Coming into this class and hearing that we were going to be having an indigenous people unit was honestly frightening. I don’t like to admit or think about the effects and truths about what white people have done to others, even if I knew very little to nothing about what white people have exactly done. I knew that African Americans were enslaved throughout the country. Even before that, I knew that Indians were forced out of their homelands. I was obnoxiously oblivious to knowing how or why this was taking place. I knew that whites tend to think they are superior to others, for no reason. Coming into this unit, I lived a single story point of view and was nervous to find out what had truly taken place.
The first thing brought to my attention was the definition of imperialism and colonization. Imperialism is having a sphere of influence over several areas. Colonization is a group of people going to a new place and making it their own. The first real eye-opener was the Ted Talk video we watched about single stories. A single story is sticking to believing what you hear, only sticking to what you think is true, or logistically showing one side of a story rather than several. This made me think because I didn’t realize that the thoughts I was thinking were merely of what I’ve heard or envisioned before. I completely misunderstood what other countries are like. My favorite thought was from the video, stating, single-stories create stereotypes, which aren’t exactly not true, but they’re incomplete.
After being assigned books, I began to relax about the topic of having to deal with cultures other than the one I am in. The book I received was Solar Storms by Linda Hogan, a novel about an Indian girl, Angel, finding herself by backtracking to her past. She had grown up with “only thin, transient bonds to other people” (pg. 67) which left her feeling lonely and longing for her background. Throughout the novel, there are several encounters of imperialism and colonization. One major example is when the white people were taking over several islands from the Indians. They, the Indians on these islands, began to wonder “how these men, young though they were, did not have a vision large enough to see a life beyond their job… and guilty of the sin of land killing… Maybe like us they had only fear” (pg. 288). After discovering how much land they were attempting to take for the use of golf courses and recreational activities, they began to fight back.
The Indians had deep connections with nature and animals. Each had a different and deep meaning to them, such as the island that “was a place for hope and beauty, and no one was permitted to walk there” (pg. 265). In order to attempt to keep their land, Angel and her relatives went to the workers and pleaded for them to cancel the project. Her aunt especially felt strongly about this and began to explain that they’ve “been here for thousands of years” (pg. 280), but the worker continued to call them “remnants of the past and said that he wanted to bring [the Indians] to the twentieth century” (pg. 280).
The moral of the story is that the Indians were forced out of land, forcefully, that had great significance to them and their cultural beliefs. White invaders didn’t understand or care about the impact they were putting on them. They we ignored, injured, and killed off because they refused to leave the places that meant so much to them. The land they built up was beautiful and pure, full of natural gardens and rivers. Their home is much more than a piece of land where their houses sit, it was a worship ground, safe place, and much more.
Throughout this lesson, I learned more than a powerpoint or article could have ever taught me. I learned other had their hearts ripped out as their homes were forced into golfing ranges and other irrelevant places. I have also learned that it is important to view the whole picture, not the section that is being shown right in front of me. Always look around the whole area before making assumptions about a place or culture.