Indigenous Archives - accuracy.org

Mount Rushmore: Tip of Iceberg

NICK ESTES, nicholas.w.estes at gmail.com, @nick_w_estes@The_Red_Nation
Estes is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and host of the Red Nation podcast. His latest book is Our History is The Future.

He was on “Democracy Now!” Monday morning, noting that while Trump talks about preserving history, protestors were just arrested for asserting history and standing for treaties at Mount Rushmore. One protestor, Nick Tilsen, is still being held. Estes also addressed the impact of the pandemic on native people in the U.S. and the toppling of a Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore.

Bloomberg Law reported Monday: “Dakota Access Oil Line to Be Shut by Court in Blow for Trump.” Estes is co-editor of Standing with Standing Rock — see an in-depth interview with Estes on “Flashpoints” last year.
He notes the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, also created the Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Estes recently appeared on the podcast Intercepted, stating that colonialism revolves around “God, gold, and glory,” noting: “Mount Rushmore is named after a gold prospector who had illegally entered into Lakota treaty territory to begin prospecting. … The Black Hills [where Mount Rushmore is located] were also a place of origin and a place of cultural and spiritual significance for over 50 Indigenous nations.”

George Washington “was known as ‘town destroyer.’ He was given that name by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy because he led a scorched-earth campaign against the Haudenosaunee prior to the Revolutionary War, but also during the Revolutionary War, to push them further westward. …

“Thomas Jefferson was really the architect of Indian removal as we now know it, like the Trail of Tears or the removal of the southeastern tribes from what we now know as the South, places like Georgia and North Carolina. But he was the one who really envisioned that, and that’s why he facilitated something like the Louisiana Purchase, because he imagined moving — basically creating a large Indian reserve — west of the Mississippi River. And of course, that, later on, became Oklahoma Territory. He also envisioned that the entire western hemisphere would be dominated” by Anglo-Saxons and “this was really the foundation of what we know as Manifest Destiny. …

“Lincoln himself is a very controversial figure for our people because he signed the death sentence for 38 Dakota patriots who took up arms against the United States after a breakdown in treaty obligations happened during the Civil War. … In 1862, you had the passage of the Homestead Act. … Dakota Uprising, as it’s known [happened] in 1862 … because the United States failed to live up to its treaty obligations to the Dakota people and … they took up arms. … But as the state of Minnesota reorganized itself for retaliation, they began organizing these irregular settler militias that were composed” of “recent European immigrants to basically create what we now know as the National Guard to crush the Indigenous uprising.”

The fourth face blasted into the mountain is that of “conservationist” Theodore Roosevelt. He is known for his role in the Spanish-American War with the “Rough Riders” and then for “gunboat diplomacy” during his presidency. Estes notes that even his role as “preservationist” is an ominous one for native people since “for settlers to appreciate nature, Indigenous people had to be ‘removed’ from nature.”

Estes notes that with respect to Minneapolis: “Leading up to the uprising and the killing of George Floyd, the conversation that I was hearing on the ground there, not just from Indigenous people but all people in that community … was the question of housing because housing prices were skyrocketing. So the intensification of police violence always correlates with profound inequality and we can trace that inequality in a place like Minneapolis back to its colonial origins when they expelled my ancestors.”

Intercepted played audio of Russell Means of the American Indian Movement: “And originally AIM, of course, was organized to combat police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But it grew, because the ideas of self-determination, the idea of being able to stand on your own two feet, eye-to-eye with the white man and say, ‘Wait a minute. Stop.'”

