Century of Genocide in the Americas: The residential school experience

Native Voices Presents: a film by
Rosemary Gibbons and Dax Thomas
More info:
Special thanks to
Dan George Family
Squamish Nation
University Heights Center, Seattle
Brocklinds Costumes, Seattle
Seattle Seaplanes
Kenmore Air, Seattle; Time Brooks
John Klockner, UW Communications Dept,
Rober Jules, Kamloops Indian Band
Lizette Peters Mission Indian Band
Shane Pointe
Kevin Ward
Natalie Gibbons
The Thomas Sisters
Blake Yaffett (Priest)
Jennifer Berg
Jonathan Tomhave
St.Marks’ Choir
Roaring Camp, Felton, CA
Anthony Chan
Chief Robert Joseph, executive director
Films + Videos
Beyond the Shadows – Gryphon Productions LTD, 1993
The Boys of St. Vincent – Dir John N. Smith; Distributor: Alliance, 1993
Where the Spirit LIves- Dir. Bruce Pittman; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 1989
Kuper Island: Return of the Healing Circle- Gumboot Productions
They Called it Prairie Light: The Story of Chiloocco Indian School- Tsianina K Lomawaima, 1994 – University of Nebraska Press
Shingwauk’s vision: A History of Native Residential Schools – J.R. Miller, 1996 – University of Toronto Press Inc.
A National Crime: The Canadian Government and The residential School System 1897-1986 – John S. Milloy, 1999 – University of Manitoba Press
Resistance and Renewal: Surviving the Indian Residential School – Cecilia Haig-Brown, 1988 – Arsenal Pulp Press LTD.
Indian School Days – Basil H. Johnston, 1988 – University of Oklahoma Press
Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi’kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia – Isabell Knockwood and Gillian Thomas, 1992 – Nova Scotia Roseway Publishing
Essie’s Story: The LIfe and Legacy of a Shoshone Teacher – Ester Burnett and Sally McBeth, 1998 – University of Nebraska Press
Stolen From Our Embrace – Suzanne Fournier and Ernie Crey (out of print)-Douglas & McIntyre
No End of Grief: Indian Residential Schools in Canada – Agnes Grant (out of print)- Pemmican Publications Inc.


Respectful ways to ask a N8V questions

Respectful ?’s to potentially ask a native:

How many tribes are in the US, or your territory, in this state…etc?

Do you speak a/your native language?

Do you practice your culture/traditions/religion?

Do you enjoy your traditional foods?

Do you know your traditional stories, songs, etc.?

Would It be alright for me to take a photo of you in your regalia?

Could you tell me a little bit about how your tribe may differ from others?

December Issue of the San Juan Star

The past few weeks, I have asked many friends, family members, strangers, and you, my readers, to ask me questions – generally about Natives. I understand, some questions may be hard to ask in person, maybe it’s not the right time, or maybe you just never had a chance to ask these questions. I am here to clarify what I know. My goal here is to share my knowledge, and my network of family/friends/relatives’ knowledge, by honoring my ancestors in clarifying the truth – not misinformation.
And I would also like to invite you to review my new blog, just for this. I will only print the “Ask a Native” column a few times. For ongoing questions, please visit http://www.askan8v.wordpress.com

So here are some of the questions I received…

How to Address Natives?

Personally, I believe it is a matter of preference to the Native one is talking to. I do know that the word ‘Indians’ is commonly less tolerated among the Natives that I have encountered – it has the stigma of Columbus ‘discovering’ or mistaking the Native people of the territory of being people of India. (This story that Columbus named Native People “Indians” because he thought they were in India, is incorrect – India was known as “Hindustan” at the time.) In the late 20th century, some American public figures suggested that the origin of the term was not from a confusion with India, but from the Spanish expression En Dios, meaning “in God,” or a similar one in Italian. More information can be found online about this issue.

When you analyze the verbiage, if the people residing on ‘Turtle Island’ were here before colonizers (Turtle Island being what we know as the Americas); What were the people that were originally there called? I just respect the word “Native.”
“When I use the word “Native,” I am referring to the original inhabitants of the Americas, who are also known as Native Americans, American Indians, First Nations, First Peoples, and Indigenous Peoples.”

Indigenous is also a commonly respected term used around Native people. Indigenous Peoples of “_____”. First Nations, Aboriginals, Original people of Turtle Island… though some do prefer American Indian (for that was the first term used to describe us once Turtle Island became known as ‘America’).

