JR'S Free Thought Pages
The Genocide of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas
The 500 Year Holocaust
Who were the real “savages”?
"Unbelievers deserve not only to be separated from the Church, but also... to be exterminated from the World by death." - Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, 1271).
[As St. Thomas Aquinas had declared, Christian civilization, by virtue of its exclusivist heresy and monotheism, thus became the self-justifying destroyer of all non-Christian culture]
“One does not go to the top of a mountain for water or to a white man for the truth. “ – Traditional Saying
“As a child I understood how to give, I have forgotten this grace since I have become civilized.” - Luther Standing Bear, Oglala
“One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.” – Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse)
“My nation was ignored in your history textbooks - they were little more important in the history of Canada than the buffalo that ranged the plains. I was ridiculed in your plays and motion pictures, when I drank you fire water, I got drunk -- very, very drunk. And I forgot.” – Chief Dan George, hereditary Chief of the Coast Salish tribe and honorary Chief of the Squamish tribe of B.C (spoken during Canada’s Centenary, 1967)
“When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed this way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority.” – Chief Dan George (1967)
“When the white man came, we had the land and they had the bibles. Now they have the land and we have the bibles.” - Chief Dan George
Memory says, “I did that.” Pride replies, “I could not have done that.” Eventually memory yields. – Friedrich Nietzsche
A Brief Comment
From capitalism’s point of view, communal cultures…are enemy cultures – Eduardo Galeano, 1988
We Six Nations of Indians feel we have potentially a superior social system to that of the United States. If only we were left alone, we could redevelop our society…which was old in democracy when Europe knew only monarchs – Ernest Benedict, Mohawk, 1941
History is the set of lies we agreed upon – Napoleon Bonaparte
Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain describing his fist meeting with the Arawaks. “So tractable, so peaceable are these People that I swear to your Majesties there is not in the world a better nation. They love their neighbors as themselves, and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle and accompanied by a smile; and though it is true that they are naked, their manners are decorous and praiseworthy.”
African Americans held as slaves frequently fled to American Indian societies to escape their bondage. Many whites did the same but from apparent preference. What was so alluring about Native American culture? According to Ben Franklin, “All their government is by Council of the Sages. There is no force; there are no Prisons, no officers to compel obedience or inflict punishment.” There was a complete lack of the sort of hierarchical institutions and power establishments found in all white European societies and frontiersmen were often taken by the extent to which individuals within native cultures enjoyed tolerance, sharing, personal freedom and the sort of direct democracy espoused by anarchists. Women were accorded much more respect, status, power and freedom than within Christian white societies, something white women noted with envy in captivity recollections. Liberty, fraternity and equality was an integral part of native culture and their egalitarianism may have been instrumental in filtering into the minds of people such as Thomas More, Locke, Montaigne, Rousseau as well as Franklin, Jefferson and Madison.
What is Genocide?
I fought through the Civil War and have seen men shot to pieces and slaughtered in the thousands, but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest work I ever knew – Georgia volunteer, c. 1870
The expression "genocide" did not exist before 1944. It’s a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group. Human rights, as laid out in the U.S. Bill of Rights or the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, concern the rights of individuals.
In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) sought to describe Nazi policies of systematic murder, including the destruction of the European Jews. He formed the word "genocide" by combining geno-, from the Greek word for race or tribe, with -cide, from the Latin word for killing. In proposing this new term, Lemkin had in mind "a coordinated plan of various actions aimed at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves." The next year, the International Military Tribunal held at Nuremberg, Germany, charged top Nazis with "crimes against humanity." The word “genocide” was included in the indictment, but as a descriptive, not legal, term.
