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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ten Little Indians.

Lakota East High School in Ohio has canceled its production of Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie because the original title of the book back in 1939 was Ten Little Niggers. Now, as abhorrent as the term may be, the story hasn't been called that in years and the content of the play has NOTHING to do with racism, although there is one comment that can be easily omitted that doesn't change the story one jot. As offensive as that one comment is, it was an expression befitting the time period. As the human race is pretty good at ignoring bits of history, this shouldn't be too hard to do at all. (The Song of the South NEVER HAPPENED. Shh.)
Another article explained how the school wimped out by saying that they realize how offensive this must be to everyone and how the violence depicted in the show is in poor taste given today's climate of violence in schools. The play isn't about school violence. It's a good old fashioned murder mystery CLASSIC and immensely entertaining to watch or read and has been performed in schools many times over.
To be honest, I can see why the school backed off because no one wants to look like a big racist speaking against a declaration made by the NAACP, but honestly... This just makes the NAACP look stupid because it's obvious they don't know the play and surely have far more important matters to attend to than a high school play that USED to have a different name back in the thirties but actually contains no racist matter whatsoever. Maybe. I doubt they're grasping at straws for incidents of true racism.
And why aren't the Indians screaming out that this is racist? The current title apparently threatens them, why aren't they making noise? It didn't even occur to the NAACP that maybe it would be more offensive to native Americans than to African Americans.
Funny how the last time Mr. Hines of the NAACP made such accusations against this school district that he then swiftly offered diversity training to them for a fee. Nothing like creating a problem to then get paid to solve it.
Mr. Hines, there are real problems that need addressing, you needn't go through the trouble of creating new ones out of thin air.


Anonymous said...


Ian Bowman-Henderson said...

I am a student at Lakota East High School. Here is a link to the blog about this issue written by myself and a few members of the the cast. Thanks for noticing.

Ian Bowman-Henderson

Ian Bowman-Henderson said...

I forgot to actually include the URL, sorry. The URL is lakotacast.blogspot.com

TeacherLady said...

Thanks Anon for sharing that detailed article. It was well written.
And thanks Ian for sharing first-hand insight. I'm sorry your cast, crew, and related staff members put so much work into a show that never got to be shown. I've seen it twice (once in Britain, once in the States) and its a good show. I can understand why your school backed down, but feel bad that they did it for such poorly founded reasons.

Anonymous said...

Why is it these type of important issues always bring out the worst? http://www.newsnet14.com/?p=7411

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the play was renamed "Ten Little Arabs" would the Arab Chick think it was appropriate, a play on genocide of Arabs. I don't thing so!

TeacherLady said...

Um. No, I wouldn't be offended, because the play would still be about a bunch of people getting picked off one by one by a psycho, and would have NOTHING to do with Indians, Blacks, Arabs or Lithuanian banjo players.
It's a good play, you may like to read or watch it. Unless you don't like mysteries, in which case don't bother.

PHSChemGuy said...

I remember seeing a movie version of the play a few years back and can't imagine what could be offensive toward African-Americans.

I'll be curious to see what this does to the choice of productions 'round Lakota-land now, whether everything will have to be vetted through a committee/principal.

Anonymous said...

This is the candy comrade teacher ( who cannot sign on for some stupid reason...). I was just happy to see that there is now a chance of the play going on after all...
Good luck to the cast and crew getting a chance to show the play!

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned this unfortunate incident may have resulted from lazy scholarship. Did the theater teacher know the racially charged history of the play? Did he do his research and present it to his class? I would never assign a book not knowing the history of the author or any controversy surrounding it. I teach Conrad's Heart of Darkness and we deal with the racial nature of the book in a straightforward, respectful and thoughtful manner. We can't ignore our history and we should discuss it in the classroom but it seems that in the case of Lakota the administration, the teacher and the students were caught "off-guard." Honestly, how can you put on a play like "And Then There Were None" and not know its history? And why are they presenting it as "Ten Little Indians" when the Agatha Christie estate has officially changed the title?

Andrea Proud thunderhawk said...

I am a lakota east student like Ian. Mr.hines has gone after my school Lakota east and the lakota schoools district before this isn't the first time. Dr.Kline our newest principle..isn't much liked at this time, he's not like Mrs.barb[her neames shorten] she wasn't all by the book she made us follow the rules that mattered but she didn't enforce lame ones. Dr.kline enforces every little rule there is, he's out cry by the book.

He's new and i can see why he backed out and cancelled the play the first time. But i have good news ladies and gents if you havn't found out.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON. even if the play isn't "ten little indians" its the revised version "And then there were none" it's the same play just minor changes.

