The Many Pernicious Myths About Native Americans That Need to Be Uprooted Now

Phyllis Young, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, speaks with reporters from a protest camp near the site of a planned road that would be used in constructing a portion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, August 18, 2016. Five hundred years after the violence of settler colonialism began in the Americas, Native peoples are still fighting to protect their lands and their rights to exist as distinct political communities and individuals. (Photo: Daniella Zalcman / The New York Times)Phyllis Young, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, speaks with reporters from a protest camp near the site of a planned road that would be used in constructing a portion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, August 18, 2016. Five hundred years after the violence of settler colonialism began in the Americas, Native peoples are still fighting to protect their lands and their rights to exist as distinct political communities and individuals. (Photo: Daniella Zalcman / The New York Times)

What myths have most of us been taught about Native Americans? In a new book, “All the Real Indians Died Off” And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker show how generations of people in the United States have been misinformed about Indigenous Americans as part of a colonial agenda of erasure. Click here to order this important book from Truthout. 

The following is an excerpt from the Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz introduction to “All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans. Dunbar is co-author of the book with Dina Gilio-Whitaker.

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 diametrically opposed to theirs and 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…

Read more