Hattie Kauffman’s new book resonates

nsn-hattiekauffman-202x300Source: Buffalo Post

A new book by Hattie Kauffman, the first Native American to do standup-reporting for a national television network, only briefly talks about how she rose through the ranks to beome on on-air correspondent for CBS and “Good Morning America.”

Instead, writes Tim Giago, publisher and editor emeritus of the Native Sun News in a book review also carried at indianz.com, in “Falling into Place” Kauffman discusses a childhood and first marriage marred by alcohol, and a divorce that turned Kauffman toward christianity.
… (M)ostly her book is about the trials and tribulations of her childhood as an Indian torn between the Nez Perce Indian Reservation and cities like Seattle … where her parents, dyed-in-the-wool alcoholics, ranged back and forth dragging her and her six siblings along behind them.

But the thing that tore her world apart and brought her to near madness was the request for a divorce by her husband of 17 years, a request that apparently came out of the blue for her.

Giago writes that, until the divorce, this highly successful Native journalist “thought she’d left the ghosts of childhood behind her.”
Hattie writes about her first marriage as a teenager to a boy who grows up to be a wife-beater and an alcoholic. She writes that it is strange that daughters of alcoholics often grow up to marry alcoholics. In their dual roles as alcoholics Hattie remembers getting beaten so severely that she had to be admitted to a hospital. At least through a haze of drunken deliriums, she barely remembers. She eventually realizes that alcohol is a destroyer of lives and stops drinking.
Giago admits some Native Americans, including himself, may not empathize with Kauffman’s religious views.
Many have turned their backs on Christianity and found their own solace and happiness in their traditional spirituality, a spirituality that was torn from them and their ancestors by the missionaries preaching the Doctrine of Christianity.
But he still believes the book will resonate, in part because he says Kauffman remains “an unassuming Native woman who never turned her nose up at anyone even though she rose to the pinnacle of media success.”
   – Vince Devlin

CBS Honors Chickasaw Astronaut John Herrington for Heritage Month

CBSJohn Herrington, Chickasaw, highlighted by CBS during Native American Heritage Month. He was the first American Indian in space.
John Herrington, Chickasaw, highlighted by CBS during Native American Heritage Month. He was the first American Indian in space.



John Herrington, Chickasaw, was the first American Indian to take to the stars when he blasted off in the Space Shuttle Endeavour in November 2002.

During Native American Heritage Month he appears on CBS in a short spot bringing attention to Indian contributions to the space program.

“As a Native American astronaut, I was proud to honor my heritage by carrying a Chickasaw Nation flag on a mission to outer space,” he says in the clip.

The astronaut is also a veteran, having served as a U.S. Navy pilot. On the Endeavour mission he worked as the flight engineer on shuttle STS 113, which brought equipment to the International Space Station. With him he carried several mementos from Indian country that had been presented him, including an eagle feather, a flute, arrowheads and some sweet grass “that I think represents a lot of the spiritual sense we all feel,” he told Indian Country Today Media Network on December 1, 2002, as the space station flew over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America, just south of the equator.

“I was amazed at how massive the Earth is and looking at the atmosphere how it [is] so small relative to the rest of the Earth and to realize how insignificant we are in the great scheme of things,” he said. “In a spiritual sense it makes you appreciate how grand the grand scheme is of Mother Earth.”

RELATED: John Herrington Speaks to Indian Country Today

Three spacewalks and two delayed landings (due to inclement weather) later, Herrington had returned to that mother, an inspiration to American Indians all over Turtle Island.

“It’s just a deeper feeling—one of your own, finally a Native American,” Deborah Coombs, Oglala Sioux, who works on the shuttle’s parachutes, told Indian Country Today Media Network in 2002 after Herrington’s shuttle landed, assisted by her handiwork. “It’s so important Native Americans be recognized in what they do.”

RELATED: John Herrington, American Indian Astronaut, Returns to Mother Earth

Since then he has been working to get Native children interested in math and science, most notably with a cross-country bicycle ride in 2008 that he named Rocketrek. That’s the same year that another American Indian whose work was key to development of the U.S. space program walked on: Mary Golda Ross, the first Native American female engineer.

RELATED: Native Space Ace Mary Golda Ross (Portrait by America Meredith)