Re: Native Americans & Tribal History

Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Thu, 24 Aug 1995 23:47:13 -0600

On Fri, 25 Aug 1995, (Pat Tucker) wrote:

> Robert Johnson writes:
> The best sources for Native American history are Native Americans.
> Vine Deloria and Ward Churchill are excellant beginnings.
> Also, any inquiries may be made on Native-l and
> Natchat at
> subscribe Native-l <your name>
> subscribe Natchat <your name>
> This is not always true. The best sources on Native Americans are not always
> Native Americans themselves. As a case in point, look at the Ottawa Tribe of
> Oklahoma. By 1980 most of the key tribal members who knew anything about
> their culture and history had died. The 600 or so registered members for all
> practical purposes have lost their history and culture. Chief Charles Dawes
> and Larry Angelo, Chairman of the Ottawa Tribal Historical Commission, are
> trying to get a cultural resource center established for historical and
> genealogical research by its members. They are visiting the northern Odawas
> in Michigan and Canada on Manitoulin Island to try to understand the
> language, customs and lifeways that have survived the ravages of white
> contact. They are visiting Kansas to retrieve documents and visit their
> previous Kansas reservation of 1840-1870. While these and other initiatives
> are valiant efforts, a great deal of information by tribal members who passed
> on their language and traditions has been lost and will never be recovered.

History serves the living, not the dead or those who conducted
Your assumption that history is defined by what survives the
ashes, or the "valiant" but ultimately doomed to failure "efforts"
of indigenous peoples to resurrect the cultural "history" they
have "lost" and "never be recovered," only betrays your ignorance
or "benign" racism which still seeks to define indigenous peoples
by their "win-loss" record.
Your's is the typical "white-liberal" apologetics for the continuing
disenfranchisement of indigenous history. You wish to appear
"sensitive" and "concerned" has no effect on the inclusion of
your unasked for judgements on the "efforts" of indigenous peoples
to "historically" define themselves.
When will you realize "history" no longer resides with the "victor?"
...No matter what his "heartfelt" concerns.

Robert Johnson