History begins for us with murder and enslavement, not discovery – William Carlos Williams
Empires and churches are born under the sun of death – Albert Camus
I never apologize for the United States of America; I don’t care what the facts are – George Bush I (like father, like son) , 1988
The Jewish Holocaust was just blip in the historical record both in terms of scale and duration when compared to the genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Americas by the Christian white man. As the passage by St. Thomas Aquinas confirms, Christian civilization, by virtue of its exclusivist orthodoxy and oppressive monotheism, thus became the self-justifying destroyer of all non-Christian culture. This was to be the case not only in the Americas but wherever the white man imposed himself on native peoples, whether in Africa, Asia or Australia.
One of the most powerful, challenging, well-documented, lucid and compelling books I've read recently is A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present by professor of ethnic studies Ward Churchill from the University of Colorado from 1990 to 2007. If you think you know American History, and haven't read this book, you're only looking at the tip of the atrocity iceberg. Anyone in my age group growing up in the 1950s and 1960s was systematically indoctrinated into the feel good self-righteous cultural bias, ethnocentrism and overt racism from the perspective of Christian white men. When I think of the many Western movies and television shows I saw as a youngster and the pious pretentious crap that was touted as honorable such as such as Manifest Destiny and of civilizing the “savages” and “heathen” by ramming Christian dogma down their throats and the fuzzy self-righteous drivel we were spoon fed in our history classes and by the culture in general, my blood boils. It’s particularly disturbing the manner in which Native American Indians, their culture and religion, were depicted as something less than civilized, less rational and less than human. Indigenous peoples were considered mere vermin, inconvenient obstacles to be simply obliterated by the onslaught of greedy white land grabbing Christians in search of gold and other natural resources that were on land inhabited by these indigenous peoples for thousands of years. I challenge anyone who still accepts the standard folklore of cultural and racial bias and bigotry to take off your rose-tinted spectacles and read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee *as a starting point on the path toward enlightenment and the historical truth. Then move on to the books written more recently by David Stannard (American Holocaust) and Ward Churchill (A Little matter of Genocide). Add to that Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen and A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn for a more comprehensive far-reaching treatment of the distortions, omissions and blatant lies promoted by popular American History textbooks, many of which are still currently being used in our schools to obfuscate and indoctrinate. The fascist sympathizer and Hitler admirer Henry Ford once said “history is bunk.” However, Ford’s assertion was not motivated by the fact he realized that what he was taught in school was total crap, bullshit written by greedy racist white men with “forked tongues.” This I’m sorry to say would be to take his famous statement totally out of context. If Ford meant “the way history is taught is bunk” then there would be some morsel of wisdom in what he said.
Particularly during the early days of the European invasion of the Americas, when the Spaniards including Columbus and others who followed could not count on enslavement and outright slaughter of those indigenous peoples who did not comply, they knew they could count on the numerous diseases that were imported by the white man for which the natives had no immunity. Henry Dobyns put together a harrowing list of ninety-three epidemics among Native Americans between 1520 and 1918. He has recorded forty-one eruptions of smallpox, four of bubonic plague, seventeen of measles and ten of influenza (both often deadly among Native Americans), and twenty-five of tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhus, cholera, and other diseases. Many of these outbreaks reached truly pandemic proportions, beginning in Florida or Mexico and stopping only when they reached the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Disease played the same crucial role in Mexico and Peru as it did in Massachusetts. How did the Spanish manage to conquer what is now Mexico City? "When the Christians were exhausted from war, God saw fit to send the Indians smallpox, and there was a great pestilence in the city." When the Spanish marched into Tenochtitlan, there were so many bodies that they had to walk on them. Most of the Spaniards were immune to the disease, and that fact itself helped to crush Aztec morale.'
The pestilence continues today. Miners and loggers recently introduced European diseases to the Yanomamos of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, killing a fourth of their total population in 1991 alone. Charles Darwin, writing in 1839, put it almost poetically: "Wherever the European had trod, death seems to pursue the aboriginal." The aboriginal population of California was reduced to 30,000 from 300,000 a century earlier in 1769 by which time it had been reduced by 50% by various diseases introduced by the Spaniards. The California gold rush brought nothing but oppression, disease, destruction, starvation, homicide and an alarming declining birth rate.
