posts 1 - 15 of 29
Boston, US
Posts: 205

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.


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, and for coverage of the motives and the legislator behind it, see , 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.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

More Needs To Be Done

The U.S. was not only established on stolen land, but is also currently operating and profiting off of the labor of oppressed minorities. Despite living on land that originally belonged to the indigenous populations of America, little is done to acknowledge the inequities seen in communities of Native American peoples.

To better understand the experiences of Native Americans, I think it would be most beneficial to start the education of Native American history within classrooms. We often only focus on the Eurocentric views when learning about history—the perspective of the oppressors—as a result, the history of natives are often overlooked and misconstrued. In order to move forward as a nation, I believe the removal of offensive branding, sport team names/mascots would be a step in the right direction. The involvement of Native American stereotypes and caricatures in American pop media, will only continue to normalize the misrepresentation of Native peoples. Recognizing the struggles of indigenous populations and listening to their concerns regarding inequality, would be a start in fully confronting the history and experiences of Native American peoples.

Like with Disney’s Pocahontas, the glorification of European settlers is seen throughout most of the film, which in turn gives the wrong impression to its young audience. I remember loving the film when I was younger, completely unaware of the true history behind Pocahontas. Films like these, that paint a distorted perception of Native Americans as “savages” and European colonizers as “heroes”, only instills these offensive stereotypes into its young impressionable audience. Removing logos and names that perpetuate offensive undertones against Native Americans, in addition to proper education regarding the roots of these stereotypes, are necessary in addressing these inaccurate depictions.

Native Americans have been wronged in many ways throughout American history, yet no official apologies have been made in atonement for the atrocities committed. The effects of the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 60s and 70s, and assimilation of Native children into boarding schools, are still felt within tribes today, yet are often left unaddressed. As for amends, acknowledging the inequalities seen on reservations in terms of lack of access to quality food and healthcare, along with inadequate housing, would be a start to a solution. Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Native Americans in the Dakotas are disproportionately affected by the virus, due to lack of concern and action by the governors. Even with extra precautions, there is a high rate of underlying health problems amongst Native Americans, therefore making them more susceptible to the virus. As mentioned in the article, Native Americans Are Afraid, Hard-Hit As Coronavirus Spikes In The Great Plains, “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”. Addressing the discernible disparities seen in the statistics in regards to Native Americans, especially during a pandemic, wouldn’t completely make up for the arduous treatment they have endured, but it would at least show the continued efforts to assess these injustices.

Native American women are 10 times more likely to be murdered or sexually assaulted in certain counties, yet limited attention is brought to this crisis. Recurrently, the lives of Native Americans are disregarded and undervalued. In order to become effective allies to Native peoples, we need to start by educating ourselves on the history and importance of Native Americans within our nation. Keeping persistent pressure on legislators to make reforms that support Tribal law enforcements (in terms of the missing Native American women), and offering resources that support Native peoples. Overall, uplifting the unheard voices of Native Americans will aid us in building an integrated nation with Native peoples.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 17

Americans have to be better educated about the experiences of Native peoples in this country

I think one of the most important things to do moving forward in order to better understand and confront the history of Native peoples’ experience, is to educate non-Native people. Starting with children, I think as early as kids are being taught about Thanksgiving, they should be taught about the original inhabitants of the land they live on. In higher grades and secondary education, curriculums should move away from more Eurocentric views on history, especially in US history classes, and they should instead center it around the correct and accurate history of the Native peoples. And for people already out of the education system, they need to educate themselves and correct any inaccurate histories they learned before. In the article “The Invasion of America”, Claudio Saunt encourages a “more inclusive history of the US that places the dispossession of native peoples at its centre”. Saunt also writes

“But perhaps the best reason is that it is more faithful to the past. I teach in the state of Georgia, where the legislature mandates that graduates of its public universities fulfill a US history requirement, a law born of the belief that an informed populace is essential to democracy. Good history makes for good citizens. A history that glosses over the conquest of the continent is partial, in both senses of the word. It misleads people about the past and misinforms their debates about the present. In charting a course for the future, Americans would do well to put the dispossession of native peoples back on the map.”

I think this quote explains this point very well because if we want people to better understand the experiences of Native peoples in this country, it needs to start with education.

Although it’s extremely important to teach about the atrocities that the settlers and after, the US government, committed against Native peoples, I agree with what Ms. Freeman said in class the other day that it is equally important to lift up the achievements of Native communities. An example is the work Madeline Sayet is doing in lifting up Indigenous voices and histories in theater. But non-Natives who have the privilege to, should also be lifting up Native voices.

There should be more representation: people with power should give larger platforms to Native leaders, educators, and people in general. This means more Native people in government and leadership positions, and places where people have impact.

