Mon May 7, 2012
"Leading America's First All-Women Tribal Council and How We Changed Palm Springs"
On our show today, we present a conversation with the Tulsa-based writer and curator Diana C. du Pont, who has recently published a book called "You Can't Eat Dirt: Leading America's First All-Women Tribal Council and How We Changed Palm Springs." It's a profile of one Vyola J. Ortner, who led the first-ever all-women tribal council in the United States, and it's co-written with Ortner herself. A vast, multifacted book that's part memoir, part critical biography, part history, and part socio-political documentary, "You Can't Eat Dirt" offers a highly detailed narrative --- enhanced by hundreds of photographs and illustrations --- focusing on a Palm Springs, California, woman who, in the early 1950s, became chairman of the Tribal Council for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Despite being quite the political novice, at least at the beginning of her leadership tenure, Ortner --- who was always committed to progressive change as well as practical compromise --- expertly maneuvered through local, state, and federal arenas, creating new business opportunities that benefited her tribe while also playing a key role in the development of Palm Springs. Indeed, Ortner's pioneering work enabled all tribes in the U.S. to shape their own economic futures. (You can learn more about this book at http://www.youcanteatdirt.com/.) Also on today's ST, we have an interesting --- if rather disturbing --- audio segment from Abby Wendle at This Land Press; it's called "Highway Homicides."