posts 16 - 30 of 31
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Native American Erasure

Native American history has been largely erased or poorly portrayed throughout most of American History including now. Native Americans are often portrayed as stereotypical images of savage uneducated tribes with no real structure. The only representatives of Native Americans in media matched these stereotypes wether that be Disney's Pocahontas who was "rescued" and brought back to England, or the classic "cowboys and Indians" conflict that plays out in endless examples with the cowboys always being the good guys or the use of Native Americans as mascots for American sports teams.

You can absolutely make and defend the claim that there was a genocide on Native Americans and there are countless examples to back this up. The most damning evidence of this is probably the forced sterilization of thousands of native women. Starting in the 1960's which is only 60 years ago Native women thought they were getting treatment for things like appendicitis and were sterilized against their will for the sole purpose of limiting the native population. Eventually in 1974 legislation was passed to protect women for forced sterilization but this didn't have significant impact as from 1970 to 1976 somewhere between 25% and 50% of Native women were sterilized against their will. There are other evidence of genocide as well like, various massacres like that at wounded knee and many others, along with the forced trail of tears where many more native people died due to poor conditions. Even in our home state Massachusetts there were bounties given to those who killed Native Americans with no justification and bringing back their scalps as evidence.

There is still many problems facing the Indigenous communities including high rates of poverty, incredibly high rates of covid infection compared to the rest of the country and the continued epidemic of murder and assault against Native American women and girls. Native American women are sexually assaulted at a ten times higher rate than the average of certain US Counties. The culprits are primarily outside the native community and due to legal loopholes often get away with it allowing them to potentially victimize more people.

As a student the best thing we can do moving forward is to continue to be educated on Native American issues and to share this information we have as much as possible. As a country i think we are slowly moving forward but theres still a-lot to do and likely will be for a very long time. While its nice to see symbolic victories like the Washington redskins changing their name to the Washington football team this isn't nearly enough and though it is a step in the right direction it doesn't even begin to undo the systemic oppression faced by native communities historically and continuing to this day.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

To better understand what the Native American experience is in this nation, we need to listen to Native Americans speak about their experiences. There is rarely any media coverage about the injustices against Native Americans in America. Rachel was nice enough to speak about some of what Ladies Collected had a discussion on. She provided us with the statistic that over 50% of Indigenous women have been sexually assaulted, which is about triple the percentage of women who have been sexually assaulted. This was especially shocking to me. I do my best to stay on top of my knowledge on modern issues pertaining to race and gender, but I was still unaware of this, and it made me question how well I’m actually doing with educating myself on modern injustices. I also have never heard about the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 1960s and 1970s. It is believed that these procedures (severing the Fallopian tubes, removing the uterus, etc...) had been done one one out of every four Native American women at the time. This caused the Native American population to decrease even more than it was before. Ms. Freeman showed us a chart that represented the Native population throughout the years. The population only went down over time until very recently. But why would a population go down? Populations increase over time, which is why we have to acknowledge that our nation has been neglecting its Native population.

To help address the misconceptions and the “twistery” about Native Americans we have to revise the history materials that are given us through the American education system. The history that we learn in school is extremely centered around Europeans. We also need someone high up in our government to make an apology for the past treatment of the Indigenous population in America. We need the government to make a statement acknowledging the crimes that have been committed against Native Americans and we need to offer Native Americans additional support because of all of the extra hardships that they have to endure.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 6

American History

‘That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between races, until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected,’ says California’s first governor. This was 64 years after the Founding Fathers of our nation stated that ‘all men are created equal. . . endowed by certain unalienable rights. . . . that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.’ Yet, where were the same people who fought to find this country and to be free against abuses and usurpations? How is it that we’ve had the audacity and insolence to depict other human beings as uncivilized or barbarous yet live with the hypocrisy of inciting such grotesque actions from encouraging the murders of members of the Penobfest for monetary compensation in 1755 to hysterectomies and tubal ligations of indigenous women as recently as the 1970s? That was How have we been able to live with ourselves as a nation in knowing that we’ve poorly sugar coated reality?

The American Dream is rather a façade for the American Delusion.

There are steps to historical trauma, or so I’ve heard, in which the first confronting the trauma. There needs to be further responsibility taken from the federal government but I think that’s only feasible when enough of the majority population is fully able to secondly, understand the trauma. As we mentioned before, we may not be able to fully comprehend the generational traumas of the circumstances surrounding the indigenous experience. However, that doesn’t excuse the fact that further steps need to be taken into general history curriculums to implement the true history of Native Americans and indigenous peoples in our country. There are 573 tribes recognized nationwide, I think at the very least schools and workplaces can recognize areas that belonged to a tribe local to their state or region. Third is supposedly the releasing of historical trauma. However, as I mentioned before this is generational trauma that children of decimated indigenous populations must endure to this day. It does not cost anything to take a moment of silence for the hundred thousands of indigenous people who have been killed, just as we are able to give that to fallen soldiers or veterans. Thus. . . we can never truly let go of that trauma because otherwise we let go or ignore that history. However, we can release the stigmas and stereotypes against indigenous people. . . there are larger percentages of alcohol and drug abuse in native communities, but have the people who’ve decided to stereotype them all as addicts realize the lack of proper rehabilitation centers and mental health facilities amongst reservations? It’s interesting that the fourth step is to transcend trauma. . . I think that last part is something that we as a country need to work on to make feasible for indigenous and Native American communities today, and work on no longer isolating them as our government once did to control and force their ideals on them. We need to recognize and hear the faces and voices of these communities, recognize their traditions and values. . . and recognize them for what they are a key part of. . . American history.
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 21

