A balloon depicting Donald Trump floats near a sign reading “Tear Down This Wall” at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., on November 7, 2020. The area around the White House has become increasingly barricaded since June 2020, with fences and barriers preventing anyone from getting near the facility. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Racial policy in a larger context
Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The thinking about Race or anything else for many of us in Sioux Territories, has always been Tribal. 

We do NOT use that word as a negative, a pejorative.For the indigenous people who learned how to live in this geography a thousand years ago, Tribalism has never had a negative or degrading effect even though a policy called “peace” plans by the treaty-signing US have tried to convince us otherwise.

Every now and then, and especially in 2020 when the “land back” movement again stirs our young leaders here in the reddest state in the nation, it is useful to look up and let ourselves know that the world created by Trump-ian Republicans wants us to believe that we are too weak to resist. They know little about the meaning of Tribalism. They know even less about our long history of survival as a nation!

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Courtesy photo

We listen to the global news on television and are horrified when we see that the US administration has “sanctioned” another beleaguered indigenous nation thousands of miles away (the Palestinians), even while out of the other side of their mouths they are slyly moving the US embassy to its colony Jerusalem. Meanwhile, they kill the commander of Arab forces in neighboring Iran in an attempt to shape the Middle East to their colonial ways. 

The subject of world geography is not something we take up much in Indian country (though maybe we should). When we think of it at all it reminds us of the 1880 War Department and the contemporary Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Most of the racial problems on Indian lands have gotten worse and we are not talking just about the Covid virus which is shocking enough. The police problems in and around native homelands, the mass shootings and the endemic racism, the rejection of our brown neighborhood refugees and immigrants, the denial of climate change tells that we need to isolate ourselves and negotiate quietly when and where we can.

A return to White Supremacy in America which we thought had been given a rest during the middle decades of the 20th century, even though it may have been an illusion, brings about another backlash and we’ve “been there, done that!”  

This means that RACISM and its legacy has shaped and enforced a white racial hierarchy.  

We thought we were making progress, and that worldwide populations had at last begun to understand what America had done to its First Nations and what it might do again. The influence toward defining the nature and the scope of the problem might take on substance.


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Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is a retired Professor of Native Studies. She taught at Eastern Washington University and Arizona State University. She currently lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has written 15 books in her field. One of her latest is Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya’s Earth, published by University of Illinois Press.

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