PEOPLE AND PLACES
Arizona State professor Jessica Metcalfe talks Native fashion
by Mandy G. Hernandez, Dawn of Nations Today
Dawn of Nations Today, reporter Mandy Hernandez goes “beyond” buckskin with Jessica R. Metcalfe, author, blogger and visiting professor at Arizona State University. Metcalfe, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, is known to many for her blog “Beyond Buckskin” and has been regarded for her opinion on Native Fashion, especially in light of the recent controversy surrounding Urban Outfitters panties and the Navajo Nation. Metcalfe’s blog analyzes current issues surrounding Native Americans and Fashion.
What inspired Metcalfe to work with Native American fashion?
When Metcalfe was in her first year in graduate school, she couldn’t settle on a thesis. She went through five different proposals. After such frustration, Metcalfe paid a visit to her advisor who happened to be looking into Native American fashion dating back to ancient times and asked Metcalfe to pick up where she left off. That would be how her career in Native American fashion was initiated. She realized that although one could approach the topic in so many ways, one could look at the fashion itself and issues surrounding it. Not only was her advisor her inspiration but her friends who are artists as well. They look at one’s identity creatively and inspired Metcalfe to do the same.
What does Metcalfe love the most about blogging?
She prefers blogging because it is fast and convenient. If she published in a scholarly manner it would be such a long process and wouldn’t be able to cover current issues as they are occurring. What Metcalfe loves is that her blog gets on average 800 hits a day. She loves that she can create a space for Native American fashion designers where she can profile them and give them a voice.
She also believes that it is a powerful tool to reach out to not only the Native American community but other people as well and hopes that more Native people start blogging because for so long, the community has been excluded from talking about issues. She wants the word to spread and establish that Native people are here.
What’s Metcalfe most proud of?
Metcalfe said she is most proud of stepping up and attaining her doctorate. Metcalfe is extremely happy with where she is now but she has realized all was made possible because of education. She earned her doctorate in American Indian Studies in 2010 from the University of Arizona, and throughout all her schooling she’s realized that she really enjoys teaching, researching and writing about Native American Fashion. Every now and then she takes the time to reassess who she is and make sure that she is playing an important role for the Native community.
She said 10 years ago she saw so many people around her being excluded because they didn’t have the proper education. That only made her goal to pursue a higher education stronger. Her emotions were so strong that she cried during her graduation ceremony, although it had been such a long journey, she had finally accomplished so much. She is very happy to see those letters attached to her name because they show everyone that she has pursued a higher education and she now pushes her friends to graduate and do the same.
What has been the most challenging obstacle working with a blog?
Receiving her first hate mail has been Metcalfe’s most challenging obstacle faced from working on her blog. She always played it safe and looked at positive things. One time she decided to write about the online store Etsy, and point out why it was wrong to put Native names on their products. Someone responded to that post in a negative way and made it hard for Metcalfe to deal with. She stepped away from being critical for a little while but later came to the decision that no matter what you say or write even someone’s feelings will get hurt and not everyone will love what you say.
Besides the blog, what else is Metcalfe currently working on?
She is currently working on opening an online store for Beyond Buckskin, which will open May 7, 2012 to showcase Native American fashion designers and artists. Metcalfe said she is really excited to give the opportunity for Native designers to take their artwork to the next level. She is also interested in creating short documentaries on Native American fashion and hopes to wrap up her book that she’s been working on by this summer.
What’s the one thing about Metcalfe that only a few people know?
Metcalfe takes the time to visit her home in North Dakota about three times a year. She was born and raised there and considers it her base. She found that returning to teach at the Turtle Mountain Community College was such a great experience because she was able to contribute and give back to her community. She had to go away to pursue graduate school but keeps in mind that it is important to always maintain connections with her home. She now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., but always holds North Dakota in a higher state along with her family, both are who she is.
Any advice to up-and-coming fashion designers?
Metcalfe’s biggest piece of advice is to keep going. It will be hard along the way and will take a lot of work, energy, and time but hopefully it’ll be exciting and fun. Always be professional and keep it up.
Navajo Nation files lawsuit over Urban Outfitters clothing line
by Mandy G. Hernandez and Alicia Frank Haviland, Dawn of Nations Today
The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in February against Urban Outfitters of the use of the Navajo name on clothing. The Navajo Nation cited trademark violations and unfair competition in the use of the Navajo name and trademark of its popular clothing and fashion items. Some of the controversial items in the Navajo line included panties and a liquor flask.
The Urban Outfitters’ “Navajo” line controversy began with an open letter to Glen Senk, CEO of Urban Outfitters., by Sasha Houston Brown of the Dakota/Santee Sioux Nation, in the blog Racialicious back on October 2011. Brown criticized the company for its “cultural appropriation” of the Navajo name all in the name of fashion.
