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.
The historical lens through which national holidays are viewed is often blurred and distorted. Thanksgiving is a case in point. The much-revered Pilgrims fresh off the Mayflower sat down and shared native foods with the friendly Wampanoags. A heart-warming story. But this idea of the gift-giving Indian, helping to establish and enrich what would become the United States, is a myth. Native Americans would soon be overwhelmed and killed en masse by white settlers. Those that survived the murderous campaigns against them were relegated to inhospitable reservations. Indian land was stolen fair and square. Today we honor the memory of the slaughtered with Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, Jeep Cherokees, the Washington Redskins and calling bin Laden, Geronimo. Native Americans are offended by the appropriation of their culture. It is the final stage of genocide.
The dynamic Russell Means presents a moving and eloquent talk on Native America. He recounts how consciousness has changed among indigenous people but among the white European settler descendants, many of the old prejudices remain. For example, he says, “The Pope is going to canonize Father Serra an Indian murderer and Indian slave owner.” In North and South America Indian peoples, their lands and traditions are under assault. But there is resistance. Native peoples are organizing and fighting for their dignity and rights. Recorded at the University of Colorado at Denver.
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.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. She is an award-winning scholar and author of such books as An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, All the Real Indians Died Off and Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. She is the recipient of the Cultural Freedom Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Lannan Foundation.
Russell Means was a renowned activist for Indian Rights. An Oglala Lakota, he was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He was a founding member of the American Indian Movement and its first national director. His autobiography is Where White Men Fear to Tread. He passed away in 2012.