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January 21, 2006

Championing natives

I have long appreciated Lewis Diuguid's support for repressed Americans. He takes a lot of verbal shots for his open style of writing.

It was a nice surprise to see him champion (1/13, Opinion) the natives of this land. However, I suspect that at least some natives do not want to share equal time on American currency with the likes of Andrew Jackson, who brutally forced massive relocation of many of these people in violation of a solemn treaty.

Even today, the native reservations persist. And for those who haven't been to one, most of them look a lot like concentration camps.

Ronnie A. Sturdevant
Kansas City

Comments

CRD

Reservations may have been (and in fact were) tantamount to concentration camps in the past. (I grew up not far from the OK border, and if you're not familiar with the Trail of Tears and the forced relocation of the tribes under Andrew Jackson, do a bit of Googling)

However, I'd agree w/ Engineer that, at present, the comparison to concentration camps is inapt. Though poverty is crushing on many reservations (contrary to common belief, the vast majority of the 500+ native nations within the borders of the U.S. do not have substantial gaming revenue), people may leave anytime they see fit. Furthermore, the reservations are the last claim that these nations have to their independent jurisdiction and identity as a people, small as they may be, and it's a point of tribal pride and identity for them to strive to make their often poor plots of land (for we didn't exactly give them valuable real estate) sustainable, as best as they can.

Despite the shortcomings of the reservations, I doubt that many tribes would echo the letter writer's characterization of their remaining homelands.

Ray Seay

Indians have been mistreated and even today have high poverty levels. BUT I have been to several reservations and even with the poverty they are nowhere near like concentration camps.
Disclosure. I am 3/8 Cherokee.

Engineer

My thought is that anyone who thinks Indian Reservations, bad as some of them are, look like concentration camps has never seen a concentration camp. As to judging the past, I couldn't agree more with jack's post. He stated the situation very clearly. As to Jim's concern about broken treaties, treaty breaking is the norm, not the unusal, through out history. Nation's actions, for as long as they have been recorded, have been governed by their concept of National interest and very little else. That does not excuse treaty breaking but it does point out that the Native American's experience was to be expected.

Jim Dent

Jack, I mostly agree with you on this. If your gonna judge them, do in the context of the era. What I take issue with is the fact that treaties were made... then broken. And yes, both side did it, but history shows that the "pale face" was usually the guilty one.
That was wrong judged against any era....

jack

Loving history, I have gotten really tired of those that judge people from the past by today's standards. When this is done virtually no one is left with any dignity. These men (mostly) were people of their times, doing the best they could in those times, living by the rules and morals of their time. To judge them by the rules and standards of today is just plain wrong.

The harsh truth is that several hundred years ago, a pre-industrial society met a stoneage society. The obvious happened. It took about three hundred years, but the stoneage society was essentially wiped out.

If we are to "judge" people like Washington, Jackson, and yes, even Jefferson (he who kept trying to outlaw slavery even while he owned slaves), let us at least try to do so by the lights and standards of the times they lived in.

And then there is something about, "Judge not, lest yee be judged..."

 
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