Ancestral Homelands: the place of origin of one’s linear and extended family, particularly the lands and territories occupied by the same family, community, tribe in which development of culture borne generations of natural interactions within an environment which allowed for the evolution of relationships and societal norms.
American Exceptionalism: the theory of the American Exceptionalism has developed over time and can be traced to many sources. Within the context of this toolkit, American Exceptionalism is the perception or belief that the dominant American society or rather “White” society is extraordinary and perpetuates that the referent is superior to justify America’s actions domestically and globally ignoring the arguments of moral corruption.
Appropriation: also phrased as cultural (mis)appropriation, is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture. This becomes problematic when members of a dominant culture take something for their use, typically without approval from or recognition of the targeted minority cultures. Appropriation in this form is an act of colonialism due to the nature of taking cultural elements from an oppressed culture by members of the dominant external culture. The stolen elements are often used outside of their original cultural context against the expressly stated wishes of members of the originating culture for capital gain. The exploitative state loses the original meaning of these cultural elements belittling the cultural practices and elements of targeted groups.
Chattel Slavery: is the most common form of slavery known to Americans and a critical component in the emerging global capitalist economy and is the foundation of much of the American economy. This system is based on the legal treatment of primarily African Slaves who were forced into civil relationships in which primarily European/White Americans held absolute power over the slave’s life, fortune, and liberties.
Collective Imaginations: the processes of how the imagination has shaped historically significant social institutions. Within America, Invaders/Settlers and their descendants have shaped that view the territories of America as “founded by white settlers,” which ignores the history that Native Peoples had across territories, as well as the contributions of people of color and minorities throughout American history. Within the “White community,” there are vast cultural differences and ancestral lines that are ignored in favor of being blanketed by white identification. Humanity can slide from one universe of meaning to another almost imperceptibly by having already associated one thing with another forming our collective
DEFINITIONS: ARE LISTED IN THE CONTEXT OF HOW THIS TEXT IS MEANT TO BE READ.
Colonialism: is the domination of Indigenous Peoples, Lands, Water, and other resources by foreign invaders who, through the creation of policies, the invading nation seeks to extend or retain its authority over Indigenous peoples and territories, generally with the aim of economic dominance. This takes the form of the colonizing country benefiting from the colonized country, landmass, labor, and extraction of resources. Throughout the process, colonizers impose their world- views, including religious, economic, and medicinal practices on the native population.
“Disappearing/Vanishing Indian”: Steaming from America’s so-called frontier movement and thereafter romanizations of frontier life comes this myth. This myth paints the image of American Indians being noble and bravely willing to sacrifice everything for the making of America. Supported by Manifest Destiny, this image of the “Vanishing Indian” was sculpted in the American imagination for centuries as ordained by God and, therefore, destiny. Literature, Cinema, and American media push this narrative into our homes, schools, and politics. This myth is the foundation for the movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” The acceptance of this myth is deeply rooted within the American imagination that many believe that Indians no longer exist- or at least no more “real Indians.”
Erasure: when applied to people, it means ignoring, removing references to, falsifying, or re-defining evidence about some individual or group in history, in books, academia, the news media, or other similar sources. In the cases of Indigenous histories and experiences this is more than just a matter of ignorance about history or laziness about doing research, but an implemented design process of denialism of Indigenous realities because it creates a counter-narrative to the Master Narrative of the United States and to elude any uncomfortable truths about whiteness.
False Narratives: created with the intent to deceive by limiting the number of narrative elements provided to assemble the bulk of the narrative themselves (American Dominate Society/ White Men), thereby taking ownership of the narrative. This can be accomplished by limiting the scope of information available or the time in which to consider it. In this manner, the author establishes a constrained narrative space in which both content and context are controllable to the desired effect reinforcing ideologies of American Exceptionalism.
Genocide: the mass destruction of entire communities of indigenous peoples including all attempts to destroy Indigenous cultures through physical means like mass killings, forced sterilization, forced removal, destruction of family structures, or psychological through oppression, destruction, and erasure of indigenous ways of life.
Indigeneity: the state of being Indigenous with kinships and ancestral connections to a specific region or territory of land. In this text, we are referring to members of an Indigenous group pushing back against erasure, genocide, and forced acculturation under colonial regimes.
Indoctrination: teaching someone to accept a set of beliefs without questioning them. With-in this text, we are referencing a results-driven approach that aims to instill habits and beliefs that align with the ideology of American Exceptionalism. This process of Indoctrination creates a narrow lens in which all of the information we receive is interpreted through the filter of American Exceptionalism regardless of our ethnic/cultural origin(s).
Master Narrative of the United States: is synonymous with the idea of “whitewashing” history. Primarily, as a result of our political leadership being predominantly white throughout the United States colonial history, people tend to see America as a “White” nation erasing the Indigenous histories before colonial occupation and the active ignoring of the vast multicultural diversity that exists in the country. The story of how the world works as viewed and validated by the colonial or dominant culture. The master narrative reinforces the “natural order” of the privileged position of the dominant “White or European descendant” by virtue of their class, race, gender, religion, and national origin/lineage. It maintains a pernicious classist, racist, sexist, nationalistic (American), and theistic (Christian) view that the non-dominant dis inferior, a view quite often absorbed and internalized by the non-dominant themselves, whether they live in an inner-city or the remote country. This is a methodical tactic used to maintain the settler-colonial framework.
