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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

THE NEGLECTED STORY OF DISCRIMINATION - INDIGENOUS NATIVE AMERICANS



Today, I watched the movie Geronimo: An American Legend. I believe the one period in our government's history that is neglected is the first period when we committed crimes against humanity when the indigenous people were systematically extinguished by the immigrants who stole not only the Native Americans land, but their languages, culture, beliefs and spirits. The appalling language - forever with us, as it is in our Declaration of Independence about the Native Americans as savages - is a disgrace and merits our addressing our wrongs toward the peoples of this land that did nothing that could have made it okay to commit genocide on those already here.


One of many examples of systematic abuse of Native Americans was the Trail of Tears.

The Trail of Tears

The Indian Removal Act 1814 - 1858

A great source for how the indigenous peoples were repeatedly unjustly treated is Custer Died for Your Sins.

And it isn't all in the past. The very government agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has lost billions of dollars belonging to the Native American peoples. I wrote about this in an old post.

Part of the Declaration of Independence:



IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world......

Then a list of the "facts" is presented, including the text as follows:

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. End of Declaration of Independence

What irony : "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations..." How boldly hypocritical to claim injuries and usurpations when they were indeed doing the same to the Native Americans, if not worse. The high ideals of the whole second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence is utter nonsense when considering the parallel universe the very signers of the document created for the Native Americans...."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.." That is except for the Native Americans and the Africans. Obviously, the very men penning these words held themselves in too high regard when considering their dismissive behavior of fellow human beings that they treated as subhuman.

They believed they were better than others. They believed they could claim independence while robbing others of their independence. Indeed, they believed it was a requirement that others must lose their freedom in order for them to have theirs. Irony. Hypocrisy. And my history textbooks NEVER raised this truth.

This contol of information was called propaganda by the USA when we were in the cold war with the Soviet Union. Why do we hold these truths not to be self evident? ...That we committed crimes against humanity. That we descimated the Native Americans with impunity. Why is that okay with us?

We will not be a free nation until we as a nation own our crimes done, institutionalized and continue to perpetuate upon the indigenous peoples of this land we call the United States of America. Let us begin to free our souls by taking steps to give back to the original stewards of this land what rightly belongs to them. Justifiable compensation will free us more than it will free the Native Americans. Some form of acknowledgment of wrong doing would only help heal a nation that apparently isn't even aware of its pain.

You can't rip the heart of a nation out and not have it affect your own constitution. The Native American communities who live on reservations are there to tell a story we have not wanted to have told. And those who don't live on a reservation but live in "our" world,our culture walk with our inflicted harm done to them by our ancestors and with our discriminatory treatment today.

I cannot believe that the silent pain isn't affecting both sides of this story.

I propose that the strength of a country is evidenced by the willingness to face and acknowledge the errors of its ways. It is time for admitting the injustices that we as a nation and a state have done and still do to the Americans who were here first. It would provide a turning point where the healing could begin.

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Geronimo: An American Legend
Uploaded by trinity667
Clips from the movie

Sign the petition for Geronimo
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Geronimo: the last free Apache
Uploaded by trabalkar
Geronimo is said to have had magical powers. He could see into the future, walk without creating footprints and even hold off the dawn to protect his own. This Apache Indian warrior and his band of 37 followers defied federal authority for more than 25 years.

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Uploaded by Ahwahneechee
Text by Ahwahneechee:
A short explanation of the Apache Native American Indian resistance that happened in the Southwestern United States around the 1860s. There was an active slave trade in the south west that most people are unaware of. The western states were very important in the Civil War for the North. Gold from California and Silver from Nevada helped finance the war against the South. The Indians were in the path of the expanding valuable mineral hunt and settlement. One tribe that fought this expansion were the Apaches. First the Mescalero and then the Chiricahua. The Apache bands were led by Cochise, Victorio, the Chiricahua band was led by famous Geronimo. Geronimo led the most famous Native American resistance and it cost the U.S. government over $40 Million dollars to kill 100 Indians. Geronimo was caught and forced to live in the Southeast where many of the Apaches died. Geronimo died as a captive in 1909 in Oklahoma, far from his mountain home. The speakers are Bob Haozous, a Chiricahua artist and Grace McNeley a Navajo cultural leader.

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Navajos at Hweeldi

Uploaded by Edgewateraz

Everything in this history is exactly what the Sudanese-supported genocide on the Darfuris has committed and perpetuated for the last five and a half years. And yet many hold that these kind of behaviors only happen on the continent of Africa. Wrong. It happened on the North American continent when the United States of America was just being formed.

History not acknowledged, but still our history.


Native American Genocide Still Haunts United States

Source

By Leah Trabich
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York, USA

In the past, the main thrust of the Holocaust/Genocide Project's magazine, An End To Intolerance, has been the genocides that occurred in history and outside of the United States. Still, what we mustn't forget is that mass killing of Native Americans occurred in our own country. As a result, bigotry and racial discrimination still exist.

