tv Book TV CSPAN August 6, 2011 8:00am-9:00am EDT
i wouldn't go too far in adopting their views on social issues but i would acknowledge their importance and if they got their way the last ten years we wouldn't be in this problem we were talking about earlier in getting our debt downgraded. does that answer your question? thank you very much. thank you, everyone. [applause] ..
>> up next, native american authors susan supernaw and walter echo hawk talk about their books. this is just under an hour. >> good morning. it's my honor and privilege this morning to introduce our distinguished authors, the american indian resource center and the tulsa city-county library has done a fantastic job. i know everyone here is anxious to hear what they have to say. i'd like to start with a question to writing from our first distinguished guests book come and that's how america is
miss america. for susan supernaw, author of "muscogee daughter: my sojourn to the miss america pageant," this question was a part of trivial pursuit in any way shape, or fashion. going up and hold deeply affected by poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence, supernaw refuge in school, dance, and the native american church. she was a cheerleader, presidential scholar, an internship with the little giant house majority leader carl albert. also the oklahoma is the you know. she won a national merit scholarship to college and she was crowned miss oklahoma in 1971. i have a spoiler alert. for those of you who haven't finished reading the book, she didn't win the title of miss america that year but her performance in the competition called very prominent attention to the lives of native people, as strangers in the homelands. this alienation of native people
in american society has been due in large part to the legal decisions rendered by our american courts, and our next distinguished author, walter echo hawk, is the author of "in the courts of the conqueror." he analyzes 10 cases that embody our exposes the roots of injustice and describes the effects of nefarious legal doctrines upon the legal, political property and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. while the judiciary may have rendered the legal distraction of native american identity and culture okay and many americans eyes, his survey of the legal travesties offers more than a simple history. represents a very compelling case for reform in american jurisprudence. taken together, you might think the themes of these two books are too tragic for consideration. but in the course of the conqueror and "muscogee daughter," offer that the testimony is vanishing americans or someone at the end of the
trail. please welcome susan supernaw and walter echo hawk. [applause] >> i'd like to begin with a question for susan. susan, your book is much more than just an account of how you came to be miss oklahoma and compete in the miss america contest. it's about growing up with cultural confusion sometimes and a lot of stress, navigating the world between your native culture and the larger american culture. if you would, tell us about that. >> thank you. in growing up i started out in a very rural area in oklahoma, we lived there, and there is, and for the times, this is taking
place in the '50s and '60s, so there's a very different mindset back and. and there was a lot of racism that have to be dealt with, not just by me but by my parents, and especially since my father was indian, my mother was not. even they had a lot of racism aimed at them for being an integrated marriage at that time, which was, oh, my gosh. but the story is really about whining that strength within yourself. when times get hard, and being able to push through those hardships, be able to make it through the night, is what i like to think of it as, and then in the morning when the sun comes up and you can give thanks, then you sometimes have to get health. there's nothing wrong with asking for help. that's another thing i think it's important about the book, is that when times get hard for me, you know, whether it was when i was seven or eight, or
when i had to be home as a junior in high school, you have to go somewhere and get help. and i went to the church. and the church offered me a place to stay, and to recover from the domestic violence that i was having their in my high school years. but back in, before then, i had my own problems of self-esteem, and people, i was the youngest of four girls so i always felt like everybody was picking on me and calling me names and making me cry, and doing all those mean things that your older brothers and sisters do too. and i will talk about the things i did back to them, as they will tell you that part of the story. but it is about dating in touch with your inner self and your spirit and find something that you can hold onto. for me as a child we did have a lot of church and religious activities, but it was also, i
had some dreams in which i had a spirit guide that came and helped me. and although i had seen her once before, the big time i saw her was when i had a horseback riding accident and i was unconscious for a while. i was laid up for bid, but as a kid, fortunately i healed. obviously, i am moving around great. part of overcoming that was not believing the doctors when they said, be glad you can walk. you're lucky you're not there. sure, but i wanted to do more. we kept going, on alec a chiropractor to find somebody that said okay, maybe exercise is okay, maybe you can try jogging. yeah, maybe you can do stuff to strengthen your back. that's what i got into dancing, into cheerleading, which was an escape, a physical escape. i felt great. hey, i've got my body back. and then when you start to feel good, life has a tendency
sometimes to slap you back down. it happened to me. i had some fun times, cheerleading, david tractor queen thing. i'm sure there's not a lot of people out there would even admit that they were tractor queen, if they ever were. last night. >> really? >> i would have rather written the tractor, i was queen of the tractors. nowadays it probably would let you. but this was also the state. and i got a trophy and got to kiss the guy that won the tractor pull. talk about disappointment. [laughter] but i get even with them later when i was miss oklahoma. before i got there, i did end up going, first i went and worked for karl, and i would like to just take a minute and tell you about how that happened because it's not the kind of thing that you would ever plan for. and it's one of those things where, you know, life may be good for you and gives you something good that.
