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Spiritual and Cultural Genocide...



Genocide by the provisions of the convention of the United Nations in Dec. 1948 is defined as:

"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, and includes five types of criminal actions: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Lyman Legters
"The American Genocide"
Policy Studies Journal, vol. 16, no. 4, summer 1988

Reference kindly provided by Loretta K. Carroll - Thank you, Loretta.


"...Let me remind you only of the witch-hunts of the middle ages, the horrors of the French revolution, or the genocide of the American Indians... in such periods there are always only a very few who do not succumb. But when it is all over, everyone, horrified, asks `for heaven's sake, how could I?' "

Albert Speer, Hitler's minister of war production, writing from prison in 1953.

"Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination - by starvation and uneven combat - of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity." P. 202, "Adolph Hitler" by John Toland

Thanks to my Friend Peter for finding and sharing the above two quotes.

Silence, repression, and disinformation are used knowingly - and unknowingly - to conceal truth; by abusers to keep their victims silent; by society so that people do not have to look at unpleasant facts of life.

This is true of every culture and race on our planet. Sexual, physical, emotional - and cultural abuse - thrive in this atmosphere; abuse of all kinds is perpetuated, generation to generation - ending only when society is forced to see the abuse in such a way there can be no denial, no excuses, no rationalization.

Perhaps it is my own experiences of abuse that have made me sensitive to all kinds of abuse; maybe - had things turned out differently - maybe I too would have been one of the willfully ignorant, disdaining my roots and heritage.

I do know that something extremely painful was experienced by my paternal grandparents, something so painful that they knowingly hid their past, their heritage, their American Indian blood from society - and trained their own children to do so also.

I do know that the same methods my abusers used to keep me and my siblings silent has been used on my parents and grandparents to keep them silent about their heritage - and not just them.

In my mind - and the minds and hearts of many of my friends - the enforced silence and stereotyping of American Indians - and any other culture - is abuse; social, cultural, and ethnic abuse, perpetuatedand enforced by silence and repression; viciously fed by the disinformation and stereotyping created by the writers of history, fiction, and the media.

Do these terms and phrases sound familiar?

"Manifest Destiny, primitive savages, cowboys and indians, dirty injuns living in the dirt, bloodthirsty savages, can't even hold their liquor, the only good injun is a dead injun, Custer's last stand..."

Our culture, the American culture - and indeed the world culture - constantly propagates and perpetuates the stereotypical - and totally false - image of American Indians as backward, savage, brutal, uncivilized beings to this day. Talk to the people who are not natives, who live near any of the many reservations throughout North America - and you'll hear comments very similar to those heard throughout America prior to Martin Luther King... but directed at the American Indians... the "injuns," "drunken red men," the "uncivilized savages" who brutally murdered settlers...

Many will object, saying "but they were savage and brutal, not only fighting among themselves, warring with each other and more; but they were even more savage and brutal to the settlers!" - and use that as a justification for suppression and brutalization of American Indian culture and people.

Yes; those charges are indeed true -

But don't forget too that the settlers - with very few exceptions - were making a concerted effort, with the help of the American government, to completely wipe out the Native Americans.

Don't forget that the American government - and by extension, the American people - broke every single last one of the over 350 treaties signed with the American Indians; pushing the American Indians off into unwanted and unusable land - barren reservations - out of site and out of mind.

I challenge you to look at every other culture on this planet. Which nation has not been guilty of warring against their neighbors? Which culture has not at one time or another been guilty of horrendous atrocities against their fellow man? Which people have not fought fiercely, desperately against invaders to defend their own way of life?

The Romans against Carthage, the Gauls against Rome, Vikings and Gaels and Scotts and Eires and Mongols and Chinese; the War of the Roses and all the religious jihads of the centuries; the modern gang turf wars and the strife in Ireland; the pro-lifers against the pro-choicers:

No culture is innocent; no people is innocent.

That does not justify the spiritual and cultural genocide of any people anywhere; not the American Indians of both continents, not the Oranges or the Greens, not the Shiites or the Sihks or any other culture of this world.

To this day, nearly every one in the world knows of Custer - to this day, Custer and his men are glorified in print and film as heroic soldiers who were slaughtered by the "savages" - much of the world view of America and the American Indians has been formed by the media.

I've met many from other nations who absolutely believe the stereotype promulgated by the media of all nations - not just the American media; people who visit America and are very surprised to find there are no cowboys walking down the streets of New York, no "Indians" sitting on corners in their blankets, puffing away on a pipe.

It is not surprising, then, how few really know about how Custer treated, resolved the "Indian problem"...

How few people of the world really know that he and his troops mercilessly massacred entire villages, raping and killing the women, brutally executing every one without exception; the grandmothers and grandfathers, the men and women, the teenagers - and the children and babies?

Custer was not the only one who encouraged the atrocities and stood by as they were committed, not by a long shot. The history of the American Indians and the Settlers is rife with brutality and atrocities on both sides - But the bulk of the horror lays in the laps - and hands - of the settlers and the governments which encouraged the oppression and annihilation of the native populations.

True - there have been some articles that have spoken the truth; a few years back National Geographic printed an article that exposed the truth not only about "Custer's Last Stand", but also about Custer's active attempts to completely wipe out American Indians... There have been a few films that have shown - or attempted to show - the Truth as it actually happened - and those were panned by the non-native critics and journalists.

Many books have been written that expose the truth; that tell the story, the true story of how American Indians were ripped from the land, shoved off onto reservations that could not support them, made supplicants to a government that would rather ignore them - but how many really read those books?

Oh no, that is too disturbing, too upsetting to the noble sensitivities of most... "it's a dying and lost culture, if it really was worth something, it wouldn't die out" seems to be the justification.

