While reading Sanchez and Stuckey's piece, The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960s and 1970s, I learned a lot about the ignorance of euro-Americans and our country that I didn't already know. First off, I thought it was awful that in such modern times white people still saw (and some ignorant ones probably still see) the Natives as dumb and say that they "know nothing". What makes one race better than another? No one race is smarter than another and it is appalling that people actually feel this way. Whites have been threatening the Natives for hundreds of years and the fact that Euro-Americans constantly feel entitled to all of the land on this continent is disgusting. Eventually the Natives would have a breaking point in which they could no longer go without saying anything, and who could blame them. After constant abuse, torture and forceful change any human being would eventually snap and take a stand. This happened to the Natives, "The threats to the resident cultures, combined with continued discrimination, poverty and racism that they faced in the cities fueled anger that had long been present in Indian communities" (122). The Natives made organizations and used their bodies to protest against the hate they're facing. When I read this I felt saddened that the Natives have to go through all of this for land that was once only walked on by their people. Many issues of discrimination were unaddressed according to this essay. When I read that I thought "no wonder the people of today are so ignorant". Why would the government and other officials just disregard the hate and the discrimination going on. In doing that the law enforcement basically set the tone that it is okay for people to discriminate against anyone who is of a different race.
In the second reading I discovered a lot about Alcatraz that I didn't know before. When talking about assimilation in general some quotes from this essay really intrigued me. Earl Peterson of the National Congress of American Indians speaks about termination and wonders why the Natives have to change their lifestyles:
It is important to note that in our…language the only translation for termination is t 'wipe out' or 'kill off'. We have no… words for termination….Why is it so important that Indians be brought into the 'mainstream American life?' … The closest I would be able to come to 'mainstream' would be to say, in [my language], 'a big wide river'. Am I to tell my people that they will be 'thrown into the Big, Wide River of the United States?'" (8).
In a way this is exactly what happened; the Europeans came over and claimed lands that were not rightfully theirs and pushed the Natives out or made them jump into the "big wide river of the United states". The next part of this essay talks a lot about Alcatraz and how they met for a secret meeting over on Alcatraz. This was extremely interesting to me because I have been to Alcatraz and loved that it was an abandoned jail that is so historical. However, although I went a very long time ago when I was young, I do not remember any history on the tour about anything that happened there with the Natives. I remember learning about all the criminals that went there like Bird Man, and Al Capone and how some of the criminals unsuccessfully tried to escape. It all interested me so much and I remember almost every part of the tour even though I was so young. However on all of the plaques and the audio recordings that are placed around the island I heard nothing about the Natives using this island as a meeting spot after it was closed down as a prison. You would think that somewhere along the lines that would come up, but it didn't. Reading this essay really surprised me because I had no idea that anything else so historical had happened on these grounds. It just goes to show that everywhere around us people are avoiding and forgetting the historical importance these lands had and have on Native people. This connects greatly to the essay that Professor Anderson wrote about the Round dance.
In her essay she emphasizes the importance that land has to the Native people. How with everything we do we should be protecting, honoring, and thanking the land around us. We shouldn't be harming the land and over building on this land like we are now. This land that we walk on everyday should be thanked and everything we take from it should be thanked for. As we should be thanking the land, we should also be apologizing to the natives for what we have done to the land that we all walk on together. We should acknowledge the history that is shoved behind closed doors and include it in with other history. The fact that I had no idea anything else happened on Alcatraz was such a shock for me. Similarly, when doing the mapping project I was so shocked that I had no idea so much history had happened at the canal. I didn't know that they found so many artifacts that should have been preserved but
“The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960’s and 1970’s” incorporates how out-groups must find ways to alter their self-images because they are challenged by the perceptions of society. There are also rhetorical challenges and I found that this essay presents some strategies, for example, American Indian protests. With this, they are seeking to be treated with the respect that they deserve instead of being known as people who “know nothing” and “understand nothing” (122). Unfortunately there were not many issues resolved. “Still, American Indian frustration grew, for despite such victories, the larger issues of discrimination, sovereignty, and treaty rights remained unaddressed. To focus national attention on these larger issues, AIM members and others organized a national protest called the Trail of Broken Treaties” (123). This reading also focused on the American Indian Movement. Many ideas that activists argued needed changing came from the mass media which is a great factor today as well. A solution is one that we have learned in class, that being that we must educate ourselves and attempt to educate others the same; accurate information.
