It is hard for me to think of America, the country that I live in, without recalling all that I’ve learned over the years about the Native American people and what we as “Americans” have done to them. Sure, in elementary and high school we are given a broad overview, which doesn’t necessarily highlight the heinous crimes committed, just as young little Germans are given a broad overview of who Hitler was. (To support that last sentence, while spending time in Germany in an adult education course, my instructor, as we discussed WW2, was playing down the atrocities and then told me that ‘Hitler was an Austrian you know’. So, that shows you how instructors are taught to kind of….’brush over’ that little smudge on their countries reputation.) In fact, Adolf Hitler is known to have studied what the United States did to the Native Americans when planning his own genocide. He used it as inspiration. Hmmm….curious. And we’re the good guys. You sure?
How many Native Americans did our government actually murder, whether directly or indirectly? There’s a wide gap in the estimates that you will find. Some scholars say around 10 million and some people even say upwards of 100 million. I’m apt the believe that the official number is somewhere in the middle of those two. Why? Well because if you have any common sense, you’ll know that history is written by the conquerors. OF COURSE the US Government would play down the official death toll for its beloved citizens. “Oh hunny….we only killed 1 million people. That’s not THAT many. Let’s buy this 500 acre plot of land for .50 cents and open a farm! Yay!’. Either way….we killed tens of millions of native inhabitants just so we could have a home. That’s defined as theft right? And yes, disease, smallpox and plague played into lots of the deaths as well, but those are diseases that Europeans brought with them.
It’s a difficult topic to research and find solid information on because so much of that information has been buried. Also, Native Americans have an oral tradition so it’s very possible that a lot of the history and knowledge from many past elders has faded with time. Of course, you can do a quick google search on this topic… but there are some very good Native American authors that I’d urge you to read, including Joseph Marshall III and David E. Stannard (though he’s not Native American). Why am I writing about this and why do I even care, being that I’m not Native American? Well….I live in this country. As a citizen I’d like to know the history of the place I call my home. I find the Native American culture fascinating and I believe that their wisdom and teachings are tantamount to succeeding as a person and as a country. I hope to see a day where the U.S. Government and the U.S. President will actually openly apologize to the Native Americans, rather than giving them a cheap and underhanded whiff. Ya know? A real apology…with fanfare, tv specials, ceremonies, charities and large reparations, with suitable and sustainable parcels of their homeland given back to them, with reasonable subsidies given to their families so they can thrive, revive their culture, religion and way of life and not become poverty stricken alcoholics. Our American ancestors were thieves and murderers. We killed their culture, raped and murdered their people, displaced them and destroyed their way of life….for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. We could at least acknowledge it, properly educate ourselves about it and give the remaining Native Americans a large slice of the pie that we’ve been eating for the past 400 years. After all….we stole that pie from them. You might say, ‘Hey…but they’ve got their casino land and are wealthy now….so we’re even’. Come on now hypothetical guy who said that….don’t be foolish.
I wasn’t there during the colonization of America. I wasn’t involved in the killing of the natives. I didn’t rape and scalp Indians and then murder thousands of buffalos just so the Native Americans would starve. I’m sorry for it. But I wasn’t there. And now….. I enjoy the life that I’ve been raised in and have become accustomed to as an ‘American’. I’m not saying we should demolish all our houses and revert back to the ways that the Native Americans lived (though some of the things that existed in their former lifestyles are very attractive). For one, those of us who come from other countries, however far back the genealogy goes, are not ‘natives’ in America. And two…..once you put milk in the coffee….it’s kind of hard to get it out. So, we can’t just go backwards and change history, however horrible it may be, and live in a world of ‘what if’s’. But what is essential… is to remember what our ancestors did…..understand it, accept it, formulate a better and more respectful way to live…..and move on. Otherwise, we’re doomed to continue dealing with corrupt politicians, a pure profit driven society, oppression, war, famine, a highly stressed out populace and an under educated, short attention spanned, reality-show obsessed culture. Maybe if we had some Native American leaders in political office….things would get better. Philosophies could change. Who knows? It’s worth a shot because as many pro’s as ‘America’ has….the list of con’s has been steadily growing.
Why do I say we as a people and a country would be doomed? Well….look at it this way. When two people in a marriage have a problem, it gets better and/or goes away once it’s brought out into the open, discussed, and then resolved. When the problem is ignored….or the other persons opinion is rejected or passed over….the problem gets worse, and worse and worse….until there’s a HUGE FIGHT. We’re connected to the Native Americans, whether we think we are or not. And if ‘we’ (the US government….and it’s citizens) don’t fix the problem that ‘we’ created…..it’s going to continue to be a problem. It will be this underlying, spiteful, festering anger…(no matter if another 500 years pass’s before anything proper is done). Call it a Native American curse, call it karma, call it whatever you want….but ya know….fixing the problem….that’s called LOGIC. Maybe our country and even our world is a such a disaster, filled with hatred and injustice, because we can’t mend our root problems? Maybe…just maybe?
Hey….I’m just a regular white guy with a blog…..but I hope that I’ve struck a chord in some way and have encouraged you to learn more about the Native American people (through books or films or museum visits), to join their cause and/or to amend your attitude about them. They’re a great people with a rich history, in each and every one of their tribes, and they deserve the utmost respect.
Thanks for reading this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. As always….do your best. Be as kind as you can. Follow the Golden Rule. And have a great night.