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Incorporation of the native into the public sphere just continues the ongoing systematic violence against their culture – remaining a separate entity is key to prevent cooption

Poupart 03, Lisa M. Poupart, nearest date given is 2003, Pupart is an Associate Professor of Humanistic Studies, First Nation Studies and Womens Studies at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, “The Familiar Face of Genocide: Internalized Oppression among American Indians,”, NN

American Indians have suffered from systematic genocide within Western society, in the forms of government-sanctioned physical onslaughts and confrontations, murder, land theft, forced removal and relocation, economic deprivation, incarceration, environmental racism, devastation of tribal sovereignty, and as a result of continued economic dependency. Acts of genocide committed against Indian people are founded on and legitimated by Western constructions of abject Otherness. Over 6 ve hundred years of social, political, and economic domination, Western society enforced its cultural codes of Otherness upon American Indians to gain our complicity in the power structure. Through formal Western education, conversion to Christianity, and assimilation into Euro-American culture and the capitalist economy, tribal people learned to speak the language and to interpret and reproduce the meanings of our oppressors; our own meanings, languages, and cultures were simultaneously devastated. American Indian participation in the construction and reproduction of Western language and meaning ensured our complicity in patriarchal power and aided Euro-American exploitation of our lands, resources, and labor. Like colonized groups throughout the world, American Indian people learned and internalized the discursive practices of the West—the very codes that created, re1 ected, and reproduced our oppression. As American Indians participate in, create, and reproduce Western cultural forms, we internalize Western meanings of difference and abject Otherness, viewing ourselves within and through the constructs that de6 ned us as racially and culturally subhuman, de6 cient, and vile. As Western constructions of abject difference are both forced upon and accepted by American Indians, we de6 ne ourselves through these 88 Hypatia constructions and subsequently participate in the reproduction of these codes. For, as we assume the dominant subject position, we often take upon ourselves de6 nitions of the objecti6 ed, abject Other as (portions of) our own identities and act them out in 1 at, one-dimensional caricatures that mirror the dominant culture’s representations. Moreover, as we buy into these codes, we not only apply them to our individual selves but also to those within our own marginalized group(s)—our loved ones and community members. Virtually nonexistent in traditional tribal communities prior to European invasion, contemporary American Indian communities struggle with devastating social ills including alcoholism, family violence, incest, sexual assault, fetal-alcohol syndrome, homicide, and suicide at startling rates similar to and sometimes exceeding those of white society. In their groundbreaking works, authors Maria YellowHorse BraveHeart and Lemyra DeBruyn (1995; 1996a; 1996b) understand the widespread social ills plaguing American Indians a s manifestations of internalized oppression. The authors assert that experiences of racism and internalized oppression contribute to current social ills among Indians as a result of Western imperialism, assimilation, and Indian identi6 cation with the dominate culture’s codes (BraveHeart and DeBruyn 1996b). In describing causal factors leading to social problems, they state, “We contend that the high rates of depression . . . suicide, homicide, domestic violence and child abuse among American Indians can also be attributed to [the] processes of internalized oppression and identi6 cation with the aggressor” (1996b, 6). Through 6 ve hundred years of assimilation and acculturation, American Indians have internalized Western discursive practices and so we often view ourselves in ways mirroring the dominant subject position. However, Indian people also live in a sort of cultural double consciousness, as portions of our traditional subjective identities persist in the preserved beliefs of our ancestors practiced today. Through the telling of our experiences and stories in a continued oral tradition and through the preservation of traditional ways, many Indian people resist the dominant culture’s subject position, knowing t hat we, l ike our Grandmothers and Grandfathers, have not deserved a history of violence and genocide. Moreover, our oral traditions preserved many stories recounting the subjugation of our ancestors and these stories were passed along through generations creating an alternative interpretation, or knowledge, of the harms in1 icted by white society. American Indians’ knowledge of our historical and continued oppression is experienced as a profound anguish. As Shirley Hill Witt explains, “Among Native Americans, the memory of genocide and tribal extinction is a raw unhealing wound” (1974, 35). This pain is described by Duran and Duran as a “soul wound” (1995, 27). The authors contend the genocidal efforts of Western imperialism have “in1 ict[ed] a wound to the soul of Native American people that is felt in agonizing proportions to this day” (Duran and Duran 1995, 27). Lisa M. Poupart 89 Our experiences of colonization and disempowerment under patriarchal capitalism are silenced by white society. The perpetration of cultural genocide is whitewashed by the dominant culture in the master narrative of “discovery” and “manifest destiny.” Like the knowledges and stories of Others under patriarchal oppression, American Indian people’s pain is not recognized nor validated by the dominant culture. Instead, white society uses negative constructions of Indians as subhuman and lacking a full range of human qualities and emotions in order to justify our disempowerment. BraveHeart and DeBruyn elaborate upon this contention, asserting that American Indians have been socially constructed as incapable of experiencing emotional responses to pain and suffering. They contend, “[T]he historical view of American Indians as being stoic and savage contributed to a belief on the part of the dominant society that Indian people were incapable of having feelings. This belief system intimates that Indians had no capacity to mourn and, subsequently, no need or right to grieve” (BraveHeart and Debruyn 1996b, 11). Drawing upon the literature on Nazi concentration camp survivors, BraveHeart and DeBruyn assert that American Indians today experience a phenomenon the authors label “Historical Unresolved Grief Syndrome” resulting from the “historical trauma”1 experienced under cultural and economic imperialism. The authors contend that social problems such as alcohol abuse experienced by Indian people are symptomatic of the past and present traumas we experience, and also symptomatic of the dominant culture’s denial of the harms in1 icted upon tribal people and from the invalidation of Indian pain (BraveHeart 1995; BraveHeart and DeBruyn 1996a; 1996b).

Their assumption as the native as a part of the sovereignty of the United States is problematic – the native is a sovereign in itself that cannot be confined by the ideology that systematically held them down

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