and then you go and blow it. stick your foot in your mouth or something. say the wrong thing. this is a good example of how you stick your foot in your mouth. smile a lot and i forgive you, and you still get through it all. and i was a presidential scholar, and that happened in 1969, they send a boy and girl from each state up to washington, d.c., to meet the president. mrs. nixon, -- mr. nixon, say what you will, i'm going to go see nixon. well, the vietnam war was going on and nixon was held up in vietnam, in south vietnam. so he was late coming back for our luncheon. and so everybody was okay, next day, next day. they took us on some tours, and one of the big areas, they had a press conference, and bud wilkinson was there. everybody, bud wilkinson. he was president nixon's
presidential aide at that time. and he would come up and he said supernaw, are you any relation to john supernaw? there's not a lot of supernaw's. that's my dad. he said i remember john when he went out for the football team at ou. he didn't make it but he went out. he remembered because of the name i think so it was like great, somebody knows my dad. that's cool. and he goes, have you seen the old s.o.b. yet? i look at him and said do you mean nixon? [laughter] and there was silence. [laughter] and i was like, and transit was kind of like. this very state face -- straight face. he said i meant the senate office building. now have more than two senate office buildings but back then they had a new s.o.b. and an old s.o.b. and i got to see them both. but anyway after doing that, i'm kind of backing out and karl albert earth and he's like wait,
come back. i said yeah? he goes, like, i want you to come work in my office this summer. and i'm like, why? he says anybody that can go nixon and s.o.b. and get away with it has to work in my office. and he was just becoming speaker of the house, and i did. i wasn't a registered democrat at the time but i did become so i could work in his office. so that was a fun part. and i think i would like to go ahead and just tell another couple, another story here. and that was when i became miss oklahoma. and to get there of course i had, you have to enter, be a preliminary pageant winner. and i didn't know about pageants very much. i went to phillips university and i see some of the guys over there, there's a few than sitting over there. they got gray hair now. we are also old, we remember bill cosby when he was young, you know? you know?