Personally this whole situation could have been handled a whole lot better. And as far as Mr.hines goes. he just worries abotu his own pocket and he's trying to force his company into our schools.

Sorry for the rant, sinceraly

a thunderhawk

Erik said...

I'm hoping the National NAACP investigates Gary Hines's motivations for being with the organization.

This seems to be more about his use of the NAACP name to drum up business for his private company "GPH Consulting Group" from weathly school districts.

We have enough REAL human rights issues to deal with in Cincinnati.

Paige said...

I'm a sophmore at Lakota East and i was completely enraged by the cancellation of this play. as many people have said before, the play has nothing to do with racism and it was just someone trying to accuse our district of being racist, AGAIN. Gary Hines is also the mastermind behind some "diversity training" program that over 2000 teachers in our district are forced to attend. Mr. Hines makes a nice little profit off of it too. If you ask me i think Gary Hines was just wanting to start some drama.

TeacherLady said...

Andrea, you know how it goes: you have to learn the rules before you can break em. I don't blame a new principal for following all the rules completely at first because he's still learning the ropes and the teachers are all watching his every move and he doesn't want them to sense any inconsistency or poor professionalism. I feel really sorry for him that he was put in this position so early on in his career with you... What a way to start! I'd forgive him for this one.

Phschemguy, I'm guessing this has set a precedent for that sort of thing, but then I guess someone needs to act as a sounding board perhaps... It's just that principals aren't always the best choice for that since they don't always have all the facts. But really, had anyone asked me if this would pose any problems, I wouldn't have thought the previous title of the show and a line that is removed from it by all who perform it would have posed this much of an issue.

People are just desperate to be offended nowadays. It's so much easier to shut things down and end conversations than it is to explore gray areas. I'm so glad the world isn't so starkly back OR white to all of us. And no, that wasn't a racial comment, and if you think it was you're a weiner.

I guess their discussing the issue with the students and everyone else was a delicate way of handling it, because not only does it massage the egos of people who "want to hear my voice", but also opens the topic up for interesting discussion in an historical context.

Please forgive any typos, I've STILL got the flu and feel like a herd of gnu have been tap dancing on my whole body.

humble simpleton said...

HS: Oh, TS. Thou Americans really cracketh me up.
Definition: nigga = blackman(diminutive)
I've read 'TEN LITTLE NIGGAS' as a child and yes the title read 'TEN LITTLE NIGGAS' here in Czech, and as far as I remember, it was a horror with not a hint of anything racist. We have such child-rhyme, which starts 'ten little niggas, they liked rum, one of them drank to death, so they were nine' etcetc. to the last one which married a black-woman and together they had ten little niggas and everything started over again.
In Germany there is similar rhyme Zehn Kleine J├Ągermeister (ten little hunters).
We Czechs sit in our valley and drink beer for thousand years. We never slaved or conquered or whatever, so no Mr.Hines can exploit any guilt. The racist card simply doesn't stand a chance here.

TeacherLady said...

Humble, now THAT's offensive, hahaha! :) The problem is, I have such a sick sense of humor that I have to remember others don't necessarily share that... My colleagues and I constantly use my being Arab as a source of humor. We make camel/sand/flying carpet jokes all the time and I can laugh because I know they're not racist. They're just my cracker, black folk, and hot Asian friends! Oh wait. That wasn't very nice to white people. Don't worry, I love white people! Some of my best friends are white! They're well educated, articulate people too! :)

Andrea proud thunderhawk said...

teacherlady, i realize that i sounded kinda rash about what i said about Dr.Kline, but my statement was porrly expressed let me clarify. Dr.kilne is who i had at the freshmen building last year. He created news rules for the building not just what was in our little "school handbook" which was inside our planner. i feel bad that he got pushed into that position, but it still doesn't affect how i feel about him. Making us wash face paint off our face when we go to school for a game is a tad extensive. these are the nitpicky rules i was talking about sry for the lack of an explaination.

And I hope gary hines does get investigated ^.^

and yay the show is on December 13-14 come and see the show guys ^.^

Anonymous said...

