“That’s what I’m trying to get out of this whole thing. All put together, all our stories. Because all we got right now are reservation stories, and shitty versions from outdated history textbooks. A lot of us live in cities now. This is just supposed to be like a way to start telling this other story.”

In this passage from Dene Oxendene’s chapter in Reclaim, Dene explains to Calvin Thomas the aim of his documentary project and stresses the importance of storytelling in history. As Dene makes clear, textbook history and popular narratives like reservation tales are out of date and inaccurate because they represent only a small portion of the experience of Native Americans. Because many people were excluded from telling their stories, the facts are incomplete. Dene wants his project to start to fill in these gaps.

“The wound that was made when white people came and took all that they took has never healed. An unattended wound gets infected. Becomes a new kind of wound like the history of what actually happened became a new kind of history.”

Likening historical trauma to bodily harm, this passage from the Interlude uses a wound as a metaphor for how suffering spreads across generations. As the infection from a wound circulates around a body, so does the emotional pain suffered by an entire people flow from individual to individual. Horrible events can be passed on to future generations, making it harder for them as a whole to develop in healthy ways. How white people treated indigenous people in the past continues to create new pain in indigenous youth. People may argue that the problems of modern Native people are not connected to their past treatment. However, as the European settlers altered the true history of their actions into a version that painted them in a positive light, so did the wounds they inflicted change over time.

“Our heads were on the penny first, of course, the Indian cent, and then on the buffalo nickel, both before we could even vote as a people—which, like the truth of what happened in history all over the world, and like all that spilled blood from slaughter, are now out of circulation.”

In the final sentence of the Prologue’s extended discussion of Indian heads, the narrator links two kinds of representation, the image of the Indian head on a coin and political representation. European settlers decorated their first coins with the image of an Indian head, appropriating the culture of the people they slaughtered. Because the U.S. government forbade indigenous people from voting, they could neither endorse nor approve this use of their likeness. This is one way the Indian head is a representation of white violence and power. Orange points out a similarity between the Indian head penny and the true history of indigenous peoples in that both have no value in America.