In recent years a dangerous precedent has been set with the removals of “rebel flags” and calls for more removals including the confederate monument at Stone Mountain Georgia. The opening of this Pandora’s box is going to cause even more upheaval as more and more “groups” voice their “offensiveness” towards certain historical symbols. New Orleans just removed several monuments to Civil War leaders in the last couple of weeks.
Why is nothing being said about Mount Rushmore which honors presidents that were slave owners?
What about the statue of the Confederate General, Albert Pike who was dishonorably discharged from the confederacy and is the only confederate officer with a statue in Washington, DC. Incidentally, not only was a 33rd degree mason but also the alleged founder of the KKK. In addition many would be surprised that Abraham Lincoln himself did not believe in equal rights for African Americans and thought they would never be equal to a “white man”. 5 Things You May Not Know About Lincoln
Have we really grown so weak and immature that we cannot simply LEARN from history without destroying it? How can a country founded on slavery, whose early leaders owned slaves for nearly 100 years be so vicious in its attack on a historical government that only existed for a few years?
How can the U.S. condemn the confederate government as racist when Union officers had slaves themselves and the Union didn’t release slaves until AFTER the war while many confederate leaders including Robert E Lee released theirs in the early years of the war?
Before going on I want to clarify that my arguments here are not arguing for the confederacy not advocating slavery. I have fought against racism since I was a child, my point is simply that we can not “whitewash” history and pretend these things didn’t happen simply by removing monuments to its memory from our sight. I am also trying to illustrate how ludicrous it is to pick and choose which monuments you are going to remove and from where.
In this article I want to share some truths that I have not seen covered in this entire debacle, one that reminds me of events like the Inquisition and the burning of the library of Alexandria. They are already removing TV Programs that they have deemed politically incorrect, I’m sure books are next. By the end of this post hopefully you will be able to see the TRUE agenda behind all of this…
The next issue I wish to discuss in depth is how civil rights proponents seem to only be concerned with how this country has mistreated African Americans. The mistreatment has been horrendous, but to ignore the mass genocide of the Indigenous, the stealing of lands, the cultural appropriation that attempts to make Natives disappear off the face of the earth should be at least equally important.
I feel that everyone no matter what race they consider themselves to be should be well aware of how the original inhabitants of the United States were thought of and treated as well as how they continue to be mistreated to this day.
As one of Native American descent on both, my mother and father’s sides, I am a bit perplexed that none of the mainstream talking heads NOR the government are addressing the atrocities that the U.S. committed against the Indigenous from the very beginning of this country beginning with how we were thought of by the “writers” of the Declaration of Independence .
In this last line of grievances stated against England and King George, it is stated 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.” Not a very nonjudgmental attitude towards the people whose country you stole. “Indians are not even considered human and therefore not entitled to the same rights as others…
Let’s look at some more quotes from U.S. Presidents concerning Native Americans then we will look at some of the atrocities:
Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.”
“If ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississippi… in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy them all.”
“My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes cannot exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.”
“Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit… “Text from President Lincoln to General Sibley ordering the execution of American Indians in Minnesota.
“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”
And last, but not least, here’s one from the current president –
“We also recommit to supporting tribal self-determination, security, and prosperity for all Native Americans. While we cannot erase the scourges or broken promises of our past, we will move ahead together in writing a new, brighter chapter in our joint history.”
All of these are pretty clear, but I do have to ask a question about President Obama’s quote. “we cannot erase the scourges or broken promises of our past” – REALLY? Is that NOT what is being done with the removal of the confederate flag and confederate statues? Why is it acceptable to do this for the black community but not for those whom this country committed mass genocide against? Who has suffered the greater evil?
Okay, moving onward…
Let’s go in chronological order – remember this is about the U.S. so we aren’t going to get into the Vikings, Columbus and those who followed him.
The most significant reason for Natives decline was disease – an invisible killer that wiped out an estimated 90% of the population. Unlike the Europeans and Asians, whose lifestyle had a long history of sharing close quarters with domesticated animals, Native Americans were not immune to pathogens spread by domesticated cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and horses. As a result, millions were killed by measles, influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, bubonic plague, cholera, scarlet fever and syphilis.
Spreading disease was not always intentional on the part of the colonists. But there were a few instances that confirm Europeans’ attempt to exterminate natives. In 1763, a particularly serious uprising threatened British garrisons in Pennsylvania. Worried about limited resources, and driven by atrocities committed by some Native Americans , Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, wrote to Colonel Henry Bouquet at Fort Pitt:
“You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians [with smallpox] by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method, that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”
Consequently, settlers spread smallpox to the Native Americans by distributing blankets previously owned by contagious patients.
Throughout the Northeast, proclamations to create ‘redskins’, or scalps of Native Americans, were common during war and peace times. According to the 1775 Phips Proclamation in Massachusetts, King George II of Britain called for “subjects to embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians.”
