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: 22

Indigenous People and the United States

I believe that it should be a requirement for students in the United States to learn more about Native American history in school. In Massachusetts at least, high school students have to take a course on United States history, so I see no reason why the history of this country’s Indigenous people should be a mandatory component of this course. People need to learn about the genocide committed against Native peoples, even if it is an incredibly depressing and disturbing subject. Further, I think there should be an emphasis on recognizing local Native history, as in our classes this week when we discussed the Deer Island concentration camp and the interactions between Natives and settlers in Massachusetts. This education also needs to go outside the classroom. Teams with names and mascots that carry harmful stereotypes should change them, regardless of how fans of the team feel. I think there also needs to be a push to include more positive depictions of Indigenous people in the media, as I am hard pressed to think of any live action movie that had a Native protagonist, and such representation could be very impactful for both those represented, and people who need to have their prejudices challenged.

I also think that Natives need to have more of their land back so that they can gain more autonomy. In class we talked about the Dakota pipeline, and how even though the pipe ran through Native lands and polluted their water sources, they were unable to get the pipeline shut down for several years until a federal judge ordered the shutdown just this year. Additionally, as Sarah Ruiz-Grossman wrote, Native Americans have been hard hit by the coronavirus, particularly in North and South Dakota which have had massive spikes due to their governors’ refusal to shut the states down. Even though tribes have imposed stricter rules and curfews, their dependence on stores and jobs outside of reservations make it much easier for infections to spread.

Part of the reason that Natives are so much harder hit by COVID-19 is because food they have received from the government in the past is unhealthy, weakening their health and immune systems. Far higher proportions of Natives live in food deserts, areas where they are over a mile from the nearest grocery store, than the average American.

Another major issue, discussed by Carolyn Smith-Morris, is the horrifying numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women. American Indian and Alaska Native women have far higher risk of experiencing sexual violence, which is almost entirely perpetuated by men from outside their tribes, and the majority of these cases are never investigated. These women deserve protection and justice, and as a country we need to address the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

I found the documentary “Dawnland” to be both incredibly sad and thought-provoking. It humanizes many of the statistics I had read about in other articles, revealing the torture and abuse so many Native children had to endure after being ripped from their families. Further, I was even more saddened by the fact that these abuses happened in states like Maine, which are right nearby. I hadn’t even known that Maine still had a strong Native presence, which I’m glad was a focus of the film in addition to recounting the innumerable challenges faced by Native Americans in the state. I think it shows that we still have a very long way to go, as after the TRC issued its report, people protested the (accurate) descriptor “cultural genocide” for what had taken place. This defensiveness undermines Native attempts at reconciliation and moving forward, and needs to stop so that Natives in Maine and across the country can begin to heal from their collective trauma.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

The Unspoken History of the US and Native Americans

United States history tends to leave out many of the not so pretty parts of our history, including the “encounters” with Native Americans. I found that while listening to the presentation in class and reading the articles I learned many new things that I had never heard about before. It is saddening and surprising that the history of Native Americans, and especially the extremely harmful effects of settler colonialism has been buried under the guise of American supremacy. The harm inflicted on Native Americans by European settlers has lasting effects that cannot fully be repaired. However to even begin to understand the plight of Indigenous Peoples, we must start by educating ourselves and others, and most importantly listening.

Native American history should be taught in schools from a young age. Especially surrounding holidays such as Thanksgiving and Columbus Day, children should be taught the real stories. While I am glad that I am learning about these events now, not everybody has the opportunity to take classes like Facing History, and lessons such as this one should be integrated into every school curriculum. Besides educating ourselves, we need to listen to Native Peoples. Hearing their stories, will not only help us understand the harsh realities of the ongoing discrimination in this country, but it will help us figure out how to move forward.

One thing that we can do, is provide Native communities with the healthcare services that they need. Currently this issue is more pressing than ever since reservations have been greatly affected by COVID-19. There is a “25% positivity rate among Native Americans in the Great Plains” (Huffpost) which is much higher than the rest of the country. One of the causes for this is the lack of COVID response from the Dakota governors. While the reservations have mandated masks, imposed curfews, and taken other precautions, both the North and South Dakota governors have failed to act appropriately. Yet it is the Native population who suffers.

Addressing the stereotypes surrounding Indigineous people is difficult since many of them are deeply ingrained into our society. A good place to start would be changing names and logos of sports teams such as the ‘Redskins,’ the ‘Indians,’ the ‘Chiefs,’ and the ‘Blackhawks.’ Companies with offensive logos need to change, as well as the Massachusetts flag. While it is impossible to make amends for everything that our country has done to Native Americans, from forced sterilization to boarding schools to massacres, we have to start somewhere. Providing resources that they need, returning parts of their land and respecting their culture and traditions are all doable, and should be done. While many of these things need to be done by the government, we all must do our part in educating ourselves and those around us and recognizing the troubling history of our country.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