To answer this question: How do we address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are? The fact is that some Native people are still being murdered for who they are - in the case of #MMIW - Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, legislative action needs to happen to ensure Indigenous women and girls are protected. A quote from the article “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” says:

“The 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which had largely failed to protect Native women, was reauthorized in 2013 to give Tribes jurisdiction over domestic-violence cases committed against Native Americans on Tribal lands. This meant Tribal courts could prosecute non-Native suspects in domestic-violence cases. But a new provision proposed in the 2019 reauthorization would have closed “the boyfriend loophole” even further by extending Tribal jurisdiction to include perpetrators of sexual violence and stalking. That reauthorization failed in the Senate last April, over largely Republican and National Rifle Association opposition to provisions barring stalkers and abusive partners from buying guns.”

I think this last sentence just demonstrates a failure of the US government, that this new provision wasn’t passed because the NRA didn’t want stalkers and abusive partners to be barred from buying guns, so they opposed this law that would have provided more protection to Native women and girls. The fact that the NRA holds this power and influence and that they can block a provision like this is just awful.

@yelloworchids wrote "Addressing the discernible disparities seen in the statistics in regards to Native Americans, especially during a pandemic, wouldn’t completely make up for the arduous treatment they have endured, but it would at least show the continued efforts to assess these injustices." I agree with this and that would be a concrete action: right now the government needs to do more to stop the spread of coronavirus, which is hitting Native communities harder in part because of pre-existing injustices.
West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

We Have Work To Do

Since the founding of the United States, we have always ignored the Native Americans and in many cases, kicked them out of their homelands in examples such as the Trail of Tears. Even today, the general America peoples continue to not bother informing ourselves well on their pasts and what pain we caused the Natives.

Overall, we have done a poor job on trying to understand the pasts of the Native Americans, but it is not too late to learn about them. One thing we could do to help educate the public is that we could offer a course that focuses only on the Native American past. In general, schools primarily focus on generic subjects like algebra or english, and in history we usually don't end up reaching the topic of America as the school year will come to a close. By offering a Native American history course, we can help grow our knowledge on what we have caused and learn to respect the Natives better for their painful endurance of our own government.

As for stereotypes, we have passed down the nickname of the "Indian" and the idea that Natives are always these shirtless people who have markings, wear headbands with feathers, and live in teepees. However, this is not the case for Natives today as they are just like us living in houses with a computer and/or a tv. Really they now live a similar lifestyle to the typical American, and popular things such as sports teams (as mentioned in class) retain these stereotypes. For example, before renaming to the Washington Football team this year, Washington's team was named the Redskins which is a provocative name for Native American. Another example is the Cleveland Indians as the name Indian became a nickname when Columbus mistakenly identified the natives as the Indians from Asia. However, remaining offensive sports teams is just the beginning as I know we can do more to help make up for the native's pasts.

As for apologies and acknowledging the murders of past natives, besides the renaming of Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, our government has done very little to compensate for the mistakes we have made to many past indigenous lives. However, a start to make up for all of the wrongs we have done to them would be to give free health care to the natives in need, offer free education and maybe even create a scholarship for natives only, and lastly to help restore their destroyed reservations. Moreover this is just the beginning of what we can do as Americans to help acknowledge Native Americans and what we have done to them in the past and there is much work that we can achieve to add the past of the natives into the common American's knowledge of history.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

We will never be able to make up for the past, but we are able to help the present and fix the future

To better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation, we need to provide accurate historical details and information as opposed to the misinformation and that is currently being spread in the education system and misleading young and impressionable children. The media also needs to shift away from their generally eurocentric viewpoint and consider all of the facts. Native Americans need to stop being depicted in a stereotypical fashion. People that do not attempt to educate themselves are only familiar with the eurocentric stories and stereotypes. They do not know or do not want to admit those aren’t accurate.

Apologizing simply is not enough to even begin to make up for the wrongdoings that they have experienced. An acceptable starting point would include helping stop or lessen the effects of the past and current wrongdoings. The stereotypes and misconceptions, such as the logos and names of sports teams, the depictions in cartoons and movies, and so many more have been passed down among non-Native Americans. These need to be addressed. There must be accurate representations of Native American culture and history in the media and in the education system.

A major event that must be addressed is the false and inaccurate story of Thanksgiving. Philip de Loria addresses in “The Invention of Thanksgiving,” how the story of intercultural harmony is simply not true. The English settlers murdered and cheated the Native people out of their lives and land. The settlers played divide and conquer, murdered, and pressured the Natives using alliance politics and debt in order to gain land. They also intentionally infected the Native population with diseases. Despite the resistance and efforts of the Native Americans, a great number of their population was lost.

There are 3.797 million square miles of land in the United States. Today, Native American reservations have a total area of 87,800 square miles. Many of their homes are not in ideal conditions. Poverty is rampant on many reservations. The Native Americans in the United States have the highest rate of poverty of any racial group. There are also high rates of crime, suicide, alcoholism and sexual abuse. Child abuse is 2 times the national average. As discussed in “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” there is a large number of women and girls that go missing or are murdered. Native American women report being raped 2.5 times the national average. That is not even including all of the unreported rapes.

