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September 2, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

American Indian History

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University Professor Donald Fixico will be teaching a new class this fall that includes American Indian views and values with tools to succeed at the university. Fixico will talk about that and his new book, “Call for Change: The Medicine Way of American Indian History, Ethos & Reality.” His book argues that the current discipline of American Indian history is insensitive to Native people’s view of history.
  • Donald Fixico - Professor, Arizona State University
Category: Community   |   Keywords: ASU, History, American Indian,

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Ted Simons: History can be viewed in different ways by different people. That certainly is the case With the American Indian history. In a new book "call for Change: The medicine way of American Indian history, Ethos, and Reality," ASU professor Donald Fixico argues that the current discipline of native American history is insensitive to and inconsistent with how American Indians view their past experiences. Here with us now to talk about his new book and a new class he will teach this fall is Donald Fixico. Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

Donald Fixico: Nice to be here.

Ted Simons: Time to rethink American Indian history. What are we talk being here?

Donald Fixico: The operative word -- from the outside, about Indian people. Here is the chance to get inside the communities of native people and inside of their minds and explain how they're cultural different, decisions different, values different, they come up with different world views. But that is also saying that there is Comanche logic -- let's look at history that way.

Ted Simons: Current discipline insensitive to Indian views of history. Tell us about that.

Donald Fixico: The books written by -- the -- saying here are the facts. Here is what happened. And then that is what happened. And that really kind of disregards how that native people think and their point of view and how they see history.

Ted Simons: Do you think that some of these historians basically misunderstand American Indians.

Donald Fixico: Very much so. I can read a history book about American Indians. In the first few pages you can determine that. You can at the same time read the same few pages of a different book and you can tell that scholar spent a lot of time with that native group.

Ted Simons: Give us an example of a misunderstanding that you have seen out there.

Donald Fixico: Misunderstanding? Much of the history written probably before the late 1960s. Historians have written books about native people -- the book about the American west, he said in reading the introduction, he says read the introduction facing east. When you face east, you can see the miners coming towards you, the railroads, soldiers, settlers and everything like that.

Ted Simons: Basically it is Indian views and values mixed with what actually happened.

Donald Fixico: Yes.

Ted Simons: When you teach a class, when you wrote the book, who are you writing this for? Who are you teaching to?

Donald Fixico: I'm writing it for everyone because we need to kind of learn to think different ways. And we need to -- if we take on the most difficult questions and problems, well, how do you approach things differently? Because if we don't, we will limit our thinking and not be able to tackle the difficult questions.

Ted Simons: In the book you write about -- I want to get to the medicine way in a second. But first something natural democracy. How do you define natural democracy in the context of this book and in the context of what you are talking about?

Donald Fixico: Natural democracy, a term I used in 1982 when I was talking about the Iroquois and how they dealt with democracy and decision making. I remember giving that lecture way back then. Natural democracy the way I apply it, mutual respect for everything and not just human beings, but respect for rivers, mountains, flora, fauna, that they're in all of this because all of our relations, to look at history and to look at society in general and to only look at it in terms of human relations is only looking at a piece of the pie. And so we need to look at the entire society of life.

Ted Simons: So, looking at -- saying that everything should be mutually respected. You then move on to the medicine way of looking at history. Talk to us about that.

Donald Fixico: Okay. The medicine way is something that I grew up with and native people are close to their traditions. I think even indigenous people in different parts of the world would agree. If you are close to you are -- what you see is almost everything has a potential energy. Everything, water, rock, a wind storm, all of that has potential energy but we refer to that as the medicine way or the medicine power. Medicine power equals energy and how that is released. If you don't respect the water, then the water will come in terms of the flood. Or a raging river or something like that. In the medicine way, it is a way of paying the respect for everything that has potential power. And that's what we do. We respect that.

Ted Simons: How would you then work natural democracy in the medicine way?

Donald Fixico: Well, if we -- if everything has power, then we respect everything that is within the totality. And the totality has to be respected or else both cause their own doom like global warming. If we had respected the northern parts of this -- respected the northern parts of the planet and handled the natural resources in a better way, we would not be in this forth coming kind of doom that is going to happen with global warming.

Ted Simons: Medicine way, the way you approach everything, how does that work its way into the history of American Indians?

Donald Fixico: Medicine way has always been there. It is the medicine way that Comanche people, Seminoles in Florida, myself growing up in Oklahoma. It is introducing this to the larger mainstream and the rest of the world. I found that in doing that, I had to construct theoretically a cultural bridge. Cultural bridge -- if they can understand what the medicine way is they can cross this bridge and -- the way of native thinking, cross that bridge back.

