COMPILED & REVIEWED BY CLAUDIA A. FOX TREE, M.Ed (Arawak). Here are resources I recommend in courses I teach about Native Americans - like book lists, websites, video clips, music/songs, curriculum ideas, and other thoughts thrown in for explanation…
Mostly, this blog is a place to present truths and perspectives about the Indigenous People of the Western Hemisphere (with particular focus on the Caribbean) not easily found in other places.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018
5th Annual March Against Genocide - Genocide Awareness Month
Here is a nice summary of some of the speakers comments from Sundays Genocide Awareness March.
Below is the transcript of what I said (it is also on the YouTube link)
Thank you all for
coming out. So much of what the previous speakers have said ring true for the
indigenous people of North and South America. I am a testament to the survival
of 500 years of genocide on this land that many of us have benefited from. I
wanted to dedicate my talk today to the ancestors because if they hadn’t
survived, I wouldn’t be here today.
And, when we speak
our language, even if only one word, even if it’s not perfect, our ancestors hear
Good day sisters and
brothers. My ancestral linage is Arawak from the island that we called Yurumein
and my name is Claudia Fox Tree. I am happy to be there and I said this 4 times
to honor the four directions. I offer
my deep appreciation to the celestial cosmos (the universe). I offer deep
appreciation to the moon. I offer deep appreciation to the earth mother (who is
our existence). I offer deep appreciation to the air (the lady which gives
breath from the center – sometimes she gets made and gets known as the hurricane).
I offer deep appreciation to fire. Water is life (it has sacred breath)
I’m gonna be speaking on my own experiences but
also the experience of people who are like me. Who share the same historical
trauma and struggle of being indigenous people whose ancestors first figured
out what they could eat on this land, what they could use for homes on this
land, and for clothing on this land, and who held the bones of every single one
of our ancestors.
It is important to recognize that this land
we are standing on is indigenous land. The Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and other
Massachusetts nations first walked, lived, and named everything on this land that
they called, “Shawmut,” and we call, “Boston.” While my nation, the Arawak, isn’t
not from here, I have been embraced by the local indigenous people and we have
a shared history and culture as “first contact” experiences.
I wanted to… I’m so glad that you did the
Pastor’s (Martin Niemöller) piece because I was thinking of that as I was
preparing my notes for today and how is it reflective of indigenous people. And
so, here it is.
First they took our
land… Then they took our bodies… to work their plantations and pan for gold. Then
they took our food source… retooling the land for the invasive plants/animals. Later,
slaughtering the buffalo. Then they took our religion… and forced Christianity on
us. Then they took our children… until 1978, and now our children continue to
be taken and put into foster care. Then they
took our language… by not allowing us to speak it. Then they took our lives… The
term “Final Solution” was not coined by the Nazis, it was the Indian Affairs
Superintendent, Duncan Campbell Scott from Canada. Then they took our women… who
are raped, murdered, and disappearing at alarming rates. They are murdered over
10X the national average and raped at 2 1/2 times the average. Then they took
our image… for sports team names, for butter and milk products, to sell
cornstarch, and so much more. Then they took the rest of our culture… by appropriating
parts of our language and pieces of our culture, our words are no longer
associated with their original meanings – think of these words: Winnebago,
Sequoyah, Pontiac, and Apache. By taking our clothing and using it for costumes
on Halloween, we become a “single story” via a single image. By taking our
headdresses, our own warriors are mocked after earning each feather. That would
be like taking the medals that service men win/are awarded and wearing them as
a costume. I wear my regalia today as a visual representation that we are not
one single story, that we have a lot of diversity among all of the nations that
are represented in the indigenous Americas.
What they couldn’t take by physical and
cultural genocide, they took by paper genocide. For example, in the Caribbean,
the first census that was taken had the category of “Indian,” the next census only
BUT WE HAVE SURVIVED,
even though… 90% of all manuscripts written about Native people are authored by
non-Native writers. Our schools teach almost nothing about treaties, land
rights, and water rights. There is nothing about the fact that tribes and
nations are still fighting to be recognized and determine sovereignty. Only 67%
of mixed blood multiracial Native Americans finished high school, compared to
the national average of 80%. Indigenous youth have a suicide rate 3x that of
their peers (males are 8x greater). Indigenous people face issues of mass
incarceration and policing and are the MOST likely minority to be killed by
police per capita. The federal government is still stripping Indigenous people
of their land. Exploitation of natural resources threatens not only Indigenous
communities, but all of us. Indigenous patients receive inadequate health care.
We continue to protest pipelines running across the land, protect national
parks, and fight for enforcement of treaty rights.
But we are taking
action… Reclaiming our history, people, and culture. Reclaiming our images
through our own artists. Resisting and being noticed, like at Standing Rock. Teaching
our culture to the next generation. Staying active on social media and participating
in indigenous/tribal organizations. And relearning our native languages.
And, we can’t do it
alone. We need the help of our allies… If you have a town that has an
indigenous Native American mascot, say something. If you play against
“colonials,” that’s another team, then you celebrate the destruction of our
culture. Tell five people, today before you forget, that you care how damaging
racist mascots and how they’re affecting indigenous populations. If your alma mater has a mascot, write a
letter. Tell them you will not make any contributions until they change their mascot.
Instead donate to an organization such as the National Congress of American
Indians. Or, join MCNAA, the Massachusetts Center for Native American
With your help, we can help the tribes
fighting to be recognized in today’s battles for land rights, water rights, and