“Joining the Round Dance” had some interesting points including how the Native Americans dance as a way to express themselves. Other cultures use dance to express themselves as well, and this reading states: “Like our ancestors before us, Indigenous people turned to story, to dance, to the body as a vehicle for protest to let governments know we would be idle no more.” Dance gatherings showed the importance of history, not told in writing, but expressed through the body and this was a symbol of resistance to oppression. They protest against colonization and have been doing so since 1492. The idea of land as vacant still persists in colonial discourse and continues to threaten Native territories today. I learned that many used the hunger strike as a protest tactic, including Chief Spence. This served as a non-violent form of action. “Idle No More” brought attention to the issues, emphasizing how they have never been idle and the Natives fulfill the responsibilities of caring for their land and people.
“Like a Hurricane” demonstrated what it was like to be the age of a college student, like our class and experience the act of being wanted. These Native Americans were searched by helicopters and boats, and I could not imagine being in such a situation. With what some see as the “college life,” one of the Indians state what this did for him; “Drinking is used as a way to create feelings of some kind where there aren’t any…I saw the end of the rainbow, the wrong end” (5). Oakes was a great student leader who took part in a program called Native American Studies which is good to hear that this is offered. However it is disappointing that the idea to terminate and relocate Indians was still occurring. This reading described common life struggles such as housing being too expensive and jobs being hard to find and difficult to maintain. Although Nordwall and Oakes did not choose to work together, they both became obsessed with winning the island for the Indian people. It was interesting to read about the situation with the AIM and how their political aspects came into play and how they faced other issues they ran into. The “AIM had considerable experience with facing government barriers, court orders, and ultimatums” (233). This demonstrates how the Natives as a people, work together to benefit their rights and do not give up.
“Joining the Round Dance” sheds light on a different part of the Native American struggle by highlighting their activism against colonialism. The “Ghost Dance” as a form of “non-violent protest” was a new idea to me (2). What a beautiful way to connect with the earth and connect with one’s deceased ancestry through dance. The American government was against such dance practices, but the Native Americans defied the will of the government and kept their dance culture alive. Learning about Chief Spence’s hunger strike in Canada was another interesting means of protest. She was a determined woman who would only “end her strike when Prime Minister Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston would convene a meeting with first nation chief and recommit to Canada and the Crown’s treaty obligations” (5). Chief Spence disagreed with the Canadian government’s actions, so she quit feeding her body as a way of “exercising sovereignty over her body” (5). Although going on a hunger strike may seem like a radical way to protest, Chief Spence was successful in achieving her goal of securing a meeting between the first nation chief, Prime Minister Harper, and Gov. Gen. Johnston. Further into the reading, “Round Dancing” is discussed as a means of “healing” through “dance” (8). The bodily connection among each person in the circle holding hands is a poignant symbol of the bond native communities share. Especially when the government seems to be against the Native Americans, which is often, the round dance brings many tribes together into a collective circle of understanding.
“Like a Hurricane” taught me about the Native American takeover of Alcatraz. Prior to reading this excerpt, I was unaware that such an event took place. “Seventy eight young Indians” banded together and traveled by boat to Alcatraz to take a stand against the government (5). The Native Americans felt entitled to the island on which Alcatraz sits since land had been repeatedly ripped away from them. I wish that the American government would have realized the error of their ways and given the land to the Native Americans to build a community center for their peoples, but of course the government did not willingly ‘gift’ the land to the Natives. It took multiple protests with media crews and newspaper reporters to get the word out. I would have liked to have read chapter two of “Like a Hurricane” because it would have tied up the loose ends of chapter one.
“The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960s and 1970s” helped me to understand Native American activism by highlighting the “Trail of Broken Treaties” protest and by outlining the three major audiences that Native Americans were trying to reach through their activist rhetoric. Native Americans wanted to make a big entrance into Washington, D.C. to air their grievances about the numerous broken treaties. According to the article, “AIM members and others organized a national protest” where “a group of caravans that passed through reservation communities gathering support” eventually “converged in Washington, D.C. on November 3 1972” (123). How could Washington politicians ignore the Native Americans if they were standing right in front of them? As I was reading this article, I was reminded of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s where African Americans marched on Washington in search of change. The three major audiences that the Native Americans were trying to be acknowledged by were “the United States government,” “the American people,” and “the mass media” (126). Native Americans knew which groups they were targeting to change and their activism reflects this. Going to Washington in protest of the broken treaties addressed the U.S. government. Speaking engagements where stereotypes were smashed and the American public was educated on who the Native American peoples really are helped to change the American people. Lastly, the mass media coverage was important to reach the masses of society with the Native American message, but the media also had to be addressed in a confrontational manner by Native Americans since the reports were often negative towards Native peoples.