The crucial role played by the plagues in the Americas can be inferred from two simple population estimates: William McNeill reckons the population of the Americas at one hundred million in 1492, while William Langer suggests that Europe had only about seventy million people when Columbus set forth. The Europeans' advantages in military and social technology might have enabled them to dominate the Americas, as they eventually dominated China, India, Indonesia, and Africa, but not to "settle" the hemisphere. For that, the plague was required. Thus, apart from the European (and African) invasion itself, the pestilence is surely the most important event in the history of America.
*Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: (1970) the author, Dee Brown who is a white man by the way, lets the records and the personal reports of the various participants in the events of the American Indian wars of the 19th Century speak for themselves. He creates thereby a narrative that is more riveting than any modern adventure novel and more poignant than even the finest of the Greek tragedies. The work is very well researched, with extensive footnotes and an excellent bibliography of the author's sources. It is also wonderfully illustrated, with photos or paintings of the various leaders of the Native American tribes of the time. It is a veritable who's who of the native peoples of the American west from the time of the Civil War to 1890 and there are short biographies of many of the more important individuals. Names like Black Kettle of the Cheyenne, Little Crow of the Santee Sioux, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse of the Oglala Sioux, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces ("I will fight no more forever,") Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Sioux, and Cochise and Geronimo of the Chiricahua Apaches are among those most likely to be recognized by non-native Americans. Also included are some of the key participants of the American military such as General Philip Sheridan (“the only good Indian is a dead Indian”) ** and the sociopathic vile racist former Methodist preacher John M Chivington, responsible for the Sand Creek massacre (starkly reminiscent of the Mai Lai massacre during the Vietnam War), who relished at the thought of slaughtering as many Indians as he could (“I want no peace until the Indians suffer more”). When at a meeting with native chiefs designed to make peace with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, he was upset by:”What shall I do with the Third Colorado regiment if I make peace? They have been raised to kill Indians and they must kill Indians.” Before become a soldier who killed scores of innocent defenseless women and children at Sand Creek, he devoted much of his time organizing Sunday school classes in gold mining camps. In a Denver speech, in August of 1864, Chivington is quoted as saying:”kill and scalp all, little and big... nits make lice”. He was applauded, and the phrase became the slogan among his fighting regiment.
What I found most interesting was the extent to which the various tribes were able to hold out against the odds, even resoundingly defeating the US military that hounded them nearly to extinction. It is evident from even a quick reading that it was less military superiority than the policy of starving out the people by destruction of land, animals, and other property that brought about defeat of the tribes. The US military of the time made a war on women, children and the elderly, slaughtering even infants in surprise raids made in undeclared wars or in provoked confrontations. It was starvation, freezing weather, and disease brought these proud people to their knees, as much as it was military might. Dee Brown’s book ends in 1890 but the atrocities and mistreatment of Native Americans continued unabated for over a century after that.
Hampton Sides, in the forward to the 2007 edition, had this to say about Brown’s ground breaking history:
In much the same way that Rachel Carson's Silent Spring ignited the modern environmental movement, Brown's work almost single-handedly awakened the public conscience to America's forked-tongued plundering of her indigenous peoples. A writer for Life noted that the book had the quiet, steady relentlessness of "a crime file." By taking a panoramic view, by hewing to the documents, and by telling the Native Americans' stories in their own words, Brown was able to show how the U.S. government had consistently employed a pattern of deception and manipulation to wrest ancestral lands from tribe after tribe. "What surprised me most was how much the Indians believed the white man over and over again," Brown told a newspaper reporter in the early 1970s. "Their trust in authority was amazing. They just never seemed to believe that anyone could lie." It was as though Bury My Heart has caused Americans to rethink everything, to reset the moral compass, to start over. Dee Brown died in 2002.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee won over the critics. A reviewer for The New York Times declared it "impossible to read and impossible to put down." N. Scott Momaday, the Pulitzer-winning Kiowa novelist and poet, called it "a narrative of singular integrity" and praised Brown for giving readers "a better understanding of what it is that nags at the American conscience." Geoffrey Wolf, at the conclusion of his rave review in Newsweek, confessed that no book he ever read "has saddened me and shamed me as this book has. Because the experience of reading it has made me realize for once and all that we really don't know who we are, or where we came from, or what we have done, or why."
