Museum Talks- Post Five

Sifting through the deluge of information we got today during the talks might take more brain power than I have, but among that flood were several moments and topics that stood above the rest. First among these moments came courtesy of Joe Joaquin, who we’ve come to learn is somewhat of a legend in these parts. Mr. Joaquin spoke of how in the modern day, the O’odham people have a choice of how they want to live. They can live as close to the traditional way as possible while incorporating non-threatening modern aspects, or they can accept what he referred to as the “outside world” and lose their connection to the ancestors, the culture, and the land. Obviously Mr. Joaquin was in favor of the latter point, but his description of this issue as a choice is what drew me in. So much of the time when speaking of external action and influence on Native Americans, Native agency is removed from the scenario by making it seem like Western culture, once it touches something, will inevitably conquer it and there’s nothing the participants in the previous culture can do about it. By telling the story as a choice, Native Americans in Joe’s telling are given agency and independence, a say in their own destiny. A second discussion that stuck out was with the Tohono O’odham PD, and parts of their tenuous relationship with both Border Patrol and their former associates, the Shadow Wolves. In a situation similar to drawing groundwater and losing river services, the Shadow Wolves recruit TOPD officers just after their training is completed, costing the TOPD a lot of money in both lost investment and training new recruits. This phenomenon struck me as both somewhat wasteful and self-defeating, as it draws money and resources from the people they want to protect.

4 Replies to “Museum Talks- Post Five”

  1. I also thought the conversation about the Shadow Wolves was interesting, because as you stated it can somewhat add to the tensions between O’odham and border patrol. I can see where the police department would feel defeated in training officers that leave for Border Patrol, although O’odham Border Patrol agents I’m sure provide benefits in themselves. I thought Richard Saunders being able to see it as a plus was a good way to look at it.

  2. I was glad to hear that the Shadow Wolves still exist since they have the knowledge of the landscape and people to do a terribly difficult job better than anyone else.

    I think your point about agency is important. Too often Indian peoples are considered nothing but victims. However as both Joe and Selso stressed they are often able to muster the will to adapt to situations in ways that carry on their traditions rather than destroy them. Of course it would be great if the federal government, corporations, and other non-T.O.did not act in a fashion that tested their adaptive strategies to the max, but this situation is not likely to arise in the foreseeable future.

    1. Harvey, what exactly are the Shadow Wolves and what do they do?

      Per Pat’s post and Harvey’s comment about agency, I’ll tag in that I agree, and I think that implications of non-agency simply string out a long held American colonialist narrative about American Indians.

  3. Employers always take a risk when they invest in training. Training raises the productivity of the employee and therefore raises the effective wage that they can command on the labor market and expands the employee’s set of job opportunities. Therefore training either means that the employer will need to raise the employee’s wage or risk having the employee poached (as happened here).

    Small police departments on American Indian reservations are in a tough situation. One one hand, subsidizing the training of new recruits involves that poaching risk. On the other hand, if they don’t subsidize their training, they could not attract enough new recruits since most local youth would find it very difficult to finance their own police academy training.

    A possible soultion would be to continue pay for new recuits’ training but structure it as a five year loan and simultaneously offer a loan payment benefit for the first years. Then, if a new recruit were poached after say 2 years, they would become responsible for the last 3 years of loan payments.

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