Our Native American Neighbors
Set the Past Free: Renewing America's Relationship with Our Indigenous Peoples
Have you ever felt like you were out of the loop on the issues pertaining to Native Americans / American Indians? Do you sometimes wonder what it is that Native America wants from Euro-centric America? Have you ever longed to make things better?
A couple of years ago I started compiling a living history how-to book for Thanksgiving, and through that project I began questioning my beliefs and understanding about Native Americans. My awakening began as I came to realize I had been receiving mixed messages all my life. Euro-centric America continued to assert that, "All is well," but the voice of Native America seemed to be saying, "We're hurting out here and nobody cares."
Over time I began to make certain historical connections that helped me see what was happening, and perceive the big picture. This in turn has enabled me to think critically on these issues.
It is my aim to impart the gist of the big picture here so that others can begin to think critically on these issues, and become part of the solution. I also provide a "best of the best" list of reading materials, as well as ideas and resources for turning the general tide of misinformation.
I believe that the majority of Euro-centric Americans do care about our Native Peoples, they're just out of touch with the history, and what is happening as a result. However, most folks really do want to see the past clear enough that they can talk it through, and finally set it free.
As one of my Native friends recently said to me, "The kindest thing that Americans can do is care enough to inquire." ...May this lens serve to facilitate inquiry, and open doors for understanding and exchange.
The Birth of Modern Misconceptions
Getting to the Root of Stereotypes and Communication Barriers
Strangely enough it is one of our favorite American legends who alone can be credited with instilling modern misconceptions about American Indians in our ranks. Today's stereotypes really got their start with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which ran from 1883 to 1913.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows were larger than life in their heyday, and were highly influential just as Hollywood would one day be. Unfortunately the Wild West shows filled a growing social void as they made their magical debut at a time when Euro-America was losing contact with Indians through reservation segregation.
Buffalo Bill himself was as much a showman and entertainer as he was a living witness to history. His claim to fame was the reenacting of the American-Indian Wars which he had participated in, and which had taken place mainly on the great plains. The shows were repetitive enough in sights and sounds that during his years of reenacting the same events he unwittingly seared the image of the Plains Indian into the unsuspecting mind of the public.
Additionally, Buffalo Bill's over-dramatization of the resulting peace following the wars led to our modern belief that the Indians were/are resigned to their losses and no longer angry at the white man. This is no doubt why I kept hearing, "All is well" from Euro-centric America, when Native America was trying to communicate something all together different.
From the reading that I have done on Buffalo Bill he seems to have been a genuinely good person, and hardly one to intend harm. Still, by the time his shows stopped touring America and Europe certain stereotypes had been accepted as the gospel truth, and all Hollywood had to do was seamlessly pick up where the Wild West shows left off.
But here's the real kicker: To make matters worse, Euro-centric America was no where near ready to face her own shortcomings, and so school age children were subjected to the historical whitewashing of their K-12 history textbooks. Publishers were simply discriminated against if they attempted to add controversial content to their pages, especially anything that might make white folks look bad to their children and grandchildren.
This dishonesty actually has a longer history than the late 1800's, and surprisingly still persists even today. Out of this traditionalist whitewashing has come two critical social problems: #1. The American population has always believed we were taught our history when in fact we were only taught "acceptable" portions, and #2. Without the controversial materials to give interest the American masses have long viewed all history study as boring and irrelevant.
Since the American masses today still honestly think they know their history, and since they think learning history in general is of little value, this is one area where American Indians have hit a brick wall in communication efforts. It makes sense to me, personally, that as in any hurting relationship, being able to talk about our history would be vital to achieving healthy conflict resolution.
The question is now, how do we begin to undo what generations of history whitewashing has done?
Our History with the Indians In Review
(For those who need a quick refresher on how it all went down....)
1492 - Christopher Columbus envisions his eventual conquest of friendly Native Peoples in the Americas.
1500's - The fur trade is begun between Europeans and American Indians. In 1608 a fur trading center was established in what is now Quebec, Canada. (The famous Hudson's Bay Company was not established until 1670.)
