Archive for June, 2007

Justice for Native Women

OK. So I ended up writing a 1200 word piece which I think fairly summarizes the Amnesty Study and the situation of sexual assault on Indigenous women in the U.S.  As a descendant of Great Lakes Potawatomi women on both sides of my family, I had moments writing this where I was simultaneously infuriated/hopeless/scared  (=motivation) and I wondered whether I am here as a result of sexual assualt used in cultural conquest. 

In the end, I provide an objective report, not a rant or plea. No, I am not down with victimhood.

Mostly I am GRATEFUL that there are people out there working ALL THE TIME for justice for these types of crimes. And I am one of them by writing it and putting it out there.

I can’t put all of it on here, because it will be published next week in The Utica Phoenix, but here is a taste:

Jaime (a psuedonym) was raised within a tightly knit family on the Oneida reservation in Upstate New York. At age 18, against her family’s wishes, she married an older, non-Native man and moved an hour away from the reservation to an unfamiliar town. When the relationship turned abusive, she had nowhere to go – her father had disowned her and her family would not talk to her. In her eighth month of pregnancy, her jealous husband violently raped her and almost beat her to death.

After the baby was born and Jaime was unable to work, her husband became increasingly rageful against her. She was scared to tell him that she was pregnant again, and feared for her life. The desperately traumatized 20-year old took matters into her own hands and killed him before he could kill her.

Her nightmare did not end there however, as she found herself in jail, separated from her babies and suffering abuse at the hands of prison guards, who used their authority to subjegate her. She suffered nightmares and depression, reliving the trauma of her domestic relationship. One day, the head guard in her unit caught her in the laundry room alone and brutally raped her. Her testimony was not taken seriously until a number of other victims came forward and the guard was put on trial.

Jaime’s story, unfortunately, is not uncommon. The criminal justice system has failed women, and especially Native and minority women, in investigating and persecuting sexually violent crimes.

For Native women, though, the condition is worse than anyone had ever imagined. A major report published by Amnesty International in May 2007 found that American Indian women are at 2.5 times greater risk of being raped than non-Native women. In addition, the report found that one in three Native women are sexually assaulted or raped during her lifetime, as compared to one in five in the general population. Most of the time, the attackers were never brought to justice.

These and other shocking statistics on sexual assault against Native women and the twisted legal system which offers them little recourse, were finally brought to light with this landmark report – “Maze of Injustice: the failure to protect indigenous women from sexual violence.”

While the report focused on the almost 50% of America Indian women living on reservations (called Indian Country), it speaks volumes for these silent sufferers, the systemized discrimination inherent in such alarming findings, and the efforts being made by Native women themselves to reverse the problem.

Prior to colonization of the Americas, indigenous women usually held esteemed and integral positions in Native society. Crimes against women were few and when committed, punished severely. This is in contrast to the settler’s culture, which was male-dominated. It is no accident that rape and gender-based discrimination in dealing with the Natives were used as tools of conquest and assimilation.


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Cafe Gratitude

This is an awesome concept for a restuarant, and not unlike the idea that hunny and I had come up with [if we ever open a restaurant] – It’s Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco, a raw-vegan joint where all the menu items are named declarations like “I am Abundant,” “I am Generous,” “I am Loving.”  Ah! I love it!!  This is what food is about – positive energetic exchange, putting love and intention into your body. Good for them for taking it mainstream.

I have to add, they are graduates of Landmark Education, a phenomenal ontological inquiry/education company.

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What I’m Writing TWO

Oh yeah. I sent this in to my local paper who was soliciting “Veiwpoint” pieces on the local zoo [*I’ve had one other piece in the Viewpoints section*]. I know I don’t have the most popular ‘opinion’ on this, but I gave it a shot. The topic was whether taxpayers should continue to fund the Utica Zoo. My response didn’t make it:

Since the Zoo has been struggling for so long to make ends meet, we have to keep in mind the quality of life for the animals. Zoos, and this one in particular, are an unfortunate byproduct of antiquated values about wildlife and conservation education. They are exploitative of animals and an insult to sensible humanity.

Rather than enable the mismanagement of this facility to continue, the Zoological Society should focus on making a plan to ethically shut down the facility as the animals come to the end of their natural lives. The Zoo could also focus on creating better conservation education programs like wildlife rehabilitation and release. A transition to this kind of education which does not use live animals in unnatural environments would be ideal. That way, kids and people learn respect for nature without the exploitation.

To people who say that zoos are fun because kids get to see live animals, I argue that conservation education can be even more fun; conservation programs would be constructive and encourage more critical and abstract thinking, without the passive activity of viewing caged animals.

I realize it is not popular opinion that zoos are exploitative, but they are. Slavery was thought normal until many people stood up and said it was wrong. It would be great if the Zoological Society took a stand on this issue and were really advocates for animals instead of perpetuating this self-interested drain on local economy.

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What I’m Writing page

I went to start a “what I’m writing” Page but moved it to here.  I think I meant it as a way to keep track of different projects, but not sure that I want to post all that. I rewrote my resume to just list my published writing and design projects, so I will post some of that there later. 

It’s literally 4:30 am and I have not been able to sleep – partially due to the suphedrine I took 12 hours ago (?!) and also because of the many ideas/queries/pitch ideas coming into my head. I have been reading this great little ‘start up’ book called Get a Freelance Life and unfortunately my time doesn’t seem to keep up with all the things I want to do/feel like I have to do.