Teach the Real History

Although a formal apology from the US for the acts of Columbus and the atrocities that occured is not necessary, the US should apologize for misconstruing and ignoring the history of Native Americans by teaching the true history for what it was and by removing offensive Native American stereotypes. Up until a few years ago, history portrayed Columbus as a hero, a founder of new lands—and he was praised for that, celebrated as a national icon. But now people are starting to accept the fact that he caused a genocide, and it has changing how Native Americans are portrayed and viewed in this country. Sports teams and corporate America are removing stereotypical Native symbols from their logos and names. But even though Columbus was undoubtedly a horrible person, some think that his crimes should be ignored and that he should continue to be viewed as a hero. Such people are very few in number (I hope), but still include the President of the United States who views “Christopher Columbus as a ‘great Italian,’ ‘a legendary figure,’ and an ‘intrepid hero.’” Albeit, it is a great example of what we should not be doing. Yes, it is not our fault that Columbus massacred the Natives or that bills and laws such as the Dawes act or forced sterilization of Native American Women were passed, but we are at fault if we continue to ignore the horrific truth that they existed. Instead of trying to double down on a false, but kid-friendly narrative, history classes need to include Native American history in US history, as they are intertwined.

Many US history classes cover the topic of Nazi Germany and concentration camps and how the US, along with the allies, helped to end those atrocities. The classes do well to condone and portray Nazi Germany as evil for having a genocide, but they rarely, if ever, teach how the US had a genocide of its own against Native Americans. This history should not be sugar coated—the only way to address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are is by teaching iit rather than ignoring it. Additionally, legislative reforms are required to recognize and address the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Even now, the US is unable to address the fact that Native people are dying, as coroners write down their race as “other” in order to avoid paperwork.

Native Americans face many inequalities, and it stops them from becoming fully integrated members of society. The fact that Native Americans are 1.4 times more likely to die from COVID and have a 25% positivity rate shows that Native Americans do not have access to necessary resources due “to disparities in health and socioeconomic factors.” Tribal reservations are food deserts which lead to underlying health conditions, and Native Americans lack access to affordable housing and medical care causing increased transmission and death rates. But there are also the economic tolls on Natives, as many are unable to work or find jobs during the pandemic. “The Trump White House had wanted tribes to get $0 of the $10 billion” in the relief bill, which would have meant that many Native Americans would be living without any form of income. In the end, they were allocated only around $600 a month, barely enough to survive on. If the government refuses to treat Native Americans citizens as citizens, then there is no hope for integration. Administrations, such as the next administration under president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris plan to, need to take action to fix and remove the disparities and inequalities that minority groups face, such as Natives, and only then is there the possibility of moving forward and building a nation with Native peoples.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

The very first step we need to take towards better understanding the experience of Native Americans in this nation is to simply listen to their stories. They are the ones who have experienced these hardships, therefore there is nobody better to spread this knowledge other than them. While some students may learn about the Native Americans in a history class, they many times don’t hear about the real struggles that the Native Americans faced (as these textbooks and teachings are mostly from the view of white men). On top of learning about their past history, we also need to look and address the situations of the current day. They continue to struggle, suffer from underrepresentation and misconception, and are treated as lesser compared to others.

This directly connects to stereotypes, and again the start of the solution would be to not only educate but to spread awareness. We also need to look back into what we are teaching students about the Native Americans and not only provide an unbiased point of view (in regards to the hard facts), but also provide Native American accounts of the invasion of America. On top of that, I believe that this is something we would need to get out into the media. While there are definitely those that do their research or are currently receiving an education, that isn’t the case for everyone. The media is one of the largest platforms we can use to correct these misconceptions and address these stereotypes. It would reach a wide audience, and depending on who and where this information is broadcasted, it could be possible to at least inform most Americans.

We most certainly need to apologize to all the Native Americans, but a simple apology would not suffice. Something interesting that I noticed while watching a video on the invasion of America was that to this day they continue to take land from the Native Americans, regardless of whether or not it is a reservation. When you compare the amount of reservations in 1893 to 2010, they most definitely decreased. Congress and the president have the power to not only create reservations, but also take them away. The fact that they are controlling land that they blatantly stole, and can choose to continue to take it away should not be allowed. The Native Americans at the very least deserve claim over the land that they currently have.

Like I addressed before, I believe the best we can do right now is to educate the American people. They shouldn’t have to feel as if Native Americans are not “American,” but rather that they have always been and rightly so, American. We also must strive towards treating the Native Americans equally, which arguably is one of the best ways they can be integrated into society.

Fruit Snacks
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 20

Toxic Colonialism

Research. Research. Research. It’s not that hard to do a quick google search or watch videos on YouTube of native American speaking about their past, their culture, and their lives. As individuals it is important to remain aware of marginalizations like this, so we can help these underrepresented groups of people receive justice.

