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Category: Race and Racism

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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Human Trafficking in Indian Country

Human Trafficking in Indian Country

“Human trafficking, the exploitation of a person typically through force, fraud, or coercion for such purposes as forced labor, involuntary servitude, or commercial sex,” Gretta L. Goodwin of the Government Accountability Office told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs yesterday, is “occurring in the United States.”  Drawing upon evidence from the Office of the Attorney General,  traffickers seek out vulnerable individuals.  This vulnerability, Goodwin said, “comes in many forms, including age (minors), poverty, homelessness, chemical dependency, prior experiences of abuse,…

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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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On Charlottesville, and Our National Character

On Charlottesville, and Our National Character

In what ways does the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville matter? In the past two weeks I have listened to the Attorney General of the United States announce his determination to investigate discrimination on college campuses against…..wait for it….white people.  This move was endorsed by a President who has called Mexicans “rapists” and “animals,” and who has in as many words endorsed police brutality against African Americans and other people of color.  A sheriff’s deputy in Oklahoma, meanwhile, who gunned…

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Some Thoughts on the Declaration, and Why I Don’t Celebrate Much on Independence Day

Some Thoughts on the Declaration, and Why I Don’t Celebrate Much on Independence Day

The other day I appeared on “Connections,” a news radio show which airs on WXXI in Rochester, New York, an NPR-affiliate.  I participated in a panel discussion about how the Declaration of Independence is taught in classrooms and how much Americans know about this important document. The precipitating event that spurred this discussion was the decision by NPR to tweet out on Independence Day the entire Declaration, 140 characters at a time.  Some of NPR’s Twitter followers applauded this decision,…

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Indian-Bashing in Syracuse? The Crisis at the Onondaga Nation School

Indian-Bashing in Syracuse? The Crisis at the Onondaga Nation School

This is a story worth watching.  Laura Lavine is the superintendent of the Lafayette School district, which operates with state funding the Onondaga Nation School.  She is also the Republican Party candidate for mayor in the city of Syracuse.  Lavine runs on the slogan that she is “Progressive, Professional, and Prepared,” and there is scarce mention of the Grand Old Party on her website. She has pledged to get tough on crime in the city, improve its schools, and improve…

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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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