** In January, 1869, General Sheridan held a conference with 50 Indian chiefs at Fort Cobb in the so-called Indian Territory (later part of Oklahoma). At that time, Sheridan, who had gained recognition as a Union officer in the Civil War, was in charge of the Dept. of the Missouri. One of his duties was to oversee the Indian Territory, making sure that the Indians remained on their reservations and did not harass the white settlers. When Comanche chief Toch-a-way was introduced to the racist bigot Sheridan at the conference, the Indian said to him: "Me Toch-a-way, me good Indian." Sheridan reportedly smirked and replied, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." Later on, the remark became "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." This opinion lingered on, becoming the catchphrase for US government policy on indigenous peoples. Another infamous, Indian fighter made the following incredible remarks at a speech in January of 1886 in New York: "I suppose I should be ashamed to say that I take the Western view of the Indian. I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth." These words were spoken by Theodore Roosevelt less than 15 years before he became President of the United States. The buzzwords for US government policy today in light of the criminal debacle called the War in Iraq I expect can be updated: “The only good Arab is a dead Arab.” The secret to understanding war and oppression is always the same...follow the money. The American general Smedley Butler said in 1935, "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious [racket]. It is international in scope, the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few (who never “shouldered a rifle” – the Dick Cheney’s and George W Bush’s of the world), at the expense of the very many”.
In consideration of the imperialistic venture of the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan these episodes of international conflict and the tragic treatment of the Native American population should be a cautionary tale of what can happen when the self righteous, the culturally narrow, the ambitious, and the greedy use the power of the state and the military to achieve their own agenda. The types of people responsible for the near eradication of a race of people by the end of the 19th Century are still common enough today. In my opinion the aforementioned books should be required reading for any American history course from junior high school level and beyond. Understanding history is arguably the most important subject for a responsible citizen in a democratic society. Only by raising the consciousness of the average citizen from youth onward can the specter of racism and barbarism on this scale possibly be avoided. Not a week passes that we fail to hear about the Jewish Holocaust perpetrated by Hitler and his Third Reich where six million Jews were killed. Literally hundreds of documentaries have been made and thousands of books have been written on the Jewish holocaust but on the issue of the calculated genocide of 100 or more million indigenous peoples of the Americas over five centuries, with rare exceptions, we remain silent. Ironically Hitler displayed more knowledge of how we treated Native Americans than most citizens and students today who rely on their history textbooks. Hitler admired the concentration camps for American Indians and according to his biographer John Toland, “often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and uneven combat” as the model for extermination of Jews and Gypsies.
Ward Churchill’s A Little Matter of Genocide
When the Christians were exhausted from war, God saw fit to send the Indians smallpox – Francisco de Aguilar, 1525
Treaties were expedients by which ignorant, intractable and savage people were induced…to yield up what civilized people had a right to posses – George Gilmer, governor of Georgia, c . 1830
Starting from the staggering facts of the genocide against his own Native American people, Ward Churchill who is a Keetoowah Cherokee and Professor of American Indian Studies with the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado narrates the history of genocide and the struggle for a definition of the term sufficiently accurate and comprehensive, to prevent both the watering down or narrowing of the concept, and to cut through the misleading rhetoric which now obfuscates debate, thereby permitting this and other genocides to continue: "During the four centuries spanning the time between 1492, when Christopher Columbus first set foot on the 'New World' of a Caribbean beach and 1892, when the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that there were fewer than a quarter-million indigenous people surviving within the country's boundaries, a hemispheric population estimated to have been as great as 125 million was reduced by something over 90 percent. The people had died in their millions of being hacked apart with axes and swords, buried alive and trampled under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed, scalped for bounty, hanged on meat hooks and thrown over the sides of ships at sea, worked to death as slave laborers, intentionally starved and frozen to death during a multitude of forced marches and internments, and, in an unknown number of instances, deliberately infected with epidemic diseases" Later he concludes, "All told, it is probable that more than one hundred million native people were 'eliminated' in the course of Europe's ongoing 'civilization' of the western hemisphere". Yet this ghastly history is denied, suppressed, minimized, or even celebrated by deniers of what both Ward Churchill and David Stannard call the American Holocaust.
