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Category: Current Events

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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The Loving Decision and the Concealed History of Virginia’s Native Peoples

The Loving Decision and the Concealed History of Virginia’s Native Peoples

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre that took place a year ago in Orlando, the largest mass shooting in recent US History.  It was also the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia, the case which struck down laws that prohibited marriage across the color line. You may have seen the beautifully quiet and restrained telling of this story in last year’s Oscar-nominated film that starred Ruth Negga as Mildred Loving and Joel…

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Rotten to the Core

Rotten to the Core

The recent story that appeared in The Intercept about the private security firm Tiger Swan, its cooperative intelligence-gathering with local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities, its propaganda work in behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the sometimes-brutal tactics it used to protect the corporate “assets” of Energy Transfer Partners, the Fortune 500 company behind the construction of the DAPL, should be a much larger story than it is.  The Tiger Swan story reveals the rottenness that lies at…

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Federal Recognition for Virginia Native Peoples?

Federal Recognition for Virginia Native Peoples?

Progress for Pocahontas’s people seeking federal recognition.  The United States House of Representatives last week approved by a voice vote the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, H. R. 984.  The Senate approved its version of the measure back in March. For background on who Thomasina Jordan was, you can read this resolution brought before the Virginia House in January 2000, a short time after her death. According to the report in indianz.com, the measure would…

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The Trump Administration Keeps Alive Fears of Termination

The Trump Administration Keeps Alive Fears of Termination

In the midst of all the other foreboding news coming out of Washington, it is difficult for me sometimes to follow Indian affairs as closely as I would like. Nonetheless, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently made some comments that caught my attention. Several weeks ago on this blog I suggested that fears of a return to Termination under President Trump are overblown.  The Indian policy of the United States for roughly the quarter-century following the Second World War, Termination included…

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Remembering the Boarding and Residential Schools–Gord Downie’s “The Secret Path”

Remembering the Boarding and Residential Schools–Gord Downie’s “The Secret Path”

One of my very good former students told me about “The Secret Path,” a multimedia project produced by Gord Downie, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip in the fall of 2016.  An animated film, a musical album, a graphic novel, The Secret Path tells the story of Chanie Wenjack.  Twelve years old when he fled from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, Chanie wanted to return to his family at Ogoki Post, four hundred miles…

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On The Way of the Human Being

On The Way of the Human Being

Yesterday one of my very good students told me that he was driving through New York’s Finger Lakes region, not all that far from my campus.  He was enjoying a nice spring day, noticing the signs remaining from the heyday of the Anti-Indian group Upstate Citizens For Equality, and listening to one of the blowhards on right-wing radio.  Slim pickings, sometimes, in the Finger Lakes.  Whoever it was that he listened to argued that Native Americans need to move on…

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