OKAY HERE I AM! I am Native American and here are my rantings.
I have the book and it not only has some racial slurs but many and not only racial slurs also religious. This is not comparable to Huck Finn or To kill a Mockingbird because these stories actually had a lesson saying racism is wrong I cannot see how this school could possible make this play into a learning lesson and in my own opinion I don't think they will!!! Yes they may have modified the play but the fact that it is flat out about genocide, everyone should be outraged! I cannot believe that people are defending RACISM and as far as the NAACP goes every once in a while the minority groups need to stand together. First of all the school's name is "Lakota" which is a native american tribal name second to my understanding the school has a team with the mascot called the tomahawks, everything about this prodominatly white upperclass school makes me angry. Yes it's sad the "children" spent all this time on a play which should have never been approved of in the first place if they want something or someone to blame, blame the poor judgement and lack of research done by the faculty who okayed this play. I have read that some people don't think this is "real" human rights issues well maybe they need too wake up because we are "REAL" and we are "HUMAN". This school should change their name, whatever mascot they have named after my people or heritage we are not a novelty item or characture it is time we get respect! If the students are so outraged about not getting to do their play they need to think what is more important? Your high school play or the genocide of a whole nation? You think just because they're aren't many of us you can just change the HORRIBLE name even though it is the same play and make it okay? NO NO NO! As far as Gary Hines goes he is doing his job which is more than I can say for the school. I mean teaching children to be more upset over a couple monthes of work gone down the drain than hundreds of years of genocide on a race and millions of deaths all created by thier government. SHAME ON YOU!

humble simpleton said...

Put that hysteria down, it's for women. (gender slur, you see?)
That rhyme I wrote before goes:
ten little niggas blah blah, one of them died from that and so they were nine.
nine little niggas blah blah, one of them died from that and so they were eight etc. to the last one.
The plot of the book goes exactly like this, ten people are dying one by one, and that's the very reason for the title. It has been a long time since I read that, so I don't dare discussing what's inside, but I can say it is very dramatic, frightening, thrilling horror. But rasistic? Even if there were parts not acceptable today, you can omit them without any harm to the story, no?
Why would the school change its name? Egypt too was conquered and the original names still remain, and people still wear ankhs.
You want some respect? First ask yourself, for what? Sorry pal, you never earn any respect by whining or by being a sucker. Decent blackman has my respect, whereas white sucker does not.

TeacherLady said...

To my native American reader, yes the book has racist slurs. It was written in the thirties. Can't change that.
The play has nothing to do with the genocide of Native Americans. To think so is irrational so I won't even argue it.
I'd rather have a school named after my people than to have the memory of them forgotten. Do you think these kids would even know the word "Lakota" or "Ohio" unless places were named after such words?
Tomahawks are cool. My people have cool looking daggers called Khanjars.
I'm sorry you claim to disdain racism and yet seem to be really angry with white people specifically. Yes, some whites are bigots, but to paint them all with the same brush is a little... Ahem... Racist.

What's with the quotation marks around the word children? Are you dehumanizing them? How dare you!! That was a joke- For clarification purposes.

No one said you weren't "REAL", geez. Are you projecting your own insecurities and identity crisis on others, because NO ONE said the plight of the Native Americans wasn't real?! This play is about a bunch of white people who get killed... By a WHITE person!

So you jump on the Mr. Hines bandwagon, but he wasn't even representing your people. He didn't say it was racist towards your people, so how can you agree with him when you're both making totally different arguments? Or did he make a comment I didn't hear about, it's perfectly possible he did and I didn't read it.

I would have preferred a logical conversation about this, but you're seeing boogie monsters where there aren't any, so I doubt we can have such a reasonable discussion. I can respect that we have totally different perspectives on this piece, but being neither white nor native American allows me a certain amount of objectivity, I think, and I just don't see it your way. I really don't mean any offense to your people... I simply disagree.

And I'm a big fan of Poirot. Not so much Ms. Marple. She was boring.

I guess I really can't get involved in talks regarding racism, because I constantly have a laugh with my friends about our respective races... I'm the towel head, my husband is a cracker, my best friends are Aryan, black, and Asian, and we all poke fun at our stereotypes. It makes for happier living!

Now if you'll excuse me, my flying carpet needs beating and my camel needs milking.

inLakota said...

There are many in our district who cannot voice our opinion. Not everyone in the school agreed the play should have been put on. And it has to be said the NAACP never asked for the play to be pulled. They asked the administration to "DO THEIR RESEARCH." The NAACP asked the administration to turn this into a teachable moment and the administration blew them off. Lets face it. Lakota is not what you call progressive. And I cannot believe the students are toeing the administration's line. Whatever you think of Hines, is this the example we are setting for our children? To act like irresponsible pundits and personally insult people? Wouldn't it be better if our students took the initiative to reconcile these different points of view instead of playing politics? How does this contribute to the healing of our community? Have they tried to speak to anyone who thinks unlike them in the community? Do they honestly believe that everyone has the same opinion? Ian I know you have talked about wanting to make this a teachable moment, to understand the complexity of race-relations in our area. Perhaps you can take the lead on this. Call the NAACP! Contact local American Indian communities. You may be pleasantly surprised. Censorship is not necessary but education and understanding are sorely needed. No one better equipped to lead us than our children.

