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SANTA FE – A writer and professor who is among the women alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct by famed author Sherman Alexie disputes the account of a Santa Fe college official about how her complaints against Alexie were handled by the school.

Alexie, one of the country’s most famous Native American writers, has served as faculty mentor and consultant for the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Allegations against Alexie were made public in March by Elissa Washuta, now on the English faculty at Ohio State University, in reports by National Public Radio and KUOW, a Seattle-based member station.

Washuta described an incident she says happened in January 2015 when she and Alexie were staying in Santa Fe for work with Institute of American Indian Arts. She said Alexie sent her a photo of his hotel room bed with condoms on a table next to the bed.

Washuta said Alexie later accused her of plagiarizing an essay and that she was worried about what he would do to her career. She left the IAIA program after he made the accusation.

In an interview with the Journal two weeks ago, Jon Davis, director of the MFA program at IAIA, said he had not heard about Washuta’s harassment allegations before the public radio news reports in March and thought the only issue between the two was Alexie’s plagiarism accusation.

Washuta had previously declined to comment to the Journal. But she said in an email Friday that she told Davis in an April 2017 phone call, just before she resigned and took the job with Ohio State, about the photos Alexie had sent her two years previously. During that call, she says, she also discussed Alexie’s accusation of plagiarism against her, which she described as false.

Asked for a response to Washuta’s comments to the Journal, Davis said Friday he doesn’t remember her telling him about offensive photos or his telling her he had heard rumors about Alexie.

“I don’t recall that, no,” he said, reiterating that the first time he heard about Washuta’s allegations was from the NPR reports.

In the email, Washuta stated: “He told me he was concerned about the sending of photos, asked me who else knew about it (I told him I had warned one of our students), and said he had heard vague rumors about Alexie, but hears unsubstantiated rumors about lots of people.”

Washuta added that she told Davis she didn’t want to file a complaint or speak out at that time because she feared retaliation and possible effects on her future employment.

Her email also states that Davis told her he would consult other colleagues and faculty mentors on how to handle the situation, which to her knowledge didn’t occur.

“I attempted to handle this internally but no action was taken,” she wrote.

Alexie response

In February, Alexie – who has won two National Book Awards for his novels and wrote the script for the acclaimed movie “Smoke Signals” – issued a statement about allegations against him.

“There are women telling the truth about my behavior and I have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers,” he said. “That would be completely out of character.

“I have made poor decisions and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions.”

IAIA recently dropped Alexie’s name from what had been the school’s Sherman Alexie Scholarship, now the MFA Alumni Scholarship, funded by a third party. Alexie formerly picked the winner, but that’s now done by a faculty panel.

IAIA’s Davis said Friday he does remember Washuta calling him about Alexie’s accusations of plagiarism. That is what he intended to consult colleagues about because he didn’t feel fit to adjudicate the plagiarism claim’s legitimacy, Davis said.

He said Washuta didn’t mention sexual harassment in her resignation from IAIA.

In her Friday email, Washuta wrote: “I have no desire to harm this wonderful MFA program in any way, but I object to (Jon) Davis’s account of my actions.”

Washuta also stated she has not heard from the IAIA’s officer on Title IX, the federal act that bans gender discrimination in education. IAIA spokesperson Eric Davis told the Journal previously that the school’s Title IX officer had reached out to Washuta after her allegations emerged.

Eric Davis said Friday that a Title IX email was sent to Washuta on March 8. He said he could not provide a copy of the email because Title IX documents are confidential.

Attempts by the Journal to reach Alexie directly and through his literary agent for comment have been unsuccessful. In his February statement, he said, “Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am so sorry.”

But a majority of his statement criticized one of his first public accusers, author and essayist Litsa Dremousis, who encouraged others to come forward. He said he rejects her “accusations, insinuations and outright falsehoods.”

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It has long been disputed that Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol muse, Edie Sedgwick, had a love affair resulting in many of Dylan's songs being about or inspired by Sedgwick. The song "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" has been said to be specifically about their torrid romance.

The claims come from many mutual friends of Sedgwick and Dylan. Dylan denied the romance in an interview for Spin Magazine in 1985:

I never had that much to to do with Edie Sedgwick. I've seen where I have had and read that I have had, but I don't remember Edie that well. I remember she was around, but I knew other people who, as far as I know, might have been involved with Edie. Uh, she was a great girl. An exciting girl, very enthusiastic... I don't recall any type of relationship. If I did have one, I think I'd remember.

Sedgwick earned the title of "Queen of the Underground" for her contributions to the New York art scene in 1965 through 1966. During this time she was the muse of Andy Warhol, who filmed her in his underground films, including "Poor Little Rich Girl," where Edie can be heard singing along to Joan Baez's rendition of "It Ain't Me Babe."