The Part of U.S. History You Didn't Know and Weren't Taught

There are so many things about Native Americans that have been forgotten or just swept under the rug in this country, and that is unacceptable. I genuinely can’t believe that I didn’t know most of the history talked about during class because you would think those would be major units in U.S. history classes all over the country, but no Native Americans get a section or two about the Trail of Tears and when Europeans first came to America. Like Ms. Freeman said in class, Native Americans should be talked about in every part of American history like when the Midwest started to become more cities, where did the Native Americans go that lived there? We should be asking those questions whenever anything happens in American history. Especially in Boston and Massachusetts, we need to especially learn about Native American history in our state because many bad things happened to Native American here. For example, the concentration camp on Deer Island during King Philip’s War and Native Americans just a decade or so ago were technically allowed back into Boston from the time of King Philip’s War. It’s crazy that these aren’t major parts of our curriculum. Moving forward I think teachers and administrators need to take a real look at their U.S. history curriculum and see if Native Americans are fully represented and correctly represented in it.

As Americans, we need to take a step back and see what it might feel like to be a Native American in this country, seeing stereotypes of them all around and seeing stereotypes about their culture. We need to continue to address the sports teams and companies that use the faces of Native Americans as logos, and demand change. In this day and age, it is absolutely unacceptable to have a sports team that people cheer for named the “Indians” or the “Redskins”, it is disgusting. The people who defend these teams' names are the ones enforcing racism and stereotypes. People also need to stop with the stereotypes about Native Americans culture and their way of life, they don’t all wear headdresses or live on reservations, they are like everyone else in America. In the National Geographic article, there was a girl that said “Almost as early as I had traditional native stories, I also had Shakespeare,” which shows how they are like any American and we need to stop depicting them as these people who are drastically different from us.

No apology can’t make up for the pain Native Americans have endured ever since their country was invaded and stolen from them 100’s of years ago. As seen in the aeon article, the arrival of Europeans killed most of them off because of disease, there were nearly 60 million Native Americans and they had 1.5 billion acres before the Europeans killed 90% of their population and took all of that land. But we can try to make up for everything even though it won’t. Native Americans need more recognition in textbooks, they need more recognition in every aspect of life. We need to recognize native land and start putting plaques or something of that manner on that ground because we need to know this wasn’t ours in the first place. Things like the Dakota pipeline need to be televised heavily because if that were in Boston or New York or LA we all would’ve heard about it.

Native Americans have been brutally abused and killed for who they are ever since 1492. America as a whole needs to honor those people like making monuments or museum galleries for them, but that is hardly any consolation compared to what they had to go through the past 500 years. We also need to start recognizing the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 70s and 60s. We need to see that things like this happened and we need to confront, not turn a blind eye. In the article it says, “Jane Lawrence documents the forced sterilization of thousands of Native American women by the Indian Health Service in the 1960s and 1970s—procedures thought to have been performed on one out of every four Native American women at the time, against their knowledge or consent.” How did America let one in four Native American women go through that trauma and us not even learning about it today.

We, as Americans, need to do a lot of things to help Native Americans become fully integrated members of this society. We need to acknowledge their culture and embrace it and not judge them like many people do for some reason. We need to stop the stereotypes and racism, by condemning the racist team names and companies. We need more education about the history of Native Americans and we do that by changing history curriculums everywhere. And maybe then we can start living in harmony with one another.

Chestnuthill, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

The Hidden History of Native Americans

Despite all we talk about regarding the Native Americans who were killed, pushed out of their lands, and had their culture stripped from them, we will never fully hear their voices. As students of Boston Latin School, and the fact that we take facing history, we learn more about this topic more than the average student. We learn more about the horrors and torture that the Native Americans went through, the amount of displacement and mistreatment that they endured, as compared to the average student in the United States. Although the Natives were the main inhabitants of the lands of the United States, they now make up a little over 1% of the population, according to an article on regarding the Native Americans. But how did this occur? Well, with years of racism, massacres, and displacement, this is not too shocking.

These horrors that Natives have gone through must be addressed and taught in every classroom. Similarly to slavery, the mistreatment of Native Americans must be taught more in classrooms across the country, and not hidden and pushed away just because it is not the nicest thing to hear. But imagine being the people who have had to endure this, as well as endure current racism and displacement? In order to attempt to prevent more horrors occuring, educating children from a young age that Native Americans are the rightful owners of our land, and that we stole their land. Teaching children little by little, because it is a dark subject, can help prevent further racism and mistreatment. But nothing can change the history, all the Unites States can do is try to make amends and continue to apologize to the Natives. For example, allocating more land to reservations and the Natives could be a step. Recently, Donald Trump threatened tribes and lied to them, as well as tried to take more of their land away from them. This is a clear example of what is not to be done. Rather than having this occur, the government can not only give more land, but provide better healthcare to the Natives. For a period of time, according to an article on, Native women had operations done on them without their permissions. They might go in for a womb transplant, but come out with their uterus removed (true story). Learning more about these horrors, and understanding the pain that the Natives have gone through as HUMANS, is something that must be done.