In spite of the exhaustive documentation for mass extermination in the American holocaust and the obvious inclusion of Slavs, Gypsies, Ukrainians and others besides Jews in the German extermination program there are still those who deny that the term "genocide" applies to Native Americans and they are the same in some instances as those who deny that the term "genocide" can be applied to any group other than the European Jews.
Churchill explains this as follows: "But preposterous as some of the argumentation has become, all of it is outstripped by a substantial component of Zionism which contends not only that the American holocaust never happened, but that no "true" genocide has ever occurred, other than the Holocaust suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Nazis during the first half of the 1940s". In a very closely reasoned discussion, Churchill shows that there is a close relationship between those who deny the historicity of genocide against the Jews under Hitler's Germany -- a fact of history which Churchill, like Edward Said for instance, regards as established -- and those who claim that atrocity was and remains the only holocaust to which the term applies: these two positions are two sides of the same coin in Churchill's view. Both positions falsify the whole subject and make objective discussion impossible. Reviewing the public statements of "deniers" and "exclusivists," Churchill asks what motive lies behind these patently false positions. The exclusivists, he says, have an agenda of establishing a "truth" which serves to compel permanent maintenance of the privileged political status of Israel, "the Jewish state established on Arab land in 1947 as an act of international atonement for the Holocaust. ... and to construct a conceptual screen behind which to hide the realities of Israel's ongoing genocide against the Palestinian population whose right and property were usurped in its very creation". But why, Churchill asks, do intellectuals and public figures in the rest of the world buy into such a "thoroughly dishonest enterprise?" He analyses the confluence of interest which he believes explains at least some of this collusion: by seeming to accept "exclusivism", i.e., by seeming to believe that only the Jewish people have ever been the victims of genocide, these other interests gain automatic exemption from coming to grips with various unpleasant skeletons in their own closets. Turkey and Israel, for example, have an unholy alliance: Turkey will piously agree that only the Jewish people have suffered true genocide, in return for Israel's looking the other way from genocide in the past -- against the Armenians – and genocide in the present against the Kurds. The US can entertain itself with Hollywood dramatizations of the Diary of Anne Frank and repeated screenings of the Shoah -- their importance and horror notwithstanding -- yet and while carrying on with the nuclear pollution of Native American lands and the continuing impoverishment and deracination of the Indian people, meanwhile avoiding the genocidal character of its Korean and Viet Nam adventures and more recently in Iraq.
Germany can piously distance itself from its Hitleian past, paying reparations to Jewish survivors, while continuing the active persecution and ghettoization of its Gypsy population without the unpleasant admission that they too are Holocaust survivors. Churchill throws light on the American Revolution and on the Cold War as he pursues the subject of genocide: the colonists opposed England in the years leading up to 1776, he points out, not just over the issue of taxation without representation as we have been taught, but because the Mother Country, engaged in conflicts in Europe, was trying to sign peace treaties with local Indian tribes and cut its losses, while the settlers still wished to expand into "free land" just like the Jewish/American settlers greedy for the "free land" in the West Bank and Gaza today. And US refusal to accept the "communistic" plan of a world-wide structure designed to settle international conflict in non-violent ways, sought instead to impose a "world order" through the attainment of the very kind of unassailable military ascendancy -- and consequent global politico-economic dominance -- for the US that Hitler had earlier desired for Germany. Contrary to what now passes as "responsible" analysis in US scholarship, Churchill concludes, this bellicosity was not an "outgrowth" of the Cold War. Rather, as Noam Chomsky has argued, it was the cause of it.
