The history of Indigenous people is full of acts of resistance. One such dramatic action was the seizure of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay by activists from the American Indian Movement. November marks the 50th anniversary of that event. More recently the blockade at Standing Rock in North Dakota galvanized Indigenous communities to defend their land, water, and sacred burial grounds. The Standing Rock resistance injected into public discourse such terms as water protectors and stewards of the land and an awareness that Native peoples have an expanded concept of kinship and family that includes Nature. Despite widespread opposition to the pipeline, Trump authorized its construction. La Lucha Sigue. The struggle for indigenous rights continues. Recorded at the University of Colorado at Denver.
Eduardo Galeano in his masterwork, The Open Veins of Latin America wrote that 500 years ago European settler colonialists came to this hemisphere and “sank their teeth” into the throats of Indian civilizations. You know the story. Genocide. Land was stolen. Broken promises and broken treaties. Survivors exiled to inhospitable reservations. In recent years indigenous people are organizing and asserting their rights. Standing Rock in North Dakota was a key moment where some 200 nations came together to resist the Keystone XL pipeline. New terms entered the lexicon of resistance such as water protectors and stewards of the land. Keystone and other struggles continue as does corporate capitalism’s monomaniacal drive for profits regardless of the cost to Mother Nature and indigenous peoples. Chief Seattle once said, "The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth." Recorded at University of Montana
The history of the U.S. is one of settler colonialism. The state was established on the basis of white male supremacy, slavery, land theft and genocide. “From sea to shining sea” the Native nations were decimated and dispossessed. The survivors herded into concentration camps. The genocidal policy reached its peak under President Andrew Jackson. Its ruthlessness was best articulated by Army general Thomas Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.” Native people are still here. Today, there is growing support for their movements such as the campaign to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Dakota Access Pipeline resistance led by the Standing Rock Sioux was joined by many non-Native allies. The action, though unsuccessful, captured the imagination of people everywhere. The struggle for indigenous rights continues.
Nick Estes is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is an Assistant Professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. He is co-founder of The Red Nation, an indigenous resistance organization. His articles appear in The Intercept, Jacobin, Indian Country Today, the Funambulist Magazine, and High Country News. He is the author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and The Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance, and he co-edited Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement.
Winona LaDuke is a brilliant and articulate representative of Indigenous perspectives. At the age of seventeen, she spoke at the UN on behalf of Native Americans. She is a founding member of Women of All Red Nations and director of the Land Recovery Project on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. She was the 1996 and 2000 vice-presidential candidate of the Green Party. She is the author of All Our Relations, Recovering the Sacred, The Militarization of Indian Country, and The Winona LaDuke Chronicles.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. A distinguished scholar, she has been active in the international Indigenous movement for many years and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. She is the recipient of the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first UN conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans and Not a Nation of Immigrants.