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Oppression of Native Americans

Project for Multicultural SW Practice SOWK 4132

John Deschner

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Oppression of Native Americans

Major forces that make up a system of oppression are:
*Diminished legal rights/status of the oppressed group
*Negative attitudes and heightened violence toward the group
*Decreased social investment (money, resources) in the group
*Interpersonal prejudice
*Employment, educational, institutional discrimination/exclusion
*Oppressed group’s identity reduced to stereotypes
*Loss of power and freedom within the group
*Oppressed groups adopting destructive beliefs about their own group (internalized oppression)
*Perpetuation of the oppressor’s power
*Privileges afforded to the oppressor This presentation
is by a privileged white person,
addressed to
other privileged white persons. I know and you know: In the early days of our country, white settlers did a lot of bad things to Native Americans. It was worse than you thought. 5 1 2 3 4 6 8 7 If everything you know about American Indians is what you learned in public school, then ... ... then you know they helped the Pilgrims. ... then you know they were
"discovered" by Columbus, Oppression of
for SOWK 4132
October 2012 ... then you are probably
seeing the world ... ... through the lens of
the dominant culture which views
other cultures as ... -unimportant


An action that treats people unfairly because of their membership in a particular social group. Discrimination takes many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection. (United Nations Cyber School) This presentation is designed to help us take a new look at the oppression and discrimination experienced by native Americans. VIOLENCE:
Massacre at Pequot village on the Mystic River
William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth, wrote: “Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time."
This was only one of the many massacres. MARGINALIZATION:
When "A whole category of people is expelled from useful participation in social life and thus potentially subjected to severe material deprivation and even extermination." (Young, I. M., 2000) POWERLESSNESS:
The powerless "do not regularly participate in making decisions that affect the conditions of their lives and actions. ... The powerless are situated so that they must take orders and rarely have the right to give them."
(Young, I.M., 2000 p.43) (BEFORE) (AFTER) Continuing Marginalization
Indian courts have jurisdiction only over crimes between tribe members, but according to federal law, these courts are powerless to give sentences greater than one year in prison, or a fine of $5000, or both. As a result, crime is rampant on many reservations.

If a non-indian or a member of another tribe commits a crime on a reservation, Indian courts have no jurisdiction at all. The FBI and federal prosecutors have jurisdiction, but have usually given crimes in indian territories low priority. This has left tribes almost powerless to protect themselves against people who comes on to a reservation to commit a crime. Rape committed by non-indians is one of the major un-prosecuted crimes on reservations. CULTURAL IMPERIALISM:
Dominant groups project their experiences as "normal" and universal. The experiences and perspectives of other groups are viewed as unimportant, invalid, or invisible.
People in the other groups often internalize the dominant group's definitions, and view themselves as inferior. EXPLOITATION:
"The steady process of the
transfer of the results of the
labor of one social group to
benefit another."
(Young, I.M., 2000 p.39) The slave trade in north
America began with the
selling and buying of
captured indians. When
demand grew greater than
supply, slavers turned to
selling captured Africans. The Emacipation Proclaimation
did not free indian indentured
servants, only African ancestry
slaves. VIOLENCE:
Violence is a tool of oppression when it is approved of by the dominant group, and targets people for no other reason than their identification with a non-dominant group. What I learned,
and other
"Take Home" Thoughts and Knowledge for privileged white people like me. Oppression and discrimination have serious effects, even if you don't actively or consciously participate in them. For example, in 2006 on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota:
- Unemployment was 83%
- 97% of the population lived below the poverty line
- Life expectancy was 48 years
- Teen suicide was 150% higher than national avg.
- The school drop out rate was 70% As a privileged person, I don't have to see or say anything about these injustices unless I want to. But to be silent is to be part of the problem. The final thing I learned:
I knew it was bad for Native Americans, but I didn't know how bad. I learned that it was worse than I thought, and that too much of it has been invisible to me. NOW WHAT?

I'm not sure. But, my prayer is: Help me, Lord, to learn how to be part of the solution, and to be brave enough to do it.

Oppression and Discrimination are invisible to the dominant culture, unless someone helps them/us see. Last year at Denver University, the theme for Homecoming was going to be "PIONEERS - HOW WE WON THE WEST". When the Native American Student Alliance asked organizers, "How do you expect us to put a float in that parade?", they were embarrassed, and changed the theme.
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