To understand the applicability of “genocide” to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, one needs to virtually ignore the cultural bias, ethnocentrism and racism inherent in the way history has been taught in our educational institutions and disseminated through the mass media. The typical Western movie from the 1950’s presents native Indians as savages, reduced to the level of vermin, who must be obliterated to make room for the superior good Christian white man. The first movie I can recall that even remotely attempted to depict native Indians as intelligent human beings with genuine moral sensibilities, having the same hopes and dreams as other sentient beings was Little Big Man in 1970. The movie featured brilliant performances by Dustin Hoffman and Chief Dan George (“First we had the land and they had the Bibles, now we have the Bibles and they have the land.”) In that same year we saw the publication of a ground breaking history of the American West from the perspective of the oppressed and defeated. In the book by Dee Brown called Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, it becomes patently clear who the real savages were. It’s one of the most enlightening, yet disturbing books I have ever read. It wasn’t until reading Dee Browns book several decades ago that I realized “scapling” was a barbaric ritual performed by white men on native peoples, first introduced by the Spaniards and later adopted by the English and French as a practice of mutilation of dead natives. I suppose it wasn’t enough to just kill them. The practice was also brought into service to be used as evidence for killing an Indian so that one could receive the government bounty (“the only good Indian is a dead Indian” – General Philip Sheridan (1869)) Yes, bounties were imposed on native Indians as if they insects to be squashed or vermin to be eradicated such as were wolves and coyotes. Since then we have just re-read the new 2007 edition of Dee Brown’s classic as well as several more recent comprehensive revisionist histories of the indigenous peoples including American Holocaust by David E Stannard and A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present by Ward Churchill. These two scholarly books by University professors cover the period from the time of Columbus to the present and are heavily documented and backed up with hundreds of pages of footnotes.
These two books I highly recommend for anyone who wants to truly understand the real history of native peoples. If you have never read any Native American history start with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and proceed from there. Recently HBO has made a move loosely based on Dee Browns great book but it leaves out a lot and adds a few events that were not in the book – but it’s worth watching is spite of leaving out so many of the more despicable atrocities perpetrated on natives. Of the approximately 400 treaties the American government made with the native peoples not a single one was honored. They were relegated to reservation lands that were nothing better than concentration camps. These lands were invariably unsuitable for agriculture, lacked water resources and had no game. But whenever anything of value such as mineral resources or oil were found on these bleak reservation lands, they were exploited by the good Christian white man, thereby pushing the natives further into economic and cultural oblivion.
At the onset of the twentieth century, primarily because of public outrage and other socio-political factors, the Christian white man could no longer continue the systematic slaughter they proceeded to remove all remnants of their culture, including language, religion and other sacred beliefs, proceeding with a harsh systematic indoctrination into the white Christian culture. Children were taken from parents and placed into bleak tyrannical residential Christian schools to be indoctrinated into Christian dogma. This vile policy of penance and propaganda persisted well into the 1970s. My wife visited a Catholic residential school in the late 1950s when she was still in elementary school at Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia where she grew up. Her experience on that visit over 50 years ago still haunts her to this day. Upon entering the school, she can still vividly recall the powerful odor of bleach and the vacant stares of the native Indian children. When she sympathetically attempted to engage in a friendly conversation with one of native girls the child was severely reprimanded by the attending Catholic nun for merely responding.
Conditions for Canadian indigenous people in the 20th century at least were really no better than those in the United States. A scathing indictment in a documentary by United Church minister Kevin Annett called Hidden from History: The Untold Story of the Genocide of Canadian Aboriginal People in Canada can be viewed here:
The Hidden from History Web Site is here: http://www.hiddenfromhistory.org/
For information on the scandal of cultural genocide in Canada’s residential schools, follow this link: http://www.shannonthunderbird.com/residential_schools.htm
For a personal account go here: http://www.danielnpaul.com/IndianResidentialSchools.html
CBC ran a documentary on the residential schools called Lost Heritage and video clips can be viewed here: http://archives.cbc.ca/society/education/topics/692/
It may encourage a better understanding of why many of these people to a large extent remain dysfunctional while they attempt to re-discover their historical identities, language, religious traditions and culture.
