News: Pine Ridge passes marriage equality; Cherokee Nation seeks Congressional delegate; and Dior’s Native American-themed ad for ‘Sauvage’ perfume stinks

In this blog:

  • Pine Ridge passes marriage equality, anti-hate legislation
  • Cherokee Nation tries to send its first member to Congress
  • Christian Dior pulls its ad campaign for its latest fragrance: “Sauvage”

Pine Ridge passes marriage equality, anti-hate legislation

Pine Ridge became the first Native nation in South Dakota to legalize same-sex marriage, according to a July news release published in Indian County Today. It passed the Oglala Sioux Tribe Council on a 12-3 vote, with one abstention.

According to the release, Pine Ridge’s marriage or domestic laws hadn’t changed since 1935.

“These are historic days for our tribe, and for the rights of all people who seek equality, justice and recognition under the law,” said Chase Iron Eyes, who serves as lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project and as Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner’s public relations director.

A few days later, the Council passed anti-hate legislation based on the Matthew Shephard Act.

Cherokee Nation intends to send its first delegate to Congress

The Cherokee Nation is pushing for Congressional representation based on treaty rights grants in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to an article in the New York Times: “The treaties, the Nation claims, promised them a seat at the table.”

The article quoted Chuck Hoskin Jr., chief of the Cherokee Nation, who appoint a Congressional delegate based long-standing rights. .

“These treaties are sacred. They mean something. There’s no expiration date on them,” he said. “What I’m asking is for the government of the United States to keep its word.”

If the Cherokee are successful, their representative would be a non-voting member, but it would be an important step to increase their visibility and voice.

The 1785 Treaty of Hopewell first granted the Cherokee Nation the right to send a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Article XII reads:

That the Indians may have full confidence in the justice of the United States, respecting their interests, they shall have the right to send a deputy of their choice, whenever they think fit, to Congress.

This right was reiterated, with limits, in the verbose 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Article VII reads:

The Cherokee nation having already made great progress in civilization and deeming it important that every proper and laudable inducement should be offered to their people to improve their condition as well as to guard and secure in the most effectual manner the rights guarantied to them in this treaty, and with a view to illustrate the liberal and enlarged policy of the Government of the United States towards the Indians in their removal beyond the territorial limits of the States, it is stipulated that they shall be entitled to a delegate in the House of Representatives of the United States whenever Congress shall make provision for the same.

Comment: That last line, “whenever Congress shall make provision for the same” is problematic.

Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States Virgin Islands all have non-voting delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Christian Dior pulls social media ads for its new fragrance: “Sauvage”

In late July, Christian Dior debuted a Native American-themed social media ad to promote its revamped fragrance “Sauvage.” The negative reaction was swift; Dior has pulled its ad from Twitter.

The Washington Post used the cautious headline: “Dior thought a ‘Sauvage’ perfume ad with Native Americans was a good idea. Not everyone agreed.” The Progressive magazine headline was more to the point: “Going Native: The Scent of Racism.

Johnny “Captain Jack Sparrow” Depp doesn’t come out smelling so good in the perfume ad. According to The Progressive:

The company featured a video in its Twitter feed of an American Indian dancing in full regalia in the desert. A narrator can be heard saying, “An authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding, and secular territory.”

The campaign also featured actor Johnny Depp in a video playing the guitar along with the dancer. In a separate video explaining the ad, Depp fondly says, “This particular short film is truly a love letter. It’s almost as if you can hear the land. There’s something there that speaks to you.”

The Post story quotes Hanay Geiogamah, a UCLA professor, playwright and historian who is a member of the Kiowa tribe:

“It’s an arrogant appropriation of imagery that is unimaginatively executed,” he said. “What offends me is that they so casually appropriate imagery like that and blend it together for their own purposes.”

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