First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. For November, I thought I’d do something a little different and choose first lines from books featuring indigenous people. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. I hope you find something that you’ll want to read.
The crisp autumn air provided the oxygen, the old wooden house provided the full, and an extension cord, run over by a vacuum cleaner earlier in the day, provided the spark.
This is how the Old People tie a knot: first, they did a hole. To keep the knot from slipping or breaking, the hole should be dug in darkness just after the first big flood of the many month when the clouds are thick and the mud is thick and the night is dark enough for digging.
There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.
If you liked those first lines, you’ll put a gigantic smile on my face if you like these lines enough to buy a book:
The giant bronze angel of death loomed over Miranda Clarke’s shoulder.
My Soul to Keep, Book One in the Fellowship Dystopia series by Lynette M. Burrows
One word and Ian Hobart’s world teetered into not safe.
Fellowship, a Fellowship Dystopia companion novel, by Lynette M. Burrows
Do You Want to Read More?
Did you enjoy this list from books about Indigenous people? Check out previous First Line Fridays
Equality. As one of America’s founding principles, it seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? In definition, it is simple. It is the state or quality of being alike in value. It should also be simple in practice. But often we humans don’t agree on what alike or what value is. For example, there is a national news uproar going on right now about the disappearance and murder of a white woman. And there should be. But she isn’t the only missing and murdered. Where is your outrage for the missing and murdered Native Americans? Do you even know about those women and children?
Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them an even chance to live and grow.
Indigenous Women (girls +) murdered 10x higher than all other ethnicities.
Murder is the 3rd leading cause of death for Indigenous Women (Centers for Disease Control).
More than 4 out of 5 Indigenous Women have experienced violence (84.3%).
56.1% of indigenous women experience sexual violence.
55.5% of indigenous women are physically abused by their intimate partners.
Indigenous Women are 1.7 times more likely than Anglo-American women to experience violence.
Indigenous Women are 2 times more likely to be raped than Anglo-American white women.
Murder rate of Indigenous Women is 3 times higher than Anglo-American women.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous peoples crisis is centuries in the making and will take a focused effort and time to unravel the many threads that contribute to the alarming rates of these cases. But I believe we are at an inflection point. We have a President and a government that is prioritizing this. And we can’t turn back.
Secretary Deb Haaland
The MMIW Movement
MMIW stands for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. The movement traces its roots back to Canada in 2010. That was the year Jaime Black started the REDress project to represent indigenous women and girls that were missing.
The movement works to raise awareness of the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls.
It stands for all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard. It stands for the silence of the media and law enforcement in the midst of this crisis. It stands for the oppression and subjugation of Native women who are now rising up to say #NoMoreStolenSisters.
In 2013, the U.S. reauthorized Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA). That act gave tribes jurisdiction. For the very first time, tribes could investigate and prosecute felony domestic violence offenses involving Native American offenders on reservations, as well as offenders of other races.
Look at how long those women were missing. Few of the reports mention they arrested the murderer. And notice how much time and space they devoted to each woman’s individual story.
No Accuracy in the Count of MMIW
There can be no accurate record of past murdered and missing indigenous women and girls in either Canada or the United States. Often the crimes aren’t reported by the families, authorities under report the crimes, or the victims are not identified as indigenous.
No More Stolen Sisters
The founders of Native Womens Wilderness and Indigenous Women Hike came together, and Native artists created this beautiful image to honor our woman and support the campaign. #MMIW is very close to our hearts, through personal experiences and love for our People. Red is the official color of the #MMIW campaign, but it goes deep and has significant value. In various tribes, red is known to be the only color spirits see. It is hoped that by wearing red, we can call back the missing spirits of our women and children so we can lay them to rest. Through our amazing artist @the_tactician and editor @warpartypictures, we chose a turquoise teardrop earring to represent our sorrow and tears. Turquoise is worn for protection by many tribes to ward off evil spirits, but it’s also a symbol of strength and prosperity. May our women and children prosper and be kept safe.
The statistics are staggering. They hurt me deep inside. They hurt because the numbers are only a tiny portion of the story. People are the story. Women and children taken from their families. Many of those families do not know what happened to their sisters, daughters, wives, mothers.
Though I have grieved these past six months for my husband, I cannot imagine the grief and pain the loved ones of these people must be feeling. How dare we? How dare we brush this under the carpet, ignore it? What if it was your sister, daughter, mother, aunt, wife?
Why doesn’t the news and social media report on the MMIV instead of reporting ridiculous COVID conspiracy theories and inaccurate science reports? Instead of misplaced outrage that spread disease, we might actually find some of the missing, convict the criminals who abuse and murder indigenous people. Where is your outrage for the missing and murdered indigenous women and children? Speak up for those without a voice.
