Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Readings: 'Their Manners Are Decorous and Praiseworthy' By Dee Brown & 'What is White Supremacy?' By Elizabeth Martinez

So this hasn't been working as quickly as anticipated, so lets just do one reading a month. Let me know if folks are interested in more/less often. I just figured that it would be easier this way, at least for now. 
Obviously we can still comment on the first reading if folks haven't gotten around to it yet, but this here is the October readings:
'Their Manners Are Decorous and Praiseworthy' By Dee Brown
You have to download the whole sourcebook to get it, but it is also chapter one of 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West' which most public/university libraries should have.
What is White Supremacy?


  1. Some basic thoughts:
    Regarding both pieces: Both pieces interpret the history of the United States as a history of White Supremacist violence, though the Dee Brown piece is a bit more nuanced in that it admits that there had been Indian collaborators with White Settlers and indeed White Power. Given this shared interpretation, which I personally take to be more fact than fiction, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is: what do we do when confronted with such a straightforward understanding that "our State," (these United States, which everyone whose commented on the blog so far has grown up a part of), is the result of violence, exploitation, conquest, and genocide?

    Dee Brown's piece, which was written in 1970, seems to imply that Native America was not only the victim of genocide and conquest, but that it was also fundamentally different from Settler society, especially and particularly in regards to conceptions of property and the natural world. Books have been written on this topic. Again, I'm inclined to believe that this is much more fact than it is fiction, but I wonder what others think, based on their own understanding of this history?

    How do we feel about the fact that Dee Brown refers to the political-military Indian resistance leaders as "American Heroes"?

    On Martinez' piece I have nothing special to say, other than I accept the general argument of the piece. I'd also like to make mention of the fact that Betita is a very interesting public intellectual who has been involved in many different struggles and whose analysis has changed over the years. I highly recommend her book on the Cuban Revolution, "the youngest revolution" for folks interested in the strange inter-play between nascent Chicana activism, full blown civil rights (the black freedom movement) activism, and socialism.

  2. Brown's piece creates, what seems to me, a more honest understanding of the first parts of United States history than is usually understood. I find understanding this history of the United States climb to the top through genocide and land theft of other nations vital to understanding how we think about the places we live in an honest way.
    As far as your question on First Nation societies being fundamentally different from European, I would have to agree. Based on research, and conversations with traditionalist Native elders, I feel confident in saying it was generally, more egalitarian, but of course not perfect. This making colonization a step backwards it seems.
    Regarding the second piece, I also agree with the argument, but especially like how she lays out the difference in using the terms 'racism' and 'white supremacy'. How racism refers often to individual acts, and white supremacy show a power relation.