The American Indian Holocaust, known as the “500 year war” and the “World’s Longest Holocaust In The History Of Mankind And Loss Of Human Lives.”
Death Toll: 95,000,000 to 114,000,000
“It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem”. (DIA Archives, RG 10 series).
“The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world,” writes historian David E. Stannard
“Their canoes and fishing weirs were smashed, their villages and agricultural fields burned to the ground. Indian peace offers were accepted by the English only until their prisoners were returned; then, having lulled the natives into false security, the colonists returned to the attack.” – David E. Stannard
The “Indian Removal” policy was implemented to “clear” land for white settlers. Removal was more than another assault on American Indians’ land titles. Insatiable greed for land remained a primary consideration, but many people now believed that the removal was the only way of saving American Indians from extermination. As long as the American Indians lived in close proximity to non-Native American communities, they would be decimated by disease, alcohol, and poverty. The Indian Removal Act began in 1830. Forced marches at bayonet-point to relocation settlements resulted in high mortality rates. The infamous removal of the Five Civilized Tribes — the Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Seminoles — is a dismal page in United States history. By the 1820′s the Cherokees, who had established a written constitution modeled after the United States Constitution, a newspaper, schools, and industries in their settlements, resisted removal. In 1938 the federal troops evicted the Cherokees. Approximately four thousand Cherokees died during the removal process because of poor planning by the United States Government. This exodus to Indian Territory is known as the Trail of Tears. More than one hundred thousand American Indians eventually crossed the Mississippi River under the authority of the Indian Removal Act.
Article II of United Nations General Assembly resolution, 1946: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. In the mid-1970s a Choctaw-Tsalagi Indian Health Services doctor was approached by a 26-year-old American Indian woman who desired a “wonb transplant.” She had been sterilized when she was 20 at the Indian Health Service hospital in Claremont, Oklahoma. It was discoverd that 75 percent of the Claremont sterilizations were non-therapeutic, that women American Indians were being prompted to sign sterilization forms they didn’t understand, that they were being told the operations were reversible, and that some women were even being asked to sign sterilization papers while they had yet to come out of birthing sedation.
Common Sense magazine reported that the Indian Health Service “was sterilizing 3,000 Indian women per year, 4 to 6 percent of the child bearing population…Dr. R. T. Ravenholt, [then] director of the federal government’s Office of Population, later confirmed that ‘surgical sterilization has become increasingly important in recent years as one of the advanced methods of fertility management’.” Ravenholt’s response to these inquires “told the population Association of America in St. Louis that the critics were ‘a really radical extremist group lashing out at a responsible program so that revolution would occur’.”
From the beginning of European control there has been an unrelenting drive to commit genocide over another culture. The American Indians were a majority so the Europeans called them an enemy. One of the major facts the United States Government has failed to understand is that the spiritual aspect of life is inseparable from the economic and the political aspects. The loss of tradition and memory will be the loss of positive sense of self. Those reared in traditional American Native societies are inclined to relate events and experiences to one another, they do not organize perceptions or external events in terms of dualities or priorities. This egalitarianism is reflected in the structure of American Indian literature, which does not rely on conflict, crises, and resolution for organization.
American Indians felt comfortable with the environment, close to the moods and rhythms of nature, in time with the living planet. Europeans were quite different, viewing the earth itself as lifeless and inorganic, subject to any kind of manipulation or alteration. Europeans tended to be alienated from nature and came to the New World to use the wilderness, to conquer and exploit its natural wealth for private gain.
But for American Indians, the environment was sacred, possessing a cosmic significance equal to its material riches. The earth was sacred — a haven for all forms of life — and it had to be protected, nourished, and even worshipped. Chief Smoholla of the Wanapun tribe illustrated American Native reverence for the earth when he said in 1885:
“God said he was the father of and earth was the mankind; that nature was the law; that the animals, and fish and plants beyond nature, and that man only was sinful.
You ask me to plow the ground! Shall I take a knife and tear my mother’s bosom?
Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest.
You ask me to dig for stone! Shall I dig under her skin for her bones?
Then When I die I cannot enter her body to be born again.
You ask me to cut grass And make hay and sell it, and be rich like white men!
But how dare I cut off my mother’s hair?
American Indians’ agricultural and medical wisdom had been ignored by the European invaders. In their rush to control the land and people much has passed them by and much has been destroyed. Sadly, what seems to have been almost totally ignored is the American Indians’ knowledge that the Earth is their mother. Because their mother continues to give us life we must care for and respect her. This was a ecological view of the earth.
“There are tens of millions of people around the world who, within only the last few centuries — and some cases only the last few years — have seen their successful societies brutally assaulted by ugly destructive forces. Some American Indian societies have been obliterated. Some peoples have suffered separation from the source of their survival, wisdom, power, and identity: their lands. Some have fallen from the pressure, compromised, moved to urban landscapes, and disappeared, but millions of American Indians, including tens of thousands here in the United States, have gained strength in the face of all their adversity. Their strength is rooted in the earth and deserves to succeed.”
Books used for references and internet addresses:
- Mander, Jerry, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations,” Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1992: 349.
- Mankiller, Wilma and Wallis, M., A Chief and Her People, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1993: 8.
- Memi, Albert, The Colonizer and the Colonized, Boston: Beacon Press, 1965: 151.
- Olson, James and Wilson, R., Native American, In the Twentieth Century, University Press, 1988, 11.
- The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Through Indian Eyes, Pleasantville, New York/Montreal, 1995: 338.
- Susan Brill, Bradley U. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Discussion group regarding the genocide of Native peoples.
- Federal Indian Policy http://mercury.sfsu.edu.cypher.genocide.html.#children
- Trail of Tears http://ngeorgia.com/history/nghisttt.html
“Kill the buffalo and you kill the Indians” – General Philip H. Sheridan, commander of the United States forces