Native Americans Boldly Announce They Are ‘Untamed and Unapologetic’

During his commencement address at the Naval Academy, Trump gave nod to white supremacy when he said that “our ancestors tamed a continent,” adding that “we are not going to apologize for America.”

Sarah Sunshine Manning, a citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, wrote an indigenous response.

This knowledge seems rudimentary, and yet it’s not: The same ships that transported the “American dream” from 15th century Europe likewise delivered a nightmare to indigenous lands now known as America—a nightmare that would persist for centuries for millions of indigenous people, African slaves and their many descendants. But it was far beyond a nightmare. It all was callously and painfully real…

Trump’s remarks, true to white supremacy and American colonial form, hark back to the very first classifications of indigenous peoples as untamed savages. The humanity of indigenous peoples and our right to life was once again denied by Trump’s words, anti-Indianness recharged, by the man tasked to lead a nation that he and many others continue to arrogantly dub “the greatest,” admiring their own reflection in the mirror while selectively narrowing their gaze to exclude their brutal, white supremacist past and present.

It was from Manning that I learned about #UntamedandUnapologetic on Twitter. I encourage you to go take a look and be inspired.

Peggy Flanagan happens to be running for lieutenant governor of my home state, Minnesota. She mentions the astounding fact that 64 indigenous women are running for office in 2018. Mark Trahant writes about how candidates are boldly embracing their identity and changing the image of Native people. For example, Tatewin Means (daughter of Russell Means) is running the be the attorney general of South Dakota. Take a look at her television ad, which has been produced in both English and Lakota.

When I watched this ad for Sharice Davids, who is running for Congress in Kansas, I thought about how Stacey Abrams leads with running as a black woman by saying things like: “My being a black woman is not a deficit…It is a strength. Because I could not be where I am had I not overcome so many other barriers. Which means you know I’m relentless, you know I’m persistent, and you know I’m smart.”

Many of these candidates are running an uphill battle against very steep odds. But it sure feels like something new is happening in this era when the fault lines are clear: people of color are standing up proudly in the midst of a backlash of white supremacy. I applaud the #UntamedandUnapologetic for their strength and courage.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.