Kim: On Discussion on Native American Genocide...

I wanted to highlight Kim's recent comment here:

I think it is imperative that everyone in America and Canada learn ALL sides of their history. In America, we are not taught American Indian history in school. Only the so-called victors’ side of history is acknowledged. I will bet that Native history isn’t taught in Canada either. Even, myself, as a member of an Oklahoma tribe did not learn about my tribal, Oklahoma, and American Indian history in general until my own personal recent in-depth study. Like I mentioned, I have written a picture book about the destruction of my tribe. I am in a few writing critique groups. When one of the groups (all Caucasians) read my story, they asked me if they could read about this information in the library. I told them it was all there. They actually wanted to know more!

They were all shocked to find out that the land run (that our state celebrates each year through reenactments in our public schools etc.) actually stole land away from tribes. Yes, Oklahoma was formed on land thievery. Oklahoma schools even celebrate this. My son’s third grade class dressed up in European attire and had a land run reenactment. I wrote a letter to the school telling them that he would not be attending that day to celebrate the stealing of our tribal land. We celebrated our Native history instead with a trip to the Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko, Oklahoma. The interesting thing is as I child I participated in the land run reenactment at school as my own parents did not know the history. My dad’s family was from Anadarko, Oklahoma and my great-grandfather wanted a better life for his kids and moved them to the city (Oklahoma City). My dad then went to an all white school and pretty much did what was passed down -- forgot he was Indian. We are all reclaiming that part of ourselves and it is like coming home.

Here is an interesting article regarding the history of the Oklahoma land run…

Click here

I know that the Trail of Tears story is taught in schools, but did you know that tribes like my own tribe which is actually aboriginal to Oklahoma already owned the land in Oklahoma? My tribe is one of those “uncivilized” tribes. Only the tribes that adopted the white lifestyle like owning slaves were considered civilized by the way.

Also, many people do not realize that the worse genocidal efforts were not of the Holocaust against Jews. It was the American Indian genocide that happened right here in America. Did you know that the U.S. government sterilized thousands of Native women, in many cases, without their consent?
Click here, on forced sterilization...

I’m not sure how we can get schools to teach the truth about American Indian history in schools. That is one of the reasons why I wrote my picture book. All I can do is pray, write about Native topics and teach my own children the truth. I told them the true story of Columbus and Thanksgiving. As for my own journey of repentance and reconciliation, I am honestly still working on that. God is slowly healing my soul. He has ignited a passion in me for writing the truth about history for children. I have a journalism background, but have finally found my calling.

Kim, I passionately sympathize, though I confess the solution is far beyond my comprehension. I'm sure there are many solutions, and none of them can undo, solve or remedy that damage that's been done. Americans of European descent are living on stolen land with - as you said - the blood of millions on our hands, staining our family trees.

Jake Page's In the Hands of the Great Spirit references Henry Dobyns, who estimates there were 18 million American Indians present at first contact with Western Europeans. He also suggested that in 1492 there were likely 112 million native peoples in the hemisphere, the majority in Mexico and Central America. These estimates are shockingly higher than earlier [placating] numbers that tend toward numbers closer to 1 million, total in North America.

If the high numbers are true, then the truth of your genocide comment is almost too horrible to imagine, Kim.

Page writes:

By the early part of the twentieth century, there were only some 250,000 American Indians alive, their lowest ebb since millennia ago. Their population had been reduced in the four hundred years of recorded history by as much as 95 percent... [p. 105]

3 comments:

Erin Wilson said...

Can't speak for the whole of Canada, but where I grew up certainly little was taught about Native history. I don't actually like to phrase it that way. I really believe that as we all share this place, it's our history.

And I would have to say that the injustice goes on. It wasn't very long ago that residential schools still existed. Native kids were taken from their families, placed in (for the most part) church-run boarding schools, where many were sexually abused, many more were physically abused, and all were forbidden to practice their language and culture in any way. I count that as one of the most shameful parts of our history.

The most shameful though continues today. You know, just prior to when Bishop Desmond Tutu visitied Canada's north a few years back, he was asked to make a statement about the condition of Canada's native peoples. He said that he doesn't get involved in local politics, and would not be making any statement. Well, after he visited some northern communities, he was so shocked by the living conditions (many northern communities still lack access to clean water) that he made a statement that this was as bad as poverty he has witnessed in Africa. And most Canadians don't have a clue. Shame on us.

Peter said...

Whoa, Erin, thanks for sharing - I wasn't aware at all of Bishop Tutu's visit. That's shocking!

Wickle said...

If you try to bring up this kind of thing in the US, you hear the cry of "revisionism," as if it's wrong to revise one's errors. Or then there's the "political correctness" charge, when (in fact) it is the suppression of truth to present a sugar-coated US history, not to report the evil that was done.

Thanks for sharing this. We in the US really do need to spend more time thinking about and considering where we really came from, rather than the romanticized version of history that makes us out as the good guys at all times.

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