One article I am working on right now for our local paper is on sexual assault on Native American women, which is an unbelievable 2.5x higher rate than the American average. Also, there is very little prosecution b/c of jurisdiction issues with Native lands and other legal loopholes and cultural problems that give women very little recourse. In Alaska, where there is the highest rate of violence against Native women, there is something like, only one women’s shelter for a 500 mile radius. What?!!    So I haven’t figured out an angle on this one yet, beyond being righteously upset by it.   Amnesty International did a big report on it here (pdf).

In other news, here is something funny and absurd sent to me by a friend – The Yes Men went into a huge oil conference in Canada, posing as oil reps and presented a plan to use human bodies as the fuel of the future (scarily, this kind of makes sense!). They were taken seriously, to a point. No charges could be made against them as they did nothing illegal. They did get the stage in front of up to 20,000 people though. Maybe they got someone’s attention.

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I’m not sure if I’m anti-globalization, but I know I’m all for localism: supporting local business, products and activities is what holds our tenuous human society together. Beyond that, there is just something about going to the farmers market and talking with the farmer who tended, toiled, and loved the food you are about to bring home; or just amazing people like you and me who come up with great ideas and work tirelessly to network and promote them.

That is why I am going to plug two or three LOCAL websites – I know, it seems like an oxymoron, but there are such things- precisely because of the vision and inspiration of the people behind them.

One of them is The Quantum Tree, by the same guy who came up with Apollo Tunes, a sort of music-based networking site, a bit more organic and in-depth than myspace.  Anyway, The Quantum Tree is another networking site, but a bit more interesting. The model is one where you sign up with a one-time fee ($8) and then when you get other people to join you get $1 per person, and every person that person gets to sign up, you get another $1 … etc. So you see where I’m going with this. It’s really a brilliant idea, becuase when it takes off (net traffick is just increasing all the time) the people who got in at the ground floor during the beginning will really cash in.  The site offers lots of discussion boards for people to share marketing and business tips, buy, sell goods and services (more personal than craigslist), and share music, videos and inspirational writing. Most of the sharing right now is about Success Technologies, so it is really interesting and useful stuff, a very supportive atmosphere.

And here is my success story about The Quantum Tree… I have been on it for a few months, one of the first few people to join, and I have been posting and checking in once in a while. I posted my services as a freelance writer under the ‘goods and services’ board, saying how I was declaring that Central New York is a place abundant with opportunity and work and *bam* withing 24 hours somebody emailed me with a job. My first job!  We are negotiating it right now. 

So all it takes is $8 and intention. You will learn a lot being on this site.  If you decide to sign up, please use my friend code: alethafaye.  Thanks!

The other site, which I’ve mentioned, is, for Women Entrepreneurs of the Mohawk Valley. I just put my first post up on there under “Diary of a Fresh-Faced Freelancer.”  The woman behind that site is an independent graphic print and web designer with a real interest in empowering women-owned businesses in the Mohawk Valley.  She has a few interesting side projects, including – a directory for all houses of worhsip in the MoVa for people to find one that suits them, and (under construction) and endeavor to list all free events and services in the area in one place. That’s a huge undertaking, but she’s working up to it.

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Vegan Potluck

Hunny and I went to our first Vegan potluck, possible the first Vegan potluck in Whitesboro New York … ever!  A few friends I met through the Unitarian Universalist Church and VISTA … it was nice to be with like minded people and not worry about food choices being an issue.

Here is the recipe for the raw thai salad we brought (my recipe improvised from the Raw Food Book).

ingredients [measurements approximate or non-existant]

1 yellow summer squash, 1/4 head of cabbage, 1/4 cup shredded raw coconut, cashews, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, Bragg’s liquid aminos (or nama shoyu), curry powder, ginger powder, cumin, lime juice, Sriracha hot chili sauce, chopped garlic, chopped ginger, chopped cilantroSriracha!

1. Thinly slice the cabbage and julienne the squash to make ‘noodles’. You can also use sweet red bell pepper for more color.

2. Mix the marinade in a bowl: Spices, sesame oil, vinegar, chili sauce (not too much!), lime juice, chopped garlic and ginger.

3. Toss the marinade with the cabbage and squash, then add the grated fresh coconut.  Coarsely chop the cilantro and cashews to add on top and toss together with sesame seeds.

Pretty simple. I like to serve it with poppy-seed covered avocado slices. The fats (sesame, coconut, and avocado) complement the spice and citrus. The Sriracha (above) is very spicy and enjoys somewhat of a cult following … it’s also my hunny’s favorite condiment.

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Time to buckle down …

Today was a tired day after a long [and exciting] weekend.   It’s time to buckle down in terms of finding work. I mean finding real solid writing work. I have a few ideas where to start, mostly concerning special interest publishing houses and query letters …. I’ll be working on that starting tomorrow. 

Also, I’ll be blogging on, a site for Women Entrepenuers in the Mohawk Valley. I got into this b/c my partner and I are starting a business using our biggest passion as the vehicle: FOOD!   We’re going to be offering workshops and individual nutrition counseling on vegetarian/vegan and raw food lifestyle and preperation. Ideally, we would construct and entire curriculum that could be part of schools’ health programs. Well, read more about it on that website.  We are working on promotional materials tonight.  The name of our company is Two Sources.  I have a prototype logo that I created the other day on OpenOffice paint.

Hunny and I just got back from an hour long bike ride down by the canal trail.   In other news, we may have found a vegan caterer in the Syracuse area for our wedding [9/22/07]. We would do the food ourselves, but we want to be able to relax somewhat, and we are doing a sweat lodge on the day before [Autumnal Equinox].

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