While the controversy has made headlines since last fall, many students and staff throughout the University of New Mexico campus weren’t fully aware of the issue. Dawn of Nations Today reporters, Mandy G. Hernandez and Alicia Frank Haviland, spoke with Ben Begaye who is a 35-year-old facilities manager for the University’s Student Union Building, Malory Johnson who is a 24-year-old senior majoring in environmental science, Sheridan Thompson who is a 21-year-old junior majoring in psychology and pre-med, Sarah Vangorden who is a 20-year-old pre-med junior, Richard Gambino who is a 55-year-old math instructor and Anastacia Pegues who is a 19-year-old freshman majoring in mechanical engineering.
Veteran services offer stability, support for New Mexicans who served
by Aundrea D. Jackson, Dawn of Nations Today
When Jose Louis Lucero returned home from the Vietnam War he was reintroduced to civilian life and unsure of where he should turn for help. The Vietnam War hurt him mentally and physically, and like many veterans at the time, he wasn’t sure what to do. He quickly found work and worked his way back into civilian life until he finally came across help.
“I worked here and there, my own doings and that’s it, until I came here (the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center) I didn't get any help. But here they help me a lot, so I kept coming,” Lucero said.
He sought help at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque where he started taking Tai Chi classes to help ease his mind and his aches and pains. Lucero was looking for that certain something to shake off his war wounds, and he wasn’t the only one.
Since the idea to help military veterans came about there have been millions of resources that have been made available. A simple Google search on “veterans resources” will yield millions of results. This is just one of several issues that veterans run into when trying to find resources for themselves.
When it comes to the Albuquerque area, the situation isn’t any different. But luckily enough there are people and places available to help those local veterans decide where to go for help. One of those places is the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center.
The medical center is where Lucero along with fellow Vietnam veteran Daniel Seybert went to get help. The center offers free Tai Chi classes for all veterans where disability is not a hindrance and helps veterans interact with each other. The medical center is where Seybert found the most help. When he came home from the war he didn’t know what was wrong with him, until he visited the center and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Seybert said it wasn’t easy at first but over time he grew comfortable with the idea of getting help. “It’s helping me to build my community of people that I can talk to, it feels like they care,” he said. “They care that I’m a veteran.” Roger Newall, liaison for the Veteran’s Affairs Office within City Hall, said often times getting veterans to admit they need help is difficult on its own. Newall is in charge of directing veterans to the correct resources where they can get the help they need.
While some are quick to jump at the opportunity of getting help like Lucero and Seybert, others aren’t. Newall said it’s something he comes across more often than not.
“It goes back to the acceptance and open-mindedness and we need to try to reach out to them,” Newall said. “They are coming back from any traumatic situation, whether it’s frontline or support, trying to find a way to blend back into society, and society is not always as forgiving as they would like to make themselves appear.” When it comes to veterans and college, the resources are just as endless.
In Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico has its own UNM Veterans Resource Center. It is a one-stop shop for veterans wanting to attend college either at UNM or at other local community colleges. The center helps veterans transition from military life back to civilian life, by providing personal support for veterans and their families, they also help them earn their degree(s).
Those veterans with a GI are eligible for services from the UNM veteran resource center. The UNM veterans center also helps veterans determine what benefits they qualify for and assist with filling for those specific benefits. Marilyn Dykman, director of the UNM Veterans Resource Center and a retired military woman, knows that the numerous benefits offered can be overwhelming for veterans. She said it’s hard enough for veterans dealing with post-military struggles that often times they become discourage and often times don’t get the help they need.
“There are different GI Bills and it can be not only confusing for a civilian working with this but the military themselves,” she said. “So, that’s the hard transition, because it’s your ego, we’re proud military coming back into academia, knowing that you have certain disabilities and that you might be considered disabled means some thing's wrong with you. That doesn’t sit very well with military coming back and that’s why it’s so hard sometimes.”
The Albuquerque area and New Mexico as a state is special when it comes to veterans. Opposed to many states outside of the Four Corners area, New Mexico has a special responsibility to Native American veterans. Native Americans now have a fairly new area to look into when it comes to veteran affairs--the Office of Tribal Government Relations. The office is a new organization within the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs, where they reach out to the Native American veteran population in the United States. The organization works closely with Indian Health Services, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribal veteran representatives and the Native American veteran population to provide outreach.
Mary Culley, Acting Program Specialist for the Southwest Region Office of Tribal Government Relations within the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs, said the office has medical facilities located throughout all the United States. She said there are also community- based outpatient clinics for areas where the veteran population is too far away from the large medical facilities. Most of the larger medical facilities are located in big cities like Albuquerque, and are far out of reach for those Natives who live in rural areas on the reservation.