Some Native people don’t like any of these words, and prefer to just be known as a member of their tribe – ie, “I am Diné.” (A Navajo individual from the tribe of the Diné)

So I say – there is no “one answer” to this question. Please do be respectful when you are addressing a Native, maybe asking them, if you were to be announcing them in some fashion. (I do find it presumptive and rude when someone announces me as being an Indian – yet that is my preference, I’m just sharing my perspective- same thing when someone claims that I live on a reservation- which I do NOT, I live on trust land… but that is another discussion ^_^)

If you really are Native, don’t you receive federal/government money?

NO! Contrary to popular belief, Natives do not receive payments from the federal government simply because they have Native blood. Funds distributed to a person of Native descent may represent mineral lease income on property that is held in trust by the United States or compensation for lands taken in connection with governmental projects. Some Native tribes receive benefits from the federal government in fulfillment of treaty obligations or for the extraction of tribal natural resources — a percentage of which may be distributed as per capita payments among the tribe’s membership. And only if a tribe is federally recognized. Only tribes who maintain a legal relationship to the U.S. government through binding treaties, acts of Congress, executive orders, etc., are officially “recognized” by the federal government. Once “recognized,” a tribe has a legal relationship with the United States. There are currently more than 550 federally recognized tribes in the United States, over 100 State Recognized, including some 220 village groups in Alaska. However, there are still hundreds of unrecognized tribes undergoing the lengthy and tedious process of applying for federal recognition. Some sources say that there are over 1000 Native American tribes in the US, I don’t doubt it (I would venture to say there are quite a bit more.)

A map of California of native tribal territories - precontact

Pre-contact Tribal Territories

Do all American Indians and Alaska Natives speak a single traditional language?

No. American Indians and Alaska Natives come from a multitude of different cultures with diverse languages, and for thousands of years used oral tradition to pass down familial and cultural information among generations of tribal members. Some tribes, even if widely scattered, belong to the same linguistic families. Common means of communicating between tribes allowed trade routes and political alliances to flourish. As contact between Indians and non-Indians grew, so did the necessity of learning of new languages. Even into the 20th century, many American Indians and Alaska Natives were bi- or multilingual from learning to speak their own language and English, French, Russian, or Spanish, or even another tribal language.
It has been reported that at the end of the 15th century over 300 American Indian and Alaska Native languages were spoken. Today, fewer than 200 tribal languages are still viable, with some having been translated into written form. English, however, has become the predominant language in the home, school, and workplace. Those tribes who can still do so are working to preserve their languages and create new speakers from among their tribal populations. Cited from the Bureau of Indian Affairs

While Native language use is not as widespread as it once was, some Native people still use their language every day. The most widely spoken Native language in the United States is the Navajo or Diné language, with over 170,000 reported speakers in 2007, 2.9 percent of whom were monolingual with no knowledge of English.” [Cited from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navajo_language%5D

Have you seen REEL INJUN the documentary?



I love that documentary, I recommend it to everyone, and I wish I could make it mandatory in schools. If you have not seen it, please, try. Plot summary: REEL INJUN:a documentary about the history of the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood films. Native American and Aboriginal peoples have long played a part in Hollywood filmmaking, but the picture presented of them was not always flattering or accurate. Most westerns of Hollywood’s Golden Age presented “Indians” as either ruthless savages with no sense of honor or fools who were lost without the help of the white man. (Adding insult to injury, they were usually played by white actors in makeup.) However, as issues of Native American rights came to the forefront in the 1960s, more filmmakers stepped forward to offer a more positive and thoughtful portrayal of Aboriginal characters on screen, and Native American performers were given a greater opportunity to present the story of their people in television and the movies.

Current issues

Native Issues today….. have you heard about Native appropriations… well, I will re-blog this from

Indian Country Today

Victoria’s Secret Is Asking to Be Boycotted

By Ruth Hopkins

Nov. 9,2012

Not again!

In September, the Native community sprang into action voicing our collective outrage after we were assailed by Paul Frank’s “neon pow-wow” fashion night, complete with war-painted employees and C-list celebrities donning feather headbands, armed with plastic tomahawks. In response, Paul Frank not apologized, and the company pulled all Native imagery from their stores as well as online. They also announced that they will be hiring a Native designer to create a new line, with earnings going toward a Native charity.