Ted Simons: When you talk again about the ethos and the reality of Native Americans, again, I want to get back to the context of history. How does that change the way that I would look or someone else would look at the history of any aspect of American Indian history, how would that change or make me see this differently or literally change the reality of that history?

Donald Fixico: It would change a lot. If we can look back into the history -- it is almost like looking at a different book all together. Looking at a different way of life. A good example is maybe World War II or even World War I. If you go to World War I or II and look at the way the German people fought about that, rather than the western approach -- you don't get the German perspective. In this situation, you get the American Indian perspective and how each of the individual nations dealt with history. And it is like how did that happen? Why did that happen? How come did I miss that? And so this new perspective, that is what I'm trying to suggest in this book.

Ted Simons: And you talk about Iroquois logic and other tribal logic and how they can be different. How do you incorporate that into a general understanding of American Indian history. I can imagine between tribes there are great differences.

Donald Fixico: There are 566 federally recognized tribes today. There has to be at least 566 different points of view, if you add in the gender factor, men and women, that is twice that amount. This is to get on the other side of the equation, and once you are on the side of the equation, facing east, looking at the frontier, it opens up. As it opens up, then you see these different relationships. Take one group, any tribe, like in a circle, relationships with the white world, with the Cherokees, but also with the animals, plants, metaphysical and it becomes more than just a two dimensional approach it becomes more spherical.

Ted Simons: How do you find common ground? Are those the circles involved there as well?

Donald Fixico: Really only looking at the -- a native group or -- with the American mainstream. And so that is binary. If you take that same theoretical model of two relationships and turn that around, then you see the creeks with the -- with the Seminoles and any tribe can be in the middle, but we can't forget the relationship with the plant world, metaphysical world, French and Spanish.

Ted Simons: When folks look at history they want to know what happened and why it happened. Some want to make sure that it doesn't happen again. But for the most part, a curiosity as to what may have happened before they may have been around. How does this particular approach alter what happened, why it happened?

Donald Fixico: Well, I hope, and this is my goal from the book, is to really make people think really hard about history and in particular, American Indian history and indigenous history all around different parts of the world. Indigenous point of view, New Zealand, Australia, or in the Siberia of Russia, there is a different story, a different interpretation. History is a matter of interpretations. With the western approach, we tend to negate, nullify, forget the other kinds of history by not writing about how those people think. We use a large paint brush and paint a way of history and that is how it happens.

Ted Simons: You will be teaching a new class this fall at ASU.

Donald Fixico: Yes, using the basic structure of it. This new class, American Indian studies, 191, a substitute for Arizona State University's 101. It will be using two different biographies. These individuals, tribal chairperson and president, the first Navajo female surgeon, graduate of Stanford medical school and also Charles Alexander Eastman, Dr. Eastman, became a physician in 1890. So, how did these individuals thinking in the medicine way, how do they survive going to medical school when they came from a different set of ideas and backgrounds and values?

Ted Simons: Well, it's interesting stuff. I mean, it is an interesting read and it certainly is a different way of looking at things. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate your time.

Donald Fixico: It was a pleasure.

Glendale Casino

  |   Video
  • A federal judge issued a ruling that’s another win for the proposed Glendale Casino. The judge said that Arizona’s gaming compact does not ban more casinos from opening in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier of the law firm Snell and Wilmer will talk about the ruling.
  • Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier - Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
Category: Law   |   Keywords: glendale, casino, ruling,

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Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. A federal judge last month ruled that Arizona's gaming compact does not prohibit more tribal casinos from opening in the Phoenix metropolitan area. That's good news for the Tohono O'Odham tribe and its plans for a casino near Glendale. Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier of the law firm Snell & Wilmer is here to help us make sense of this new ruling. What exactly did the judge rule?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: The decision back in May left two claims alone that he felt needed additional briefing on. Those specific questions were does the restatement of contracts, a statutory legal thing, apply when a party's understanding of the contract is not reasonable. And then secondly, which representatives of the state should we look to, to decide what the State understood when the compact was entered into. Should they look to the intent of the governor, voters or somebody else? Those two issues were sent back to the parties to brief. That's what he then looked at and reviewed in this most recent decision.