I was oblivious to how much Americans use Native Americans as branding and advertisement. I knew a little bit about it, but I didn’t know that it was on our state flag. Despite using them on branding, Americans still believe that they are poor alcoholics who have nothing going on for them in life. The only way to address these stereotypes is by giving everyone the facts on how Native Americans live and are all different. They aren’t just a pack of wolves.

The apologies and amends will never be enough because our nation’s treatment of Native Americans was, and is beyond humane. They were killed and thrown in reservations for simply living in their own lands. Everything was stolen from them, even their honor.

It’s also going to be difficult to address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are, but it has to be done because they are the foundation of America. We can’t keep on in these borrowed, stolen lands as if we run ish. It has to be addressed nationally, and it has to be taken seriously. Reparations should be paid, even though no amount of money is enough for the damage that was caused.

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?

Through social media because of how big it has become for this generation. Posts about the realities of Native Americans’ lives can be made and we can reach out to them and let them know that although we might not fully understand because we didn’t endure their pains, we are empathetic and are available to help in any way possible.

Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 16

How to make amends

To understand Native experiences we must listen to Native people their stories, thoughts, feelings, and experiencecs. We must be open to listening and accepting their unique and beautiful culture. We must confront these experiences head on, a lot of them will be very difficult to listen to but as non- Natives we need to do it because we cannot let their culture disappear. In addition to getting to know the people it is important to know the history of native removal and how it is relevant today. Not everyone is aware how Natives are being affected and how they have been experiencing a genoicde, and how children are being taken from their families in an attempt to eradicate Native American culture. We must acknowledge and pay homage to Native cultures and try different tactics to bring attention to and bring change to how Native Americans are treated in order to confront and grow from the terrible mistakes of the past. To acknowledge this we need to look at and analyze everything because people are hurting, people are being taken and this is not something that we can allow to continue. Because children are/were being taken it is hard for them to connect with their Native American culture because they didn't learn it because they were taken from their families. It also traumatizes parents and children. Although Native culture has been here since the beginning of human history they are ignored which is something that cannot continue to happen because it is time for Native Americans to once again be recognized by everyone, and not just recognized but appreciated and embraced. We must address the fact that Natives were murdered by paying our respects and doing our best to make sure that this never happens again, we can do this by protecting our Native American neighbors and standing with them against the attempt of their eradication. There are not a lot of Native reservations left so what we can do is try to maintain those and hopefully try to grow them by recognizing that Natives are here, they will stay, and that as fellow americans we will stand together so that we can both heal from past tragedies. We can be allies to Native Americans by again listening to their stories, holding ourselves accountable, and going down the path of restorative justice. Listening to the TRC and learning from them about the whole process is something beautiful that we should take advantage of so that we can truly decolonize the system but also our minds. We must question everything in order to get justice for Native Americans so that the world can grow, and Native culture can once again thrive and gain the respect that it has always deserved. Native culture is diverse, rich, fascinating, and honestly beautiful and to move forward we heal, and respect one another, while actively trying to change/ improve conditions for Natives.
Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 19

Listen and Learn

I believe that to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation, we must listen to and uplift Native American voices. White allyship is highly necessary, but when white people become the speakers rather than the amplifiers, the truths that are being shared become diluted and lessened. I think that textbooks, school systems, and governments should pay Native Americans to update school curriculums to reflect the harsh truths of our nations. The payment is one of the most important aspects of the idea of amplifying Native voices. We cannot expect these people to teach and speak about their personal and generational trauma, about the genocide of their people, and give nothing in return. As seen in the film and as can be assumed by common sense, these topics are not easy to talk about, especially to the very type of people that caused the trauma. And like the increasingly popular land acknowledgements, there is little meaning behind the acknowledgement of the past without doing something to fix that, and as there is nothing we can do to undo the genocides of years past, we must help to equip Native Americans to face the racism and hatred of today. Currently, the best way we can do this is in giving back to the Native Americans in the form of money.

I think that reforming the curriculum will be highly beneficial for younger generations, but that it will be much harder to help older generations understand the experiences of Native Americans. I think one of the most effective ways of expanding understanding is through art, such as the pieces that Madeline Sayet directs, should be given grants so that they can reach more people and help spread more knowledge.

I think that sharing art, having conversations, and changing curriculums will hopefully address many of the harmful stereotypes perpetuated about Indigenous people in the United States. I also think that institutions that have profited off of these stereotypes and images should first remove any remaining images and names referencing Native culture, and then set up yearly donations to different funds that support Native Americans in the US. It is not enough to stop doing the harmful thing, they must also do something to begin repairing the damage they made in the past.

Some of the specific corporations that I believe need to go to extra work to apologize and make amends include the Washington NFL team, Land O’Lakes Butter, and American Spirit, as well as the many other companies that continued to use Native images to promote themselves after it was widely viewed as incorrect.

I think the first step to acknowledging that Native Americans were and are murdered for who they are, is just that - acknowledgement. I think this acknowledgment starts with exactly what we are doing right now - being taught about the murders and having productive and thoughtful conversations about why we were not previously taught about it. This movement must grow through people continuing the conversations outside of formal learning environments, and continuing to give back to the Native communities - that is how I believe people can become allies (although as a white American I cannot truly determine what is and isn’t proper allyship). I also wholly believe that one cannot call themselves an ally - they must always work to earn that title and further their allyship.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The only way to be able to try to understand the Native American experience is to realize that they are so much more than how this country has perceived them to be for so long. Tristan Ahtone talks about in his article that Native Americans feel like they are invisible to most people in America. When they are talked about it focuses a lot on the negative aspects of the experience of Native Americans, usually poverty or addiction. Although these are factors these people have so much rich, beautiful culture that seems to be forgotten or pushed away by many. Just like the article says the first step in a new direction would be for people to realize that there was a Native American genocide, and people need to come together and talk and try to understand the struggles that came with it.

