(ReVisioning American History) Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz-An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United Sta

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Unformatted text preview: AN � � INDIGENOU PEOPLES' U.S. $27.95 (continued from front flap) CAN $32.95 Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples' history radically reframes US "A must-read for anyone interested in the truth behind this nation's founding." history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative. -VERONICA E. VELARDE TILLER, PhD, Jicar"illa Apache author, historian, and publisher of Tiller's Guide to Indian Country Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descen­ dants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocid­ al program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States mother. She has been active in the international told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples Indigenous movement for more than four decades and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, and is known for her lifelong commitment to na­ actively resisted expansion of the US empire. tional and international social justice issues. After receiving her PhD in history at the University of In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, California at Los Angeles, she taught in the newly Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth established Native American Studies Program at of the United States and shows how policy against California State University, Hayward, and helped Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to found the departments of Ethnic Studies and seize the territories of the original inhabitants, dis­ Women's Studies. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux placing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz Nation was the fundamental document at the first reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, international conference on Indigenous peoples of through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and the Americas, held at the United Nations' headquar­ Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of gov­ ters in Geneva. Dunbar-Ortiz is the author or editor ernment and the military. As the genocidal policy of seven other books, including Roots of Resistance: reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, A History ofLand Tenure in New Mexico. She lives in its shocking ruthlessness was best articulated by US San Francisco. Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: "The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them." Jacket design and photo illustration: Gabi Anderson Jacket art: Images courtesy of Veer Beacon Press Boston (continued on back flap) PRAISE FOR A N I N D I G E N O U S P E O P L E S ' H I S T O RY O F T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S "In this riveting book, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz decolonizes American his­ tory and illustrates definitively why the past is never very far from the pres­ ent. Exploring the borderlands between action and narration-between what happened and what is said to have happened-Dunbar-Ortiz strips us of our forged innocence, shocks us into new awarenesses, and draws a straight line from the sins of our fathers-settler-colonialism, the doctrine of discovery, the myth of manifest destiny, white supremacy, theft, and systematic killing-to the contemporary condition of permanent war, inva­ sion and occupation, mass incarceration, and the constant use and threat of state violence. Best of all, she points a way beyond amnesia, paralyzing guilt, or helplessness toward discovering our deepest humanity in a project of truth-telling and repair. An Indigenous Peoples ' History of the United States will forever change the way we read history and understand our own responsibility to it." - B I L L AY E R S "Dunbar-Ortiz provides a historical analysis o f the US colonial framework from the perspective of an Indigenous human rights advocate. Her assess­ ment and conclusions are necessary tools for all Indigenous peoples seeking to address and remedy the legacy of US colonial domination that continues to subvert Indigenous human rights in today's globalized world." Native Hawai'ian international law expert on Indigenous peoples' rights and former Kia Aina (prime minister) of Ka La Hui Hawai'i - M I L I L A N I B. T R A S K, "Justice-seekers everywhere will celebrate Dunbar-Ortiz's unflinching commitment to truth-a truth that places settler-colonialism and genocide exactly where they belong: as foundational to the existence of the United States." -WA Z I YATAW I N, PhD, activist and author of For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook "Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples ' History of the United States is a fiercely honest, unwavering, and unprecedented statement, one that has never been attempted by any other historian or intellectual. The presentation of facts and arguments is clear and direct, unadorned by need­ less and pointless rhetoric, and there is an organic feel of intellectual solid­ ity that provides weight and inspires trust. It is truly an Indigenous peoples' voice that gives Dunbar-Ortiz's book direction, purpose, and trustworthy intention. Without doubt, this crucially important book is required reading for everyone in the Americas!" Regents Professor of English and American Indian Studies, Arizona State University -S I M O N J. O R T IZ, "An Indigenous Peoples ' History of the United States provides an essential historical reference for all Americans. Particularly, it serves as an indispens­ able text for students of all ages to advance their appreciation and greater understanding of our history and our rightful place in America. The Ameri­ can Indians' perspective has been absent from colonial histories for too long, leaving continued misunderstandings of our struggles for sovereignty and human rights." - P E T E RSO N Z A H , former president of the Navajo Nation "This may well be the most important US history book you will read in your lifetime.