Ted Simons: Let's start with the idea of what was understood by this gaming contract. What does the gaming compact say regarding new casinos?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: Well, that's what the judge -- that's basically the crux of the whole issue of the lawsuit, is what does that compact -- which is 67 pages long, 20 sections, an in-depth legal document -- and that was part of the what the judge was commenting on was, this compact was negotiated for a long time by some very smart people. And I don't see anywhere in this document that says that there will be no more new casinos in the Phoenix area. And that's kind of what it boils down to is, where in the compact does it specifically say there would be no more casinos in the Phoenix area for the Tohono O'Odham tribe. The state and the other plaintiffs argued that, well, there's other evidence out there. There is understandings that the state had, understandings that the Tohono O'Odham tribe had. They knew when they were entering into this contract they were implicitly agreeing there would not be any new casinos in the Phoenix area. They were a tribe in Tucson.

Ted Simons: Is the judge basically saying implicit is one thing, but I don't see it here in the compact?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: In this most recent ruling he looked at those two discrete issues. The most important things he determined was, I understand there may be best evidence of what the tribe may have understood, what the state may have understood. He looked at the four corners of the contract and Arizona law, which has a very liberal interpretation of how you interpret, letting in other evidence that's not in the four corners of the contract. And even notwithstanding that liberal interpretation, he said this is an integrated contract. What that means that is all of the important terms are contained in the four corners of this contract. Therefore it really doesn't matter what other understandings may have been separate and apart from this contract.

Ted Simons: With the idea being that, because the contract is so firm and it's all right there, if you didn't understand, where were you?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: Why didn't you put it in there. Exactly. There was a lot of discussion in the briefing about, well, you know, the Tohono O'Odham truly knew that they wanted to have this casino, but yet they didn't bring that up during the discussions. And so, you know, the judge really did a very thorough examination. He looked at all of this extrinsic evidence. At the end of the day he said, you know what, this contract stands on its own and it's not a reasonable interpretation to say otherwise.

Ted Simons: It cannot reasonably be read to include such a ban, period. The second part is, who was supposed to do the understanding?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: That's kind of a secondary issue, even though that was one of the issues briefed. In the judge's final analysis, it really didn't matter whose understanding was, because he said that a separate oral agreement separate and apart from this integrated agreement really is not reasonable to include in my analysis.

Ted Simons: If the governor thought this, the voters may have thought that, a couple of lawmakers thought this, everyone's thinking all over the place. But the contract says X, Y and Z. Doesn't matter what these other people are thinking?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: That's how the judge pretty much came down with his ruling.

Ted Simons: What happens from here on this?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: I haven't heard specifically but I would assume that the plaintiffs, the state and the other tribes are contemplating appeal. If they do appeal, the next stop for appealing would be to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. So they file a notice of appeal and go through that process. Depending on how that comes out, it could ultimately be appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Ted Simons: The basis of the appeal would be similar to their argument in this particular case, and that is we understood X but didn't get it in the contract?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: Well, it would be their entire -- this case now is done. They had a lot of claims in the case. The judge entered summary judgment on every single claim now. If they are going to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, I would assume they are going to look back at the claims and determine the most powerful, and put their best case forward. Obviously they have to get through this judge's analysis, which is pretty solid.

Ted Simons: Now, as far as -- I know Glendale's had this effort to annex land. That is in court, as well. Where does that stand?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: Well, that lawsuit was sent back to the secretary of the interior who had made a decision -- it was either earlier this year or last year, about taking the land in a trust, saying that it did qualify under the federal statute that's applicable here. But they want the secretary -- the judge in that case wants the secretary to take another look at it and determine whether or not, because this land is surrounded by the City of Glendale on three sides, whether that somehow takes it out of the category for qualifying. You know, so the secretary is going to have to reexamine that issue, and make another decision in terms of whether the land should be taken in a trust, or maybe the secretary may make a totally different decision.

Ted Simons: Right now the city is enjoined and blocked from annex, the land and the tribe is blocked from annexing the trust until this is figured out. Don't we have county islands all over the place?

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: I would suspect we do.

Ted Simons: From a distance it sounds somewhat similar. We'll see how the interior department does on that one. Thanks for your help in explaining all this. Thank you.

Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier: Good to see you, thank you.

Yavapai Oral History

  • The Yavapai Community of the Fort McDowell Reservation east of the Phoenix area has fought for rights that have had nationwide implications. The Yavapai fought and won in court for voting rights in the 1940s, battled a federal dam and were the first to have gaming. In the 1970s, tribal elders Mike Harrison and John Williams sought to have their history recorded as they themselves knew it, passed down orally from generation to generation. The effort resulted in a book “Oral History of the Yavapai.” Book editor Caroline Butler will talk about the book.
  • Caroline Butler - Book Editor, “Oral History of the Yavapai"
Category: Community   |   Keywords: Yavapai, community,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: In the 1970s the Yavapai community of the Fort McDowell Reservation east of the Phoenix area fought off a proposed federal dam, which spurred tribal elders to have their histories recorded as they themselves knew it, passed down orally from generation to generation. The effort resulted in "Oral History of the Yavapai." A history of the Yavapai Nation. Joining us to talk about it is Carolina Butler. Why did you undertake this particular project?

