More than a Word, More than a Holiday Meal: Conversations for Native American Heritage Month

In recognition of Native American Heritage Month Erstwhile Contributing Editor Alessandra Link offers links to articles and projects that have recently caught her attention. From Indigenous-produced documentary films to a new digital Indigenous history project, authors are using a wide variety of media to convey Indigenous stories of past and present.

Jon Hurdle, “Ruined ‘Apartments’ May Hold Clues to Native American History,” New York Times

Hurdle’s piece addresses the early excavations of one of several “great houses” that fan out from Chaco Canyon, NM. Archaeologists suspect that the site at Crow Canyon, CO was two- to three-stories high and divided into thirty rooms. These early apartments join thousands of others that just begin to tell the rich histories of early North Americans. This excavation serves as an important reminder that Indigenous urbanisms are as old as Indigenous communities themselves—they long predate the skyscrapers and industrial metropolises we now associate with urban-ness.

“Mapping Indigenous LA,” University of California, Los Angeles

My interest in Indigenous cartographies continues with this impressive cartographic rendering of Indigenous peoples in Los Angeles. These story-maps narrate the experiences of the Tongva and Tataviam and address the arrival and persistence of displaced Indigenous peoples from across the globe. These are living maps–cartographic renderings that draw from human connections to place and are accountable to Indigenous communities. (For more map mania see the decolonial atlas.)

John Little and Kenn Little, More Than a Word (2017)

This is on my “must-watch” list for the year. Directed by two Standing Rock Sioux men, More than a Word features Indigenous scholars and activists sharing their perspectives on the offensive name of Washington, DC’s football team. Click here to attend or schedule a screening of the film near you. A goal is set to host 100 screenings in the month of November.

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“American Indian Movement Co-Founder Dennis Banks Dies at 80 Years of Age,” Indian Country Today Media Network

Roughly one year before the fiftieth anniversary of Alcatraz Island takeover by the Indians of All Tribes (November 20, 1969), a prominent Red Power leader—Dennis Banks—died from complications of pneumonia.

Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, and Alice Speri, “The Battle of Treaty Camp,” The Intercept

Drawing from newly-released video footage and first-hand accounts from Water Protectors, “The Battle of Treaty Camp” recounts the violence that broke out at a Dakota Access Pipeline resistance camp on October 27, 2016. The piece highlights not only the very public events that unfolded that day, but also the ongoing battles in U.S. court rooms. Water Protectors won an important legal victory this past summer, when a federal court ruled that the Corps of Engineers failed to fully vet the proposed pipeline site for environmental risks. But hundreds of individuals are still embroiled in legal proceedings stemming from the October 27 standoff. “The Battle at Treaty Camp” also calls out the significant role that private security played in the events that day, a reminder of the powerful and often destructive presence of corporations in Indian Country.

Kent Blansett and Jason A. Heppler, American Indian Digital History Project

Two historians at the University of Nebraska-Omaha have launched a digital archive for rare newspapers, photographs, and primary sources from Indian Country. The project’s mission is to make sources available from tribal governments and other institutions in Native North America. This important undertaking will help Indigenous communities preserve and protect their archival holdings, while also encouraging researchers to consult Native sources. It is an important resource for Indigenous communities and scholars of Indigenous America.

And for those of you eager to read more about the Thanksgiving holiday, see my post from the fall of 2014. Are you a K-12 parent or educator interested in how to best address Thanksgiving in the classroom? Take a look at the Thanksgiving Initiative from the Archeology Education Clearinghouse. It provides a form for parents and a list of resources for educators.

 

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