- If you are expecting yet another 'new' and improved his­ torical narrative or synthesis of Indians in North America, think again. Instead Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz radically reframes US history, destroying all foundation myths to reveal a brutal settler-colonial structure and ideol­ ogy designed to cover its bloody tracks. Here, rendered in honest, often poetic words, is the story of those tracks and the people who survived­ bloodied but unbowed. Spoiler alert: the colonial era is still here, and so are the Indians." - ROB I N D. G. K ELL E Y, author of Freedom Dreams "Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes a masterful story that relates what the In­ digenous peoples of the United States have always maintained: against the settler US nation, Indigenous peoples have persevered against actions and policies intended to exterminate them, whether physically, mentally, or in­ tellectually. Indigenous nations and their people continue to bear witness to their experiences under the US and demand justice as well as the realization of sovereignty on their own terms." associate professor of American studies, University of New Mexico, and author of Reclaiming Dine History -J E N N IF E R N EZ D E N E T DAL E, "In her in-depth and intelligent analysis of US history from the Indigenous perspective, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz challenges readers to rethink the myth that Indian lands were free lands and that genocide was a justifiable means to a glorious end. A must-read for anyone interested in the truth behind this nation's founding and its often contentious relationship with indigenous peoples." PhD, Jicarilla Apache author, historian, and publisher of Tiller's Guide to Indian Country -V E RO N ICA E. V ELA R D E T I LL E R, "Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States should be essential reading in schools and colleges. It pulls up the paving stones and lays bare the deep history of the United States, from the corn to the reservations. If the United States is a 'crime scene,' as she calls it, then Dunbar-Ortiz is its forensic scientist. A sobering look at a grave history." -V IJAY P R AS H A D, author of The Poorer Nations AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES ALSO BY ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ The Great Sioux Nation : A n Oral History o f the Sioux Nation and Its Struggle for Sovereignty Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, I960-I975 Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie BOOKS IN THE REVISIONING AMERICAN HISTORY SERIES A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLESJ HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ REVISIONING AMERICAN HISTORY BEACON PRESS BOSTON BEACON PRESS Boston, Massachusetts Beacon Press books are published under the auspices of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. © 2014 by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 17 16 15 8 7 6 Beacon Press's ReVisioning American History series consists of accessibly written books by notable scholars that reconstruct and reinterpret US history from diverse perspectives. This book is printed on acid-free paper that meets the uncoated paper ANSUNISO specifications for permanence as revised in 1992. Text design and composition by Wilsted & Taylor Publishing Services Excerpts from Simon J. Ortiz's from Sand Creek: Rising in This Heart Which Is Our America (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000) are reprinted here with permission. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An indigenous peoples' history of the United States I Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. pages cm - (ReVisioning American history) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8070-0040-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-8070-0041-0 (ebook) I. Indians of North America-Historiography. 2. Indians of North America-Colonization. 3. Indians, Treatment of­ United States-History. 4. United States-Colonization. 5. United States­ Race relations. 6. United States-Politics and government. I. Title. E76.8.D86 2014 TO Howard Adams (L92L-200L) Vine Deloria fr. (L933-2005} Jack Forbes (L934-2on) CONTENTS Author's Note Xl INTRODUCTION This Land I ONE Follow the Corn 15 TWO Culture of Conquest 32 THREE Cult of the Covenant 45 FOUR Bloody Footprints 56 FIVE The Birth of a Nation 78 SIX The Last of the Mohicans and Andrew Jackson's White Republic 95 SEVEN Sea to Shining Sea rr7 EIG HT " Indian Country" 133 NINE US Triumphalism and Peacetime Colonialism 162 TEN Ghost Dance Prophecy: A Nation Is Coming 178 ELEVEN The Doctrine of Discovery 197 CONCLUSION The Future of the United States 218 Acknowledgments 2 37 Notes 245 Works Cited 265 Suggested Reading 240 Index 280 AUTH O R'S N OT E A s a student o f history, having completed a master's degree and PhD in the discipline, I am grateful for all I learned from my professors and from the thousands of texts I studied. But I did not gain the perspective presented in this book from those professors or studies. This came from outside the academy. My mother was part Indian, most likely Cherokee, born in Jop­ lin, Missouri. Unenrolled and orphaned, having lost her mother to tuberculosis at age four and with an Irish father who was itinerant and alcoholic, she grew up neglected and often homeless along with a younger brother. Picked up by authorities on the streets of Harrah, Oklahoma, the town to which their father had relocated the family, she was placed in foster homes where she was abused, expected to be a servant, and would run away. When she was sixteen, she met and married my father, of Scots-Irish settler heritage, eighteen, and a high school dropout who worked as a cowboy on a sprawling cattle ranch in the Osage Nation. I was the last of their four children. As a sharecropper family in Canadian County, Oklahoma, we moved from one cabin to another. I grew up in the midst of rural Native communities in the former treaty territory of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations that had been allotted and opened to settlers in the late nineteenth century. Nearby was the federal Indian board­ ing school at Concho. Strict segregation ruled a mong the Black, white, and Indian towns, churches, and schools in Oklahoma, and I had little interchange with Native people. My mother was ashamed of being part Indian. She died of alcoholism. In California during the r9 6os, I was active in the civil rights, anti-apartheid, anti-Vietnam War, and women's liberation move­ ments, and ultimately, the pan-Indian movement that some labeled xi xii Author's Note Red Power. I was recruited to work on Native issues in 1970 by the remarkable Tuscarora traditionalist organizer Mad Bear Anderson, who insisted that I must embrace my Native heritage, however frag­ ile it might be. Although hesitant at first, following the Wounded Knee siege of 1973 I began to work-locally, around the country, and internationally-with the American Indian Movement and the International Indian Treaty Council. I also began serving as an ex­ pert witness in court cases, including that of the Wounded Knee