and now was the name, doing the shaving commercials and stuff. cutting himself. but these were a group of guys that were the and club. again, the trend of the times, you know? spew on whatever we can and try to do something with the establishment. so these guys, although they were and unclog, they were clever enough to have a representative in the pageant because it was a student activity, and anyone could nominate people. they called me up and nominate me and i go to some of the stories and stuff on them. the surprising part was, that i won. because i had never been in the pageant before. i had lots of help from people all over. but i did win. i fell down the steps walking up the steps. of course, they had a big, and the guys that build the steps are here, so i better not say,
they were built well, but they weren't dealt wide enough to hold a chair, and a girl sitting in and all the other people that suddenly run up on stage here anyway, we almost had an accident. i did fall down, but i fixed my crown and got back up. i thought that was the worst that would happen. nothing compared to what happened in the miss oklahoma pageant. fortunate i waited until after i was crowned before everything broke loose. and that was the whole nother story, but just getting to the pageant was a whole nother story. but afterwards i am ground and i'm sitting, sitting there and they're talking with my first press conference with up to one his club. and we're going up to this five star restaurant and forcefully the press wasn't there. so tony spencer who was the pageant director at the time, she was trying to pin in my crown. i had a flat head and the ground
never ever fit so they're just always wobbling. get all these bands and painted all in and put this man on me and said this is your brain a. take great care of this project where this all year. you don't want to do anything on it. okay, gotcha, gotcha. it had been raining. the first week of june, in oklahoma, it rained the whole time. looking outside, the water is all going up out there and the limo stops. now, i grew up on the farm and i tell you what, i can run. so, opened the door and here she goes running out. just like -- took about three steps, the banner dropped to my feet. i fail. i ripped my banner, fell flat on my face. get up soaking wet and i'm going to make the last dive into the car and the guy has the car door
open. and i jump into it but i'm not used to wearing a crown. the crown sticks up about this much off your head. so as i'm jumping into the car, it knocks me backwards again. and breaks my crown. so tony spencer is running around trying to pick up these little pieces of my crown so we could have it fixed later, and so i get in and we are going, we finally get into car and i go down to the press conference. looking like a drowned rat. charlie welch is there getting ready to greet everybody. tony goes, suzy fell down and broke her crown and tony came running after. i said your right. it's going to be a long year. and so we go in, and then charlie is like okay, you've got to speak all these people. i'm just dripping wet. i'm trying to get it together because this reminded me of my old days where they called a
bozo, trying to sing as part of the supernaw sisters. i couldn't sing my part and ran off the stage growing. that imprint on the night because i was like seven years old. michael jackson could do, why can't i get out and saying? it anyway, so, i'm going in and charters is okay now, give them a typical indian greeting. miss oklahoma was indian. i stand up and i said -- charlie asked me to give you a typical indian greeting. i did know if he meant the kind of greeting that the indians gave the pilgrims at plymouth rock or the kind the lakota and shine give custer at little bighorn. [laughter] so i just said hi to you in my native language. and i will stop there because that was my big step on being able to stand in front of a group dripping wet, no makeup
and what makeup there was no sliding down my face and support together enough to talk. so having electricity go out this morning at 2:00 was nothing compared to what i've been through in the past. >> as miss oklahoma, suddenly you're thrust into the spotlight on as a representative of the state, but as we all know a lot of times with native people once we put in the spotlight was so is asked to represent all native people, how did you balance that? how did you become an advocate for native people, but without taking on that representative of the whole? >> well, i think mainly because i probably never felt as a normal. and so -- will really, if you read the book and see how i grew up, it's hard for me to think of myself as being normal. so it's really, i can't speak for other people because i'm not
normal. so i only speak for myself. but i did, there were a lot of people, there are people that say you sold out. and sellouts really big back in the '60s. you could be a sellout just like eating your degree from graduating high school, not even to mention college. the higher your degree was, the more you sold out. and that was the kind of thing, the mentality back then. and you know, there were people that were totally auditor all the tribes of oklahoma, representatives from the tribes got together and they raise the money for my page in the miss american pageant booklet. so evidently there were a whole lot of american indians in oklahoma who were very supportive of me. although there were a few people, not just indians, but women's lib was a really big one, protesting against pageant in general. so is a very kind of scandalous time to be trying to do that. but i did know any better.
>> you mentioned that you do upon your native culture to help you through these times to navigate that. would you care to tell us more about how the traditions of native culture strengthens you through these times? >> i think having a spirit guide was probably the most influential part of having the strength. we all pray, and i've always been a prayer, but to actually know that there's somebody there watching you is just, is a very empowering feeling. and i think that's really, more than just believing in myself knowing that there is some spirit or something after that was kind of keeping an eye on me, that really, that freed me up to be more. kind of gave me more self-este self-esteem. >> was there ever an aspect of native culture that you felt held you back?
