posts 1 - 15 of 31
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 181

Readings (choose at least 3 to read from the following list):


Claudio Vaunt, “The invasion of America,” Aeon, January 2015.

https://aeon.co/essays/how-were-1-5-billion-acres-of-land-so-rapidly-stolen


Philip de Loria, “The Invention of Thanksgiving,” The New Yorker, November 18, 2019.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wNaZ2XKrLBgkyEoC9c9Y36pxUwiw4Ttd/view?usp=sharing


Dennis Zotigh “Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?” Smithsonian Magazine, November 26, 2016.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-indian/2016/11/27/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving/


Erin Blackmore, “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women,” JStor Daily, August 25, 2016.

https://daily.jstor.org/the-little-known-history-of-the-forced-sterilization-of-native-american-women/


Tristan Ahtone, “Native Americans are recasting views of indigenous life,” National Geographic, December 2018.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15R0jTDZ77LwmArBrySmvlC1vsiVe6pMr/view?usp=sharing

Slide show to go with this article:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/12/native-americans-recasting-views-indigenous-life/#/native-americans-reclaiming-stories-14.jpg


Carolyn Smith-Morris, “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” Cultural Survival, March 6, 2020.

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/addressing-epidemic-missing-murdered-indigenous-women-and-girls


Ezra Rosser, “Trump and the Native American vote,” The Hill, October 14, 2020.

https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/520899-trump-...


Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, "Native Americans are Afraid, Hard-Hit as Coronavirus Spikes in the Great Plains," Huffington Post, November 19, 2020. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/native-americans-coronavirus-spike-dakotas-great-plains_n_5fb703f9c5b67f34cb39976d

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Many people believe that Native Americans have been erased from the story we tell about the history of the United States. America was discovered….by Columbus. Let’s be generous: let’s call it an “encounter.” Its first settlers? The British and the Dutch, let alone the Spanish and French. Before 1492, this land was wilderness, waiting to be “discovered.” Were there people here? Were they people or savages? How did we depict them, describe them, study them, remember them?


If you believe in ghosts, then Native American ghosts are all around us. And yet their descendants survived. They are here but how often do we hear their voices? Are we paying attention to them? We have much to learn from the Native peoples of this country, if we are willing to take the time to do so.


It is argued that what happened to the Native Americans in this country was genocide. The definition of genocide is the deliberate killing of a group of people because of who they are, what their identities are, often with the goal of eliminating them entirely. Yet on Beacon Hill, where a bill (S.327) mandating the teaching of genocide was being discussed by the Massachusetts Legislature in October 2019 (for a text of the bill, see https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/SD1441, and for coverage of the motives and the legislator behind it, see https://mirrorspectator.com/2019/10/03/bill-seeks-to-mandate-teaching-of-genocide-holocaust-in-ma-middle-high-schools/) , take a guess: which group was conspicuously not mentioned?


In the past few years, we’ve seen untold numbers of Native women missing, sexually assaulted, and murdered across the nation. This is continuing. And the Trump administration’s position on everything from the Dakota Access Pipeline cutting across Native lands in the Dakotas to the ginormous numbers of indigenous people sick with and dying from COVID has complicated the situation and worsened the fragile situation faced by Native peoples in this country enormously.


Consider what we’ve looked at in class and the content of the readings listed above as you respond to the following questions.


  • What do we need to do, moving forward, to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation? How do we fully confront the history of the Native American experience in this nation?
  • How do we address the stereotypes, misperceptions, the “twistory” that has been passed down among non-Native Americans about this population?
  • What apologies and amends do we need to make, if any?
  • How do we address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are?
  • How can all Americans become allies so that Native Americans become fully integrated members of this society? What concrete actions can we take to move forward and build a nation with Native peoples?

Be very specific in your response, citing examples both from class, including our screening of Dawnland, and from the readings.


squirrelluver123
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Listening to Native Americans

Every year, learning more and more about the real history of this country, and the horrors the Europeans inflicted on the Native peoples in this country leaves me shocked. It makes me question everything we learn in history. For starters, Columbus did not discover America because they were already people here. Before 1492, there were people here, not savages, people who did not need “help” from foreigners. Eurpoeans came to this country with more advanced technology. The Native people did not stand a chance against this invading force.


When Eurpoeans came here, they saw the native people as savages, people who needed to be “civilized.” They were treated as “pests” that needed to be “exterminated.” Even in more recent years, things have not changed as much. From 1970-1976, 25-50% of Native women were sterilized against their will, after being lied to and told the procedures could be reversed. Native people have even been fetishized on our products and sports teams. Native children were removed from their homes and forced to attend boarding schools starting in 1891, and it was not until 1978 that parents could choose whether to send their children to the boarding schools or not. Whether we recognize it or not, things like this continue to happen to Native people in this country.


The way Native people continue to be treated today is passed down from generations of European settlers who believed in their own racial superiority. Those beliefs and their actions affected the way they treated the people native in this country, and how we continue to treat and see them today. To fully confront the history of the Native American experience in this nation, we need to confront the past actions of this country, as well as seeing how those actions have affected the lives of Native people today. In the pandemic, the rate of infection of COVID-19 is 3.5 times higher for the Native population than for White Americans, and the morbidity rate is 14.9% higher. Since 1980, 2,306 Native women and girls have been murdered or gone missing.


