Whatever you do in life, do the very best you can with both your heart and mind. And if you do it that way, the Power of the Universe will come to your assistance, if your heart and mind are in Unity. When one sits in the Hoop Of The People, one must be responsible because All of Creation is related. And the Hurt of one is the hurt of all. And the honor of one is the honor of all. And whatever we do affects everything in the universe. If you do it that way-that is, if you truly join your heart and mind as One-whatever you ask for, that the Way it's Going to be.
-White Buffalo Calf Woman
The authors have given the readers a snapshot, a different worldview that may challenge everything you may know about US history, Native peoples, the US federal government and its treatment of Native people and tribes. We have connected this to contemporary issues facing Native people and have revealed the resiliency of Native people in dealing with continued acts of genocide, assimilation and oppression today.
While other disciplines may "study" and teach about Native people, American Indian Studies (AIS) or Native American Studies (NAS) provides the voices, social struggles, contributions and lived experiences of Native people culturally, socially, economically, legally, politically, and academically.
AIS/NAS actively promotes the sustained and thriving existence of Native peoples and sovereign tribal nations with an emphasis on agency and group-affirmation. One could argue that NAS or AIS began way before the movements of the 1960’s in that Native voices can be heard speaking about justice and equity, establishing laws and governing councils, as well as enacting sustainable land and environmental policies of sovereign nations, if one listens. It is our hope you have listened and will now take political and economic action. Support Native artists, musicians and writers by buying their products. Vote for laws that support tribal sovereignty, your local tribes and their economic development. Participate in the LANDBACK movement by purchasing and donating land to your local tribes.
For more information please take a look at the timeline throughout the chapter that we have provided of events that have shaped American Indian federal policy and have affected Native people.
- American Indian, Native American: These terms relate to Indigenous people across the United States and are used interchangeably with “Indian”. Individuals who identify with ancestral or cultural ties and or Native American tribes or Alaskan tribes in the United States. These individuals can be enrolled or non-enrolled members within federally recognized tribes. This research uses both terms to refer to Native people and uses these terms interchangeably to reflect the generation differences.
- Boarding Schools: Another federal government assimilation initiative and prime example of cultural imperialism that was allegedly done for the ‘benefit’ of Native people was the creation of boarding schools. Over 100,000 Native American children were forced to attend boarding schools and thousands of them died because of the neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the religious organizations that ran these schools that were funded by the federal government.
- Dawes Allotment Act: The 1887 Dawes Allotment Act was a way in which the federal government could obtain reservation land, established through treaties. The Dawes Act authorized the President to break up reservation land into small allotments parceled out to individual Native Americans, encouraging farming while at the same time destroying the tribal communally held land base.
- Decolonization: Decolonization is active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, independence and power that originate from a colonized nation's own Indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression. Decolonization refers to fighting back against the ongoing colonialism and colonial mentalities that permeate all institutions and systems of government. Decolonizing actions must begin in the mind, and that creative, consistent, decolonized thinking shapes and empowers the brain, which in turn provides a major prime for positive change. Decolonization means a) creating and consciously using various strategies to liberate oneself, adapt to or survive oppressive conditions; b) restoring cultural practices, thinking, beliefs, and values that were taken away or abandoned but are still relevant and necessary for survival; and c) the birthing of new ideas, thinking, technologies, and lifestyles that contribute to the advancement and empowerment of Indigenous Peoples.
- Historical Trauma: Historical trauma is multigenerational trauma experienced by a specific cultural, racial or ethnic group. It is related to major events experienced by a particular group of people because of their status as oppressed, such as slavery, the Holocaust, forced migration, and the violent colonization of Native Americans.
- Indian Reorganization Act: The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) passed by the U.S. Congress in 1934, encouraged tribes to take control of their “business and economic affairs” to insure a solid land base by putting a halt to the loss of tribal lands through allotment (Dawes). The IRA was a sharp change in direction in federal policy leaning towards tribal sovereignty, replacing assimilationist policies that had been in place since the late 1800’s. The IRA prohibited any further allotment of reservation lands. It also provided a way for tribes to purchase land back and place it in trust through the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. The IRA of 1934 was meant to further establish tribal self-government politically and economically. Through the IRA, Congress authorized tribes to adopt their own constitutions and bylaws.
- Indigenous Ways of Knowing: This term relates to an alternate paradigm to occidental epistemology and ontology. According to Harris (2002), many Indigenous people view every aspect of creation as continuously interacting with one another.
- Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery: Manifest Destiny, coined in 1845 by newspaper editor John O’Sullivan, is the idea that white, Christian Americans were divinely ordained to ‘settle’ (invade and steal) North America. This included a belief in the inherent superiority of white Americans as well as the conviction that they were destined by the Christian God to “conquer” the people and territories of North America. The ideology of Manifest Destiny was used to justify extreme measures to murder and decimate Native populations in order to “free” the land from its inhabitants, including forced removal and violent extermination. The Doctrine of Discovery established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and the seizure of land not inhabited by Christians.
- Place-Based Learning: A framework for incorporating cultural standards and related practices as the framework for integrating Indigenous knowledge and physical environment into Western education systems (Emekauwa, 2004).
- Reservations and Rancherias: Tract of land owned by a tribe or tribes held in trust status by the federal government for the Indians’ benefit. Reservations were created by treaty, statute, executive order, judicial decision, or order of the secretary of the interior (Wilkins & Stark, 2011, p. 311). Often referred to as prisoner of war camps. Land set aside for homeless Indians. Unique to California.
