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Indigenous Nations and What We Still Have Yet to Learn (Diversity Index # 0381

Mon. Nov 23, 2020 1:00pm - 2:00pm

The United States has long engaged in an extermination policy when it comes to Indigenous peoples within its borders. Initially the extermination was a literal one – killing Indigenous people was a deliberate policy and process in the United States. More recently, however, this policy of extermination occurs in the nation’s educational system.

Stereotyping of Indigenous people is but one of the mechanisms through which the process of colonization is propagated and maintained. One explanation for using “Indian” images stems from the idea that the United States has worked diligently to create a myth of its founding, thereby absolving itself and its citizens of any wrong doing. When a master narrative operates on a national level it equals a state-created and sanctioned myth. Stereotypes, mascots, “pretendians,” plastic shamans – all of these reinforce the idea that whites believe they control the narrative in relation to Indigenous people because they conquered the Natives. The educational system in the United States contributes to this master narrative by erasing Indigenous people and creating a false nostalgia for the past, one that justifies their role in the genocide of Indigenous peoples perpetrated by the United States while simultaneously positioning themselves as blameless and the true occupiers of the U.S.

It is important to examine what we “know” about Indigenous people in the United States in order to make visible that which the United States is desperately trying to hide – its own culpability in genocide.

Thelma Bush
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