Tag Archives: American Indians

IN KOTZEBUE, ALASKA, HUNTERS ARE BRINGING TRADITIONAL FOODS—AND A SENSE OF COMFORT—TO THEIR LOCAL ELDERS

17 Jul

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

An aerial view of Kotzebue, Alaska.

Twenty-six miles above the Arctic Circle, in Kotzebue, Alaska, there’s a plain white metal trailer in the center of town that blends in with the snowy tundra during the winter. From the outside, it looks like an office or a perhaps a single-family home, but it’s actually a modern-day ice-cellar, or Siglauq, where hunters from across Inuit villages throughout northern Alaska can donate meat to be inspected, packaged, and served in the northernmost nursing home in the United States.

So begins Charlee Catherine Dyrhoff’s Pacific Standard story on providing traditional food for Inuit elderly in the Alaskan town of Kotzebue. You may read the entire story here.

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Romantic or racist? Perceptions shift on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

13 Jul

In Minnesota, Waziyatawin’s daughter came home from school one afternoon shaken and deeply disturbed by that day’s read-along.

The book? “Little House on the Prairie.” Her mom says the then-8-year-old was upset by hearing her teacher deliver the novel’s phrase, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” When Dr. Waziyatawin, a Dakota historian with a doctorate in American history from Cornell University, petitioned the Yellow Medicine East District in 1998 to stop teaching the book in third grade, her request was rejected.

In Kansas, Laura McLemore, who was named after the Little House series’ author Laura Ingalls Wilder, dedicates herself to preserving the legacy of the author, dressing up as the fictionalized Laura character to make the pioneer-era books come alive for school kids.

In Boston, when James Noonan, a research affiliate at Harvard Graduate School of Education, read the book to his 3-year-old daughter last year, he says he struggled to find a “middle path,” pointing out racism and talking about the perspectives of the Native characters not included in the series. “I’m not trying to censor it. I’m trying to ask important questions about it and not let Ma’s perspective speak for itself,” says Dr. Noonan.

These divergent responses reflect a still-unsettled struggle over how society should deal with books – especially ones long revered as classics – that contain racism. The “Little House on the Prairie” ​series, ​which follows the fictionalized Ingalls family as they settle in Kansas, ​has for decades been a third-grade reading staple, translated into more than 40 languages a​s well as adapted ​for TV.

So begins Rebecca Asoulin’s report on differing ways of dealing with how Native Americans are regarded in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic books. You may read the entire story at the Christian Science Monitor here.

REGARDING THE TERM “MERCILESS INDIAN SAVAGES”

5 Jul

The other day I was asked if Americans can or should celebrate the country we aspire to, instead of the one described in the Declaration of Independence?

For the past decade, I have been working to educate our nation on the Doctrine of Discovery and the white supremacists’ influence it has on the foundations of our nation. This is especially evident in the Declaration of Independence, where, 30 lines below the inclusive and benevolent statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”, that document refers to the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island as “merciless Indian savages.” Demonstrating very clearly, that the only reason the founding fathers used the inclusive term “all men” is because they had a very narrow definition of who was actually human. I have written many articles regarding the Declaration of Independence, and I did not intend to write yet another one this year. But I appreciated being asked this question, and so I decided to respond.

So begins my friend Mark Charles’ editorial at Native News Online. You may read his entire piece here.

Government Boarding Schools Once Separated Native American Children From Families

21 Jun

Carlisle Indian School

In 1879, U.S. cavalry captain Richard Henry Pratt opened a boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t the kind of boarding school that rich parents send their children to. Rather, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was a government-backed institution that forcibly separated Native American children from their parents in order to, as Pratt put it, “kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Over the next several decades, Carlisle served as a model for nearly 150 such schools that opened around the country. Like the 1887 Dawes Act that reallotted Native American land, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 1902 “haircut order”specifying that men with long hair couldn’t receive rations, Native American boarding schools were a method of forced assimilation. The end goal of these measures was to make Native people more like the white Anglo-Americans who had taken over their land.

So begins Becky Little’s concise historical reminder at History.com of Indian Boarding Schools. You may read her entire post here.

Indigenous Remains Do Not Belong to Science

30 Apr

Indigenous Remains Do Not Belong to Science

Editors at Scientific American offer their take on an important and ongoing issue here.

Unraveling the Genetic History of a First Nations People

27 Apr

tsimshian1.jpg

Humans tend to view ourselves in terms of our impact on the world around us: the wars we’ve waged, the land we’ve settled, the machines we’ve made. But the natural world exerts a reciprocal force on us, shaping the members of our species down to our very cells. The macroscopic challenges we face as societies are reflected in our microscopic DNA, transmitted and transmuted across time as we—like all other animals—slowly but steadily evolve.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it was not long ago that the Tsimshian people of modern-day Alaska and British Columbia were first confronted with European settlers—roughly 175 years, a mere handful of generations out of the Tsimshian’s 6,000-year American history. But that fateful encounter, which introduced smallpox and other alien ailments into their population, decimated the Tsimshian and threatened to compromise their genetic diversity in the years ahead.

This landmark moment in Native American history captured the imagination of John Lindo, a genetic anthropologist at Emory University who delved deep into Tsimshian DNA as lead author on a just-published paper in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Lindo focused his research on the Tsimshian in an effort to understand the genetic dynamics surrounding their population collapse, which could shed light on the experience of many other Native American groups upon first contact with Europeans.

So begins Ryan P. Smith’s report on the genetic history of the Tsimshian First Nation. You may read the rest of the report at Smithsonian.com here.

Tales of the Doomed Franklin Expedition Long Ignored the Inuit Side, But “The Terror” Flips the Script

7 Apr

TERROR_103_AM_0131_0446-RT.jpg

In 1845, Arctic veteran Sir John Franklin departed Britain in command of two ships, the HMS Terror and Erebus, to seek the fabled Northwest Passage in the Arctic. They were last seen by Europeans in Baffin Bay, off the coast of Greenland. Then both ships disappeared, seemingly swallowed by the ice and never heard from again, at least not from the explorers themselves.

Those looking for the true story, however, have almost always had access to one primary source: Inuit oral histories, more specifically the accounts of the Netsilik Inuit. As early as 1854, just six years after the expedition was declared lost, a Hudson’s Bay fur trader named John Rae talked to Inuk men he met about the fate of the Expedition.

So begins Kate Eschner’s report on the new AMS series “The Terror”. You may read the rest of her piece here.

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