Center for World Indigenous Studies
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All the Real Indians Died Off

And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans
By: Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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About this publication

In this enlightening book, scholars and activists Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle a wide range of myths about Native American culture and history that have misinformed generations. Tracing how these ideas evolves, and drawing from history, the authors disrupt long-held and enduring myths such as:

  • “Columbus Discovered America”
  • “Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed Pilgrims”
  • “Indians were Savage and Warlike”
  • “European Brought Civilization to Backward Indians”
  • “The United States Did Not Have a Policy of Genocide”
  • “Sport Mascots Honor Native Americans”
  • “Most Indians Are on Government Welfare”
  • “Indian Casinos Make Them All Rich” 
  • “Indians Are Naturally Predisposed to Alcohol”

Each chapter deftly shows how these myths are rooted in the fears and prejudice of European settlers and in the larger political agendas of a settler state aimed at acquiring indigenous land and tied to narratives of erasure and disappearance. Accessibly written and revelatory. “All the Real Indians Died Off” challenges readers to rethink what they have been taught about Native Americans and history.

Excerpt

Introduction
No collectivity of people in US American society is as enigmatic or misunderstood as Indigenous peoples. From the very first encounters with them five centuries ago, Europeans were confounded by these peoples who looked so different and lived lives that seemed not just diametrically opposed to theirs but even blasphemous. Europeans brought with them their fears and prejudices accompanied by a sense of entitlement to the land that had been home to the Indigenous peoples for untold thousands of years. They were occasionally respected by the newcomers, some of whom voluntarily left their own communities in the early days of settlement to live among the Indians. They learned to speak the Natives’ languages, intermarried, and had children with them, sometimes for love or companionship, sometimes just to build alliances and gain access to Native territories and to convert them to Christianity. But by and large the history of relations between Indigenous and settler is fraught with conflict, defined by a struggle for land, which is inevitably a struggle for power and control. Five hundred years later, Native peoples are still fighting to protect their lands and their rights to exist as distinct political communities and individuals.