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April 17, 2023

The 1972 Occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs

While voters were casting their ballots in the 1972 presidential election, Native demonstrators had taken over the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, DC, barricading themselves in with office furniture and preparing to fight with makeshift weapons. The occupation marked the finale of a cross-country caravan, the Trail of Broken Treaties, and the activists were demanding the consideration of their Twenty-Point Position Paper, which called for a restoration of Indigenous rights and recognition of Native American sovereignty.

Joining me to help us understand the 1972 occupation and to discuss the larger story of native presence and activism in DC is Dr. Elizabeth Rule, author of Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation's Capital and Founder of the Guide to Indigenous Lands Project.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is Hank Adams, in the fall of 1972, addressing the mission of the cross-country trip to Washington, D.C., from the Hank Adams Collection that was donated to the Washington Secretary of State and is included in: “Hank Adams: “An Uncommon Life.”


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Kelly Therese Pollock  0:00  
This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too.

On this week's episode, we're discussing the 1972 occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. From the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s, the United States government established a number of new laws and policies designed to quickly assimilate Native Americans. The intent to assimilate was not new, of course. When Richard Henry Pratt opened the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in the late 19th century, he was known to say that the point of educating Native children in the residential school model was to, "kill the Indian in him and save the man." In the mid 20th century, though, the urgency with which the US government wanted to force assimilation meant a move to end the sovereignty of Native nations. In 1953, House Concurrent Resolution 108 immediately terminated federal recognition of a number of tribes, including all of the tribes of California, New York, Florida, and Texas. Termination included withdrawal of federal aid and to the end of reservations. Public Law 280 also passed in 1953, granted state governments, both civil and criminal jurisdiction over reservations that had previously not been under state jurisdiction. These laws were followed by the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, which encouraged Native Americans to move away from reservations and to urban areas, with promises of payment for relocation expenses, and vocational training, among other offers of benefits, not all of which actually materialized. The relocation program was successful in moving Native Americans into urban locations, as an estimated 750,000 Native Americans moved to cities between the 1950s and the 1980s. Many who moved faced racial discrimination, and were provided few economic opportunities, while experiencing social isolation, as they were separated from their communities. One unintended consequence of this policy was the creation of a pan Indian movement, as citizens of different Native nations came together in cities, and as they also gained exposure to other civil rights groups, like the Black Panthers. In the summer of 1968, a group of Native American activists called together a meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to discuss the issues facing their community. And from that meeting, the American Indian Movement was born, one of several groups that led the Red Power Movement. In November, 1969, a group of around 80 Native Americans, mostly college aged, and identifying themselves as Indians of all tribes, occupied Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz Federal Prison had closed in 1962, and the occupiers said that under the terms of a Sioux treaty, any federal lands that were no longer in use should be available to Native Americans. By the time police forces removed the few remaining protesters in June, 1971, the occupation had helped to inspire the Native American community. In 1972, eight Native organizations came together with the plan called the Trail of Broken Treaties, to collectively bring their grievances to the US government. Three caravans set off in early October, 1972 from the West Coast, one from Seattle, one from San Francisco, and one from Los Angeles. As they traveled the country, the caravans visited reservations, where they conducted listening sessions and ceremonies. The three caravans met up in Minneapolis, Minnesota to draft their 20 points position paper, which called for restoration of Indigenous rights, and recognition of Native American sovereignty. A fourth caravan departed from Oklahoma, and retraced the Trail of Tears on its journey to DC. The caravans arrived in Washington, DC on November 2, 1972. They had hoped to present their demands to President Nixon, but he was out of the country. Other previously scheduled meetings with officials from the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior, were suddenly canceled. The Native activists didn't know it at the time, but Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Harrison Loesch, had ordered the Bureau of Indian Affairs to not assist the visiting Native Americans, counter to the usual practice of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Even their planned accommodations didn't work out, as the basement of the church where they had intended to stay turned out to be rat infested. As tensions rose, 500 Native Americans began a sit-in at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, their numbers rising as more activists arrived in DC. When DC police came to remove the squatters, the demonstrators barricaded the doors with furniture. For the next week, the occupiers remained barricaded in the building, raising a banner that read, "Native American Embassy," and arming themselves with Molotov cocktails and weapons fashioned out of office furniture.