Dawnland did a very good job in showing a good and honest way that these conversations that need to happen should go. White people need to be willing to listen and be uncomfortable in these conversations because for so long Native Americans had to endure so much pain and suffering, and this is their time to tell their story. At one point in the video some of the non-natives were upset because some of their peers had to leave in order to make some of the people telling their stories more comfortable. A native woman who was there perfectly explained why it was so wrong of them to be upset, and it highlighted the fact that these conversations will be difficult, so the people who are being vulnerable should be the ones who feel safe. The biggest way to give any apology or amend would just be by genuinely listening, and trying to do anything in your power to make sure nothing like this happens again.

In the film, by the end, the truth and reconciliation commission had a physical report that detailed the experience of many Native Americans who were affected by the child welfare agency. Having that physical document is also a good way to allow Native Americans to feel heard and understood in some way because it is a tangible thing that gives proof to all the people who deny the genocide. This event was a very good example of what an ally should be.

Also moving forward any harm that is occurring against Native Americans cannot be ignored, and that includes the indegenous women who are disproportionately murdered and have gone missing. That is a very big crisis just like the oppression of the child welfare system, and the government needs to get a better handle on investigations into the disappearances or murders of these women. They deserve to have a voice because their life has equal value to any white woman. People need to awaken and realize that the treatment of indegenous peoples has been very wrong, and in some ways still is, in order to be a good ally and start to make amends.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Uplifting Native Communities

Of the many narratives entertwined throughout the history of the United States, all too often the real story of the plight of Native Americans is neglected. Clearly, it would be impossible for the United States to truly make up for their destruction of Native populations and communities. However, it is still important to recognize past injustices and elevate the voice of Native Americans still living today. I believe that these efforts begin in education. As we know, history is told through the eyes of the “winners”, meaning that the perspective of Native Americans is too often overlooked in teaching about the rise of the United States. Textbooks often speak of the general decline of Native populations due to disease and war with Eurpoeans settlers, but fail to mention other important details of the Native experience. For example, many people are unaware of the haunting histoty of praying towns used to convert Natives to Christianity, boarding schools like Carlisle aimed at eliminating Native cultue, with mottos such as “Kill the Indian: Save the Man'', prolomations providing bounties for the kidnapping and or killing of natives, and as recently as in the 1970’s, the forced sterilization of Native women. These disturbing facts are difficult to reckon with, but are important in painting the full story of the history of the United States. As the Aeon article states, “Native peoples may be a small minority, but their history poses a fatal challenge to triumphalist narratives of the US.” Ultimately, it is important that everyone be made aware of these facts to truly understand the Native American experience and confront this dark part of our history.

Another key factor in the United States efforts to address their maltreatment of Native Americans is attempting to change the current perception of Native Americans. Often, Native Americans and their culture within the United States are relegated to simply being symbols of violent and primitive life. American military equipment such as helicopters are named after Native American tribes, Native Americans and their spears, bows and arrows, and tomahawks are portrayed in sports logos, and in movies, Natives are often depicted as very quiet, speaking broken english, despite the vast range of Native Languages. Native people often feel others perceptions of Natives are defined by these harmful stereotypes. Madeline Sayet, a Native American in the National Geographic Article mentions her feeling that Natives do not even get to tell their own story, but instead there are strange modifiers of Native Culture. Ultimately, I feel this gets to the root of the problem. Non Native peoples have so heavily appropriated Native Culture to the point where Natives no longer get to define or have ownership of their own culture. As @thesnackthatsmilesback said, I believe that we need to listen to the voice of Natives to learn about their culture and form more accurrate perceptions of who they are, eliminating the racist and false imagery of Natives throughout United States Culture which have had such harmful effects.

While acknowledging the damage done to Native Americans is important, I agree with @cookie that empty apologies and the idea of making amends are useless and impossible, because we can not bring back the lives of millions of natives, eliminate the trauma many expereinced, and return and restore all their land. Instead, it is more important that we do our best to uplift Native Americans living in the United States today, as we should try to do with any other oppressed community. It is clearly an issue that Native American women in some places are being murdered and assaulted at rates much higher than in the United States as a whole, and many of these crimes are going unpunished and even uninvestigated. Providing proper criminal justice to Native Communities is one example of a step toward helping current Native Americans.

In order to fully recognize the damage done to Native Americans, I think it is important to label the murder of their people as genocide. It is clear that the agenda of the United States was to wipe out Natives and their culture with boarding schools, the separation of Native families, and the neglect of much of the true history of Native American experiences. Denying this reality will not allow us to make progress in healing and recovering from the history of injustices faced by Native Americans. Again, it is impossible to make up for this genocide, so I think that doing our best to educate on the history of genocide and listen to and uplift Native communities is the best way to address the dark history. The TRC and similar groups aimed at raising the voice of Natives and unveiling their stories are tremendously important in this effort.

