Latinas Talk About Learning Of The Heartbreaking Colonization Of Indigenous Land And The Genocide Of Its People

Even if we just realized it now, many of us ultimately learn that what we learned during our adolescense and from our elementary teachers may not have been what we know now.

Students in the United States who manage to be educated at all about Native Americans are often only taught the bare minimum. They learn some variation of the first “Thanksgiving,” learn about the California Spanish mission and maybe, if they’re lucky, learn about the Trail of Tears. Still, education about the colonization and genocide of indigenous peoples of the Americas is hardly ever comprehensive or thoughtful.

We asked FIERCE readers about how they ultimately learned the truths about the genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas and the answers were pretty eye-opening.

Check them out below!

“IN UNDERGRAD.” –erixcii

“When I picked up Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” at a yard sale when I was in Elementary school maybe 8 y/o. I was the book worm that picked up books instead of toys.” –cardcrafted

“Elementary school “Trail of Tears” … You know what’s the BS part about it?. The teacher at the time said that a lot of them died because it was cold and the snow killed them. And there was no emphasis on how the Europeans had killed most of the people before this happened. Like we were made to believe oh it’s the snows fault. … I think her name was Ms. Lambo … Something like that 5th grade…”- magdalena000888

“U mean the part about disease?”- joshstrick

“Just found out I’m 50% Mexican indigenous.” –keepingupwmarlene

“My mother is indigenous and was part of the children removed under the Indian removal act … I’ve grown up knowing this.” –falcon_moss_makes

“I was 30 and a friend that grew up in Northern California challenged my view of Thanksgiving.”- lanarosekauai

“Undergrad at CSUN! Class of 08. “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn.”- musicchicklily

“Can’t remember a specific moment but I know my parents didn’t sugar coat and regularly called out colonial crap In our curriculum.”- rockandanchorjewelry

“College!!”- ekh_2007

“When my 11th grade US History teacher had us read A People’s History of the United States.”- educe_abril

“When I was 8 years old I had a project to work on about Christopher Columbus. Needless to say I didn’t find much in the kid section, so I looked in the other section and found out the truth. I was so shocked about what they were teaching us in school and what the truth actually was.” –mama__fett

“College and I’m half Native American.”- oliviaguerra7

“Elementary school, since I was lucky enough to attend one of the first Dual Language programs in the country with an emphasis on indigenous cultures of the Americas.” –ycul_999

“Knew about it all my life. Papá grew up on a reservation. “

“First year of college four years ago.” –matyxguzman

“Junior high when we learned about Syphilis…”-sirenagrace_

“I learned in elementary and further educated myself in high school and college. I notice a lot history is omitted in schools these days.”- luvin2lift

“15 when I learned about the Taino peoples of the Caribbean (I’m Puerto Rican) when Columbus came and wiped out the Taino population in Dominican Republic.” –_trini_tea_

“In college, it’s sad that many children grow up never hearing about it and repeating lies that hid history.” –xochiquetzalx

“Grew up knowing this, but had to learn it from family school taught 1 lesson on it during the 7th-8th grade.” –toryyyharp.329

“Unfortunately not till college, Chicano Studies.” –cinnamon_maserati

“I can’t remember but i didn’t dive into it untill i was a full blown adult. Sadly, it took me this long, but my kids are learning it now from me personally. (Elementary school) my parents dont know much of it.. I’ve asked.” –dwaejitokkiiee

“First year of college during my Chicano studies class at CSUN – 1998.” –libbyleec

“Taught my high schoolers about it in September. I started by saying, ‘as you know, Columbus was a terrible person.’ They were all completely shocked by that statement. So I knew I had to do an entire unit on the treatment of the indigenous peoples. I was shocked that, still in 2020, 16 year olds are fed the idea that the “explorers” were good people who deserve our praise. They were ruthless, unfeeling, rapists, murderers, and slave traders. and now at least I know my students are more educated on the topic.” –alfonsina_mj

“7th grade.” –alexandriatrece

“In grad school!” –fortheculturenyllc

“Learned from my family. Not school.” –carrasvilla

“Since elementary but pretty much by myself.” –

“In college, learned about it and other invasions on the Americas. The Alamo and TX “history” is a buncha shit!” –liz_laprieta

“As a teen I learned a little bit in Middle School in the mid 1990’s. Then in college and a documentary I saw on PBS when I was in my early 20’s.”  –jenro395

“I didn’t know about infected blankets until my kids asked me. They saw reference to it on The Simpson’s! I must’ve been around 50 years old at that time.”- becky.hernandez.33

“High school. The way it is taught I always thought indigenous people helped the colonizers and moved. I didn’t realize the extent of the atrocities committed.” –d.a.l.i.a_no_h

“We did learn. The problem is the lack of identity work interconnected when it comes to learning these sensitive topics. It became “read chapter 3.2 and listen to me talk for an hour about my slides” instead of orchestrating productive and sensitive conversations.” –infinitelove0124

“Very young.. in school. But unlike my children, I didn’t grow up in the US. I was baffled to see what version they were tought, repeatedly year after year. Over and over again and not even close to what happened. Happy Thanksgiving brainwashing… My husband is native American we tought our children to think critically for themselves as well as showed them different point of views.” –maggelanese

