Reflect: Key People, Connections and Discussion Questions

This page is about reflection. You’ll find a list of some of the key people and organizations relevant to this section. You’ll also find a section called intersectionality to encourage thinking about how different issues are connected, and discussion questions to encourage deeper thinking. Take some time to answer the questions, look these people up and learn more about their stories.

The content on this site is not complete: there are countless numbers of people and so many stories — from small acts of defiance to major leadership positions — that didn’t get recorded or that don’t often make it into textbooks.

This website is meant to be grown and improved upon. We’ve included some of the heroes, but if you know people we are missing, let us know so we can include their stories too.


Key People & Groups

  • John Elk


Imagine that you live in the same place where you were born and your family has lived for generations. This is the only home you have ever known and you have been contributing to your community in ways to sustain a future.

Now imagine that someone from outside the community declares that you are now part of a larger nation under outside governance. However, despite the fact that your family and community have lived here for generations, you do not count as a whole citizen and you do not have an equal say as to what happens in your community.

Imagine this all being based on where you are from and how others perceive your skin color, language and culture.

Imagine now that some time passes and those in charge (who are still outsiders making decisions for your community) say you can be a citizen and give you a card saying you are — but you still cannot vote. The gesture of being given citizenship is not very useful because you still can’t and won’t be heard.

What does it mean for you to be a citizen but not be allowed to vote? This is intersectionality (Or intersectional theory) The study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination and positionality Your “position” in social structures based on identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc.. Even though people from different communities may be viewed as citizens, the fact that some citizens are given more access and opportunities than others (such as voting), changes life experiences for those of different groups.

Discussion Questions: 
Discuss the meaning of “sovereign nation”. Why were/are treaties necessary between the U.S. government and tribal nations?
What are some similarities between the experiences American Indians and other communities? What are some differences?
Why do you think American Indians were forced to “assimilate” to white mainstream American life in order to be able to vote?
Why do you think American Indians wanted to be recognized as a sovereign nation, rather than part of the United States? Can you think of any other groups that might have felt or still feel a similar separation from United States identity?