who cares about literal untruths — is it possible that Tim Barrus is using the Nasdijj persona as a vehicle for social justice?
Though his methods are misguided, could his intentions be genuine, and if so, what is the problem with that? Why do you have to be one of us to support us? So you have to stand back and say why is that person lying about that? They think pretending to be Indian will help them sell more books. And provided the complicity of a publisher, they may be right.
On many issues, preachy whites simply lack the political and cultural cachet of someone perceived to be Native American. I could have 45 German women living with me tomorrow. Indeed, the world has had an Indian fetish since the days of P. Nasdijj is taking advantage of that empathy. With every book he writes he makes Indians disappear. In the end it is, ironically, Nasdijj who sums up appropriation most eloquently. Fictions like this are murderous. They pass off illusion as fact, stereotype as portraiture. Counterfeit comes to be seen as the genuine article. It kills even the shadow of truth.
He told me that Nasdijj was high in the Sierra Madres of Mexico without access to phones or the Internet. Follow those directions to the Old Hotel. To find N, take the stairs to the roof. The view is magnificent. You know who you are. Do not answer questions. They do not care about you. Do not be fooled. It should be a movie. My story, which features an autobiographical character named Thomas Builds-the-Fire who suffers a brain injury at birth and experiences visionary seizures into his adulthood, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the basis for the film Smoke Signals, which won the Audience Award at Sundance in His memoir features a child named Tommy Nothing Fancy who suffers from and dies of a seizure disorder.
As a Native American writer and multiculturalist, I worried that Nasdijj was a talented and angry white man who was writing as a Native American in order to mock multicultural literature. Anybody can write it. And how do I feel now that the author of an investigative story in L. Weekly believes that Nasdijj is a fraud and actually a white writer named Timothy Barrus?
Weekly story came out. Of course, Frey has sold millions of books and will probably sell a few million more. In response to the L.
So why should we be concerned about his lies? His lies matter because he has cynically co-opted as a literary style the very real suffering endured by generations of very real Indians because of very real injustices caused by very real American aggression that destroyed very real tribes. When was the last time a public figure like Oprah admitted to being wrong? When was the last time a powerful person like Oprah issued a genuine public apology? University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fabricated historical facts, published the work of others as his own and repeatedly made false claims about two federal Indian laws, a Rocky Mountain News investigation has found.
The findings come as Churchill is, essentially, on trial — in the court of public opinion and in the halls of academia. Prickly debates swirl around him on the standards of academic integrity, the limits of free speech and the responsibilities of scholarly writers. A faculty committee is working behind closed doors, conducting a detailed and time-consuming examination of four allegations — fabrication, plagiarism, mischaracterization of federal Indian laws and misrepresentation of his ancestry.
And they play the script out pretty much the same. And you all are just in lock step. Churchill has framed the CU investigation not as a look at the rigor and accuracy of his scholarship, but as a right-wing crusade and an attack on academic freedom and free speech. In fact, in some instances the books he cited — and their authors — directly contradict his assertions. But the piece is credited to his own research organization, the Institute for Natural Progress. Churchill published that essay — with some minor changes and subtle altering of words — even though the writer, Fay G.
Cohen, had withdrawn permission for him to use it. He also published portions of an essay in a book that closely resemble a piece that appeared the year before under the byline of Rebecca L. However, the News could not determine what occurred. Churchill said he initially wrote the piece and allowed Robbins to publish it under her name. Robbins did not return numerous messages left by the News. A paragraph from that essay also was published in a Churchill essay. The News found that the law — while a legislative low point in Indian history that resulted in many tribes losing their lands — does not contain any requirements for Indian bloodlines.
In addition, the News found, Churchill similarly mischaracterized a more recent piece of legislation, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of In addition, the News found that DNA tests taken last year by two brothers prove that the father of Joshua Tyner — Joshua Tyner is the ancestor Churchill most often has cited for his Indian lineage — was not Indian. During its investigation, the News also unearthed other evidence of possible research misconduct by Churchill that has not been taken to the faculty committee. In one instance, the News discovered an obscure pamphlet written by activists in Canada that Churchill later began claiming as his own work.
And in at least three other cases, the News revealed Friday, he published works by others without their permission. Churchill credited authors Robert T. Within days, talk-radio and cable-television hosts made Churchill a daily staple. Churchill stepped down from his position as head of the ethnic studies department but kept his faculty position. But the initial review raised specific questions about his scholarship and his assertion of Indian ethnicity, and concluded that they were serious enough to refer to the standing committee on research misconduct.
In a wide-ranging interview in his office in the basement of the Ketchum classroom building on the Boulder campus, Churchill addressed all the issues investigated by the committee. He ended the interview, however, without addressing other issues raised in the News investigation, agreeing to look at written questions left by reporters.