Americans can become allies by going to protests and helping protect resurvations. They can educate themselves by reading articles and accounts from Natives, such as TedTalks. They can listen to the stories of Natives, and take their suggustions on what to do to help. They can donate to Natives, as the healthcare provided by the US is not the best, leading to them also being hit harder by COVID by other Americans. There is so much needed to be done, but the first step is education, apologies, and repromands.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Native Americans And Their Unspoken History

In my opinion, one of the most troubling things that I have noticed this week regarding Native American history is the amount of it that people know. Not just their history back during colonial times, but now as well.

I agree with @wyverary that the history of Native American people should be mandatory in highschool history classes. Firstly, there needs to be a deeper understanding in US history courses relating to the genocidal events Native Americans faced. Personally, I am not currently taking any US history class, but I do remember learning about the Trail of Tears in a class a few years ago while incidents such as the concentration camps on Deer Island and policies like the Compulsory Attendance Law were left out. Moving to modern instances, courses should absolutely highlight the treatment of native women, how Native people are portrayed in the media, and how many are being disproportionately affected by COVID.

The reveal of the thousands of missing Native women and girls was extremely shocking to me. Given upwards of two thousand have disappeared, I was confused as to why I did not hear about this. I have many questions, but very few answers. Though very few people are aware of this problem, Carolyn Smith-Morris hopes to change this. In her article, she acknowledges the discrepancies, for example, stating that Native American women are killed and sexually assaulted at rates ten times higher than the average in other areas of the country. There is hope, however, as the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will work together to find a resolution. New policies are in the works also. Another important point of interest in the treatment of these women is the forced sterilization they faced. After reading Erin Blakemore’s article on the topic, I am disappointed and extremely disgusted. These organizations that carried out this abomination believed that “native people and people of color were morally, mentally, and socially defective.” Author Jane Lawrence states that “Sterilization abuse has not been reported recently on the scale that occurred during the 1970s, but the possibility still exists for it to occur.” Another statistic that emerged was between 1970 and 1976, approximately 25 to 50 percent of Native American women were sterilized. This date also coincides with the beginning of these mysterious disappearances. Coincidence?

One of the most powerful forces today is pop culture. As we have seen this week, negative perceptions of Native people have been strewn throughout film and sports teams. Specifically, the example of Peter Pan left me horrified. Growing up, I adored that movie, watching it nearly every weekend in my Grandmother’s living room. Given I was a child, I did not notice these blatant stereotypes, but looking back on it, it was awful. The sports teams mascots is a particular event that has gained attention recently, with the former Washington Redskins changing their team name. The part that infuriates me the most is that the teams and fans have the audacity to say “We’re honoring your history,” even though that is really not their call to make. No matter their message, it still comes off as incredibly tone deaf and insensitive. I know many teams that fall under this category are reluctant to change their name or team logo, so I am happy that there is some change happening.

Probably the most relevant issue today is the disproportionate COVID rates seen in Native tribes. In North Dakota, mask mandates were only recently enforced, while in South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem refuses. This problem stems further than their vulnerability, however, as Sarah Ruiz-Grossman revealed in her article on the subject that Native Americans already face high rates of preexisting conditions due to their lack of access to adequate food and health care. However, the virus has also had emotional effects on the tribe members, leaving many anxious.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

How can it be that an entire population's history is just forgotten about, disregarded, and completely erased? Almost all that we have learned over the past few classes I had no knowledge of prior. The Native Americans were a nation of people that thrived off the very land that colonizers unjustly, brutally, and violently drove them off of.

As the Aeon article put it “ Native People may be a small minority, but their history poses a fatal challenge to the triumphalist narratives of the US”. As a nation, we are unwilling to accept that our country was built off the genocide of another group of people. We are unwilling to see the true history and come face to face with the facts.

People simply need to be educated about history from all perspectives. While we are talking about the Native Americans there are marginalized groups all over the world that are also not talked about. History textbooks need to be written from a universal perspective and give each person a correct and equal amount of depiction. So, as a class, we took a step towards coming to terms with the history simply by learning about it and having these discussions. As Wyveary said it should be a requirement in all United States schools that the correct history of the Native people is taught. This is the first step in confronting the history of the native people that have been misconstrued.

The history of the Colonizers and the Natives is not pretty. Mainly the British that settled on their land were extremely hostile, and they completely purposefully wrote the history wrong. Whether it was because they didn’t want the bad reputation or they thought it was justified because they were building a nation, they utterly twisted the events, and facts of the native peoples and what took place between the British and the Native People. This has led to centuries of stereotypes and quite frankly racism. History books need to simply be thrown away and rewritten by multiple authors all from different perspectives of history.

For many unjust actions, apologies are necessary to the Native People. The biggest apology that is owed is for their land and their lives. When their land was taken from them so were their lives and the lives of many generations that didn’t get to prosper. So for that, the nation owes them an apology. Some of the most recent offenses that deserve an apology come from President Trump. According to the article by The Hill, he has praised Andrew Jackson, the very President who drove the majority of Natives off their land, and has repeatedly used “Pocohauntaus'' as a racial slur. There is no real way to apologize for eradicating almost an entire population of people. So, the biggest thing we can do is to honor, acknowledge, and change. Change the ways in which we teach, view, and perceive the Native Peoples.

