In the News

White Supremacy in the Academy: The 1913 Meeting of the American Historical Association
Bradley D. Proctor, December 6, 2019, The Activist History Review

In December 1913, the American Historical Association (AHA) held its annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. It was celebrated as one of the first “southern” meetings of the AHA. The association’s president that year was William Archibald Dunning, professor at Columbia University and advisor of a wide cohort of graduate students who were in the process of professionalizing the writing of southern history. Dunning was not a southerner, and grew up already in positions of academic privilege; he was born in New Jersey and attended Columbia as both undergraduate and graduate student. Several of his former students organized a private dinner in his honor on the second night of the conference. The men dined on oysters, turtle soup, beef tenderloin, and partridges. They drank champagne and smoked cigars. Undoubtedly they …

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a good time to lose our illusions

Thanksgiving is a good time to lose our illusions about U.S. history Roundup by Nick AlexandrovNick Alexandrov studied U.S. foreign policy and Latin America at George Washington University. He teaches humanities at Holland Hall School.

We keep a myth alive when we celebrate Thanksgiving. That’s how Dr. Tryg Jorgensen explained it at the Philbrook on Nov. 16.
He and Apollonia Piña, another indigenous activist, spoke on a panel organized by Tulsa-based Tri-City Collective. (Full disclosure: I’m a Tri-City member.) The topic was “Thanksgiving as Native Genocide Day.” The talk helped puncture the myth.
We misread the past each November, when we consider our country’s earliest phase. We like to think tolerance, a love of liberty and a democratic impulse motivated English colonists. But history tells a different story.
Instead of starting the story in Massachusetts, or Virginia even, look to Ireland first. England’s takeover of that island, in the 1500s, was a dress re…

Invasion: Canada’s Ongoing Colonization of Its Indigenous People

Invasion Unistoten Camp (2019) Film Review Invasion is about an incursion into Wet'suwet'en earlier this year by Canadian police armed with assault weapons. This followed an injunction a British Columbia court granting  petroleum companies authority to build a network of oil/gas pipelines across their land. Since none of the Wet'suet'en clans have ceded their land to European settlers, the injunction is illegal. Despite the arrest of 14 clan activists, the standoff continues, as the local clans complete construction of a four-story healing center near one of the proposed pipeline routes. The arrests have triggered support protests by indigenous people and environmentalists across Canada and in the US. stuartbramhall | November 18, 2019 at 7:14 pm | Tags: canada, injunction, pipelines, Wet'suwet'en | Categories: colonialism | URL:

This day in History: Largest public hanging in Canada

Cuthand: Public hanging led to years of repression for First Nations Nov. 27 was the anniversary of the largest public hanging in Canada, which was done purely out of spite to instill fear and control over First Nations people, writes Doug Cuthand Doug Cuthand, Saskatoon StarPhoenix Updated: December 1, 2018 Fort Battleford, Sask. historic site SASwp

Nov. 27 was the anniversary of the largest public hanging in Canada. This act of infamy took place in Battleford and was done purely out of spite to instil fear and control in our people.
The speed of the course of justice was astounding. The so-called siege of Battleford took place in late March of 1885 and the Canadian militia’s attack on Chief Poundmaker’s camp was May 2. Six months later, all the trials had concluded and the sentencing was complete.
The court proceedings were conducted in English, with no translation or legal representation allowed for the warriors. It was a kangaroo court in every aspect.

Joseph Opala on the Black Seminoles

Monday, November 18, 2019 Thomas Thurston talks with Joseph Opala on his work with the Black Seminoles Joseph Opala is an American historian noted for establishing the “Gullah Connection,” the historical links between the indigenous people of the West African nation of Sierra Leone and the Gullah people of the Low Country region of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States. Opala’s historical research began with a study of Bunce Island, the British slave castle in Sierra Leone that was a departure point for many African slaves shipped to South Carolina and Georgia in the mid- and late 18th century Middle Passage. He was the first scholar to recognize that Bunce Island has greater importance for the Gullah than any other West African slave castle. He ranks it as “the most important historic site in Africa for the United States.” Opala has traveled between Sierra Leone and the South Carolina and Georgia Low Country for 25 years, producing documentary films, museum exhibi…

IN THE NEWS #bigisms

In the News
Wadsworth's Collection Of Black Art Illuminates Experiences, Cultures And Traditions (audio)
Ryan Lindsay, November 14, 2019, On Point, WNPR

With more than 100 works of art, from sculptures and quilts to paintings and photographs, the Wadsworth Atheneum’s newest installation, Afrocosmologies: American Reflections, stands out as more than just an exhibit.

