Some of the most commonly accepted racism of our generation is against Native or Indigenous peoples. From the age of five we are taught to dress up in paper bags and feathered head dresses. We are taught that the Pilgrims sat down at a long table and had a feast with the Indians. We are taught that they all got along, and we are too young to question what happened to the Indians afterwards. At the age of eleven we are taught that “Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred-ninety-two.” At fifteen we learn that Indians were moved to larger, more open lands in the west. We learn that settlers forced them to walk across the country on what is now called the Trail of Tears. We learn that the Trail of Tears was devastating. We learn that the Indians were bad, dangerous, barbarick, and that the settlers were civilized. We speak about them in the past tense, as if they do not exist anymore. We internalize that, and once again, don’t question it.
We now need to unlearn all of that. Native people do exist. We, the colonizers, have been continuously oppressing them through our education systems, our lack of knowledge and curiosity, our halloween costumes, our mimicry. We, the colonizers, need to end the systematic oppression of native peoples in this country. We need to stop stomping out their voices by forcing them into poverty. We need to give them equal access to technology and education as we give white children. We need to recognize their forms of education and cultural practices. We need to wake up and pay attention.
One thing that you can do to help is as simple as putting your old phone that is lying on your desk doing nothing, into a box. It seems so simple, so how could it really help? By putting your old smartphone into a designated box in the Community Engagement Center or the Media Studies check-out window, you are giving a student at Sherman Indian High School a camera and editing tool. They will then be able to make videos telling their own stories and project those stories across the internet. By putting your phone into a box, you are helping this nation take baby steps towards a greater understanding of humanity.
So, if you have an old smartphone sitting around, clear it off, write your name and contact information on it, and put it in a box so that someone else can benefit from it as well.
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Thanks for your help!