Indigenous people in North America were persecuted for a long time. Many pushed onto remote reservations where federal law enforcers tried to make sure they did not pose a threat to the United States.
The survivors were then portrayed various ways.
They could be 'the Native who is close to Nature', or 'the rebel Native whose ancestors were great warriors', or whatever.
What they couldn't be, in the U.S., is 'the Native who does not cooperate with the melting pot'.
That last group was never glorified, they have always been investigated, watchlisted, sometimes jailed or killed by the melting pot.
Assimilation, the consuming of one culture and people by another, is a complex process with stages.
The current stage of assimilation of Native Americans, one of the last steps in their ongoing path to destruction, is the 'let's work together' stage.
The dominant culture, the U.S., has money, jobs, power. All a Native has to do for melting pot success is choose it. If a Native wants a good job, respect, a little power, it's there for the taking.
For the vast majority of North America's indigenous people this is a new thing. Many of their grandparents were abused, forced to learn English, forced to follow a made up religion.
Now the government is starting to beat a path to their door, in the name of friendly 'inclusiveness'.
The only catch is that those who take the payoff are helping finish off their own tribes to strengthen the colonizer melting pot.
On the other hand, there has also never been a time since the colonial period when Natives had a fair shot at sovereignty, til now. Their grandparents had the notion beaten out of them. Those that tried to encourage it soon found out that there is a vast federal infrastructure built around finishing the assimilation process.
The process isn't brutal today only because brutality isn't seen as necessary.
But if Natives were to make a play for genuine sovereignty today, and the melting pot leaders saw it as having a chance of success, the U.S. would make Chinese treatment of the Tibetans and Uighers look like a Christmas party. There would be sophisticated mass 'education' efforts, strict police controls not seen in any country so far, and much more, all built around a 'terrorism' context.
Today there is the internet, which has changed everything. The government still has strategists devising ways to finish the assimilation process, but they step gingerly because of the internet. Natives are still the number one domestic security issue in the United States, but 'the Native issue' is handled much more quietly than other potential sources of domestic unrest.
Native Americans who have studied history adequately, and who are up to speed on current events, should be watching U.S. domestic policy carefully. There are many indications the U.S. is being quietly walked into a reactive security position that parallels the decay of the Soviet Union in the early 20th century.
If this continues developing, and it probably will, eventually outside forces will try to empower indigenous interests, as was done in Russia / the Soviet Union in the 20th century, but the reaction by the U.S. will be much more severe because there is no ancestral retreat to which U.S. citizens can escape.
Most likely this would happen within some broader 'national security' context and not specifically as a conflict pitting Natives against non Natives. In other words many 'Natives' will be cleverly co opted to work against their own people.
Many Natives in the past, during draft periods of war, were given the option of military service or the penitentiary. The military has always been the first easy step in coaxing a victim to join the conquering party. The U.S. military has tried to incorporate Native themes into weaponry, campaigns, etc.
An example here, though graphic and might offend some. Popular Native themes like 'Apache' and 'Crazy Horse' are used to portray the crime as having some support from Native societies.
If you Google 'Native American Astronaut', John Herrington is the main result.
He has a successful career and went to the space station, but for the purposes of this website, which tries to encourage sovereignty, not assimilation, he doesn't really pass the 'real Native' test. He is a career navy officer, so he has probably taken various oaths to support the U.S. government, and he serves as a role model for Natives to leave loyalty to tribe and instead pledge loyalty to the U.S.
Plus, he appears to be white.
There is nothing wrong with white. If the website was about white sovereignty or white astronauts he would be near the top because he seems like a decent fellow.
Another prominent result on Google is Mary G Ross.
She was one of the first female engineers and involved in some pioneering work.
She kind of looks white too, but Wikipedia says she is the grand daughter of a great Cherokee chief.
Uhm, her granddad may have been a Cherokee chief, but he looks mighty white too.
It kind of looks like the government was scraping through their records looking for somebody to honor for a coin called "American Indians in the Space Program".
They couldn't find any real Native Americans, people who had not surrendered fully to the melting pot, but they made the coin anyway. It has a cool name, better than making a coin called "Native Americans who were abducted and sent to boarding schools" or "Native Americans deliberately sterilized".
Are there any real Natives, with mostly Native ancestry, who were raised somewhat outside the melting pot, who are involved in the space program in any way?
Alice Qannick Glenn is one of the few, or only, Natives easily findable online so far who is both clearly a Native from a traditional area and involved in space research, and may still have both feet in her culture.
Ms Glenn appears to be actually fully Native born and bred, and raised in an area that was somewhat protected from the colonial conquering that has shredded a lot of other cultures.
Hopefully Ms Glenn will look at the histories of assimilated groups and make sure that she is not used as a prop to lure young Inuit people into the melting pot.
The Inuit are probably the most complete surviving indigenous culture in the United States, one of the very few indigenous groups that has not been demoralized to the point of apathy based assimilation.
They have partially fallen victim to fictions like Christianity, but there are still some who follow their natural spirituality to some extent.
Whether they can help revive indigenous sovereignty for other tribes and put indigenous cultures on a survivable path is anybody's guess.
Aaron Yazzie is a Navajo Indian who has designed parts used in space exploration. He is fully Native and speaks Navajo.
The Navajo people have done better than most indigenous tribes but it has always been with the clear understanding that they can be sovereign only up to a point. Mr Yazzie is fully vested in the melting pot, and obviously he has no choice if he wants to work for the government.