TeacherLady said...

InLakota, I thank you for a very well thought out response. I agree entirely with your argument of using this as a teachable moment in the context of goodwill and expansion of horizons. I'm not very good at playing the political correctness game. This blog is purely an expression of my gut feelings about things and I love that some intelligent discussion on opposing sides has come of it.
Thanks again for sharing.

Anonymous said...

My question as a parent in the community is, what are we teaching these students?

Yes, censorship is not an option; however, I have to agree with InLakota. The school seems to have fumbled on this one. In all seriousness, who assigns something without knowing its history?

As for the "teaching moment," I agree that this could be it for our community; but, many of us feel that we cannot voice the real lessons we feel need to be learned.

That said, I would love to see these students reach out to the people who "just" might have a reason to feel offended also.

After all this is about our students and the lessons regarding issues, that obviously exist, and they cannot be addressed, nor taught with "everyone" having a voice.

Now, agree with them or not, there have been voices speaking out.

A new approach, maybe, rather than focus on the "right" to put on a play, or the question of is it racism or not and who does it offend, let's teach them to look beyond the surface.

There's a lot to learn there.

libtown said...

Funny, there's only ONE comment on this blog from a Native American, who is obviously upset, and 'teacherlady' doesn't do a very good job of being a host or a teacher.

'Teach' admits she doesn't know what it's like to be white or Native American, yet disagrees with the person who does know what that feels like and accuses the poster as jumping on Hines bandwagon. Since when does agreeing with a person's action(s) equal jumping on their bandwagon?

To admit lack of knowledge of a people and then proceed to deny their justification for being angry and/or offended, accuse them of following others blindly, and then add insult to injury seems to put 'teacherlady' in any worse position than our Native American freind. At least the reader has a perspective.

And yes, I said insult.

You said: "I guess I really can't get involved in talks regarding racism, because I constantly have a laugh with my friends about our respective races..." but that that is only your opinion. No? Surely you don't wish for us all to go by your opinion.

Yet you and your one opinion can infer whether or not racism is present?

Racism does have a definition and that is, "a belief that some races are by nature superior to others; discrimnation based on that belief. "but to paint them all with the same brush is a little... Ahem... Racist."

Our Native American reader didn't claim superiority, just an admitted anger at the "prodominatly white upperclass school" now could this part be true? What are the percentages of students, faculty, staff and citizens in the Lakota district who are not white?

Tsk, tsk teacher lady, it doesn't seem as though this Native American is being racist, I believe the statement was, again, "everything about this prodominatly white upperclass school makes me angry" directed toward a specific area, not all whites. Or it appears that way to me.

It seems this reader, the only one with insight regarding "race" on this board is just equally upset (not unlike the lakota east students) at not being heard.

Also, you stated, "No one said you weren't "REAL", geez." I beg to differ, I think I am correct in my interpetation that the reader was likely posting a response to erik who said, "We have enough REAL human rights issues to deal with in Cincinnati." And rightfully so the reader is expressing that they are real.

Again, you got it wrong. You seemed to like InLakota's response and well-thought out response and I agree, but you are a self-described "gut" feeler. "I'm not very good at playing the political correctness game. This blog is purely an expression of my gut feelings about things."

Sounds like this is the case with the Native American reader. Do their gut feelings, impulsive and irrational or not, count any less.

More importantly, and in case you're wondering why I took the time to go into all this, it seems that quite a few of your posts are from lakota students and educators; I am in education. And I have a gut feeling ofmy own. This impulse sounds like that of a young person.

Could this Native American be a student? Wouldn't that be something if he or she was and from the area? Lakota?

The "angry" opinion about this "school" seems to come from a closer realtionship to the school and/or community that just reading about this online. Hmmm?

Either way.

I wonder why these people might be angry???

Anyway, I was referred to this blog and intended to read only; after reading, I decided to post an opinion, but after reading more thoroughly, I have to admit that I am beginning to see why others might feel that this district has problems.

You people are slaughtering anyone who disagrees. I'd take a look if I were you, you are not exactly coming off as model images of virtue to the people out there and that's where your popularity with the media may turn against you.

Many of these blog comments are viscious and some are directed toward people who have done nothing to the blogger or the school/community.

Not a good image for people who deny problems with racism.

Open up your ears liberty township, there are other voices out there. You don't have to agree, but at least let them speak. You might learn something.

Anonymous said...

I think chief rants-a-lot needs to lay off the firewater. Get out of the casino once in a while and you'll see you're railing against a non-issue.

TeacherLady said...

