Ross Douthat | The French and Indian War and U.S. History’s Complexities – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Two hundred and sixty-six years ago this month, a column of British regulars commanded by Gen. Edward Braddock was cut to pieces by French soldiers and their Native American allies in the woods just outside today’s Pittsburgh. The defeat turned into a rout when Braddock was shot off his horse, leaving the retreat to be managed by a young colonial officer named George Washington, whose own previous foray into the region had lit the tinder for the war.

This was the beginning of the French and Indian War (also known, much less poetically, as the Seven Years’ War), which as a boy I thought was the most interesting war in all of history.

I had encountered it originally through a public television version of “The Last of the Mohicans,” but I soon found that the real conflict exceeded even James Fenimore Cooper’s romantic imagination: The complexity of forest warfare and the diversity of the combatants on both sides, colonial, European and native; the majesty of the geographic setting, especially the lakes, mountains and defiles of upstate New York; the ridiculous melodrama of the culminating battle at Quebec, with a wee-hours cliff-scaling that led to a decisive showdown in which both commanders were mortally wounded, James Wolfe in victory and Louis-Joseph de Montcalm in defeat.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Ross, thank you for an amazing essay. The top critics all make good criticisms, but they ignore the best parts of your piece. I posted your piece to my blog, just to capture your excellent list of histories on the seven years war, which I have never studied. I liked your suggestion of alternate outcomes, and novels about other forms of the present based on different outcomes of the past. I would especially like to see a novel based on the premise, that the Indians defeated the Europeans, and had to grow the continent with Indians in charge. Without the United States, the Germans and the Japanese would probably have prevailed in WW II, and that would be a great sequel novel.

I hope you find the time to read my historical ficiton on 18th century Vietnam, which was inspired in part by a biography in French of the extraordinary Bishop Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, who Nuguyen Anh, after becoming the new emperor of Vietnam, described as the greatest foreign friend in the history, of Vietnam and specifically, of Prince Anh’s success in seizing power in a long civil war, 1770-1802.

Dispossessed, Again: Climate Change Hits Native Americans Especially Hard – The New York Times

“. . . . Like much of the American West, Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the country, has been in a prolonged drought since the 1990s, according to Margaret Hiza Redsteer, a professor at the University of Washington.

“As snowfall and rain levels have dropped, so have the sources of drinking water,” Dr. Redsteer said. “Surface streams have disappeared, and underground aquifers that feed wells are drying up. Conditions are just continuing to deteriorate.”

But unlike nearby communities like Gallup and Flagstaff, Navajo Nation lacks an adequate municipal water supply. About one-third of the tribe lives without running water.

The federal government says the groundwater in the eastern section of Navajo Nation that feeds its communal wells is “rapidly depleting.”

“This is really textbook structural racism,” said George McGraw, chief executive officer of DigDeep, a nonprofit group that delivers drinking water to homes that need it. Navajo Nation has the greatest concentration of those households in the lower 48 states, he said.”

Timothy Egan | Some Statues Tell Lies. This One Tells the Truth. – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

“The United States is in a muddle over how to tell our history, stuck between an aggressive revisionism that would leave few commemorative statues standing, and a stubborn clinging to all the founding myths, no matter how odious or inaccurate.

It’s shameful that a mob fringe has even come for Abraham Lincoln. His statue was torn down by extremists in Portland, Ore., last fall.

But there’s some good news on this front: Washington State has chosen to immortalize Billy Frank Jr., a Native American truth-teller, genuine hero and role model, who died in 2014, at the U.S. Capitol in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Replacing the statue of Marcus Whitman, an inept Protestant missionary who tried to Christianize the natives (as Whitman might have put it), with a Native American who was arrested more than 50 times for practicing his treaty rights to fish for salmon is a karmic boomerang. Statues, especially those in the sacred space holding the Capitol’s collection, where each state is given only two, are national narratives set in stone.

This move should upset no one, except perhaps former Senator Rick Santorum, who had this to say a few days ago: “We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

Mr. Santorum’s pockets are so full of ignorance there isn’t room to stuff a tissue of truth in there. I could tell him that Mr. Frank’s people, the Coast Salish, gave the world stunning artwork on totem poles, canoes and in longhouses — art as original as cubism.