1565 - The first permanent Spanish colony is founded in Florida.
1614 or 1615 - Squanto abducted to be sold into slavery. This is how Squanto learned the English language that enabled him to teach survival skills to the Pilgrims in 1621. Squanto was abducted by Thomas Hunt, a sub-captain of Captain John Smith, founder of Jamestown (of Pocahontas fame).
1621 - What would become one of the longest-standing peace treaties in American history was struck between the Wampanoag Indians and the Mayflower Pilgrims.
1675-1676 - King Phillip's War. This war ended the 50 year-plus peace treaty between the Wampanoag and Mayflower Pilgrims. Per capita, King Phillip's War was the costliest in American history in terms of lives, both Native and European. The war was started when two Indians were hung, and colonial authorities failed to acknowledge the Native outcry of foul play. It was after this war that the phrase, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" was first spoken (though it would come to be attributed to military leaders of the 19th century).
1754-1763 - French and Indian Wars.
1804 - Lewis and Clark expedition undertaken. A young Shoshone woman named Sacagawea plays a pivotal role in the success of the expedition.
1830 - Indian Removal Act. Resulted in 46,000 eastern Indian men, women and children being relocated so whites could move into their territories unhindered. The famous Trail of Tears was a result of this act. The act mandated removal of the Cherokees of North Carolina, the Choctaws of Mississippi, the Creeks of Mississippi and other southeast locations, the Seminoles of Florida, and the Chickasaws of Mississippi and Tennessee.
1830 - The first wagon train successfully crosses the Rocky Mountains. Also marks the opening of major bison depopulation, which eventually produced hunger as a motivator for war on the plains.
1851 - Fort Laramie Treaty enacted. The treaty promises land to each plains tribe in exchange for safe passage of westward bound wagon trains. Also requires Indian tribes to cease territory wars among themselves. Plains tribes represented were the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Arikara, Assiniboin, Mandan, and others. The treaty was later determined to be unenforceable by reason of lacking authority of the Native representatives signing. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 would attempt to address this problem, but would essentially make it worse by meddling with tribal structure.
1852 - Congress rejects all California treaties, essentially leaving some 150,000 Indians homeless in hostile white territory. The resulting slaughter amounted to a swift genocide. By 1870 the California Indian population had been reduced to approximately 30,000 people.
1864 - Massacre of friendly Cheyenne village at Sand Creek (Colorado). Col. Chivington, a Methodist preacher before entering the army, advocated extermination of the Indian race. The massacre was 2/3 women and children.
1872 - Cochise, after more than a decade of resistance, agrees to establish an Apache reservation in Arizona.
1874 - Black Hills gold rush begins, leading to Custer's Last Stand. The Black Hills belonged to the Lakota Sioux according to the Fort Laramie Treaty, but when gold was discovered the treaty was trampled by white encroachers and the government. In 1875 Lakota leader Red Cloud declared they would defend the Black Hills. 1876 brings Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn.
1875 - General Philip Sheridan pleaded to a joint session of Congress to slaughter buffalo herds in order to deprive the Indians of their source of food. (This was not a new idea as in 1874 a bill for protecting dwindling bison herds was vetoed by President Ulysses S. Grant.)
1877 - Congress votes to repeal the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, and take back the Black Hills, along with 40 million acres of Lakota land.
1879 - The first off-reservation boarding school is opened in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Boarding schools were intended to re-fashion Native children into Euro-Americanized citizens.
1883 - Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows begin. He is the first widely known history reenactor in America, and therefore the first to taste the social power Hollywood would one day hold. It was through his shows that Americans came to believe that all Indians looked the same (like the plains Indians), and that interracial friendship and peace had followed the Indian Wars. These stereotypes would be carried over into the Thanksgiving holiday.
1886 - Geronimo surrenders. His Apache people are relocated from Arizona to Florida. Geronimo passes away in 1909 (Fort Sill, Oklahoma). In 1918 his grave is robbed. The Skull and Bones order at Yale is suspected of the theft. In 2009 a lawsuit against the order was filed by Geronimo's descendants.