"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" . . . and made the first contact with the "Indians." For Native Americans, the world after 1492 would never be the same. This date marked the beginning of the long road of persecution and genocide of Native Americans, our indigenous people. Genocide was an important cause of the decline for many tribes.

"By conservative estimates, the population of the United states prior to European contact was greater than 12 million. Four centuries later, the count was reduced by 95% to 237 thousand.

In 1493, when Columbus returned to the Hispaniola, he quickly implemented policies of slavery and mass extermination of the Taino population of the Caribbean. Within three years, five million were dead. Las Casas, the primary historian of the Columbian era, writes of many accounts of the horrors that the Spanish colonists inflicted upon the indigenous population: hanging them en mass, hacking their children into pieces to be used as dog feed, and other horrid cruelties. The works of Las Casas are often omitted from popular American history books and courses because Columbus is considered a hero by many, even today.

Mass killing did not cease, however, after Columbus departed. Expansion of the European colonies led to similar genocides. "Indian Removal" policy was put into action to clear the land for white settlers. Methods for the removal included slaughter of villages by the military and also biological warfare. High death rates resulted from forced marches to relocate the Indians.

The Removal Act of 1830 set into motion a series of events which led to the "Trail of Tears" in 1838, a forced march of the Cherokees, resulting in the destruction of most of the Cherokee population." The concentration of American Indians in small geographic areas, and the scattering of them from their homelands, caused increased death, primarily because of associated military actions, disease, starvation, extremely harsh conditions during the moves, and the resulting destruction of ways of life.

During American expansion into the western frontier, one primary effort to destroy the Indian way of life was the attempts of the U.S. government to make farmers and cattle ranchers of the Indians. In addition, one of the most substantial methods was the premeditated destructions of flora and fauna which the American Indians used for food and a variety of other purposes. We now also know that the Indians were intentionally exposed to smallpox by Europeans. The discovery of gold in California, early in 1848, prompted American migration and expansion into the west. The greed of Americans for money and land was rejuvenated with the Homestead Act of 1862. In California and Texas there was blatant genocide of Indians by non-Indians during certain historic periods. In California, the decrease from about a quarter of a million to less than 20,000 is primarily due to the cruelties and wholesale massacres perpetrated by the miners and early settlers. Indian education began with forts erected by Jesuits, in which indigenous youths were incarcerated, indoctrinated with non-indigenous Christian values, and forced into manual labor. These children were forcibly removed from their parents by soldiers and many times never saw their families until later in their adulthood. This was after their value systems and knowledge had been supplanted with colonial thinking. One of the foundations of the U.S. imperialist strategy was to replace traditional leadership of the various indigenous nations with indoctrinated "graduates" of white "schools," in order to expedite compliance with U.S. goals and expansion.

Probably one of the most ruinous acts to the Indians was the disappearance of the buffalo. For the Indians who lived on the Plains, life depended on the buffalo. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were an estimated forty million buffalo, but between 1830 and 1888 there was a rapid, systematic extermination culminating in the sudden slaughter of the only two remaining Plain herds. By around 1895, the formerly vast buffalo populations were practically extinct. The slaughter occurred because of the economic value of buffalo hides to Americans and because the animals were in the way of the rapidly westward expanding population. The end result was widescale starvation and the social and cultural disintegration of many Plains tribes.

Genocide entered international law for the first time in 1948; the international community took notice when Europeans (Jews, Poles, and other victims of Nazi Germany) faced cultural extinction. The "Holocaust" of World War II came to be the model of genocide. We, as the human race, must realize, however, that other genocides have occurred. Genocide against many particular groups is still widely happening today. The discrimination of the Native American population is only one example of this ruthless destruction.

Credits: Sharon Johnston, The Genocide of Native Americans: A Sociological View, 1996.

"Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination - by starvation and uneven combat - of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity." P. 2

Source: www.nemasys.com/ghostwolf/Native/genocide.shtml2, "Adolph Hitler" by John Toland



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2 Comments:

At October 25, 2009 at 11:00:00 PM EDT , Blogger Matt Nichols said...

Hello,
This is a really good post, thanks for the detailed information. I am an ethics student, for now, and have had the priveledge to write two essays now on behalf of my far distanced relatives, I am sure they would find some justice in your efforts of revealing the truth of their plight. Good blogging!

Matt

 
At October 26, 2009 at 2:30:00 AM EDT , Blogger ilovemylife said...

Thank you, Matt for your generous words.

I feel strongly about this issue.

This post has been up a year, now and you are the first to leave a comment.

But, I follow daily which posts of mine are read and this one is usually on my daily list of having a number of visitors. One of a handful of my posts that continues to have readers well past the posting date.

Thank you for being nice enough to leave a comment. It means so much to me.

Sandra

 

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