Yet the barrage of attacks against Native American culture and identity continues to escalate. The usual parade of offensive Native American ‘costumes’ we’re typically forced to endure every Halloween was even more pronounced this year, as were the insults and racial epithets aimed at Natives who dared to demand respect for their Native identity, spiritual beliefs, and culture.

Just last week, No Doubt released a video for it’s latest single,”Looking Hot.” To our dismay, the video turned out to be little more than a Native appropriation extravaganza, paying homage to cheap, inaccurate, stereotypical Dime Store turkey feather accoutrements and the hypersexualization of Native women. Natives once again stepped up to the plate to defend their cultural dignity, and No Doubt apologized, pulling the video from circulation.

Now, Victoria’s Secret has upped the ante. Wednesday night, their fashion show featured model Karlie Kloss in a leopard print bikini accessorized with turquoise jewelry and fringe covered heels, strutting down the catwalk in a floor-length, feathered war bonnet.

As a Victoria’s Secret customer, I am livid. After years of patronage and loyalty to the Victoria’s Secret brand, I am repaid with the mean-spirited, disrespectful trivialization of my blood ancestry and the proud Native identity I work hard to instill in my children. Well, I’ve got news for you, Victoria’s Secret. Consider yourself boycotted. Perhaps it’s time for us to resume the feminist practice of bra-burning. Regardless, this Native girl is ready to go commando.

What is it going to take before the fashion industry, and mainstream society in general, realizes that making a mockery of Native identity is unacceptable?

Why is this practice offensive to Natives? Let’s peel away the layers of this tacky, racist onion. For one, Ms. Kloss has no business wearing a war bonnet at all. Not only is she not Native, she hasn’t earned the honor. Among my people, the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux), war bonnets are exclusively worn by men, and each feather within a war bonnet is symbolic of a brave act of valor accomplished by that man. Not just any Tom, Dick or Harry had the privilege of wearing a war bonnet. Who wears a war bonnet? Tatanka Iyotanka, Sitting Bull. Not a no-account waif paid to prance around on stage in her underwear. This brings me to my next point: the hypersexualization of Native women. Unfortunately, these days, if you search “war bonnet” or even “Native” on the Internet, you’re likely to come across dozens of pictures of naked, or nearly naked, white women wearing headdresses. Given the epidemic levels of sexual violence Native women and girls are faced with in the United States, why can they not see how incredibly insensitive and inappropriate it is to equate Native womanhood as little more than a sexual fetish?

Also, we’re a people, not a trend. We don’t wear costumes. We dress in regalia, and every single piece means something special. Our beadwork, leatherwork, and quillwork—every piece is a work of Art, unique onto itself and created by skilled, dedicated Native craftsman. War paint is also evocative, with colors and patterns that are meaningful. They tell a story. It’s not finger paint.

Time and time again I’ve heard the defenders of Native appropriation racism say we should “get over it.” We will not be bullied. Our identity, our culture, and our ways don’t belong to you; you can’t have them. They were passed down to us from our ancestors who dreamed them milennia ago. We will never stop fighting to protect it, nor demanding that you respect it, and in turn, us.

Another retort commonly expounded upon is that there are Natives who either voice approval for acts of Native appropriation, or claim not to care. I don’t know their hearts. Nonetheless, what happened to common courtesy, i.e. if someone doesn’t want to be made fun of, you cease the offensive behavior? Red face is just as offensive as black face.

Even if there are some Natives who don’t mind being mocked, there are plenty who do, and who will continue to protest the assault taking place against Native identity and culture. There are also a whole lot of non-Natives who are open-minded enough to understand why Native appropriation is wrong, and are standing with us in solidarity to defeat this racist, disrespectful, archaic practice. Whether deliberate or not, we hereby put those who commit ignorant, offensive acts of Native appropriation on warning. We’ve protested loudly, and long enough, where your using ignorance as an excuse is wearing thin. We will not relent. See it our way, or face the consequences—and the boycotts.

Make your voice known. Contact Victoria’s Secret on Facebook and Twitter and let them know just how wrong putting Karlie Kloss in a headdress was. You can also contact them here.

Sign the petition here.

Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton-Wahpeton/Mdewakanton/Hunkpapa) is a writer, speaker,former science professor and tribal attorney. She is a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network and LastRealIndians.com.

Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/ict_sbc/victorias-secret-is-asking-to-be-boycotted http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/ict_sbc/victorias-secret-is-asking-to-be-boycotted#ixzz2BlAtkHzf