Dear oh dear. People are under the mistaken belief that this blog is somehow an official education blog. It's not. It's an egotistical, silly, blog that is meant to reflect my personal thoughts and opinions honestly. Please feel free to ignore it if you don't agree with me, but please don't tell me I have to share the opinion of others. It's not your right to do so. I left a country that thought it could do that to come here and enjoy liberty.

This isn't a school newspaper, this is my personal blog. I have the right to my own thoughts and opinions, whether they offend you or not. You have the right to say your piece and stick around, or say your piece and leave. I appreciate your input and love it when people are erudite enough in their arguments to change my mind, but some people miss the mark and don't lead me to think differently.
My priority is here is to type out my own train of thought, and if you learn something along the way, great, if you don't, you've killed a few moments hopefully seeing something interesting. It's my escapism. Sorry if it doesn't meet your expectations! I don't barge into your house and tell you how to think or feel, I'd appreciate it if you didn't do the same.
I'm glad you felt passionately enough about this to write, and am sorry that you feel offended, but this really is a place to express my thoughts and feelings, not someone else's as I can only speak for myself.

Anonymous said...

I am a student and thanks for the equal support that you are giving those who detest me. This is sarcasm for clarity

journohead said...

To Anonymous with the "chief rants-alot" commment- you wrote less than 30 words and managed to get two big steretypes in there. Yeah, we want supporters of this "issue" to educate those who disagree. Keep up the "good" work. You're making our community look great out there. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

Also, my comment using the word "children" is the term everyone is using around here when talking about how enraged they are because the "children" have worked so hard and now they won't get what they "want."

I am happy for their rights to dissent and the support they are getting, but it seems to me that you of all people leaving a country where everyone didn't have the same rights would understand this. I guess no. You're here in the land of plenty and hey, 'if it don't affect me..."

Lastly, how can you say that the school being names after Lakota is in honor when the majority the comments form this school is derogatory toward Native American people? And I know, I live here.

We don't need that kind of honor and we will not be forgotten. We are here.

blogdogg said...

Incredible, Teacher Lady you said to anonymous that you read the article "rethinking schools" and state it was well written, but nothing else. Afterward you continuously refuse to acknowledge that this work could be seen as a problem? The school should have done the homework about the history of this play. Please someone else out there check this one out and allow yourself to "honestly" and "openly" consider the findings. http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/20_01/aga ...

There IS a history behind this book, this play and this country and the pain, suffering and struggles—we must acknowledge that and find a way forward and out of that. That is what’s good for the community—not defiance in the face of factual evidence that this is about more than a play. It's about the students. Rather than focus on the "right" to put on a play, teach them to see beyond the surface.

libtown said...


No need to worry, I am not mistaken in that your blog IS NOT educational. What I did say was that it seems to be frequented by students and educators.

Congratulations to you on making this fine country your home. And you're right, we are permitted here to have AND voice our own opinion. Do we have to agree? No. It's just that you confuse me...at the top of your page it reads: "An open-minded Arab special education teacher living with a foot in each hemisphere" Now an "open mind" means, "Having or showing receptiveness to new and different ideas or the opinions of others." And then you proclaim to me "please don't tell me I have to share the opinion of others" which BTW I didn't do. Not very receptive or open.

As I've said, you admit lack of knowledge, therefore your "opinion" is valid, but not necessarily more accurate and certainly lacking of expertise to dismiss another's.

Now, I am somewhat knowledgable in Native American subject matter and I would love to find that I posess enough eruditeness to lead you in newer directions--if you were to ever wish to go there.

So I believe in considering "You have the right to say your piece and stick around, or say your piece and leave" that I'll stick around. I am, after all, always enticed by those who boast of an open-mind in such times of unrest.

You said above to Phschemguy, "It's so much easier to shut things down and end conversations than it is to explore gray areas." Isn't that what you're doing to me darlin'?

Finally, I didn't say that I am offended, I hope you don't really feel that I barged into your home and I am would love to engage in logical conversation; just pointing a few things out.

You're lots of fun teacherlady.

cincinnatindn said...

“And why aren't the Indians screaming out that this is racist? The current title apparently threatens them, why aren't they making noise?”

For one, it seems that if we were to do just that—we get the same response you gave to the young student. These are not unlike the ones coming from your anonymous “Chief rants-a lot et al; they’re not very respectable or respectable or open-minded or progressive in thinking; but more on the lines of dismissive, aggressive, and thoughtless.

Now having said that, you do have the right to that opinion; I do respect that; just allow me mine as well. I believe that you have expressed curiosity with your opening question as to where the “screaming” of the Native American is. I truly appreciate you bearing with me while I express it—although I promise I won’t scream (as much as I’d like to;-D).