He later declined to answer them. We start by calling the issue, whatever it might be, by its right name. Custer and the Little Bighorn and R. Smallpox and the American Indian. Both authors have told the News that Churchill has mischaracterized their work. Churchill also insisted that he was being held to a different standard than other authors. And they roil with the same theme: The white man, and later the U. Decimation of various populations by disease and hardship, if not by gunfire. Thornton is a member of the Cherokee Nation. He wrote the book, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since , which Churchill has repeatedly cited as the basis for his allegations about the U.
Army shipped blankets from a St. Louis smallpox infirmary to Fort Clark, located in present-day North Dakota, in The goal, Churchill charged, was to infect the Mandan tribe with smallpox as part of its larger campaign of genocide against American Indians. Although there is no dispute that a smallpox epidemic ravaged the tribes of the Upper Missouri River Valley in , Churchill takes a view not shared by the scholars he cites, pinning its origins on the Army. In at least seven published works in the past 13 years, Churchill has told essentially the same story, with new details and characters emerging over time.
In three of the works, he attributes the core of the story to Thornton. In fact, each contradicts it, attributing the arrival of the disease to infected passengers on a steamboat, the St. Peters, which was operated by the American Fur Co. Churchill mentions the boat in some versions of his story but has argued that it was used by the Army to ship the infested blankets. Lesley Wischmann, a Wyoming writer and author of the book Frontier Diplomats: Wischmann, who has written extensively on historical topics, studied journals of fur traders and other historical documents while preparing the biography of Culbertson.
Many of them dealt with the smallpox epidemic. And Wischmann doubts that the trading company spread smallpox to the Indians on purpose. Placing the blame on an infected steamboat passenger is a standard interpretation, he said. Churchill has claimed the writings of others as his own — more than once, the News found. The CU investigation includes plagiarism charges that center on two versions of largely the same essay.
The first was written by the Harvard-educated Canadian professor, Cohen, and then edited by Churchill. Her essay focused on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin. Dalhousie attorneys have alleged that after Cohen denied Churchill permission to print it in the book he was working on, it was taken anyway and credited to his own research organization. But he denied to the News that he had done anything wrong, contending only that he edited it on behalf of Jaimes.
That version of the essay appeared under the banner of the Institute for Natural Progress, which he said he co-founded with well-known Indian activist Winona LaDuke. Whether Churchill published the essay under his own name or that of his own institute, the responsibility lies with him, said Stuart Green, director of the Pugh Institute for Justice at Louisiana State University. As for an essay published under the name of former Arizona State University professor Rebecca Robbins, a paragraph of which Churchill later published under his own name, the News could not determine who actually wrote it.
The case is muddled. Churchill said he wrote the Robbins essay and allowed her to publish it under her name. Robbins did not return repeated messages left at her Montana home. And Jaimes has told the News that Churchill did not write the essay and that she saw an early draft written by Robbins, who was her doctoral thesis adviser. Churchill said that anyone who compared his work to the Jaimes piece would conclude they were written by the same person. Churchill was asked why he would let others publish his work as their own.
The act, sponsored by U. Henry Dawes of Massachusetts, called for tribal holdings to be divided into allotments for distribution to Indian families, who would then become farmers, like white homesteaders. Dawes and his backers saw themselves as humanitarians, according to historians, thinking they were helping to blend Indians into the American melting pot. In practice, much of the land distributed to Indians — and some that was supposed to have remained with the tribes — was quickly snapped up by white farmers and speculators.
But Churchill has said repeatedly that the Dawes Act contains an even more sinister provision. Eugenics code is the term used to describe the laws adopted by the Nazis to preserve the purity of the Aryan race. Comparisons between the U. Through intermarriage, future generations of Indians would have progressively less Indian blood, until the tribes disappeared, he wrote. The theory had one problem: The plain wording of the Dawes Act contains no such provision, either directly or by reference to other portions of the law.
Tribes decide who is a member, she said. Churchill makes reference to a blood-quantum provision of federal law at least 18 times, beginning in the mids, but never cites language in the law to back up the allegation. In , he charged that the blood code also appears in the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of , a measure designed to outlaw bogus Indian art.
That law, which is posted on the U. Interior Department Web site, says only that tribes determine who is an Indian. Churchill has used the blood-quantum theory to bash tribal governments. Because none of them recognize him as an Indian, it is illegal for him to market his paintings as Indian art. And because some tribes use blood quantum to define membership, Churchill derides them for rolling over for the federal government.
He also said that he did nothing wrong. I wrote a paragraph in passing in a broader narrative. At the core of the questions surrounding Churchill is this: Is he who he says he is? He has repeatedly said that his mother and grandmother passed on to him the often-told story that there was Indian blood in the family. In speeches Churchill has given this year, he has introduced himself this way: That would be the equivalent of three of his 16 great-great grandparents having been percent American Indian. Many of his wide array of relatives have been searching for more than years, through records that go back before the Revolutionary War, seeking the elusive link that would confirm the family legend of Indian parentage somewhere along the line.
