Missing Links in Textbook History

By the time I started high school I had come to see the world in Manichaean terms, full of good guys and bad guys. We, the Americans, were the good guys, often presented as settlers defending our families against hostile Indians. It was dangerously easy to accept the notion that history is pretty simple.

So simple, in fact, that a few lines from vintage Dylan offer a pretty good summary of what is said in secondary textbooks about indigenous peoples.

I have written before that American history, as taught in pre-collegiate courses, is often taught as a series of unconnected segments. That approach is clearly reflected in how the Native tribes are presented in state-approved textbooks.

Some begin with an early chapter on Indigenous communities before the European invasion with titles like “Native Societies of the 1400s.” And some jump right in with a section on colonial Europeans like “The Colonial Roots of America’s Founding Ideals.” But then, in every text I’ve examined, the Indigenous people disappear. That is except when they are

— source scheerpost.com | Jim Mamer | Feb 1, 2023

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The Supreme Court Case That Could Gut Native Sovereignty

Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Wednesday in a case focused on the Indian Child Welfare Act, a 1978 law created to prevent family separation in Native communities. The case centers on a Navajo girl known as Baby O, who is being raised by a white couple who sued to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act. Our next guest says the court’s ruling could have potentially seismic implications for Indigenous nations in the U.S.

Yeah. So, Baby O, when she was born, she was left at a hospital under Nevada’s safe haven law. And she went to live with Heather and Nick Libretti, a white couple who live outside of Reno, Nevada. They thought, given the circumstances, they would be able to adopt her. But the child’s father was identified, and it became clear that she was eligible for citizenship in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, a federally recognized tribe in Texas, and that her case fell under ICWA. The Librettis were told they would not be able to adopt the child, that her placement with them would be temporary.

And instead of accepting that the child would go to blood relatives, they decided to fight. They hired lawyers. They asked the child’s grandmother to renounce her tribal membership so that ICWA wouldn’t apply to the case. They got in touch with relatives who were considering fostering and adopting the child, and had conversations with them to try

— source democracynow.org | Nov 10, 2022

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Indigenous Voters’ Voting Rights Are Under Attack

Indigenous voters played a key role in Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 when they helped him win Arizona, but now face a sweeping rollback of their voting rights. This comes as the top Republican candidates in close races in Arizona are 2020 election deniers, including the gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Blake Masters, who’s running for U.S. Senate against Senator Mark Kelly.

Last year, a Supreme Court ruling in the case Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, which came out of Arizona, allowed the state to ban ballot collection from outside set precincts, which is a method that’s widely used by Native voters in Arizona. The move is expected to suppress their vote.

For more, we’re joined by The New Yorker magazine staff writer Sue Halpern, who spoke to voters on Arizona’s Navajo, Apache and Hopi reservations for The New Yorker in a new piece headlined “The Political Attack on the Native American Vote.” She’s also a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, and she’s joining us from Exeter, New Hampshire, where there is a key Senate contest going on between Maggie Hassan and General Bolduc. Also with us, in Fort Apache, Arizona, is Lydia Dosela, the matriarch coordinator for the

— source democracynow.org | Nov 08, 2022

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America’s Biggest Museums Fail to Return Native American Human Remains

The remains of more than 110,000 Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Natives’ ancestors are still held by museums, universities and federal agencies.
A postcard shows the American Museum of Natural History in 1906. New York Public Library via Getty Images

A 1990 federal law called for remains to be returned to descendants or tribal nations.
Why haven’t these been?

As the United States pushed Native Americans from their lands to make way for westward expansion throughout the 1800s, museums and the federal government encouraged the looting of Indigenous remains, funerary objects and cultural items. Many of the institutions continue to hold these today — and in some cases resist their return despite the 1990 passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

“We never ceded or relinquished our dead. They were stolen,” James Riding In, then an Arizona State University professor who is Pawnee, said of the unreturned remains.

ProPublica this year is investigating the failure of NAGPRA to bring about the expeditious return of human remains by federally funded universities and museums. Our reporting, in

— source propublica.org | Logan Jaffe, Mary Hudetz and Ash Ngu, ProPublica, and Graham Lee Brewer, NBC News | Jan. 11, 2023

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Does Your Local Museum or University Still Have Native American Remains?

In 1990, Congress passed a law recognizing the unequal treatment of Native American remains and set up a process for tribes to request their return from museums and other institutions that had them. The law, known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act or NAGPRA, sought to address this human rights issue by giving Indigenous peoples a way to reclaim their dead.

But 33 years after the law’s passage, at least half of the remains of more than 210,000 Native Americans have yet to be returned. Tribes have struggled to reclaim them in part because of a lack of federal funding for repatriation and because institutions face little to no consequences for violating the law or dragging their feet.

This database allows you to search for information on the roughly 600 federally funded institutions that reported having such remains to the Department of the Interior. While the data is self-reported, it is a starting point for understanding the damage done by generations of Americans who stole, collected and displayed the remains and possessions of the

— source projects.propublica.org | Ash Ngu, Andrea Suozzo | Jan. 11, 2023

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The Story of Baby O

In March of 2016, a newborn baby was left at a hospital in Nevada. In court documents, the child is called “Baby O,” but we will call her “Octavia.” When she was 3 days old, Octavia went to live with a couple named Heather and Nick Libretti in the small city of Sparks, Nev., just outside of Reno. At the time, Heather did PR for a classic cars festival, while Nick worked as a mechanic. The couple, now in their early 40s, had fostered and adopted two boys—and taken in a third—but Heather had always wanted a girl.

