Last year for Columbus Day I looked back into history. This year I would like to draw your attention to the present by recommending Walt Rodgers’ recent article “Uncle Sam’s Shameful Treatment of Today’s American Indians.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Jim Adams, a historian and former editor of the national weekly newspaper Indian Country Today, says the maltreatment of the Indians in the Trans-Mississippi West “is directly proportional to their resistance to migrating whites in the 19th century. Those who took arms and gave the US Cavalry its greatest thrashings have been treated most harshly from the 1876 Custer massacre until today.”
Americans fancy themselves a fair and forgiving people. Today, we are one of Vietnam’s largest trading partners. The US and Vietnamese navies recently conducted joint naval maneuvers. But our discrimination against the victorious tribes at Little Bighorn is unconscionable. We treat Iraqis and Afghans better than native Americans.
If you associate reservations with shiny casinos, go look up tribal health and poverty statistics. From unemployment to disease and suicide, they paint a picture of third-world conditions.
The Oglala Sioux who spearheaded resistance in the 1860s and ’70s may feel the punishment worst. Some still live in tar-paper shacks. The White Man’s vengeance is often subtle. We took proud, self-sufficient people and condemned them to a dependent reservation culture. Then we arrogantly ask “Why are they lazy? Why do they drink?”
A white woman who works at a Sioux school said, “There’s a part of me that asks, ‘How long is this going to go on?’”