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Harjo: 2007 Mantle of Shame Awards

This year has been filled with so many acts worthy of a place on the Mantle of Shame that there simply isn't room for all the deserving. But don't think that the anti-Indian wingnut writers or Team Abramoff didn't make the cut. I just can't bear to write another word about them this year. Ditto for the Mel Gibson's uber-tacky Macacalypto and Ward Churchill's bizarre ''Dances with Identities.''

Kudos to anyone who tried to do anything about anything this year, especially if you helped someone in need, stood up for Indian rights or committed resistance art. The following is for you.

The 2007 Mantle of Shame Awards

Congress and the White House - for not reauthorizing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. A very special place is reserved for Justice Department lawyers who want to exclude traditional tribal healing and the majority Native population: urban Indians.

The White House and Congress - for not enacting a cause of action to defend Native American sacred places. The Forest Service and Justice share a special place for supporting ''yellow'' snow on the San Francisco Peaks and opposing tribal traditions there.

The White House and Congress - for not clarifying the definition of ''Native American'' and returning the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to the original intent of Congress.

The Federal Communications Commission - for its Dec. 18 adoption of media-ownership rules that move toward deregulation and away from diversity, favoring big media consolidation over minority- and woman-owned broadcast outlets.

The pope - for not withdrawing the doctrine of discovery papal bulls that have wrought so much havoc on Native peoples of this hemisphere. Judges who are raining injustice on Native Americans share this award for relying on 15th-century European religious law to continue to separate Native peoples from Native lands; for penalizing Native plaintiffs for barriers and passage of time caused by others; and for ruling on the side of non-Natives who may be disturbed in the future, while disregarding the disruption and damage to Native peoples that have taken place already.

The Associated Press, Washington - for erroneously reporting that Makah hunters used a machine gun to kill a gray whale, which made a complex, tragic situation a dangerous one for the entire Makah Tribe and all Native peoples. The false report of Sept. 8 machine-gunning both ignited an anti-Indian firestorm and made reasoned discourse on Makah traditional whaling nearly impossible.

The Associated Press, Seattle and D.C. - for distributing an erroneous Oct. 4 report nationwide, without fact-checking or questioning the bias of the non-AP writer and without seeking Native or congressional comment; and for a Dec. 7 article, ''Scientists protest tribal control over ancient remains,'' a better article with fewer inaccuracies, but with an overall bias against the tribal interest. The October article falsely proclaimed that the NAGPRA amendment could return Kennewick Man to tribes; misstated that the amendment is ''tucked inside'' a methamphetamine grant bill, when it's in a technical corrections bill that has nothing to do with drugs or money; and even miscounted the number of words in the bill (two, rather than the actual 13). Embarrassingly, ICT ran the second article without fact-checking, seeking Native comment or quoting supporting resolutions of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, National Congress of American Indians and 8 Northern Pueblos.

LEGO Western Chess, Indians v. Cavalry - for inflicting on children in the vulnerable ages of 6 to 12 a stereotype delivery system with lessons in inequality and non-equivalent humanity. The ''game'' features as queens a ''Squaw'' (offensive word for Native woman) opposite ''Western Woman'' (dignified or neutral descriptive term); kings, ''Chief'' and ''General'' (not really equivalent, but toys may be forgiven some lack of nuance); bishops, ''Medicine Man'' (wearing horned headdresses, holding snakes and scowling) and ''Chaplin'' (bareheaded, blond, holding chalices and smiling); knights, ''Warrior'' (generic) and ''Lieutenant'' (specific officer rank); rooks, ''Totem Pole'' (not human) and ''Bugler in Fort'' (human, musician); and pawns, ''Indians'' (race) and ''Soldiers'' (job).

Uncle Tomahawk Chops - for their unusual focus on and attachment to ''Indian'' sports references and their singular disregard of the views or situations of living Native Americans. The hands-down winner in this category this year is the University of North Dakota, whose fans would rather spend tens of millions of dollars in court to keep their team name and images than pay attention to the actual Sioux peoples who are telling them to retire ''Fighting Sioux.'' Dishonorable mentions go to the Indian hustler who cut a deal with UND to convince the Sioux nations to change their minds and the non-Indian hustler who made up the T-shirts with this: ''No Sioux Logo / No Sioux Casinos.''

Russell Means - for his mid-December announcement in D.C. that he is unilaterally withdrawing the Lakota Sioux from treaties with the United States. News flash to Means: treaties are made between nations; you are a person and not a nation; you are not empowered to speak for the Great Sioux Nation; as an individual, you can only withdraw yourself from coverage of your nation's treaties. (Means is the same Oglala Sioux actor who tried to beat domestic violence charges by challenging the sovereign authority of the Navajo Nation to prosecute him - he took it all the way to the Supreme Court and lost.)

People who claim Indian ''descent,'' ''heritage,'' ''ancestry'' and ''background,'' and who say, ''You don't look [or sound or act] Indian.''

Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, is president of the Morning Star Institute in Washington, D.C., and a columnist for Indian Country Today.