Concrete examples of reforms to move forward as allies of Native Americans while uplifting their communities might include the mandatory inclusion of Native American studies as an offered course in schools. Additionally, the inclusion of more focus on Native Americans and their experiences in US history courses are an important step, as I think progress begins with better education. Also, better criminal justice can be included in Native communities, as clearly this is a problem with the heightened levels of abuse and murder of Native women. Finally, as with other oppressed communities, analyzing statistics and trying different approaches of uplifting Native Communities is essential. Although it will be impossible to fully make up for the genocide of Native Americans, I think these steps will be crucial in making progress.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26

UPDATE: Dawnland

Films like Dawnland, depicting the untold history of our very own nation, are absolutely crucial if we want to make progress towards examining our whole truths. It is easier (but, of course, not in any way comfortable) to see a slideshow presentation giving numbers about Indigenous children in foster homes. It is much more difficult, much more burdening, to watch and listen as a woman cries in court because she could not see her son for years after leaving him with a babysitter, having been deemed a "bad mother" by white Americans no more qualified than herself.

Dawnland, if anything, shows the rocky road to recovery — what works and what doesn't, the extreme mistrust and eventual gratitude. If we are to create change in our country, observing efforts through Dawnland is a great place to start.

I think one important step to recovery and moving forward is recognizing the drastic efforts of white people — in foster homes, at boarding schools, in the state — for suppressing and essentially killing the cultural identities of Indigenous people, especially from a young age. Neptune's story, that after she left her racist foster home and went to a meeting with her tribe, she felt ashamed because she couldn't dance, definitely exemplifies how culture was taken away from her. As a child of immigrant parents, I too feel isolated from the culture of my family and ancestors, so her story really touched me. However, while we might have both experienced societal pressures to assimilate, Neptune — and Native children like her at the time — also experienced deliberate cultural suppression by the state, by school policies, and by her own childhood home. The amount of active cultural erasure that Indigenous people have undergone for centuries is absolutely devastating, and often overlooked. For allies, we must be able to see the harm done to these people. I completely agree with @speedyninja in that we absolutely have to "label the murder of their people as genocide." How can we not? We have to make reparations, memorials, acknowledgments, etc. to Native Americans with the fact in mind that we committed genocide on their people and culture, and America's hands are not clean of that. I think that moving forward also requires that Indigenous peoples and their cultures be renewed and remembered. From the screening of Dawnland, Native peoples expressed that, when given spaces to wear clothing, speak, dance, and gather together freely, they can remember their culture and their ancestors and heal better as a community. As allies, we have to see the importance of community, which just goes to show how detrimental separating children and families was to Indigenous peoples.

Another way of moving towards becoming better allies is by breaking down barriers of white fragility so that we are able to see through the perspectives of Indigenous peoples. One striking point in Dawnland was when white members of the TRC were indignant at having been "shut out" of the room where Indigenous peoples were recounting their stories. I think this is because of a lack of perspective — they are focused on becoming these "perfect allies," and maybe of enriching themselves, instead of allowing Native individuals to use as much time as they need to heal and gain trust. They cannot see that white social workers were the exact people who had betrayed them, taken them from their families, and stood by as they suffered abuses — it is only natural that many people would not want non-Natives to be watching them as they shared the most vulnerable and agonizing parts of themselves, experiences that we could never understand. I completely agree with @user1234, who said that "people who are being vulnerable should be the ones who feel safe." We need patience and concrete, sincere demonstrations of progress in order to gain trust, and even then, trust is given, not earned. as allies, we have to accept that we might never be in their confidence, and we are not entitled to be, no matter how much we are ""trying to help them."" I think perhaps we would all be quite defensive, despite coming into conversations resolving to have an open mind, and this act of protecting ourselves and actions is wrong and not at all productive. To see into perspectives of Indigenous peoples, I think education in schools is really important, as it is a space where we are supposed to have open minds and discover what we did not know before. Media is so important, so Dawnland was impactful because we were able to hear about how Georgina and her sister thought sitting in bleach would make them whiter, how Denise Altvater got the "worst beating of her life" when seeking help from a social worker. Films and books have a way of touching people, so I think these forms of media amplifying diverse voices should definitely be incorporated into school curriculums. Also, when gkisedtanamoogk of the Mashpee Wampanoag was lecturing at a school about what his culture meant to him, I think this can also break down defensive barriers, and we could have more Indigenous people speak directly to us students.

There are undoubtedly so many more aspects to cover, but Dawnland really highlighted just how serious the damage our country has made upon its Native populations is, and how recovery is so difficult, but essential to move towards.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Ever since kindergarten, we have been fed a false, over simplified narrative of settler and Native relations. This story of cameraderie and mutual benefit, centered on the Pilgrims, is at core of our country’s identity, but it is not the truth. If we want to reconcile with the atrocities of our shared past, we need to fully unlearn the false narrative that has been normalized within our culture for generations. It is much easier on the conscience to teach elementary school children an illusory narrative of friendship and harmony, one that encourages pride for their nation rather than shame. But what is a little bit of shame compared to centuries of systemic oppression, genocide, enslavement, displacement, rape, and silence? Fully acknowledging the crimes our forefathers committed is the first step to addressing the issues that continue to ravage Native tribes and communities to this day. Why is it that the story of the people branded as the first “Americans” (rather than the tribal identifications they actually associated with) is so misrepresented and oversimplified by American history? This unlearning should begin in schools, where the original myth is first introduced, and expand to the reimagining of many parts of American culture.

