Readings (select AT LEAST 2 of these 4, which pains me because all are eye-opening):
- Claudio Vaunt, “The invasion of America,” Aeon, January 2015.
- 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.
- Susan Montoya Bryan, “Deb Haaland seeks to rid US of derogatory place names,” Indian Country Today, November 19, 2021.
Many people believe that indigenous folks 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.
As you know, it is argued by many that what happened to indigenous folks 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 mandating the teaching of genocide was being discussed by the Massachusetts Legislature beginning around October 2019. But take a guess: which group was conspicuously not mentioned?
And believe it or not: a modified version of this bill finally passed both houses of the legislature in Massachusetts (for a text of the final bill, see this site). Charlie Baker signed it into law in December 2021.
Consider what we’ve looked at in class (this week) 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 that history?
- How do we address the stereotypes, misperceptions, the “twistory” that has been passed down among non-Native Americans about this population?
- 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?
- 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?
Be very specific in your response, SPECIFICALLY citing examples BOTH from class and from the readings.