Moving forward, we need to be educated on the history of this country and its impact on Native people. We need to start by acknowledging that wherever we are in the country, we are on Native land, that was not originally ours. Unfortunately we do not always take the time to listen to Native people, and we need to start doing that. We need to learn that there are still Native people everywhere. To address the stereotypes and misconceptions of Native people, we need to start by erasing the racist rhetoric that has become so common in our country. We need to change the way we depict Native people, and start to show them in a positive way. We need to apologize to the native people for the experiences they have been forced to go through. They need to be given support from the government, and they need to be given (at least parts of) their land back. Even in Massachusetts we have to face our history with Native people, we have to change our flag, and make it more known of the events that took place here. People need to be taught that Native people still exist in this country, and they continue to be oppressed. To become allies we need to start by listening to Native peoples, and hear their stories and experiences. Native voices need to be heard and respected by the people, as well as the government. Although we will never fully be able to understand what they went and continue to go through, we can do our best to educate ourselves on the inequities they face.

iluvcows
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Reflecting on America's History

Reading these articles as well as listening to the information presented to us in class has opened my eyes to the true horrors shown in the treatment of the Native peoples. This discrimnation has plagued these groups for centuries, glanced over by the privileged society around them. This oppression has been portrayed in many goods and merchandise over the years. Sports teams, beer companies, and entertainment have incorporated discriminatory messages within their advertising. Although many have fought against these unjust portrayals of the Native people they are still prominent in today's society. Throughout history Native Americans faced oppression and harm in all aspects of life. They were forced out of their homes and killed as well as harassed and beaten. Misconceptions of these groups in America are plentiful, some believing they are savage warriors who neglect to pay their taxes and live in poverty. These stereotypes have remained prevalent for years, causing many to face ill treatment and prejudice.


In the article it stated that from 1970 to 1976 25-50% of Native American women were wrongfully forced into sterilization. During this time many didn't believe that “American Indian and other minority women had the intelligence to use other methods of birth control effectively”. Based on the negative stigma surrounding minorities' capability to utilize these practices, women were tricked into getting this procedure. In 1974 when a law was passed in an effort to end these horrific sterilizations, they continued to take place.


In the present day, Native Americans still face inequality especially recently during the widespread pandemic. When covid-19 emerged large numbers of Native peoples were infected, individuals dying at a high rate. Native people are 2.8 times more likely to die from the illness than that of white individuals. This is dependent on their lack of access to nutritious foods, affordable housing, and health care facilities. Only a quarter of tribal residents live less than a mile from a supermarket compared to 60% of the U.S population. Additionally the majority of Native peoples have preexisting health conditions, lessening their chance of survival if infected. Due to rising housing prices, many are unable to afford homes and are forced to reside with many other individuals.


As a country, we need to provide outlets to allow individuals to become educated on the struggles and inequity Native peoples have and still face to this day. I was unaware of various discriminatory events that have transpired in America and I'm sure many are the same. If we own up to what our country has done to harm this group of people, we can begin to make amends and move towards a more accepting and respectful environment. In order to address the misconceptions that have been passed along throughout history we should work to gain knowledge of who they really are. The government should recognize all tribes and respect their culture and customs. We as a society need to make an effort to integrate and include Native Americans in all aspects of life, as well as never judge individuals based on their background. People must accept that in order to reside on our land, we forced these groups out of their homes and treated them awfully. We need to open our minds to listen to those affected and respect their opinions. Although some progress has been made in the effort to end this inequity towards Native peoples, there is still a long way to go.


ernest.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

I think there are several concrete steps we as a community and country can start taking to be allies to Native Americans.

  1. Ending Racist Imagery. This is one of the easiest steps and one we are currently making the most progress on. Native Americans are a people, not animals or a uniform caricature; hence, using them as such on brand logos or as mascots is insulting and far out of place in a society that claims to be making serious efforts to achieve racial justice.
  2. Education. Everything in life starts with education; if someone, especially an entire population, is unaware of an essential part of history (and the present), we can’t expect them to be making progress on it. So, there is some responsibility on adults to educate themselves, but at the same time, we urgently need to make sure this generation of kids is being educated on these issues from day 1 in schools and in their classes. It is so important for students to learn history as a continuum so that they can understand how historical trends, like the oppression of Native peoples, continue to today, and learning our country’s somber record of atrocities will likely motivate people to making more progress still. It’s not easy to take in that our government passed laws making it legal to take Native children from their parents, or that they sought the destruction of Native peoples early on, or that they forcibly sterilized Native women. Facts like these force us to reflect on what role we are playing in all this. It is a huge problem when concepts like eugenics, which played an essential role in building our present society, are not sufficiently covered in school. The goal of history is help its learners better understand the world they find themselves in so that they may better interact with it and improve it; achieving this is impossible if they don’t actually learn about what brought their society to where it is today.
  3. Fair Policy. As outlined in the HuffPost article about COVID-19 in tribes in the Dakotas, Native Americans have significant institutional obstacles to living well. Many live in food deserts, or in the past were forced to live off government-provided food that was unhealthy; affordable housing is uncommon, their health services are under-funded and under-staffed, on top of their hospitals (a recipe for disaster during the pandemic). Problems like these, which they share in common with other communities of color, must be addressed if we are to close the myriad gaps in health and welfare between Native Americans and white people.
  4. Land Acknowledgements. Making land acknowledgement statements, along with other awareness-raising activities, puts people’s education to use and constantly reminds them of the injustices their lives and country were built on. It is a way of respecting the tribes that still exist today and honoring those that do not. Engaging in reflection, discussion, or even campaigns like the Facing students have held in years past, are also other important activities to do around Columbus Day and Thanksgiving.

Finally, I also agree with @iluvcows that we should be listening to Native voices and perspectives. Diverse perspectives are always key to a good understanding of any issue, and listening to Native Americans is the only way we can truly tackle the struggles they face. I’m not quite sure what @iluvcows or Ms. Freeman mean when they say “integrate,” though, so I wouldn’t mind if someone could explain that? I don’t believe Native Americans need to necessarily be “integrated” into our society if they instead choose to live on reservations/as a tribe, if that’s what is meant by that phrase.