Those books, articles and films are largely ignored by the masses of North America; at most, those who heard of or read of the attrocities only nod their heads sagely, commenting only "too bad that happened; yes, it was wrong - but it is in the past and there is nothing that can be done now."

And; nothing has been done, nothing is being done...

The languages, myths, art, spirituality, practices, and beauty of the Native American culture is fading into history to be lost forever; to be mused over in later years by the historically curious as a novelty...

Spiritual and cultural genocide... as the Native Americans are faced with either being totally assimilated by the Western Culture - or dying out on the many reservations... kept there, out of the way and out of mind, by supposedly beneficent governments; ignored and forgotten by the citizens of those nations...

Spiritual and cultural genocide, as the elders and parents helplessly watch their children leave to make a living in the "civilized" world, as those children and young adults willfully turn their backs on their heritage, language, and culture and willfully accept the stereotypical views of "civilization."

Spiritual and cultural genocide, as the great civilized masses of North America - and indeed the world - scurry pell-mell into the next century, focusing on technology and consumer goods... as "save the whales" and "save the children" and "save the earth" become the battle-cries of the various subcultures... not that those are bad things; they aren't, and they are needed.

But - the American Indian Cultures from southern-most tip of South America to the northenmost tip of Canada and Alaska are left behind, an afterthought, a mote of dust caught up in the tornado of "progress"...

Relegated to symbolic and denegrating mascots for sports teams, insulting icons for various holidays, and stereotypical villains for the movie industry; shoved off - out of site and out of mind - to die out on reservations.

Spiritual and cultural genocide by default and by intent, by marketing and media pressures, by willful and knowing ignorance... It is so easy to turn aside while saying "not my problem"...

True, in recent years there has been a very mild awakening in some; many non-native Americans - not just caucasians - are realizing the American Indian culture is rich, complex, full of beauty and spirituality, possessing and practicing ways of life that did not harm the earth and environment; and now some seek to learn. Unfortunately, many who profess to want to learn are only "in it" to make a dollar; preserving and indeed teaching and sharing the many cultures is the last thing on their minds...

Yet, there are some to whom preserving the culture; preserving the stories, art, ways of life, and spirituality of American Indian is indeed very important - and those few are doing what they can...

But; it is so little, and so late... it is my hope that as I - and others - speak out and share what we can that the loss can be averted, that the people of North America and indeed the world can be awakened.

In the years since 1950, many minorities in North America have had their causes heard, have had their injustices heard by the word; and have had some, if not all of their inequities addressed...

But not the American Indians of both continents...

Even my own Grandmother and Grandfather - he, a Cherokee; her, a Choctaw - turned their backs on their heritage because of the social, cultural, and economic pressures - as did their children, as did their son - my father.

One of my earliest memories was the "session" with my Father and his parents that occurred after I had shared with my classmates that I was part Indian, after I had shared with them how to tell what animals made what tracks... the teacher had called my Father and said that I had been telling "fairy tales" about being part Indian... my Father asked me if I had, and I told him "yes"; I told the truth.

He then told me to get in the car, and he drove to my Grandparent's house, where he told my Grandmother and Grandfather - his parents - what had happened.

My Grandparents became very silent at first - and then stood up and came over to me - Grandfather then kneeled and held me by the shoulders, and told me:

"NEVER let it be known you are Indian; you can pass for white, so BE white - forget everything you know about being Indian, forget all of it - because if you do not, you'll be treated worse than [blacks]."

My Grandfather did not say "blacks", but instead used a well-known epithet... He told my Father never to let me forget that, NEVER to let anyone know -

And my Grandmother, my father's mother, stood over me, shaking with anger, and told me "If you tell anyone you are Indian, I'll whup you so raw you can't sit down for a month"... I was six years old... only six years old...

I never forgot that afternoon - the incredible fear, anger, and confusion expressed in his eyes and face, her eyes and face; I never forgot the way his hands grabbed and hurt my shoulders - never forgot the incredible and devastating contradiction of his words compared to the oh-so-many wonderful and magical times he took me out in the desert to teach me Indian ways and skills...

He, who with my father gave me the birth name, the soul name that is so similar to my Tribal name of GhostWolf - caught in the paradox of wanting to maintain his heritage and pass it on; yet needing to make a living to support his family, his children - without being discriminated against...

He, who for the first six years of my life took great joy in taking me out into the Mojave, showing me how to read the sky for weather, read the phases of the moon for crops and hunting, showed me how to not only read and identify the tracks of so many different animals, but also how to tell how long ago they had been there...

Shaking, trembling, voice full of fear and anger - and yes, hate and shame - hurting me, telling me "NEVER let it be known you are Indian"... He, who had taught me so many truly wonderful things...

Never taught me anything about my heritage, OUR heritage ever again...

Thus this, my American Indian page...

it is my hope to learn what I can of my heritage; learn who my People the Cherokee and Choctaw are and were... learn my People's ways and beliefs and culture... that I may treasure The Ways, that I may honor my People even though I start on the Path so late in life.

That I may share with my son our roots, our Heritage - Our People...

May the contents of these pages; what I discover and the People to whom I link, show you the Truth - not only about the People, but also about the injustice, discrimination, and genocidal treatment of the People that continues to this day.

GhostWolf

Iron Wing's Children

For a very blunt and brutally honest view of the on-going discrimination and denegration of the American Indian, please go to Clem Iron Wing's Iron Wing's Children, A Souix Story on Racism.

This will be an uncomfortable site for many, for Clem Iron Wing pulls no punches as he shares very unpleasant truths that most would rather not face. It is said that "Truth Hurts" - keep that in mind as you read.

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Last updated: Sunday, 25-May-2008 00:01:15 PDT