>> yes. and not so much with muscogee but a lot of indian cultures, the women are really outspoken and are not as strong. there's a lot of indian cultures within a very strong women, and i would be very fortunate to be one of those. so being a strong woman did not hold me back so much as it might have in other cultures. but what really grosses people out is i cry. i cannot keep a straight face. i'm sorry. this still which is not here. i will cry. so it's probably one of the things that always interests me, you're not supposed to cry. >> tell us about, without giving away anything in the book, don't want to give away from the book, but tell us a little bit about the process of earning a name.
>> it varies with each track and it varies with me because i did not, a lot of people, there was a naming ceremony were a child is presented, given him right after they're born within a certain period of time after they're born. and with me that didn't happen. so i really received my name in a dream, and it was up to me to go out and earn that name. i knew i had to do. to earn the name. and it took me another eight or 10 years to get around to doing it because i was just a kid. the a lot of things i had to overcome to earn my name. by turning it to me was the high point of it all. and i don't think i could have done it without being miss oklahoma because i really needed to form publicly. the chances i had in high school i didn't, my name wasn't thing about earning my name. i was involved with going up in being a teenager. i need that extra chance to prove myself, to myself.
>> it just occurred to me as asked the question, some of people in the program may think my question was odd when asked about earning your name. her name is susan supernaw. maybe if you wouldn't mind explaining a little bit about the difference spent my indian name means dancing feet. part of the reason it was hard is because when i got the name, was in the dream during the horse back riding accident i find it and -- i wake up and you find you've been given the name dancing feet. i thought that was some kind of cruel joke that spiritual plane on me. but it was something that i did promise that if i got my feet and my legs working again that i would earn my name. because i thought maybe that's what it was therefore is to keep pushing me. >> as you think about the experience the readers are going to have reading your book, if
you could narrow it down to one thing, what is the most important think you would want readers to take away from your stored? >> some laughter year because in spite of all the bad times, we really need to sit back and able to laugh and feel good. and there are some really sad part, and those were very hard to write. but i would do great if somebody said, you know, i laugh. i had a good laugh at something in the book. there are lots of silly stupid or whatever things that i did. naïve i think it's a good word there things that i did. lots of times i put my foot in my mouth and open up just to switch feet. >> speaking of, sometimes putting your foot in your mouth, i seem to be doing it at the moment, tell us a little bit about the inspiration for writing the book. what encouragement did you get to actually write the book?
>> well, i do mention three, well, a few important people in my life that have helped out. one of the people it did mention, my mentor, father figure. for very, very long time. when he was getting very ill, he's the one that actually did the ceremony that gave me my name. when he was sick in the late '80s, we knew his health was failing, he made me promise that i would write the story down. i don't think kind of, well, i will wait till someone asks. he said i'm asking. i want you to write it down. it took me another 10 years after that to really get the stuff together. and ended another 10 years to get it published. is not a fast process by think he was instant and it. plus the fact that both my parents had passed away. it seemed like everybody was dying and i better hurry up and write this down before we forgot all these people's names and
these things that happen. >> an earlier draft of the book won an award, the native writers of america award. for a first book. what was the chains like from the first book to the book we have with us now? >> it's a whole lot shorter, today's the book is. the one that the word was more of a collection of a lot more family stories and more stories about me in high school and doing things around to it mentioned a lot more names, but the editors really kind of left out on the floor to keep the story flowing. so we edited out about 100 pages and really stuck with only the stories that dealt with me getting my name, and not all the other fun stuff. >> it sounds like there may be more stories for you to write for. >> second edition i'm going to put a bunch of those stories back in.