thesnackthatsmilesback
brighton, ma, US
Posts: 14

The Power of Listening

Ever since I was in kindergarten, the month of November was a time to decorate the room. We all were put into sections, where one person cut out and colored leaves, pilgrim hats, feathered hats, and indian faces to be placed on the window sill of our classroom. I think the first thing that we need to do going forward is to start with the education system. The way we feel about certain topics and our ideas derive from what we are taught when we are younger, especially in the first couple of years. The first time I heard that Christopher Columbus had done malicious things was in my eighth grade year in my U.S history class at Boston Latin. When we are introduced to the month of November with the allegation that on Thanksgiving and the pilgrims connecting with the Native Indians and that there was no mal treatment, it takes more work to break down that story we have already been told time and time again in our head. Although we have already made efforts due to the change of Columbus day in Massachusetts there is so much to be done. I understand that teaching kids at a young age that a man conquered and wiped out a whole population can be scarring. With the little history that we learn about Native Americans, I think the first step is to teach them or dedicate the month to learning about the indigienous people of the land. I also think that because of this safety blanket that is put over us at such a young age, we are shrouded by the full truth even as we grow old and learn out of textbooks instead of picture books. I understand that the printing and republishing of history textbooks is long overdue in many instances, but for an alternative change for the time being, I think more teachers should be teaching more about the history of the Native Americans outside from the textbook. Especially in the past couple of years, we have had plenty of discussions around systematic racism in our lives, but what is rarely mentioned is the amount of suffering Native Americans go through. Till the past two days, I have not even heard of the retaliations that have occurred in history let alone in the past couple of years with the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the media we hide so much of what is going on. I honestly think that because of the damage that has been done, confronting the history of the Native Americans is impossible due to the lack of sources we have. All we can do is make strides towards that change continuously, but there will never be a point where we will be able to capture the amount of abuse that they have experienced.

In order to address the stereotypes, misperceptions, the “twistory” that has been passed down among non-Native Americans all comes from the media that we are given. Whether it is through the paper native hat drawings, or what we perceive on the news, we will take in what we are given. The media doesn’t cover as much as it should when it comes to Native Americans. When I was reading these articles, it was the first time that I had even heard of the sterilization of Native American women and the missing and murdered Native American Women and Girls. How people are addressing these points are very important. We hear these stories, not from the Native Americans themselves, but news outlets that have reporters of other races. We need to lift Native American voices to have an accurate representation of the struggle that they are facing. Also bringing this media into bigger media platforms is important. By educating more on what the government is suppressing, or causing problems, the more outlet each problems get, whether people disagree or agree with, the coverage will immensely boost how many people are talking about it.

I think that there is no way that we can fully account for all of the wrongdoings that we have caused the Native Americans population. To amend, I think that by standing with them, and hearing their story out is the first step. The next would be to respect their culture, and therefore get rid of names of sports teams, signs, or any time of reference that puts Native Americans in an offensive light.

Native Americans were not the only people who were murdered for who they were, but I think what is striking is the amount of coverage that they are receiving. Due to the fact that many didn’t survive, it leaves space for people to bring others down, not by intention, but by the capitalistic world that we live in. By addressing the question of? How can we give them more coverage in the media, and make their voices truly heard, that will be a better use of the time.

All of the examples I have listed above will be a first step to how all Americans can become allies to Native Americans. The first step is to listen and learn other perspectives.


Sippycup
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

The Continuous Erasure of Native Americans

Native American history is often forgotten and I believe that this is a flaw within the American public school system. From my personal experience, I have not learned about the erasure of Native American history until my junior year where I took APUSH, however it is from the perspective of the victors. We should be taught this history since we actively tried to erase their history. I believe that it is the same reason as to why we teach slavery in our classrooms, America's foundation was built from the oppression of these groups. From the Trail of Tears to the forced sterilization of Native American women, America has repeatedly attempted to marginalized these groups of people and their voices have yet to be amplified. It's absolutely shocking that they were the original inhabitants of America yet now they only own about 50 million acres..

One thing that definitely isn't being talked about is the amount of Native American women and girls that are missing and being murdered. According to the CulturalSurvival article, they "are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain counties in the United States." This is a real problem and has sparked fear within Native Americans. Cases are probably also underreported as cases and data are not being counted. Again, this lack of awareness stems from the stereotypes that exist about Native Americans. Because people assume that they as a group are all drug addicts, that they homeless, that they depend on welfare, they simply don't care. It's simply just another Native American girl in their eyes. However this was not the first time Native women were targeted. During class we learned that in between 1970 and 1976, women were sterilized either forcibly or without their knowledge.

Another prevalent issue that occurs is the disproportionate rate of Coronavirus cases. In the HuffPost article, Native people are 2.8 times more likely to be infected than whites, 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized and 1.4 times more likely to die. There are so many factors that cause this such as reservations not having enough or adequate health care services, the economic disparity in these communities compared to the rest of the United States (which ultimately leads to the health care disparity), and the lack of response from the United States. Azure in the article mentions that hospitals are no where in proximity and are nearing capacity. How can Native Americans receive the proper health services if all of their hospitals require a 2-4 hour helicopter ride to get there? That is a matter of life or death. And the most severe cases are not airlifted too. Shouldn't every person in America receive the highest quality of health care?

I also want to refer back to @ernest.'s question about the integration question. Native American were forcibly integrated into American society and could only succeed if they conformed. I believe that they should have the autonomy whether or not they want to. But I assume the question is geared towards the idea that both societies can co-exist within our country.


cherryblossom
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

Making Amends to Indigenous People

Our discussions in class and the articles that I read have been truly eye opening. It is no secret that we do not learn nearly enough about Native Americans and their history. The lack of education on the plight of Native Americans has its effects. In elementary school, I remember learning the bare minimum. The pilgrims came and the Wampanoags helped them by showing them how to plant crops and hunt for food to survive the harsh winters. Then, the pilgrims stole their land, enslaved them, and killed them. This is in addition to the Europeans bringing over diseases, which wiped out indigenous populations. However, there are countless more tribes that faced the same atrocities, but we never learned about them. We are never told the multiple massacres of indigenous people, which are disguised as wars. Instead, our society feeds us centuries-old stereotypes and has illustrated America’s history in a perspective that is more favorable to the European settlers. When people think of Native Americans, they think of dancing, headdresses, the wilderness, and warriors. Society influences us to think a certain way about Native Americans, as they are romanticized and fetishized. This is evident on the package of certain foods and drinks, in the names and logos of sports teams, and in films.