You ask, “The current title apparently threatens them, why aren't they making noise?”

Keep in mind if in the future if you hear us “making noise” that I have attempted to enlighten you with the “why.”

Once upon a time there was a children’s nursery rhyme:

Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
Seven little, six little, five little Indians
Four little, three little, two little Indians
One little Indian boy.

This is the cleaned up version known to most of us.

Many of us, especially Native Americans, remember the older versions when we hear this. Now, if that were as far as it goes… Just remember that there are many of us out here who are facing extinction because of the actions of US policy and when the expression "And then there were none" is a real possibility, well then it's a little harder to laugh it off.

Next, the original rhyme by Septimus Winner in the 1860s minstrel show:

Ten little Injuns standin' in a line,
One toddled home and then there were nine;
Nine little Injuns swingin' on a gate,
One tumbled off and then there were eight.
One little, two little, three little, four little, five little Injun boys,
Six little, seven little, eight little, nine little, ten little Injun boys.
Eight little Injuns gayest under heav'n.
One went to sleep and then there were seven;
Seven little Injuns cuttin' up their tricks,
One broke his neck and then there were six.
Six little Injuns all alive,
One kicked the bucket and then there were five;
Five little Injuns on a cellar door,
One tumbled in and then there were four.
Four little Injuns up on a spree,
One got fuddled and then there were three;
Three little Injuns out on a canoe,
One tumbled overboard and then there were two.
Two little Injuns foolin' with a gun,
One shot t'other and then there was one;
One little Injun livin' all alone,
He got married and then there were none.

Now it is important to point out that the original was about East Indians (not American Indians/Native Americans) and they were called n----rs. Later editors in Britain found it less offensive to use 'indians." Remember that for later.

Now for the version used in Agatha Christie's book:

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.
Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon; One said he'd stay there and then there were Seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were Four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.
Two little Indian boys were out in the sun; One got all frizzled up and then there was one. (in some versions Two Little Indian boys playing with a gun; One shot the other and then there was one.)
One little Indian boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

The 1939 title of Ten Little N----rs was changed to And Then There Were None in 1940. It too needed to be less offensive.

It is when the work came to the United States that the story becomes interesting and relevant to what we are talking about now. The book was published in the US in 1939/40 under the "less offensive" title of And Then There Were None. But for some reason the American media felt the need to re-use the title Ten Little Indians in the movie and plays which debuted in 1945 and 1946. Even though the work wasn't about American Indians, someone felt that was a better title to use. With the popularity of western cowboy & Indian movies this is not a big surprise.

This is where the "connection" seems to have been made. Why not just leave it with the un-offensive title? Money? Likely. More to it? Possibly.

Now, the "descriptive" title(s) already had a history of concern for being offensive--why does the US seem to feel it could do no less harm here? Indians? Disappearing? Hanging? Hmmm??? Purposeful or not, it's still very relatable. Keep bearing with me…

I am going to give you one example of what these words of yesterday can mean to the Native American people today.

Today, statistics vary for the suicide rate in Indian Country ranges from around 75% compared to apprx. 10% in the US (this is for youths--or "little indians" if you're talking about the 75%) to three times the national average for youths.

Now let us talk about possible reasons for this alarming suicide rate. The United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing a while back, legislators questioned why the teen suicide rate among American Indians was so high. There was testimony from both government officials as well as non-government speakers with expertise in the area. Senator John McCain asked, why the high rate of suicide in Indian Country?
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona answered, that he believes that the high rate of suicide must be “linked with the history” of American Indian populations. He continued, "I don't know how you can draw any other conclusions, that it has something to do with the history of Native Americans and their exploitation and their placement in American society, which leads to greater despair."

Other testimony included that of Sen. Gordon Smith (R., Ore.), who lost a son to suicide, said he also thought that environmental factors played a role and that the government needed to do more to improve the living conditions for the American Indian.


Furthermore the American Psychological Association (APA) states,

“The physical, environmental, social and psychological conditions that confront the AI/AN youth population are well documented. AI/AN youth face alarming rates of unemployment, alcohol and substance abuse, devastating health conditions such as diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, below standard living conditions, and suicide. These conditions pose significant risks to the health and mental health wellbeing of AI/AN youth and test their resilience. While some may find the resources to cope, many others fail and, unfortunately fall through the cracks.
Although mental health and substance abuse services do exist, they are extraordinarily under-funded. The lack of services coupled with an inadequate number of culturally competent providers, are issues that must be confronted now. As these problems increase, the gap between the prevalence of these disorders and number of providers trained to meet the growing need of mental health services increases significantly. The most promising response to this growing crisis is to implement effective preventive approaches that can deter the establishment of life-long maladaptive behavior patterns that can lead to suicide.”


