Native peoples occupy a double bind within dominant settler reckonings of
time.1 Either they are consigned to the past, or they are inserted into a pres ent
defined on non- native terms. From this perspective, Native people(s) do not so
much exist within the flow of time as erupt from it as an anomaly, one usually
understood as emanating from a bygone era. In Every thing You Know about
Indians Is Wrong, Paul Chaat Smith offers a particularly pointed commentary
on non- natives’ “absolute refusal to deal with [Indians] as just plain folks living
in the pres ent and not the past” (18), further noting, “Silence about our own
complicated histories supports the colonizers’ idea that the only real Indians
are full- blooded, from a reservation, speak their language, and practice the reli-
gion of their ancestors” (26). Smith suggests that a fuller, less blinkered and
amnesiac, version of history that can attend to the complexities of Native lives
would counter the ste reotypical circulation of images that position Indians as
anachronisms. However, he also observes, “History promises to explain why
things are and how they came to be this way, and it teases us by suggesting that
if only we possessed the secret knowledge, the hidden insight, . . . we could per-
haps master the pres ent,” adding that “no history is complete without knowing
the history of the history” (53). Can a more capacious narrative of history pro-
vide a remedy to the appearance of Indians as temporal aberrations? Is “his-
tory” itself neutral with re spect to the pro cess of dislodging indigeneity from
the flow of time? Is “the pres ent”?
Arguing for the importance of a “history of the history” indicates the need
to move beyond a broadened version of the same.2 While insisting that Natives
and non- natives “have a common history” after 1492 (74), Smith also empha-
sizes that Indigenous people(s) “see things differently. We come from a diff er-
ent place,” one specifically shaped by “the land question,” which “just won’t go
away” (85). In these formulations, he captures rather precisely the prob lem with
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