As the article The Invention of Thanksgiving mentioned, we are often told that on the first Thanksgiving in November 162l, the pilgrims and Native Americans came together and enjoyed a feast. This is a story fabricated by early settlers to develop a positive image of American character, including work, family, freedom, faith, and individualism. In reality, the Wampanoags came uninvited to the first Thanksgiving only to respect a mutual-defense agreement. This led to conflict with the pilgrims, who took their lands through violence and killed them. Because of the massacres and diseases, their population declined significantly, which caused them to lose power. Even though Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, we should acknowledge the dark history behind it.


To reiterate @squirrelluver123, upon their arrival in the Americas, the Europeans believed that they were superior to other groups of people, explaining the massacres. Furthermore, this mindset led to the forced sterilization of indigenous women in order to prevent indigenous populations from increasing. According to Erin Blackmore in the JStor Daily article, there were many reports of forced sterilizations in the 1960s and 1970s, where women went to the hospital for medical visits or for other procedures to be done but instead their uterus was removed or their Fallopian tubes were severed. The decline in population led to the loss of political power in many tribes. Another effort by White settlers to decline the power of tribes was the removal of Native American children from their families to attend boarding schools. At these institutions, they were not allowed to wear their tribal clothing or perform any tribal dances. They were forced to wear uniforms, speak English, and convert to Christianity. Consequently, indigenous populations weakened in power as they were stripped of their culture and heritage.


Today, we can still see the dismissal of Native Americans and their history as our President praises Christopher Columbus as an explorer and heroic figure. The Trump administration choses to deny the truth of the enslavement, rape, and killing of indigenous people. However, this should not prevent us from making efforts to address and amend the sufferings of indigenous people. Like @ernst, I believe that we should start by teaching more of their history in school so that we can put an end to the stereotypes and misconceptions. They are Native Americans or indigenous people and not Indians, a political identity. Some people still use the term “Indians”, which roots back to the time of Columbus’s arrival and is offensive to Native Americans. We also need to recognize that they are U.S. citizens and address them by their tribe name. There are also steps that we should take as a society. One step would be making greater efforts to report any current forced sterilizations, as it is possible that they are still occurring because they are not as frequently reported. Moreover, we need to create stricter laws and have stronger enforcement of these laws so that the bodies of Native American women are protected. Companies and sports teams should remove racist images and names in order to move away from societal stereotypes of indigenous people. Establishing land acknowledgements would be another great step to take. We would be recognizing that we live on stolen land and respecting Native Americans.


yvesIKB
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

The Debt We All Owe

When it comes to reparations for marginalized groups, perhaps Americans have been in debt with Indigenous peoples the longest. It has been over 500 years since Christopher Columbus first reached America, claiming it for his own country — and later, race — from the Native peoples living there prior. It has been over 500 years of segregation, genocide, and abuse. And it is no secret that our society continues to marginalize these people, including us liberals who only hear out Indigenous peoples when Columbus Day rolls around each year. Even then, there is a serious lack of attention to Native populations as American citizens, and I think recognizing their rights, voices, and struggles as such will be the first step to moving forward and making amends.


When we learn about the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution, we act as though the white men are alone on the continent away from the Eastern Hemisphere of our world. We never consider the enslaved peoples. We never consider the masses of Native peoples, despite that according to Claudio Vaunt in “The Invasion of America,” even “as late as 1750… fully 250 years after Europeans first set foot in the continent – they constituted a majority of the population in North America, a fact not adequately reflected in textbooks.” Amidst our tales of freedom, we were rapidly confining Indigenous Americans to small corners of the world, focusing on European interactions and wars, but very little on the presence of Native individuals. This is erasure.


Vaunt continues to describe the abuse of power by white Americans when writing that “both Congress and the president can create reservations and take them away,” and that they have used this unjustified power extensively. Vaunt informs us that “In July 1864, for example, President Abraham Lincoln created a reservation within present-day Washington state for the Chehalis people, reducing their once extensive homeland of 5,000,000 acres” to a total of “about 4,000 acres.” The fact that a single man had the ability to displace and rob a whole population is astounding. The fact that there have been no repercussions for these perpetrators, both from back then and in present-day, is astounding. And the fact that there has been no attempt to atone or compensate significant enough for the magnitude that was those 5,000,000 acres is inexcusable and unforgivable.


This issue of land has been something I have barely been conscious of. Consciously I knew that we, as non-Indigenous peoples, were on their land, and that we had to acknowledge that privilege. However, I supposed I’d always thought of these crimes as belonging to the white man. After all, my ancestors weren’t here when they took land from Indigenous peoples. It was Vaunt’s words that “Acre by acre, the dispossession of native peoples made the US a transcontinental power” and that “it is high time for non-Native Americans to come to terms with the fact that the US is built on someone else’s land.” These resonated with me because all the resources I benefit from, all the wealth of America, came from the very earth of Indigenous people. I didn’t think of myself as an individual as too relevant to Native Americans, mostly just my community, but it’s become more personal to me as I realize that my house is on Indigenous land. I walk my dog on Indigenous land. It dawned on me that I’d never gotten permission to do these things from the people who actually matter, so the burden of understanding the experience of Native Americans is also my own. I think that’s also the first step to confronting our history and making amends — recognizing in our hearts what we have gained through others’ loss.


When we examine the discrimination and atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples now, I think perhaps the forced sterilization of women is one of the most overlooked. It’s horrifying to discover that this is a practice that has gone on since the 1960s, that according to Erin Blackmore in “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women,” these procedures were “thought to have been performed on one out of every four Native American women at the time, against their knowledge or consent.” I think ‘sterilization’ is a very clinical term, but Blackmore illustrated it how it was — women could go to the hospital to have their tonsils removed and instead receive tubal litigations, they could have their actual uterus completely removed against their will. We might hear of the sterilization of women and not fully comprehend the depth of the violations of these women. What is more, we see that these acts are committed from racist beliefs, that the Indian Health Service doctors thought that women of color didn’t have the “intelligence to use other methods of birth control effectively” and that there “were already too many minority individuals causing problems in the nation.” In class, we have seen that many acts of the United States were paralleled with the atrocities in Nazi Germany, but this action of “solving” the problem — which minorities were blamed as — aligns in my mind as such a fascist technique which I didn’t know existed for this country at that time.


