”When Columbus got off the boat he asked us who we were. We said we’re the human beings, we’re the people. Conceptually the Europeans didn’t understand that, it was beyond their conceptual reality. They didn’t see us. They couldn’t see who we were. Historically speaking, we went from being Indians to pagans to savages to hostiles to militants to activists to Native Americans.
Now its five hundred years later & they still can’t see us. We are still invisible. They don’t see us as human beings, (their answers are always interrupting and fragmented, individualized denials) but we’ve been saying to them all along that’s what we are [that’s who we are], We are invisible to them because we are still the human beings. We’re still the People, but they never call us that. They taught us to call ourselves Indians. Now they’re teaching us how to call ourselves Native Americans. Its not who we are. We’re the People. They can’t see us as human beings. But they can’t see themselves as human beings. The invisibility is at every level, its not just that we’re tucked away out of sight. We’re the evidence of the crime. They can’t deal with the reality of who we are because then they have to deal with what they have done. If they deal with the reality of who we are, they have to deal with the reality of who they aren’t. So they have to fear us, not recognize us, not like us. The very fact of calling us ‘Indians’ creates a new identity for us, an identity that began with their arrival. Changing identity, creating a new perceptual reality, is another form of genocide. It’s like severing a spiritual umbilical cord that reaches into the ancestral past. The history of the Indians begins with the arrival of the Europeans. The history of the People begins with the beginning of the history of the People. The history of the People is one of cooperation, collectivity, and living in balance. The history of the Indians is one of genocide, rather that a history of peace and balance. The history of the People under attack, the Indians, in an evolutionary context is not very long; it’s only five hundred years. The objective of civilizing us is to make Indian history become our permanent reality. The necessary objective of Native people is to outlast this attack, however long it takes, to keep our identity alive.”