>> thank you, susan. i'd like to bring walter into the discussion here. we just heard susan talk about a very personal story, and, of course, we all expect that the riding of "in the courts of the conqueror" was very personal for you, but it deals with a much larger scope. what was your inspiration for this book? >> well, i think first of all let me just say good morning to everyone, and thanks for inviting me to be a part of this program. well, i think in part, you know, susan story is a smaller story of native america. you know, i think her personal struggles and fulfillment and to be able to transcend her problems and become recognized as in the miss america pageant, you know, is a pretty stirring personal story on her part. i think we've seen on a larger
level the same thing throughout indian country, and that is during this modern era of federal indian law from 19 -- the late '50s, you know, right into the present. we've seen this tribal sovereignty movement, you know, but indian country, the beginning of the '50s was at probably the low point for the american indians and the american society. our landholdings were about 2%, less than 2% of our original land ownership here in the united states, and people living in abject poverty at the bottom of a segregated society that was bent on stepping out -- stamping out our ways of life, and
terminating the political relationship between the indian nation and the government. just a whole range of low point, if you will, in native life here in our nation. and then since that point, that nation has really witnessed historic social movement i think that stirs the human heart. and in that we've seen the rise of our modern indian nations, you know, through this tribal sovereign nation being able to transcend the social and legal and political problems, you know, that sort of held our people down, and trying to reclaim our pride and our heritage and our legal rights,
political rights as indigenous peoples. and to the point today where we can look around and see a great social movement that i think rivals the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the environmental movement in american history. and i think one of, one of the reasons why we're able to do that was the law, american law. and what they call federal indian law provided the legal framework for the social movement that resulted in the rise of modern indian nations. but i wanted to study the body of law in my book, because out of concern for that body of law, because i think there's been a very troubling retreat from those legal rights by the u.s.
supreme court since 1985, where indian nations have laws over 80% of their cases that come before the supreme court. and some terms losing more than 80% of our cases, which means indian, well, that prison inmates fared better or receive better treatment by the supreme court and our indian nations. and so as a lifelong practitioner of the federal indian law, that troubled me. and it's also let a lot of our tribal leaders and concerned legal scholars to ask, you know, is federal indian law dead. and so i wanted to write a book. i was inspired as i always have been in notions of justice to try to write a book, sort of a unique study of the law to try
to understand if i could the forces that work that sort of explain the amazing prevalence of unjust cases relating to american indians that we see in the american legal history. we have a lot of very unjust decisions that i think many of us take for granted today, but they are cases that were decided by the courts during the course of manifest destiny when our nation was bent on colonizing the land, appropriating indian land and subjugating the tribes and stripping away our ways of life and habitat, to make way for the settlement of the nation. and that process was upheld by
the courts every step of the way, and it's created a body of law that upholds some very harsh outcomes for native people. i wanted to understand that, you know, because those cases resulted in a body of doctrines, legal doctrines that make it easy today to make our native rights vulnerable in the current u.s. supreme court to look at doctrines based on race and colonialism that have been embedded in federal law, federal indian law to this very day. and a whole bunch of very manifestly unjust cases that, unlike the black cases of slavery or racial discrimination affecting other races, those cases have been reversed and are no longer cited today as good law in our courts.
