Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meeting Professor Gregory Schaaf, Constitutional Law Historian

Event: 26 July 2011; Updated: 27 July 2011

Entering the beautiful home of Angie Yan & Dr. Gregory Schaaf on Tuesday morning (26 July 2011) was like encountering a living museum. Their home features a collection of Native American art important to the world. Greg's life-long devotion to helping Native People and promoting Native artists began when his grandparents told him at age 5 that some of his ancestors were Choctaw and Cherokee. Angie grew up in Hong Kong and worked as a Graphic Artist for the County of Los Angeles for a decade. When she moved to Santa Fe, Greg met her at the Santa Fe Design Center, and he hired her as a book designer. They fell in love creating the "American Indian Art Series," an encyclopedia of Native Arts. Over 15,000 Native American artists biographical profiles have been published so far. See www.indianartbooks.com.

Below are a few photos of my visit to their Center for Indigenous Arts & Cultures.:

Holding Totem Pole. Masks in background

His book about pots and many examples.

Holding Carved Stone and Silver Poles

Holding Prized Wood Carving

Prized Painting on Fireplace & Schaaf's book about it

Dr. Schaaf graciously invited me to visit him in his home during the precious time he needed for meeting a deadline for his latest book. Among an astonishing range of topics, we discussed his personal relationships with prize-winning Native American carvers and artists, the governments of the local pueblos and the attitudes necessary to gain their attention and trust.

Dr. Schaaf suggested building a circle of private supporters to help promote our non-profit organization. Some patrons will share our vision and support our positive projects. Recently, Native American Artists for Japan requested donations of art which were sold by the group on ebay, raising almost $50,000 for Japanese disaster relief via the Red Cross.  

Many Native Americans are especially concerned about recent reports that the three damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan . . . ARE STILL MELTING DOWN . . . hot as ever, and no one on Earth knows how to stop it! When Hopi leaders learned that without their permission the US Government had taken yellow-cake Uranium ore out of their land to develop the atomic bomb, they were greatly disturbed that they had inadvertently contributed to the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They recited Hopi prophecies warning that one day there would fall upon the Earth a "gourd full of ashes," this they interpreted to be atomic bombs. They traveled four times to the United Nations to warn the world and finally, their prayer for world peace was narrated by the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Schaaf spoke in the United Nations on "American Indian Peacemaking Traditions." 

As a result of this visit, I realized that LADDOF needed to reconsider its title for the "Totem/History Tree" project. The new working title "Tree of Transformation" is better, because the project must include not only totem images from the Northwest, but also a history statement of our local Indigenous, Hispanic and Anglo traditions, plus a vision for the future.

Furthermore, it became abundantly clear to me from our discussion that the Los Alamos Deep Democracy Open Forum project should NOT be located on San Ildefonso land, as originally considered, but within current Los Alamos community boundaries. 

I left Dr. Schaaf's home with two of his many books: The U.S. Constitution and The Great Law of Peace (based on his doctoral dissertation for the University of California at Santa Barbara) and Franklin, Jefferson, & Madison: On Religion and the State (from newly discovered original historical narratives).

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