The Native People are still suffering today. COVID-19 hit them the hardest, and with inadequate healthcare and money, many have perished. The Natives were also given poor land to live on. The land which comprises 16 million acres is non-resourceful and does not allow for them to live out their culture and traditions. And today Native women are missing at a disproportionately high rate. Many have vanished and are victims of homicide as learned by Carolyn Smith-Morris.

We become allies when we use the privilege we have to stand up for their land. When we go to protests and preserve the land that we took from them. The biggest thing we can do now is learning the true history and rid ourselves of the lies that are ingrained in us.

Posts: 18

Indigenous People and their Ignored History in the United States

In order to better understand the Native American experience we need to be open to fully confronting our brutal and grotesque history. I think the most effective way to spread knowledge of Indigenous peoples’ past is to enforce the learning of it in our school curriculum. We talked in class about how the history of Aboriginal Australians is deeply rooted and and kept alive in Australian culture through mandatory education. I believe that if America starts taking that approach, and enforces a mandatory curriculum, vetted by actual Native American historians and educators, to educate young kids as early as in grade school about our country’s atrocities and the Native American cultures that go beyond our stereotyping, then our children will grow up with a deeply rooted respect and more of an admiration than pity for Indigenous cultures.

To disarm the stereotypes and misconceptions of Native American people, we as a society should encourage and promote the work of people like Madeline Sayet, Daniella Zalcman, and Hillel Echo-Hawk (Tristan Ahtone, “Native Americans are recasting views of indigenous life”) who are dismantling the perpetuated stereotypes such as Native people only wearing traditional feathered clothing, having “rudimentary” diets, and only being “savage fighters” through promoting Native American voices in the arts and demonstrating culture through food and photography. We need to continue to stoke the fire of uproar against the disgustingly insensitive marketing campaigns like the sports teams we talked about in class.

In terms of making amends or apologizing to Native Americas, I think it is impossible to ever hope to correct the genocide and continued mistreatment and disrespect that perpetuated for centuries in this country. The closest we can get to making amends is to acknowledge Native American history and their current presence, and to simply listen to what they request from us. In the article “Trump and the Native American vote,” Rosser explains how President Trump was doing the exact opposite of what should be done for any hope of making some amends. Through the continued construction of the Dakota pipeline as well as his gross admiration for the killer and rapist Christopher Columbus, Trump perpetuates American disregard and disrespect towards Native Americans and brings us further and further away from making amends.

We address the fact that Native Americans were murdered for who they were by calling it nothing short of genocide. It is a scary word that people need to understand was a reality here in America. And it wasn’t just the colonizers who committed crimes against Native Americans. In the past century, forced sterilization occurred through the Indian Health Service in the 60s and 70s (“The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women”). The effects of that are still felt today, and as Jane Lawrence, who documents the forced-sterilization, writes, “Sterilization abuse has not been reported recently on the scale that occurred during the 1970s, but the possibility still exists for it to occur.” In order to address the genocide, we need to acknowledge it completely and understand that the mentality perpetuated into the 20th century and is still alive today, so we need to ensure that crimes like forced-sterilization are stopped.

To all become allies, I agree fully with @239bid0073. We all need to address our privilege and stand up when Native Americans are being oppressed and ignored. Going to preservation protests and educating ourselves and our neighbors are the most immediate actions we can each individually take.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Oppression of Native Americans didn't end with the Trail of Tears

Many students and even adults are left in the dark on Native American history and presence. Our curriculum’s have failed us to the point that spending 5 minutes talking about the Columbian exchange and settlers massacring natives is deemed sufficient. Moving forward, discussions need to be implemented on the history of native people after the arrival of settlers. Beyond that, stereotypes need to be actively broken. In watching movies like Pocahantas and Peter Pan, children are taught that natives live in teepees when “more than 70 percent live not on reservations but in urban areas (Ashtone.)” We are taught to associate native americans with the antithesis of civilized society with their images on tobacco, and thus actively erase and ignore their vivid culture that is still oppressed today. These stereotypes need to be addressed frankly, without sugarcoating that they are rooted in genocide, like the Redskin mascot’s origins in the rewards for bloody native scalps in colonial times. In a sense, keeping these stereotypes in children’s movies may be beneficial in later debunking them when the children get older, but racist native imagery should not be used anywhere else except for learning purposes.

Americans also need to be taught on how natives have been oppressed just in the past two centuries through endless forced removals. Many believe their oppression ended in the last century, but natives are still being removed from their homes for infrastructure like the gas pipeline through the Dakotas, which also caused detrimental oil spills. Just 50 years ago, native women were still being forcibly sterilized. It is estimated that “between 1970 and 1976 alone, between 25 and 50% of Native American women were sterilized (Blakemore.)” Many Americans may not be descendants of the settlers of America in the first century of its existence, but we still bear some responsibility to educate ourselves and make an effort to be allies of the natives. This can be done through land acknowledgements that state the reality that every aspect of society now is on stolen land. We need to get used to hearing and uplifting native voices when they speak on their oppression. This can be done by spreading awareness on the thousands of missing Native women and girls most likely killed or human trafficked, of which little are registered in databases. It would also be beneficial to normalize asking natives about their tribe and what they would prefer to be called. Still, we must see them as human beings more than anything else. The apologies may not be ours to make and will never fully reconcile genocide, but certain amends can be made in allyship.