Challenging Monuments to “Colonialism and Slavery”

Several statues of Christopher Columbus have recently been brought down. In Albuquerque, Steven Ray Baca shot someone at a protest at a monument to a conquistador. Baca has reportedly been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

ROXANNE DUNBAR ORTIZ, rdunbaro pacbell.net@rdunbaro
Author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United StatesRoxanne Dunbar Ortiz said today: “As the movement for black lives protests against police violence … has spread to every part of the United States and around the world, some have turned to the glaring public symbols of the history that empowers such violence — colonialism and slavery. Statues celebrating Confederate officers and slavers have come down, as well as those of Columbus, who is best known for pioneering European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere and genocide of the Indigenous Arawaks in the Caribbean; he also brought the transatlantic African slave trade, as well as returning to Spain with enslaved natives who were sold on the European slave market.”

Dunbar also wrote the book Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New MexicoShe continued: “In New Mexico, which was first colonized by the Spanish in 1598, the descendants of those first settlers have in the past several decades erected statues of the genocidal conquistador, Don Juan de Oñate, as well as annually celebrating what they call the entrada, the arrival of the gifts of Christianity and European culture to people they considered savages. Actually, the Indigenous Peoples in New Mexico, called Pueblos, live in small city states with multi-storied communal homes made of adobe or cut granite and practiced irrigation agriculture all along the North Rio Grande River. The Spanish reduced the 98 city-states to 21 within ten years of ‘arrival.’ Today, most of the New Mexico state, county, and cities/towns, as well as the police are controlled by the Hispanos, as the descendants of the Spanish invaders call themselves. On Monday, June 15, one of these Hispanos shot into a group protesting the Oñate statue in Albuquerque, seriously injuring two protestors.”

Bolivia: U.S.-Backed OAS Helped Oust Indigenous Leader

Nearly eight months after incumbent Bolivian president Evo Morales was ousted in a coup d’etat amid allegations of electoral fraud, The New York Times reports that the Organization of American States’ (OAS) claims of fraud in the 2019 general election “relied on incorrect data and inappropriate statistical techniques.”

However, the new New York Times report makes no mention of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which sounded the alarm on the OAS’s false claims in real time.

CEPR now notes: “On October 21, 2019, just one day after Bolivia’s election, the OAS denounced — without providing any evidence — a ‘drastic’ and ‘inexplicable’ change in the trend of the vote count following an interruption of the transmission of the election results. At the time, CEPR was quick to note that the data simply did not back up the OAS claims.”  Despite CEPR’s documentation, the OAS claims were widely echoed through major media.

In February, findings by John Curiel and Jack R. Williams at MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab — contracted by CEPR to verify the numerical and statistical results of CEPR’s November 2019 study of the Bolivian election — were published by the Washington Post: “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud.” These findings also are unmentioned by the New York Times.

An in-depth report by CEPR issued in March addresses the claims that the OAS is now making. “For those paying close attention to the 2019 election, there was never any doubt that the OAS’ claims of fraud were bogus,” said CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston, coauthor of an 82-page report on the Bolivian election and the OAS audit of that election. “Just days after the election, a high-level official inside the OAS privately acknowledged to me that there had been no ‘inexplicable’ change in the trend, yet the organization continued to repeat its false assertions for many months with little to no pushback or accountability.”

“The OAS bears responsibility for the significant deterioration of the human rights situation in Bolivia since Morales’s ouster,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said. He noted that this was not the first time the OAS had played a damaging role in an electoral crisis, citing the 2010 elections in Haiti as an example. “If the OAS and Secretary General Luis Almagro are allowed to get away with such politically driven falsification of their electoral observation results again, this threatens not only Bolivian democracy but the democracy of any country where the OAS may be involved in elections in the future.”

CEPR was a main source for the Institute for Public Accuracy after the 2019 Bolivian coup. See IPA news releases including: “Is the OAS Interfering in the Bolivian Election?” “Bolivia: What a Coup Looks Like” and “Bolivian Coup Targeting Indigenous People.”See piece by Gregory Shupak for FAIR in November, which criticized the New York Times and other major media for accepting the false OAS narrative when it most mattered: “Unpacking Media Propaganda About Bolivia’s Election.”

For interviews with CEPR specialists, contact:
Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net, @Dan_Beeton