Wednesday, October 05, 2016

UPDATED: Activist historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz to speak at Michigan Tech Oct. 10

Poster announcing visit of acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. She will give a presentation, with discussion, at 5 p.m. in Michigan Tech's MUB Ballroom A. (Poster courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, will speak on "Settler Colonialism and the U.S. Policy of Genocide: Decolonization and Reparations" at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, in Michigan Tech's MUB Ballroom A. The presentation will include discussion. It is free and open to the public.

Before earning both a masters and a Ph.D. in history, Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in an Oklahoma sharecropper family. She describes her mother as "part Indian, most likely Cherokee," who, at sixteen, married her father, who was "of Scots-Irish settler heritage, eighteen, and a high school dropout who worked as a cowboy on a sprawling cattle ranch in the Osage Nation."

Dunbar-Ortiz became an activist for social justice in the 1960s in California. After the Wounded Knee siege of 1973, she began her national and international work with the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council. She has taught in Native American Studies programs and was visiting director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico, where she worked directly with Native communities, faculty and students in developing a research institute and a training program in economic development.

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is the winner of 2015 American Book Award and the 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. In this book, the word "settler" takes on a colonialist, imperialist connotation -- far from the image of the "courageous" and patriotic, often religious, pioneers so many young Americans read about in traditional school history books. An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is, as Dunbar-Ortiz describes it, "a history of the United States as experienced by the Indigenous inhabitants." Its narrative form is intended to make this book, which is extensively documented, accessible to the general reader. It is about settler colonialism, genocide and Native Americans' survival of genocide through their resistance.

The book is an eye-opening -- and shocking -- account of the injustice and cruelty against Native peoples perpetrated by political, military and religious leaders and followers. Dunbar-Ortiz describes the theft of land, resources and culture -- from government-sanctioned slaughter to illegal termination or disregard of treaties to forced assimilation inside the Indian boarding school system.

Dunbar-Ortiz seeks to create awareness of the colonial past in order to inspire Native and non-Native Americans to work toward a future in which treaties made with Indigenous Nations will be honored, their sacred sites and ancestral remains will be respected, and their history will be taught in schools.

Dunbar-Ortiz, who lives in San Francisco, is also the author or editor of seven other books.

This event is sponsored by Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign Committee.*

UPDATE: KBIC, KBOCC to host Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz at noon Oct. 10

BARAGA -- The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Natural Resources Department and Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC) will host a presentation by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz as part of their Lunch and Learn series and the Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign* at noon on Monday, Oct. 10. The presentation will include a lunch at KBOCC's Niiwin Akeaa Rec Facility on Beartown Road in Baraga. (Inset photo: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Photo courtesy KBIC)

Dunbar-Ortiz will present "The Doctrine of Discovery, Treaty Rights and Native Nations Sovereignty." The "Doctrine of Discovery," which Dunbar-Ortiz writes about in a chapter of her book, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, is a 15th-century papal law presumed to mandate the right of European Christian monarchies to claim non-Christian parts of the world and enslave or displace the inhabitants.

For lunch planning purposes, anyone wishing to attend this lunchtime presentation is asked to RSVP to Valoree Gagnon at

*The Indigenous People's Day Campaign is an ongoing effort to officially recognize Oct. 10 as Indigenous Peoples' Day (replacing Columbus Day). This campaign is aligned with a nationwide effort in several cities and towns throughout the country. It was launched locally by Michigan Tech's Indigenous Issues Discussion Group with the support of Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion and rapidly spread to include the larger Tech community, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College and many community members from Houghton and Baraga counties.

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