Readings (choose at least 3 to read from the following list):
Claudio Vaunt, “The invasion of America,” Aeon, January 2015.
Philip de Loria, “The Invention of Thanksgiving,” The New Yorker, November 18, 2019.
Dennis Zotigh “Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?” Smithsonian Magazine, November 26, 2016.
Erin Blackmore, “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women,” JStor Daily, August 25, 2016.
Tristan Ahtone, “Native Americans are recasting views of indigenous life,” National Geographic, December 2018.
Slide show to go with this article:
Carolyn Smith-Morris, “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” Cultural Survival, March 6, 2020.
Ezra Rosser, “Trump and the Native American vote,” The Hill, October 14, 2020.
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
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.