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Old 02-13-2004, 03:37 PM   #1
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Grammy Number Enrages Indians

Friday, February 13, 2004

Grammy Number Enrages Indians

By Leanne Potts
Journal Staff Writer
When a Native American chant opened the final performance at Sunday night's Grammy Awards show, George Toya of the Jemez Pueblo powwow group Black Eagle thought he was about to see a fellow Native group perform.
"It was a Navajo song that I recognized, and I got a little excited," says Toya, who along with the other members of the group were at the nationally televised ceremony in Los Angeles to pick up a Grammy for Best Native American Music Album.
But the drumming had nothing to do with a powwow song.
Instead it was the intro to a performance of the song "Hey Ya!" by Andre "3000" Benjamin of the hip-hop group OutKast, in which Benjamin and some female dancers came onstage and gyrated around a giant green teepee while wearing war paint, feathers and fringed costumes.
Toya couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"I told my wife who was sitting beside me, 'Somebody is going to be (angry) about this,' '' Toya says.
And angry they are.
Native Americans across the country are livid about the performance, which they say was disrespectful to Native American culture and a perpetuation of tomahawk-and-teepee stereotypes.
"I like OutKast. I like their music," said Albuquerque record producer and musician Tom Bee, who was nominated for this year's Native American Music Grammy and was also sitting in the audience at L.A.'s Staples Center. "But I thought the show was not correct. It was degrading."
The San Francisco-based Native American Cultural Center is calling for a boycott of OutKast, who won three Grammys at the show; Arista, their record company; the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization that sponsors the Grammys; and CBS, the network that aired the show. The NACC has also filed a complaint with the FCC.
The Oneida Nation and a former Miss Indian World criticized the performance on Tuesday, and message boards at and have been afire with rage. has launched an online petition calling for an apology from Benjamin. By Wednesday night, there were 2,500 signatures on it.
"I don't think you meant to offend, but you hurt us," wrote a petition signer named Megan Jones. "Please acknowledge our feelings and apologize."
Arista Records did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment. CBS issued a tepid apology on its Web site that stopped short of saying Benjamin's performance was insulting to the 2.3 million Native Americans in the country.
"I think it would only be right if OutKast apologizes," Bee said.
So far Benjamin and Antoine "Big Boi" Patton, the other half of OutKast, have been silent.
More than 20 million people watched the telecast, which was initially dismissed by critics as being so dull as to be useful as a sleep aid.
CBS, still wincing from Janet Jackson's peek-a-boob incident at the Super Bowl a week earlier, had made it clear to Grammy performers it wanted no more X-rated surprises. The network had even put the show on a five-minute delay to avoid any more controversy from making it on the air.
But CBS apparently saw no problem with the Indian dance number, which was approved by the network in advance. Bee, Toya and others blame this on ignorance, not malice.
"If you did anything that was degrading to the black culture, people would string you up that night," Bee said. "But people continue to think they can make a mockery of the Native American tradition and culture and get away with it. This has been going on for 500 years."
Bee was particularly angered by the fact that the Pocahontas go-go dancers who accompanied Benjamin wore feathers, a sacred symbol for Natives.
"The use of them for a costume is offensive," he said. "It's like using a Torah as a prop."
Toya, of Black Eagle, was more sanguine. "We were more annoyed than angry," he said. "They could have done something else that wouldn't have caused such controversy."
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:25 PM   #2
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some white people think that we wont care if they put on a show about natives with no knowledge of our culture if they made fun of blacks the blacks would be probably tryin to shoot cbs by now i donno probably well never here from cbs makin music shows anymore if any more iccidants come to hand.
say this out loud 5 times fast(I AM SOFA KING WE TODD ED)

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