I am grateful to be an American, and live in this amazing country and enjoy its many abundant blessings. I’m not necessarily a avid world traveler, but I’ve frequented well a couple dozen countries in several continents; seen rich ones and poor ones, with various political regimes, tasting a smattering of cultures. I appreciated them all. However, upon returning to my homeland, I always felt a renewed appreciation for the U.S.
Nevertheless, even with a cursory review of our history, we must acknowledge the unsavory, sometimes abhorrent deeds of our forefathers. Why? Because it remains part of who we are as a country. It is part of our story. Those dark threads are woven into fabric of our culture and identity as a nation. Only when we honestly face who were were, along with its generational consequences, can we truly become a different, better country.
The ugliest versions of the earlier “US”, involved slavery, child labour, the oppression of women, and gratuitous violence of many sorts. Perhaps the worst chapter of our history involves the genocide of our indigenous peoples.
The U.N.’s definition of genocide is as follows: “Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 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.” Global Times.
President Theodore Roosevelt famously asserted that, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are. And I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” American settlers even got paid for each Native they killed — 50 pounds for adult male scalps, 25 for adult female scalps, and 20 for scalps of boys and girls under the age of 12.
Business Insider: Following Christopher Columbus’ arrival in North America in 1492, violence and disease killed 90% of the indigenous population — nearly 55 million people — according to a study published this year. Diseases like smallpox, measles, and influenza, which colonizers brought to the Americas, were responsible for many millions of deaths.
Our forefathers did indeed leave a trail of tears in the wake of their aggressive colonization of the new world. Many, many Native Americans continue to struggle in the turbulence created by that historic wake.
PureWow: 6 Native American and Indigenous Charities to Donate to for Indigenous Peoples’ Day & Thanksgiving.
For me, the Warrior Women project stood out. The Warrior Women Project is an innovative collaboration of scholarship, media, and activism that seeks to provide a forum for the Warrior Women of the Red Power Movement and current indigenous activists to tell their stories in their own words for the benefit of future generations. Watch the trailer for the film. Learn more. Donate to the organization.