In addition to working with the regional office, Culley is a Seminole Indian and a 20-year retired Air Force veteran. She meets with tribes, veterans and federal agencies to help with outreach by providing information and input. Working with Native American veterans has given her some insight into their needs. She said Native American veterans often demand a specific kind of treatment that they can’t get at other veteran’s clinics and hospitals due to cultural and traditional sensitivity.
"There are so many different needs, depending on their location. For some it can be access, transportation, or it can be as simple as making sure the doctors understand culturally what the patient needs," said Culley. "And even for some of our veterans, helping them understand that they can apply for benefits and then walking them through the process and helping them understand what those processes are, are a need."
As a veteran having to integrate back into civilian life about 20 years ago, Culley had a difficult time finding Native American veteran resources. She said as a Native American veteran who once had to seek resources, she has a grasp on the importance of resources for Native veterans and veterans everywhere. "I think it would have helped if I had somewhere to go, somewhere to ask for assistance...a friendly face," she said. "And that's what we're trying to give our veterans now, a friendly face. Someone they can go to help them find whatever information they're trying to find."
While the veteran resources are endless, Newall said it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes something can’t be fixed easily. Newall said while it’s good that there are plenty of resources available for veterans, the number of resources can’t make things difficult. “There is a niche that we can push them to, but there is not a card I can throw out to people and say ‘here, this will solve all your problems’,” he said.
Veterans face challenges accessing services at the VA and UNM
by Aundrea D. Jackson and Mandy G. Hernandez, Dawn of Nations Today
Navigating college for most new students can be daunting, but for veteran’s returning from the current conflicts of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom re-entering society and campus life can present its own unique challenges. The United States Veterans Affairs website’s section on Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF) is dedicated to providing information from healthcare, employment, family support services and education. In addition to the website, the VA is also utilizing social media such as Facebook and Twitter to connect and outreach to veterans.
At the University of New Mexico, the Veterans Resource Center assists student veterans in all areas of higher education, from navigating the University system to graduation and obtaining their educational and career goals.
While numerous resources are available to veterans, often such services can be under utilized and sometimes difficult to access, whether it is the VA or the University systems. Dawn of Nations Today reporters Aundrea D. Jackson and Mandy G. Hernandez interviewed veteran students from the Veterans Resource Center on why some veterans do not utilize the services available to them.
Levi Barr is 24-years-old and served in the Navy during the current conflicts. He is student working at the center and is pursing an engineering degree. Brenda Reyes is 19-years-old and served in the National Guard. She is a freshman majoring in exercise science. Andrew Stutz, 25-years-old, served in the Army and is prospective student for the Fall of 2012.
Navajo Veterans Affairs help man suffering PTSD complete UNM degree
by Caitlin D. Pozernick, Dawn of Nations Today
Upon meeting Donavon Barney, 31, Navajo, one would never know that behind the outgoing and friendly appearance lies a wounded soldier struggling to overcome the effects of post-traumatic stress-disorder or PTSD. Barney is from the small community of Fort Defiance, Ariz. He enrolled at Scottsdale Community College right out of high school and later received his associate degrees in arts and general studies in 2001. After college he decided to work as a firefighter near his home community. There he worked with veterans and heard the tales of military life that initially sparked his desire to join the military.
Later that year, he saw the movie “Pearl Harbor” at Rio West Mall in Gallup, N.M., and it became a defining factor in his decision to join the Marine Corps. Barney’s initial ship date was set for Sept. 11, 2001; the day the al-Qaida terrorist organization attacked the World Trade Center in New York City. Barney describes the day as life changing as he knew that America was bound for war, and as a new recruit, his chances of being shipped out to war was inevitable. “I had an internal desire to move forward, a powerful break to move forward,” said Barney said, who became a Marine that year.
He left for basic training in September of that year and eventually was called to serve two tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He completed his commitment to the Marine Corps on Sept. 15, 2005. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, boot camp is designed to break and reshape you,” Barney said. After completing his military service, Barney took on a voluntary position at the Ft. Defiance Boys and Girls Club. After his three-month stint with the organization, he made a personal decision to return to school.
He returned to SCC and received an associate degree in arts and sciences and his SCC motion picture television production certificate. But while he was in school Barney struggled to transition back into civilian life and often found it hard to cope with day-to-day life. “I started to experience stress and anxiety habits in life. PTSD sneaks up on you. It’s hard to identify with family. I isolated myself a lot trying to be strong by myself,” Barney said. “I didn’t want to talk to anyone about my experiences. It’s a different kind of monster.”
He struggled with flashbacks of events that occurred during his tours in Iraq triggered by everyday occurrences. These flashbacks made it hard to sleep and focus on his studies. Barney said he eventually realized that his symptoms mimicked PTSD and he sought help through various veterans’ services both on and off the reservation.
Barney said that there are services available to veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and many college campuses across the country sponsor talking groups for veterans struggling with PTSD.
He said that many indigenous tribes have their own veteran organizations that offer help to former soldiers. He was able to get help from the Navajo Veterans Affair.