In “The Invention of Thanksgiving” Philip Deloria explains the hypocrisy of elementary school staples like “This Land is Your Land” when you consider the fact that all “our” land is stolen. American classics like Little House on the Prairie detailed the perseverance of Western pioneers braving “uncharted” territories, but they forgot to mention that these lands were already inhabited, and had been for centuries prior. Native Americans were counted among the natural elements and wild animals as threats, or just another part of the frontier setting. I remember one Charlie Brown Thanksgiving episode that features a Tisquantum/Squanto who is eager to aid the pilgrims, and is grateful for the English education bestowed upon him by his kidnappers.Throughout most of American popular culture, Native Americans are portrayed as companions, allies, adversaries; anything but the resistant victims that they were. It is shocking just how many of our childhood traditions are rooted in this false narrative. School children dressed in feathers and fringe shaking hands with their hat-wearing peers may not bear any malicious intent, but it is a mark of our collective ignorance when it comes to the truth of our country’s founding. Until recently, I doubt that any of us even knew that the land around our school used to be home to the Massachusett people, or that Deer island was formerly the location of a concentration camp, and now a mass grave. Maybe these subjects aren’t appropriate to be taught as early as elementary school, but we can at least stop idolizing the people who initiated them.

In addition to educating ourselves in the broken treaties and bloodshed that comprise this nation’s history, we must also spread awareness for the many ongoing struggles of Native communities. We need to dismantle the notion that Native American’s suffering is a thing of the past, something we can briefly express our sympathies for before sitting down at our Thanksgiving tables. Even the Native American identity is portrayed as something outdated and archaic. I heard in the podcast All My Relations that when you look up any other racial group on google images, you will be met with photos of modern people and families. However, when you look up “Native American” most of the images are black and white, feature traditional clothing, and seem to be from a distant era. I was reminded of this when reading Deloria’s piece by the line “Could we acknowledge that Indians are not ghosts in the landscape or foils in a delusional

nationalist dream, but actual living people?” Dawnland even featured a clip of someone referring to Native Americans as “ancient patriots”, which sums up how our current culture regards them pretty well. As Madeline Sayet said, “‘ Americans feel like they own native culture in this really twisted way.”’

I don’t think most of us interact with Native people on a day to day basis, and it seems like news from Native communities rarely make it to mainstream news cycles. The last time I can remember this happening was at the height of the pandemic. Similar to other communities of color, Native Americans living on reservations have been facing the worst of the pandemic, as a result of preexisting inequities in healthcare. But there are so many other systemic issues that we don’t often hear about, like the government’s efforts to eradicate Native culture by capturing and assimilating their children. I knew about a similar practice happening to Aboriginal children in Australia before I learned it happened here. Hearing testimony from Wabanaki parents, victims, and seeing pictures of rows and rows of children in Dawnland really put it into perspective, and is something every American should experience. With so many children being put into abusive homes, we already knew the entire foster care system is deeply flawed, but the fact that in some states Native American children are 20 times more likely to be in the system is just appalling. The federal government needs to work harder to defend and improve legislation like ICWA in order to protect these children from being removed from their cultures. The government should also prioritize addressing the many other issues that contribute to children being taken from their families, as their destruction of Native communities is a big factor in why some parents might qualify as unfit.

I assumed that most people knew of the situation of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls after an influx of MMIWG hashtags on social media in previous years, but there is really still a lot of obscurity around the topic. Domestic and sexual violence alone does not get enough attention in our society, but Indigenous women are even more likely experience and even die from this. However, most data used by the federal government is inadequate and inaccurate to the true amount of cases. The Urban Indian Health Institute recently found that out of 5,712 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women, only 116 were logged by the Department of Justice. In addition to this, the federal government also limits tribal courts’ ability to prosecute the perpetrators of those crimes. In some tribal nations, they are only able to sentence those guilty of rape or murder to ONE year in prison. This stems from the idea that tribal courts are somehow unable to properly handle this type of case, but the federal government is clearly not managing them any better, they have failed to even recognize thousands of these women as missing. It’s infuriating that the reauthorization that would narrow the boyfriend loophole and allow tribes to prosecute stalking and sexual violence was met with opposition from Senate Republicans and the NRA, all on the grounds that it would violate 2nd Amendment rights. Hopefully with our change in administration we will be able to make some progress in these areas, and pass legislation like Savannah’s Act, which targets federal data collection. Police departments on tribal land are also severely underfunded and understaffed. They do not have the resources to monitor the areas where these crimes often take place, or to thoroughly investigate them once they do. It’s often up to the families or local activists to find out what has happened to the women who have been stolen from them. This victimization of Native women is also a result of how they have consistently been sexualized and objectified by American culture. Pocahontas is problematic for many reasons, especially for how it twists the story of a real girl, raising her age, dressing her in an ahistorical, revealing outfit, and pairing her with a white man to appeal to American audiences. Traditional Native American dress is appropriated for “sexy Indian” Halloween costumes and lingerie flaunted by models on catwalks. Not only is this offensive, but it further endangers a vulnerable population by invalidating the generations of sexual violence they have endured, similar to how certain sports team’s mascots make light of the brutal history of scalping. In Dawnland, one woman spoke of how even as a child, bullies would tell her she and other Native girls were “only good for one thing”. These stereotypes and images of Native women have a lasting impact, and we can’t be complicit in their propagation.