In addition, we overlook the depth in the horror that is “thousands of Indigenous women who’d gone unrecognized, ignored, and unprotected,” according to Carolyn Smith-Morris in “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” It is frightening to see how little our government and our society cares for the wellbeing of women of color. Smith-Morris continues with the point that due to small populations and scattered land, the Indigenous population is spread out, and that “this too makes Indigenous women invisible, their vulnerability unrecognized.” I think in order to address these crimes committed against Indigenous women, and the larger population, is to make sure they are not invisible. In our allyship, Americans must recognize these violations and abuses as ones happening in their own community, instead of seeing Native Americans as separate. The next time there is a pipeline or an abduction — because the awful truth is that there will be — we need to bear injustices against Indigenous peoples as grave injustices committed against Americans. I think passing laws is one part of this, since many laws ensuring the protection of Indigenous peoples have not been prioritized. For instance, Smith-Morris writes that Savannah’s Act (targeting DOJ/Tribal coordination in addressing data gaps) was shot down by the Senate. We must ensure that as allies, we make it known to our legislators that we care about legal protections for Indigenous peoples.


Another part of this is stopping the appropriation and stereotyping of Native Americans — whether on food labels or sports teams, we need to stop using the culture of people we tried to force to assimilate, and we need to treat their misappropriations with as much indignation and gravity as we would with those of our own cultures. I think many people treat these appropriations lightly because they are not educated enough on the true magnitude of brutality committed against Native Americans. As Vaunt put it, “A history that glosses over the conquest of the continent… misleads people about the past and misinforms their debates about the present.” The issue comes in with Trump, who opposes any talk of a standardized curriculum about racism in the United States. Ezra Rosser, in “Trump and the Native American vote,” exposes Trump’s detrimental influence, writing that “Trump’s proclamation is an effort to put history back in the bottle” and to lie to ourselves about our past. This is so dangerous, considering our past provides context for everything in our present. In the end, I want to do exactly what it is that Trump warns his followers about, to “replace discussion of [Columbus’] vast contributions with talk of failings.” I think it is a further disservice to Indigenous peoples by not acknowledging their history, and in order to address that Native Americans were harmed and massacred, we have to accept and proclaim the sins of colonialists as such. We can’t hide behind comfortable stereotypes or “twistory," we have to teach our up and coming generations the words, the cultures, the history from the voices of Native peoples instead of biased textbooks, something we’ve been denying for so long.


As our world turns more to capitalism and urbanization, to profit and exploitation, to harming of others instead of conversation, we need to remember where our country has come from. We need to remember that we are all the invaders in a land that was cared for by the people we drove out and killed. We need to remember that our country will never move towards equity if we keep its earliest residents invisible and voiceless. Unless we create legal and social structures that allow Indigenous peoples to flourish, we dig ourselves further into debt.

yvesIKB
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Originally posted by cherryblossom on December 10, 2020 20:13

Our discussions in class and the articles that I read have been truly eye opening. It is no secret that we do not learn nearly enough about Native Americans and their history. The lack of education on the plight of Native Americans has its effects. In elementary school, I remember learning the bare minimum. The pilgrims came and the Wampanoags helped them by showing them how to plant crops and hunt for food to survive the harsh winters. Then, the pilgrims stole their land, enslaved them, and killed them. This is in addition to the Europeans bringing over diseases, which wiped out indigenous populations. However, there are countless more tribes that faced the same atrocities, but we never learned about them. We are never told the multiple massacres of indigenous people, which are disguised as wars. Instead, our society feeds us centuries-old stereotypes and has illustrated America’s history in a perspective that is more favorable to the European settlers. When people think of Native Americans, they think of dancing, headdresses, the wilderness, and warriors. Society influences us to think a certain way about Native Americans, as they are romanticized and fetishized. This is evident on the package of certain foods and drinks, in the names and logos of sports teams, and in films.


As the article The Invention of Thanksgiving mentioned, we are often told that on the first Thanksgiving in November 162l, the pilgrims and Native Americans came together and enjoyed a feast. This is a story fabricated by early settlers to develop a positive image of American character, including work, family, freedom, faith, and individualism. In reality, the Wampanoags came uninvited to the first Thanksgiving only to respect a mutual-defense agreement. This led to conflict with the pilgrims, who took their lands through violence and killed them. Because of the massacres and diseases, their population declined significantly, which caused them to lose power. Even though Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, we should acknowledge the dark history behind it.

I completely agree with you that in elementary school, we learn the "bare minimum" that ends up being a distorted, fabricated history. I had not read the article on Thanksgiving's origin, so it's truly shocking to me that the Wampanoags were not actually invited to this first Thanksgiving, and that this escalated to violence. This false history I learned in elementary school, as well as the fetishization that you pointed out which I saw in films like Pocahontas, makes, I think, more of an impact on us and our perception of Indigenous peoples and their history than we might think it would. I don't know whether I can say if we should even continue to preach this to children or if we should educate them about the domination of settlers and colonialism from the very beginning. Perhaps we need more education about Native American individuals, teaching about their accomplishments and their names in the same way we did with George Washington or Paul Revere. Maybe when we teach about Columbus, we don't need to glorify his actions. I think even as teens or adults, though we like to look at Thanksgiving in pop culture for its food and traditions, we also need to do exactly as you said — "acknowledge the dark history behind it" — and, I think, see how much of what we're thankful for is made possible by this land of Indigenous peoples.