We’re coming up on Indigenous Peoples Day here in the States. It’s a day to honor the people who were in America long before Columbus crossed the ocean. But did you learn about these people in school? Or did you learn what you know on cowboy shows? The shows that told you about the Souix and the Apache omitted many more tribes. How many indigenous people do you think America has today?
How Many Indigenous People?
There are over five million Native Americans in the United States today. (1.6% of the total population) Approximately 78% of Native Americans live outside reservations.
But federally recognized tribes do not include all Native Americans.
We often use the terms Native American, American Indian, and Indigenous American synonymously. Yet, there are federal definitions that are inclusive and exclusive.
In the 2010 census the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) used this definition: “American Indian or Alaska Native” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. The American Indian and Alaska Native population includes people who marked the “American Indian or Alaska Native” checkbox or reported entries such as Navajo, Blackfeet, Inupiat, Yup’ik, or Central American Indian groups or South American Indian groups.
That definition excludes Hawaiian Natives, Samoans, and Chamorros. It also excludes some Alaskan natives. And it excludes any native not federally recognized.
The Federally Recognized Native Americans
According to the BIA a federally recognized tribe is an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that is recognized as having a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The government assigns federally recognized tribes as possessing certain inherent rights of self-government (i.e., tribal sovereignty) and may receive certain federal benefits, services, and protections because of their special relationship with the United States. https://www.bia.gov/frequently-asked-questions
The process for becoming a federally recognized tribe is long, tedious, and expensive. They must submit detailed petitions to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Office of Federal Acknowledgment. The process commonly takes a decade or more. “The Shinnecock Indian Nation formally petitioned for recognition in 1978 and was recognized 32 years later, in 2010.”
Termination of Recognition
And still we may not have an accurate count of Native Americans.
Between 1953 and 1964, the government terminated recognition of more than 100 tribes and bands as sovereign dependent nations. These actions affected more than 12,000 Native Americans or 3% of the total Native American population. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_termination_policy#:~:text=Between%201953%20and%201964%2C%20the,the%20total%20Native%20American%20population.
The number of not-yet-recognized tribes and bands is unknown. As mentioned earlier, it does not include Hawaiian natives and some Alaskans. Nor are natives of territories of the United States included.
A Brief History
The Second Continental Congress created a trio of Indian-related agencies in 1775. They appointed commissioners, including Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry, to negotiate treaties with Native Americans. The treaties detailed Native American neutrality during the American Revolutionary War.
The U.S. Congress placed agencies created to handle Indian-related issues under the War Department for a while. The duty of the Office of Indian Trade (1806–1822) was to maintain the fur trade. When the fur trade “factory” ended, so did the Office of Indian Trade.
Secretary of War John C. Calhoun formed the Bureau of Indian Affairs on March 11, 1824. He created the agency as a division within his department, without authorization from Congress.
Today the BIA an agency of the Department of Interior. After abuses and mismanagement within the agency, many Native Americans developed a deep distrust of the BIA. The agency’s role today is to move away from the supervisory role of its past to a more advisory role. Learn more about the BIA.
The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 applies to the Indian tribes of the United States and makes many but not all the guarantees of the Bill of Rights applicable within the federally recognized tribes.
Know Your Country’s History
First, it’s important to know our country’s history. The history of how our government treated Native Americans is appalling. And that isn’t referring only to the Trail of Tears.
From the Indian Removal Act to states forcibly taking children from their parents and living conditions on the reservations, to inadequate water supplies and medical care during the pandemic our Native Americans have been poorly treated by our government—by us.
As a human being, it’s your duty to try to understand your fellow humans. Learn about other people, their culture, and their history. Don’t pigeonhole a people or culture. Doing so diminishes you far more than it does them.
Grow your capacity for understanding, compassion and empathy. A deeper understanding of at least one culture that is not your own is useful when you encounter unfamiliar cultures. Cultural differences won’t frighten or threaten you. Perhaps you’ll be tolerant. Hopefully, a new understanding will inspire you to make a difference.
Learning about the history of native Americans (or other cultures) is also useful for science fiction authors to understand the clash of cultures and the struggles of one culture being assimilated into another. Using patterns from history, from other cultures, can illustrate a fiction story that is an argument against the mistreatment of one another.
How Many Indigenous People?
It isn’t as simple of a question as it seems. To get at the answer, one must try to understand how the government sees Native Americans. And that is far more complex than this post can cover.
When this post asked, how many indigenous people do you think America has, did you know the answer? Were you surprised by the answer?