There can be no argument that terrible things have been done to American Indians. Not the least of which is the continued insult of sports teams being named after American Indians supposedly because of their fierceness. We have the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and worst of all, the Washington Redskins, the only team to compound the insult by actually being named for the color of American Indian skin.
On the flip side, films such as “Little Big Man” and “Dances With Wolves” made Indians seem endowed with mystical goodliness. The truth is not nearly so simple. It is that all peoples are essentially the same.
Recently some of my Facebook friends were moved to post an image of a Mi’kmaq being choked by a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman. That was awful.
But while my wife and I were in Nova Scotia in 2000, we saw three RCMP officers protecting a native couple who were gathering lobsters out of season, under-size and females not excepted. And I know that in the west, Indians were demanding their “traditional” right to hunt certain whales; but not using traditional sealskin kayaks and spears — oh no, they were using speedy motorboats and high-powered rifles.
And these same native peoples have often been quick to build casinos and other garish tourist attractions on land that they defended against outside “developers” as being sacred. The horrible glass-floored Grand Canyon bridge being one example.
Ever since the 1960s American Indians have been portrayed in media as wise natural environmentalists. That is simply not true. Yes, white men with rifles slaughtered the buffalo to near extinction, but before white men came the Indians used to routinely drive entire herds off cliffs in order to obtain the small amount of meat and skins that they could carry away. The whites were simply greater in number and possessed more efficient tools for the slaughter and railroads for the cartage.
And such behavior by native peoples isn’t confined to North America. The native people of Hawaii extincted many species before white men arrived, as did the native people of New Zealand.
And if no other persons came to a particular place before white men did, then perhaps white people are the native peoples of those places; an interesting way to think about the extreme north and south of our globe, as well as many of its previously uninhabited islands, including the Galapagos, where the white sailors hastily extincted most of the tortoise species.
The simple truth is that neither native peoples nor early white settlers knew a darned thing about ecology or protecting environments. America certainly didn’t in the 1920s, plowing the American Great Plains, once grass-covered (where buffalo roamed) to such extent that the 1930s saw ruinous killer dust storms.
And where ignorance stops, greed begins. We now have global warming deniers. Follow the money.
Take native peoples off their pedestal. We’re all the same. I believe they’d be better off fully integrated into the dominant local societies. After all, how many aren’t already shop in malls? And what does it take to make one a “native”? I ask because of the example of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was, for “diversity goal” purposes carried on the rolls as a Native American at Harvard University.
It might also help native peoples to get out of what are basically communist societies in all but name. Think about it: In a communist society the government owns all the land. In an Indian reservation the tribal government owns all the land. Without private ownership, people can’t obtain loans to start businesses.
And some of those native peoples’ societies are also very unfair to women. In the Indian reservation in the country where we live, if a man of the tribe marries a woman outsider he can return with her and they can build a home and live in the reservation. But if a woman of the tribe marries outside the tribe she cannot do the same.
It is high time to let the scales fall from our eyes. Recognize that all peoples are basically the same, human nature is a constant, and let people live together as one.