Cookie Monster
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Today's media narrative around the Native American narrative is a very somber and dark story. Many Americans have internalized the idea that Native peoples still live as primitively as the did generations ago, and that they are violent, ferocious creatures. Literature and Hollywood often portray them as impoverished and alcoholic, from which they die early. Sports teams and major corporations have used them as tokens on their advertisements and logos. We as Americans have co-opted their as our own in the name of the American story, even though we have far different cultural backgrounds and histories than they have. We have depicted them as feather wearing warriors who live in tepees, even though that fails to delve into the depths and specifics of different native tribes, of which there are more than 500 recognized by the US government. American culture has even over-generalized what food they eat, which we believe consists of corn, beans, and squash. Modern-day American culture has stripped Natives of any recognition while simultaneously making their traditions more palatable to the general public. But what is our real history in terms of interaction between white colonizers and indigenous peoples? How has this stereotyping and allowed us to forget about our role in the extermination and removal of Native cultures?

In Disney's representation of the story of Pocahontas, a Native American "princess" by the same name falls in love with an English colonizer by the name of John Smith. Her father disapproved of the marriage and wanted her to marry a Native American war, but nevertheless, Pocahontas and John Smith moved to England together at the end of the adaptation. In reality, Pocahontas was married off to a white man old enough to be her father when she was a teenager. A few years later she fell ill and died. While she was dealing with her own form of suffering in England, Pocahontas's whole tribe was completely exterminated by the same English colonists that she seemed attached to in Disney's adaptation. This co-opting of the Indigenous experience to become a more light-hearted, pro-white American has happened many times in our historyand still perpetuates itself through society today. The first Thanksgiving is depicted as a cordial interaction between Natives and English colonizers. The Massachusetts State Seal includes a picture of a Native American man hollering for help from the European newcomers. In reality, the colonizers were more reliant on the Natives while the Natives already were accustomed to the land that they have called home for generations. White colonists massacred Native peoples in order to expand their territory and it was a deliberate militaristic motive to exterminate the American Indian race. However, in our history books and in the media, these events are largely categorized as battles between two sides, even though the Natives were no match for the English with their more efficient and brutal weaponry. Starting at the late 1800's and only ending in the 1970's, American Indian children were taken away from their parents without consent and sent to boarding schools, in which they would be essentially white washed and stripped from their former cultures. However, to this day, Dartmouth College, which was at the time of its founding established as the first college for indigenous peoples, takes pride in its history even ignoring the fact that it engaged in this type of coercion in its own past.

In order to make amends and make our community more inclusive, we must better inform ourselves on our own history in terms of the indigenous story that we have a part in. As I mentioned above, our textbooks in history classes sensationalize the tense relationship between the colonists and the natives in ways that engage in erasure. In order to fix this, we must form more diverse legislative boards and committees in our education system to make sure that everyone is being taken account of and represented in our curriculum. This means incorporating more indigenous history into our history classes that is historically accurate, as well as talking about those cultures in more of a positive light in terms of their achievements (which there are many of) rather than them being savage warriors and primitive foreign aliens. We also must invest in programs in order to close the gap between white and indigenous people (along with other racial minorities). This means granting more funds to their schools and developing federal loan or federal aid programs in order to invest in their communities at large. Instead of just giving surface level apologies and not making amends for the damage done, this is what we need to do in order to bring all sects of our society closer together and to make our culture less fragmented.


BlueWhale24
Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 15

The Issue of Ignorance

Native Americans did not have a concept of owning land. Instead, the land which they all lived on was to be shared and respected. However, upon the arrival of European colonial settlers, the idea of land-ownership became crucial in dictating the future of North America’s indigenous peoples. Living in modern day, everybody generally accepts the idea of land ownership: buying a house entails buying the land surrounding it, which then becomes your ‘property’. But if we accept this idea, it’s immensely hypocritical to deny the methods by which every single acre of land with the US was acquired. Prior to the (subjectively) recent arrival of foreigners, the land of what is now the United States of America had been inhabited by Native Americans for millennia. The reality is that the rise of our country directly took advantage and profited off of those who lived here before us. Paying respect to those who were affected by this is not just a gesture of politeness, but rather a necessity for any semblance of atonement for such actions. It’s time to face that ugly truth.


The process of confronting and understanding the complex and difficult history of Native Americans in our nation is arduous. The first step, however, begins with updating our means of education. Native American and overall indigenous history is rarely focused on as a topic of discussion within elementary level education. It’s long been an area that’s glazed over as a precursor for more important issues to come (i.e. being mentioned briefly in a course regarding US history or taking up half a unit within APWH). My classmates and I, and many more around the country, have all shared the common experience of being woefully uneducated regarding this population and its history. Curriculums need to be adapted in a way that extensively and thoroughly covers the history of indigenous peoples, from past to present. As a country, we have become accustomed to ignoring and undermining the issues of the Native population. Topics relating to this group are rarely touched upon within the media cycle: this begins from the way we’re educated about them. Education about Native Americans needs to be treated with the same importance as that of other ethnic groups. From this foundation, we as a country can begin to treat Native Americans with the respect as we ought to.


Furthermore, education is also crucial for the sake of erasing misconceptions surrounding Native Americans that have long been perpetuated. One of the most well-known examples of such is Thanksgiving, and specifically, how it originated. Philip de Loria’s article regarding this topic truly depicts the near propaganda-like perception of our national holiday. Four centuries ago, instead of holding a vast feast, the Wampanoag tribe army had shown up to the Pilgrim camp as a response to hearing sounds of gunshot. Having previously agreed to an uneasy truce, both sides spent the next three days together, all while distrusting the other: this was the first Thanksgiving. Other common misrepresentations include how Native Americans look, how they dress, and how they live in modern day. These fall into the category of negative stereotypes, and it’s blatantly obvious how the standards for racism towards indigenous groups are skewed as opposed for similar actions towards any other ethnic group. To use an example brought up in class, until this past summer, the NFL team based in Washington D.C. was known as the ‘Washington Redskins’. Until a few months ago, I wasn’t even aware what the term ‘Redskin’ referred to, and I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone. When this clearly offensive name was later removed from the organization, there was tremendous outcry from various fans and non-fans alike. They claimed that the name was a football “tradition”, and that “it’s not meant to be offensive” - there’d be no place for such comments if the team was named the ‘Washington Slaves’ or the ‘Washington Latinos’. This relates back to my previous point, which is that the issues faced by Native Americans are not treated with equal significance as issues faced by other groups. Racial stereotypes are more widely accepted and long-standing misconceptions are more frequently believed. Moreover, other damaging parts of Native American history are simply glossed over or untouched within history books - again, until very recently, I was completely unaware of the forced sterilization of Native American women from the 1960’s to 1970;s. This truly left me wondering how such a morally damaging event within the past century could be simply forgotten so quickly. Once again, I emphasize that education regarding Native history needs to be expanded upon. Ignorance is a key part of the problem. From in-depth education, stereotypes and misconceptions can be more easily recognized, and as a country, we can work towards a future with better treatment for people of Native American heritage.