The government should drastically increase their property rights. Owning land is a key part of building wealth and equity. This first step will create a positive chain reaction throughout their community. The government also needs to increase the funding for the schools, health and human services, and infrastructure on the reservation.

The actions of the settlers years ago are still being felt today. Our inability to help the Native Americans combat the problems we created is causing them to continue to suffer. It is not only the forced assimilation and mass murder that happened in the past that results in the events in Native American communities. It is the actions of current day Americans and the federal government too.

All Americans can become allies so that Native Americans become fully integrated members of this society. Americans can do this by giving the Native Americans respect and ceasing to spread stereotypes. Americans also need to acknowledge their wrongdoings and educate themselves.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Call it for what it is: Genocide

There is no question that the Native American people have been extremely wronged and stripped of their lives and rights the last hundreds of years. Too many times their history is swept under the rug and rewritten by the colonizer perspective. This needs to change if we want to be able to fully understand and commemorate the true Native American history.

Moving forward, to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation we must learn about the history, even as ugly and dehumanizing it is. Just like George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In this case, there is nothing to repeat, because the oppression and injustice has never ceased to exist. A first step to fully confronting this history is to embed it into the school system’s curriculums. Ever since we are little we are taught about the “great” Columbus and how he “discovered” America and “befriended” the native people. This false and glorifying narrative needs to end. Never once in elementary or middle school do I remember being told what REALLY happened throughout all these years.

Just like Madeline Sayet emphasizes, sharing the stories from all different Native American narratives would allow for the building of empathy and learning. Many people assume and put all Native Americans into one bucket and forget that there is such an immense diversity in cultures and tribes and personal experiences. This would also help to debunk many of the stereotypes, misperceptions and twistory that has been down among non-Native Americans . Along with this, the stories and narratives that non Native people are taught should come FROM Native peoples. We need to stop allowing the voices of oppressed people to be overcome by the voices of the oppressors.

I think that reparations should be given to Native American people. I believe the best reparations would be free college as well as funding to the reservations. In the article on Huffpost about the coronavirus, it said that so many tribal reservations are food deserts. Because of this, many native Americans suffer from medical problems. Having more access to food and medical care would really help their communities. As for apologies, the United States needs to really recognize that what they did was a genocide. No one likes to call it that, but it needs to be admitted and criticized for any real apologies to happen. Another amendment should be giving recognition to the native lands that we all live on. Land acknowledgments are not enough, oil companies need to stop drilling through native-owned land, and if a tribe tries to get back their land, it should be given.

The fact that Native people are murdered and that Native women are assaulted or go missing at such high numbers is horrendous. It’s also not talked about enough. We as a country are not protecting Native Americans if (according to the article on cultural survival), Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience violent crimes and 2 times more likely to experience rape/sexual assault. They state in the same article that “legislative reform to support tribal law enforcement and governments is critical to resolving the MMIW crisis.” Many times these types of cases are disregarded by the police, therefore the authority from the tribes should be able to have less restrictions.

All Americans can become allies to Native Americans through really educating themselves on the history and culture of different Native American tribes, from them themselves. They need to also empower the voices of Native American people and use their privilege to help, rather than speak over them or simply silence them. Some concrete actions we need to take to move forward is definitely to implement some changes in the school system, and un-white wash it. We also need to put in laws about tribal law enforcement, as well as actually pay attention to the missing women rather than throw it under the rug. We must learn about who’s land we are living on and give back the lands that are rightfully theirs.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

Stop sugarcoating it..Its a genocide

Our nation needs to have a real and continuous conversation in relation to indigenous people in America. The white-washed and insufficient history taught by the majority of the country has led to generations of misinformation and misconceptions. As Claudio Straight mentioned, it is impossible to move forward if we are neve taught the truth. In all the time between middle and high school, there has been ample opportunity to engage in pointed conversations and lessons regarding the indigenous genocide but, somehow this history goes unspoken of, and we are left with a populace that regards Columbus and other genocidal figures as heroes.

In all honesty if the true history were to be taught, people will understand that indigenous people were targeted for who they are since it is well documented. In Andrew Jackson’s statement to congress on the Indian Removal Act, which is littered with derogatory and discriminatory slurs against natives, he says,

“ What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization and religion?”

The word savage has too often been used to justify horrors against indigenous people and portray genocidal leaders as saviors protecting the nation from these “savages''. When there is a history and pattern of using these justifications there can be no doubt that they were targeted not for the land they occupied but, their alleged threat to a White Americans and the country they wanted to build for themselves.