In educating ourselves on Native American history, it must be blatantly acknowledged that they were killed and thrown around the country for simply being who they were. Their culture should not be suppressed as they were in the boarding schools meant to convert natives to Christianity. We need to know that this trauma is present today, and can currently be seen by the high fatality and infection rates amongst native populations. Natives don’t get free college and other resources. Rather, many basic resources are stripped away. Real history is violent, but must nevertheless be taught and mandated. That is the least we could do if amends can be seen as a possibility.

Boston, Massachussetts
Posts: 22

Stop Twisting the Knife

I find it pretty ridiculous that it wasn’t until this year that I really heard about native american heritage month. I also find it ridiculous that it wasn’t until recently that people have started calling “Columbus Day,” “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” It just doesn’t sit right with me that there has been an ongoing issue of Native Americans receiving poor health care, that they lack adequate food resources, and that they are basically ignored by the government. I think that this situation is like a stab in the back. The US has stabbed the natives in the back, but they haven’t yet actually removed the knife, therefore the wound can’t even begin to heal until the US stops twisting the knife. I think that in order to better understand Native Americans, their voices should be uplifted. I think there should be a greater effort to hear what they have to say and the US should actually acknowledge all of their wrongdoings, apologize, educate in schools about Native Americans, their struggles, and their cultures, and they should also make land acknowledgements commonplace. The article “Native Americans Are Afraid, Hard-Hit As Coronavirus Spikes In The Great Plains” argued that because of inadequate health care and food, indigenous people are more susceptible to Covid. In addition, the US provides Natives with unhealthy food, leading to heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, and others, which plays a role in this. This is truly carelessness on the part of the government. Therefore, they should actually treat Native Americans with dignity and provide them healthy food and more hospitals, as well as more funding for them. This is blatant disrespect just by giving Natives poor living conditions, setting them up for failure.

I completely agree with Wyverary that local Native American History is necessary. This class is the first time that I have gotten a more well rounded view of Native history, and knowing what tribes inhabited this land is important for transparency and respect. I also agree with the fact that we should give the natives more land back.

I think that regarding unjust stereotypes, people should be held accountable for them. For example, the sports team called the redskins should acknowledge the racist roots of that name, which refers to the scalping of native Americans. They should apologize and change the name. The same should happen for other commonly seen disrespectful depictions of native Americans. Having those unfair depictions of them creates implicit bias, so it’s important to get rid of them. In addition, they should apologize specifically to Native American women. In “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women,” I learned that from the 1960s to the 70s, Native women were told that they were being treated for one condition, while hospitals really sterilized them. From 1970-1976, between 25-50% of Native women were sterilized without their consent. In addition, today the injustice towards them continues, as the article, “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” stated that Native women are 2.5 times more likely to experience violent crimes. These are things that people need to know, and that the government should take responsibility for. Once again, educating in schools about real and honest history about native Americans is necessary, and also having more accurate representation of them in the media and including them more in the media is important to change the perspective.

Regarding the murder of the Native Americans, I think that the US should not only issue an apology, but also show that they mean it through their actions. Actually investigate the disappearances of Native women, and fund their schools, food, hospitals, healthcare, etc. I think that making the changes of apologizing and acknowledging their land as well as the other changes mentioned, they should be encouraged to keep raising their voices about issues because it took a whole pandemic just for their voice to matter, but that shouldn't be the case. They should just matter anyway.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Facing & Responding to History

Moving forward, I think the most obvious way to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation is to mandate more extensive education about their past and present in curriculums of all grades. I think many of us Facing students have had the feeling that we’ve been taught inadequately about Native Americans’ history and what is still going on, and have become aware in at least the past few years that the truth of our country’s relationship with its native people has been violent and inexcusable. Still, I was shocked by some of the things I learned in class this week. I had no idea about the origin of the term “redskin,” the Deer Island concentration camp, or the sterilization of native women into the 1970s. Like Ms. Freeman mentioned in class and @razzledazzle8 explained, “Native Americans should be talked about in every part of American history.” Why do we only learn about them in a few contexts, almost always related to Europeans?

I think education would also help address the stereotypes, misperceptions, and “twistory.” Someone who is not educated about the dark history of Native Americans being seen as inferior to whites and how terms & representations of Native Americans perpetuate(d) harmful stereotypes is not going to understand or care about why their football team’s mascot should be changed. @dailychristmascountdown brings up a good point that we should also elevate native voices/work by native people to help dispel stereotypes.