While in the building, the protesters combed through the Bureau records, finding what they saw as evidence of mismanagement and theft by the Bureau. On Tuesday, November 7, voters around the country reelected President Richard Nixon. The Nixon administration finally reached an agreement with the protesters, who peacefully left the Bureau of Indian Affairs building with the promise of immunity from prosecution for their actions, along with funds to return to their homes. Upon their departure, protesters left this message above the auditorium, "Gentlemen, we do not apologize for the ruin or so called destruction of this mausoleum, for in building anew, one must first destroy the old. This is the beginning of a new era for the North American Native people. When history recalls our efforts here, our descendants will stand with pride, knowing their people were the only ones responsible for the stand taken against tyranny, injustice, and gross inefficiency of this branch of a corrupt and decadent government." A task force was formed to consider the 20 points position paper, but ultimately, the demands were rejected. In February, 1973, 200 Native Americans occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. After 71 days, and the deaths of two Sioux men in shootouts with federal agents, the standoff ended with promises of Senate hearings on broken treaties, and an investigation into the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1975, Congress passed the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, which restored the recognition of tribal sovereignty. Joining me now to help us understand the 1972 occupation, and to discuss the larger story of Native presence and activism in DC, is Dr. Elizabeth Rule, author of, "Indigenous DC: Native Peoples in the Nation's Capital," and the founder of the Guide to Indigenous Lands project. Dr. Rule, thanks so much for joining me today.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  10:50  
Thanks so much for having me. Happy to be here.

Kelly Therese Pollock  10:52  
So I would love to start by asking you just a little bit about the inspiration behind both the book "Indigenous DC," but also the larger project that you've done around it with the app?

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  11:06  
Absolutely. So my new book, "Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation's Capitol," is coming out in April. And this is a book that really highlights sites of Indigenous significance all across Washington, DC. The idea really has to do with telling stories that have not previously received, you know, a proper amount of attention, and that largely are erased from our popular imaginary, right. So when we think about a place like Washington, DC, we don't always think about Native peoples. And this book exactly intervenes to showcase how Washington, DC has always been an Indigenous place historically, long before this was ever even the United States, continues to be an Indigenous place with a really vibrant, diverse, and thriving contemporary Indigenous presence here. And then also how Washington, DC will be an Indigenous place well into the future by continuing things like legacies of activism, political organizing, diplomacy, right all all again, here in Washington. And you mentioned my other project, the Guide to Indigenous DC, that is really the first inspiration or iteration of this project. And I'm happy to talk a little bit about that, too. The Guide to Indigenous DC is a free and publicly facing mobile application. So it's available on iPhone or Android platforms, and all a user would have to do is go into their app store, search Guide to Indigenous DC, and it'll be right there available for you to download. And then what the users are going to see once they download and open the app is a digital map highlighting 17 sites of Indigenous significance all across our nation's capital. And you can use this app from anywhere in the world. So if you're in DC, you can actually geo locate yourself to these places to generate directions to them. But you can also toggle on a virtual tour mode, so that you can access this content from anywhere in the world. That will then virtually walk you through each of these sites. And once you're there, you can also scroll through things like a photo gallery, and you can read the blurb and description. And also there are some links that you can click for further resources, as well as ways to get and stay connected online.

Kelly Therese Pollock  13:44  
Yeah, excellent. It made me really want to, reading your book made me really want to go back to DC, so I could get up and walk around. So I think it's really exciting that there's both the book and the app. So you mentioned that DC has always been a Native space long before there was a Washington, DC or before the United States of America. Could you talk a little bit about the the Native people of that area, who are of course still there?

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  14:14  
Right. So we have Piscataway communities that are organized as state recognized tribes in Maryland. But these communities also claim what we understand to be the Washington, DC area as part of their traditional ancestral homeland. And we also have to remember that, you know, when we're talking historically, we're talking really about centuries, right? And so there are also groups that are now headquartered primarily around the Virginia area that participated in things like the Powhatan Confederacy, who also extended their you know, trade networks and mobility up into particularly the southern part of the District of Columbia today. So you're absolutely right also to say that Washington, DC, although it doesn't have any, you know, federally recognized tribes headquartered here, is still very much the traditional ancestral homelands of Indigenous peoples who continue to engage with that space in that way. And then also, another important part of my book is focusing on the contemporary indigenous people who live here, right? And who, the majority of which come here, particularly to work with the federal government or on a national level for issues of Indigenous advocacy, right. And it's important to contextualize that and understand that contemporary diaspora as something that's also been going on for hundreds of years too. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  15:58  
Yeah, I, you know, as I started to read your book, I thought, "Well, you know, I never really thought of DC as a place with a lot of Native population or a lot of Native history." And then I realized, of course, like, I know about people like Zitkala-Sa, like, I know that this has happened, why haven't I made that connection? Do you, do you find that a lot that people are not thinking of DC as a place with a strong Indigenous community or a strong Indigenous association?

