By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Everyone in the room wants to be hopeful -- it's good to see Natives represented in the media -- but the almost laughable irony of this last comment appears to leave many attendees suspect: What Native peoples did Walters work with? And why would Natives trust the federal government to fix the appalling alcoholism and drug-use rates among Natives?
Just this morning Walters was admitting to Juan Williams on NPR that the nation's five-year, $929 million campaign to keep kids from doing illegal drugs -- featuring the Dixie Chicks and other pop figures -- was an utter failure.
"In fact," Walters told Williams, "some of the exposure by younger children [to the ads] may have been negative in encouraging drug use and actual initiation of marijuana."
The new national campaign, Walters explained, employs an old tactic, namely, mixing horror into anti-drug messages, in the style of the '80s classic "This is your brain; this is your brain on drugs." The new hard line: "Drug money helps support terror. Buy drugs and you could be supporting it too."
But this fear factor is missing from Walters' presentation here at the Sundance Center. Why do Indian kids get the flutes-and-feathers soft sell while other American kids get the scared-straight campaign? Whether or not Walters picks up on the change in the room's emotional temperature, he begins what sounds like a broad mea culpa.
"The federal government . . . the best we can do is be supportive," he says. "We can't prevent drug use, but we can support . . ." He stumbles, then says something about prevention being the key and makes a point of thanking "all those people who are sober, who've led the way, who are here today."
A young Acoma Pueblo girl presents Walters with a T-shirt from a recent "Sobriety Run," Rambeau gives him a homemade cake, and the drum starts again as everyone congregates around a table laden with fry bread, beans, meat and brownies. Walters glad-hands for two minutes, and then is out the door for a photo-op with the littlest kids from the center.
Ten feet away, near the curb, stand four Native teenagers. What did they think of the ads? Did they think they'd be effective?
The teens look skittish and knowing, in that way only 13-year-olds can. Finally, a boy with his hair gelled into several dozen spikes says, "Maybe if they had some buildings in the pictures."
What does he mean?
"Well, they say they're trying to get urban kids, right?"
His friend, who sports a Mohawk, says softly, "We could move to the boonies."
So, do they think the ads will make a difference to them?
The teens giggle into their fists and cover their faces. One glances at the kids having their picture taken with Walters and says, "Maybe for the little kids, like under 10. But after that . . ."
He shrugs imperceptibly, and looks down Temple.
Taking Flight: Critical Security
MY BRIEFCASE SAILED PLACIDLY through the X-ray machine at LAX, and I waited, wondering queasily whether my Boston-bound plane -- American Airlines Flight 12 -- was really Flight 11, tactfully renamed. The briefcase emerged, but before I could lay my hands on it, a uniformed woman deftly scooped it up. With one hand firmly locked onto my elbow and the other gingerly holding the case as if it were a recently awakened rattlesnake, she guided us both to an empty table, behind which stood an unsmiling young man with his arms folded importantly on his chest.
"There's a sword in this briefcase," she said. The man fished around inside my case, brought out a small black velvet bag and asked me to open it. Inside was a letter opener in the shape of a sword, and -- no question about it -- sharp enough for a premeditated attack on a flight crew. I giggled nervously, then explained that I was a film critic; the sword was one of many useless "gifts" sent to me and other critics by movie distributors in the vain hope of moving us to speak well of their product. Especially vain in this instance, given that the movie was The Scorpion King. Instantly, the man dropped his gravitas, broke into a broad smile and launched into an exhaustive analysis of the film: The sword fights were pretty cool and the effects were neat, but the characters were not believable and the script was flawed.
I assured him that on these points we were as one, and, resisting a giddy impulse to knight him with the offending weapon, I grandly donated it to airport security and went on my way -- grateful, for once, that everybody's a critic.