To fully confront the history of the Native American experience in this nation, we must focus on education around the history itself, but also address how Native people are still being mistreated. This starts with clarifying and respecting land rights and sacred sites. Additionally, as a country we have to talk about problems native people are facing. The government’s mismanagement of the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (“Addressing the Epidemic of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Cultural Survival”) was dismaying and unacceptable, but not shocking given the US government’s history of failure to protect native people (and actively harming them). The oil industry is apparently a factor in the violence, which means it is hurting Native Americans in several ways. The coronavirus pandemic’s toll on native populations also appears to be a symptom of structural issues and vast inequality (“Native Americans Are Afraid, Hard-Hit as Coronavirus Spikes in the Great Plains,” Huffington Post).

Related to the previous paragraph, to become allies, all Americans can seek to educate ourselves about Native Americans, but education is not enough. We should use our voices to stand up for Native peoples’ rights. This includes supporting protests such as the one at Standing Rock, voting for people who will respect Native land and people by preventing harmful projects and policies & (re)building resources, and making it clear to lawmakers that we, the constituents, care about these issues.

Regarding the country, I do think that formal apologies need to be made. I’m not sure whether that has ever happened. It is important to at least acknowledge what happened in our country’s history. To address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are, we should acknowledge the former colonies’ & US’ policies as “nothing short of genocide,” as @dailychristmascountdown put it. It’s an unpleasant thing for our country to admit, but it’s an unpleasant, brutal history. However, actions speak louder than words. Concrete actions like the ones described in the previous paragraph must be taken by the government and people to improve Native Americans’ rights and conditions. It’s really the least we can do. Nothing will ever make up for what was done to the Native peoples of this country, but improvements and amends can be made.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Changing the Narrative of Native Americans

The United States attempts to create a reputation as the land of the free by erasing its past histories including the oppression of Native Americans. Moving forward, the younger generations should learn about the history of Native Americans and how they were being treated by the Europeans that first arrived in the Americas. It’s unbelievable that we are only learning about this part of American history in high school and hundreds of years of history being erased from the timeline. Children should learn about the true history of the Indigenous people instead of the stereotypes that were being taught in school. In the article “Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?” by Dennis Zotigh, Zotigh discusses his experience celebrating Thanksgiving in elementary school: “The Thanksgiving Indian costume that all the other children and I made in my elementary classroom trivialized and degraded the descendants of the proud Wampanoags.” It is okay to celebrate Thanksgiving and be grateful for the people around you; but stereotypes and cultural misappropriation is not something that should be taught to children in elementary school. I agree with the author that it might be too young for children to learn about the entire truth, but it is also necessary to erase the stereotypes so that the issues with the mistreatment of Native Americans are recognized.

America needs to apologize to the Indigenous people not just for the past genocides and force removals, but also for the present issues. In class, we learned about the pipelines that were built through Native American’s land and that Indigenous women and girls were missing and murdered. I had no previous knowledge of this issue before entering this class. Needless to say, these actions are unacceptable in the twentieth century. Apologies are necessary but not enough. We need to help bring light to these issues and give the Native Americans the justice that they deserved.

First, we should vote for a president that will support Native Americans and educate them about their history. In the article “Trump and the Native American vote,” Trump demonstrates that he is not the right person to bring change by issuing a “‘Proclamation on Columbus Day, 2020,’ that should lay to rest any notion that the President supports Natives or even sees them as people whose history matters.” I hope that our new president Joe Biden can stop the pipelines that go through North Dakota to give the Indigenous people their land. Secondly, justice should also be brought to the missing Indigenous women and girls as “their crimes fall between jurisdictional cracks, leaving victims and their families without recourse” (Cultural Survival). There should be ways to ensure the safety of the Native American women who are working in remote settings and enforce harsh punishments for people who commit crimes against the Native people. Additionally, people should be educated at a younger age about the history and the misconceptions surrounding the Indigenous people so that they are less likely to antagonize them; instead, people will be more likely to sympathize with them, accept them as a part of our society, and actively participate in helping the cause.

In order for Native Americans to be fully interpreted into the society, it is important for people to spread awareness by educating others about Native American history, participating in protests to helping to preserve Native territories, and donating resources to help them get through this difficult time.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 27

Some First Steps

Moving forward, one obvious thing sticks out to me as a way to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation: involve them in our conversations. Native American people are the only ones truly qualified to speak about the Native American experience in our country. People have often protested the fact that women are left out of discussions about reproductive rights; this is the same principle. For example, when the Dakota Access Pipeline was being planned and debated, Native Americans whose land the pipeline would affect should’ve been called to give testimony. Legitimized testimony, where the speakers are recognized by those debating it, not where they have to scream in the streets to make their voices heard.

As for fully confronting the history of the Native American experience, I think we need a much more comprehensive history curriculum taught in all public schools. Like @butterfly123 says, our current U.S. history courses typically ignore a lot of the “not so pretty parts” of our nation’s history. Much of the material we discussed in class this week was never taught to me anywhere else. Before Facing, the extent of my formal education on Native Americans consisted of the first Thanksgiving in elementary school and, later on, very brief discussions on the Trail of Tears for about 30 minutes a year. This is unacceptable. How can anyone possibly fully confront the history of a group of people when they don’t even know what that history is? When developing this curriculum, as I stated before, I think it is imperative that Native Americans be involved. In order to present an accurate picture of history, the people who experienced it should be the people writing it.