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  16:27  
Yes, absolutely. And that's one of the main reasons why I wanted to write this book, and also create this mobile application. So Washington, DC, of course, is significant for being the capital of the United States of America. And in that way, it also stands in as a representative of the country as a whole, right. And this actually goes back to my first entry in getting interested and involved with this subject. So I'm a Chickasaw person. My tribal nation is headquartered outside of the DC area. But I came here several years ago, again, like so many others, to work on issues of Indigenous importance on a national level. And one of the things that I was doing and had the pleasure of being involved with was administering a program that brought American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian students to the Capitol, in order to do internships, either on Capitol Hill or in a Native serving nonprofit organization. And they also took courses with me, right, in federal Indian law. But one of the things that that kept coming up, you know, semester after semester was that my students reported feeling either invisible, right, or uncomfortable or out of place, here in Washington. And, you know, that took shape in a couple of different ways. Of course, there's, you know, homesickness that affects many of us, right. But it was also things like being the only Indigenous person in their internship office, or, you know, walking around the streets of DC. And at that time, the Washington football team hadn't changed their name yet, right. So my, my Native youth are walking around being sort of accosted by this very racist and derogatory language about Indigenous peoples. And so what I wanted to do then was intervene in that process. Again, being an Indigenous person, myself, who lived here, I had gotten involved with community. I had naturally met people and learned about these sites of Indigenous significance all across the city, right, just by virtue of being here. You know, people would constantly say, "Hey, have you seen this site over here? Or have you learned about this place over here?" and it was all new to me, too. But my students who are coming in for just a semester at a time, didn't have that same opportunity to naturally learn through involvement with the community. And so what I wanted to do was aggregate this community information that I had been privvy to, into a resource, an educational resource, that my students first and foremost could utilize to know that when they came to Washington, they weren't by themselves. They weren't alienated. They were actually following in, you know, their ancestors' footsteps by coming to Washington, and stepping into the role of being our next generation of tribal leaders. And then from there, you know, I also learned that this tool, this resource could be of interest to members of the general public, right. And so I did a fellowship with MIT souls to really develop that and expand the public reach and engagement of the app. And now we have more than 5000 users around the world. We have users in about six different countries. And most, if not all of them, right are engaging with this material for the first time. I mean, I've had people tell me that, you know, not even just about DC, but about Native peoples at large, that they didn't realize that any Native Americans still existed. And I've also had people say to me that, you know, they knew that Native peoples existed, but they didn't know where they were right, this sort of idea that Indigenous folks are out of sight or out of mind, or just sort of off in, you know, some unnamed reservation somewhere, right. And so I'm really again, seeking to make that intervention through the app, and then moreso even in the book, where I go into the deeper history and significance of these places, to really say, again, that           Native peoples have always been in this area, and very much continue to be here as well.