de­ fendants, bringing me into discussions with Lakota Sioux elders and activists. Based in San Francisco during that volatile and historic period, I completed my doctorate in history in 1974 and then took a position teaching in a new Native American studies program. My dissertation was on the history of land tenure in New Mexico, and during 1978-198 1 I was visiting director of Native American stud­ ies at the University of New Mexico. There I worked collaboratively with the All Indian Pueblo Council, Mescalero Apache Nation, Na­ vajo Nation, and the Dinebe'iina Nahiilna be Agha'diit'ahii (DNA) People's Legal Services, as well as with Native students, faculty, and communities, in developing a research institute and a seminar train­ ing program in economic development. I have lived with this book for six years, starting over a dozen times before I settled on a narrative thread. Invited to write this ReVisioning American History series title, I was given parameters: it was to be intellectually rigorous but relatively brief and written accessibly so it would engage multiple audiences. I had grave misgiv­ ings after having agreed to this ambitious project. Although it was to be a history of the United States as experienced by the Indigenous inhabitants, how could I possibly do justice to that varied experience over a span of two centuries? How could I make it comprehensible to the general reader who would likely have little knowledge of Na­ tive American history on the one hand, but might consciously or unconsciously have a set narrative of US history on the other? Since I was convinced of the inherent importance of the project, I per­ sisted, reading or rereading books and articles by North American Indigenous scholars, novelists, and poets, as well as unpublished dis­ sertations, speeches, and testimonies, truly an extraordinary body of work. Author's Note I 've come to realize that a new periodization of US history is needed that traces the Indigenous experience as opposed to the fol­ lowing standard division: Colonial, Revolutionary, Jacksonian, Civil War and Reconstruction, Industrial Revolution and Gilded Age, Overseas Imperialism, Progressivism, World War I , Depression, New Deal, World War II, Cold War, and Vietnam War, followed by contemporary decades. I altered this periodization to better reflect Indigenous experience but not as radically as needs to be done. This is an issue much discussed in current Native American scholarship. I also wanted to set aside the rhetoric of race, not because race and racism are unimportant but to emphasize that Native peoples were colonized and deposed of their territories as distinct peoples­ hundreds of nations-not as a racial or ethnic group. "Coloniza­ tion," "dispossession," "settler colonialism," "genocide"-these are the terms that drill to the core of US history, to the very source of the country's existence. The charge of genocide, once unacceptable by establishment aca­ demic and political classes when applied to the United States, has gained currency as evidence of it has mounted, but it is too often ac­ companied by an assumption of disappearance. So I realized it was crucial to make the reality and significance of Indigenous peoples' survival clear throughout the book. Indigenous survival as peoples is due to centuries of resistance and storytelling passed through the generations, and I sought to demonstrate that this survival is dy­ namic, not passive. Surviving genocide, by whatever means, is re­ sistance: non-Indians must know this in order to more accurately understand the history of the United States. My hope is that this book will be a springboard to dialogue about history, the present reality of Indigenous peoples' experience, and the meaning and future of the United States itself. A note on terminology: I use " Indigenous," " Indian," and "Native" interchangeably in the text. Indigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider "Indian" a slur. Of course, all citizens of Native nations much prefer that their nations' names in their own language be used, such as Dine ( Navajo), Haude­ nosaunee ( Iroquois), Tsalagi (Cherokee), and Anishinaabe (Ojibway, xiii xiv Author's Note Chippewa). I have used some of the correct names combined with more familiar usages, such as " Sioux" and " Navajo." Except in ma­ terial that is quoted, I don't use the term "tribe." " Community," "people," and " nation" are used instead and interchangeably. I also refrain from using "America" and "American" when referring only to the United States and its citizens. Those blatantly imperialistic terms annoy people in the rest of the Western Hemisphere, who are, after all, also Americans. I use "United States" as a noun and "US" as an adjective to refer to the country and "US Americans" for its citizens. I NT R ODU CTI O N TH I S L A N D We are here to educate, not forgive. We are here to enlighten, not accuse. -Willie Johns, Brighton Seminole Reservation, Florida Under the crust of that portion of Earth called the United States of America-"from California . . . to the Gulf Stream waters"-are interred the bones, villages, fields, and sacred objects of American Indians. 1 They cry out for their stories to be heard through their de­ scendants who carry the memories of how the country was founded and how it came to be as it is today. It should not have happened that the great civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, the very evidence of the Western Hemisphere, were wantonly destroyed, the gradual progress of humanity inter­ rupted and set upon a path of greed and destruction. 2 Choices were made that forged that path toward destruction of life itself-the moment in which we now live and die as our planet shrivels, over­ heated. To learn and know this history is both a necessity and a responsibility to the ancestors and descendants of all parties. What historian D avid Chang has written about the land that became Oklahoma applies to the whole United States: "Nation, race, and class converged in land."3 Everything in US history is about the land-who oversaw and cultivated it, fished its waters, maintained its wildlife; who invaded and stole it; how it became a commod­ ity ( "real estate" ) broken into pieces to be bought and sold on the market. US policies and actions related to Indigenous peoples, though · 2 An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States often termed "racist" or "discriminatory," are rarely depicted as what they are: classic cases of imperialism and a particular form of colonialism-settler colonialism. As anthropologist Patrick Wolfe...
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