Humanities Institute Debunks Myths about Native Americans

By Lauren Prince '14, Editor-in-Chief

Continuing Invasion: Resistance, Resilience, and Re-Invention Among North American Indigenous Peoples. Don’t run away from the long title.

This spring, the Humanities Institute is bringing guest lectures from across nations to Scripps. There are 562 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States alone, not including the numerous tribes which are not recognized, or the ones in Canada. There are also tribes recognized by states, but not by the federal government. After the 1830 Indian Removal Act, North America’s tribes of indigenous peoples have considered themselves to be sovereign nations because they follow different rules and regulations and are not on federal U.S. land.

Based on the extremely minimal education we get surrounding the history of the indigenous peoples of the United States, many assumptions and stereotypes exist. Stereotypes about indigenous peoples paint them as stagnant cultures, with their traditions, customs and artwork in museums next to dinosaur skeletons. These peo- ples seem rare and exotic to a largely-ignorant U.S. population. But the stereotypes are false. These peoples are still struggling for rights, a voice, an identity, to maintain their culture and to be seen as unique and important. This semester, the Humanities Institute Junior Fellows are learning about North American indigenous peoples, and their research includes opportunities to educate the community and counteract the harmful stereotypes that have grown out of ignorance and misinformation.

Each Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m., a speaker comes to Garrison Theater as part of this series. This week’s event was a documentary film by Gayle Anne Kelley, exploring the role of women leaders in Western civil society and indigenous culture. According to the Humanities Institute website, Kelley’s documentary “contrasts views of western ideology with indigenous thinking in matters of governance, ecology, spirituality, war and peace.” For those unaware, some indigenous North American tribes are matrilineal, so women play a large role in tribal matters. Kelley will be leading Women, Leadership and Peace seminars on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. starting March 7 and ending April 11. These lectures and discussions will “inspire an essential conversation that invites all women across generations and cultures to emerge with a powerful unified voice.” It is a perfect addition to the discussions of women’s empowerment in which Scripps students already take part.

Please join the Humanities Fellows in learning about the continual struggles still plaguing the indigenous peoples of North America.