Kelly Therese Pollock  20:59  
Yeah, as I was reading your book, I was thinking about the fact that so many Native nations were pushed west, by settlers, by colonialism, pushed to the west, but then the home base of the United States government is all the way on the east coast of the United States. And so they had to travel so far, to get to, to do what you said to interact with the federal government on issues that were important, continue to be important. And so one of the ways that you talk about that they do this is to develop actually, essentially embassies. So there's the Embassy of Tribal Nations, and then I believe the there's also a Chickasaw ambassador. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think that's probably something that a lot of people don't realize.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  21:50  
Right, right. Again, I think you're exactly right, that this is something that the majority of the public has little to no idea about. And so the first fundamental thing is that, of course, Washington, DC is famous for Embassy Row, and as our nation's capital, is also the hub of international relations. But what people don't realize is that in this country, we also have 574 federally recognized sovereign and self governing tribal nations, and that Indigenous peoples are organized into political groups, right into tribal nations. They have their own governments, and all the branches of government that come along with that, their own constitutions, their own laws and jurisdictional areas over which they exercise those laws and policies. And all of this, you know, goes back to, you know, the premise that when the US was colonized, this was not just a barren land, right, that was empty and available for colonization. This was already inhabited by many, many different tribal nations, again, with their own, you know, governmental and political organization. And so when we have a site, like the Embassy of Tribal Nations included in the Guide to Indigenous DC, and the Indigenous DC book, what I'm really trying to highlight, again, is that Native people don't only belong in the fields of history, or anthropology or archeology. We also are a fundamental part of politics, government, and law. And so you're exactly right. The Embassy of Tribal Nations, for example, is the headquarters of the National Congress of American Indians, which is a member based organization representing broadly the interests of tribal nations across the country. And then we also have places like the Congressional Cemetery, where about two dozen tribal delegates and their family members, primarily from the 19th century or early 20th century are buried, right. And so these people came to Washington, like you said, and traveled all across the continent, including from Hawaii and Alaska, to meet with federal representatives to do things like negotiate treaty rights, meet and you know, talk about the living conditions and lives of Indigenous people, and also work again on a nation to nation, government to government basis with the United States.

Kelly Therese Pollock  24:39  
And I had not realized until I read your book that the I believe it's the Treaty of New Echota from 1835 says that the Cherokee Nation should actually have a representative in the US House.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  24:53  
Uh huh.

Kelly Therese Pollock  24:55  
That was mind blowing.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  24:58  
Yes, yes. I mean, you know, I, besides writing books and making mobile applications, I also teach right. I'm a professor at American University, and I teach in particular courses about federal Indian law and policy. And there's so much information, right specifically about tribal nations, their treaties, their legal histories that members of the public don't know, right. And it's very exciting to be doing this work here in Washington, DC, because, again, even though people largely don't hear about it or know about it, we consistently have very important substantial cases going through the Supreme Court, you know, pieces of legislation passing through Congress that affect daily Indigenous life in this country. And so in that way too, Washington, DC, you know, I posit in my book is also the political capital of Indian Country, right. This is where people from various tribal nations come together to work on things, right, in acts of solidarity and alignment around things like, you know, environmental issues, for example, but it's also the place where each tribal nation can come in order to work with the federal US government as well.

Kelly Therese Pollock  26:22  
So I want to talk about one of those political actions, which is the Trail of Broken Treaties that led to the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And so this is in 1972, and it's right between the occupation of Alcatraz and then Wounded Knee. And I knew about those two, but knew nothing about this really monumental occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. So I wonder if you could talk to us a little bit about that, and the importance of that event?

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  26:56  
Sure, sure. So, like you said, to set the scene, it's late 1972. And we have several caravans of Indigenous activists and tribal leaders to cross the country, from coast to coast, traveling on different routes, and stopping all along the way, at different reservations and urban communities, in order to gather support for their cause, right. And their cause was, was quite broad. Together, it came together in a point position paper very much sort of styled after the Black Panther Party. And, you know, this, this points paper outlined things like, you know, treaty making, right and making sure that treaty rights were respected, adding Indigenous leaders into Congress and making sure that they had voice and representation in federal government, you know, doing things like addressing contemporary living conditions on reservations, and restoring things like rights that had been terminated and land that had passed out of Indigenous control. And so again, you know, really quite broad. And what they came together to do was advance these issues, once again, here in Washington, DC. So we have these caravans crossing the country. Eventually, they arrive in DC, and there were plans set in place for these Indigenous folks to meet with political and governmental representatives. But when they arrived, again, in some cases, after traveling for many days, very worn out, their requests for those meetings were denied, as well as the lodging accommodations that had been organized. And so this really left these activists high and dry, right. And so what they decided to do in that moment was actually occupy the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And so, you know, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for anyone who doesn't know, is broadly, you know, the federal agency charged with overseeing all Indigenous affairs in this country. It's organized under the Department of the Interior, which is now headed by Deb Haaland, which is very exciting, because it's the first time in history that this department has been overseen by an Indigenous person. But at the time, you know, this was a bureau that really acted very paternalistically against tribal nations. And so what these activists did was they occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is in downtown Washington, DC, for several days. And the logic was really you know, "This is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. We are those said Indians," right. And like I said, they they took up residence in this building for several days, until it was finally negotiated for them to return home. But, you know, very monumental in the world of Indigenous activist history, I would say activist history at large. But like so many of the sites that are included in the book, and in the app, many people remain really uneducated about this moment.

