Key takeaways from the history of the Indigenous peoples of the United States


A few days ago, I finished reading my fourth book in the Re-envisioning American History series, A History of the Indigenous Peoples of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. If it sounds familiar to you to come back Mary sue Readers, I mentioned two books in the series as suggestions to read in honor of Black August.

Totaling approximately 300 pages per title, each book in the series is written by a different expert in that community and traces the history of the United States through the shared experiences of people from different marginalized groups. Some are specific to a demographic group, such as black women, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ + community, while others, such as Blacks and Latinx or Afro-Indigenous people, cover the stories shared between groups. .

On the occasion of Indigenous Peoples Day, I wanted to share some key points from Dunbar-Ortiz’s book.

Book cover.  (Image: Beacon Press.)

(Image: Beacon Press)

Before I begin, I want to say that while these books are written in an accessible manner, this is the first book in the series (and I have read everything at this point except the History of Disability) which to my opinion, requires considerable work to fully understand. I’m not saying this to discourage ANYONE from reading it, but I wanted you to know it so you were ready. The hardest section is the beginning, and in many of these books, this is the hardest part because it is about theory.

Instead of a story book looking like “Okay first, it happened, then this,” the series titles need to define certain parameters. At Michael Bronski A queer story from the United States, the book describes the language used because who knows if, while reading, specific self-identifiers have fallen into disuse? Also, he talks about using modern language to describe the past and why it’s hard to simply call someone from bisexual history because of their behavior and relationships, for example.

In Dunbar-Ortiz’s book, she does something similar. She talks about larger pervasive myths and how they distort our view of history. Dunbar-Ortiz points out that there is no Indigenous Peoples perspective like there is with no other group history book.

“This book attempts to tell the story of the United States as a colonizing state, a state which, like European colonialist sites, crushed and subdued the original civilization in the territories it now rules. . “Page 14.

If this, so far, is a little intimidating, I recommend that you read the “Youth” versions. These are suitable for 16+ and are easier to digest. No shade at all as some of the material is already difficult to understand emotionally, and adding a mental barrier can be a drag. Since one of my sisters is not a reader, I bought her the “For the Young” version of Bronski’s book for Christmas last year because I wanted her to have a piece of her own story. Dunbar-Ortiz’s book also has an edition for young readers.

Arming immigrants and the global police

One of the few things that I could name as a pro on a pro / con list of qualities of this country, despite our current political issues on this front, is that it is a nation made up of immigrants who have come here. all of them besides (minus the Indignants who were already there). And he’s still a pro, but I never gave it much thought Why people were there.

The first pilgrims wanted to control the society in which they lived (puritanical and free from sin), which is why they left Holland. Those from the West African region were brought in from the transatlantic slave trade, and all other non-whites (Chinese, Irish at the time, etc.)). Not much has changed since then, except that slavery and indentured servitude have gone underground and are illegal.

In fact, throughout his book, Dunbar-Ortiz talks about coming and serving the will of the government to prove that you are “American enough” to earn respect and citizenship. Now people are doing it by enlisting in the military in the hope of gaining residency. In the past, the United States granted land to many whites whose own countries had been colonized (especially the Scots and the Irish), thereby granting them wealth and class mobility in exchange for strengthening the borders imposed on Native Americans.

Bonus points if they brought a lot more with them, and even though it sounds like an MLM, it was a good deal for most of these immigrants. Those who caught up Foreigner are already seeing these tensions occurring. Jaime was not considered as fully human as a Scott, and yet he (and his aunt, whom I HATE) were able to wield a power in which those below them included slaves and Native American confederations.

Coming back to this point on modern immigrants serving in the military to become Americans, this is not just the first generation of an immigrant family; it can be any, to prove to themselves and to the racists that they are Americans. They entered wars outside the US border (what was called “Indian country” wherever in the world) and caused the destruction of the indigenous peoples of this region in the name of economic interests. Americans.

This is something I was only just beginning to grasp regarding the Cold War until now, but it really goes back to the beginning of our nation. This is how we built our global police force and picked up non-continental settlements along the way.

(Image: Picador United States.)

Language and the 2nd Amendment

I’m not sure about your history lessons, but mine were generally structured around war: French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, Civil War, “Indian War”, WW1, WW2, then the Cold War. That’s why I didn’t know the difference between the Korean and Vietnam wars until college and watching Mad Men. One of the many problems with teaching history as a series of wars is that in this case it ignores the fact that we have been engaged in multiple (sometimes DOZENS) armed conflicts and genocide. with Native Americans all the time, not just after the Civil War, a real eternal war.

For this reason, much of our military and press language regarding warfare, from equipment to general language, uses words framed around the fight against Native American countries. The Navy SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden gave him the code name Geronimo, the aforementioned “Indian country”, now abbreviated as “country,” the machines dubbed for the early indigenous people they killed while they kill new ones today, like Black Falcon, etc., and many others.

With respect to the 2nd Amendment right to a “well-regulated militia,” these were also, according to Dunbar-Ortiz, militarist references to Native Americans enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Outside of wartime (with non-natives), militias spread across the country fought against native communities and prevented enslaved communities from escaping. It was the first semblance of local (more regional) police. However, since there was no standing army until 1789 (and even then, it’s not as if they were trained or just sitting at the borders of dozens of neighboring nations), it belonged to the militias of communicate daily with all these indigenous nations.

By communicating, I mean above all with violence and violation of treaties. You see, while the United States has made and violated some of these treaties at the federal level, many have been violated by militias, with the United States “looking the other way.” The local militias were the ones that the indigenous confederations dealt with on a daily basis, and many of the shots fired at men, women, elders and children were from the “well-regulated militias” described in the Second Amendment. While I never completely took issue with the 2nd Amendment, this wording has always baffled me, and when in doubt it usually turns out to be white supremacist.

Side note: She embarked on settler colonialism and established these reappearing links (including US diplomacy with) Israel and South Africa. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it because my brain is still processing everything.

Coming in November

Book cover.  (Image: Beacon Press.)

(Image: Beacon Press.)

Next month, the next volume in the series, An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States by Kyle T. Mays (Saginaw Chippewa), outings, and despite how rigorously I try to be with my book-buying habits (bordering on self-diagnosed addiction), I pre- order. I don’t want to say too much as it will probably end up on the Mary Sue Book Club list for November, but based on the title and what I’ve said about the other books in this series, I think that’s enough. simple.

This is particularly exciting for several reasons. First, the book that helped me discover Re-envisioning American History was a book about the shared history of two peoples. So, come full circle! Second, in Dunbar-Ortiz’s book, she talks briefly about free black communities (like the xs) and indigenous peoples in relation to the transatlantic slave trade. In this book it looks like there will be this and more. Mays also contributed to the book A Community History of African America, 1619 – 2019: four hundred souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.

In honor of today and in anticipation of November (Indigenous History Month), we encourage you to choose one of these titles and ask questions about how stories are shared. Also check out this list of activities organized in your community for Indigenous Peoples Day.

(image shown: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr)

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