It would also be wrong for us to view Native Americans as no more than victims to all that has been done to them. Like any marginalized group, they are much more than just their suffering, and shouldn’t be defined by that. We must make an effort to treat individuals and their cultures with respect by rejecting stereotypes, using proper terminology, educating ourselves, supporting their art and work, and above all, just listening to Native voices and perspectives. They are the only ones who can tell us what we need to do in order to finally make amends.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

The American ideals, the idea that all people (thought to be men for almost all of history) are entitled to equality, liberty, and freedom, had been forming and growing ever since white colonists landed on this country. American nationalism exploded in the 19th century, correlating with the rise of “Manifest Destiny” and the expansionist ideals of many Americans. This is perhaps why some of the worst Native acts in US history had been committed during this period and why America was so eager to exterminate the Native tribes, or at least shut them away in a far-off and isolated area of land.

Almost all countries around the world have extreme pride in themselves, that’s why their textbooks have misleading information, biased perspectives, or missing important information. They believe having absolute pride in their country will make them a better, happier citizen. America is the same. It really is so disheartening to see our current political administration denouncing the branching of the usual narratives and topics as attacks because it sets us back and prevents us from going forward. However, I agree that with @itscauseofme the power of art. Even though reforming the education curriculum (and even just the education system in general) is going to be an uphill battle, art is not confined to that extent.

We often forget it’s the simple things that influence us, like food. People don’t realize that current “American” food is vastly different from the ingredients used in America for the past tens of thousands of years. Food is a sensitive topic for a lot of us, but it is also something that can bring us together. Even something as simple as eating a different culture’s cuisine can help you appreciate how different America is from how you initially perceived. That’s why I really am grateful for restaurants like Echo-Hawk’s. Her story shows not just perseverance, but that everyone can do something and help change the narrative even if you are limited.

We forget about the different tribal voices on this land because American media rarely comprises of Natives. Madeline Sayet is an impressive playwright whose goal is to provide a genuine and rich depiction of Natives, to breathe life and joy into who they are instead of letting the white-dominated media to portray them in a way that they think will give them the most money. However, Native playwrights or Native actors are so scarce because America doesn’t give them the equal opportunity to become one. How can we encourage more of them to speak up and write and uplift Native voices and stories when their history, culture, and their painful decades-old battles are simultaneously being silently swept under the rug? Even though I completely agree with @Cookie Monster that we definitely need to form more diverse boards in schools and legislation, in order to make sure more people have the opportunity to do so, we have to focus on the root of the problems as well.

In Dawnland, many of the tribal members feel intimidated or scared or uncomfortable in speaking out, especially in front of people they are not familiar with. Their reasons are completely understandable, a jar that had been tightly-capped for a long time would naturally need a lot of patience and strength to undo the seal. “Trauma” isn’t just sterilization. It isn’t just “re-education” (a common occurrence in world history, a prime example being today’s Uighur camps), it isn’t just the horrendous foster care system, it’s all of those horrible ordeals and more.

It’s the language and culture in which American society is grossly ingrained in. It’s not enough to be patronized, they’re also simultaneously “savages” while being “exotic” enough to be fetishized and treated as a prop. It was so appalling when I realized that it’s not just in the language and messaging we see, but also directly in names such as “Mankiller.”

It’s also the utter lack of care and effort from the government. Even when Natives think they have finally won this tiny piece of land after years of fighting and violence and bloodshed with white Americans and the government, as @vare notes, the government can still take away these reservations. It shows, at the end, that Natives are powerless. It’s horrific to not just see that 41% of Native women are victims to physical and sexual violence, but that an astounding 84% of Native women experience some form of violence. We see that the government does not pay attention to the massive amount of missing cases for these girls and women. We see that the government does not care about the 25% of Natives who live in food deserts, nor the severely underfunded and understaffed hospitals, nor the outcries of Natives against the contamination of their water. Even now, Natives who had been forcibly put into foster care are still only finding out who they truly are years later. Even now, the Trump administration initially refused to hand them the relief bill despite them dying and being affected in alarming numbers. History repeats, and repeats, and repeats…

I think the commission idea is a step in the right direction. It’s definitely a very difficult process for everyone involved, and we still may not get the full story or give every victim the justice they deserve, but the most important thing is to get it out there. Their stories, their history, their trauma, but also their success and triumphs. Nothing can be changed until the government takes action, but steps like these give me hope for the future. A quality and complete education seems to be a struggle right now, but that’s what we desperately need. America is as divided as it has been. It’s not the only time it has been and it certainly will not be the last, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to normalize the truth so that we can finally do the right thing and change the subtle messaging in our culture and the legislation to address the policies, funding, health, and more.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Voices of Native Americans

In order to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation, we have to first acknowledge their history is being taught in a purely Eurocentric perspective, and understand that there are several misconceptions about them that need to be addressed. From a young age, we’re taught to believe that Columbus “found” America - from then on, this false information we’re fed from kindergarten or elementary school wouldn’t have been explained to us until we were of a certain age or grade. The history that is being taught is nowhere near the truth. The relationship between the conquistadors, whose purpose was to find a vast land to claim for their own and reap the benefits of, and the natives of the land is portrayed as fulfilling or peaceful, which is simply not the case. The massacres, disease, and trauma that the Native Americans faced during Columbian times are horrifying truths that our country, admittedly, cannot change, but something that Americans in the present must be responsible for knowing about. To fully confront and better understand how Native Americans have been mistreated and marginalized for so many centuries, we need to be able to separate ourselves from the narrative we’ve known as children and be able to direct ourselves away from the “savage” and “wild” imagery that Native Americans have been associated with for so long.

