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SEMINAL TEXTS

01

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Photo from UC Davis. Jack D. Forbes was an acclaimed author, activist and professor emeritus of Native American studies at the University of California, Davis. He grew up in Long Beach of Powhatan-Renapé and Delaware-Lenápe heritage. He grew up on a half-acre farm in El Monte and in Eagle Rock, where he wrote for the high school newspaper and later became its sports editor. He received an associate’s degree in political science in 1953 from Glendale College and went on to the University of Southern California, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1955, a master’s degree in history in 1956 and a doctorate in history and anthropology in 1959.

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"The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a "circle of certainty' within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better,
he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side."

03

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Walter Anthony Rodney was born to Edward and Pauline Rodney in Georgetown, Guyana on March 23, 1942. Rodney grew up during the country’s anti-colonial movement; his father was a member of the Marxist-oriented People’s Progressive Party, which led the struggle for freedom from British rule. With this immersion into politics, Walter’s interest in the struggles of the working class began at a young age and continued with his involvement in debate and study groups throughout his student years. He developed into an intellectual and scholar and is recognized as one of the Caribbean’s most brilliant minds.

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"Why is the dominant culture so excruciatingly, relentlessly, insanely, genocidally, ecocidally, suicidally destructive?"

"I often shake my head sharply, or pinch myself, hoping I will wake up and find that this culture and its destructiveness have all been a very bad and incomprehensible dream. But each time I wake up, it's the same nightmare of murdered oceans, of salmon being driven extinct, of slavery and wage slavery, of dioxin in every mother's breast milk, of indigenous cultures being driven to the brink." 

~ Excerpt from the foreward by Jack D. Forbes

02

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A native of Brazil, Freire’s goal was to eradicate illiteracy among people from previously colonized countries and continents. His insights were rooted in the social and political realities of the children and grandchildren of former slaves. His ideas, life, and work served to ameliorate the living conditions of oppressed people.

~Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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"This book derives from a concern with the contemporary African situation. It delves into the past only because otherwise it would be impossible to understand how the present came into being and what the trends are for the near future. In the search for an understanding of what is now called “underdevelopment” in Africa, the limits of enquiry have had to be fixed as far apart as the fifteenth century, on the one hand and the end of the colonial period, on the other hand." 

04

Tom B.K. Goldtooth—Stopping the Privatization of Nature | Bioneers

Tom B.K. Goldtooth is a member of the Navajo Nation and has been Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network since 1996. As an activist, filmmaker, and speaker, Goldtooth has used his voice to urge politicians, businesses, and others to prioritize Indigenous rights and pursue economic and environmental justice. As a result of his deep wisdom, leadership and vision over the past two decades, the Indigenous Environmental Network has emerged as an important presence, bringing together Indigenous Peoples and voices from across North America to fight against environmental injustice and to stand up for Indigenous Rights and land bases.

Tom B.K. Goldtooth gave an inspirational presentation at the Bioneers conference in 2013. Following is that presentation, both as a video and as excerpts from the transcription.

05

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Dr. Jessica Hernandez (Binnizá & Maya Ch’orti’) is a transnational Indigenous scholar, scientist, and community advocate based in the Pacific Northwest. She has an interdisciplinary academic background
ranging from marine sciences to environmental physics. She advocates for climate, energy, and environmental justice through her scientific and community work and strongly believes that Indigenous sciences can heal our Indigenous lands. She is the author of the award-winning book, Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science and is
currently in the process of writing her second book, Growing Papaya Trees: Nurturing Indigenous Roots of Climate Displacement & Justice. Hernandez has been named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful
& influential women of Central America

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Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez 

"According to the National Science Foundation, in 2017, 71.1 % of doctoral degrees in the sciences were awarded to whites in comparison to the 0.4 % awarded to Indigenous students. Thus the uncomfortableness of these conversations that acknowledge how settler colonialism is rooted in the sciences impacts mostly whites. However, it is important to realize that for Indigenous peoples, settler colonialism and its impacts continue to be our everyday experiences. While white scientists can choose to ignore these conversations, as Indigenous peoples we are reminded every day of how our culture, identity, lands, and other parts of our lives continue to be threatened and impacted. We see how white scientists continue to be oblivious to settler colonialism and how deeply rooted it is in the environmental sciences, physics, medicine, and other science fields. There is a failure to reflect on the founding history of these fields and how these founding histories continue to play a major role within the fields and disciplines that have been created from within."

Read more from this excerpt at Science Friday

06

Red Earth, White Lies—Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact by Vine Deloria Jr.

"As Western civilization grew and took dominance over the world, it failed to resolve some basic issues. A view of the natural world as primarily physical matter with little spiritual content took hold and became the practical metaphysics for human affairs. During the middle European Middle Ages a basic split in perspective occurred when reason and revelation, the twin paths for finding truth in the minds of Western thinkers, were divided into sacred and secular and became equivalent but independent bodies of knowledge. Once reason became independent, its only referent point was the human mind and in particular the middle-class, educated, European mind. Every soceity needs educated people, but the primary responsibility of educated people is to bring wisdom back into the community and make it available to others so that the lives they are leading make sense. European thinkers did not perform their proper social function. Science and philosophy simply copied the institutional paths already taken by Western religion and mystified themselves so that one of the maxims of recent western civilization has been to declare something to be "academic"—meaning that intelligent solutions to problems are in fact illusory because they are devised by people sheltered from the realities of daily life."