The process of American colonization simultaneously served as a process of genocide for Native American people, who were slaughtered for no reasons beyond simply who they were. Yet, the American nation has never sought to make amends nor atone for such events having transpired. Throughout history, proponents of genocide have been charged for war crime or crimes against humanity. Nazi officers stood trial after the Jewish genocide. Japanese officers faced the death penalty after the Nanking Massacre. However, the difference with the American situation is that there is no single person, or group, responsible for these events. The process spanned centuries, and hundreds of millions of deaths. If every single person who took part within this tragic history were to stand trial for crimes against humanity, the list itself would likely stretch for miles. One of the names on the list would even include the seventh President of the United States. The truth is that there is no way to punish those who were responsible. Not only are most of them long gone, but the effects of the Native American genocide are too large to ever be rectified. In my opinion, we as Americans should atone in the following ways: honor the history of those who have suffered, respect those who live now, ensure a better future for those to come, and continue to educate ourselves. We ought to utilize traditional holidays such as Columbus Day, or even Thanksgiving, as moments of reflection for the history of Native Americans in our country. We should strive to treat people of Native heritage with respect and understanding now, by referring to them in the way which they deem appropriate, and listening to their experiences and stories. We must work towards abolishing stereotypes and misrepresentations which damage people of Native heritage. These things all come about through education - learning about, respecting, and remembering this dark history is a necessity for seeking atonement and reconciliation.


Beyond just their history, Native Americans continue to be an afterthought in modern American society. Within the past few years, this group has faced countless challenges (disappearing women/girls, Dakota Access Pipeline, etc.), yet almost none are covered by the media. In the age of social media movements, public protests, and support for nearly every cause imaginable, somehow Native Americans are left out once again. Our country needs to provide substantive steps to support the population. It’s become apparent that Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some may choose to equate this to genetic factors, I believe that such outcomes are directly related to the pre-existing societal concerns faced by Native Americans, including a crumbling healthcare system, poverty-stricken conditions, and more. Change for this issue starts at the federal level - maintaining high quality land reservations has become an afterthought. It’s no coincidence that areas containing large Native American populations are disproportionately affected by poverty. To quickly improve living conditions, I’d suggest funneling more money into supporting the infrastructure within those areas. While I’m not entirely sure how this would look, my initial idea is to grant subsidies for businesses or corporations that are willing to live within a reservation or Native American-dense area. This would in turn create more jobs and stimulate the economy within the area. Another possible idea could be for state-level governments to relocate such businesses and corporations into certain areas for communities under their governing. Overall, I think poverty is the most significant issue that the US Native American population is facing, and I truly believe that the way to address this is through creating job opportunities in these areas.


To quote @yvesIKB “[...] many people treat these appropriations lightly because they are not educated enough on the true magnitude of brutality committed against Native Americans”. @yvesIKB sums up my message perfectly: the path towards both becoming an ally and truly allowing for Native Americans to integrate into modern society starts with education. Education is key, not only for the sake of understanding a dark history of genocide, but to preserve the vast array of culture which was almost completely destroyed by colonialism. Education is key for allowing us to unpack the historical reasons behind why Native Americans are disproportionately affected by modern issues. Education is key for teaching us how we can best address these issues moving forward. Beyond this, allyship also means respecting the identity of those who are of Native American descent, whether they prefer to be identified by their tribe or if they choose not to. Allyship means listening to the stories that they’re sharing with us. In the age of ‘performative activism’, choosing to act as a true ally takes a lot. America has grown accustomed to ignoring the blights of this population. We, as a country, can no longer treat Native Americans as an afterthought. It’s time to break the cycle.
BlueWhale24
Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 15

Originally posted by ernest. on December 10, 2020 18:15


  1. Fair Policy. As outlined in the HuffPost article about COVID-19 in tribes in the Dakotas, Native Americans have significant institutional obstacles to living well. Many live in food deserts, or in the past were forced to live off government-provided food that was unhealthy; affordable housing is uncommon, their health services are under-funded and under-staffed, on top of their hospitals (a recipe for disaster during the pandemic). Problems like these, which they share in common with other communities of color, must be addressed if we are to close the myriad gaps in health and welfare between Native Americans and white people.

This step really stood out to me. COVID-19 has been a eye-opening experience in showing that the US Native American population is vastly under-resourced in exactly the areas which you mentioned, being healthcare and housing. I've also seen studies which show that the Native American population is far more likely to smoke than the national average, which is yet another factor which exacerbates the effects of COVID-19. I was curious as which policies you theoretically would propose to address these issues? I think that access to healthcare and housing within Native American communities are mainly a result of the poverty-stricken conditions within which most are located. I'd propose a federal government policy which granted tax subsidies for small businesses and/or corporations to move into Native American areas, which would then stimulate the economy of the location and hopefully, lead to better living conditions and available resources. What do you think of this? Do you think that this might lead to gentrification within such communities?

bebe
Posts: 11

I consider myself to be a liberal person. I take pride in my awareness and activism, and recognize the list of privileges I was born into. However, with all of the time I spend learning about and fighting for equal rights among all people regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, I often forget to include the people who’s very land I stand on, Native Americans.