There are an endless amount of abuses enacted against native americans that include the stealing of land, forced sterilization, forced removal and deportation, and targeted murders. Due to the sheer immensity of these tragedies and abuses there can not be one solution to account for the amends needed. The start to a positive momentum of change and remedies can start with more comprehensive native history lessons and the return of portions of land. Ridiculous practices like blood quantum should be removed, no other region of the world uses blood to dictate what benefits one should receive from the government. This practice only seeks to segregate native americans and prevent them from mingling with people outside of their reservation for fear of loss of benefits. There needs to be a complete overhaul of protections for indigenous people across state borders and reservations to stop or drastically slow the murders and kidnappings of indigenous women. If there were any region of the US that saw a rise of missing “white Americans' ' there would be federal intervention, investigations, and protections put into place, but since this epidemic is impacting indigenous women they are too often overlooked and ignored (as Carolyn Smith-Morris addressed in her article). In order to create a nation where natives are a part of our society and not treated as an “other” we must all work together to advocate for their lives and well-being and stop the antiquated tradition of silencing them that started generations before us.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

Reparations for Indigenous People

Originally posted by madagascar on December 15, 2020 19:09

I think that reparations should be given to Native American people. I believe the best reparations would be free college as well as funding to the reservations. In the article on Huffpost about the coronavirus, it said that so many tribal reservations are food deserts. Because of this, many native Americans suffer from medical problems. Having more access to food and medical care would really help their communities. As for apologies, the United States needs to really recognize that what they did was a genocide. No one likes to call it that, but it needs to be admitted and criticized for any real apologies to happen. Another amendment should be giving recognition to the native lands that we all live on. Land acknowledgments are not enough, oil companies need to stop drilling through native-owned land, and if a tribe tries to get back their land, it should be given.

The fact that Native people are murdered and that Native women are assaulted or go missing at such high numbers is horrendous. It’s also not talked about enough. We as a country are not protecting Native Americans if (according to the article on cultural survival), Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience violent crimes and 2 times more likely to experience rape/sexual assault. They state in the same article that “legislative reform to support tribal law enforcement and governments is critical to resolving the MMIW crisis.” Many times these types of cases are disregarded by the police, therefore the authority from the tribes should be able to have less restrictions.

I 100% agree that there should be reparations for Native Americans and that conversation should be brought up more often. The enitrety of the United States consists of stolen land that was either bought and sold by people who never lived here, or manipulated out of the hands of natives. Since we are all on stolen land and the small percentage of ingenous people are left to a few reservations, the benfits of the economy built off of stolen land should be given back to natives. If they had owned this land there would be no agricultural industry nor expansive meat industry because those exist on large portions of this stolen land. America has a history of theft and racism that started with the removal and slaughter of indigenous people and then extended to slavery and mistreatment/abuses of African-Americans. Too many died in the making of our "great" nation for us to not give them the reparations they deserve.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Acknowledging our Past and Making Changes

The story of how America was “discovered” has become so twisted throughout the years and has buried the complex history of the Native Americans. As we’ve learned, history is typically told from the victor’s point of view and we’ve been forced to learn from that standpoint for far too long. As a result, all students and people should learn history from all perspectives and not just one. Textbooks and curricula should discuss each group equally so that we are exposed to the ugly reality of our history and start by including the real past of the Native Americans. Furthermore, the racist depictions of the Native people that are seen in our sports teams and even grocery items should be erased. For instance, as we’ve discussed in class, the Cleveland Indians is one of the many racist sports teams names but they have decided to drop their Indian mascot and team name in recent times. It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long but this should serve as an example to many. It’s one way of confronting these misperceptions that are ever so present among non-Native Americans.

Moving forward, the United States government also needs to address the current environment in which Native Americans live in today. In the article by Carolyn Smith-Morris, Native American women and girls are "are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain counties in the United States." It’s quite shocking that I’ve never heard about this until I’ve read the article. Such cases like these which incite fear into the Native Americans living in the U.S. need to be widely acknowledged by our government if these rates should be stopped. Their lack of coverage only strengthens the fact that our government doesn’t care about the wellbeing of our Native American population, presumably based on stereotypes which have been perpetuated throughout our history. We must incorporate laws to stop these murders and assaults and not be content with such cases being dismissed. In order to become allies, we must stop this type of censorship so that the full history of the Native people is not buried under ours and constantly work on keeping their culture alive.

As for the apologies and amends we need to make, they are absolutely needed and should be given. Even if they are not as effective as we’d wish them to be, it’s a beginning part in admitting our horrific past. Not only did white colonists seize their land, they uprooted their way of existence and took countless lives, not to mention the forced sterilization that Native women had to suffer. Just for that, an apology should be issued. In addition to that, in an article by The Hill, President Trump issued a “Proclamation on Columbus Day 2020” which commends Christopher Columbus as a “great hero” and “intrepid Italian”. Trump has also consistently used Pocahontas as a racial slur against a political rival. His very actions also should issue an immediate apology. His complete disregard for the Native Americans and continuous desire to paint Columbus as the savior are steps in the complete opposite direction we need to take. Albeit, there is no way one nation can apologize for a genocide of a people but we can at least acknowledge our wrongs and start honoring the right figures.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Misrepresented, Misunderstood.

