A Lecture on the History of Native Americans at SCPKU

On November 22, Dr. Delphine Red Shirt lectured on “The History of Native Americans” at the Stanford Center at Peking University.

The lecture started with George Sword and described the “colonizing process” from a free life to one of constant negotiation with the federal government and the pressures on the Native Americans to give up their way of life, but most importantly their land.  She also talked about his wife who still despite pressure to "colonize", in the photograph maintained her long hair (in two long neat braids) and traditional attitude in the way she dressed.  This is important because women are the "culture keepers" who often teach language to children and maintain the traditional ways.

The photographs included “Chief” Red Shirt, her ancestor whom her grandfather is descended from.  A leader for Chief Red Cloud, he was often recognized as a "chief" by the federal government but in reality he was a military/police officer who served at the right hand of one of our greatest chiefs.   Her maternal grandfather, Standing Buffalo, whom Kevin Costner in his film, "Dances with Wolves" depicted our culture with great reverence.  In the museum Costner established in Deadwood, South Dakota (in the heart of our homelands, the Black Hills), Costner displayed Standing Buffalo in the entry way.  Standing Buffalo is the "Kaka (children's word for grandfather)" in her first book, Bead on an Anthill:  A Lakota Childhood" which was also translated and available in Mandarin.  Her second book, Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter is about Standing Buffalo's daughter, her mother; the second book is also translated into Mandarin.

The photographs ended with the Wounded Knee massacre (often called a "battle" in American History) showing the killing site, the loading of the bodies, and the mass grave that was dug for the over 146 men, women, and children killed by the 7th Cavalry.  In history, our people, the Lakota had defeated this same cavalry at what is called "The Battle of the Little Big Horn" or "Custer's Last Stand".

The talk ended with the early 1970 "Occupation of Wounded Knee" by the American Indian Movement (AIM).  The two events reflect:  one a "killing of a dream" as Black Elk, one of our spiritual leaders who witnessed the aftermath called the massacre.  And the occupation of young Native Americans in February of 1973 when they symbolically took a stand against oppression.  A map showing the Occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco during the 1960's.  The beginning of an era that coincided with the American Civil Rights era.  The last events reflected the fact that we are still here.

One question by the non-Chinese student from Minnesota had to do with renaming parks in Minneapolis to reflect the Native Americans who still live in the city.  Another had to do with voting rights for Native Americans in the U.S.  The answers to both questions affirmed the "renaming" as Stanford this fall (2018) decided, with insistence from Native American students, that Juniper Serra be renamed on campus (road could not be as it is a county road) but the Serra Mall will be renamed to Jane Stanford Mall.  With regard to voting rights, in her home state of South Dakota the voters are very young.  The majority of the population on the Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota is close to the age of 18.  These young voters have elected the youngest (2nd youngest) tribal president at Pine Ridge (age 31).  They have also elected two state representatives in South Dakota.  Nationally we have two women representatives going to the House of Representatives this year (Democrats).