We can address stereotypes and misconceptions about Native Americans by pointing them out and analyzing them when we see them. By understanding the history and the motivations behind the use of those stereotypes, people will be able to realize that they are wrong and hurtful. For example, like @razzledazzle8 mentions, all the inappropriate sports team logos that are in use today. I agree with @razzledazzle8 in that it is absolutely unacceptable to have people cheer for teams named “the Indians” and “the Redskins.” However, I think that changing them is only the first step. We need to ensure that everyone sees why they must go. Otherwise, you are only left with a closeted racist population, which is no better than before.

I do think we have apologies and amends to make, but I don’t know if anything we can do now will be sufficient. After reading in Erin Blackmore’s “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women” that one out of every four Native American women were sterilized without their consent in years as recent as the 1960s and 1970s, I’m ashamed to be part of a country that could have allowed this. A country that still allows this mistreatment today, as shown by the fact stated by Carolyn Smith-Morris in her article, “Addressing the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” that missing and murdered Indigenous women are systematically denied the right to a fair investigation by police and coroners. We even act as though taking Native American children from their homes on the reservations is a thing of the past when, in fact, it is not. Social services still fails today to place Native American children in foster care with Native parents in accordance to modern child welfare laws. I feel that any apology made now, as we still commit these heinous acts, would be insincere. It’s like saying, “I’m sorry for eating your food,” as you go to take another bite. You are obviously not sorry, or you wouldn’t be doing it. It is for this reason that while I feel apologies and amends need to be made, they cannot be made yet. However, once we do fix these systematic malfeasances, then we need to start making apologies for all the abhorrent crimes perpetrated against Native peoples, such as the theft of their land and the kidnapping of their children, though I am unsure as to how exactly these apologies and reparations could be made.

I think we should address the fact that Native Americans were murdered for who they are first, through education, as I stated above, and second, by using methods similar to those of teaching the Holocaust. Traveling to massacre sites, as well as speaking to descendants of survivors, would help students grasp the severity of the situation better than any textbook ever could. We should also learn literature written by Native authors for more diverse perspectives. There is a difference between hearing facts regurgitated by some historian and reading the stories of real people who were killed in genocides as told by their own family members, and it is this contrast that would make the distinction between knowing the fact that Native Americans were murdered for who they are and understanding it.

Once all Americans are educated on the true history of Native peoples, then we can begin to become allies. To truly be an ally, I think we need to understand where people are coming from in order to consider their perspectives. For example, at the Topol Fellows event on the history of the Exam Schools in Boston the other day, one of the last things Ms. Skerritt said before we went into our breakout rooms was to remember that all of us come from different backgrounds that influence our feelings on certain issues. Keeping this in mind during our discussions made them that much more fruitful, and I think the same mentality can be applied to this situation. Going forward, I think the best thing we can do to help Native Americans become fully integrated members of our society is to listen and empathize. Having conversations with Native Americans about the struggles and hardships they face will do nothing if the people participating in those conversations do not try to understand.

One concrete action we can take to build a nation with Native peoples would be to involve them in our national government. In Boston, our local government has representatives from different demographics called liaisons that advocate for their people. Some examples of these liaisons include the LGBTQ+ liaison, the Vietnamese liaison, and the Female-Identifying liaison, to name a few. I think by creating a council of Native American liaisons that represent all the Native tribes in the United States and allowing them to contribute to the decisions made on a national level that directly affect Native Americans would be a good first step.

Charlestown, MA, US
Posts: 18

America Needs To Apologize.

America can do better. America has to realize that our “founder,” Columbus was the one intruding on native land. He was the one who was an unwanted immigrant. From the article, “Trump and the Native American Vote,” it states that Trump identifies those ‘“who question the celebration of Columbus [day] as “radical activists” and “extremists,”’ and he frequently calls Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas,” because of her Native American background, even if it is a small percentage. The leader of our country supports a man who kidnapped women and raped them for his enjoyment, enslaved many Natives, and participated in the selling of children into sexual slavery. America needs to educate themselves on what happened to the Natives, past, and present. It is obvious that it is impossible to dictate what will happen in the future, but we can finally make changes to our society to provide a better future for the Indigenous community.

Schools should implement a mandatory Indigenous People’s history class, or at least have less biased history textbooks within our curriculum. I’ve noticed that many history textbooks are told from a white man’s perspective. We need to incorporate more books written by people of color and minorities to finally diversify our education system. There are many books written by Native American authors who tell their story and their experience with the American government. They critique American history and how textbooks are all from a one-sided perspective and how we are learning from a biased speaker. This biased behavior from textbook authors creates a stereotype that all Native Americans are ‘savages who need to be civilized in order to live a normal life.’ These textbooks are still in circulation today, and the effect of this is that lies are still being spread.