I do not think that this ignorance is completely my fault. Ever since the third grade, we are shown pictures of the pilgrims and Native Americans eating together, drinking together, and practically hugging each other. We are told to honor and celebrate Christopher Columbus for bravely discovering the Americas. Even textbooks only briefly gloss over the mass killings of these people. The genocide faced by Native Americans. And if this genocide is mentioned at all, it is portrayed as history far back in the past, not a current isue still extremely revalent today.


There has undoubtedly been a more recent movement to educate and call attention to the centuries of discrimination faced by Indigenous People. I have learned so much more about this history in the past week of class than I have in my entire life. As a country, we have come to the general understanding that what was done to the Native Americans during colonization was wrong. However, in order to fully begin to move forward, there are many things everyone needs to learn and understand.


The forced sterilization of Native women is eerily similar to what was used by the Nazis, and this happened years before the Holocaust, starting in 1832, and spanning all the way through the 20th century. In just six years, between 1970 and 1976, somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of Native women were nonconsensually sterilized. By purposefully taking a woman’s natural right to reproduce, you are disregarding her as a human being. You are treating her like an animal.


Since the moment the first Europeans encountered the Americas, they refused to acknowledge the Native people as anything even close to human. Children were ripped from their families to be sent to boarding schools that attempted to “civilize” them by removing all aspects of their culture from their lives. As a nation, we still fail to see the value in a Native American woman or child’s life.


In the past 40 years, since 1980, 2,306 Native women and girls have been murdered or gone missing with no response from the government. 81% of them have reported sexual violence in their lifetimes. On reservations, where the government has made sure there is an inadequate level of resources, Native people are 2.8 more times more likely to be infected with COVID 19 than whites. This is happening today, and it is a direct result of the years of discrimination Native Americans have faced.


We have a lot of work to be done in our country to make amends for the ongoing mistreatment and killing of Native Americans. @CookieMonster made a very good point that we need to stop making surface level apologies. While changing a logo or removing a statue is a very good place to start, it is not enough. There is much more to be done and this can start with education. The curriculum that we covered in class should start the first time Native Americans are mentioned in the classroom. We also need to make sure that we elect people who will stand up for Indigenous people, and do everything in their legal capacity to begin to provide them with equitable opportunities. Native people need to be seen as human beings in every person’s eyes, not a savage mascot for a sports team or a brief episode of our history.


babypluto9
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Natives and America

In order to better understand Natives and their needs, we must listen to them. We need to listen to their stories and their their problems. To start this we must accept the history and no try to rewrite it. As a education system, Natives and their story isn't a large topic that is taught in most major subjects. When it is taught, some facts are sewed and their stories aren't a major factor in what is actually taught. To prepare and understand the struggles of Natives, we must first understand and accept the past and how Natives were persecuted. From there we must listen to their modern day issues and give actually relief to those in the population who need it most.

To address the stereotypes and misperceptions of Native Americans, it starts with once again education. In today's society, many things which were deemed normal are now taboos and unacceptable. From my experience, many parts of America are becoming more and more progressive, not allowing things such as racism and stereotypes to continue and permeate society. This all starts with education and teaching the real history of Natives. Media also has to portray the reality of many Natives in modern society. Stereotypes such as rich casino owners or spiritually connected to the Earth should not be shown or accepted. Things have to change in order for Natives to receive the help and fair treatment they deserve.

I think apologizes and amends are needed for every Native tribe. Many prejudice laws and discriminatory actions towards Natives have been recently appealed, but the damage has already been done. The US is stolen land and the Native population was destroyed by the colonizers. Currently most Natives are economically and situationally disadvantaged. We must give them the resources and help needed to provide them with fair standing in our current society to do minimum.

I don't believe all Americans will accept Natives or try to be allies. There are always prejudice people and those who hate in a population. The best way is to educate those Americans and help them understand even if they don't to. In order to help Natives currently, we must ensure them equal opportunities for jobs, education, and life.

ernest.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Originally posted by BlueWhale24 on December 10, 2020 23:22

These step really stood out to me. COVID-19 has been a eye-opening experience in showing that the US Native American population is vastly under-resourced in exactly the areas which you mentioned, being healthcare and housing. I've also seen studies which show that the Native American population is far more likely to smoke than the national average, which is yet another factor which exacerbates the effects of COVID-19. I was curious as which policies you theoretically would propose to address these issues? I think that access to healthcare and housing within Native American communities are mainly a result of the poverty-stricken conditions within which most are located. I'd propose a federal government policy which granted tax subsidies for small businesses and/or corporations to move into Native American areas, which would then stimulate the economy of the location and hopefully, lead to better living conditions and available resources. What do you think of this? Do you think that this might lead to gentrification within such communities?

A few possible solutions (all with the acknowledgment that I am not an expert or well-versed in solving these problems):

  • Allocating appropriate funds and resources to Native communities. If health services on reservations are underfunded, just fund them properly.
  • Make sure government-provided food is nutritious: in the past, government food assistance was unhealthy and led to widespread health problems like diabetes in Native American communities. This is another easy fix.
  • Affordable housing: according to this article (https://shelterforce.org/2019/11/25/increasing-acc...), the lengthy and even obstructive bureaucratic process involved in approving and financing new housing developments is a significant factor in the lack of affordable housing on reservations. Because reservations have differing levels of autonomy, approving things on them is not the same as approving them on usual private land, and there are more cumbersome procedures. So, cutting through some of the red tape might help this. As the article says: “Lenders and federal agencies alike avoid reservation investment for many reasons, but a primary one is the lengthy process for reviewing mortgages on trust lands.” Additionally, Native communities are also subject to predatory and higher loans from banks; legislation taking steps to prevent such discriminatory practices will help this.

So, I think I disagree with your solution. Subsidizing business might be helpful (although the question of whether Native communities would even want big corporations to come in / to be urbanized by an influx of businesses is also worth considering), but most important is to actively combat and end the issues that are causing poverty among Native Americans. Their problems don’t come from the fact that they just so happen to be living in areas of poverty, they are in poverty because of direct discrimination and unaddressed history surrounding their Native background. This means helping Native Americans must involve taking into account the race-specific problems they face, and not just taking a generic approach to poverty like investing more in their communities.

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