Octavia had been left at the hospital under Nevada’s Safe Haven law, which allows a parent to give up their child at a hospital, a firehouse, or a police station without fear of being arrested or prosecuted. In line with the statute, Octavia’s mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights. When she was asked by hospital staff to share the father’s name, she refused. And so, when Octavia went home with the Librettis, there was no biological family to claim her. Given the circumstances, the Librettis felt certain they would be able to adopt her.

Then, three weeks after Octavia was born, her father’s name was found, though it’s not entirely clear how. He was contacted, as required by law, and, after a DNA test confirmed his paternity, said he wanted to raise the child. Since Octavia’s father was homeless and struggling with substance use, however, the Washoe County Human Services Agency (HSA)

— source thenation.com | Rebecca Nagle | Nov 9, 2022

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The Political Attack on the Native American Vote

To vote in the 2020 Presidential election, Frank Young rode a horse to the polls in Kayenta, Arizona. He was fifty-eight years old, and it was the first time he’d ever cast a ballot. Young is a citizen of the Navajo Nation, the country’s most populous Native American tribe, with nearly four hundred thousand members. About forty per cent of them live on a reservation that spans more than twenty-seven thousand square miles, an area larger than West Virginia. When we met, not far from his home in Rough Rock, a small Native community tucked under the mesa where his livestock grazes, he was wearing cowboy boots and a wide-brimmed black hat that sat low over a broad face weathered from years tending his animals. Two years ago, when his daughter convinced him that another Trump Presidency would be disastrous for Native Americans, Young decided that the best way to “protect the sacred” was to travel into battle the way his ancestors had. “We used to use horses to fight our enemies,” he said. “So my idea was, We’re gonna beat red. And we’d do it on horseback, and the horses will carry our culture and our democratic tradition and that will help us get it back.” Forty other riders joined him on an eight-mile ceremonial ride to vote at the local chapter house, the seat of the tribal government, which doubles as a polling site.

There are close to five million Native Americans of voting age in the United States, but only sixty-six per cent of them are registered to vote. Young said that he previously chose not to participate in American elections because the state and federal governments—he called them “colonizers”—had oppressed his people for centuries, extracting their

— source newyorker.com | Sue Halpern | Nov 4, 2022

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Where Elma becomes Selma

“We will never go back,” says Bheema Sodi. “We left our home in search of a peaceful life because we were disturbed by both the junglewale [Naxalites] and the judumwale [the Salwa Judum militia] in our ancestral village.” Soyam Lingama says he too will never return to his village, Bhandarpadar, in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. “We fled from there…” He and Bheema belong to around 27 families, they estimate, all from Chhattisgarh, who now live in Chiprupadu in Burgampadu mandal of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh.

This is one of several such settlements of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, and Khammam and Warangal districts of Telangana.

Most of them have a story of violence to tell. Ravi Sodi, 30, of Tadmetla village in Konta mandal of Sukma district, says, “We left home in 2005 when our village was attacked… All the villagers fled to the jungle but my uncle, just 30 years old, was stuck inside. He was caught and killed, and they set fire to the entire village. In fear, we left and came here.” Sodi now lives in Chintalapadu village in Khammam district.

— source ruralindiaonline.org | Jan. 4, 2018

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How Indigenous people are fighting to stop ‘the biggest land grab in history’

Indigenous leaders from around the world are calling for a bigger role in negotiations at the United Nations’ Biodiversity Conference which convenes today in Montreal. Known as COP15, delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to finalize the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, a set of international goals and standards for conservation efforts over the next decade.

At the summit, one of the biggest topics of discussion will be the 30X30 protected areas plan, an international plan to conserve 30% of the world’s land and water by 2030. “We are waging war on nature,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday. “This Conference is our chance to stop this orgy of destruction.”

In the run up to COP15, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), a caucus of Indigenous representatives and activists established in 1996 to advocate for Indigenous peoples at international meetings, has been advocating to include language that protects Indigenous rights in the final agreement. “The global biodiversity framework to save nature must respect, promote and support the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities if it stands any chance of succeeding,” the IIFB said in a statement. 

However, amid a push to complete negotiations by deadline, IIFB representatives say they are concerned that their priorities may not be fully heard or included; During COP15,

— source grist.org | Joseph Lee | Dec 07, 2022

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Survivors Are Preserving the Dark History of Native Boarding Schools

Six-year-old Phyllis Webstand wore an orange shirt to her first day of school. It was shiny, she remembers, and laced up the front—more importantly, it was a gift from her granny.

At the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, British Columbia, it was taken from her, as were all the personal belongings she had known and loved. None were ever returned. That year, 1973, Webstand became one of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children in Canada and the US to suffer at state-run and religious boarding schools designed to assimilate by force. In the words of Richard Henry Pratt, the first superintendent of the infamous Carlisle Indian School, it was possible to “kill the Indian in him, and save the man,” often by coercive conversion to Christianity and the forbidding of Native language. Physical and sexual abuse were common.

In the United States, such schools operated for 150 years, the last closing in 1969. They have had a lasting impact on Native communities, from cultural and linguistic loss to intergenerational trauma. Children of people who attended the “residential schools” are more likely to have poor health outcomes, experience depression, and encounter abuse. Their story isn’t widely taught in schools. With “critical race theory” serving as grounds to ban works from Maus to a picture book by Ruby Bridges, the fight to change that may

— source motherjones.com | Emily Hofstaedter | Oct 1, 2022

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