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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Truth Does Matter—Part 2—Nasdijj Navajo Hoax

When I scanned the index of the February 6, 2006 issue of Time Magazine and saw the title, “When the Story Stolen is Your Own,” naturally, as a writer, I read the essay by Native American author Sherman Alexie.

It seems another memoir is in question. Worse yet, the identity of award-winning writer Nasdijj is in question.

Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, states in his essay in Time that after he read Nasdijj’s book, “I suspected that he was a literary thief and a liar.” Alexie explained that his own story, “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” which was the basis for the film Smoke Signals, featured an autobiographical character named Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who suffers a brain injury at birth and experiences visionary seizures into his adulthood. Alexie thinks it’s more than coincidence that Nasdijj’s memoir, “The Blood runs like a River Through My Dreams,” speaks of a child named Tommy Nothing Fancy who suffers and dies of a seizure disorder.

In this AP article Hillel Italie reports that Alexis said, “When I first read his work, I almost thought it was some kind of parody by a famous white writer, because he takes so many things from me and other writers.”

According to Alexis’ essay in Time, he approached Nasdijj’s publishers and told them his book “not only was borderline plagiarism but also failed to mention specific tribal members, clans, ceremonies and locations, all of which are vital to the concept of Indian identity.”

Balantine Publishing soon found that their author Nasdijj not only isn’t a Navajo who was born on a Navajo reservation, at all, but also found that he is a white man named Timothy Barrus, who authored gay pornography. Barrus is from Michigan. After learning this, Balantine Publishing stated they will stop shipment on the memoir and offer refunds.

If you want an in-depth report of the Nasdijj/Tim Barrus fraud, you can read the LA Weekly’s 15-page story Navahoax by Matthew Fleischer.

I’m thankful that the publishing company stopped shipping this book. Not only did they show their credibility as a publisher, they also showed that the truth does matter!

If you’re interested in reading about Indian culture, look to one of the true Native American authors Sherman Alexie. He was born on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA and is a Native American. His latest book, Ten Little Indians, was published in 2003 and his novel, Indian Killer was published in 1996.

I also posted this opinion at BlogCritics.

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Anonymous TP Barrus said...

Boo hoo lets feel sorry for the indians yet your people slaughtered and stole their land in a fashion that would make Hitler's head spin. Proud of that are you? Your people turned them into a bunch of drunken gamblers hidden away in concentration camps in the dark corners of the desert.

2/05/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Well if it isn't Mr. Barrus trying to defend himself.

[quote] “Boo hoo lets feel sorry for the indians…”[/quote]

Seems strange that a man who claims to be Native American begins his comment with such sarcasm about Indians.

Excuse me, Mr. Barrus, I don’t believe I said I felt sorry for Native Americans. There are plenty of true Native American Indians who stand up for their culture and fight against those who mock the real injustices caused by Americans. What I am sorry about are people who try to exploit Native American cultures by pretending to be of a culture they are not. One only has to attend a Pow Wow to know it’s become a popular thing to “wanna be” an Indian. Quite frankly, I’m surprised AIM hadn’t found you out long before this.

As the ABC News report stated, "This looks pretty conclusive," Ballantine spokeswoman Carol Schneider said after The News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C., reported Friday that Nasdijj's Social Security number matched the number of a white man, Timothy P. Barrus, who had a prior career writing gay pornography.”

Seems to me you’re part of the race who stole the Native American land. You, being a white man, and, if in fact, you and Nasdijj do hold the same social security number. In my opinion, not only have you trashed the Native American culture with those books written by Nasdijj under false pretense, but also writings under your real name seem to be trash.

Proud of that, are you? Shame on you, Barrus. Now, go post your comment on BlogCritics, as well. Let’s see how many come to your defense Mr. White Man from wherever you claim to live. I’m sure not only Native Americans who’ve had their fill of wannabes, but also those who loathe pornography, will berate you.

2/05/2006 12:06 PM