More on Churchill

Jonathan Bellman

Herewith a letter from a couple of Indian women on the subject of Ward Churchill, with whom they have personal experience.  When I previously posted on this subject, I was asked "Jonathan, what's with the baseless vitriol?"–and that's the nice one.  So, for some context, just put this in the mix.

About jonathanbellman

Professor of Music History and Literature and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Author, *The _Style Hongrois_ in the Music of Western Europe* (Northeastern University Press, 1993), *A Short Guide to Writing About Music* (2e, Longman, 2008), *Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom* (Oxford University Press, 2010), Editor, *The Exotic in Western Music* (Northeastern University Press, 1998), author of bunches of articles and reviews and so on. Likes to play the piano, the mandolin, and even guitar sometimes. A. M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar at UNC, 2011.
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5 Responses to More on Churchill

  1. glen says:

    Since I wrote that comment, I’ll say that this does nothing to address the fact that your original blog post, as well as these inane followups, show a distinct lack of understanding about Churchill’s trial and the subsequent ruling in his favor.
    As a professor, I’d think you would be concerned about the political forces that ultimately brought on his dismissal. But instead, you’re taking the time to relish in a colleague’s downfall, to rub salt in his wounds, spit in his eye, etc.
    I don’t wish to defend his scholarship, and I’m sure some of your accusations are based on embarrassing truths. However, your tirades on this topic have shown that you know little to nothing about the content or context of this recent trial (baseless), and have been constituted mostly of irrelevant, and at times blatantly hateful, vitriol.
    You don’t have to like the guy, it’s okay. I would respect your opinion about the ruling if you had anything intelligent to say about it. However, you should be thankful that your work is not controversial, and that professors don’t get fired for being ignorant. It was, after all, a simple opinion piece that got Churchill in this hot mess to begin with.

  2. rootlesscosmo says:

    I hold absolutely no brief for Ward Churchill; whatever else he may be, he’s a fool who doesn’t know how (or doesn’t care) to govern his tongue and is too vain to retract a stupid public utterance. But I’d find the letter linked from this post more credible if the blogroll alongside it didn’t feature Free Republic, Ann Coulter, Little Green Footballs, and many other far-Right, and certainly non-Indian, voices. The letter’s charges against Churchill may or may not be well-founded; lacking any way to evaluate them for myself, I have to look at the context in which they’re made, and it’s not reassuring.

  3. Tara Browner says:

    I am, from what I can tell, one of the few “out” tribally enrolled CIB carrying American Indians in the AMS, and I knew Ward in the mid 1980s when I was at Boulder working on an MM (and I’m gonna sign my name at the end of this).
    So here goes: Jonathan is right, and Ward is a total fraud.
    All the Indians in Boulder knew it, and many protested when he was hired, because he was hired AS AN INDIAN TOKEN. To repeat, he was hired because there had been ongoing Native protests on campus due to one of the residence halls being named after a perpetrator of the Sand Creek Massacre (this hall is now White Antelope Hall), and they wanted to placate us, while not hiring anyone who might actually give a damn about Native issues (Ward was never at the protests, where he might have encountered real Indians). So CU circled their wagons and hired Ward, who has practically no credentials as much of anything.
    Most of the Indians who testified for Ward at the trial are people who tied their horses to his wagon and don’t want to admit he is a fraud, because they would lose face in the Native community that way. Michael Yellowbird (from KU)is a decent enough guy on his own, but has published almost nothing, and was probably looking for some sort of notoriety–this was his version of “I’m a Celebrity . . . Get me out of Here!”. As I have told Jonathan privately, I believe CU deserves Ward because they were the hypocrites who hired him, and should be stuck with him until he dies–except for the fact that CU is a taxpayer funded institution, and with so many people living under bridges right now, there are many better things to do with Ward’s salary than pay it to Ward.
    The statements of the two Native women on the linked webpage are well-known in Indian Country, and we give far more credence to the accounts of Elders in our community than a fake Cherokee from outside of it. Also Ward and Annette were known to act like this, even in Boulder. What you don’t know, unless you (glen and rootlesscosmo) are Indians yourself, is that Ward has tried for years to gain credibility for acting “rezzy” (Annette really is tough), which is similar to the hip hop concept of “keeping it real,” whereby acting “street” plays out with guys who grew up in suburbs carrying guns to nightclubs and waving them around so they can get a minor arrest record and the cred that goes with it.
    My question for those of you who comment on Ward is have you read his “research”? I have, and one of the key problems with it and CU is that while maybe it was enough to get Ward in the door, the quality (check out the presses) is poor, and he never would have received tenure (or been hired with it), much less a promotion, in anything other than “Ethnic Studies,” which at many institutions is a foul scholarly ghetto where institutions toss minority scholars because most “legit” departments don’t want to hire us–they want people who look, act, and think like themselves. In the end, Ward is a fake Indian housed in a fake discipline so that white people can feel good about themselves in a NIMBY kind of way, and I’m sure if Universities could find other fake minorities and house them in ethnic studies, they’d do that too. But maybe not so much now, since Ward turned around and bit his patrons in the ass.
    Tara Browner

  4. rootlesscosmo says:

    @Tara Browner: thanks for this comment. You’re absolutely right, I’m not Indian, and all I know about Churchill is what appeared in the media in 2001, and some of the blog posts addressing the academic freedom issues (if any) and the substance (if any) of Churchill’s statements. It’s out of that ignorance that I expressed qualms about the context of the two women’s post; I’m totally unqualified to say anything about the content. Again, thanks for a knowledgeable comment.

  5. Kate says:

    I’m troubled by the claims, but I don’t know enough at the moment to state any kind of personal opinion.
    But I’d like to add that I’d find this a little more credible if the blogger who posted this at least didn’t use islamic cultural references to degrade and taunt others. That troubles me as well. At this point, I am unattracted by either side, since both seem opportunistic and patronistic. No thanks.

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