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Category: Current Events

We Need To Get Woody Guthrie Right, Now More Than Ever

We Need To Get Woody Guthrie Right, Now More Than Ever

Every couple of months I read on Twitter another denunciation from someone in the Native American/Indigenous Studies community of Woody Guthrie’s famous song, “This Land is Your Land.” It’s a “obvs hella-colonial” song, the critique goes, because Guthrie’s claim that the entire continent “from California, to the New York Island” belonged to you and me ignored the original Native American owners of North America.  As such, Guthrie erased the reality of Native Americans’ antecedent claims to the continent and, in…

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What If I Don’t Like Chipotle? Jerry Brown and Higher Education

What If I Don’t Like Chipotle? Jerry Brown and Higher Education

Jerry Brown, the governor of my home state, recently aired some complaints about college professors and higher education. “What I like about Chipotle,” he told a meeting of the California Chamber of Commerce, “is the limited menu. You stand in the line, get either brown rice or white rice, black beans or pinto beans,” Brown said. “You put a little cheese, a little this, a little that, and you’re out of there. I think that’s a model some of our…

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Times Up?

Times Up?

I have been thinking a lot, and reading a lot, about gun control and the various strategies for achieving it since Saturday’s “March for Our Lives.”  I went to the local march here in Rochester. There was a small cluster of pro-gun counter-protestors standing on the edge of Washington Square Park, holding their menacing “Molon Labe” flags and signs, and they engaged in running debates with some of the audience.  I heard all the familiar NRA talking points, including the…

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This Week’s Current Events Roundup

This Week’s Current Events Roundup

Native America focuses on a number of communities in order to tell the story of Native American people in what became the continental United States.  In the past few days, news stories have appeared connected to the tribes and nations we focus upon in the book that you might want to share with your students. According to the Newport News Daily Press, the Pamunkeys of Virginia, one of the constituent nations that belonged to the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom, are looking…

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Kelvin Sampson’s Latest Journey to the NCAA Tournament

Kelvin Sampson’s Latest Journey to the NCAA Tournament

One of the many issues the students in my Indian Law and Public Policy course struggle with is the concept of federal recognition.  The 1978 statute and the process is complicated enough, but there is also the legislative route some tribes have followed, like the Pamunkey and their neighbors in Virginia.  Students in New York State have little concept that there are native peoples who belong to “unrecognized” tribes.  Kelvin Sampson, the head coach of the University of Houston Cougars…

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Incarceration Rates for Native Americans

Incarceration Rates for Native Americans

Many of my students have seen The 13th, the scathing documentary that looks at the close relationship between racism and violence in modern America.  Not only does the United States, with 5% of the world’s population, incarcerate nearly a quarter of the people on earth who live their lives behind bars, but it does so in a manner where African Americans are are disproportionately represented in the prison population.  Racism is alive and well in this Incarceration Nation. I spend…

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Iroquois Beer

Iroquois Beer

In early February, the web publication New York Upstate announced that Community Beer Works in Buffalo is resurrecting Iroquois Beer.  “If you grew up in a beer-drinking family in western New York,” Dan Cazentre’s story reads, “chances are good that your grand-parents, your parents and maybe even you yourself once drank Iroquois Beer.”  Iroquois Beer souvenirs can still be found in Buffalo-area curio shops, and the original Iroquois Brewery was the city’s largest when it closed its doors in 1971. …

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Manifesto

Manifesto

We are historians. No document is sacred. We are impatient with slogans, patriotic hymns, dogmas, ideas held but unexamined and unchallenged. There is no text that cannot be analyzed, no claim that can not be challenged. Your comforting myths will find no succor here.  There is no assertion we will not check, no argument we will not dissect, no matter we will take on faith. We will question you. You will feel like it is getting hot in here.  You…

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I Read Elizabeth Warren’s Speech to the NCAI So You Don’t Have To

I Read Elizabeth Warren’s Speech to the NCAI So You Don’t Have To

And it wasn’t half bad.  Sure, she oversimplified the Pocahontas story considerably, and in ways that would give historians of the Powhatans and early Virginia pause, but she raised some critical points.  “Indigenous people have been telling the story of Pocahontas–the real Pocahontas–for four centuries. A story of heroism. And bravery. And pain,” Warren said.   And, she added correctly, “for almost as long, her story has been taken away by powerful people who twisted it to serve their own purposes.”…

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The Crown Prince of Mar-A-Lago and Pocahontas’s People

The Crown Prince of Mar-A-Lago and Pocahontas’s People

I am teaching this semester a freshman writing seminar called “The Lost Colony.”  The students are reading an e-book version of David Beers Quinn’s The Roanoke Voyages, 1584-1590, which is now available from Routledge, and a copy of my book, The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand.   For the first week of class I wanted the students to recognize the extent to which our understandings of the Roanoke ventures, and of early European expansion generally, are encrusted with a deep…

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