Historian Nick Este's New Book Puts Standing Rock in In Broader Native American StoryHistorians in the News
tags: Native American history, Standing Rock
Modern Indigenous American history is a history of resistance. It's often assumed that Indigenous resistance to white settlers and enterprisers is often considered an act of self-defense, when it was — and is — also a battle between starkly different value systems.
For the Oceti Sakowin, or Sioux Nation, resistance is not just based on a claim to land that invaders have sought to usurp and exploit; it's also about what "land" means. In Our History Is The Future, Nick Estes poignantly describes an idea of what land means from an Indigenous perspective:
"During the last ice age, massive glaciers carved up the land. After the ice retreated, it left rolling hills and tunneling valleys that became buffalo roads, where herds that once blackened the plains traveled during seasonal migrations to and from water. The buffalo followed the stars, and the people followed the buffalo."
In this scene, land means interconnectedness, humility before the sublime rhythms of the earth.
The book's primary purpose is to situate the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock in the broader story of Indigenous American resistance (specifically Indigenous people of the central plains) to land incursion and dispossession. And Estes succeeds more often than not throughout the book by balancing an emphatic but accessible tone with academic (but not too academic) scrupulousness.
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