Native Americans have it rough, to say the least. For the past hundreds of years, they have suffered under the imposing powers of colonialism, which ripped away billions of acres of land from their possession. With very little land left to be taken away, the Native population has unfortunately fallen under the radar. To many Americans and establishments today—including the Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Latin School—these tribes and their sacred land were merely pawns in our American game of chess. But that was hundreds of years ago, right? And therefore modern-day Natives aren’t suffering anymore, right? It’s shameful how we as a nation have buried the history of our Natives, how we as a nation have failed to confront the routes we took to get where we are today. The land we occupy. The oil we use. The holidays we celebrate. This is an atrocity.

In order to better understand the experience of Native Americans, we ought to get rid of the ideas that European colonizers were good people who treated Native Americans fairly. That ideology has been ingrained in the minds of preschoolers, who have to carry on that misconception until taught otherwise. Why not just skip to the truth? I agree with @muumihalit: “starting with children, I think as early as kids are being taught about Thanksgiving, they should be taught about the original inhabitants of the land they live on.” Thanksgiving is such a controversial topic regarding Native American treatment, as millions of Americans are still under the impression that the relationship between Natives and colonizers was completely amicable. When we integrate sugar-coated partial-truths into our education system, we automatically set up a misleading representation of what actually happened to our Native populations.

There is no doubt, however, that the blatant truth is grueling and questionably unsuitable for younger minds, but that is quite honestly the point. The story of Native Americans was not meant to be summed up in cloying words and turkey drawings. There is a lot more in regard to their lives—and deaths—to unfold; Jane Lawrence’s article details the “little-known history of the forced sterilization of Native American women,” when 1 in 4 Native women endured these procedures between 1960-1970. This treatment was inhumane. It was deceitful. It was violating. Yet nobody cared. Nobody cared enough to recognize this truth that occurred only 50-60 years ago. Those women could still be alive today, yet where are their stories being shared? This is why we need to spread awareness about Native American stories. About their suffering, their history, and their perspective. About their undeserved, forgotten murders. If we start replacing our sugar-coated curriculum with more truths, perhaps more people will pay heed to the suppressed adversities that Natives face today.

As Native Americans are misunderstood, they have also become very misrepresented. Many people view them as almost barbaric and unruly. We can see this within our sports games; teams such as the Cleveland Indians and Redskins are only a few that use Native American iconography as their mascot. This is disrespectful and ironic; would anyone consider using a White/Black/Asian person as their mascot? Why would it be okay to use a Native person, then? Not only that, but the teams have convinced their fans that it is okay to partake in cultural mockery. The Tomahawk chop was denounced by Cherokee members, as it was disrespectful. Nevertheless, fans still partake in that “celebratory act” because they are ignorant. Because sports are such a gargantuan part of American culture, we ought to rethink our usage and meaning behind the Native mascots. The Cleveland Indians have changed their logo and plan to change their name, too. Many dissent this decision for the sake of preserving tradition, but it is necessary. The Native community never asked to be misrepresented in American sports/games. They never asked to be associated with disrespectful and barbaric depictions within stadiums. Thus, in order to address these misconceptions and stereotypes, we could start with the sports teams and their die-hard fans who rep. the culture and faces that do not belong to them.

There are countless apologies that we need to make to the Native communities. We could start with land acknowledgements, which BLS is presently working on. But those won’t prompt widespread change. A bigger stride toward understanding the Native community is by eliminating Columbus day as a whole and recognizing it as Indigenous People’s Day. Within Ezra Rosser’s article, Trump referred to Columbus as a “great Italian,” “legendary figure,” and an “intrepid hero.” On the flipside, he called opposers of Columbus Day “radical activists” and “extremists.” There is clearly work that needs to be done. The president of the US was spreading this type of biased information and making out Native communities (and their allies) to be radicals. No group deserves to be invalidated and targeted in that manner—especially by the country’s figurehead. Trump’s words only exacerbated the poor treatment of Natives, so they deserve an apology. A good start would be nationally recognizing Columbus’s wrongdoings, taking down his statues, and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day in its entirety.

In order for Americans to better understand Natives, it is imperative that we educate ourselves about their truths. But that shouldn't be all. Native populations are disproportionately suffering to this day. In silence. According to Ruiz-Grossman’s article, “Native Americans have disproportionately high rates of preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, which are linked to ongoing inequities, like a lack of access to quality food and health care.” Because many tribes are labeled “food deserts,” they are stuck in a cyclical environment of poor health and health services. Thus, it is our duty as Americans to lend a helping hand to Natives, whether it be food/water donations, volunteering, offering more access to healthcare services, and so forth. We need to be paying more attention to our Native communities before it is too late. They have already suffered enough; there is no reason why we should be prolonging it.

