1. What do we need to do, moving forward, to better understand the experience of Native Americans in this nation? How do we fully confront that history?
We should actually ask Indigenous people about their experiences in life and how they are treated due to their background. Directly learning from them is great. Having stories told by non-Indigenous people is not enough as there are many possibilities of it becoming watered down as time passes. It would be like the Telephone Game. However, being told about true Native American history by a non-Indigenous person is better than not being told about it at all. I haven’t been in elementary school in a long time, so I don’t know if the curriculum has changed, but they should start teaching about Native American people early on. This would prevent many, many things. It is easier to learn earlier than to be retaught. Not everyone is going to have the chance in life to learn it later. It is better to have a blank slate. In class, we discussed how kids are affected early on in their lives by the things they watch, or the things they are surrounded by. An example would be when kids asked why “Jafar” did 9/11. It is learned behavior.
2. How do we address the stereotypes, misperceptions, the "twistory" that has been passed down among non-Native Americans about this population?
As we discussed in class, I think changing labels/branding to removing stereotypical images of Indigenous people is one step in the right direction. It might not be a lot for a single company to do it, but as more brands are changing, it adds up. Hopefully, in the near future, there will be little to no brands that include those types of depictions. Similarly, getting rid of derogatory names is great. In the article, “Deb Haaland seeks to rid US of derogatory place names,” it discusses the actions of changing names from damaging words to accepted names. This reduces the normalization of these labels. It allows for growth. Another thing we can do is simply correcting a person when they are saying something wrong about Native Americans. This is not something that can be changed by one singular person (unless you’re rich and powerful), there needs to be a lot of people who do it. One thing we should specifically look at is the Museum of Fine Arts’s statue made by Cyrus Dallin. I get that they thought they were doing something by adding a small plaque, but I’m going to be honest, I do not think people are going to read that at all. I mean, I don’t even remember the last time I’ve read something on a statue. If a person was passing by, they would not care to read it. Going back to the kid example, many kids don’t read either. They will just take in the art piece as true, and therefore affecting their perceptions of Native American people. The art piece itself is a statement. Adding another statement to try to “lessen the blow” is not going to help at all. What they can do is remove that statue. Now I know that it is expensive but it’s just a price that they will have to pay. They can earn the money back. And after that, they can commission an Indigenous artist to create a new and better representation.
3. How do we address the fact that Native peoples were murdered for who they are--the very definition of “genocide”? What apologies and amends do we need to make, if any?
Talking about the genocide of Native peoples is already addressing it a little bit, however, we need to go in depth about the consequences. Glossing over it is just as bad as not addressing it. It is important to incorporate the genocide into middle/high school history classes and not just elementary school classes. Similar to the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr., I think that the rejected speech created by Wamsutta Frank James should also be analyzed. This is a speech that is directly by an Indigenous person. Just because it was not officially spoken as a speech, the stories hold true. Another thing we can do is get rid of the monuments that hold misinformation about the interactions between the Native Americans and the Europeans. By continuing to keep them up is a way of upholding the false history. Giving as much land back as possible is a good way to compensate. Donating money, or items, to reservations or Native American owned businesses. In an article called “The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women,” written by Erin Blackemore, it goes through the horrendous manipulation of Native American women. I’d say apologizing to the tribes affected is one of the very first things we should do as it was not that long ago.
4. How can non-indigenous folks become allies so that Native peoples become fully integrated members of society? What concrete actions can we take to move forward and build a nation with Native peoples?
Non-Indigenous people can become allies by speaking up and out against the hate towards Native peoples. We can take time out of our lives to actually care and educate ourselves on the past and present. Not continuing to participate in obvious harmful anti-Indigenous acts. I believe that there should be more Indigenous people in the decision making of the government. We can start to truly acknowledge them and not just mention them passively and be like, “Oh yeah, here’s another messed up thing America hid for a long time. Anyway!” It is super important to go through the laws again and to make sure that there are absolutely no laws that would allow for discrimination against Indigenous people, or just people of color in general.
(A little unrelated but I learned recently that Christopher Columbus never even stepped foot in North America. At that time, there was a lot of hate towards Italian immigrants. The government put out that fact to decrease the discrimination. And it worked. It worked so well that that fact is still being believed today. Honestly, I was in shock when I found out. I knew that Christopher Columbus didn't discover America, but I didn’t know that there was not a single footstep he took on North American land.)