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What we’re reading: Indigenous resistance from Plymouth Rock to Standing Rock

Photo: / AFSC

Just four days before Thanksgiving—a holiday that for many symbolizes the genocide of Native people in the U.S.—law enforcement in North Dakota launched a brutal assault on the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies. Hundreds of people who had peacefully assembled to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline were blasted with water cannons, hit with concussion grenades and rubber bullets, and doused with tear gas. This week, What We’re Reading takes a look at the protests in Standing Rock in the context of 500 years of indigenous resistance to colonization and genocide.


Don't be passive observers of last night's terrorization in Standing Rock: Here's what you can do, by Kelly Hayes via Truthout

"As a Native woman who has been to Standing Rock three times, and whose health now prevents me from making a fourth trip, I have my own asks. Call every number put in front of you. Jam every phone line. Look at the target list of financial institutions supporting this pipeline. Pick a bank. Shut it down, just like we did in Chicago on Saturday and people did in Philadelphia this morning. The Trump administration hasn't even taken hold yet, and I watched over a livestream last night as my friends and people were battered with water streams that can tear skin from flesh and eyes from sockets. I watched my people hold space and scramble to save one another as drops of water froze to razor wire."


The Standing Rock resistance is unprecedented (it's also centuries old), by Leah Donnella via NPR

"In the late 1800s more than 10,000 members of the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes set up camp to resist the U.S. Army's attempt to displace them in search of gold. That camp took form at the Little Bighorn River in Montana. After the soldiers attacked the camp in June of 1876, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, widely known as (Gen. George) Custer's Last Stand, erupted. In defeating the Army, the tribes won a huge land rights victory for Native Americans."


Book excerpt: The real Thanksgiving story, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker via Bill Moyers

"Second only to the Columbus discovery story, the Thanksgiving tale is the United States' quintessential origin narrative. Like the Columbus myth, the story of Thanksgiving has morphed into an easily digestible narrative that, despite its actual underlying truths, is designed to reinforce a sense of collective patriotic pride. The truths are, however, quite well documented. Their concealment within a simplistic story inevitably depicts a convoluted reality about the Indigenous peoples who played crucial roles in both events, and it presents an exaggerated valorization about the settlers' roles."


Showdown at Standing Stone Camp, by Jason Mark via American Prospect

"As indigenous people and Native people, for 500 years we’ve been saying that capitalism won’t work, that if you’re doing all of this colonial stuff it will come back and get you,” Mosset says. “We’re not going to say, ‘We told you so.’ But we are going to say that now we speak for ourselves. And to listen to us. We are going to show you the right way forward."


President Obama, remember Leonard Peltier, by Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada via Counterpunch

"Leonard Peltier, Anishinabe-Lakota, a leader of the American Indian Movement, AIM, writer and poet, has just completed 40 years in prison, and is one of the political prisoners jailed for the longest time in the whole planet. When he was captured, in February 1979, he was a young man, struggling for the rights of the Native peoples, who had already known repression and jail from an early age. Now, almost blind and very ill, he endures a cruel and totally unjust captivity."


This guide for being an ally during Thanksgiving dinner is infinitely useful by Sunnivie Brydum via Bustle

"The full toolkit can be downloaded here, complete with discussion topics, de-escalation techniques, and simple, direct action items that you can encourage family members to take before the tryptophan sets in. There's even a suggestion for art projects to engage the kids in the family, including creating postcards opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline to send to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple."


Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Thanksgiving: "It has never been about honoring Native Americans" via Democracy Now!


Looking for more resources? Check out the Standing Rock Syllabus from the NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective for historical context and current analysis.


"What We’re Reading" is a weekly feature on AFSC’s News and Commentary blog, where we share a curated collection of recent articles on timely issues. "What We're Reading" is meant to spark discussion, debate, and knowledge sharing, and the articles we highlight do not necessarily reflect the official organizational positions of AFSC. We encourage you to tell us what you're reading on these issues in the comments below.  

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