but these indian cases remain a loss of the land. i picked 10 of the worst cases from a long list of candidates, and carefully studied their historical context and look at the briefs that were written, researched the characters involved in the cases, and try to understand, you know, how that is. because i think as americans we reasonably expect justice from our legal system. and that's reasonable because our nation has intentionally designed the legal system to achieve justice. that's listed in our canons of judicial ethics. justice in our society, and we have rules of evidence and civil procedure and criminal procedure, rules of evidence, all designed to achieve a fair trial. and we have an independent branch of government for the
federal courts, you know, so that judges received a lifelong appointments so they can hand down just decisions without fear of removal. so we reasonably expect justice, you know, and we see that most of the time in most of the cases. but every now and then there will be a case that is handed down by the highest court of the land, written by our leading jurists in history that have a manifestly unjust outcome. and how can we explain the. so that's what i tried to explore in my book. and as it happens, these 10 cases that i did pick are very gripping, till very gripping stories, you know, about traffic encounters between two cultures, you know, contending for
different ways of life across our great continent here. they give us lessons in justice and injustice, and i think the role of the courts i think in the winning of the west, but there are teachings by peering into the dark side of the law and looking at some of these forces of colonialism and conquest and discovery. up close, you know, i think we can see those parts of the law that need to be discarded and strengthened in a more just society i guess. these present i think large questions, you not -- you know, not only for our nation because they hold idea of conquest and colonization, i really as old as
humanity itself. and they've always been with us as our human beings have spread across planet, you know, and populations moving into new lands, looking for a better life. displacing other populations, and what are and have been or should be the relationships between the conqueror and the concord, you know? and i think that we can look at the vikings are the babylonians, the romans, see this as a universal set of questions that confront us all. and our american experience, is a yet think to be written, we can look to the courts and see what the courts have said about it which is the approach i took. but the final chapter i don't think has been written because i think we want to, we are a fair
and just people and i think that we can look at and see in the law, our law affecting american indians and identify those vestiges of injustices that are still embedded in that law and try to root them out of the law. and so my book is not merely about injustice, but i think it also points up halfway towards a more just culture as we want to strive towards a more just culture, in a postcolonial world and root out these nefarious doctrines, you know, that affect our tribal people here in the u.s. so that our basic notions of liberty and equality, fair treatment, you know, can be achieved for all segments of the
society, including our native peoples. and so, that is ultimately i think the end product of my book. i had one chapter in their that provides a blueprint i think for reforming and strengthening federal indian law in the 21st century. >> you mentioned the parallels with african-american history, the early history of women. at least today, kids indicate 12 system, they at least have heard about the dred scott case, plessy v. ferguson, maybe some parts of the country they have heard about roe v. wade and other women's rights issues. what would be the main cases that you would like to see the kids become aware of in the k-12 experience? what themes, for example, you mentioned that there is doctrines with regard to african-americans it was
separate but equal. what cases would you like our kids to grow up knowing what doctrines would you like them to be wary of? >> well, i think of course that the case of the '20s center was brown v. board of education where the supreme court struck down the separate but equal laws, you know, and the dred scott decision which had in 1896 had laid out the legal basis for racial discrimination and racial segregation in america. the separate but equal doctrine in which all walks of our american life was racially segregated, you know, based on the notion that the legal fiction that blacks are inferior and that they are separate treatment by the law doesn't really stand a badge of inferiority on them.
it was discarded that skeletal principle of our society upon which our entire economy was based, are housing, our public education was discarded by the supreme court in 1955 in the brown case. and it changed the face of america and it paved the way for the election of our first black president, president obama. we have similar kinds of cases that plague native america, the johnson versus macintosh brings to my mind the fact that you can, on land title, for example, the act of discovery operator to appropriate legal title to the land, to the united states.
this was handed down by the supreme court in 1823 at a time when most of the continent was owned and occupied by indian nations. the supreme court in a sweeping opinion of per created the legal title to the land and said when european sailors saw the coastal shoreline of north america, that act of discovery operated to transfer legal title. and left the indian tribes as mere tenants of the government who could occupy the land only at the pleasure of the government. in the same vein, applying these european notions of conquest, of discovery, described indians as a race of people that have inferior character, inferior
religions, and that the europeans were a superior civilization a sickly, and notions that if that court in 1820s saw blacks as also racially inferior in the slave cases, sought indians in the same way, you know, while that racial attitude towards the blacks has been reversed now and rooted out of the law, the same notions about indians remain embedded. and as a whole bunch of cases in that same line of judicial thought that justify the absolute power of congress, you know, over indian tribes, their persons and their property. the sanction of breaking the treaties unilaterally with impunity, the rule of indian
tribes as if by unfettered guardianship, jenna, without any judicial review, stamping out our religions, are notions that would have no place i've been in a modern society that has much higher values. and so we've come a long way under the law, federal indian law. we haven't had an incredible social movement, that this idea of the supreme court hearing back on those rights is very troubling. i think we not only have to hope that trend, we have to go in and strengthen that body of law, the u.n. in 2007 past the u.n. declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples. and it sets forth landmark new standards for the survival, the
dignity and the well being of the world's indigenous peoples, including here in the united states. and these are rights that encompass all of our aspirations as american indians that are addressed in the comprehensive human rights declaration. and the obama administration officially endorsed three months ago back in washington, d.c., so we now see a new order and a stand at the threshold of implementing that u.n. declaration at those minimum standards into our american domestic law and social policy. and i think that if we can raise our domestic law so that it comports with all of these minimum standards, by the u.n. that it will strengthen federal
indian law, it will result in discarding these nefarious legal doctrines that have become embedded in our federal indian law and make our nation a better place, you know, in a postcolonial world, you know. these u.n. declarations arise from notions of equality, notions of justice, notions of self-determination, notions of, that these political and human and cultural property rights of native peoples are inherent human rights. and they are based on temporary international human rights law. much better source of values than the old notions of racism of conquest and colonialism that are the underlying values of federal indian law.