Lies about Native massacres and the untold stories of Native women are still left out of textbooks. In the article, “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women,” author Erin Blakemore talks about the misconception of Native women retaining a healthy doctor visit and having control over their bodies in the 1960s and 1970s. During those time periods, the American health services documented forced sterilization on thousands of Native American women without their knowledge or consent. They believed that “native people and people of color were morally, mentally, and socially defective.” White Americans, at the time, were still convinced that they were the “better race” because minorities were too “morally defective” to think for themselves.

America needs to apologize. Apologize to the large number of Natives who were struck down by the use of guns in the massacres. Apologize to the many Natives who died alongside others while suffering under Andrew Jackson’s removal on the Trail of Tears. Apologize to the thousands of Native American women who were forced to sterilize themselves and to no longer support their tribes because of inability to. Apologize to the young Native children who were forcibly removed from their families to attend compulsory boarding schools to be “disciplined.” And finally, apologize to the entire Indigenous community for being the first unwanted immigrants of this country. There are a million things we can do for the Indigenous community, but I am still not sure if it is enough. We owe them these apologies and these changes. We owe this to them.

I think that we should start by getting rid of all the false Thanksgiving ideas that we were given as children. I grew up thinking that Thanksgiving was a fun holiday celebrated by both the pilgrims and the Natives. I understand that there should be some censorship when it comes to talking about killings and massacres for children, but there still should be some truth in the picture books about Thanksgiving. Children need to understand that Natives were not always so happy about the pilgrims arriving. As they grow up, we should expose them to what really happened to Natives and how they were ruthlessly murdered for being themselves. From the article, “The Invasion of America,” it mentions how uneducated Americans are about the importance of the numerous Native massacres. It then goes on to say that “Acre by acre, the dispossession of native peoples made the US a transcontinental power.” The removal of the Native population has helped the US achieve their manifest destiny, their dream. Overall, I think we should implement a class about Indigenous people as I said before, and to remove all the falsities of a happy thanksgiving from our picture books.

All Americans should know the general history of Natives and how harshly we have treated them throughout the many centuries of fighting. I think that because people are educated, that we can bridge an understanding between both parties and form an allyship to finally stop discrimination between the two. We need to take the first step to bridging a connection and to bring the two parties together to become fully integrated members of our society. This is a very controversial topic that deserves to be talked about more often. I hope that, from this, we could inch forward to creating a more equal society that appreciates the land that we are standing on and to understand that we are the immigrants here, not the Natives.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Turning Up the Volume on Neglected Voices

I strongly believe, like many others have already mentioned in this post, that the history of Native Americans needs to be taught in all schools in the US. Speaking from personal experience, I can only remember learning about the same story every year of how Native Americans and the Pilgrims all lived in harmony and celebrated Thanksgiving. Like what was said in Philip Deloria’s “The Invention of Thanksgiving”, I too can remember making construction paper headdresses and hats. The overall perception of this holiday, as the New Yorker article puts it, glorifies the resilience of the pilgrims, “diverting the attention” away from the tragic story of Native Americans. It is embarrassing that I realize how insensitive those activities were in my junior year of high school. I think this speaks volumes to the education system that we have: Each year we dive a little deeper into topics that we learned the previous year, yet when it comes to Native Americans, we tell the exact same story. Why is that? Clearly there is an effort to suppress and forget what this country has done to these people.

We almost never hear about the harsh realities of indigenous peoples. As we grow up, we do acknowledge their drastic depopulation, and in some cases, extinction, due to the first settler’s diseases. However, we never delve into the other systems, policies, or practices that worked to practically wipe out the Native population. For example, as documented in Jane Lawrence’s JSTOR article, there was a mass forced sterilization of Native American women in the 1960s and 1970s. Oftentimes, these women go in for treatment or a medical treatment, and come out with their fallopian tubes severed or their uteruses removed instead. Or in an even more recent instance, the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The rates of murdered and sexually assaulted Native women are 10 times higher than the average in the country. It is apparent that we have neglected this group of people and the misconception that the awful things that happened to them are all in the past, that we have reprimanded them and solved these issues, only makes the cruel reality that they live that much worse.

Confronting our history is one thing, but I think that many people, including myself, seem to think that this “twistory” isn’t also a very prevalent occurrence in today’s society as well. The main culprit for this is the fact that this type of news isn’t covered in mainstream media, media that the common person can consume. While we cannot always control what is put out by large news corporations, we can control the spread of this information through other mediums like social media. To address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native American women, movements like #MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women) have been able to bring more attention to such issues. The only way to become allies is to educate ourselves as much as possible and recognize that we need to use the privilege and advantages that we have in comparison to indigenous peoples to help their situation. We can advocate and help raise their voices through something as simple as participating in the hashtag, marches or other initiatives. Although this may not seem like it makes much of a difference, it does help as a starting point. The more we bring awareness to this, we can increase its reach to the common population, which will hopefully grow large enough to make substantial changes in policies and laws to tackle the sad product of hundreds of years worth of neglect and silencing that our indigenous population has been enduring.

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