While reading “The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960s and 1970s” by John Sanchez and Maiy E. Stuckey, I realized that the pattern of oppression, abuse and racism in this country is repeated over and over again throughout history. The only thing that differs the Native American racism from other racism is that no one ever talks about it. Schools spend each year talking about African American rights movements and women’s suffrage movements but never anything about the Native American movements. However, the pattern is the same. The Native Americans started off with peaceful protest, then someone gets murdered and racism becomes prevalent, and then protests get violent, white men are set free and Natives are locked up. This happens over and over again in America yet we still can’t learn from it. There are still gay rights battles going on today that are going through the same pattern. Gay people used to get beaten to death and now gay marriage is accepted in about 13 states. However, there is still so much discrimination. The Native Americans fought and are still fighting a battle that everyone in America who is not a straight, white, rich man has faced. When is the cycle going to end?
“Like a Hurricane” by Paul Chatt Smith and Robert Allen Warrior is a closer look at the protest of the Indians at Alcatraz. Everything that the government was doing to the Indians in this time period was just plain wrong and disgusting. To think that in the late 1960s the government was still trying to assimilate Indians into American culture is repulsive. Even after the racism that they faced, the government was still trying to throw them into the middle of a large white city and promise them that everything would be okay. Not to mention, that once the Indians were relocated to the city, their reservation land was given to the state and distributed for sale among the white inhabitants. To make matters worse, Smith and Warrior write, “The program rarely lived up to the promises in the BIA propaganda. Jobs were hard to find and hard to keep, housing expensive. The cities were lonely places, and Indians generally ended up in ghetto neighborhoods” (8). And to think that some Indians even preferred the hard city life over the reservation life because despite everything that was wrong with it, reservation life was still harder.
In the essay “Joining the Round Dance” there are many interesting points about government protest by the indigenous peoples. There are so many reasons for the Indians to protest the government. Some mentioned in the essay are that the government has violated the UNDRIP, “The Keystone XL Pipeline, fracking, and changing regulations which protect waterways” (2). Also, “governments of the United States and Canada still determine who can be recognized as Indian, and how Indigenous nations exist within these nations” (4). The government is still regulating everything that Indians can do or be. It is sort of like the reverse of how people were determined to be Jewish during WWII or how people were determined to be black after slavery was abolished.
While reading Sanchez and Stuckey’s “American Indian Activism,” it quickly was brought to my attention that a lot of the racism and discrimination that Native American’s used to face are still in existence today. One quote in particular that stood out to me was the following:
Indian rhetors played into stereotypes that have been present among non- Indian audiences since colonization began…every step forward became also a step backward. To force policy changes, American Indians had to change their national image; to obtain the rhetorical leverage to accomplish this, they had to reinforce stereotypes that were, in their understanding, at least partially responsible for the negative policies (123).
It’s truly disheartening to think that the Native Americans had to give into such policies, simply to be able to get by. The majority of the issues that get thrown at these people, quite frankly, is not even their problem. Yes they are connected to the issues by ancestry, and yes certain actions have an impact on Native Americans today, but it doesn’t mean we need to rehash these issues that existed so long ago. Let those problems remain in the past, and let these people live for today. No good is being done by continuing to have such a negative attitude- especially all the way into the 1990s. Quite frankly, it’s just plain sad.
Smith and Warrior’s “Like a Hurricane” was yet another interesting read. The piece caught my attention with its immediate mention of a group that I had never heard of- the Juaneno Tribe. I feel that we often become to fixated on tribes that originated in either the North or East, but rarely the South or West. The mention of the Juaneno is a great break to that barrier, as is the in-depth information on Alcatraz. (Side note: never knew that Machine Gun Kelly and Bird Man were originally [indigenous] people; my ignorant self thought they existed merely in the hip hop music industry). The opening boat scene reminded me of a cross between immigrants coming to Ellis Island in the late 1800s and African-American’s riding on freight cars on their attempt to escape North. I feel that realistically, we can often make that parallel between the African-Americans and Native Americans- and not in a particularly positive way.
