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? How do we address the stereotypes, misperceptions, the “twistory” that has been passed down among non-Native Americans about this population?
The history of Native Americans has been grossly misrepresented, young children learning twisted and untrue tales that turn Natives into savages and the colonizers into saviors. Schools promote this propaganda to cover up the acts of our ancestors; we are unwilling to confront our past wrong, so we twist the story to relieve ourselves of guilt and responsibility. In elementary school, American children dress up in feathers and depict a stereotyped and negative portrayal of Native Americans. They are juxtaposed by the "civilized" pilgrims, clad in pants and "refined" clothing. The first step in rectifying this "twistory" is to remove the early-propaganda taught to young children. By putting an end to these teachings, we can work to remove the life-long biases that frame interactions with Natives. In "The Invasion of America," they mention the lack of representation of Native American communities in the US. Genocide, forced sterilization, and other anti-Native American actions have caused Native populations to decline significantly, making up a mere 0.5% of the population. Their lack in numbers makes change more difficult, and we often excuse more discriminatory stereotypes. In class, we discussed the prevalence of stereotypical symbols and logos across day-to-day life. Many can excuse things like the tomahawk chop, but would never stand for similar anti-black, hispanic, etc symbols.
I also believe that we need to teach a complete Native history, not tied solely to the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. While colonization plays a large part in the history of Natives, it is not the only relevant part, and to teach only the destruction of Native populations is to teach that these tribes only existed in adjunct to their European colonizers. It reduces these groups, and their only role in history becomes that of only the defeated. We need to teach not just of times of Native weakness, but of power and success as well; right now, we learn nothing about the tribes before the arrival of Europeans. To understand a full and accurate history, historians should communicate with Native Americans, not only telling a colonizer’s point of view.
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?
To address our country's history of genocide, we must first be willing to accept responsibility for the mass-killing of these groups. There is no way to truly make amends for the actions of our ancestors without acknowledging their wrong-doing. It is easier to teach about the holocaust, shifting the blame onto the Germans–it's easy to deny the US's role in this Jewish genocide. It is impossible, however, to teach of Native American genocide without fully accepting our direct benefit; we only have access to the lands on which we live because of the forced removal of Native Americans. We cannot present an accurate history while still censoring the acts of the past. The article, "The Invasion of America" references the Doctrine of Discovery which theoretically gave the European colonizers the right to take any American land, being the first Christian settlers. Land was stolen through treaties, executive orders, and federal statutes, all of which were unfair and disadvantaged Native Americans. The land we live on was not exchanged legally, and taken by force and trickery. No matter whether we are directly related to colonizers, we all owe reparations to the Native Americans on whose land we live now. In class, we discussed the performative nature of land acknowledgements, how they only serve to relieve colonizers' guilt, not providing any tangible help to Native communities. While acknowledgement is the first step in righting the wrongs of our ancestors, we owe monetary and physical support, something that actually helps revitalize these struggling and dwindling communities. In "Recasting Views of Indigenous Life," they reflect how "most of today’s narratives about indigenous Americans are cast through a negative lens, focusing on health disparities, economic disadvantages, poverty, or addiction." We are unwilling to confront our guilt, instead shifting the blame onto Native communities. By portraying them as savage, uncivilized groups, our responsibility and debt is decreased. Many view Native tribes as “failed” societies, unworthy of support, but if tribes are struggling, it’s usually directly tied to the unjust treatment by the US government. These communities are at least owed monetary support, if not their stolen land, to allow them to recover after centuries of mistreatment.
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
The first step to becoming allies is by acknowledging the Native American genocide. We also need to stop pushing this mistreatment into history, stop acting as if it is over, a thing of the past. We remove ourselves from these acts by placing the blame onto our ancestors, claiming we have no responsibility today. We act as if Native Americans no longer exist, and "the story, which used to be celebratory, is now more often tragic and sentimental, rooted in the belief that the dispossession of native peoples was unjust but inevitable." according to Haselby in "The Invasion of America." The first concrete actions we can take are by teaching of the genocide. Next, we can start to give back stolen land. It is impossible to give back all of it, but we can at least make efforts to rectify our wrongs, even if it is through monetary support. We need to work to remove the systemic barriers that hinder the success of Native Americans; while our ancestors may not still be alive, their discriminatory laws and regulations still remain.
I don't agree with StaphInfarction's opinion that the Atlanta Braves' logo is fine. It portrays an inaccurate and stereotypical Native American, drawing on no specific tribe. This logo is a prime example of white people using Native American stereotypes for their own benefit. While stereotypes will always exist, we still need to actively fight the harmful ones. Intent is never as important as impact, and we need to respect the multitudes of Native Americans who have come out against these portrayals of stereotypical Indians.
I agree with hollyfawn's reference to the importance of "uncomfortable" conversations. Reparations depend on the willingness of colonizers to confront the atrocious acts of their ancestors and the ways they continue to benefit.