Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, TWO of TWO

This is the second part of a one hour program with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. She grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She holds a Ph.D. in history and is an activist in the international Indigenous movement.

Her book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, was published to high acclaim in the Fall of 2014. In part re-writing the official history of the US Dunbar-Ortiz is looking for reasons why the founding ideology of the US proved so deadly for the indigenous peoples living here. She explains how the early settlers considered themselves to be the chosen people and claimed a covenant with god that is later expressed in the US constitution.

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 Americans 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.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is the author of the 2014 Beacon Press book: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. I recorded her on December 4, 2014 at Green Apple, one of the last used bookstores in San Francisco.

She is the author or editor of seven other books, including Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico; Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie, and Blood on the Border: Memoir of the Contra War. She lives in San Francisco.

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