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Letter

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

This line was famously in the 1967 movie "Cool Hand Luke" starring Paul Newman. This seems to apply with most activities that white Americans do directly related to Indigenous people, past and present.

For example, nonnative anthropologists and archaeologists base their careers on the Indigenous people, but many times do not talk with these same people directly in their work.

I was involved in an archaeological project in 1989 in North Dakota related to a construction project. The indigenous people were mining Knife River flint and using the holes to store meat 11,000 years ago. There was not a Native American to be found in any part of the process. I asked a co-worker why there shouldn’t be a representative from the nearby Fort Berthold Reservation and he said, “they would not be interested.” I knew intuitively that no one asked.

On Saturday morning I listened to Michael and David on the live Native Opinion podcast ask why a panel discussing the abolishment of Columbus Day did not have Indigenous representation. It is a reoccurring theme on their show every Saturday. It is a failure to communicate. We need to start.

Erwin Curry,

Missoula

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