- Self-Determination is an integral piece of sovereignty and the right of a people to decide upon its own form of government, without outside influence and relates to the freedom and free will of the people of a given area to determine their own political status and independence.
- Self-Governance is the inherent right to make decisions that affect your own people. Tribes have the right of self governance as nations.
- Settler Colonialism refers to an invasive group or culture that actively occupies and attempts to destroy through genocidal acts to replace/erase Native peoples and cultures (Wolfe, 1999; Wolfe, 2006).
- Termination occurred in 1953 when the U.S. Congress adopted an official policy of termination declaring that the goal was to, “as rapidly as possible make Indians within the territorial limits of the United States subject to the same laws and entitled to the same privileges and responsibilities as are applicable to other citizens of the United States” (House Concurrent Resolution 108). The real goal of termination was the theft of Native lands; and a companion policy was the “relocation” of Native people off reservations into urban areas.
- Treaties are considered the “supreme law of the land” (Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution), and are in effect forever and therefore equivalent to federal laws.
- Tribal Sovereignty is the right for tribes to govern themselves within US borders. The right of a tribe to make laws separate from the European and American governmental authorities, and Native American sovereignty existed long before the United States (U.S.) constitution came into existence (Wedding, Vega, & Mark, 2003, p. 131).
- American political officials have often utilized the stereotype of ‘Native people as children’ who need to be ‘looked after’ to justify the taking of Native land and resources. In fact, the federal government successfully elevated itself to the position of ‘guardian’ establishing a patriarchal governing structure with an inherent authority and necessary ‘obligation’ to look out for their ‘wards’. In a literal sense, Native people were legally defined and relegated to the status of ‘children’ under the tutelage of the US government as the parent. How did this ‘relationship’ impact the self determination and sovereign rights of tribes and Native people to identify themselves? How did this further impact treaties and land, water and mineral rights for Native people?
- Dr. Michael Yellow Bird created a ‘Conceptual Model of Decolonization’, focusing specifically on action we can take to ‘Decolonize our Minds’ in that he defines decolonization as both an event and a process. Elaborate on what he means by this and how you can use the ‘Conceptual Model of Decolonization’ to make changes in your community?
- Explain how the ‘other’ or ‘othering’ is established and the ramifications of this on Native people and identity. How exactly are Native people made into the societal "other", if they are both ‘ignored’ and ‘highlighted’ in U.S. society? Use examples like Mascots, and images of Native people in film, and literature.
- Explain how American Indian is not an Ethnic Group? Use examples from the text and other sources to differentiate between cultural and political identities.
Reflection and Assignments
Canary Effect Video and Reflection
- The Canary Effect (2006) is a documentary film directed by Robin Davey and Yellow Thunder Woman that focuses on the horrors of genocide faced by Native Americans and the racist policies of the United States. The documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won the Stanley Kubrick Award at the 2006 Traverse City Film Festival. This video was banned in the United States and could only be purchased in Europe when it first came out.
- Please make sure to watch "The Canary Effect” before you complete this assignment. [Writer's note: The site may not have the most accurate captioning to meets accessibility standards]
- Take a moment of self reflection and write 1-2 pages or record (audio/video) a short (3 minute or less) reflection paper. Reflect upon the following:
- The definition of genocide - How does the United Nations define genocide in the movie? Did you know that the United States government purposefully took actions and is still taking action to commit genocide against Native American people today? Governmental policies, Executive (Presidential) Orders, and laws set precedence on how to unfairly take advantage of Native people and their resources (land, water and mineral rights).
- Discuss 2-3 specific issues that Native Americans have faced (both historically or in present day).
- What are your reactions/thoughts about the treatment of Native Americans in the United States?
- Connect direct examples to the theoretical framework to help you better understand the Native American Experience and how you can become an ally.
- What actions must take place to right these wrongs?
- What are the barriers you perceive and how can you help remove them?
- Reflect on your reactions to the video and whether this information has changed you in any way.
Native Land Recognition Activity
- First we acknowledge the land, and understand that the land we currently occupy is stolen land. But who is it stolen from? Do you know?
- For this assignment, you will be doing research on and identifying the original past and present tribe(s) whose land on which you are currently living and working.
- We must honor these caretakers through our actions in this space and we can do this by doing some research and learning about these Native nations.
- You will access the following at Native Land Digital. [Writer's note: We acknowledge this site may not be accessible for students using assistive technology]
- Once on the page make sure that the territories, languages, and treaties are all toggled to on or green.
- Type in the town where you live or work or any town or city in California that you are interested in, in the search area (line where the image of the tiny magnifying glass is located) of the same box on the top left corner of the website.
- Results will show up in the bottom left corner of the map that include the tribe(s), their languages and treaties that were ratified.
- After you have identified the tribe, research key facts about that tribe and their land.
Answer the following questions:
- Can you find the original Native name of the city/town/location that you researched?
- What is the language spoken by the tribe? Learn a few words and share what you learned.
- What are 3 interesting facts about the tribe? You can use historical facts but try to find out contemporary information about the tribe today.
- Can you find any pictures or images of the people? Are they older images or pictures recently taken? Why is this important?
- Why is it difficult to find any treaties that were ratified in California?
Remember to cite your sources.
Social Justice and Hip Hop Activity
- Watch the music video Stand Up/Stand N Rock and write down two messages that you hear or see in the video and why they are important.
- Answer the following question - when Emcee One says "this is for the rock, with prayers we stand on it." What do you think he means?
- Using the information that you have learned in this chapter, add another verse to this song.