An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
This first part of the program brings you Dunbar-Ortiz’ description of North America before invasion, the emergence of the US concept of a chosen people, the development of the role of the US military as a force for genocide that seamlessly transitioned into the US foreign wars, the role of militias, a brief history of AIM, the American Indian Movement, and the consequences of the Gold Rush in California.
During Q&A Dunbar-Ortiz was asked about an earlier book by her. The Great Sioux Nation, published in 1977, came out of the 1974 Wounded Knee trials where Dunbar-Ortiz was an expert witness. Her answer evoked the history of the armed takeover of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement and the 71-day siege by federal forces that encircled them. Also the memory of the 1890 massacre of Wounded Knee of Lakota women, children and elders. Several hundred Native American were arrested and stood trial in one of the most remarkable proceedings in judicial history. U.S. District Judge Warren K. Urbom presided and allowed testimony by traditional medicine people and Lakota chiefs. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz prepared a history of the once Great Sioux Nation from the court records.
The late great Howard Zinn, author of the now world famous book: A People’s History of the United States, was her friend and he played a role in convincing Beacon Press to commission and publish An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She holds a Ph.D. in history and has been an activist in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades.
Dunbar-Ortiz is the author or editor of eight other books, including Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico; The Great Sioux Nation; Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie, and Blood on the Border: Memoir of the Contra War. She lives in San Francisco. I recorded Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Dec. 4, 2014, at Green Apple, one of the last used bookstores in San Francisco. Her book had been published two months earlier.