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A Failure to Care

In recent weeks, it has been seen in the news that multiple indigenous child graves have been found in Canada. These graves are the result of forced removal of indigenous children from their homes and placement in religious (usually Catholic) boarding schools. This article will touch on four categories of injustice forced upon indigenous peoples by those of European heritage that persists even now.

This article will highlight broken treaties, forced removal of children, biological warfare against the indigenous, and the lack of consideration for modern missing and murdered indigenous. The evils of these are coming to light, and the ones that aren’t on current radar nationally, will be highlighted and noted so they can be seen, understood, and humanity rise to the occasion and help change the status quo.

Let me make this straight at the beginning. If it gets heralded in any way, that means the article hits where it should in truth. And in doing so, it will get hate as well. Hate from those that feel as if they are being railed against. Some call that hatred white privilege. Some call it extremism. I cal it for what it is. A grand desire to not see the truth because it makes you question yourself, your beliefs, and your place in our society. But the truth always has been, and will always be, ugly to those that choose not to see it as it is.

Broken Promises

From two years after the American colonies voted to end rule by England until six years after thw end of the Civil War, Treaties have been made and broken by the US government to the Nations that lived here upon European arrivals. The list will be in the links listed at the end of the post. The first official treaty was in 1778 with the Lenape (Delaware) People. Despite the treaty (used for protection against the British), US militiamen killed almost 100 of the Lenape in 1872. More European descendants moved in, and with the Greeneville Treay of 1795, the Lenape were forced to cede the majority of their land.

This is only once instance of forced removal. Other broken treaties not only removed the Nations to small areas of land, but with it removed some people from recognition. Here in Indiana, despite the tradition of new Chiefs, the only recognized Myaamiaki (Miami) people are located in Oklahoma. The Indiana Myaamiaki were recognized until 1897. At that time, they were stripped of federal recognition. And in Kekionga was renamed Fort Wayne in honor of General ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne around 1794.

We are reminded from time to time in history classes about the Trail of Tear,and Wounded Knee (where babies were bashed with boots and rifle stocks, and the tribe decimated). In Marion Indiana, they celebrate the War of 1812, the last attempt of the Myaamiaki to run settlers from the area. In Marion is a statue titled ‘A Journey Began’, celebrating the the removal of natives to Ohio.

Every treaty of trust by the Nations resulted in death, starvation, and removal to small land sections.

Biological Warfare

Today we cry against the uses of biological warfare. But yesteryear, it was used against the peoples of the Nations. While smallpox, for the most part, has been eradicated in modern society. The first known use of this as a weapon was in 1763. At Fort Pitt, during Pontiac’s Rebellion, emissaries from the Lenape tribe were given two blankets and a handkerchief. These items came from the smallpox section of the fort’s hospital. Trader William Trent wrote that he hoped it had the desired effect. General Amherst was recorded as approving this biological warfare to ‘extripate this execreble race’.

President George Washington used it through General Sullivan against the Iriquois in 1779. President Andrew Jackson used it against the Seminole 60 years later. So the nation that decides to help shut down bio-warfare, seemingly had no qualms about its use when it was to take land they wanted.

White Native Schools

The Jesuits (or known as The Society of Jesus), other Catholic, and non-Catholic Christian groups decided that the heathens of North America needed Jesus in their lives. The easiest way to eradicate a thought from a people is to force that change in the youth. That’s what they did. They set up boarding schools. Registration was easy, kidnap and force the children from their families. 

They would use military discipline, cut their hair, make them wear ‘civilized’ clothes, and banned the use of their native language and religious practice. All in the concept of saving their souls. And in keeping with non-native concepts, beyong regular school lessons came housekeeping and on hands occupations (instead of the traditional duties of their individual tribes).

Over the last few weeks especially, we have seen a horrific end result of this forced re-education. Hundreds of mass graves of children have been found at former school sites. No names, no ages, no identity at all of these children. Just small skeletal remains of children forced from their home, families, and communities. Forced into lives they didn’t want or need. And left in holes. All in the name of Jesus (whom by the way told us to love each other and never forced anyone to follow him). Most of these children will more than likely forever remain nameless. Their spirits looking for an answer that will never come.

Names of the Wind

We remember the names of George Floyd, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor because of how they died and the news coverage they received. And we should remember their names. All of those taken before their time and through senseless actions should be remembered. That brings me to a huge problem. In Canada and America, Indigenous women are being murdered or have gone missing with very little fanfare outside of their own communities. While we remember Lacey Peterson and Calylee Anothony because of press coverage, have you heard the names Leona Kinsey from Oregon, Laverne John of Arizona, or Jayda John & Jaylee Spenser from the Navajo Nation? No. And neither have I. Not until I came across ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’ site.  

In the US, in 2016, there were a reported 5,712 missing Indigenous females missing. And in Canada, from 2016 to 2019 the numbers were 3 a month for 48 months in that recorded period. That is on top of the years before and since. With these numbers, why is it not making many national headlines? Lacey Peterson and others were all over the news for long periods of time. Why not these girls and women? What made their lives so inconsequential that they didn’t (and don’t) warranted the media attention and outrage? Did the missing get murdered or are they now within sex slavery rings? Can it be a serial killer or killers that have been operating in these various areas?

When government fails, indigenous women take their search for missing loved  ones online | Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women | billingsgazette.com

It is time we remember the injustices to this land’s longest owners. Remember the evils of war. The lives of the forgotten. The names of the missing and murdered.

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/addressing-epidemic-missing-murdered-indigenous-women-and-girls

https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/canada-indigenous-children-school-bodies-unmarked-graves-2021-06-30/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/751-unmarked-graves-discovered-near-former-indigenous-school-canada-180978064/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/stories/articles/2020/4/13/early-years-american-indian-boarding-schools

https://www.history.com/news/native-american-broken-treaties

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