Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Yaqui man offers 'ugly' prayer during Arizona memorial

    Attorney: Yaqui man offers 'ugly' prayer during Arizona memorial


    Attorney: Yaqui man offers 'ugly' prayer during Arizona memorial
    Thursday, January 13, 2011
    Filed Under: Opinion

    Note: Paul Meringoff is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

    Paul E. Mirengoff, Partner )

    "In the post immediately below, I praised President Obama's speech in Tucson this evening in honor of the victims of that horrific shooting spree. His speech was part of a larger ceremony which, on the whole, was rather a mixed bag.

    As for the "ugly," I'm afraid I must cite the opening "prayer" by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to "the creator" but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.

    But it wasn't just Gonzales's prayer that was "ugly" under the circumstances. Before he ever got to the prayer, Gonzales provided us with a mini-auto biography and made several references to Mexico, the country from which (he informed us) his family came to Arizona in the mid 19th century. I'm not sure why Gonzales felt that Mexico needed to intrude into this service, but I have an idea.

    In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales. "

    Get the Story:
    Paul Mirengoff: An evening in Tucson -- the good, the bad, and the ugly


    Re: Yaqui man offers 'ugly' prayer during Arizona memorial

    "ugly" because so-called Christians can't see that "God" is their Creator. "What a bunch a maroons!" quoting Bugs Bunny here.

    Oh, now he's "apologized"

    Law firm apologizes for 'inappropriate' post on Yaqui man's prayer
    Friday, January 14, 2011
    Filed Under: Law | National

    Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld issued a formal apology for a blog posting made by a partner who described a Yaqui man's prayer at the Arizona shooting memorial as "ugly."

    After the memorial on Wednesday, Paul Meringoff wrote a post on Powerline, a conservative blog that he runs, titled "An evening in Tucson -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.'" In the post, he ridiculed the prayer by Carlos Gonzales, a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona.

    "It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to 'the creator' but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs," Meringoff wrote.

    Meringoff was also bothered by Gonzales' mention of his tribe's and his family's history. The Yaqui fled persecution in Mexico in the late 1800s and relocated to Arizona, where they gained federal recognition in 1939.

    "In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales," Meringoff concluded in the post, which has seen been deleted from the Powerline site and has been replaced by an apology.

    "I sincerely apologize to my readers, to the Yaqui tribe, to all tribal leaders and Indian people, and, specifically, to Carlos Gonzales who delivered the prayer," Meringoff wrote yesterday afternoon. "I regret my poor choice of words, and I have removed the post."

    Powerilne is a personal blog but Meringoff's employer and colleagues weren't pleased with the situation. James Meggesto, a member of the Onondaga Nation who runs the firm's Indian law and policy practice, said he was "shocked, appalled and embarrassed" by the comments.

    "As soon as I and the firm became aware of this posting, the firm took immediate action to deal firmly with this unfortunate situation," Meggesto said.

    "We sincerely apologize for the blog entry posted by Akin Gump partner Paul Mirengoff on his personal blog, Akin Gump is neither affiliated with, nor a supporter of, the blog," Bruce McLean, the chairman of the firm, said in response. "We found his remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values. Mr. Mirengoff regrets his poor choice of words and agreed to remove his post.”

    The firm's response was sent to Indianz.Com yesterday evening by Meggesto. However, a notice of the apology could not be found on Akin Gump's main web site as of Friday morning and there isn't a way to get to the response page without knowing the URL.

    Akin Gump is one of Washington, D.C.'s largest law and lobbying firms. Its 2010 clients included the Gila River Indian Community of Arizona and the Seneca Nation of New York. News page

    Re: Oh, now he's "apologized"

    on down the article:

    "I feel their 'apology' is BS, meant to calm the waters, when all they really did was push the current down. They need to get rid of this man," MacDonald said.

    MacDonald questions Mirengoff's lack of understanding.

    "Would this man have said the same if a Jewish rabbi didn't refer to Jesus, as it would be more 'closely aligned with their religious beliefs'? An incredibly blind man."

    Mirengoff, an attorney with an international law firm that includes Arizona Indian Nations, should be well-informed about the Pascua Yaqui Indian Nation on the southern rim of Tucson, and the Rio Yaqui villages in the state of Sonora, Mexico. If Mirengoff had even a little knowledge of current events in southern Arizona, he would have known that Yaqui maintain family ties with their relatives in Sonora and Yaqui ceremonial leaders routinely come to the Tucson area to lead ceremonies.

    Common sense should have at least beckoned and prevented him, and other columnists, from insulting a prayer, especially in a time of so much hurt and healing.

    Finally, in a column on why this Yaqui prayer does matter, Hopi Patty Talahongva shares her thoughts:

    The Akin apology and more at Indianz:
    Media Matters: Conservatives attack Native American prayer at Arizona Memorial:

    More from John Kane at Native Pride:
    Posted by at 2:28 PM

    Re: Oh, now he's "apologized"

    Yeah, I felt it was BS as well, that's why the quote marks. A law firm specializing in native clients does not need this clown on their roster.

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