When my former UMass Amherst mentor asked me to help a freshman learn about Indigenous rights and how the media and the gov’t work for/against the indigenous of North America within the last decade, I rose to the task. How could I not? I’m a formally trained journalist and writer whose job is to inform others. Doing this type of homework was fun for me. My homeland, Nunatsiavut, had to be first of the nine current events. Sonya said she’d return to her group and share it with everyone. I was not paid though someday, the check will be in the mail. I gave the student a copy of the following pdf. I can send out a pdf version if you email me. I always welcome feedback and questions.
member of Nunatsiavut kavamanga of Labrador, Canada
UMass Amherst B.A. in BDIC: Journalism and CPNAIS, 2012
Lesley University MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction, 2018
Throughout the years, the original inhabitants of Canada and the 50 states, the Aboriginal and the Native Americans, have not received the same rights that their counterparts, the colonizers, have. The governments have altered the indigenous peoples of North America since the beginning. The governments have profited by: stealing land; mining Mother Earth for her natural resources—oil, gas, hydropower with no regard for community safety; sensationalizing indigenous peoples in movies/commercials; selling “Pretend-ian” [pretend Indian] merchandise; revoking tribal rights and/or ignoring signed Treaties.
These types of gains have happened since Canada and America were “founded.” The history taught in public schools vs. what really happened are two different stories since history is written by the victor(s). When I was a child, teachers classified me as a trouble maker bc I fought or was confrontational to adults because I knew what people told me was wrong. I didn’t have the formal education to properly vocalize what I knew intuitively. Once I attended UMass Amherst, and took CPNAIS classes, I learned the sad truths about what happened to my Inuit family and to other indigenous peoples. Fortunately, I found the Native community here in western Mass. Years later, I’m a trained journalist and a writer, I am compelled to impart the news of what I learned. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed when I speak about indigenous issues, listeners become uncomfortable though it is very necessary to have these conversations. I am delighted to meet with freshmen today. Dr. Jean Forward taught me well since she was then-director of the CPNAIS program at UMass Amherst and my BDIC mentor.
Fortunately, the Indigenous peoples have improved their resistance with social media in recent years because technology is our friend. It is important to acknowledge these issues because Mother Earth is sacred, Water is Life, and it is reprehensible for the government to break/ignore treaties.
I compiled a list of the current events for Inuit Nunangat and Indian Country:
The first line describes how the gov’t profited from the Aboriginals and Native Americans. The second line is what area/type of current event I’m describing. The third+ lines are credible online articles that substantiate my statements.
1) Natural resources. Stealing land. Threat of poisoning water.
my homeland –#MakeMuskratRight (Muskrat Falls-Churchill Falls of Labrador)
2) Natural resources.
‘The Black Snake’ Line 3, stretching over Native lands and protestors stopping it.
3) Revoking rights of indigenous people.
North Dakota’s voting laws changed where Indians can’t vote bc they use post office boxes
4) Natural resources. Abuse of power. Stealing land.
#NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline)
5) Stereotyping. Selling Pretendian merch.
Regalia is not a (Halloween) costume
6) Sensationalizing. Selling Pretendian merch. Stereotypes.
Indians are not mascots
7) Revoking/ignoring treaty rights.
Erasure of Federally-recognized tribe(s)
8) Sensationalizing indigenous women.
Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)—my Ajâtsuk/maternal aunt is one.
9) Sensationalizing indigenous women.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- Nunatsiavut kavamanga/government nunatsiavut.com
- Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami itk.ca
- Native American and Indigenous Studies Association naisa.org
- Native American Journalist Association (NAJA) naja.com
- North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) naicob.org
- Mass Commission on Indian Affairs
- Nipmuc Nation (state-recognized tribe led by a woman chief named Cheryll Toney Holley) http://nipmucnation.homestead.com/welcome.html
- Tribal Leaders Directory https://www.bia.gov/sites/bia.gov/libraries/maps/tld_map.html
- Five College Native American & Indigenous Studies https://www.fivecolleges.edu/natam
- Mass Center for Native American Awareness mcnaa.org
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown, 1993
- All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life by Winona LaDuke, 1999
- The Rights of Indians and Tribes (4th) by Stephen L. Pevar, 2012
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014