Earl Grey Tea
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Our Country Needs a New History Textbook

Much like the author of the Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving? article, I also remember dressing up and doing a little play about Thanksgiving in elementary school. I remember how on the bigger stage we had people dressed up as food (turkey, potatoes, bread) who did the acting, and then there was a row of chairs below the stage with some kids dressed up as “Indians,” with the stereotypical feather hats made out of paper, ragged clothing, and spears. Nobody wanted to be assigned an Indian because their only job was to sit there. I can think back on other examples in my childhood that now make me shake my head, whether that be playing “Cowboys and Indians” during recess or watching Disney movies. But I can’t help thinking about this Thanksgiving play we did- it seemed like the Indians were just put there as a prop to add to that Thanksgiving vibe with no effort at all made to honor them. It ticks me off a little bit that some teachers think they’re helping young students or protecting childrens’ innocence by going with the bogus narrative that somehow when Europeans came here, Native Americans happily welcomed them and gave up some land and everybody was friends. At least that’s what I got from my early education.

We definitely need to change the way we educate young children in our country so they don’t have to constantly unlearn things as they grow older to be better people. Children are fully capable of being woke, and so individual teachers, along with school curriculums, should stop acting like kids don’t deserve to be taught the rough parts of history. To confront the history of the Native American experience in this country, we should abandon the Eurocentric perspective that we’re often taught, as @yelloworchids and @muumihalit mentioned. I mean imagine how different it would be if the Europeans were the ones overlooked and misrepresented to their disadvantage, or rather if they simply stood in the spotlight less often to make room for the equally important contributions by Native Americas. Native American educators should be valued and welcomed for this reason.

We need to call out the stereotypes and misperceptions of Native Americans passed down among non-Native Americans. These are all over the places including sports logos and team names and food products. By changing the name of an offensive sports team like the Redskins for example, the public becomes aware of the history behind the name. Things like these will be a step in the right direction to getting rid of harmful stereotypes while also being a way to educate the public.

Although an official apology to Native Americans by the government would be really great, an apology alone would only do so much. Native Americans today are more likely to live in food deserts, lack affordable housing, and lack sufficient healthcare. They’re 5.3 times more likely than average to be hospitalized from COVID, even though they take more precautions than your average American. We should be helping out reservations that belong to Native peoples instead of building a pipeline through them. Build more hospitals near the reservations and provide better healthcare. Build affordable housing and provide easier access to healthy food.

The government should also be having more legislative responses to the fact that Native American women are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain U.S. counties. Tribes and state governments should have more power to deal with these violent crimes instead of just the federal government.

Some concrete actions we can take to move forward and build a nation with Native peoples is celebrating their history on important dates and making sure their voices are heard as much as anybody else’s. Trump vigorously defends Columbus Day because Columbus “built the single-greatest nation the world has ever seen.” There is obviously harm in Trump’s implication that honoring Native Americans over Columbus would somehow send our country tumbling down and force us to forfeit our spot as the greatest nation in history. We should celebrate Columbus Day instead as Indigenous People’s Day, Black Friday as Native American Heritage Day, and we should make clear the history behind Thanksgiving. I also definitely agree with @yelloworchids again that “Keeping persistent pressure on legislators to make reforms that support Tribal law enforcements (in terms of the missing Native American women), and offering resources that support Native peoples” are among some of the things we can do to lift up Native Americans and heal as a nation.

Edit after screening of Dawnland: In the film, one really important takeaway is that whites and Native Americans can’t repair everything among themselves by sitting down and talking for an hour. In the film, the white people questioned the word reconciliation in the “Truth and Reconciliation Committee,” wondering after only a short period of time why they hadn’t restored friendly relations with the Native Americans there. What they didn’t understand and what everybody needs to understand going forward is that the healing process takes a long time and there is no possible way to heal without running into conflicts and arguments. There was another point where the white people were asking how they could be allies if they weren’t allowed to participate in a conversation going on in another room. It’s good that this was confronted because white people shouldn’t always be asking for things to do and depending on Native Americans to guide them. Simply being an ally isn’t something white people should have to be convinced into; that should be the default.

The film also highlighted the Indian boarding schools and the fact that native children today are three times more likely than whites to be in foster care nationwide. This is something we need to address across the country because native families should not be judged with white middle class standards and native children should not be separated from their parents so often. Studying the history behind the boarding schools is really important. Sending children thousands of miles away to an institution, forcing them to cut their hair, not allowing them to go home, making them take off their clothes, not even allowing them to speak their own language, and converting them from “barbarism” to “civilization” really is cultural genocide and should be recognized that way.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

A Long Way to Go

Squanto, the famous Native American from the story of the first Thanksgiving, was actually kidnapped and sold into slavery in Europe. When he finally reached home, his friends and family had been killed by plagues and diseases. This was a very common story in the 17th century. Diseases brought by Europeans spread rapidly and wiped out huge amounts of Native Americans. Without Squanto, the Pilgrims would have all died. In return, settlers killed or enslaved hundreds of natives.