The first time I became more perceptive and aware of how Native Americans have been portrayed in a wild manner was from the media. Films such as Disney’s ‘Pocahontas’, in which Pocahontas was depicted wearing historically inaccurate/revealing clothing and portrayed as “exotic” in the eyes of a white settler named John Smith and ‘Peter Pan’, where the fictional Piccaninny tribe, depicted the exaggerated stereotypes of Native Americans and particularly in the scene where the song, “What Made The Red Man Red?, was displayed--the tribe was shown to have bright red skin, dancing nonsensically around campfires, and grotesque features. The ethnic slur has been prevalent, not just in films, but in sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins, and even food brands. It’s so prevalent, yet the history of the slur isn’t known to be “a bounty put on Native Americans’ heads to effectively exterminate the indigenous peoples as a result of colonialism”. The amount of cultural appropriation of Native Americans through Halloween costumes is astonishing-- from headdresses to markings, only to wear for a day, and ignore the culture as a whole. In order to address these stereotypes, we need to see beyond their image as a marginalized group and be willing to tell people about the history of Native Americans instead of addressing just the ‘what’. Instead of simply telling people they can’t wear Native American costumes, we need to tell them why as well. I agree with @wisteria that from searching up Native Americans, all one can see are black-and-white photos of the past and nothing of the culture of Native Americans themselves. But here we are in the present, where we need to recognize that many Native American groups are still here and telling their stories, bringing them into light. We need to listen to those voices and understand that they are beyond their sufferings.

Today, Native Americans are revealing their stories, but are often ignored. From the foster care system in order to “civilize” Native American children through boarding schools, forced sterilization of Native American women, and the forced migration of several tribes, they are still facing the repercussions of the past and most importantly, now. Reading Erin Blakemore’s article on how Native American women were sterilized without informed consent, it shocks me how as a result of the perception at the time (60s, 70s) that Native Americans were “socially defective”, the IHS decided to take an unethical stance of purposefully removing the women’s fallopian tubes so they couldn’t get pregnant, effectively causing birth rates to be so low. Especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more Native Americans are suffering as a result of lack of accessibility to healthcare and quality food within their communities and dying at astonishing rates, yet there is significant lack of action from the government to offer resources. Watching Dawnland in class made me realize that as those kids grew up to become adults, they believed that there was a loss of culture in their lives that they couldn’t get back-- a loss of identity from being torn apart from their families.

To become allies to Native Americans, as Americans, we need to understand the full depth of the consequences they had to suffer from the beginning of Columbus’ arrival to our present, where there is a significant gap between whites and indigenous peoples and the white savior narrative is being taught. Education in this aspect, matters. In addition to reforming the falsified history lessons for schools, Dawnland also makes aware the voices of Native Americans, which are extremely significant for our understanding of what they are going through now. As allies, we have to be willing to, as BlueWhale24 said, respect the identities of those who are Native American, and amplify their stories when they don’t have the opportunity to do so. We are much more than what our past has done to the Native Americans, so we need to establish more platforms in which we can celebrate their culture in a respectful manner, provide them more resources with funding, petition for the government to address their issues or provide resources which are of better quality, and most importantly, making their voices known and educating ourselves of the uncensored history.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

making amends

It is truly frightening how well discrimination against Indigenous peoples has weaved itself into the frameworks of our society. Centuries of slaughter and displacement has essentially been wiped from the minds of the American public; in place of crude imagery that is plastered all over what we consume---from food products as mundane as butter to sports teams who blatantly use racial slurs as marketing. These stereotypes perpetuated in our society have really made us forget about the continued oppression of Native Americans in this country.

It is vital that we as a country make amends and apologize to Indigenous peoples in this country. A lot of this ignorance stems from a lack of understanding and accurate information about this country’s history with Native Americans. For example, before this year I knew little to nothing about Native Americans’ experiences in this country, like the history of modern eugenics and the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 1970s. In Erin Blackmore’s article, she writes on this topic and details how 25-50% of Native American women were forced into sterilization and how harmful stereotypes surrounding birth control and Native American women perpetuated this wrongful practice ( “American Indian and other minority women had the intelligence to use other methods of birth control effectively”).

The United States needs to acknowledge the struggles that they have imposed on Native Americans and provide outlets to educate the American public on this part of our history. Native Americans still face inequality and discrimination to this day; since covid-19 Native peoples have had a higher death rate than their white counterparts (2.8 times more likely). This rate can definitely be attributed to the lack of resources for nutritious food or affordable housing; which leads to a majority of Native Americans having preexisting health conditions. As mentioned before, the lack of general knowledge of Native American’s treatment by our country is appalling and must be addressed; this is the first step to make amends and address the misconceptions that our media perpetuates.
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