FIELD LAB #2
Do bridges divide us in the process of connection? By what means does modernity and capitalism survive?
Big- I / I-25 / Pan American Freeway
Las Cruses, NM – Buffalo, Wyoming
All freeways are highways, but not every highway is a freeway.
Pan-Americanism- 1888 movement toward commercial, social, economic, military, and political cooperation among the nations of North, Central, and South America.
The concept of building a highway emerged at the 5th International Conference of the American States or Pan-American Conference.
> James Blaine, Secretary of State: proposed close ties between US + Latin America and would open markets to US trade.
> Western Hemisphere- create Union of the Americas where the US “would hold the upper hand and would be able to guide the agenda,” and carry heavyweight in major decision-making.
> Another reason for the union was so that the US could financially benefit from other countries.
theory > political theory > laws > power
"No collectivity of people in US American society is a enigmatic or misunderstood as Indigeous 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.
Most US citizens’ knowledge about Indians is inaccurate, distorted, or limited to elementary-school textbooks, cheesy old spaghetti westerns, or more contemporary films like Dances with Wolves or The Last of the Mohicans. Few can name more than a handful of Native nations out of the over five hundred that still exist or can tell you who Leonard Peltier is. Mention Indian gaming and they will have strong opinions about it one way or another. Some might even have an Indian casino in their community, but they will probably be curiously incurious if you ask them how Indian gaming came to be or about the history of the nation that owns the casino. In many parts of the country it’s not uncommon for non-Native people to have ever met a Native person or to assume that there are no Indians who live among them. On the other hand, in places where there is a concentration of Natives, like in reservation border towns, what non-Native people think they know about Indians is typically limited to racist tropes about drunk or lazy Indians. They are seen as people who are maladjusted to the modern world and cannot free themselves from their tragic past.
On a whole, it can be said that the average US citizen’s knowledge about American Indians is confined to a collection of well-worn myths and half-truths that have Native people either not existing at all or existing in a way that fails to live up to their expectations about who “real” Indians are. If Indians do exist, they are seen as mere shadows of their former selves, making counterfeit identity claims or performing fraudulent acts of Indianness that are no longer authentic or even relevant. Non-Natives thus position themselves, either wittingly or unwittingly, as being the true experts about Indians and their histories- and it happens at all levels of society, from the uneducated all the way up to those with advanced college degrees, and even in the halls of Congress. The result is the perpetual erasure of Indians from the US political and cultural landscape. In short, for five centuries Indians have been disappearing in the collective imagination. They are disappearing in plain sight.“
All the Real Indians Died Off,
By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker