But today’s white women savior brings a softer touch. She brings the comfort of the New Age philosophy, which idolizes traditional Indian ways. She brings the financial support from communists who aggrandize Indian failure for subversive, anti-American purposes. She confirms the Indian ‘where he is,’ like modern feminist theologians , completely helpless in her hands, completely dependent on her maternal provision.
But today’s great white woman savior comes to the reservation without Christ, without courage, and without vision. She brings salvation in her own flesh.
Promiscuity often follows in her train, and the effect is viscerally divisive among Indian people. This white woman is a sexual intrusion into the Indian community, and she causes alienation between Indian women and Indian men….
On the specific issue a close friend of mine once told me that a Native American professor had told a potentional graduate student (also Native American) that the sexual opportunities offered at the overwhelmingly white University of Imbler for dark-skinned non-white males were myriad. I once had a black neighbor (there are not many blacks in Imbler-especially non-multiracial blacks) who moved to Eugene from Mississippi who was regularly propositioned by women he did not know at malls (he wasn’t very attractive and indicated that he had never had much luck with women in Mississippi). On an individual level this exoticization is not troubling ;)
The problem lay deeper down. Recently I watched a documentary on the disputes surrounding holy sites around the Mt. Shasta area in northern California (about 40 miles or so from where I now live). Apparently nude hippies were lounging around springs and creeks and complaints were being issued by local Native American groups who encountered them on their religious sojourns. I watched as a group of Native American Elders confronted some naked long-haired 20-something white men & women. The Elders explained that the local tribes found nudity at religious sites offensive. The hippies were shocked & appalled and I could see the cognitive dissonance in their eyes-after all, these were people of color who were not supposed to be inhibited by Western patriarchal Judeo-Christian values. One of the bolder hippies responded with some irritation, “But nakedness is beautiful, we’re all born that way….” (imagine the characteristic hippie lilt). The argument went back & forth and the hippies were quickly being disabused of their notions of what Native Americans were like-and the Native Americans were irritated at the patronizing tone that these young naked white savages evinced toward them.
This incident encapsulates many of my problems with American society and its tendency to look toward the group and the mythic past as organizing principles. Left-leaning American whites have created a mythology of the noble savage (or rather, reinterpreted it to fit their own political orientation) and become outraged when non-whites do not fit the bill-and to preserve their mythology they often attempt to de-legitimize the non-white individuals in question (a “black conservative” is not authentic). But it also extends to the Right-leaning end of the political spectrum as conservatives lionize a virtuous past that was far more complex than they remember and express ambivelance and some admiration of the moral certainties of Third World cultures . The problem is that many whites forget to look at the trees in the forest, non-whites are individuals with their own selfish needs & wants. In a perfect world race would not matter and black women would not be angered at the sexual competition of white women-but it is not a perfect world and selfish considerations may trump ideals of race-neutralism. Whites, especially liberal whites, often do not face the down-side of the principles that they hold, which to me explains who Ralph Nader’s voters in 2000 tended to be affluent white liberal males, the very group for whom righteous espousal of principles is to a great extent the ends (they support affirmative action & welfare, but don’t usually directly benefit from it, so can assert that things “need to get worse to get better”). So white women as David Yeagley notes (and some black women have asserted) come into communities that they intend to help, often espousing their own issues, oblivious to the chaos and cultural disruption that they wreak on the individual level because individuals have little importance in their ideology though they loom large in their personal lives.
I am not denying here that race, religion, language and ethnos in general have no utility and importance-but that we are starting to swing too far toward a higher level of identification (gender, race, etc.) away from the liberal ideal of the individual. In the case of Native American (or any race/ethnos) males-they are first and foremost horny guys who will take a sexual opportunity when presented, as individuals, rather than cogs in the wheels of racial harmony. This sort of selfishness can also apply to a higher level of organization as indigenous groups turn against their environmentalist allies when the evil-oil-company offers them a fair shake of the profits. Environmentalists might be shocked-but they never understood that the indigenes have their own material needs and their primary concern was always their physical and social well-being, not a grand vision of a holistic Mother Earth.
Selfishness and imperfection is a human universal.
P.S.: I’m well aware that this sort of blathering is easier for me than most people-I have very little group affinity, whether it be racial or religious, though I would assert I am mildy patriotic. Perhaps honesty is the best policy first-before we can decide where we go on from here.
 Conservatives love to talk about how black Americans are more religious and pro-life than their political leadership. As if in the end it somehow changes anything.