It’s an invitation to something curator Frank Mitchell calls a celebration.

“It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate the work of Black artists who imagined a world that tilts toward the Africana,” Mitchell said, “so a spiritual world focused on and celebrating Black spirituality.”

The show is broken up into four sections: Nature, Gods & Humanity, Origins, and Ritual.

“Nature is the foundation of everything,” Mitchell said. “The captives who were brought here to the Americas believed that the spirit lived in everything -- in the grass, in the water, in the heavens, so in this section we celebrate that unders…

The Myth of the First Thanksgiving

The Myth of the First Thanksgiving is a Buttress of White Nationalism and Needs to Goby David J. Silverman
David J. Silverman is a professor at George Washington University, where he specializes in Native American, Colonial American, and American racial history. He is the author of ThundersticksRed BrethrenNinigret, and Faith and Boundaries. His essays have won major awards from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the New York State Historical Association. He lives in Philadelphia.

Most Americans assume that the Thanksgiving holiday has always been associated with the Pilgrims, Indians, and their famous feast. Yet that connection is barely 150 years old and is the result of white Protestant New Englanders asserting their cultural authority over an increasingly diverse country. Since then, the Thanksgiving myth has served to reinforce white Christian dominance in the United States. It is well past time to dispense with the myth and its whi…

Appropriation of American Indian Identities

Gwen Sharp, PhD on June 15, 2008
Here is a video of the famous “crying Indian” anti-littering PSA from the early 1970s:

The actor, Iron Eyes Cody, was not actually Native American, he was Italian American. You can read more about him at

In case you didn’t know, the famous “Chief Seattle” speech about the need to honor the earth and care for the environment was written by a white guy, also in the early 1970s.

These could be interesting for discussions of environmentalism and American Indians. Why do environmental messages somehow have more authority if they supposedly come from an Indian? Would the “Chief Seattle” speech be less meaningful if we knew a white guy wrote it? Why?
They could also be used in discussions about the appropriation of Native American culture and the use of non-Indian actors to play Indian roles. It’s also interesting as an example of how American Indians are often depicted as historic throwbacks who are still living in the …

Missing Bones

The bones of a former slave and black leader were missing — until a historian asked in the right place
Erin Cox, November 1, 2019, The Washington Post

Janice Hayes-Williams was just starting out as an amateur local historian two decades ago when she found out a prominent black man had been deeply disrespected.

The grave holding the remains of Smith Price, founder of the first free black community in Maryland’s state capital, had been dug up during an urban renewal project in the 1980s.

And for years, no one she talked to knew where the bones had gone.

“How do you dig up people and take them away?” Hayes-Williams said in an interview earlier this week.

On Friday, she stood in St. Anne’s Cemetery in Annapolis and ran her hand along a pair of custom wooden caskets. “At last,” she said, “they’re home.”

The bones presumed to belong to Price and his young son were again being laid to rest, after a solemn ceremony attended by 125 people in the church that Price helped found more tha…

We Still Live Here: Black Indians of Wampanoag and African Heritage


Many Native Americans Can’t Get Clean Water

IN THE NEWS #bigisms

In the News

Frederick Douglass’s Vision for a Reborn America
David Blight, December 2019, The Atlantic

“We are a country of all extremes, ends and opposites; the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world … In races we range all the way from black to white, with intermediate shades which, as in the apocalyptic vision, no man can name or number.”
— Frederick Douglass, 1869

In the late 1860s, Frederick Douglass, the fugitive slave turned prose poet of American democracy, toured the country spreading his most sanguine vision of a pluralist future of human equality in the recently re-United States. It is a vision worth revisiting at a time when the country seems once again to be a house divided over ethnicity and race, and over how to interpret our foundational creeds.

The Thirteenth Amendment (ending slavery) had been ratified, Congress had approved the Fourteenth Amendment (introducing birthright citizenship and the equal-protection clause), and Douglass was…

The World We Used To Live In


Antigua Demands Harvard Pay Reparations for Benefiting From Slavery

Antigua Demands Harvard Pay Reparations for Benefiting From SlaveryThe labor of enslaved people paid for the founding of Harvard Law School, Antigua’s prime minister reminded the college’s president.

READ: Antigua Demands Harvard Pay Reparations for Benefiting From Slavery

White Fragility

Little Man Little Man