I could tell him about the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded Mr. Frank, a leader of the Nisqually tribe, during the Obama administration, or how his struggle led to a monumental 1974 federal court ruling on resource equality known as the Boldt decision, awarding his people 50 percent of the salmon in their waters.

But I’d prefer just to give him a taste of the man. “I never gave up,” he once told me. “Getting beat up, my tires slashed, shot at, arrested, cursed, cussed, spit on. You name it. I still don’t hate anyone.”

Mr. Frank was an evolved soul. If culture is an expression of our refined and uplifting impulses, he spread many ripples in the heritage of humanity. He’ll join Dwight Eisenhower, Samuel Adams and Helen Keller, as well as several other Native Americans in the Capitol not because it’s his turn. But because his life exemplifies the best values of a nation’s shared stories.  . . . “

Timothy Egan | After Five Centuries, a Native American With Real Power – The New York Times

January 12, 2021. Did our democracy just have a near death experience? Some writers think so. I’m cleaning up after an exciting week, and looking at what got lost in the maelstrom of political upheaval, mayhem, and murder.
The mob that attacked the US Congress on January 6, at Trump’s urging, was upset about a piece of malignant sophistry: Trump’s lie that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump. Many of the president’s supporters appeared to be white supremacists. They had not had a good week. In fact, the November election was not to their liking. Which brings us to this lovely piece by Tim Egan. Elections have consequences!

Contributing Opinion Writer

“In the American West, a ration of reverence is usually given to the grizzled Anglo rancher who rises at a public hearing and announces that his people have been on the land for five generations.

So what are we to make of Representative Deb Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, who says that her people have been in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico for 35 generations — dating to the 13th century?

“Native history is American history,” she told me. “Regardless of where you are in this country now, you’re on ancestral Indian land, and that land has a history.”

As Joe Biden’s choice for interior secretary, Ms. Haaland is poised to make a rare positive mark in the history of how a nation of immigrants treated the country’s original inhabitants. She would be the first Native American cabinet secretary — a distinction that has prompted celebration throughout Indian Country.”

Opinion | Can Deb Haaland Stay a Hero? – The New York Times

Claudia Lawrence is a freelance journalist.

Credit…Adria Malcolm for The New York Times

“Within minutes of the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden had nominated Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico as interior secretary, Native social media was celebrating. People in our community who have met Ms. Haaland began posting photos of her at Native events throughout Indian Country; one of my friends wrote, “Our auntie has done it!”

The jubilation is warranted, because Ms. Haaland, a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, one of the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes, would be the first Native American to head the Department of the Interior, indeed the first Native American to serve in the cabinet at all. But there is no question that if Ms. Haaland is confirmed, her seat at the table would be a very hot seat indeed.

Native representation is good, but the community will want her to deliver on expectations. And right now, expectations are stratospheric. In the Native community, many assume that Ms. Haaland will be our warrior, righting centuries of federal wrongs against our people and our tribes, especially those inflicted by the Interior Department, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But Ms. Haaland would need to calibrate a delicate balance between her populist identity as a champion of Native rights and tribal sovereignty and her new role defending the interests of the federal system. One of the first two Native women to be elected to Congress, Ms. Haaland is a remarkable trailblazer, but as anyone who has done it will affirm, breaking new trail, especially as one climbs upward, is riddled with potential mishap.

Ms. Haaland would not be the first Native American to serve in the upper echelons of a presidential administration. Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s running mate in 1928, was Native and even spoke fluent Kaw, which he learned at his grandmother’s knee. Curtis, though, is not admired as a role model, but instead derided as a reactionary assimilationist who promoted policies that significantly harmed Natives. The Curtis Act of 1898, which he introduced as a member of the House, broke up tribal lands, weakened tribal governments and abolished tribal courts.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I would have been much more impressed by this essay, if it had arrived after Ms. Haaland had made it through the confirmation period, or at least, after the Democrats won the senate.
I agree with two conflicting comments. One, that this piece was thoughtful and deep. I especially liked hearing about the Indian Vice President who screwed his people. That was an ugly, new story for me. But I also agreed with the comment, that the whole piece was a bit insulting to Ms. Haaland. Has she ever showed signs of betraying her people, or their environment? The writer offers little detail about Haaland’spolitical resume and skills, so the she appears more opportunistic, than informed.
Bless Joe Biden for proposing to put an American Indian and an environmentalist into his cabinet, to head the Dept of the Interior.

