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Thoughts On The Native American

By Dr. Dick Wieder

     No matter how long America may last, no matter how lofty her founding ideals, no matter how many times her sons may go out into the world to defeat tyranny, she can never erase the shame on her shield brought about by the actions taken toward the Native Americans,

     Each group of people arriving on the shares of this nation have had to fight prejudice and bigotry for years prior to assimilation into the overall culture.

     Yet, the very first people to settle this continent from Asia, known to us today as Native Americans, have not shared the same. They were destroyed. An entire culture that stretched across both hemispheres was systematically hunted down, rounded up, and destroyed. Those that managed to survive were herded off to isolated areas of poor soil, devoid of game, and told that the Great White Father in Washington would care for them. Those survivors today, for the mast part, live in poverty as outcasts with little real rights. And many spend their lives as mere curios for the "white eyes" to gawk-at! And take pictures of! And then insult them by referring to them by our name for them ----Indians! Even the entertainment industry has had a heyday in depicting them as ignorant, screaming bloodthirsty savages riding the plains during the Nineteenth Century! If there were any ignorant blood thirsty savages riding the plains in the Nineteenth Century they were the emissaries of our government. They wore no paint on their faces---they were clad in blue and gold! They were us. And the only reason they had or can ever give as a reason for the wholesale destruction of the Native Americans and their culture was...well, they were just there.

     In the Southern Hemisphere it was the same. Three centuries earlier? The Spanish took care of those "red-devils" down there.

     The pain felt by the blacks, the Jews, the Irish, and the Japanese during WW II is absolutely nothing compared to the shear agony that the Native Americans saw and Felt at the hands of the white man.

     Slavery has been abolished. Blacks have only recently been assimilated into the social structure as equal members. The Irish and the Jew, for the most part, no longer fear daily physical attacks from non-Irish and Gentile. These people desired to join the American system! But what of the devastated Native American? He is not wanted in our social structure. He is the only "race" that is still kept in cages (only we call them reservations). He wants no part of our culture. He merely wants his own culture back. But his land is gone. His game is gone. His rivers are polluted. His villages have long ago been trampled under by hoof and asphalt. There is nothing left to give back. No small wonder that he is angry and wants no part of us or our religion, or our system.

     Until we as a people can in some way atone for our actions by reestablishing the Native Americans as a people; and, allow them the same basic unalienable rights as other groups so fervently espouse, we have no right to cast aspersions on those nations--anywhere in the world---whose civil rights practices are even suspect.




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