Posts Tagged ‘“Ballad of Ira Hayes”’

The first Iwo Jima flag raising (Minnesota Public Radio photo)

The first Iwo Jima flag raising (Minnesota Public Radio photo)



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Everybody knows the story of the famous Iwo Jima photo, how AP photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped a picture as Marines raised a flag atop Mount Suribachi in the midst of a horrendous battle. Rosenthal got a Pulitzer and one of those men, a Pima Indian named Ira Hayes, went on to brief glory, then an early, ignoble end, then a return to posthumous glory because of Johnny Cash’s song, “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.”

Not so many people know that the flag in that photo was the second raised that day; that the first went up because of a bunch of soldiers from the USS Missoula, and among them was a young Salish Indian from the Flathead Reservation in Montana named Louis Charlo, and that his end was anything but ignoble – quite the opposite, in fact. Blackfeet singer-songwriter Jack Gladstone is setting out to change that. The Missoulian’s Kim Briggman tells the story here in today’s paper.

Louis Charlo

Louis Charlo

The focus on Louis Charlo, when there’s a focus at all, is how he helped raise the first flag on Iwo Jima and how he died there.

There is so much more to the story, and Jack Gladstone is determined to tell it.

“This is a coming out of the bear’s den for this grizzly,” Montana’s Native “PoetSinger” from Kalispell and the Blackfeet Indian Nation said last week.

Gladstone is making an epic cut he calls “Remembering Private Charlo” into an 11-minute, 45-second centerpiece for his first new CD in seven years, one he’s calling “Native Anthropology.”

On Tuesday, the 65th anniversary of the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi on the tiny Japanese island in the South Pacific, Gladstone will be in the second day of a recording session in Tucson, Ariz. He’ll be working with the likes of Montana virtuoso David Griffith and Will Clipman, a percussionist-drummer for Native flutist R. Carlos Nakai. Clipman, like Nakai, is a multi-Grammy nominee.

“I’m going to lay the rhythm beds for probably the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Gladstone.

He’ll be back in Montana next week to record, and said he would love to have the CD out by mid-May.
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Johnny Cash used Ira Hayes ballad to make anti-war, pro-Native point with Nixon
Here‘s a bittersweet story about Johnny Cash’s visit to the White House to sing for President Richard Nixon. The president suggested some of his favorites like “Okie from Muskogee.” Cash responded instead with protest songs, among them “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.” As the Salon story says, radio stations didn’t want to play the song about the Iwo Jima hero that highlighted the plight of Native Americans, but Cash counted it among his favorites. More to the point, it tells how that song came to be among Cash’s repertoire after a meeting with protest balladeer Peter LaFarge, son of Oliver LaFarge, whose tragic Navajo love story “Laughing Boy” won the Pulitzer Prize.

Former Rosebud Sioux official questions cost of D.C. trip
A former member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council is questioning the travel expenses of 10 tribal members who flew to Washington, D.C., for last week’s White House Tribal Nations Conference. “It is kind of a shock to see that 10 of our elected officials traveled to Washington, D.C., when tribal paychecks were bouncing on the 30th of October, 2009,” Ron Valandra tells the Rapid City Journal here.

Navajo Times: Multimillion-dollar slush fund; possible AG probe
The Navajo Times continues its scrutiny of the tribe’s finances with this story by Marley Shebala reporting that more than $35 million went into the discretionary funds of the Navajo Nation Council, speaker’s office and president’s office from 2005 to 2009. And Jason Begay writes here that the attorney general has found enough information in the classified reports on President Joe Shirley Jr. to warrant hiring a special prosecutor to further investigate.

Senate committee to focus on gangs, drug smuggling in Indian Country
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is holding an oversight hearing this week to focus on the problem of gangs and drug smuggling. Those issues are hitting some reservations hard as criminals realize that the tangle of legal jurisdiction on reservations, coupled with inadequate resources for law enforcement, can make it easier for them to operate there. The hearing will be webcast.

Pennsylvania sanctuary honors white buffalo
Seven Native American elders took part in a ceremony near Pittsburgh yesterday to thank owners of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for establishing a sanctuary for a rare white buffalo and a black buffalo born at a nearby zoo, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The white buffalo, which was born Nov. 12, 2006, was given the Lenape name Kenahkihinen — translated in English as “watch over us.”

Young readers’ book tells story of abandoned Kootenai warrior and his survival
Salish Kootenai College in Montana has published a children’s book that tells the true story of a young Kootenai man, alone and without supplies or tools, abandoned in the middle of hostile enemy territory on the Great Plains during the 18th century, and how he turned to the land to survive. The story, written the seventh-grade level, was told by the late Kootenai elder Adeline Mathias and is illustrated by Kootenai artists Francis Auld and Debbie JosephThe Char-Koosta news tells how to order it, here.


Gwen Florio

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