Her association with Warhol began to dwindle as it was rumored she began hanging out with Dylan's crowd, eventually leaving Warhol's Factory to pursue an acting career under the management of Dylan's own manager, Albert Grossman. During this time, Dylan secretly married his first wife, Sarah.

To add fuel to the myth, Dylan's road manager, Bobby Neuwirth had an on-and-off again relationship with Edie from 1966 to 1967 before she was commited to a psychriatric hospital, later moving back home in California, where she died in 1971, at the age of 28.

In the book, Who Is That Man?: In Search of the Real Bob Dylan, Danny Fields claims Sedgwick left the infamous pill-box hat in his apartment. Fields is the subject of the recent documentary Danny Says, which details his life as a fly on the wall of Rock & Roll.

According to a video presented on the website for the documentary, artist, Justin Vivian Bond says Fields gave Bond the hat. Stating Bond would take better care of the hat better than Fields. Could this artifact be the actual subject of Bob Dylan's "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat?"

Just recently, collection of personal items of Bob Dylan recent sold for $15-$20 Million to various institutions in Oklahoma for academic purposes. Most of the collection will be held at the Gilcrease museum in Tulsa. Among the 6,000 piece collection are lyrics, journals, films in photographs. In 2014, his handwritten draft for "Like A Rolling Stone" sold for $2 Million.

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Drew Barrymore: Latest Cultural Appropriator

Native Americans upset over Drew Barrymore's careless, clueless Facebook profile photo

Getty Images

In her latest film "Big Miracle," Drew Barrymore plays a Greenpeace worker protecting whales from an Inuit tribe that hunt them, and a Northern Alaskan Oil Company that’s more interested in scoring an Arctic drilling contract. In the film, whales become trapped in ice and the characters are forced to band together and in order to save them.

“It’s okay that we all don’t agree on things,” Barrymore tells Nicole Lyn Pesce of NY Daily News, “but to just say, ‘We are going to work together on this even though I can’t stand what you stand for,’ I think, is just great.”

Although "Big Miracle" has been receiving positive feedback for allowing the "world" to "understand whale hunting," which is a tradition for the Inupiat and St. Lawrence Island Yup'ik People, it's Drew Barrymore herself that has been getting a lot of attention in the Native American community.

One of the many problems Native Americans face today is the appropriation of their culture. Many celebrities have been seen sporting stereotypical and traditional Native American fashions. Recently, a few (not enough) eyebrows were raised when Kourtney Kardashian had a "Cowboy and Indians" themed birthday party for her son.

This week it is Drew Barrymore's Facebook profile photo that has been getting a lot of criticism in the Native American community. In the photo Barrymore is seen wearing a headdress and a Budweiser apron. Most of the comments are asking for the photo to be taken down or/and an apology from Drew Barrymore, but that was when the photo was available for commenting. The photo is still up, however access to the photo (for commenting) has been recently disabled.

One person says: I've always loved you Drew, but I'm not loving the headdress. Natives don't get enough respect as it is, and dressing up like them for a costume or to have fun is adding to that disrespect. Believe it or not, there are thousands of Natives on here who will gladly tell you the same thing. And to everyone who thinks "What's the big deal? Get over it"...have no respect or consideration for culture, people, tradition, and things that are held sacred. If you wouldn't do it in front of a Native, you shouldn't do it when you think they're not looking...and we ARE looking...and not liking it...

Another person says: Please do your own research and/or have your minions inform you of the native cultures and our history (american history of genocide & further oppression of native peoples in this land) before parading in what you are told is merely "fashion".

One person argues that "cultures borrow fashion and culture [...] If it were something you consider positive you haters out there would be saying it is an honour to be copied"

Another says: why dont you enjoy life rather than ranting over past cultures

Another person says: it seems like you're [all] getting a little bit too upset over this. They continue with "i know nothing about NA's [Native Americans] so i didnt see how this is all disrespectful"

One person asks: You worked directly with the Inuit people in your whale movie - didn't this experience give you SOME SENSE of respect for Indigenous peoples?

More comments can be found here and throughout her Facebook Fanpage

Adrienne of Native Appropriations writes “Not only do you give us the stereotypical war bonnet,” she continues, “you give us an association of Indians with alcohol, which is probably right up there with the worst possible stereotypes of Native people in the world ever.” Adrienne also wrote this blog But why can't I wear a hipster headdress?

Sources from Drew Barrymore's Facebook Fanpage / NY Daily News / Native Appropriations Blog / Anchorage Daily News