so we have the prospect of maybe a brand-new set of rules that we can perhaps a reconceptualize the basis for indigenous rights in a more just fashion, you know, and have still equally a sound and perhaps even more vigorous native rights as indigenous peoples. why should we do that? i think that native, cultural survival of our native people, you know, which is at stake in the 21st century. and we really offer a great diversity in our human family and our wisdom traditions from some of our hunting, fishing and gathering cosmologies and some of our early primal religions that arose on this soil, much to offer to our modern day society.
and i think most americans are seeing and appreciating that now. and i think we can look to the u.n. declaration as a model, as an agenda for this next generation, you know, to strengthen that as we strive towards a more just culture, you know, 500 years after columbus. >> thank you. at this point in the program, i'd like to open the discussion to questions from the audience. if anyone from the audience would like to ask one of our authors a question, we have a microphone here in the center aisle. if you would please come to the center so that we can all hear you when you ask the question. while you're maybe thinking, what do you want to be brave enough to stand up and ask, i would again remind you that this program will be broadcast in approximately two weeks. we don't know the specific date
but it will be broadcast on c-span, which in the tulsa area is channel 44 and channel 45 on the cox cable network. and it is channel 350 and 351 on directv satellite program. does anyone have a question they would like to ask? >> catherine cox. i'm interested in your hopefulness of the u.n. influence on our laws. and i don't know how big a slice of the population, but a vocal one who would just as soon our country not even really pay our dues and participate. they say we aren't bound by what the u.n. says relative to other things, and vomit in the globe, whatnot. are you optimistic that with the u.n. adopts will actually be honored by our powers that be? >> i'm very optimistic.
i think that americans are a fundamentally just people. and that once educated, it's been my experience is, indian attorney, you know, once the larger society has been educated on indigenous issues, they've invariably and acted to do the right thing. it's the lack of public information, about native people but it is the root cause of all of our current problems, you know come in native america. and i'm just more optimistic now than i ever have been, that we are ready for social change. i think first of all, we've already witnessed the rise of modern indian nations in the last generation or do. and after that experience, we
can look around our political landscape and see our native tribes as very sophisticated governments. they form the political and cultural and social unit and the impetus for reform in federal indian law. we see many of our tribes now have made economic gains with gaming and economic development, justice cost money. we are probably poised now to put some of that discretionary wealth, you know, in the area of social reform. we have much more human, better human resources now as far as lawyers, folks like susan, authors and artists and doctors, and all other professions, including our traditional people
that can work to strengthen our legal and social fabric. and i think that the u.n. declaration shows developing international norms. and certainly it will be the word of a generation. it will be the work of a generation. there's some very weedy areas even though our laws and social policy come closer than most of the other 72 nations that have the world's 350 million indigenous peoples. there are some complex and thorny thickets there that we need to address as a society, you know, and i think that the courts -- the courts of the conqueror, i took that from john
marshall and johnson versus macintosh what he described the judicial system as the courts of the conqueror, which makes you wonder how indians are going to fare. court. the days of that court are really numbered, and i think that the supreme court is out of step. it is rowing against the tide because the other two branches of the federal government want to bolster tribal sovereignty and our economic self-determination, with the president and the congress. passing laws to strengthen our cultural integrity, et cetera. but it's like the supreme court that is rowing against the tide. but i think as our larger society, justice for its native people the courts will come along. so i am optimistic. >> do we have another question?