I do not agree that the USA was “stolen” from the Natives. It was conquered and bought. All land in the world has been fought over but that does not mean that all land has been stolen. It’s the way of the world that stronger and more powerful groups take things from smaller and less able groups. The Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, and Kansas City Chiefs are all based on racist stereotypes, especially the tomahawk chop. I support the changing of those team names. One thing that I do not agree with is the removal of the Land O’ Lakes woman. She was actually redesigned in the 1950s to accurately represent Ojibwe styles.

These injustices continue to this day. Native Americans are almost 3 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white citizens. It is good that reservation leaders have the power to impose and enforce mask mandates. But natives do not have access to high-quality healthcare. They lack the preventative care that is so important. This leads to many underlying conditions to go overlooked and that increases the chance of death from the coronavirus. Many Native Americans live in “food deserts” where healthy foods are much more difficult to access. Many reservations are small so affordable housing is hard to find. This leads to many people living in close proximity to each other. That means that diseases quickly spread among families. North and South Dakota both have problems limiting the number of cases. Test results are very slow which leads to people exposing others to COVID without knowing. Casinos were hit especially hard and many workers were laid off. This means that people will leave the reservation to find jobs and could bring back coronavirus.

I believe that the US government should fund programs that support traditional native culture. This would provide jobs and help undo the effects of mandatory Native Boarding Schools, where their culture was almost wiped out. I also believe that the government should try to provide better healthcare on reservations, as healthcare is a huge problem there. As individuals, we have to face our biases and try to stop spreading hateful stereotypes. We need to understand that Native Americans are just like us and they face severe consequences just for being themselves. We have to promote businesses top open on or near reservations to provide jobs and this will allow for better housing and healthcare.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Stop Erasing Native History and Culture

For far too long we have erased both Native culture and our horrific history of attempting to completely erase indigenous peoples. In order to better understand the experience of Native Americans we need to learn from their perspectives and stop using stereotypes as the basis for our knowledge of their culture. In order to confront the history of the Native American experience in this country we need to stop sugarcoating the truth and we need to make sure that learning about the experiences of indigenous peoples in our country becomes a crucial part of our history classes.

The best way to address the stereotypes, misconceptions, and “twistory” about Native peoples in this country is by uncovering and learning about the actual history and culture of indigenous peoples in this nation. To address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are, we need to refer to it as it was, which is genocide. We need to stop glorifying our past actions and that starts with learning about the truth.This starts with things such as confronting the truth about Columbus or Thanksgiving and teaching about the past that we inherit. We should also teach how recent many of these events are/were. We should teach how Native children were forcibly removed from their homes, and the cultural genocide that followed and we heard about in the documentary Dawnland. Not only should we teach about the horrifying history of our country's relationship with indigenous peoples, but we should also uplift Native culture and voices. Along with this we also need to focus on removing these stereotypes from things such as sports teams and movies and question other stereotypes that we come across. Learning about where many of the stereotypes come from is eye-opening and if we learn the history behind them they will become less and less prevalent.

To make amends we need to first acknowledge whose land we are living on. As Claudio Saunt says, “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”. Our nation is constantly debating how to control “illegal” immigration, when the truth is we were illegal immigrants as well.

We need to also draw attention to the lives of Native Americans in our countries today. We need to include Native peoples in places of leadership and this also includes addressing the disparities that exist today. For example, today Native communities are facing a higher rate of Covid-19 infections and Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths than the rates of white infections. This is in part due to health disparities. Healthcare on many reservations is lacking resources and many reservations are considered food deserts, which causes for more pre-existing conditions. Affordable housing is also lacking, causing individuals to live in crowded living conditions. We also need to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, an ongoing crisis that is still barely being discussed. Support and legislative reform is necessary, and it is very problematic that this is still often being ignored.

All Americans can become allies to Native peoples by uplifting Native voices and being dedicated to learning about the experiences of Native peoples in this country. To move forward and build a nation with Native peoples we can begin with things such as land acknowledgements. We can begin to celebrate indigenous culture and achievements instead of celebrating people such as Christopher Columbus. We can also provide funding and aid to Native communities and push for greater representation. Above all we can work to stop erasing Native communities, their culture, and the history of our relationship with the Indigenous peoples of this country.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

It is time for the Truth

I believe that there should be a platform for Native Americans to speak their minds. Most Americans only know the history of Native Americans from what they are taught at school. There needs to be more conversations between Native Americans and others in order to educate those who do not understand the truth behind colonialism and the removal of Native Americans. As Claudio Saunt mentioned, Native Americans were mostly wiped out during the 19th century, but in schools, those massacres are not as readily talked about as the atrocities of Europe in the 20th century. Students should get to know the real history rather than a white-washed version which paints a completely different picture. As a result, people have misguided perceptions and perspectives of the Native tribes.