Caroline Butler: Because it was not mine to do, but it just worked out that way. The oldest man of the tribe, Mike Harrison, asked me in 1973, I want you to write the history of our tribe. I said, well, I'm busy right now helping you fight off the dam, which would have forced them from their land. But I said, I'll get you someone. So I sent out a letter to a publisher in Tucson that I knew, and the letter found itself to the hands of Dr. Sigrid Cara, an ASU anthropology professor. She called up and said, I'm interested in doing this project. I took her out to Fort McDowell and introduced her to Mike Harrison. He had invited his cousin, John Williams. The three of them sat down and started recording, they recorded for two to three years. It ended up in 200 audio recordings of their interviews. And Mike and John died of old age and infirmity in 1983. And Dr. Cara unfortunately got cancer and she died in 1984. She knew that she was not going to get well, so she wrote her will and left me all her research material.

Ted Simons: Wow, wow.

Caroline Butler: Yes. So this big project landed in my lap. So I just put it aside for many, many years. Did some work on it, you know, reorganizing her color slides, et cetera. So anyway one day I said, I'm not getting any younger, I better get this thing done.

Ted Simons: And you got this thing done.

Caroline Butler: I'm very pleased.

Ted Simons: I'm sure you are.

Caroline Butler: The "Oral History of the Yavapai" is a very special and different book which all Arizona should know about. It's history from the Indians' point of view and told in their own words. You don't come across that in any book. Nobody's library shelf has a book like this one.

Ted Simons: You talked to two elders, mostly responsible for their earlier interviews. Were other people involved? Were others involved at later dates or was this mostly their remembrances?

Caroline Butler: It was their remembrances. You will read in the book that Dr. Cara writes that other people from the reservation came around and said, well, that's not exactly how it happened, you know. But anyway, this is to be expected. So she said after hearing from other people, there was no question that the ones that had the most knowledge about the old days was Mike and John.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned some other people involved and maybe they had different stories. How do you -- when you put an oral history together, how do you make sure the facts are the facts? How do you corroborate some of this information? Do you look in textbooks? Did you talk to other people? How did you make sure what you were getting was the real thing?

Caroline Butler: I remember that Dr. Cara, all of us became close friends. I remember, because she researched the Army records, the white people's records. She would say it's amazing what the two old fellows are saying, that it dovetails in with the records that the Army has, it was amazing.

Ted Simons: I'm sure. Your book includes some amazing photography. The photographs, where did you find those?

Caroline Butler: First of all, the cover is of Four Peaks. And that's on everybody's Arizona license plate, you know.

Ted Simons: We can almost all see it, too, at some times of the year.

Caroline Butler: But this photo was taken by my son who is a professional photographer. He gets his photographs in "Arizona Highways." He has taken so many photos. When I finished the text of the book, he said, Mom, you can have any photo you want from my inventory. I asked, do you have a photo of this? This? I don't want any buildings or people, I want landscape.

Ted Simons: And you got some landscape. We saw an amazing array of photographs there. When the project was finally done, you got the book, you leaf through it, was it what you expected?

Caroline Butler: I have to tell you that it brings me to tears. Because the story of the Yavapai is so painful, and no one knows about it. And these people walk among us today, and I say that for years the Yavapai people have been walking among us, holding this painful past in their hearts and souls. Because their history has not been out until now. And so imagine the black Americans walking among us today, and no history has ever been recorded of their painful past, let's say. It's the same way for the Yavapai.

Ted Simons: What reaction have you had from the Yavapai people, and from other historians?

Caroline Butler: Well, the historians, I'll tell you, even today when I was telling everybody, I alerted half of Arizona that I was going to be here --

Ted Simons: Good news.

Caroline Butler: - and that the book was going to be on this program. The professionals, anthropologists and professors I know that know about the book, they said, oh, it's so great. One e-mailed me today and he says, I've read the book; and he says, I had to skip some of the painful parts. It was just too much. I says, well, these people have been walking around with it in their hearts for 150 years.

Ted Simons: We've run out of time. Congratulations on the project. Obviously a long time in coming but you got it out there. The books is out there. Continued success. Thanks for joining us.

Caroline Butler: And the Yavapais have all loved it. I think every Yavapai is watching too.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here. That's good news.

Caroline Butler: Thank you, Ted.