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Author Waubgeshig Rice, interviewed by PBS NewsHour Extra.

October 14, 2020

How Do Indigenous Peoples Calls for Justice Share Ground with Black Americans?

Do you think the concerns of Indigenous people and equal treatment by the justice system around the world are similar to that of Black Americans? Why or why not?


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This year, U.S. protests over police brutality and violence against Black Americans have led to a prominent national conversation on racism. Indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia and New Zealand have leveraged the momentum both to show solidarity and to bring attention to histories of unequal treatment and genocide in their own countries. Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. For a transcript of the video, click here

  • In the United States, some organizations and local governments have rebranded the federal holiday of Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, in part as an acknowledgment of the brutal treatment of Indigenous Peoples by Christopher Columbus.
  • Protests in the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death were most directly about policing and justice in the United States. However, activists in many part of the world took up a message of solidarity against injustice and unequal treatment by the state, including many Indigenous peoples.
  • In many countries such as Canada and Australia, Indigenous people, like Black Americans, are disproportionately jailed and killed by police.

Discussion: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who was inspired by protests surrounding George Floyd’s killing by police?
  • What were some of the protests about in other countries after George Floyd’s death?
  • When and where have these protests taken place?
  • Why have many local US governments and organizations recast Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day?
  • How are equal rights movements for Indigenous people similar to movements such as Black Lives Matter? How are they different?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus questions

  1. Why do you think the protests starting this spring after the police killing of George Floyd spread around the world?
  2. Do you think the concerns of Indigenous people and equal treatment by the justice system around the world are similar to that of Black Americans? Why or why not?

Media literacy: The title for this news story is, “Indigenous peoples echo Black Lives Matter’s call for justice.”

  • What do you think the phrasing of the title suggests about the origin of Indigenous people’s protest movements?
  • How do you think an organizer of Indigenous protest would have written the headline?

Dig Deeper:

  1. Have students read this article from Indian Country Today about a protest staged on October 12, 2020 (Indigenous Peoples Day). Then ask them: How does this protest seem similar to Black Lives Matter protests you’ve read about? How does it seem different?
  2. Interested in learning more about Indigenous perspectives and the fight for recognition and rights? Check out this lesson plan on the Wampanoag people and their fight for rights even as their ancestors are celebrated each Thanksgiving. You can also check out a Pear Deck slide version of the lesson here.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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