1887 - The Dawes Act initiated. This act would eventually transfer millions of acres of tribal lands to white settlers throughout Montana, Idaho and Washington.
1889 - Oklahoma Land Rush transforms 2 million tribal acres into homesteader claims.
1890 - Wounded Knee massacre on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
1948 - Urban Indian Relocation Program initiated. The program was meant to speed assimilation and reform Native culture by financially helping Native persons relocate off reservations and join the workforce. Those who did leave the reservations were often ostracized by family and friends.
1968 - AIM (American Indian Movement) founded. AIM's primary mission was/is to restore treaty relations. See http://www.aimovement.org/ggc/history.html. In 1969 AIM occupied Alcatraz Island in protest, and in 1972 AIM occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington in protest. More info at http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/93...
1975-1994 - Self Governance and Self Determination Acts initiated. These acts recognize tribal governments as sovereign, and allow tribes similar governmental freedom as afforded state-run governments. Decreases BIA responsibilities (debatable).
2009 - Oregon is the first state to acknowledge tribal government equality and sovereignty by flying tribal flags along side the state flag at the state capital. Also, Native American Heritage Day is enacted as a federally recognized holiday to be observed on the day after Thanksgiving annually.
The American Indian Today - 10 Things Mainstream Americans Need to Know about Native America
- Today Native people represent 1% of the American population, with 60% of that 1% having relocated off-reservation. Those who have left their reservations typically did so under an overtly-forced assimilation plan that left little choice for economic survival. It was not uncommon for those leaving the reservations to be ostracized by their families and clans. Those who chose to remain on-reservation did so primarily out of determination to preserve land rights, as well as their Native culture and identity.
- Modern Native households, whether on or off a reservation, predominantly speak English. This was part of the forced assimilation plan, and today very few Native persons are keepers of a tribal language. There is a growing interest in preserving, and sometimes outright restoring these lost languages.
- Native people often find it upsetting when asked, "What percentage Indian are you?" The question is a painful reminder of what has been lost in the forced assimilation. Today, out of necessity, many Native groups view "Indian-ness" as a matter of heart, and not so much genetics.
- Because of the influence of the media (books, movies, television, etc., see YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hJFi7SRH7Q), many Euro-Americans, especially children, still believe all American Indians were plains Indians. This perception creates instances of hurt and rejection for Native children when trying to fit in with non-Native peers. There are and were in fact some 500+ known Native groups of tribes. Each tribe or group has/had their own unique traditions, governments, songs, stories, details of dress, language, and other forms of culture. Because of the media influence few people realize that not all American Indians said, "How" for "Hello," not every tribe called their leader a "Chief," and native leaders never had any "princess" daughters (with the possibility of one historical exception).
- Whenever a culture and people are intentionally reduced in number by imprisonment, exportation, killing, or sterilization, it is called ethnic cleansing, or genocide. Indigenous Americans have suffered many of the traumas of genocide. Even with historical evidences of recorded intent, scholars argue that over-all intent to actually exterminate the indigenous race or races has not been the driving force behind depopulation. For an internationally recognized overview of what defines the crime of genocide, see http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext.htm .
- Most Native people do not want to shove ugly history down Euro-America's throat; they just want their history to be included in honesty. Historical sanitization comes across as another form of ostracation.
- Native peoples were forced to give up all their ancient ways, and for that reason some of their traditions and skills have been lost forever. This in part explains why some Native groups are reluctant to teach outsiders what technologies (skills) and traditions they have managed to hold on to.
- When a Native American person wears or flies a U.S. flag upside down, it is no accident; it is typically in protest to a civil rights issue, or some form of injustice based on race.
- Teen suicide rates among Native American youths are rising, and have reached epidemic proportions on some reservations. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows Native American suicide rates for ages 18-34 at twice the national average. Upon interview, Native teens who have thought about suicide cite violence, obesity, isolation, family stress, and discouraging reservation life as contributing factors for wanting to end their lives.