The conclusion of the APA was, “Reducing suicide in AI/AN country should be of the highest priority in our society.”

Now the last line of Agatha Christie's nursery rhyme says, "One little Indian boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none."

Some, and possibly many of you, may be unaware that the Native American is the only human required to have a pedigree. No, you didn’t misunderstand me, I did say a pedigree. We must have papers. And our blood must be pretty damn pure. No less than ¼ on average. You see back in the 1800s the US decided that they had an “Indian problem” and eventually laid out a plan to “measure” who was an Indian. Tribes are required to set a blood quantum. If you didn’t/don’t meet the required blood quantum you didn’t/don’t meet federal guidelines. That meant no promise of your land back (which was promised), later it meant no rights to “officially” live on the reservations and be an enrolled member, etc. With no recognition the numbers dwindle. Now we can leave the rez (those who are recognized), and many do; but if we do we leave our families, our traditions and we are more apt to marry outside the tribe; this results in more watering down of the blood quantum. Once below the federal guidelines, your family can lose its very homeland. Once there are no more minimum bloods left, the gov’t gets the land back again. Now the Native American people have been struggling to survive this policy for generations, but doing a honorable job of it. Still, it is something we face everyday. My grand-children do not meet the requirements. Our family has lived on the rez for many, many, many generations; they never will.

And then there were none.

The Lakota East High School changed the name, which was a courteous thing to do. I implore them to search a little further to see what some of us are really talking about. I’d love to talk about working on changing attitudes, not words.

Word meanings often change, but couching bad attitudes in different words never helped anybody.

The facts of the play, its history and how everyone feels about it are out there and on the table; they can’t be ignored.

The host of this blog said, “As the human race is pretty good at ignoring bits of history,” let’s not make this one of those times.

Please listen to us, you have our proud name—give it honor.

There is so much misinformation out there, again, thanks for allowing me to get out the stuff beyond the surface.

indigenous in the tri-state said...

Just in case anyone cares to know, there are Native Americans who relate (in a negative way) to both titles. Now I realized we can't eliminate everything that is offensive and we shouldn't. Censorship is bad, I know all about that. It used to illegal for me to practice Native American spirituality. Check out the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act--I guess you could say my religious freedoms were "censored" up until 1978. And it takes time and work to get around those types of harms(obviously). Many didn't wish to give us that freedom, but eventually someone listened and the censorship ended. The same can be accomplished here.
Also, this isn't about the play, the NAACP or even the work of the students. 'I believe' they are young and resilient enough that if they were asked to--they could handle putting on another play; if not, the adults have some work to do.
PLEASE let me make myself clear, I AM NOT asking them to do that. Ironically, neither did the NAACP.
For some facts: concerned citizens brought it to the attention of NAACP, the administration pulled the play, the play does have a history and the school, the administration, parents, students say they were unaware of it. Now that they are aware, they say it's irrelevant. The Native Americans aren’t thought to be offended by the title of Ten Little Indians (who asked?), we can’t have censorship (I agree), the media coverage and the outcry from the community is frenzied after it is spun that this is really about Lakota East school district and local chapter NAACP president Gary Hines. The crowd goes wild! The play is back on. Superintendent apologizes, students rejoice, parents and community feel vindicated, they change the name and still they didn’t catch the offense because they don’t live it and aren’t equipped to find it (we won't go into the fact that these are educators--what's up?), now they will teach it to the rest of us—about diversity that is.
But what is this really about?
And please don’t accuse me of being hyper-sensitive. You don’t survive these conditions by being sensitive. This is merely the voice many of you have pointed out as being absent.
The play is from a "children's" rhyme; of its many versions most are very offensive. Today many Native Americans are facing extinction; scores of youth commit suicide and the APA and the US Senate panel determined that is has to "do with the history of Native Americans and their exploitation and their placement in American society, which leads to greater despair." Search and find the rhymes, they say these very words. We face the results of genocide, you don't. I don't expect you to relate, but please think about these words. “And Then There Were None.”
Changing the words doesn't remove the fact that there is a connection to this play's history and reason for discussion. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And how will we kow each other enough to "co-exist" if we don't hear each other out?
Now that we have the chronology—everyone just keep talking about Hines, the students’ hard work and being called racists. No one is talking about the facts (see above). Let’s do that.
Do I as a Native American hate the Lakota school district? No. Do I wish to force them to cancel the play? No. (Though I must add that I can more speak for all Native Americans that a white person can speak for all whites.)
What is my suggestion? I would love to see the Lakota school district search deeply into the play, its history and the continuing affect this has had and is having on the community and say—we made a mistake; say, this was a bad choice. This is not the arena for this play. And we care about ALL of our community.
That’s not censorship. That’s education.
Then, as a Native American, I would say thank you Lakota.