Barney said seeking help made it easier for him to continue with his life. He recently received a Bachelor’s in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2011, and is currently a media tech at the American Indian Student Services at UNM. He is also married to his wife, Stacie, and they currently reside in Albuquerque, N.M. Together they created their own production company called “Plus Light Productions,” which specializes in film and photography.
Barney hopes to enter the graduate program for community health at UNM and eventually produce public preventative-health information videos that can be distributed to his people on and off the reservation. He was also featured in an article in the Christian Science Monitor and in a photo project conducted by New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute along with other Navajo veterans suffering from PTSD. Barney continues to struggle with PTSD but insists that his symptoms have subsided even though “PTSD is a life-long disease.”
He encourages those struggling with the transition from soldier to civilian to seek help, especially those dealing with the effects of PTSD. “(They should) utilize their resources available to them, talk about their experiences, be patient with themselves, (and) realize you are not alone and realize that they are entitled to happiness,” he said. “But most of all, fight for yourself.”
Rainbow flag marks home for UNM’s LGBTQ Center
by Matthew J. Skeets, Dawn of Nations Today
Nestled behind Dane Smith Hall, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Resource Center is providing support services for the University of New Mexico students. Alma Rosa Silva-Banuelos, the director for the center, said that the mere existence of the LGBTQ resource center is combating the challenges that the LGBTQ community faces at the university level.
With the end of Rainbow Pride Week, which ran through April 15-21, Silva-Banuelos said that the students, if they feel the need, they have a place to call home at the LGBTQ Resource Center. “We raise the rainbow flag,” Silva-Banuelos said about the resource center’s services. The center has a computer pod where students can use the printer, a lounge made for socializing, a kitchen, lockers, free HIV/AIDS testing, information on health and a library that revolves around LGBTQ issues. Most importantly, they have a private gender-neutral bathroom.
Silva-Banuelos said the gender-neutral bathroom is a big deal because it is one of the efforts the center does to make students feel comfortable. This bathroom is one of few neutral, one-stall bathrooms on campus for students who wish to use them. Of the services offered at the resource center, the free printing is one that gets most noted. Chloe Andrews, a second-year student and psychology major, said that the free printing and free coffee are things that she utilizes the most at the resource center.
Founded in August 2010, the center is still fairly new to the UNM campus. Silva-Banuelos said that this August will be the two-year anniversary for the fledgling center and it will most likely be a huge event. He said that the center’s events always have the highest turnout. Some of the past events include the “National Coming-Out Day” and the Out and Alley List, that lists out and allied people within all departments of the UNM campus. The main goal of this list, as Silva-Banuelos explained, is to show students they are not alone.
Another service the center has is an in-house counselor who is available for students by walk-in or appointment. Silva-Banuelos said that during the center’s first opening, they had a rush of students in need of help. They weren’t equipped to help those students in the beginning, as the number of counselors didn’t match the number of students who needed help. So, they became an official practicum site for counseling through the College of Education. They are now able to host two counselors for the students. The counselors are master’s degree or doctorate students within the College of Education. This service is free to all UNM students.
One of the main challenges facing the center now is visibility. Silva-Banuelos said that the flagpole outside the center is an indicator that students have a place to go. Anaubrey Shannon, a freshman majoring in psychology, explains the difficulty of spreading knowledge and awareness about the LGBTQ community on campus. She explains that all people are welcome to utilize the resource center.
The LGBTQ Resource Center also is out to de-stigmatize the atmosphere of HIV/AIDS and they offer free anonymous testing. Silva-Banuelos said that she wants people to know that it is OK for people to have these tests done and it’s OK if they are HIV/AIDS positive. Again, it is about creating “a place to call home.”
Though nestled on the far west end of the campus, the resource center is open to all students who are in need of support and all the services offered are free to UNM students. The LGBTQ Resource Center is raising the rainbow flag and welcoming all. It thrives on student presence, creating a place for people with multiple identities to just be who they are.
UNM LGBTQ Center offers free counseling, student services
by Matthew J. Skeets, Dawn of Nations Today
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Resource Center is located on the far west end of the University of New Mexico campus. They offer many free services for UNM students including; free printing, a gender-neutral bathroom and counseling. Being an official practicum site through the University’s College of Education, they are able to host two counselors for students to utilize. Raising their visibility and reaching out to the University and larger community, the LGBTQ center raises a rainbow flag to create a comfortable environment. Dawn of Nations Today reporter Matthew J. Skeets, interviewed students about the challenges facing LGBTQ students in higher education, and how the center is combating those challenges here at the University. Lily Lawrence-Metzler is a freshman majoring in women studies, Freida Moreno is a major in women studies, Frankie Flores is a senior majoring in history and Anaubrey Shannon is a freshman majoring in psychology.