- Alcohol and drug use continue to be a serious concern for Native Americans. As Native American writer Sherman Alexie put it, "Alcoholism among Native Americans is not a stereotype; it [the problem] is epidemic." The loss of Native identity while trying to bridge two cultures (Euro-America and Native-America) is the most widely cited reason for the wide-spread medicating of emotional pain among American Indians.
Is it "NATIVE AMERICAN," or "AMERICAN INDIAN"?
The term "Native American" implies one is an acculturated American patriot and fellow countryman, whereas the term "American Indian" most often describes one maintaining sole allegiance to a Tribal Nation. Those still on reservations tend to prefer "American Indian," even though all our Native Peoples have been granted American citizenship (Citizenship Act of 1924).
What Tribal Sovereignty Means for Us All
Because of our national need to maintain American unity in spite of our unique ethnic mix, tribal sovereignty has been a difficult concept for my Euro-centric mindset to grasp. I am not alone in having perceived it as a threat to national unity and the good of the whole, and at times even as a sad deathblow to all hopes of actually experiencing camaraderie across ethnic lines.
Although we can all plainly see how a house divided against itself must fall, and how Indian disunity was a huge factor in their historic downfall, we need to keep in mind that American aboriginals are the only ethnic group with a contractual right to autonomy, and that there are new factors at play today that are in everyone's favor as we strive to honor our agreements, and achieve a cooperative relationship. Tribal sovereignty today does not have to mean inevitable division, like it once did.
So what, exactly, does tribal sovereignty mean? It literally means separate, tribal-made, and tribal-run governments apart from the U.S. government. Sovereignty also means certain freedoms from the laws of this land. Tribal governments are afforded similar freedoms to state-run governments, and exist along side the state government in which they reside. Some tribes choose to adopt the laws and practices of the Euro-American culture around them, while others choose to create their own systems.
It is important to recognize that tribal sovereignty is not only a treaty right of nearly all Native Nations (a tribal "Nation" is the governing community overseeing member tribes), but also a right that was, in the majority of cases, paid for with land - the land you and I occupy - as part of their terms of surrender. American Indians are the one and only ethnic group among us with a tangible, contractual investment in their autonomy.
With that said, the favorable modern factors that make this arrangement easier (but not necessarily easy) to accept today are that, A., there are no language barriers to get in the way of creating good interracial and inter-governmental relationships, and B., to a large extent enough adoption of European influences among Native Peoples makes us significantly more like one another than we used to be.
Add to this that, C., virtually all Native Americans / American Indians love this land, and many serve in our armed forces, and D., a majority of Native persons continue to demonstrate a sincere desire to be a productive part of our society, and E., that it does Native hearts good for Euro-centric Americans to acknowledge and honor the treaties of the past... and it all adds up to something with great potential for positive interracial relations.
For more information on the American Indian and the law, see:
2007 United Nations Decision for Land Rights of Indiginous Peoples
In September of 2007 the United Nations overwhelmingly passed a Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples. Only four countries voted against the Declaration: the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Declaration's article of greatest controversy for these countries reads, "Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired."
So how will this Declaration be appropriated here in America? If you think you might know the answer, please share your prediction below.
The full text of the Declaration can be found at: http://www.iwgia.org/sw248.asp .
The following is a video clip of Chief Oren Lyons speaking on the Declaration:
Saving Aboriginals - Everywhere But Here
It is a strange paradox, but Americans have taken to a steady outbound stream of "Humanitarian Tourism" that flocks to the aid of aboriginals in every corner of the world... except here at home.
I can only guess why this is...
Perhaps the pervasive sentiment here is still that Natives must acculturate to be happy, and their determination to stay on reservation lands is perceived as irrational, rather than an understandable act of cultural preservation.
Or perhaps the demonstrations of A.I.M. and UAINE over the years have left such a bad taste in our mouths that we don't want to listen to, or defend (the stereotype of) "rabble-rousing" Indians.
Or maybe it's just because of segregation; something as simple as "out of sight, out of mind."