Opinion | Not Just Another Pipeline – By Louise Erdrich – The New York Times

Ms. Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, is a novelist and poet based in Minnesota. Her most recent book is “The Night Watchman.”

Credit…Alex Kormann/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

“PALISADE, Minn. — My daughter and I are walking along the fast-flowing stream of pure darkness that is the young Mississippi River. We are two hours north of Minneapolis, in Palisade, Minn., where people are gathering to oppose the Line 3 pipeline. Patches of snow crunch on pads of russet leaves as we near the zhaabondawaan, a sacred lodge along the river’s banks. It is here that Enbridge is due to horizontally drill a new pipeline crossing beneath the river. We enter the lodge. The peace, the sweetness, the clarity of the water is hard to bear. The brush and trees hardly muffle the roar of earth-moving and tree-felling equipment across the road. The pipeline is almost at the river.

Last month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s administration signed off on final water permits for Enbridge to complete an expansion of its Line 3 pipeline. After the final section is built in Minnesota, the pipeline will pump oil sands and other forms of crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wis., cutting through Indigenous treaty lands along the way. Lawsuits — including one by the White Earth and Red Lake nations and several environmental organizations, and another by the Mille Lacs Nation — are pending. But construction has already started.

This has been a brutal year for Indigenous people, who have suffered nearly double the Covid-19 mortality rate of white Americans. We have lost many of our elders, our language keepers. Covid has also struck an inordinate number of our vibrant young. Nevertheless, tribal people worked hard on the elections. The Native vote became a force that helped carry several key areas of the country and our state. On the heels of those victories, the granting of final permits to construct Enbridge’s Line 3, which will cross Anishinaabe treaty lands, was a breathtaking betrayal. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is already suffering from climate change. Yet Minnesota’s pollution control and public utility agencies refused to take the future of our lakes into account, or to consider treaty rights, in granting permits.

This is not just another pipeline. It is a tar sands climate bomb; if completed, it will facilitate the production of crude oil for decades to come. Tar sands are among the most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet. The state’s environmental impact assessment of the project found the pipeline’s carbon output could be 193 million tons per year. That’s the equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants or 38 million vehicles on our roads, according to Jim Doyle, a physicist at Macalester College who helped write a report from the climate action organization MN350 about the pipeline. He observed that the pipeline’s greenhouse gas emissions are greater than the yearly output of the entire state. If the pipeline is built, Minnesotans could turn off everything in the state, stop traveling and still not come close to meeting the state’s emission reduction goals. The impact assessment also states that the potential social cost of this pipeline is $287 billion over 30 years.

Mashpee tribe’s reservation land ‘disestablished’ – News – capecodtimes.com – Hyannis, MA

 

MASHPEE — An unprecedented decision by the U.S. secretary of the Interior to rescind the Mashpee Wampanoag’s land-into-trust comes as a “hardcore blow” to the tribe, according to Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell.

Cromwell learned the news during a call Friday afternoon with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

He thought the bureau was calling to see if there was anything the tribe needed during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he was told that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has ordered that the tribe’s land be taken out of trust and the reservation be disestablished.

“It was absurd,” Cromwell said in a phone interview Saturday. “It’s like a punch in the nose from a bully.”

Cromwell said he tried to ask questions about what this new order means and when it will take effect, but he received no answers.

“It’s somewhat of a dictatorship,” he said.

“It feels like we’ve been dropped off into a new world we’ve never seen before, i.e., in this pandemic and the way my tribe is being treated,” Cromwell said. “With this happening now, this is a direct, hardcore blow to dissolving and disestablishing my tribe.”

