Ollin Morales Ms. Cooper 11th Grade Portfolio May 13 2018
The stereotypes associated with Native Americans are far and few for a such generic term, a term used to describe hundreds, if not thousand of different groups, communities, cultures and languages. These stereotypes are dated, contrived and generally an ill reflection of contemporary Native Americans in the modern America. The old symbols of primitive, backwards, horse riding, violent tribesmen were not accurate then and are not accurate now, as the current reality for Native Americans is far harsher than the fantasy we have been fed since childhood. The modern Native American has nothing in common with the stereotypes of old, as the greatest threats that now face Native Americans are not settlers or communicable disease, but rather the creeping effects of poverty and greed, of which the latter, robbed them of their original lands in the first place. My personal experience in New Mexico, my research in IBL and the other assignments done for the portfolio have all shown me the damage that has been done to the First Nations of this continent in the name of profits and property, damage that continues to this day. While on our trip to New Mexico, we had the honor of seeing the lifestyles and reservation of two different Native American peoples: the Navajo and the Pueblo. During the river raft, we discussed with a Puebloan guide about the nature of his livelihood and his culture. According to our guide, many Puebloans, including himself, were farmers who relied on the sparse rains of northern New Mexico to water their crops, lest they do it by hand. This subsistence style of living was very intriguing, given how most farming in the USA is commercial by definition. With this in mind, and the fact that many Puebloans work in the arts, I came to the conclusion that the Pueblos, while not wealthy, were probably not lacking in the most basic of necessities and that many of these financial decisions were made willingly by the people of the Pueblos. The Navajo reservation gave me a different vibe all together. This was only after engaging with the children of the school that I took notice of the differences between my own life and the lives of those on the reservation. In particular there was one 4th grade child who I was talking to, whose life story was harsh to hear, especially from such a young person. That was the most jarring experience of all, and it affected my image of To’hajiilee and the reservation as a whole; the reservation was not the nicest of places to live and that the spectre of poverty ran well through the community. I mean this not in any judgemental way, but rather as an observation of the nature of this Reservation and what I imagine many more to be like. Many of these issues faced in these communities run through the heavy hand of “monetary oppression”, poverty begets numerous issues that affected the community in negative ways like drug, alcohol and domestic abuse. These issues and the poverty that breeds them, were little surprise to me in retrospect, as the history was already well established. The work done over the year, in both English and APUSH, has allowed me a glimpse into the history revolving Native Americans and their struggle against the ever encroaching white settlers, the first being the European colonizers and then later the United States. The first US history lesson learned, even before the year had started, regarded the beginning of Native American and European interaction; from trading on the periphery, to the mass settlement of the East Coast, the APUSH Summer Project would help me contextualize the situation that Native Americans now find themselves in (Bonuso). This was addressed in my English AP Summer Project, which has us investigate numerous contemporary issues, including those of Native Americans. These initial steps, would be followed by an entire years worth of readings regarding the treatment of Native Americans in the USA, with excerpts from Empire of the Summer Moon, Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, and films like the Mission (South America, not USA but the message is the same), all detailing the same thing: white encroachment of native lands results in conflict and eventually conquest, with the Natives seemingly always losing to the interests of the colonizer. These conditions, established early on, would only worsen conditions for Native Americans, as American greed did not stop at Wounded Knee or any event in the 19th century. On the contrary, the Native American Civil Rights movement was in full swing well into the 1960s and 70s, with incidents like the Alcatraz Island Occupation, in which Native groups used the publicity from the occupation, to voice their discontent regarding their treatment by the US government (“Alcatraz Proclamation”). With history provided in school, and my own personal contemporary experience, I was able to answer my question. How has American "greed" and cultural consumption affected Native Americans? It has been an utterly crippling force against Natives, robbing them of their land, their religion, their cultures and their security. Time and time again, Native Americans as a collective, would find themselves victimized by the forces of white colonization; this is one of the few generalizations that rings true, as all Native Americans have in some way, been affected negatively by Europeans or Americans, mainly by the sheer overwhelming desire of greed that caused many Natives to be forced onto reservations like the Navajo. History does fare kindly to the Native Americans, and the damages caused in the past continue to affect Native Americans today, as I witnessed firsthand on the reservation. I remain hopeful, though, for the Natives of this country have proven in the past and in the present to fight for themselves and their people, through events like the Alcatraz Occupation, and more recently the Dakota Pipeline. (“Dakota Pipeline”) The effects of colonization can be reversed in time, although it may take countless more generations to occur, I do believe it can and probably will happen, fortunately.