Kelly Therese Pollock  30:36  
Yeah. And I find it so fascinating that it happened right during the election of 1972. And of course, this is long before the time that there was mail in ballots and early voting. So everyone is voting on this day, while the while the Bureau of Indian Affairs is actually being occupied.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  30:55  
Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, really, you know, if we put our minds there to envision the scene, or if anyone has the opportunity to look at some of the historical photographs, it was really quite momentous. And, you know, going back, actually, to the point that I was making earlier about, you know, the embassy and international relations, right, one of the things that's so interesting to me about this occupation, is that some of the protesters, you know, hung up a sign that said that this is now the Native American Embassy, so sort of rebranding, the paternalistic Bureau of Indian Affairs, to then an Indigenous run and Indigenous oriented, Native American Embassy, I think, is also really, really powerful.

Kelly Therese Pollock  31:46  
And, of course, as you mentioned, this is, you know, the, it's the political capital of the United States. And so it's the, also the political capital then of, of Indigenous America. And so this isn't the last time of course, that Native protests happened in DC. And so this, this happens, then, again, with the Keystone XL pipeline. And with the Dakota pipeline. Could you talk a little bit about those, those kinds of events, too, and why these things keep happening in DC? 

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  32:17  
For sure. You know, another thing I'll say about actually, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Trail of Broken Treaties, event too, is that, you know, none of these actions happen in a vacuum, right. They all build on one another. And so just like those additional actions that took place around the events that you just mentioned, right, the Keystone XL, pipeline, Dakota Access pipeline, all types of environmental issues, and, and other things as well, you know, those are building on the legacies that were set forth during that movement in the 1970s. Right. And I would argue that those those actions in the 1970s, right built upon, once again, that longer legacy of Indigenous peoples coming to Washington, in order to have their voices heard and represented. And so actually, also here in Washington, DC, one of the sites that I include in my book is a mural that's in the basement of the George Washington University's Corcoran School of Art and Design. And in this mural, we have a portion of it dedicated to the Trail of Broken Treaties, actually. So it's very interesting that we also have this sort of artistic rendering, paying tribute to this site that, again, otherwise doesn't have any form of public commemoration. You know, there's no sign, there's no plaque. And that's true for many of these sites that I talked about in my book. The name of that mural is "Imprinting Dimensional States of Being." And it's done by a non native artist named Joerael  Numina, who works very closely with Piscataway community members to create this piece. Going back to additional moments of Indigenous activism, right? We have things like the Cowboy and Indian Alliance. We have the Native Nations Rise March. We have the Indigenous Peoples March. And these are just three, again, that I highlight in my book, because I think they do a couple of really important things that they can tell us about Indigenous activism in Washington DC broadly. So, you know, the Native Nations Rise March, for example, you know, this is a movement that was happening around some of those environmental concerns with fracking and oil. And, you know, for for our listeners who may be familiar with the movement at Standing Rock, right? That was probably the most widely publicized Indigenous issue in recent memory. And If we recall about that it was super local, right? We had the establishment of the camps, right out at Standing Rock, where the water protectors were operating in action. But even when it was so local and so specific to that area, we also saw movement and action and activist work here in DC. And that's precisely because I would say that Washington, DC is the political capital of Indian Country. Those folks knew that they had to be out there actually on the land, you know, in the literal and metaphorical trenches, right, protecting that space and protecting the water. But also, right, folks knew that they had to come to DC, in order to negotiate right with some of those federal arms and branches like the Army Corps of Engineers, right, and even the president. And so again, that really can illuminate for us the importance of Washington, DC. And so another site in my book, for example, I talked about the youth runners, who ran from their reservation to Washington, DC in order to raise awareness. But again, time and time again, we see Washington, DC, pop up as that central location.