Whatever it is, we do apparently recognize the sad loss to humanity in stripping aboriginals elsewhere of their cultural heritage. We preserve old-growth forests, and endangered animal species, but make little effort to end the forced assimilation of our aboriginals here at home.
Given the huge loss in numbers of American Indians (now comprising just 1% of the American population), perhaps there is a value to humanity in reconsidering our position, and supporting the cultural preservation efforts of our Native Peoples.
The Big 3: Why We Don't Talk
No beating around the bush. Outside of the obvious issues of segregation, here's where we struggle to connect:
#1 - MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SPECIAL PRIVILEGES (LACK OF HISTORY AWARENESS)
Non-Indian Americans believe equality should mean equal sharing of the tax burden, equal access to health care, and equal compliance to federal laws for gaming, hunting, fishing, and so forth. This is very reasonable at first glance, but once one understands the history of the "special privileges" afforded American Indians, especially on reservations, it then becomes a whole different issue. Tax-exemption, special hunting and fishing rights, doles, free health care, and other benefits were what Native Peoples were given by treaty in exchange for giving up their land, freedom and livelihoods. These were (in many cases) the terms of surrender, and these payments are due them. It was the deal. Organizations who today seek "equality" by taking away these privileges are in effect demonstrating the same dishonorable conduct that has always broken treaties with our Indian neighbors. However, we need to keep in mind that the people who comprise these organizations may themselves be uninformed and unaware of the treaties and history behind these special privileges, and that if they were made aware, they might show more honorable conduct (an honorable man will keep his word to his own hurt... and so will an honorable government).
#2 - A GROWING DISLIKE OF MALCONTENTS AND "BLEEDING HEARTS"
Patriotic Euro-Americans are finding it more and more difficult to listen to minorities who have a hard time expressing appreciation of anything positive about Euro-centric America. Out of impatience toward Native Americans in particular, many resort to a curt, "Just get over it; you lost the war." Not only is that harsh since survivors of large-scale social traumas, such as slavery, war, and genocide easily find themselves stuck in a form of generational post traumatic stress disorder, but it also sends the message that there's no intention of caring (which is a devaluation). Basic inter-personal communication skills are needed here more than ever. Constructive criticism is important to any healthy relationship, but criticism is near impossible to effectively deliver without diplomacy. May we all remember that in any relationship a 2:1 or better ratio of positive to negative comments is vital to keeping ears and hearts open.
#3 - DISTRUST AND STEREOTYPING
On the one hand, American Indians have been cheated so many times by Euro-America that they have a hard time resisting the temptation to over-generalize and stereotype "whites" today. On top of all this they have been silenced by reservation isolation and poor legal representation. On the other hand Euro-Americans today are generally unaware of our history, and therefore have a hard time understanding the reasons behind certain Native concerns. For example, the well known public fight over the use of the seemingly "complimentary" plains Indian symbol leaves many scratching their heads. This debate has unfortunately served to solidify a perception that Native people are unreasonable to deal with. (What Euro-Americans may not realize in this case, is that the plains Indian stereotype is a very real barrier for Native children trying to fit in with non-Native peers. Euro-American children widely believe the plains Indians - and therefore all Indians - are extinct, and that Native children who claim to be Indian must be lying. The sense of rejection this causes is what motivates Native adults to fight so hard against the use of this very popular symbol.) Both sides need to remember that the payoff for healthy conflict resolution is always worth the price paid, and the price to be paid includes a determination to avoid stereotyping, and to expect the highest and best of others... we will get there!
Constructive Ways to Bridge the Gap
- Determine to Expect the Best of Individuals and Collectives (an Ezine article)
Great people tend to think generously toward others, even during conflict. How we think determines how we live. Human nature is to rise to the good expectations made of us, so it makes sense that we increase our own chances for happiness when we expe
- Observe new American Indian Heritage Day on Day After Thanksgiving
Did you even know we had a national American Indian Heritage Day in honor of Native Americans on the day after Thanksgiving in 2008? If not, you are not alone. It was a one-time observance only, enacted on short notice in October, and very few people
- Get to Know Tribes in Your State (www.500nations.com)
Take a minute or two to make yourself familiar with the tribes in your state. This list can also be used as a springboard for historical studies pertinent to your area.