Because of the pandemic, many tribal operations were put on hold, such as the construction of 42 affordable housing units in Mashpee and the operation of a school dedicated to reestablishing its tribal language.

Also in limbo are the tribe’s plans to build a $1 billion casino in Taunton, which was part of a yearslong litigation that led to the questioning of whether the tribe qualified for land-in-trust status”

“. . . .  Keating said the bill is bipartisan, with Republican leaders co-sponsoring it, and should have moved through quickly.

When the bill was put forth in the House in May, President Donald Trump tweeted his opposition.

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Committee, is a lobbyist for the Rhode Island casinos, such as the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Keating said. His wife, Mercedes Schlapp, is a senior White House communications aide.

“I think that’s what’s slowing it in the Senate,” Keating said.

He said there is no logic in the Interior Department’s decision. During a time of national health and economic emergency, the secretary of the Interior should be reaching out to help all Native American tribes, Keating said in a statement.

Keating said Bernhardt should be ashamed.”

 

Source: Mashpee tribe’s reservation land ‘disestablished’ – News – capecodtimes.com – Hyannis, MA

Opinion | The 184-Year-Old Promise to the Cherokee Congress Must Keep – By Chuck Hoskin Jr. – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Hoskin Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

CreditCreditSue Ogrocki/Associated Press

“The number seven is significant to the Cherokee people. We have seven clans in our origin story, seven sacred directions and centered in our government seal is the seven-pointed star. And when we make a decision affecting our people, its purpose is to advance our tribe seven generations from now.

The Cherokee Nation is strong today because we rest upon this solid foundation. It is a foundation laid by a people of grit whose great suffering has been eclipsed by greater determination. It is a foundation built by great leaders whose names are recorded in our history books and imprinted in our hearts, and by hundreds of thousands of Cherokees who struggled and forged ahead in anonymity.

In 1835, when the Treaty of New Echota moved us from our homelands in the Southeast to the Indian Territory, we were coerced into ceding vast amounts of land where we once prospered. But our leaders at the table negotiating with the federal government also had the foresight to insert into the treaty what they knew would be best for us roughly seven generations later.”

Opinion | Trump Wants Immigrants to ‘Go Back.’ Native Americans Don’t. – By Deb Haaland – The New York Times

By Deb Haaland

Ms. Haaland is a Democratic representative from New Mexico.

Bears Ears National Monument.CreditMark Holm for The New York Times

“Last week President Trump told four of my colleagues to “go back” to where they came from — even though all are American citizens, and only one is an immigrant. But Mr. Trump has somewhere to “go back” to as well: He is a second-generation American. For Native Americans like myself, his comments are perplexing, and wrongheaded.

If anyone can say “go back,” it’s Native Americans. My Pueblo ancestors, despite being targeted at every juncture — despite facing famine and drought — still inhabit this country today. But indigenous people aren’t asking anyone to go back to where they came from.

When I heard the chilling, hate-filled chants coming from the president’s rally the other night, I thought about my fight in a committee hearing, earlier that day, to protect my ancestral homeland of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. The Bureau of Land Management plans to sell leases in the area for fossil fuel extraction.

In the late 1200s, my Pueblo ancestors migrated to the Rio Grande Valley from the areas of Chaco Canyon, Bears Ears, Mesa Verde, Grand Staircase Escalante and other places. I want to protect these sacred sites for future generations and against this administration’s policies that put profits over people. This administration has put a premium on leasing federal land to oil companies and neglects to consider the impacts that drilling has on sacred cultural sites.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comments
I join the chorus of your new fans here, I love your oe-ed, and welcome your voice. I have a concern to share though. You sound as if you are for open borders, and unlimited immigration. I hope and expect that is not true, because I think it would be wrong for this country and our neighbors. Overpopulation is causing climate damage, and unlimited population growth will destroy our beautiful, blue planet for human habitation. If Democratic leaders, including you, are not clear about controlling illegal immigration, you will be handing Trump, who was apparently Drumpf in Germany, four more years, which would be bad for the Pueblos, the environment, and the world that we strive to protect. In my Christian religion, some of us pray that we may learn to do good works, and practice stewardship towards the enviroment.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes – The New York Times

“FORT WORTH — The 3-year-old boy who could upend a 40-year-old law aimed at protecting Native American children barreled into the suburban living room, merrily defying his parents’ prediction that he might be shy. He had a thatch of night-black hair and dark eyes that glowed with mischievous curiosity. As he pumped a stranger’s hand and scampered off to bounce on an indoor trampoline, his Superman cape floated behind him, as if trying to catch up.