~ excerpt from Red Earth, White Lies by Vine Deloria

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Vine Deloria, Jr., a lawyer and theologian, known to many as the leading American Indian intellectual of the 20th century. Deloria, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was born in 1933 in Martin, South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. After graduating in 1951 from Kent School, a private college-preparatory school in Connecticut, Deloria served in the Marines for several years. In 1958, Deloria graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in general science. Later, he earned a master’s degree in theology from Lutheran School of Theology in 1963 and a JD from Colorado Law in 1970.

 

After law school, Deloria accepted a teaching position at the Western Washington University College of Ethnic Studies. As a tenured professor of political science at the University of Arizona from 1978 to 1990, Deloria established the first master’s degree program in American Indian Studies. He joined the University of Colorado faculty in 1990, where he taught until his retirement in 2000. During his tenure at CU-Boulder, Deloria was affiliated with Colorado Law and the departments of history, ethnic studies, religious studies, and political science.

~ University of Colorado Boulder

07

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Donald L. Fixico (Shawnee, Sac and Fox, Muscogee Creek and Seminole) is Regents and Distinguished Foundation Professor of History. He is a policy historian and ethnohistorian. His work focuses on American Indians, oral history and the U.S. West. Professor Fixico has worked on 25 historical documentaries. He has published 15 books. Prior to Arizona State University, Professor Fixico was the Thomas Bowlus Distinguished Professor of American Indian History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Scholar and founding director of the Center for Indigenous Nations Studies at University of Kansas. He has received postdoctoral fellowships at University of California-Los Angeles and The Newberry Library, Chicago. Professor Fixico has been a visiting lecturer and visiting professor at University of California-Berkeley; University of California-Los Angeles; San Diego State University and University of Michigan. He was an exchange professor at University of Nottingham, England and Visiting Professor in the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Freie University in Berlin, Germany.

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The Invasion of Indian Country in the Twentieth Century
American Capitalism and Tribal Natural Resources
by Donald Fixico

"During the 1500s and 1600s, the conquerors of the new age of European imperialism in the Western Hemisphere scarcely recognized the Native inhabitants who utilized the natural resources for their own livelihood. Within a short time, they assaulted the Native populations and took whatever they wanted. They were unabashed in their greed, displaying an obdurate attitude that was shared by their successors in later centuries. Following the Industrial Revolution in the United States during the late 1800s, an increasingly urban America sought fuels to run its modern factories and railroads and later its automobiles and airplanes. With little government involvement (by today's standards at least), the "laissez-faire" attitude of capitalism became the guiding force of the economy as competition intensified for natural resources such as oil, coal, uranium,
and water. This study, consisting of various case histories of Indian-white competition for natural resources in Indian Country during the last 100 years, focuses on a struggle between two different cultural worlds, contrasting the values of American capitalism and the traditional values of the Indian nations."

 

Read the entire chapter at Univeristy Press of Colorado  

08

I... Rigoberta Menchú
An Indian Woman in Guatemala
 
by Rigoberta Menchú

"Rigoberta learned the language of her oppressors in order to use it againsst them. For her, appropriating the Spanish Language is an act which can change the course of history because it is the result of a decision: Spanish was a language which was forced upon her, but it has become a weapon in her struggle. She decided to speak in order to tell of the oppression her people have been suffering for almost five hundred years, so that the sacrifices made by her community and her family will not have been made in vain." 

~ Read the rest of the introduction by Mantreux-paris and a longer excerpt from the beginning of the book at wetipthebalance.org

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Rigoberta Menchú has been a passionate spokesperson for the rights of indigenous peoples. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work on behalf of the indigenous groups of Guatemala, her native country. However, her work has made her a leading voice for the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere.

 

Rigoberta Menchú was born on January 9, 1959, in Chimel, a village in the Quiché province in the mountainous northwest region of Guatemala. Menchú started working on southern coastal cotton and coffee plantations when she was eight, and at age 13, she experienced her first close contact with people of Spanish culture when she worked as a maid for a wealthy family in Guatemala City. At this time, Menchú also experienced discrimination against Indians practiced by Latinos. Her employers made her sleep on the floor, on a mat next to the family dog.

 

Menchú's political beliefs were shaped by Guatemala's troubled history. In 1954, a left-wing civilian president was removed from power by a coup d'état that was supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. After this coup, the country was ruled by military officers. When a guerrilla movement opposed to the military rulers began in 1962, the government responded violently. They arrested and killed not only the guerrillas, but also those who supported them or were believed to support them, especially in the countryside.

~ Excerpted bio from Iowa State University Archives

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