The Myth of Discovery: is based on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and goes back to the 15th century, which perceives lands owned by ‘non-Christians’ like nobody’s land starting the erasure of the Indigenous populations across the Western Hemisphere. Columbus’s exploration of the Caribbean is often understood as discovering a “New World.” This ideology comes at the expense of the millions of people who lived in North America for tens of thousands of years before 1492 and their descendants. Columbus’s arrival initiated immense suffering to Native people, and their population was quickly decimated due to disease, war, and enslavement. This myth is at the core of the master narrative, in which the United States origin story of a democratic republic being born out of opposition to European empires creating a new world; the United States Supreme Court has invoked the doctrine of discovery as law.
“The Mystical Indian”: this myth reflects neither contemporary nor historical Native American realities; instead, it is based on the racist assumptions that American Indian people are at the root heathens and dangerous. While this myth often views American Indians as spiritual beings with an inherent closeness to nature it is regarded as a marker of inferiority due to the inability to properly pray (be Christian) and inability to properly develop a civilized society. The framing of the myth is often characterized by the “Shaman”- who is almost always depicted as mysterious and deeply religious. This myth also perpetuates the ideology that American Indians are overtly sexual beings whose animalistic behaviors make them less than human. This myth is often portrayed by the image of the half-naked Indian.
Nationalization: a form of political indoctrination that emphasizes idealism by replacing organic cultures. This form of American patriotism is an artificial construct built around the propagandizing federal government, including educational institutions and entertainment media, which are designed to spread a new pseudo-culture that abolishes the growth of actual culture and works to eradicate culture(s) that have developed before colonial rule. Our argument claims that culture requires generations of natural interactions within an environment and community that develops bonds of kinship and understanding, which Americans have never been able to process properly.
“The Noble Savage”: This stereotype is the romantic notion of American Indians as AN embodiment of an outsider, “wild,” and/or “other” who has not been filed by civilization, and therefore symbolizes innocence and naivety. This stereotype was ushered in with the railroads spanning west of the Mississippi River, allowing tourists and U.S. society in general access to diverse Tribal Peoples and their communities. This increased exposure caused a romantic notion of Native cultures having a more in-depth spiritual and serene life in comparison to white Americans and European immigrants. These romantic viewpoints were adopted by many Americans who had become disillusioned with the growing capitalist economy, industrialization, and the increasingly crowded urban conditions. However, this romanticized version of Indian culture still works to belittles American Indian intellect as less than due to their inability to ward off colonial encroachment.
Occupied Lands: the exploitation of Indigenous lands created the foundation of the so-called United States. Within this text, we reject the idea that land can be stolen rather settlers/invaders and their descendants have taken residence and created permanent domiciles by the expelling of the Indigenous population(s). In addition, the land has not been removed, and despite the manipulation, extraction, and exploitation of its resources, it remains. The construct that the lands of the so-called Americans have been stolen creates a human-centric hierarchy that lands can be fully possessed and commodified. Rather from our perspective, we believe no entity can own land as the Earth sustains life and therefore, will always exist before and long after human existence. Rather we view the use of the land and appropriation of not from an individual stance but of the tribal or communal stance. This is not to say that American Indians do not understand or have their ways to determine the validity of their personal property. Therefore, cooperative production does not inherently imply communal ownership.
Racism: a social structure that is designed and implemented through the master narrative to assign characteristics to whole groups of people to advance the idea of race and the superiority of whiteness, which serves the interests of both white people in power (the elites) materially and working-class white people psychically. This perpetuates the systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group.
Settler Colonial: a distinctive form of colonialism which seeks to replace the Native population of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers/invaders by any means necessary. As with all forms of colonialism, it is based on external domination, which extends imperial authority from one country over a foreign country by military force and erection of political and economic control. Settler colonialism is enacted by a variety of means ranging from violent depopulation of the Indigenous inhabitants including extermination, biochemical warfare, forced removal, assimilation or elimination of culture and the replacing of a territory’s history with the history of the imperial authority and development of a new national or social identity.
Systemic Racism: refers to a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. Racism of this kind pollutes every structure of our society, such as inequalities in education, housing, employment, wealth, representation in leadership positions, and the social relations within our society. These inequalities are tethered to our country’s racist foundation that gives an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to Indigenous, Black, and other People of Color.
Time Immemorial: existence extending beyond the reach of modern memory, record, or tradition.
White Supremacy: is the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races and therefore, should be dominant over them. The United States is backed by two pseudo-legal documents the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny which provides a useful strategy for “Eurocentrism” and therefore “whiteness” to enshrine itself into law which legitimizes racial superiority and deliberately provides legal preference to Europeans and their descendants as this process reproduces itself across generations.