Zachary, or A.L.M. as he is called in legal papers, has a Navajo birth mother, a Cherokee birth father and adoptive parents, Jennifer and Chad Brackeen, neither of whom is Native American. The Brackeens are challenging a federal law governing Native American children in state foster care: It requires that priority to adopt them be given to Native families, to reinforce the children’s tribal identity.

Last fall, a federal judge ruled in the Brackeens’ favor, declaring that the law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, was unconstitutional — in part, he said, because it was based on race.

The case is now before a federal appeals court. Whoever loses is almost certain to ask the Supreme Court to hear it.”

David Lindsay:

This is an incredible story, thank you Jan Hoffman. I had trouble processing it, but the comments were very articulate and persuasive, and helped me understand my own position. Here are three of many good comments, but these three particularly pushed me to see the point of view of the Indian family.

K
London
Times Pick

It’s misguided for the foster father to turn around and say the only reason is because “We don’t have the right colored skin” and just shows that he is missing the entire point. this is not about the colour of your skin, it’s about the fact that you are taking this child away from the rich culture and history of his family and bringing him into a completely different one. It’s ignorant and naive to reduce this right down to skin tone and ignore everything else

13 Replies507 Recommended
Randy Kritkausky
Middlebury VT USA
Times Pick

My grandfather was sent to the Carlisle Indian school “for his own benefit”. He could never talk about that experience, even as an adult. As a child I sat on his knee and he talked about being in the trenches during WWI and the horrors of mustard gas. But the shame and horrors of Carlisle he could not discuss. Those of European settler descent do not understand that Native Americans have profound ancestral connections and memories which are broken only with a great sense of loss. I just spent two years writing a book about this in my own life, the return of such connectivity several generations “off the rez”. Well-intentioned non-Native Americans cannot uproot Native American children and then replant them in suburban greenhouses without shattering a spiritual connection. If this seems too mystical, just think Treaty Rights. They are not “merely” legal, they are moral obligations. Canada is moving toward truth and reconciliation, providing economic support to its First Nations people so that families and communities can be preserved. And we south of the Canadian border? Are we about to undermine Native American rights in order to advance the larger agenda of white people who would eviscerate any mild concession to righting historical wrongs? Randy from Vermont An enrolled member of the Citizens Potawatomi Nation

12 Replies382 Recommended
sabamaki
New York

When I was five years old I chose to leave my Navajo parents to live with a white family. I was never adopted by this family. Eventually my mom wanted me back and it turned into a bitter lawsuit. My white parents were able to obtain legal guardianship because at 12, I did not want to go back. I refused to speak with my family until I turned 18 and graduated from high school. During breaks from college, I spent more and more time with my large Navajo family. As I became more integrated into my family’s life, I came to realize what I lost in relationships, culture, language and especially spirituality. Today I live in New York, but I am learning to speak Navajo. My grandmother passed away and she only spoke Navajo. I would sit with her, but other than smiles I could not communicate. I am so sad I could not speak Navajo to any of my grandparents. Now I try to speak Navajo with my mom but I’m still a long way from fluent. Growing up without my mom left a huge hole in my heart even though my white parents loved and cared for me. I see the struggles my brothers underwent, the poverty, the neglect and I know I’d be a different person if I had grown up there. Today, I love visiting my mom on my grandmother’s land in the middle of nowhere. A month ago she got hot water in her shower and a toilet that actually flushes. She rises before dawn to tend to the sheep and other animals. This is the life I was born to and knowing everything I do, I would choose my Navajo family this time.

5 Replies192 Recommended