“The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960’s and 1970’s” by Sanchez and Stuckey talks about the historical events regarding Native Americans’ fight for equality in the mid-twentieth century. Through this except it is clear that non-Native American people were equally discriminated against as they were when the colonists first arrived to America. However, although this article focuses on the 1960’s and 1970’s, through this course we have learned that American Indians are still discriminated against today. In 1773 Chief Gieschenatsi of the Shawnee said, “The whites tell us of their enlightened understanding, and the wisdom they have from Heaven, at the same time, they cheat us to their hearts' content for we are as fools in their eyes, and they say among themselves, the Indians know nothing! The Indians understand nothing” (121). I think it is interesting that a quote that is close to being 250 years old can be argued to still be relevant today. Colonists thought of themselves as gods compared to the Natives. White people truly believed they were smarter, more cunning, and more “civilized”. However, this was and is not true. Every religion is different and no one should be able to oppress their beliefs on another person—but this happened. Everyone is entitled to the American dream; a house, a piece of land, a good paying job—as long as you are not a minority. Knowing that a President of the United States, President Jackson, cheated the Native American out of their land still makes me angry to think about. I had no clue this had happened before this class and it makes me sick knowing that someone the United States’ citizens are supposed to look up to defied the Supreme Court’s ruling, and that the Supreme Court or Congress or Senate did nothing to stop him. Our government failed the Natives then and finally the Native Americans formed groups to go against these unjust treatments. They had come together in a similar fashion before, when the Cherokees approached the government and were fighting for their land, and got somewhat better results through organizations like Indians of All Tribes and AIM.
The Natives approach the government with a protest with a fitting name called the Trail of Broken Tears. With it, “They brought with them a list of Twenty Points, demand[ing] that the government recognize the sovereign status of indigenous nations, re-establish treaty relations, and allow an American Indian voice in the formation of public policies concerning American Indians” (123). When I read this I was so happy. I love that they were standing up to the cruelty that had been bestowed upon them for so many years. The United States should have and still should recognize them as a sovereign, considering colonists stole their land. Although treaty relations should also be reestablished, I think this might have been more of a formality, because if I was an Indigenous person I would not trust the government after all it had put me through. Native Americans absolutely need to be active in the formation of public policies. When the government gives them money for reservations, those who live on it should decide where it goes Government officials do not live on that land and have no clue what is in dire need of money. They should also be allowed to change the Red Skins’ name and logo. This does affect them as it is an extremely offensive term.
When the Natives started protesting, “in the 1960s and 1970s confronted three main non-American Indian audiences” (126). They focused on the government, the American people, and the media. They still use this method today. Native Americans write to Congress demanding the Red Skins’ name be changed. They reach out to American citizens and try to inform them on what is going on. They use media to convey how they feel about things that are happening, like that commercial that aired during the basketball playoffs. Activism was prevalent in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s but is still around today, also.
“The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960’s and 1970’s” was a very interesting article about many modern movements by Native peoples to try and preserve their culture. This article shows that Natives are still struggling today for their right to live and own land. The article explains a series of protests lead by American Indians against certain government policies and how they were affected by them. One of the main problems that American Indians deal with is the perception by non-Indians of them: “the American people generally had preconceived, stereotypical, romanticized, and/or negative images and ideas concerning what it meant to be ‘American Indian’. Non-American Indians have always seen American Indians through lenses that have more to do with creation and maintenance of non-American Indian identities than with the realities of American Indian experiences” (126). As a whole, we focus more on the mythical and romanticized version of a Native American in terms of education and portrayal. This leads to the stereotypes and negative images surrounding Native peoples and the overall treatment of them. We need to focus more on how Native peoples live today and what they represent today in our culture. By teaching the hardships that Indigenous people face today (for example; reservation conditions, murders, suicides, and alcohol abuse) we would be able to fix these reoccurring problems among the Native community and stop the stereotypes.
“Like a Hurricane” was interesting because it explained the specific events of Alcatraz and Wounded Knee. These are events that were briefly talked about in the previous article. These events are something that I did not know much about until these readings. It is interesting that the Natives decided to take over an abandoned piece of land in act of protest. This was powerful because they had experienced their land being taken from them over and over again and so by inhabiting Alcatraz they were able to strike back. Of the 78 college students that participated in this protest one stood out, Richard Oakes. He is described as being the voice of all the students and that “through him- in theory- they would speak a single, unified, and defiant voice” (5). They also describe that Richard experienced a lot of the hardships faced by Native peoples on reservations and that those experiences are what helped him to want to protest. This was a very interesting excerpt and it taught me a lot I did not know before.