“My english teacher in high school(who is white) would make this into an entire class project. We would read about what Christopher Columbus did to the indigenous population..close to decimation and then we would each paint our hands and mark the halls, as representation of the lives lost.” –yvonnebonz

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A Wealthy Couple Cheated Indigenous Peoples In Canada Out Of COVID Vaccines

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A Wealthy Couple Cheated Indigenous Peoples In Canada Out Of COVID Vaccines

Cases of COVID-19 are drastically devastating Indigenous communities across the globe. In Western Canada, this truth is quite alarming particularly because of how the rates have vastly risen in these communities. In fact, according to Canada Public Health and Indigenous Services data, “The rate of reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations living on reserve is currently 40% higher than the rate in the general Canadian population.” Even more shocking, “The COVID-19 case fatality rate among First Nations living on reserve is about one-third of the case fatality rate in the general Canadian population.”

Still, despite all of this a wealthy Canadian couple had the temerity to lie about their residency and occupation. All in an attempt to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine meant for First Nation residents.

A businessman and his actress wife chartered a private plane to Beaver Creek to get vaccinated.

Rodney Baker, 55, and his wife Ekaterina Baker, 32, flew out to the community in Whitehorse last week. Whitehorse consists of approximately 100 people, most of whom belong to the White River First Nation. Upon arrival, the Bakers allegedly told members of the mobile vaccination clinic that they were employees of the local motel. Once they received their shots they flew back to Whitehorse on their private plane. 

The community became suspicious of the couple and someone eventually reported them to Yukon authorities. Investigating officers were able to track the couple down at the Whitehouse airport according to Yukon’s Minister of Community Services John Streicker.

The Bakers are now facing two charges under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.

The charges include failure to self-isolate and failure to abide by a travel declaration. Yukon, where White River First Nation is located, has had a low number of cases per capita compared to the rest of Canada. Anyone who enters the area is supposed to requires anyone entering the territory to quarantine for 14 days. 

According to VICE, “The maximum possible penalty under the act is $500 plus a $75 surcharge per charge—meaning a maximum of $1,150 each—and/or up to six months in jail.”

News of the couple’s actions has led to Rodney Baker’s resignation as CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. According to VICE, “Baker’s former position netted him $10.6 million in salary and compensation in 2019.”

In a statement about the incident, White River Chief Angela Demit said that she was “deeply concerned by the actions of individuals who put our Elders and vulnerable people at risk to jump the line for selfish purposes.” Demit went onto underline the fact that the First Nation community was selected for priority vaccination because of “its high concentration of elderly people, limited access to healthcare, and remote location.”

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer has described the Bakers’ “deception” as extremely selfish. 

“It’s the height of selfishness,” Dr. Brendan Hanley said about their behavior.

In a statement about the incident, White River First Nation said in a press release that “White River First Nation is particularly concerned with the callous nature of these actions…as they were in blatant disregard of the rules which keep our community safe during this unprecedented global pandemic.” They also called the penalties that the couple will face insufficient.

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Jorge Fernandez / Getty Images

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It may sound cliche but one Indigenous woman from the Mexican state of Oaxaca is showing just how true that sentiment really is.

Although growing up knowing how to speak her native language of Náhuatl, she was never able to read or write it – let alone Spanish. Now after years of studying and being too embarrassed to attend classes, this 78-year-old woman can say that she achieved her dream and is now an award-winning author.

Despite being illiterate for years, Justina Rojas has finally finished primary school.

Justina Rojas Flores, a resident of the Oaxacan community of San Miguel Espejo, learned to read and write at 76. She remembers that at first she was embarrassed to attend her classes, but with the support of her teachers sh was motivated to learn the alphabet and words and communication.

In fact, she became so motivated that she’s recently authored a handmade book that earned her a national award. She recently told El Sol de Puebla, that “I was already cracking under pressure because I was cheating a lot, but the teachers told me ‘yes you can, Justina’, so I continued taking classes and it was thanks to them that I learned. After two years, I wrote La Mazorca, which is dedicated to the community of San Miguel Espejo.”

In her Indigenous language of Náhuatl, Rojas shared the history of La Mazorca, which emphasizes the value of appreciating all things – especially that which the land gives us.

“I beg you, if you see me lying on the ground, pick me up, don’t step on me. Just as you take care of me, I will take care of you,” is part of the story in the book that was awarded in 2019 by the State Institute for Adult Education (IEEA), an achievement with which Rojas feels accomplished, and with which motivates other people to enter the competition.

Rojas is proving that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Now, at 78-years-old, Rojas is able to celebrate her achievements. Though she admits that many in her community continue to doubt her real motivation. It’s common to hear people ask ‘Why do I learn if I’m old?’, ‘What use is it going to do?’, and ‘I’m on my way out so it doesn’t matter.’

But many of the people who ask these questions are the same people who don’t have the same opportunities, since they can’t read or write. According to figures from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in Rojas’ community, there are around 2,267 inhabitants, and the majority are living in poverty, a factor that significantly influences educational access. Many, from a very young age, leave school to work to support their families and take jobs working in the fields or construction.

Finally, Rojas wants everyone to know that they should not limit themselves and to embrace knowledge regardless of age. “If you don’t know how to read and write, or if you know someone like that, I invite you to go where they teach, so that those who know more can share their knowledge with us.”

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