While reading Duarte, Marisa Elena, and Miranda Belarde-Lewis’s piece “Imagining: Creating Spaces for Indigenous Ontologies,” I found myself running my own stereotypes of Indigenous people through my head. I was disgusted to find that I thought of them as a relic of the past, a beautiful part of our country’s history that was no longer really around. I felt nostalgia for them, a people I had never really met, a people that still exists despite colonization’s efforts to assimilate and erase them.
In one particularly arresting moment, the piece mentions how Indigenous tribes are receiving “federal funding for education and healthcare services in exchange for the ongoing illegal and unjust US occupation of sovereign Native lands” (680), and I could practically feel my mind being blown. It’s such a simple sentence, just a few words, but it was almost like this one sentence gave me a pair of fresh eyes. We, non-Indigenous people, feel as though we have every right to be here. So many of our politicians eagerly point fingers at illegal immigrants and the supposed harm that they are doing to our country, and yet what right do we have to be here? Before, if I thought of Indigenous people at all, it was with an “that’s awful but it’s in the past” mentality. I didn’t think of our government illegally occupying lands that do not belong to us. I didn’t think of it as an on-going problem. I didn’t really think of it much at all. And that’s because as a member of the dominant, non-Indigenous group, I’ve never really had to.
I found a Youtube music video made by a group called Indigenous for a song called “Things We Do” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nlkcIsIAyE). It only has about 88,000 hits; minor for our society, in which the biggest Youtube stars get millions of hits on the most insignificant challenge videos. However, it was fascinating to see that yes, Indigenous people do have a presence on the Internet, even if they are not the most visible group. They deserve to be seen, in all of their complexities. They deserve to represent themselves in the ways that they choose to be represented. They deserve to maintain their own cultures despite the overwhelming pressure to assimilate. It will just take a way of thinking that may be completely foreign to our dominant culture.