|January 24, 2013
Dr. George Price draws parallels between cultures
By Lailani Upham
Dr. George Price spoke on perspective of race concept and displayed a photo he took of a cliff rock near Lolo Pass. “There are many places throughout the earth that hold colors of humanity in them,” Price explained to a group of nearly 100 during the Martin Luther King, Jr. week-long celebration at SKC. (Lailani Upham photo)
PABLO — Dr. George Price, University of Montana Native American Studies and History and African American Studies Professor, held an audience of over 60 people captivated on the topic of African American and Native people relationship in the history of U.S.
Price was the featured speaker for the Martin Luther King, Jr. week-long celebration at Salish Kootenai College.
The MLK, Jr. celebration has been ongoing for almost two decades.
Dr. Price has been teaching in Montana for just as long.
Price and his family has lived on the Flathead Reservation since 1985. He taught ten years at Two Eagle River School and three years at SKC; and has been teaching at the University of Montana for the past 14 years.
Price’s lecture covered a multitude of historical facts from the African American culture and Native cultures.
According to Price, there are some truths in history that are not told and many times responses to truths are not easily received – to say the least.
“Some never heard the truths of American history and say, ‘It can’t be true.’”
Price says he tells it like it is – and many of the time it can hurt a few feelings.
He touched a little on how Native peoples were slaves just as African Americans were slaves in the early formation of the U.S.
He explained how women and even warriors were captured to become slaves in the 1600’s.
In the late 1600’s through the 1770’s the Muskogee Indians had an under ground railroad that is not lectured through the schools across the U.S.
Kicking Horse Drum, a group of many tribes from the Kicking Horse Job Corps, imparts an honor song for Dr. Price before the lecture. (L to R drummers): Jeremy Eastman, Crow Tribe (red coat); Deangelo Sparrow, African American; Aarick Lameman, Navajo; Kyle After Buffalo, Blackfeet; and Luis Martin Del Campo, Latin Spanish. (L to R backup singers) Amerald Tsosie, Natalie Clark, Shebelynn Tate, Alyssa Two Eagle. (Lailani Upham photo)
History books provide a clear understanding of the Underground Railroad system used to smuggle African Americans slaves out of the south to the north – but not common knowledge is the fact that Indian tribes had done the same, he said.
Price also pointed out we all come from the earth and have shades of skin color that originate from the shades in certain rocks.
“There are many places throughout the earth where the colors of humanity are in them.”
Indigenous stories tell of the human existence coming from dirt, rock and sand that are also not taught in the schools, he explained.
Price asked if our genetics make up our identity. He displayed a table of labels people put on themselves in mixed culture and tends to categorize their own identity.
One either identifies with the African American side or the Native side or neither or both, he explained.
In relation to the history of both Native and African American, Price indicated the atrocities of both cultures reached the heart of Dr. King through a quote he read from Dr. King’s book, “Where Do We Go From Here?” The book was published shortly before King’s death, “In dealing with the ambivalence of white America, we must not overlook another form of racism that was relentlessly pursued on American shores: the physical extermination of the American Indian. The South American example of absorbing the indigenous Indian population was ignored in the United States, and systematic destruction of a whole people was undertaken. The common phrase, ‘The only good Indian is a dead Indian,’ was virtually elevated to national policy. Thus the poisoning of the American mind was accomplished not only by acts of discrimination and exploitation but also by the exaltation of murder as an expression of the courage and initiative of the pioneer. Just as Southern culture was made to appear noble by ignoring the cruelty of slavery, the conquest of the Indian was depicted as an example of bravery and progress.”
Price expressed standing up for justice in regards to the Idle No More movement, “You do it because it’s right. When people are in need – you respond.”