Indigenous Peoples

Purpose Statement:

Within its broader mission of fostering connections, Dirty Freehub places emphasis on gaining a deeper understanding of Indigenous communities and their role as stewards of the lands they inhabit. Specifically, our guiding principles are to:

  • Understand the complicated history of Indigenous peoples and white settlers on this continent. Understand the good, and the bad.
  • Identify how we can support Indigenous peoples in the continued growth and preservation of their cultures and heritage.
  • Share the history of treaties and learn what can be done to honor the treaties that were signed.
  • Shift the narrative from a Land Acknowledgement tagline to a deeper conversation that acknowledges the historical and current challenges faced by Indigenous peoples.
  • Offer resources to learn more.

In his article “Erasing Indigenous History, Then and Now,” Indigenous geographer Deondre Smiles highlights that historical narratives often selectively include and exclude elements, with Native people frequently omitted from most accounts of U.S. history. Smiles encourages us to reconsider the conventional narratives through a Native perspective, emphasizing that by acknowledging the Indigenous experience, we not only gain a more comprehensive understanding of our history but also prevent the erasure of Native people from both the past and present.

Definition of Indigenous

We adopt the UCLA definition of “Indigenous,” which typically refers to communities with pre-existing sovereignty that lived collectively before encountering primarily European settlers. This term is the most comprehensive, encompassing Indigenous groups across the globe, such as the Sami in Sweden, the Maya in Mexico and Guatemala, and the Ainu in Japan. These communities fight to remain culturally intact on their ancestral lands. “Native American” and “American Indian” pertain specifically to those who inhabited what is now the United States before European contact, with “American Indian” having legal implications in Federal Indian Law and U.S. Census Bureau terminology. Whenever possible, it is advisable to use the specific name of the Indigenous community or nation.

What is a Treaty?

A treaty is a written contract formalized between two or more political authorities, such as states or sovereign entities. In the context of American Indians and Alaskan Natives, treaties represent formal agreements between tribal governments and the U.S. federal government. Between 1776 and 1871, the U.S. Senate ratified 370 treaties with tribes, while 45 were negotiated but never ratified. However, in 1871, the United States ceased the practice of making treaties with tribes. Unfortunately, virtually all of the signed and ratified treaties were eventually violated by the U.S. government.


Why Do Treaties Matter Today?

Despite the United States’ failure to honor its treaty commitments to American Indian tribes, treaties are still crucial in establishing the connection between the tribes and the U.S. government. Treaties establish Indigenous rights to territory, water, jurisdiction, religious freedom, hunting grounds, and other entitlements. The most important aspect of treaties is that they acknowledge the fact that ratified Indian treaties have the same standing as an agreement made by the United States with other sovereign nations. This signifies that the U.S. government acknowledges that Native nations are sovereign political entities and that there is an ongoing duty to uphold the agreement.

Land Acknowledgements:

A Land Acknowledgement does little if it does not come with active support of Native peoples through legislation and economic development.



We encourage you to seek out more information in order to grow your understanding of Indigenous peoples and the history of the lands that you ride on. Find and visit resource centers in the areas that you ride. For example, the Warm Springs Museum in Warm Springs, Oregon has an incredible story to share of the tribes that call the Central Oregon area home, as well as current issues to get involved with.

Some national and online resources include the following:

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