The Navajo were never protected by glaciers and frozen seas. Their survival came only from pretending to surrender.
If Mr Yazzie were to use his position to agitate for real Native sovereignty he would lose his job and federal agencies would give him grief.
"To be recognized for #Native outreach by @NASAJPL feels validating."
The Navajo are one of the most successful surviving indigenous North American tribes. They have by far the most native speakers of any North American Native language.
The only North American tribe with more members is the Cherokee, but the Cherokee were crushed more aggressively and consequently their language has very few fluent speakers left.
The Navajo also have a lot of people who are knowledgeable about their original spirituality, but Christianity has taken a toll.
Arctic Natives are probably the most successful explorers in history.
While other races were traveling small distances over easy terrain there were northern people traveling hundreds of miles across ice and cold ocean.
Even today all American Natives are known for having less hesitation to take risks than others. In any Native area, from Barrow Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Chile, it's easy to find a lot of Native individuals who wander far in the wilderness alone and are unusually casual and successful at working alone or in small groups, even if they have been decimated by outsiders in the past.
Along with Polynesians, northern Natives are probably one of the two best 'explorer' groups, people who still have strange remnants in their DNA that guide them in new territory.
Australian Aborigines also have some unusual skills that other groups do not have, including some fascinating skills that are part of their 'dreamtime' state. Many people consider those abilities to be fictional, but in fact there have been western individuals who have verified some of the most unusual abilities involving the 'dreamtime' state.
There are very few Australian Aborigines in North America so they are left out for the moment.
Indigenous people in the United States have been culturally decimated for generations.
But in many nearby areas Natives faced fewer problems in recent history.
Laplanders, the Sami people, inhabited Norway about 11,000 years ago.
Despite the Sami people supposedly coming from the opposite direction of Alaska Natives there are many strange prehistoric similarities between the two peoples.
There is some debate among scholars over the origin of the Sami people.
"The Sami, (also commonly spelled Sámi, Saami, or Same) are the Indigenous People of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Kola Peninsula. They call their ancestral land—where they have lived for thousands of years—Sápmi. Today there are about 80,000 Sami living in Sápmi and there are also at least 30,000 descendants of immigrants from those countries in North America who have some Sami ancestry."
Thousands of years before anybody in the world had guns, people in Alaska, Japan, Korea and Norway were hunting whales.
Europeans started hunting whales several thousand years after arctic indigenous people.
Young Natives Americans today are in a difficult position.
In order to have a good chance of success they usually have to blend in and wander around the same melting pot that slaughtered their ancestors. Their reservations and tribal lands are under the thumb of the melting pot and there is no easy place for them to regroup yet.
There have been a mass of new fictions pushed at them. They typically are educated in 'U.S. history' with the implication being that they are now part of the U.S. by default. The government has gone to great lengths to lure them into quitting their independence, joining the melting pot.
Will Natives be successful in restoring their independence and sovereignty?
The North Slope of Alaska seems far removed from the rest of Alaska.
Isolation prevented some of the early colonization efforts, and by the time the area was colonizeable some of the local population had gotten wise and weren't easy prey.
At one point a scheme was devised by the U.S. government to detonate a bunch of nuclear bombs on Alaska's north slope.
The purpose, of course, was to show the Natives who was 'boss'.
The scheme involved pretending to create a port by detonating a series of nuclear bombs going inland. Obviously there was no commercial reason to build a port like that in far north remote Alaska, but an elaborate effort was made by 'scientists' to create an excuse for doing it.
It's possible the radiation was meant for some sort of medical experiment, doctors like Eugene Saenger did radiation experiments in that time period on black people for the Department of Defense. It's also possible the radiation was meant to sterilize Natives, or give them health problems that would make them more docile.
"A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office finds that 4 of the 12 Indian Health Service regions sterilized 3,406 American Indian women without their permission between 1973 and 1976."
Today the North Slope is wealthy with oil. They have cautiously renamed Barrow with an older Inupiaq word Utqiagvik.
The United States has been furiously extracting oil from Native areas and more than half of the recoverable oil in the North Slope area has already been removed by oil companies.
Almost all of the profit has gone to the government, the oil companies and their shareholders, and other investors, but enough has been given to local Natives to keep them from questioning the status quo. The Prudhoe Bay oil field has already been more than 50% drained and by the time any Natives get around to wondering what happened it will be empty.
Alice Qannik Glenn is a Native from far north.
It seems likely that Ms Glenn may be a significant player eventually in either restoring indigenous sciences /or/ finishing the assimilation of Natives societies to the melting pot.
In a newspaper interview, Ms Glenn says
"There is Native programming on the radio and on TV and that kind of thing, but I just felt like it's all old. It's all 80s, 90s style, very feel good, very don't shake things up, don't ask the wrong questions. I think there has been some romanticizing of our culture too, in that sense, in that you can't question things anymore."
Natives who are neither fully assimilated nor fully independent seem to have one of two paths.
1) Those who are most comfortable and content in western society feel that they know something their ancestors did not know, and they will often go out on a limb to use that. This leads them to success in the melting pot.
2) Those disaffected, the uncomfortable, malcontent etc, feel that their ancestors knew something they did not know, and they will often go out on a limb to invest in that. This leads them to troubles in the melting pot.
It remains to be seen whether Ms Glenn will be co opted by the U.S. and used as a tool to finish the process of assimilating Natives in the U.S., or if she will use her position as part of a cutting edge to restore sovereignty to her people.