An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, TWO of TWO
Dunbar-Ortiz is looking for reasons why the founding ideology of the US proved so deadly for the indigenous peoples living here. A little known and astounding fact is that to this day the US follows the Doctrine of Discovery developed by the Pope for Portugal and Spain and then used by the modern colonial powers. The Doctrine of Discovery treats indigenous land as unoccupied and ready for the taking as long as Christians were not present. The US Supreme Court, as recently as 2005, relied on the Doctrine of Discovery to limit the sovereignty of the Oneida Nation.
Dunbar-Ortiz also explains the role of the military in the suppression and re-education of Native Peoples. First Indians were driven into Concentration Camps under the Department of War, later Reservations were “civilianized” under the Department of the Interior.
Finally Dunbar Ortiz talks about her first book: The Great Sioux Nation, that became the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous Peoples of the Americas at the UN in Geneva. With a contemporary connection to Standing Rock, she reminds us that The Great Sioux Nation once covered all of North and South Dakota, some of Wyoming and Montana and much of Nebraska
Published in 1977, The Great Sioux Nation came out of the 1974 Wounded Knee trials where Dunbar-Ortiz was an expert witness. In Feb. 1973 AIM and Lakota began an armed takeover of Wounded Knee in memory of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. The occupation resulted in a 71 day siege by federal forces that encircled them.
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.