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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Please post far and wide! Action needed!

This spoof ad appeared in Cleveland's Scene Magazine. For those who cannot download it. It is a pic of Sitting Bull with the sacred pipe and it bears the Partnership for a Drug-Free America logo on the ad. It states, "Sitting Bull smoked marijuana. He lived in a tent with no cable. Then the U. S. Government killed him. Harmless?" 'Partnership' did not submit this ad. I called Scene and their editioral department told me it was "a joke...a spoof." I asked what the joke was and she responded, "I don't know."

Here is the editor's email: pete.kotz@clevescene.com

Please email him and tell him what you think about the joke he had in his paper. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also has been notified and will have some response. I also informed 'Partnership' of the ad.

Oh, pass this on to as many as you can. The more emails, the better. Let's honor our sacred warrior!


Tara Makoce

Correspondents reply (3/2/03)

Pete Kotz,

I am hoping that this is a bad rumor. I was not able to view the offensive "joke" in your magazine. I am trying pretty hard to understand why a publication would be so immature and hurtful. Unfortunately, these things lower standards for our society and keep human minds from achieving greater levels of understanding and behavior.

I think perhaps that it is the individualism that is promoted so strongly in this country that keeps community from forming a collective conscience and shaping standards for "messengers" (media), but rather, succumbs to mindless messages. Don't you get tired of being "there"?

I thought to ask for an apology for the descendants and people of Sitting Bull, but I am not confident in your reasoning ability to perceive your own foolishness therefore I will ask Creator to have compassion for your spirit.

Rosalie Little Thunder


Subject: A joke? A spoof?...I think not!!!!!

Greetings....In the Spirit we are all related I write this....I am informed you used a picture of Tatanka Yotanka (Sitting Bull), with his sacred pipe....

The logo with the picture states..."Sitting Bull smoked marijuana. He lived in a tent with no cable. Then the US Government killed him"....A JOKE? A SPOOF?....

Tatanka Yotanka was assassinated....So was Abraham Lincoln, John F.Kennedy, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr...Why not use one of them in your photo???...

I will tell you why you did not....In the words of Tatanka Yotanka..."Is it wrong for me to love my people? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country? The Great Spirit made me an Indian"....You used Tatanka Yotanka because you thought nobody would care himn being 'Indian.' WRONG!! It is ignorance like yours and the media fools of the hollywood and the stereotype they have produced, which will plague the First People of Turtle Island....Just as the European plagues of measles, smallpox, influenza that slaughtered millions of First People, over the last six hundred plus years....

With a little respect....

David Watson....Leeds....England


Mr. Klotz,


It has come to the attention of my list, and word is spreading, of the racist and totally wrong depiction of Sitting Bull, an important and revered figure of history and the Indian nations.

Firstly, it is racist. You wouldn't have used Martin Luther King or Gandhi, or Cesar Chavez, would you?

Secondly. It is totally inaccurate...there is no historical or scientific information to lead anyone to believe Sitting Bull ever used marijuana, or any drug, for that matter.

Thirdly: the Sacred Pipe, which is indigenous to the Lakota People, such an honor, carried into the 19th generation by Arvol Looking Horse—is the same to the Lakota/Nakota/Dakota nations as a priest's cross and holy water—which you ALSO would not make fun of.

Your staff's commentary—it was a spoof or joke—falls very flat. It is neither funny, nor a spoof. Saturday Night Live does spoofs, learn the difference.

You are responsible for those under you, their work. You allowed this to happen. You owe Indians everywhere an apology and it might be wise to hold an attitude adjustment hour with your staff People.

I am not of this Nation, nor are their ways mine, but—I learned respect a long time ago for the ways of others, perhaps you have forgotten those lessons?

Sheila S. Stover aka Firehair shining Spirit
Eastern Delaware/Minisink Band.

Partnership for a Drug-Free America responds
From the Native American Times, 9/30/03:

Anti-drug group distances itself from ad Claimed Sitting Bull smokes marijuana

Sam Lewin 9/30/2003

Officials with an influential anti-drug organization say they had nothing to with a phony ad claiming a Native American legend smoked marijuana.

The Cleveland Scene, a newspaper self-described as "smart, uncompromising civic journalism", was at least one newspaper to run a false advertisement in February apparently attempting to poke fun at anti-drug campaigns. The ad was also featured in The Phoenix New Times. A corporation that owns several other newspapers publishes both papers. The ad featured a photograph of Sioux leader Sitting Bull with the following caption: "Sitting Bull smoked marijuana. He lived in a tent with no cable. Then the U.S. government killed him. Harmless? Partnership for a Drug-Free America".

Many Teton Sioux consider Sitting Bull to be a holy man and honorable war hero. In addition to possibly offending Native American sensibilities, some legal experts said the ad was illegal.

" They used our name and logo without our permission," Partnership for a Drug-Free America spokesman Howard Simon told the Native American Times. " Our lawyers contacted them with a cease and desist order and they told us they had no intention of running the ad again."

Simon says the paper published a letter from the organization, and he hopes that no one in the American Indian community ever thinks they were behind the ad.

" When you deal with people who feel differently than we do about the drug issue, you have to deal with some unsavory activity."

Rob's reply
That Indians smoked some hallucinogenic drug in their pipes is a fairly common belief. That people disguise this belief as a "joke" doesn't alleviate the problem. Most jokes are based on the context: the speaker's and audience's shared perception of the truth. If they weren't, they wouldn't make sense to anyone.

See Indians Shanghaied by Shanghai Noon for more on the pipe-smoking stereotype.

Related links
Ethnic humor and the "Joke of the Day"
Tipis, feather bonnets, and other Native American stereotypes

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