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Category: Current Events

Historians and the Problem of Evil

Historians and the Problem of Evil

Elzbieta Plackowska, forty-five years old, was convicted late in September for murdering her seven-year old son Justin and a five-year old girl, Olivia Dworakowski, who she was babysitting.  The crime occurred more than five years ago, on 30 October 2012. After telling the children to get down on their knees to pray, she started after them with a pair of kitchen knives. She stabbed Justin more than one hundred times, then slashed his throat. Olivia she stabbed more than fifty…

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Why Dennis Banks Matters

Why Dennis Banks Matters

Dennis Banks, one of the most important leaders of the American Indian Movement, or AIM, died last week.  Banks was eighty years old. The  obituary that appeared in the New York Times, written by Robert McFadden, covered the key points in Banks’ long career, but it has justly been maligned for its resort to stereotype in describing Banks’ appearance (“high cheekbones,” “raven-haired,” “dark, piercing eyes”); its over-emphasis on Banks’ considerable legal troubles without describing the harassment and persecution AIM faced…

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I Read Trump’s Proclamation for Native American Heritage Month So You Don’t Have To.

I Read Trump’s Proclamation for Native American Heritage Month So You Don’t Have To.

On Halloween, a really bad day for the dumpster fire that is the Trump Presidency, Our Bronze Creon issued his proclamation that November is Native American Heritage Month.  Traditionally this proclamation is made on the last day in October, and usually it garners little attention. Still, other than his announcement several months back that he had decided to reverse the Obama Administration’s belated halt to the Dakota Access Pipeline, President Trump has had nothing to say about Native American issues. …

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There Are Big Problems Out There

There Are Big Problems Out There

Halloween is right around the corner. I have written about why you should not dress up in a Native American costume before on this blog, and there is no shortage of commentary out there on the Internet Machine about why doing so can be destructive, hurtful, stupid, and in bad taste. Dressing like indigenous peoples, and the appropriation of the outward manifestations of Native American culture by non-Indians: they are common complaints. You do not have to work hard to…

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#MMIW

#MMIW

I posted about the Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting on human trafficking in Indian Country last week.  The upshot of the hearings was disappointing.  All acknowledge a problem exists but there is little data on its scope.  At the hearings, the Justice Department seemed uninterested to committing the resources necessary to gather that data.  Anyone who studies Native American history closely will note, however, that the Justice Department has never prioritized crime committed in Indian Country. Though the Obama Administration’s…

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The Second Amendment is A Big Part of the Problem

The Second Amendment is A Big Part of the Problem

The act of terrorism that occurred last night in Las Vegas has caused me to revisit an opinion piece I wrote for a local newspaper several years ago, in the wake of the shooting at New Town.  The original piece is behind a paywall, but I have copied here the manuscript.  The urgency grows, as does my sense that nothing will be done. ******************************************************************************     Thirty thousand Americans die every year from gunshot wounds, whether from homicide, suicide or…

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Creative Destruction: Or, Let’s Bash Some Monuments

Creative Destruction: Or, Let’s Bash Some Monuments

It’s what we do, at least metaphorically. For historians, the destruction of monuments can be a good thing, a visceral and often-times important act of revision. It is an opportunity to replace dated and damaging interpretations of the past with more complicated, nuanced, and correct stories. We do not necessarily need to destroy Confederate statues to do this, but certainly we can reinterpret them, knock them down a few pegs, and re-write the stories that these racist monuments to white supremacy…

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Why I Should Probably Boycott the NFL this Season

Why I Should Probably Boycott the NFL this Season

It’s not because the Buffalo Bills will be terrible.  As a long-suffering fan, I am used to all that the Bills give their supporters–strange draft choices, poor coaching, fluky management, and a game-day environment that all-too-often can resemble an afternoon on the Ice Planet Hoth but with way more shitty, over-priced beer. In part, it is because of the increasing evidence of the danger of the sport.  Years ago, both of my sons played football in high school.  Today, I…

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Intellectual Courage

Intellectual Courage

I gave the following keynote address to the annual meeting of NYSACAC, the New York state organization for high school and college admissions counselors, which took place at SUNY-Geneseo earlier this month. In some ways, it encapsulates what I tell my students each semester on the first day of class in my Humanities class.   I am delighted to be here, and to join those who have welcomed you here to our beautiful campus.  Geneseo, as a place, shows up…

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#NativeLivesMatter

#NativeLivesMatter

Two important stories came across the line yesterday, and those of us who teach Native American history need to do a better job of following them.  On June 5, police officers killed Zachary Bearheels, a twenty-nine year old man with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Bearheels was punched in the head and shocked by a taser several times.  Omaha police have admitted that the officers’ conduct was a violation of departmental policy and that two of the officers involved would be…

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