- Join Forum Discussions at 3SunThanksgiving.com (a Public Service and Year-round Outreach)
Here is a diplomatic and compassionate place to talk openly and honestly about the mainstream American - to - American Indian relationship. Topics covered include hard issues like genocide, reservation segregation, A.I.M. activities, and more. Learn,
- Look Up Treaties as Needed (www.digital.library.okstate.edu)
If you would like to familiarize yourself with any of our treaties, here is an exhaustive online source. A-Z listing by tribe, or by date. (There are only a couple of tribes that do not have treaties with the U.S. government.)
- Amazon.com Affiliate Link to Support Native Language Preservation
Do you regularly buy books through Amazon? Next time you do, take a minute to load this page (www.native-languages.org/help.htm) and use the Amazon affiliate link at the bottom. A percentage of your Amazon purchase will then go to support Native dial
- Sign This Petition to Make it Legal for Indian Children to Learn Their Native Language
This is a petition created by a third party that is in favor of allowing children in reservation classrooms to learn and use their Native languages as secondary languages. According to this petition, English is already established as the primary lang
- Participate in This Poll: Lacrosse or Football?
Would you like to see televised old-world Native American Lacrosse tournaments on Thanksgiving day? Lacrosse was first reported by French explorers a few short years following the English-initiated thanks-giving feast of 1621. Pros: Making old-world
- Support the American Indian Education Foundation (part of www.NRCprograms.org)
Only 17% of Native American high school graduates go on to college. Of these, only 20% complete their first year. But of those students who receive services and financial aid from AIEF, 95% stay in school, which is success rate worth celebrating! Wit
- Support the Red Feather Housing Project, www.RedFeather.org
Native Indian elders living in deplorable conditions on certain reservations are at high risk for death by exposure to the elements. They may have housing, but the housing is often inadequate as shelter. This organization builds straw bale homes for
- Understand the Call to End Columbus Day Observance
Another fairly recent movement has been aimed at ending the Columbus Day observance, and familiarizing Americans with the dark side of the explorer's story. Native groups point out that Columbus - though admittedly admirable in some ways - was brutal
Want to encourage someone who is disheartened? Whenever you make a charitable contribution of any kind, consider sending a personal note along. The notes do get read, and they can absolutely make a world of difference!
Give Thanksgiving the Chance to be Real
End Stereotypes, and Have Fun with New Alternative Thanksgiving Oberservances
Thanksgiving has become a sore subject for many Native groups today. The main issue is the eternal avoidance of Native America's related history, which comes across as continuing ostracation. Unfortunately, our traditional Thanksgiving observance is so ingrained we hardly realize change is needed.
Even though Thanksgiving has long been touted the "All-American" holiday, it has really been a holiday that was developed for and by Americans of European descent. In the beginning "All-American" really meant all white Americans (North and South, as we were in the middle of our Civil War). When you take the time to examine it, what you find is that the controversial history of Native Peoples, African Americans, and Spanish Americans, though relevant, have all been withheld from our "All-American" classroom lesson plans on Thanksgiving. Yet all these ethnicities were present in America in 1620-21.
Again, as mentioned in the opening module, because of generations of boring, whitewashed K-12 history textbooks, Americans in general believe they already know our American and Thanksgiving history, when in fact they not only are missing major aspects, but they esteem it as boring and irrelavant.
So how do we begin to correct all this? One creative way is to join in on "1621 Time Travel" as a holiday hobby, whether at home, or as part of a community project. Our sister lens, Squidoo.com/UniqueThanksgiving, as well as our websites 3SunThanksgiving.com and IdeasThanksgiving.com introduce the concept. It is similar to Renaissance reenacting, only more American, and very inclusive of Native culture. Our family has been celebrating Thanksgiving this way for a couple years now, and the cultural aspect simply can't be beat. Over time a new Thanksgiving approach like this could have a significant impact on interracial relations because it so effortlessly raises cultural awareness through holiday play.
