Discussion Questions and Further Reading

Maria Rodriguez

We hope the stories in each issue of Oregon Humanities are the beginning of conversations and exploration for our readers. Here you'll find some prompts for discussing these articles with others, as well as links to books, articles, and organizations where you can learn more about the stories and ideas explored in the "Possession" issue.

Discussion Questions

  • In “Lies of Discovery,” Sal Sahme writes about the origins of the Doctrine of Discovery, the legal justification that justified conquest and occupation of land by Christian Europeans from the fifteenth century onward. How did this doctrine affect the settlement of the United States and Oregon? Do you think its effects are still felt today?
  • Who’s Being Left Out?” by Lucy Bellwood looks at three limitations on who is allowed to vote in Oregon: age, incarceration, and citizenship status. What limits, if any, do you think there should be on who gets to participate in elections?
  • In “Can the Land Make Us One People,” an excerpt from her book Standoff, Jacqueline Keeler writes about the different attitudes toward land, collaboration, and sovereignty shown in the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. What are some differences in basic beliefs that distinguished these two protests in 2017? Are there any that are shared? What of your own beliefs, if any, do you see reflected in them?
  • In “Cekpa,” Leah Altman writes about land ownership, sovereignty, and the complicated relationships that Indigenous people have to each. The author also explores the many ways that art practices and traditions provide connection to homelands and histories, including her own. How does the author use the image of the cekpa to illustrate her ideas? How does the author’s views on art compare to your own? Do you have an example of an object or artifact that you feel connects you to your home, your community, or your culture? 
  • In “Where We Store Our Shame,” Larina Warnock narrates the experience of growing up poor and examines the cycles of shame that she and her family members went through, often as a result of social stigma. How does judgment and stigma affect the author’s view of herself as a young person? Does this change as she gets older? How might the author’s experiences have been different in a society where there was less stigma and more support? 
  • In “The Things We Carry,” Vanessa Houk describes how her family lost their home and everything they owned in the 2020 wildfires. What does the story suggest about the notion of possessions? How does this notion compare with the other forms of possessions explored, for example, in the essays by Larina Warnock or Leah Altman? What might be some of the author’s intentions in sharing this story? 


Further Reading

“Lies of Discovery”

India Reed Bowers, “The Holy See and European Dispossession of Apache-Ndé-Nnee Peoples: A call for truth, disclosure, justice and redress.” 2015.

James A. Clifton, ed., The Invented Indian: Cultural Fictions and Government Policies. 1990

Vine Deloria Jr., God Is Red: A Native View of Religion. 1972

Christine Dupres, “Between Ribbon and Root.” Oregon Humanities, Spring 2016.

Alysa Landry, “Presidents and Native Peoples.” Cowboys and Indians, June 18, 2020.

Robert J. Miller, Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny. 2008.

Steve Newcomb, Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. 2008.

Jace Weaver, Native American Religious Identity: Unforgotten Gods. 1998

Joe Whittle, “Reciprocity of Tradition.” Oregon Humanities, Spring 2020.


“Who’s Being Left Out?”

More work by artist and writer Lucy Bellwood: lucybellwood.com

Ron Hayduk, Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States. 2008.

Think & Drink with Desmond Meade, October 2019
Desmond Meade is executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the campaign to end felony disenfranchisement in Florida.


“Can the Land Make Us One People?”

This article is excerpted from Jacqueline Keeler’s book Standoff, out in April 2021 from Torrey House Press.

Keeler also edited the essay collection Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears, also from Torrey House Press.

In the magazine, this story was accompanied by images from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation by Shawn Records and from protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock by Joe Whittle. Both are Oregon-based photographers.

Joe Whittle wrote about his experience at the #NoDAPL protests in The Guardian.



Native Arts and Cultures Foundation has more information on the Center for Native Arts and Cultures. A capital campaign for the space will begin in fall 2021.

Leah Altman says, “If anyone wants to do something to help my tribe donate to Pine Ridge Girls’ School.”

The National Indian Child Welfare Association has information on Indian child welfare issues and how to help.

Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland is a good resource for Native people wanting to connect with their community.

Native American Rehabilitation Association, also in Portland, is a resource for Native people in sobriety, who want to be in sobriety, or who need therapy.

If you want to find a powwow, check out powwows.com.


“The Things We Carry”

The Things that Do Not Burn/Las cosas que no se queman
In December 2020 The Hearth and De La Raíz worked together to offer an evening of stories and songs in the wake of the Almeda fires. Focused on tales of resiliency, the program includes six stories by Southern Oregon residents in English and Spanish. The Hearth also featured stories on its podcast, Home Bound Oregon.

Opportunities to help people affected by the Almeda fire and other fires in the Rogue Valley in 2020 can be found at Rogue Valley Recovers and almedafiredonations.com.


Oregon Humanities Magazine


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Also in this Issue

From the Director: The Great Divide

Editor's Note: Possession

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Lies of Discovery

Who's Being Left Out?

Can the Land Make Us One People?


Where We Store Shame

The Things We Carry


People, Places, Things

Discussion Questions and Further Reading