Power and Politics in American Indian History: The Long Disaster of Amerika

CJ Trowbridge


Power and Politics in American Indian History

Forum 5

This is a summary of season 1, episode 8 of the documentary series Rise. After the white imperial ethnostate of Amerika “purchased” the Missouri River Basin from France, explorers were sent in to map the territory and inform the countless people who had already lived there for tens of thousands of years that they were now vassals of the white ethnostate.

Despite meeting these early imperial forces with offers of kinship, natives were immediately met with rape, murder, kidnapping, and other hostile and pointless acts of white settler-colonial aggression. After a long and concerted effort to exterminate or displace the entire indigenous population, treaties were signed which gave a small area to the survivors of the original native population.

Over the centuries, the white imperial ethnostate has continued its settler-colonial crusade to either exterminate or displace any remaining indigenous people. It was no surprise therefore when the pipelines came that they “needed” to bulldoze hundreds of graveyards and other sacred sites in order to build a dangerous and unnecessary pipeline to push poison across the land to speed up the collapse of the biosphere.

Native activists continue to fight back, protesting the pipelines, protesting at Alcatraz, and across the land when their people are faced with the choice between displacement and extermination at the hands of the white imperial ethnostate of Amerika.

One of the things that’s been really interesting and frustrating for me with watching these documentaries about specific issues has been the lack of connection to other significant events throughout history. It seems like a person could watch many of these documentaries and wrongly think that it is showing an extreme example. So rarely do we hear mention of the fact that over a hundred million indigenous people were murdered by the white imperial ethnostate of Amerika. So rarely do we hear connections to the countless massacres and the countless acts of land theft which together constitute the long disaster that is Amerika for indigenous people.

On the one hand, it makes sense to focus on specific events, but it seems like what is often missing is a concise connection to the unbelievable scope of the Native American Holocaust and the sheer volume of violence and displacement, and the obvious fact that this is all still going on and still getting worse, not better. Because it’s been in the news, I have found in recent conversations with white people who are generally supporting of the water warriors, they seem to count the latest barrier to DAPL as a win for natives, but none of them have heard about the hundreds of graveyards and other sacred sites that were already demolished to build the now empty pipeline. The outrage is missing because there is so much emphasis on the current disaster and not the trail of destruction left in Amerika’s wake.

This is one thing that I really liked about this documentary. Time and time again, the people being interviewed drew connections to past events and placed the current events in the timeline of the white ethnostate’s hostile campaign of expansion and extermination over the last half-millennia. So too did we hear about the white ethnostate of Amerika in the scope of tens of thousands of years of indigenous history and civilization. I really liked to hear these details centered and hammered home in this episode. It’s hard to imagine someone could watch this one and come away with the same ignorance of the scope of the historical problem and the place the latest disaster has in the chronology of the long disaster of Amerika.


Works Cited

Rise. “Season 1 Episode 8  — Standing Rock Part II.” SBS On Demand, 2016, www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1036998211730/rise-red-power-standing-rock-part-ii.