>> this is for susan supernaw. susan, i've read the book. it's a great story. and i'd like for you to say, tell us, what was the hardest part of writing the book? what was the darkest passage? >> the hardest part of writing the book for me was really dealing with my issues with my father, and bringing up a lot of some of the drama that was associate with feeling rejected as a child and never good enough. and i think after riding and then talking to people and going back and writing again, it was like therapy and it helped me understand where he was coming from and what kind of like that he was leaving and how he was just trying to do the best he could at that time. to get along. and trying to keep two women happy and all these, you know.
you can imagine. but as a boat and found a more about him, i became more forgiving and understanding, and i don't have that kind of resentment and a little bit of anger that i used to have. so i feel really free from the. and i feel like i can recognize him as a person that was just doing the best he could at that time. >> are you stopping? >> no, no, no. we have just a few more minister probably one more question. >> this is a quick one for susan supernaw. you mention in response to the question about what it was about that got you through the night, you call it. how do you work with -- if you do, with young people now in similar situations, you know, 30 years now later who maybe haven't had the dream, you have the gift of the dream that they haven't made in canada are met their spiritual guide. so how do they draw on that?
>> i like to emphasize that it is the answer and the strength, within you. it is inside you. and for people that don't believe in a spirit, i tried to say, well, think of it is as you're breathing in. because when you talk with students you get the whole realm. but i do try to emphasize that even, there were decent people that was a say even a spirit guide is just within your head, it's something that your mind sees. and said people might say it's a hallucination. so you don't need that to move forward. you just need what have you can find within yourself, and i think most people are probably going to relate that to religion of some sort. and pray. i spent a lot of time crying and praying. and for some reason maybe just
all the endorphins and getting rid of all the paint and stuff made it okay. but i think that, not being afraid to ask for help in the morning. soon as you can. i just a lot of times that help you get you might not be able to find for a while so that's what i said in the morning. but whenever you can come up and asked for help that's the main thing. there so many religious people out here and leaders that will help you find the strength within yourself. >> okay, one more short question. yes? >> i would just like to say, i'm so appreciative of you all being here, and i wish there were books like this that were written when i was at my daughter's and my nieces age. i brought them today because i thought it was important for
them to see indian leaders and what they have gone through and what they're doing for us. my daughter, patience, my daughter, hope. my niece who is the princess. and so if you had one thing to just say to them today as young native women, i know that's a hard question because i know that you have so much inside of your hearts and your spirits to give, but if there's one thing that you could just import to them today, what would you say to them as young native women what they could do? i just want to tell you that i appreciate you today, and just would ask you if you could do that. >> i would say believe in yourself. that's the most important thing. you have to, because if you don't it's hard to find other people that were believe in you. so i think that's important. walter, how about you? >> culture. look within your culture. that's what you will find your
strength that it will carry you a long ways. and also education. >> yes, thank you. that's all we have time for at this particular segment of the day. i would like to remind everyone that will be a book signing immediately following the presentation in the lecture room next door. it will be books by both mr. echohawk and ms. supernaw. i would like to get to thank you, to say thank you to distinguish guess for being here today and sharing a little bit about their work. also like to thank c-span, and, of course, would like to thank the tulsa city-county library and the american resource center for bringing another very good program about native people to the tulsa area. i would also like to thank everyone for coming. have a safe travel home, i hope. [applause]
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