Colonists were paid for each Penobscot Native they killed – fifty pounds for adult male scalps, twenty-five for adult female scalps, and twenty for scalps of boys and girls under age twelve. These proclamations explicitly display the settlers’ “intent to kill”, a major indicator of genocidal acts.
U.S. History of Atrocities
After the American Revolution, many Native American lives were already lost to disease and displacement. In 1830, the federal Indian Removal Act called for the removal of the ‘Five Civilized Tribes’ – the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. Between 1830 and 1838, federal officials working on behalf of white cotton growers forced nearly 100,000 Indians out of their homeland. The dangerous journey from the southern states to “Indian Territory” in current Oklahoma is referred to as the Trail of Tears in which 4,000 Cherokee people died of cold, hunger, and disease.
As the United States expanded westward, violent conflicts over territory multiplied. In 1784, one British traveler noted:
“White Americans have the most rancorous antipathy to the whole race of Indians; and nothing is more common than to hear them talk of extirpating them totally from the face of the earth, men, women, and children.”
In particular, the 1848 California gold rush caused 300,000 people to migrate to San Francisco from the East Coast and South America. Historians believe that California was once the most densely and diversely populated area for Native Americans in U.S. territory; however, the gold rush had massive implications for Native American livelihoods. Toxic chemicals and gravel ruined traditional Native hunting and agricultural practices, resulting in starvation for many Natives.
Further, in 1850, the California state government passed the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians that addressed the punishment and protection of Native Americans, and helped to facilitate the removal of their culture and land. It also legalized slavery and was referenced for the buying and selling of Native children.
“A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct.”
– California Governor Peter H. Burnett, 1851
Authorities in Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of all 303 Indian males found guilty. Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South. He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota: They would pare the list of those to be hung down to 39. In return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds. Remember, he only owed the Sioux 1.4 million for the land.
So, on December 26, 1862, the Great Emancipator ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota.
In 1890, Wounded Knee, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota, government officials believed chief Sitting Bull was a Ghost Dancer, someone who rejects “the ways of the white man” and believes that the gods will create a new world without non-believers. In the process of arresting Sitting Bull, federal officials actually ended up killing him, causing a massive rebellion that led to the deaths of over 150 Natives in Pine Ridge.
Since the early 1900’s, advancements in Native American rights have been slow and piece-meal. At the turn of century, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. federal government has the right to overturn all Cherokee laws in the precedent-setting decision Cherokee Nation v. Hitchcock.
In 1949 the U.S. government took a another step back towards 19th century bigotry, as the Hoover Commission urged the assimilation of the Natives,
“The basis for historic Indian culture has been swept away. Traditional tribal organization was smashed a generation ago .… Assimilation must be the dominant goal of public policy.”
One year later, using the same post-war idea that prevented “Little Tokyos” in the U.S., the Commissioner of Indian Affairs began to implement ‘withdrawal planning’, or the termination and relocation of thousands of Natives to cities.
In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act which protects Native American children and the custody of their parents. Controversy has surrounded cases where state officials forcibly removed children from Native American families.
In Maine, the Maine Truth and Reconciliation Committee, for example, seeks to uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine child welfare system. These forcible removals are still happening today.
South Dakota continues to remove children at a rate higher than the vast majority of other states in the country.
Read more here – Were Native Americans Victims of Genocide?
The Indian Removal Act covers Jackson’s forced removal of Southern tribes from ancestral lands to Oklahoma – This began what is known as “The Trail of Tears.”
For those unfamiliar with the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Lakota I urge you to watch the videos below.
Pine Ridge is also the site of the 1973 stand by the Lakota known as Incident at Oglala or The “Wounded Knee Incident which happened to be on the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre of as many as 300 men, women and children in December of 1890. Those in the 1973 event were protesting mining in the Black Hills, particularly of Uranium which was poisoning the water supplies and well as people and livestock.
The US Government had FBI infiltrated into the area just as they did in the sixties in civil rights movements. In an incident during the standoff an FBI agent was killed and Leonard Peltier, a young Lakota and member of the American Indian Movement was framed for the murder and is still behind bars today.
Leonard Peltier is considered by Amnesty International, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Congress of American Indians, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rev. Jesse Jackson, among many others, to be a political prisoner who should be immediately released.
Below are links for more on Leonard Peltier:
It is my hope that some of the information I have shared above will help people to understand why Indigenous People get agitated over the fact that Native issues seem to be less important than those of other minorities.
So in closing, again I ask the question, why is there SO MUCH attention being paid to the civil war/rebel flag issue and NONE paid to the atrocities against the Indigenous by The United States of America?
Please read more on the issue of Indigenous People here in the United States
- Why Do Presidential Candidates Ignore Indigenous Issues
- Black Mesa Atrocities
- American Holocaust – The Ongoing Genocide Against The Indigenous
- Columbus Discovered He Was Lost