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287 CHAPTER 19 Global Indigeneity, Global Imperialism, and Its Relationship to Twentieth-Century U.S. History CHRIS ANDERSEN Undertaking a chapter on global indigeneity can be paralyzing. Thousands of indigenous peoples are spread over large parts of the globe and live in a massive diversity of everyday life as distinct from each other as colonizers are to one another. All of this makes for difficult decisions about who to include, who to leave out, what aspects to emphasize and which to skim over. This is a task complicated further still by the specific context within which I am being asked to describe it: broadly, how may we demonstrate the importance of American Indian history to the teaching of American history and, more specifically to this chapter, how can global indigeneity help us understand the relationship between U.S.-based indigeneity and American history? Perhaps we can begin with some basic facts to tie the two contexts together . According to the most recent census, the American Indian population of the United States is about 5.2 million, split into about 500 federally recognized tribes, as well as more than 200 unrecognized ones. This single population estimate thus hides the multitude of indigenous languages and peoples whose territories have subsequently come to be claimed by the United States. In many ways, the diversity of indigenous peoples in the United States is mirrored by a global diversity. Though general, current estimates peg the global indigenous population at roughly 370 million people.1 More important, this population is comprised of about 5,000 indigenous groups, each with its own language(s), belief systems, and relationship to land, territory, and each other. Despite this massive diversity, however, it turns out that there is much that indigenous peoples continue to hold in common, that binds them together but also that differentiates them from what academics are increasingly referring to as “settlers” and “settler societies.” As such, American history and global history can inform each other in important ways. Although U.S. history can and often is taught without 288 CHRIS ANDERSEN reference to its place in larger global events and structures, a good deal can be learned from both, because the history of America—especially in the twentieth century and especially with the rise of American consumer society in the post–World War II period—is also the history of global imperialism, in which the United States has played an important role. In addition to the United States’ own territorial acquisitions (Hawai’i, Spanish colonies, American Samoa, etc.), American history is, over the past century and more, also the history of the concentration of capital and the domination of certain parts of the world by others, of a wholesale transformation in the organization of capital, of the rise of global economic “integration,” of the boom and bust of national and global economies, and of the idea that perpetual economic growth constitutes a valid cultural and economic pursuit.2 For good and ill, each and all of these have touched the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples not just within the United States itself but around the globe. The point of this chapter is thus that in any discussion of U.S. history, students can fruitfully be encouraged to ask questions about the broad structuring of an increasingly powerful American foreign policy that has, in ways direct and indirect, enhanced the ability of its growing legion of international corporations to engage in resource-extraction industries in countries and territories around the globe. Indeed, far from appearing out of nowhere, the global tendencies thumbtacked in the previous paragraph represent the broad sweep of American foreign policies geared toward feeding an increasingly voracious consumer society at home, as well as producing goods for growing consumer societies abroad (particularly in western Europe and the Pacific). Thus, U.S. history is also always global to the extent that the lifestyles its citizens lead/are able to lead—not just materially but spiritually as well—are profoundly anchored in and shaped by the growing consumptive “culture of extraction” that required access to the raw materials and consumer items its citizens used to help realize “the American Dream.” Consumption thus offers a key lens through which we can understand and connect American history to global history primarily because, in the last century, American history is the history of consumption . And the history of consumption is the history of global colonialism. Of course, although consumer items seem to appear out of nowhere in our...


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