TeacherLady said...

Now that I think about it, Indigenous, what's interesting to me is that Native American culture isn't featured in the American curriculum much. I can't speak for all schools, but I've seen women's studies and African American studies, and world history touches upon a lot of European historical markers, but there isn't a Native American studies class in our building, nor in others that I've worked at/student taught at/etc. That would make an interesting addition. Why isn't it there such a class or is it only available in certain states that feature a higher population of Native Americans?
I am deeply sorry that your people continue to suffer the effect of past and present actions, it was just my own opinion that the play's goal was not to perpetuate or make light of such suffering. I know I've made people angry by feeling that way, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize your offense. I just don't feel it myself. I can see how people might find it offensive, I just don't share in the sentiment.
I watch enough TV and movies to see Arabs constantly depicted as terrorists, and I know that all the Arabs I grew up with contradicted that stereotype entirely, but I can't deny that people fear my race in that way. There are always going to be "haters"! I don't get angry about it, I just try to work on a small scale to prove I'm not like that and that I'm striving for a better existance.

Cincinnatindn, wow, I really appreciate the time it must have taken to gather all of that information for me and my readers. I appreciate that. I promise to look into the urls you provided, but right now my poor daughter is ill with yet another ear infection, so I won't be at my computer much at all.

Libtown, you seem very upset by all this. My intent was never to upset people such as yourself, so I'm sorry you feel that way. But if you really do intend to stick around, please feel free to look into other discussions I've started on here too. I have topics that span the globe. My interests are mainly focused on women and children's rights and their abuse all over the world, obviously a topic close to my heart.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I've got to put on Mahna Mahna for the 16th time for my little peanut. Oh the healing power of the Muppets...

indigenous in the tri-state said...

In the tri-state we do have a Native American Studies department at Northern Kentucky University with a minor to be earned, as well as a student organization. We don't have a heavy population of Native Amerians here, so I am proud that our area has such a program.
I can agree with you that there will always be haters additionally it is not my style to rage against the machine so I'm with you on the not getting angry part, but neither can I be silent. Working to get the facts out there in order to balance the anger on the surface seems to work for me.
Now go heal thy little peanut.

journohead said...

Thanks for the insight. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Just because someone finds something offensive doesn't mean there is anything offensive about said thing. As far as I'm concerned everyone is getting bent out of shape over nothing because they have nothing important to worry about

blogdogg said...

Anonymous you said-"Just because someone finds something offensive doesn't mean there is anything offensive about said thing. As far as I'm concerned everyone is getting bent out of shape over nothing because they have nothing important to worry about"
Are you kidding me? Who taught you that?
Pay attention anonymous. These people just went into great detail about the IMPORTANT things they are dealing with!
I have to say it again, your statement is unbelievable , "they have nothing important to worry about." Surely you don't mean to say that these things aren't important. Did you read them?
C'mon. They're reaching out to you man.

journohead said...

Finally, both insight and perspective. Thanks cincinnatindn and indigenous in the tri-state for allowing us a peek inside. Indigenous, can we owrk out a plan for free tuition for the "local" schools to the NA study program???

prairiefire said...

personally,as a native american, I have read the play and seen it and all that... IF this was originally made about the india indians then why arent they all up in arms about it? I havent heard ONE thing from anyone from there.theres lotsa rhymes that are horrific!.. but i dont see other nations crying about it!...oh ya! and LAKOTA high school don't even think about changing ur name...I love the fact that AMERICA has the freedom to HONOUR Indians..I just wish the four dudes on the rockface were redcloud,sittingbull,heavenfire,ect.,ect.,...

Anonymous said...

One India indian (or American Indian)doesn't speak for everyone and cetainly the lack of a voice (or no indian crying out--where's the indian??? that keeps coming up)doesn't mean that something is okay. Maybe India indians have an opinion, but if you'll look closely many of the readers do not wish to hear the other voices because they aren't saying what they want them to say. Mascot names are a whole other can of worms. As for honour... read the reader posts regarding Native Americans..they're not honourable at all. This is not honour.

cincinnatindn said...

Let me introduce myself in the native way--I am Navajo~

Actually "Prairiefire" the Lakota people would never be so vain to place busts of Native men in the mountain--that land is sacred to them. Most there consider that "monument" to be desecraton. And I agree with the earlier post; this thing has went far beyond a play. There is no honor for the Native American found in the voice of this community. I would love ot hear it if it is out there.

What tribe are you anyway???