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Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz 3-pack

Program #ORTR001-ORTR002-ORTR003.

First program: Native America: From Genocide to Resistance

The centuries-long genocidal policies of the U.S. settler-colonial regime has largely been omitted from history. The ferocity and savagery of the U.S. attack on Native Americans is usually turned on its head. The colonists were the victims. They had to defend themselves against the heathens. The sheer hatred for indigenous people manifested in genocide. George Washington called them “beasts.” Jefferson declared, “We will destroy them all.” The notorious Indian killer Andrew Jackson said, “They must disappear.” Jump to Barack Obama who pronounced “America was not born a colonial power.” Really? Native Americans are still here. They have survived. The coalition of many nations resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock was inspiring. Though the pipeline is being built the resistance generated a consciousness and awareness about the situation of indigenous people and land and water issues.

 Second program: An Indigenous Economic Model

The existing economic system in most countries is a kind of state capitalism. It produces enormous inequalities. Its extraction practices are environmentally destructive. Perhaps indigenous models provide a viable alternative. Chief Seattle was a Susquamish chief in what is now Washington State. He reportedly made these observations in an 1854 letter to U.S. President Pierce: “How can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect.” And he warned: “Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.”

Third program: The Other Side of Thanksgiving

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.

Speaker(s):

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas, held at UN headquarters in Geneva. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award and All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans.

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