“Joining the Rounddance” was interesting to read because it brought together the many themes we have talked about throughout this class. The idea of the Native peoples being connected to the land and how that land was taken from them but still many choose to stay connected in any way that they can. I also like how the essay reviews all the different ways in which the Native peoples were wronged, like being pushed from their homes, praying towns, boarding schools, and imprisonment. It is true that American Indians have been fighting for their rights all along and that they still are having to today. Many people act like the Native peoples have just sat back and quietly given their land away when that it not true at all. Indigenous people have been fighting and are still fighting today. The different ways in which the Natives have protested range from hunger strikes to dancing. This was interesting because it shows that they have rarely used violence and have always tried a way in which is subtle yet powerful. This essay does a good job of encompassing everything that we have learned thus far and this course has been very enlightening.
All of these articles are very eye-opening. They dive deeply into issues that are still happening today and in our not so distant history. To think that Native Americans are as marginalized as they are still today is terrible. We think we live in a culture that is so accepting of everyone, but we keep neglecting the first people that were on this land.
In the article “The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism in the 1960s and 1970s” by John Sanchez and Mary E. Stuckey, they bring up a lot of good points. One quote that they mention really hits the nail on the head: “The whites tell us of their enlightened understanding, and the wisdom they have from Heaven, at the same time, they cheat us to their hearts' content For we are as fools in their eyes, and they say among themselves, the Indians know nothing! The Indians understand nothing!” (Bruchac, 1997, p. 24). Many Native Americans felt that way, that the colonists thought that they could control the Native Americans because they weren’t smart. They also used their belief in God to justify what they were doing which was completely different than what the natives believed, but that didn’t matter to the colonists. Also, “…the attempt to alter vocabularies through language or perspective by incongruity” brings me back to the issue that’s happening today with the Washington Redskins. By changing the vocabulary of it makes all the difference. It’s a word that’s floating around that’s offensive and finally something is being done about it after many years of struggle.
For the story “Like a Hurricane” by Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior, I found it so interesting the part on the Natives taking a piece of land to claim their own. All of their lives the land has been taken away from them and they were finally trying to take it back. The land is so important to them so this was a big deal. To think that the government was still trying to take more away from the Native Americans not too long ago is terrible and still technically is with the whole Canada project. This topic is touched on in “Claiming the Past to Open Our Future: Language and Rhetoric of Idle No More.” What it’s about is “Among other issues, this bill imperils streams and lakes, and amends the 1867 Indian Act without having consulted First Nations peoples and further attempts to erode sovereignty.” Regardless of this and the fact that there is supposed to be a respect for the Native Americans, still the project is being pushed forward even though it would conflict with Native American territory.
“The Rhetoric of American Indian Activism” started off by defining political rhetoric as “educative and constitutive” along with “instrumentally persuasive” (120). The main focus of the article was to help the reader be able to distinguish the difference between “American Indian” verses “Native American” and be aware of the difficulties of being an “out-group”. I learned quite a lot about their self-image and how it was significantly altered by the “larger culture”. It still bothers me that not much has changed in the sense of American Indians seeking respect. They felt that in order to “prevail within the larger culture,” (20) they needed to completely correct themselves. It’s frustrating to read about how the Indians were treated and how they felt; “The whites tell us their enlightened understanding, and the wisdom they have from Heaven, at the same time, they cheat us of their hearts’ content” (121). I cannot comprehend how colonists believed that Indians “know nothing” and “understand nothing”. I was not surprised to read that Indian tribes united against “the threats to their resident cultures, combined with the continued discrimination, poverty, and racism that they faced in the cities” (122). However, I was not aware that this combination of people who faced similar challenges of equality defined themselves as “American Indian”, while “Native American”, on the other hand, refers to the race. Sadly, regardless of the “Twenty Points” and American Indian’s attempt to claim their rights, “no major threat to non-Indian constituencies” was made.
“Like a Hurricane” was full of short stories of Indian rebellion. I really liked “Leap of Faith” and the story of Richard Oakes act of disobedience. The “Leap of Faith” refers to the plunge into the Bay off the deck of Monte Cristo to rebel against “opportunities” for Indians that they felt was a trick to remove them from their land to allow whites to exploit their native areas. Richard Oakes speech to the seventy-eight Native students about his experiences with Indian people was unforgettable. He explained how he “saw the end of the rainbow, the wrong end” (5). He was exposed to Native alcoholism and their despair. This experience helped form Oakes opinion and fuel his desire to help get equality for Indians. “He believed that not only should Indians be encouraged to maintain traditions but even proposed legislation that would have provided funds for tribes to expand their land base” (7) As a reader, I was incredibly inspired by his determination for equal rights. My favorite quote was the description of Oakes as being “one of those fearless high-steel Mohawks you always heard about, standing above the clouds on the beam of a half-finished Manhattan” (6). It really puts a powerful image in the readers mind.