In addition to 1621 Time Traveling, as of 2009 we also have Native American Heritage Day which will be celebrated on the day after Thanksgiving annually. I have high hopes that in years to come we will see a rise in friendly exchange through community events related to this new holiday. Perhaps someday we'll even see Black Friday bumped to Black Saturday instead!
Resources for Families and Teachers - Empower Ourselves and Our Children Through Awareness
- We Shall Remain - A PBS Site on the Native American Experience (www.pbs.org)
A website by the creators of The American Experience. Offers an extensive teacher's guide for social studies educators. Encourages teachers to integrate Native history as an integral part of our American history. If you missed the airing of the full
- Website Guide for Teaching Children About Native Americans, www.cynthialeitichsmith.com
A friendly, informative website by Native American writer and public speaker, Cynthia Smith. This site is dedicated to clarifying what constitutes good or not-so-good media portrayal of Native Peoples. Useful for teachers, parents, and fellow writers
- Sherman Alexie's Story, a YouTube.com Broadcast Interview
Award winning Native American writer Sherman Alexie shares his story about growing up on the reservation, and his difficult transition into "white" society. This interview provides viewers with an insider's view of what the Native American experience
- 16 Content-rich Thanksgiving Lessons Plans, www.IdeasThanksgiving.com
Next Generation Thanksgiving Lessons Plans, Teach With Excellence! is a fascinating, content-rich lesson plan series for teaching Thanksgiving history. Created using Oregon's Benchmark 1 standards (included), this series will empower young minds to t
- 3SunThanksgiving.com Forums, Blog, Outreach
3SunThanksgiving.com is provided as a cultural exchange platform that presents a year-round living history renovation model for the "All-American" holiday of Thanksgiving. In addition to raising funds for Grameen micro-lending facilities for poverty
HISTORY REPORTING STYLES: IT MATTERS!
1. Traditionalist - the patriotic winner's "feel good" style that promotes heroism
2. Revisionist - the underdog's version of history, or "feel bad" history
3. Post Revisionist - "no feel" style that seeks to examine all angles via primary sources
Recommended Books and Movies
Possibly the best option for those who seek post-revisionist historiography. It is written by a revisionist, but Andrist is credited with being exceptionally balanced in his presentation of the facts without emotion. The book does include some information on other Native cultures, besides those of the plains, but ties them all together in the plains since that was the last bastion. Andrist presents a look at how Native and European cultures adapted with every turn of events. Also addresses numerous treaties. A smooth read that lets the reader decide for him or herself how he/she will "feel" about the history. Highly recommended.
This book discusses many of the general American history falsehoods taught in K-12 history textbooks. If you don't have a college education in history, then this book is an eye-opener. It is written in Revisionist style ("feel bad" underdog's history), so be careful to check all footnote sources so you can separate fact from opinion. The book delivers interest through controversy, and touches on a number of historical issues pertaining to Native Americans, including but not limited to the little known tyranny of Christopher Columbus.
A treasury of excerpts from a variety of primary source documents. This is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in period Native culture, or in putting real history back into Thanksgiving.
This is an admittedly expensive college textbook, but our family purchased an older edition for pennies on the dollar through Amazon.com. It is an excellent overview of America's ethnic melting pot, and how and why each ethnicity came into the mix. We found it excellent for adding dimension to our own family genealogical studies. If you have any curiosity about why America is the way she is socially, you'll come away from this book feeling it was well worth your time to read. Highly recommended.
An eight-part video series by Ken Burns. Explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America, from pre-Colombian times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation of the Plains Indians of North America.
Remember: Our tax dollars used to support Native Americans is in exchange for something (essentially land). It is not the same as our tax dollars going to support illegal immigrants.
This video is simply a gift to you for making it to the bottom of this long page! It is called Prayer Song, and is performed by Robby Romero (purchase through EagleThunder.com). I originally found it at the 500Nations.net website, which is a great place to find American Indian events in your state. Peace!