Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Planned Congressional Apology to American Indians

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas attached an apology to a bill subsidizing Native American tribes. In it America at large apologizes for wrongs committed against Native nations for misdeeds and depridations of all shapes and colors in years past. Most Indian leaders and activists say they appreciate the gesture but the tone to me indicates they wouldn't oppose a boat load of reparations either. Did the United States government commit harm and acts of ill will against tribes and their members? Absolutely. Were tribal women and children slaughtered during armed conflicts with armed United States soldiers? Indeed they were. Did the natural progression of humankind including western expansion in the United States and its territories have a negative effect on the nomadic and hunting culture of the American Indian? It no doubt did.

Okay, that is as much boo-hooing as I can muster. First and foremost, the Native nations that we support with taxpayer dollars did not spring from the ethos as activists and sympathizers would have you believe. They are not indigenous to the parcels of Earth they now reside on. They had to come here just like everybody else did. What you say? Oh, they were here FIRST? That's like saying I built my house on this block first so no else can build now because I'm indigenous to this piece of land. Hogsnickers.

What about the modern reservations themselves? They are a blight on the countryside and signs of the oppression of an earlier and far less advanced time. They are filthy and the elected leaders touting their tribal sovreignty fail in managing the economic and social issues of their Indian culture. The reservation system is a disaster. Why don't we cut off the taxpayer money and disband reservations altogether? Yeah we'd be breaking a treaty or two but for goodness sake the current system is unarguably broken. Why couldn't we focus from the beginning on assimilating Indian culture into modern America thus allowing Indians to reap the rewards of a free market capitalistic society? It worked with immigrants from Italy, Germany, and Ireland. You've heard "out of many one." If anything, subsidizing Indian life is proof positive that entitlement programs are destined to fail and promoting a culture of victimization and dependence further dooms the future for these people and generations of their children.

Okay, bad old America did bad things during conflicts especially during westard expansion in the mid to late 1800's. But were the atrocities any more harmful than innocent deaths in any conflict in any time period? How about the 3000 innocent lives lost on September 11, 2001. Was that loss of life in one day more or less tragic than what we're analyzing here? How many innocent victims were killed and labeled as collateral damage in World War One or World War Two? Just how mean and cruel was the American government when viewed objectively? Why don't you do a little research and see just how friendly and cordial the Sioux tribes were in dealing with other tribes in other geographic locations on this continent. How about the gentle persuasion of the Blackfeet when it came to interactions with other tribes? These tribes gained power, hunting territory, and assets (stolen horses for one) through absolute and vicious murder, theft, and enslavement. There wasn't much need for retail shops in this enterprise unless you sprung for a hatchet and arrow shop. They weren't being attacked but rather provoking attacks to propel themselves to absolute dominance within any area a chieftain saw fit. Do Native Americans now believe that the nomadic hunters in the 1800's possessed the divine right to slow the progression of humankind and its science, culture, and advancements from populating the world? Bad is bad but it swings both ways baby, remember that.

What about the notion that Native Americans are the true and most natural environmentalists of all time? Certainly a modern assessment of this claim is indisputably proven to be false. What about during nomadic times? There is plenty of stunning evidence to suggest that tribal encampments were moved only after polluting one area until it became uninhabitable and then moving to the next and continuing the pattern. You don't like what I'm saying? Take a drive sometime and make sure you pay enough attention to look out the window as you're passing through. The truth hurts but denying it will never fix anything.

In regards to this Congressional apology Steve Ortiz, tribal chairman of the Prairie Band Potowatomi Nation in northeast Kansas called the apology "a great gesture" but said he doesn't want the Congress to lose sight of the more practical needs of American Indians. "In the end, it's Congress' committment to helping the Native nations with healthcare, education, housing, and infrastructure. That's what counts," Ortiz said. Well Steve, how about helping yourselves? Why don't you promote the dismantling of entitlement driven reservation systems and focusing on promoting your people as capable components of American society rather than victims living with ghosts of hurts committed 150 years ago? In claiming Indian healthcare could be better there are those of us who have no healthcare at all and I certainly don't expect the government to pick up the tab. The only help you can hope for is helping yourself out of a hole created by being all too eager to suckle from the teat of America's coffers and failed entitlements. Invest in your children, stop the social chaos of unwed fatherless pregnancies on the reservations, and give your people the hope that the best way to flourish is to break self-imposed bonds and trek beyond the status quo.

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