Misconceptions about non-Native Americans are passed down in schools even to Native Americans. Dennis Zotigh points out how elementary school kids design indigenious costumes and crafts for Thanksgiving which in reality mock Native Americans and do not represent how they are. Students are taught about the reality of the “First Thanksgiving'' and what happened afterwards. Misconceptions are also passed down in sports teams and food logos. People who watch sports and eat foods with “Native American-inspired logos'' start associating such with Native Americans when in reality those are false stereotypes.

When addressing what really happened to Native Americans, it should be called a genocide because that is what it is. There should not be any sugarcoating when it comes to this topic. Mass murder of Native Americans was not an accident and was not something that was needed to be done, so it should not be taught as such. Native American women were forcefully sterilized without their knowledge, which was done to reduce their population thus lowering their political power in America. The harm done towards Native Americans is cruel and unjustifiable.

The government should be doing more to help Native Americans. They are at a disportionate disadvantage with regards to education, health care and much more. I agree with @madagascar that reparations should be offered to Native Americans, such as free health care and free college education. Amidst the pandemic, Native Americans are being infected at a rate 3.5 times higher and a 14.9% higher morbidity compared to others. The government should provide them with free testing and more protection such as masks and other supplies. The treaties that the government signed should be honored to their full extent and there should not be any way around giving Native Americans less than what was agreed upon.

Americans can become allies through educating themselves and empowering Native Americans. Americans should use their privilege to spread the voices and experiences of Native Americans. As a nation, we need to implement more laws that benefit our people, especially Native Americans, rather than corporations. We need to listen to what Native Americans want rather than what we think they need or want. Like mentioned in the film, being an ally is also knowing when to step back. Native Americans are not entitled to tell you their experiences and stories to make you feel welcomed and comfortable.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

We Have To Do Better

The United States was built off of minorities and continues to profit off of the labor of minorities. It is founded on racism - the Constitution claimed to establish the human rights of “all people” when in reality it only applied to white men who probably had property. Despite all of this, the struggles and inequalities that minorities, especially the indigeneous people here, are widely overlooked by the government and even the general public.

So I believe that we need to heavily modify our curriculum, specifically the history curriculum, in the education system in order to better understand the experiences of Native Americans. We cannot understand them if we are continuously taught the sugar-coated versions of Native American history and are taught that the colonizers were the ones who discovered the Americas. History has to be taught by the cold-hard facts and shouldn’t sugar-coat or hide things from students. The massacres (like the ones at Gnadenhutten, Pennsylvania in 1782, Sand Creek, Colorado in 1864, Washita, Oklahoma in 1868, and Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1890), mistreatment, and overall struggles of Native Americans must be taught in order for future generations to be able to understand better their experiences. Since 1980, thousands of Native American women and girls have gone missing. The government still has not taken direct action in this obvious case of human trafficking and possibly hate crime. What baffles me is that these cases were more often than not dismissed by the police “‘with the excuse that ‘runaways always come back.’ Patterns of coroners dodging paperwork and scrawling ‘other’ next to the line titled ‘Race’ and ‘accidental death’ next to ‘C.O.D.’ Patterns of government officials, top to bottom, ignoring practical, sovereignty-first reforms and instead hoarding the kind of power that keeps the crisis alive’” (Smith-Morris Addressing the Epidemic of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls).

From my personal experience on social media, many people seem to believe that they don’t pay taxes and live life luxuriously, while in reality they aren’t even able to exercise their voting rights in some places and have inadequate health care and housing. They are also continuously having their sacred land being stolen and destroyed. For example, in mid-2016, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe staged a massive sit-in for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatened the tribe’s drinking water, historic treaties, and sacred sites.

To address the stereotypes, we must acknowledge the offensive stereotypes and language used to depict the indigenious people and remove these things from brands such as sports teams and mascots and movies such as Pocahontas. There must be strict laws that prohibit anyone from touching Native American land. Even though the entire country was basically stolen by colonizers, the government must either give more land back to their respective owners or better protect the land that they currently have. There also needs to be enforcement of laws that protect the Native people such as making it illegal for police to dismiss missing cases or for coroners being lazy with their work and disrespecting the deceased (I mean, honestly, I can’t believe they are getting paid to discriminate and not do their jobs). I believe that this is the least we can do for Native Americans. We must also allow for Native voices to be heard and support them in any way we can as to amend for the hundreds of years of mistreatment from Americans.

posts 1 - 15 of 29