Kelly Therese Pollock  36:23  
You mentioned earlier that when when you first got to DC, that of course, the football team in DC still had a terrible moniker. And so I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that, because it's really meaningful that that shift happened even as late as it did that the team was renamed.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  36:42  
Yes, yes, absolutely. Right. Only recently, the Washington football team was renamed. And they did away with their, you know, highly racist, mascot and team name, that was actually a dictionary defined racial slur used to refer in a derogatory nature to Indigenous peoples. And now, it has been rebranded as the Commanders the Washington Commanders. But, you know, broadly, you know, this, this is an issue that really causes harm in Indigenous communities. So often, the conversation around mascots is framed as you know, feelings and sensitivities and offense, and that is very important. But another really important part that often falls out of the conversation is understanding the actual, you know, studies, the research studies that have been done, that show how these mascots negatively impact, you know, Indigenous peoples, and Native youth, right in their performance, in their self esteem. And this is really important to contextualize then, when we think about things like, you know, the disproportionately high rates of substance abuse, and self harm and suicide that we see across Indian country as well. And mascots continue to be an issue, right? Even in our most recent Super Bowl, we had the winner, you know, also using a team name that refers to Indigenous peoples. And so what's included in my book is a discussion of some of the process that went into changing the Washington football team name. This included, like so many things, right, a combination of legal action, legal history, and also activist events. And so if you read the book, you can learn all about that as well. Really grassroots organizing, the Supreme Court coming together, and again, ultimately changing.

Kelly Therese Pollock  39:01  
All right, well, please tell people how they can get the book.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  39:05  
Wonderful. If you'd like to read the book, "Indigenous DC: Native Peoples in the Nation's Capital," you can order it right now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the Georgetown University Press website. You can also feel free to get in touch with me and learn more about this project. The websites you can check out are going to be, or And again, you can download for free the Guide to Indigenous DC mobile application on your Android or Apple phone.

Kelly Therese Pollock  39:42  
And there are really terrific photographs in the book as well.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  39:48  
Yes, yes. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  39:49  
So Dr. Rule, do you have anything else that you would like to make sure we talked about today?

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  39:54  
You can also find the book for sale on the Guide to indigenous Lands website, along with merchandise for indigenous DC, and you can also follow and get in touch on social media. I'm across all social media platforms tick tock, Twitter, Instagram, as are the Guide to Indigenous DC and Guide to Indigenous Lands mobile applications.

Kelly Therese Pollock  40:20  
Dr. Rule, Thank you so much for speaking with me. I really enjoyed learning all about both the history and the present of DC.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule  40:29  
Thank you for having me. This is a great conversation and I hope that our listeners will go out and learn more about the Indigenous peoples of our nation's capital.

Teddy  40:41  
Thanks for listening to Unsung History. Please subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app. You can find the sources used for this episode and a full episode transcript To the best of our knowledge, all audio and images used by Unsung History are in the public domain or are used with permission. You can find us on twitter or instagram @Unsung__History, or on Facebook @UnsungHistorypodcast. To contact us with questions, corrections, praise, or episodes suggestions, please email If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate, review and tell everyone you know. Bye!

Transcribed by

Elizabeth RuleProfile Photo

Elizabeth Rule

Dr. Elizabeth Rule is Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. She is an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

Rule’s research on Indigenous issues has been featured in the Washington Post, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, The Atlantic, Newsy, and NPR. She is also a published author, releasing scholarly articles in the American Quarterly and in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. Rule has two forthcoming monographs. The first, Reproducing Resistance: Gendered Violence and Indigenous Nationhood, analyzes the intersection of violence against Native women, reproductive justice, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; this work received the Julien Mezey Award from the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities in 2020. Rule’s second monograph, Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s Capital (Georgetown University Press), analyzes historical and contemporary sites of Indigenous importance in Washington and compliments her Guide to Indigenous DC mobile application.

Beyond the classroom, Rule continues her work as an educator by presenting her research and delivering invited talks on Native American issues. More than 100 public speaking engagements and interviews have taken her across three continents and to seven countries. Venues for such presentations include the United Nations Association-USA, the Institut des Amériques in Paris, France, the National Congress of American Indians, the Women’s and Gender Studies Intellectual Forum at MIT, the National Gallery of Art, and more.

Previously, Dr. Rule has held posts as Director of the Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy and Faculty in Residence at George Washington University, Director of the Native American Political Leadership Program and the INSPIRE PreCollege Program, MIT Indigenous Communities Fellow, Postdoctoral Fellow at American University, and Ford Foundation Fellow. Rule received her Ph.D. and M.A. in American Studies from Brown University, and her B.A. from Yale University.