He walks the campus in his trademark blue jeans and wraparound sunglasses. He works at the computer in his basement office, where two walls are lined with books and videotapes. He waits to see whether a student-voted teaching award, withheld while the investigation is ongoing, will be bestowed upon him. And he spars with reporters and detractors alike, arguing that he did nothing wrong, saying that his practices are standard in the academic world.
It will answer the main questions before it: Did Churchill commit research misconduct and academic fraud, and did he misrepresent his heritage to gain a wider audience for his work? Born in to Jack and Maralyn Churchill in central Illinois. Raised by mother and stepfather in Elmwood, near Peoria. Graduated from high school in , drafted into Army, served nearly a year in Vietnam in Became his aide and speechwriter. CU declined to pursue in Named an associate member of the Tahlequah, Okla. Tribe has said membership was honorary. Hired in as an administrative assistant in the American Indian Equal Opportunities Program, which counseled Indian students.
Over the next 10 years, he also lectured on Indian topics. Appointed associate professor in in the communications department. Received tenure in in same department after sociology and political science departments rejected him. But no offer was made by Northridge because he lacked a doctorate and his writings contained more advocacy than scholarship, said George Wayne, a former Northridge official.
Appointed full professor and his tenure transferred to ethnic studies department in Work first came under attack by small academic journals and some American Indians in the early s. Named chairman of ethnic studies department in Resigned in January in wake of Sept. Ranked above-average on annual reviews. Won campus award for social science writing in Students voted him winner of Boulder Faculty Assembly teaching award in The rigorous methods scholars use to find, analyze, interpret and share information in a trustworthy way to add to a body of knowledge.
Similar to a footnote, but appears at the end of a piece of scholarly writing to show the sources the author used or suggests reading for further inquiry. All historians believe in honoring the integrity of the historical record. They do not fabricate evidence. Forgery and fraud violate the most basic foundations on which historians construct their interpretations of the past. Those who invent, alter, remove, or destroy evidence make it difficult for any serious historian ever wholly to trust their work again.
Confirmed, Ward Churchill is a Fraud, Part 4. The following is the fifth installment of a multi-article investigation launched by the Rocky Mountain News. Click here to see part one dealing with the charge of fraud. Click here to see part two the charge of plagiarism. Searching for a link: In fact, Joshua Tyner lived a long and fruitful life and produced many descendants — including University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, whose disputed claims of Indian ancestry are tied to yet another family legend:.
However, an extensive genealogical search by the Rocky Mountain News identified direct forebears of Churchill and turned up no evidence of a single Indian ancestor among them — including Joshua. The tests showed that the Tyner line goes back to northern European ancestry with no hint of male Indian blood. In the s, one of them pursued a case to the U. Supreme Court, demanding to be included in the formal allotment of land to Indians — and was rejected as a non-Indian.
In , Illinois historian Nannie Gray Parks wrote to the National Archives seeking Revolutionary War pension information on Joshua Tyner, asserting the legend that he was the son of a Cherokee — a story Churchill has repeated. Churchill has said he was 10 when his mother and grandmother passed on to him the family lore of Indian ancestry. Dan Debo, his younger half brother, backs that up.
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Today, many of the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-generation Tyner descendants believe the legend and continue to search for the elusive Indian link. Others simply ignore it. In , when a campus news article challenged Churchill on his ancestry claims, he responded by naming several people and implying that they proved his roots. But the News has determined that the people he named either were not Indians or were not his relatives.
Records on Tushali — whose name was spelled by whites as Tsali, Toochalee and other variants — show that he was a Cherokee brave who was executed about , ostensibly for killing U. Tushali lived near the North Carolina-Tennessee border, not in eastern North Carolina, where Joshua is believed to have been born in Churchill reported last month to the CU committee that he meets three of the four criteria for determining whether he is Indian. Those three criteria are self-identification as an Indian, acceptance within the Indian community, and tribal affiliation — none of which require proof of Indian parentage.
Jim Paine, 51, of Hartsel, who heads several Internet database companies, maintains an anti-Churchill site at http: He worked with Bill Cullen, 35, a New Jersey police officer who plans to become a professional genealogist. Jack Ott, 65, of Lakewood, a retired telecom planner, engineer and amateur genealogist, maintains an online Churchill tree at home.
The analysis also tapped into extensive research already conducted by genealogists in other branches of the family, none of whom were aware that Churchill was one of their relatives. Ties to a past: William Cullen Tyner, one of the Tyner men who share a common ancestor with Ward Churchill — namely, Richard Tyner, a homesteader in Georgia in the late s.
Ward, described by one Tyner genealogist as the most knowledgeable in the family, also had never heard of a link between Tushali and the Tyners. The legend that he went off during the last few years of his life to live as an Indian has been in the family for more than a century, although the first known mention came decades after his death.
There is no evidence to support it, just the odd circumstance that his wife of 45 years, who died in , four years after Joshua, is buried alone in Wilson Cemetery in Cambria, Ill. Vous le savez, au Laptop tout est CO!
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