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At First-Ever Native American Presidential Forum, Candidates Answer to Centuries of Injustice

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/22/first-ever-native-american-presidential-forum-candidates-answer-centuries-injustice

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"Don’t Bogart That Peace-Pipe My Friend, Pass It Over To Me."

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This discussion is way past due. I especially support the Remove the Stain effort, to rescind those Congressional Medals of Honor issued to the murderers at Wounded Knee. I’ve read several gut wrenching accounts of this horrific act of genocide, and each time, I would wail and drum in grief, asking why justice has never been done. Each time, The Thunders told me to wait and be patient. Justice will come.

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Delaney didn’t even know what the Remove the Stain effort was.

But that didn’t stop him from standing up to answer a question about it and making an ass out of himself.

He’ll be out of the race in a month or less. Good riddance.

One of the common memes advanced by those that support the status quo is that the First Nations peoples are/were primitives and too slow to adapt to a rapidly evolving society. Their poverty is “self inflicted” because they insisted on “living in the past” and turning their back on what is deemed progress.

This is categorically untrue. While they may have not had the same technology as the European Colonists that arrived 500 years ago , they had very sophisticated societies and well understood the benefits these technologies could provide.

When Samuel De Champlain was sailing the coasts and up the St Lawrence looking for a site to build the first French settlement , the tribes along his course all competed with one another to try and encourage him to build in their traditional territories as they well understood the tremendous benefits that trade between the groups could provide.

When the First Nations peoples of the plains saw those herds of bison dwindling (due to a deliberate policy of the US Government to exterminate these herds and force a wide scale surrender of the Plains Tribes) , their leaders saw the need to negotiate treaties with the Canadian Government.

The problem was while the First Nations peoples bargained in good faith, the Canadian Government did not .

Just as way of example. The Cypress Hills region borders Southeast Alberta and Southwest Saskatchewan. The Canadian Government promised the various tribes there that if they entered into a treaty they would get to choose the land that would become part of their reservations. A number of chiefs of various tribes saw the benefit o acting in concert so as to select contiguous territories. They felt that if they had a much larger land base they could act in concert with one another to maintain some sort of Political power. They elected to choose a wide swathe of territory in this region. Initially the Canadian Government agreed but then changed their mind when a new Indian Commissioner appointed. This guy felt that allowing this might lead to those tribes becoming too powerful in the area and he wanted to ensure they remained politically impotent and reliant on the Government for all.

What he did is implement a policy where the trading posts in the region would only be allowed to serve one tribe. He then located the posts for the other tribes hundreds of miles away. If the First Nations peoples formed these union . some of the tribes would have to travel hundreds of miles to trade goods or get the treaty payments promised them. Those tribes in fact ended up fragmented into smaller groups separated by distance in what was in essence a “divide and Conquer” strategy.

The First Nations peoples could have prospered. Their leaders were very intelligent and well understood how they COULD prosper. The problem was the Government worked to make sure they would not prosper swindling those peoples at every opportunity or implementing policies that would ensure the first Nations peoples always remained at the bottom of the socio-economic system.

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US governments at both federal and local levels did the same thing-divide and conquer. Also, those in power used trickery in obtaining treaty signatures. The Indigenous peoples considered didn’t even realize other people would or could lie in transactions, while the Europeans did it all the time. And we’re still doing it.

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Pay attention to just how these candidates deal with indigenous issues when the campaign trail meanders away from Indian Country.

Does the playing pale before a different crowd?

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Indeed. Samuel De Champlain was one of the few Europeans that the first nations people felt they could trust the word of. Champlain noted in his writings the difference between the First Nations peoples when they entered into treaties and contrasted it with the Europeans.

He determined that on the European side the Europeans always sought to “win” extracting as many concessions as possible in the belief that if one took every advantage that was possible of the other party “Victory” was assured. The First Nations peoples did not see treaty making in that manner. They felt that in order to have lasting peace and harmony both sides had to prosper and both sides had to see reasons to ensure peace maintained.

We can see the example of the European method at the conclusion of WW1 where the Treaty of Versailles all but ensured there would be a second world war.

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Yes, America has failed the indigenous people-----and American government has not tried very hard to be fair in the first place. And the white people( a group to which I belong, but who can be so criminal to those of a different hue and way of life-)–isn’t it time now to human and humane to all?
When all people prosper, the nations does, and I am happy to see that the native people are growing in politics and in power. A long time ago that creepy Andrew Jackson said that the indigenous people and the government would co exist , “as long as grass grows and rivers run.” Andrew Jackson has been dead a long time— but don’t fall for those government lies again-----The water is looking bad and climate crisis is killing the grass, so get everything in writing this time!

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I guess that means that if we are invaded by aliens we have no claim because in comparison we are primitives.
Will our favorite hypocrites lay down their green lamp shades, tell the military to stand down, or will we fight to save our families and our culture as native Americans tried their hardest to do?

Candidates answer to centuries of injustice. I would hope that would include centuries of environmental injustice as well. We are not a one trick pony. Greed gets you a lot of negative mileage.

My spouse, who is Native American and does not post, feels exactly the same way. Since this site is called Common Dreams, my dream is for another revolution like in 1776 albeit non-violently, where we return the U.S. back to it’s rightful owners. Imagine if we had leaders like Chief Joseph, Chief Crazy Horse, and Chief Sealth ( Chief Seattle) who said in 1857, when the American Government tried to purchase his tribal lands ( which they could not buy so stole much of it later with bogus treaties).

" BUT HOW CAN YOU BUY OR SELL THE SKY? THE LAND? If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the Earth is sacred. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. WE ARE PART OF THE EARTH AND IT IS PART OF US. WHAT BEFALLS THE EARTH…BEFALLS THE SONS OF THE EARTH".

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A well reasoned and passionate opinion. Well said.

Fern. Thanks for your kind reply.

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