Native Indian Quotes:
“The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. How
can you buy or sell the sky? The warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can
you buy them from us? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.
“We have sat and watched them pass here to get gold out and have said nothing… My friends, when I went to Washington I went into your money-house and I had some young men with me, but none of them took any money out of that house while I was with them. At the same time, when your Great Father’s people come into my country, they go into my money-house (the Black Hills) and take money out. “ - Mawatani Hanska (Long Mandan)
If it had not been for the massacres, there would have been a great many more people here now; but after that massacre who could have stood it? When I made peace with Lieutenant Whitman my heart was very big and happy. The people of Tucson and San Xavier must be crazy. They have acted as though they had neither heads nor hearts… they must have a thirst for our blood… These Tucson people write for the papers and tell their own story. The Apaches have no one to tell their story. – Eskiminzin (Aravaipa Apaches)
“How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right." - Black Hawk (Sauk)
“Our wise men are called Fathers, and they truly sustain that character. Do you call yourselves Christians? Does the religion of Him who you call your Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices? Surely not. It is recorded of him that a bruised reed he never broke. Cease then to call yourselves Christians, lest you declare to the world your hypocrisy. Cease too to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they. No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthwhile action, but the consciousness of having served his nation. I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand." - Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) spoken to King George III
“It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one's spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.” - Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman)
“We had no churches, no religious organization, no Sabbath days, no holidays, and yet we worshiped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble and sing and pray: sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only two or three. The songs had a few words, but were not formal. The singer would occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual tone sound. Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us. At other times one would rise and speak to us of our duties to each other and to Usen. Our services were short.” - Geronimo (Goyathlay) Chiricahua
“We have been south and suffered a great deal down there. Many have died of diseases which we have no name for. Our hearts looked and longed for this country where we were born. There are only a few of us left, and we only wanted a little ground, where we could live. We left our lodges standing, and ran away into the night. The troops followed us. I rode out and told the troops that we did not want to fight; we only wanted to go north, and if they left us alone we would kill no one. The only reply we got was a volley. After that we had to fight our way, but we killed none that did not fire at us first. My brother, Dull Knife, took one half of the band and surrendered near Fort Robinson….They gave up their guns, and the whites killed them all.” - Ohcumgache (Little Wolf) of the Northern Cheyenne
"In 1868, men came out and brought papers. We could not read them and they did not tell us truly what was in them. We thought the treaty was to remove the forts and for us to cease from fighting. But they wanted to send us traders on the Missouri, but we wanted traders where we were. When I reached Washington, the Great Father explained to me that the interpreters had deceived me. All I want is right and just." - Mahpiua Luta (Red Cloud), Oglala Lakota
“No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers.... Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn't the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? The way, the only way to stop this evil is for the red man to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was first, and should be now, for it was never divided." We gave them forest-clad mountains and valleys full of game, and in return what did they give our warriors and our women? Rum, trinkets, and a grave.” – Tecumseh, Shawnee
“The Soldiers came to the borders of the village and forced us across the Niobrara to the other side, just as one would drive a herd of ponies; and the soldiers pushed us until we came to the Platte River. They drove us on in advance just as if we were a herd of ponies, and I said, "If I have to go, I'll go to that land. Let the soldiers go away, our women are afraid of them." And so I reached the Warm Land (Indian Territory). We found the land there was bad and we were dying one after another, and we said, "What man will take pity on us?" And our animals died. Oh, it was very hot. "This land is truly sickly, and we'll be apt to die here, and we hope the Great Father will take us back again." That is what we said. There were one hundred of us died there.” - White Eagle of the Poncas