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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ignoring the Tears

This is priceless from Shana at From Behind the Cheddar Curtain. Regarding Indians and their “sovereignty” she says:

That “sovereignty” as you call it has caused more harm than good. Most of the people on the reservations are in horrible condition, often drunk and poor, living off of government checks. Those that have been ambitious enough to leave the reservations have done well for themselves, living mostly like the rest of us. Not perfect, but far better off than those living on the reservations. It probably wouldn’t hurt to take away some of that “sovereignty” and convince them to support themselves. They’d be far better off.
Unbelievable. This from a self-professed Christian. Do you think, Shana, that their ancestors for just one minute wouldn’t have preferred to give up that “sovereignty” and to have lived as they had on their own lands? Instead, forced to accept patches of land in return for peace (and the promise not to kill them off), they lived in a fashion totally foreign to what they were accustomed to, with no means for fending for themselves (do you think industry just miraculously popped up around them), and denigrated and hated by the surrounding whites.

You and many of your conservative brethren think it so easy for someone to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make themselves into something more like you. You, Shana, do not have the weight of centuries of abuse on your shoulders. You do not see the hate in other people’s eyes.

Shana, did you ever hear of or read about the “Trail of Tears?” Here is an example of Indians endeavoring to be more like us and what happened to them for their efforts.
The Cherokees in 1828 were not nomadic savages. In fact, they had assimilated many European-style customs, including the wearing of gowns by Cherokee women. They built roads, schools and churches, had a system of representational government, and were farmers and cattle ranchers. A Cherokee alphabet, the “Talking Leaves” was perfected by Sequoyah.

In 1830 the Congress of the United States passed the "Indian Removal Act." Although many
Americans were against the act, most notably Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett, it passed anyway. President Jackson quickly signed the bill into law. The Cherokees attempted to fight removal legally by challenging the removal laws in the Supreme Court and by establishing an independent Cherokee Nation. At first the court seemed to rule against the Indians. In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, the Court refused to hear a case extending Georgia's laws on the Cherokee because they did not represent a sovereign nation. In 1832, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee on the same issue in Worcester v. Georgia. In this case Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign [emphasis mine], making the removal laws invalid. The Cherokee would have to agree to removal in a treaty. The treaty then would have to be ratified by the Senate.

By 1835 the Cherokee were divided and despondent. Most supported Principal Chief John Ross, who fought the encroachment of whites starting with the 1832 land lottery. However, a minority(less than 500 out of 17,000 Cherokee in North Georgia) followed Major Ridge, his son John, and Elias Boudinot, who advocated removal. The Treaty of New Echota, signed by Ridge and
members of the Treaty Party in 1835, gave Jackson the legal document he needed to remove the First Americans. Ratification of the treaty by the United States Senate sealed the fate of the Cherokee. Among the few who spoke out against the ratification were Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, but it passed by a single vote. In 1838 the United States began the removal to Oklahoma, fulfilling a promise the government made to Georgia in 1802. Ordered to move on the Cherokee, General John Wool resigned his command in protest, delaying the action. His replacement, General Winfield Scott, arrived at New Echota on May 17, 1838 with 7000 men. Early that summer General Scott and the United States Army began the invasion of the Cherokee Nation.

In one of the saddest episodes of our brief history, men, women, and children were taken from their land, herded into makeshift forts with minimal facilities and food, and then forced to march a thousand miles (Some made part of the trip by boat in equally horrible conditions). Under the generally indifferent army commanders, human losses for the first groups of Cherokee removed were extremely high. John Ross made an urgent appeal to Scott, requesting that the general let his people lead the tribe west. General Scott agreed. Ross organized the Cherokee into smaller groups and let them move separately through the wilderness so they could forage for food. Although the parties under Ross left in early fall and arrived in Oklahoma during the brutal winter of 1838-39, he significantly reduced the loss of life among his people. About 4,000 Cherokee died as a result of the removal. The route they traversed and the journey itself became known as "The Trail of Tears" or, as a direct translation from Cherokee, "The Trail Where They Cried" ("Nunna daul Tsuny").
It is said that President Andrew Jackson met with leaders of the Cherokee Nation. They did not plead or beg, but asked that he reconsider. His answer was “Endeavor to persevere.”

Shana, by one estimate, almost 15,000,000 Native American Indians were killed during the years white America occupied their lands. It's a fairly significant price don't you think?

1 Swings of the bat:

Kate said...

This past weekend my boys and I attended the Lac Courte Orellies Pow Wow on the LCO reservation, near Hayward, WI. This is their 33rd annual Honor the Earth Pow Wow. Over 400 dancers endured the 102 degree heat and humidity in the north woods of Wisconsin...not for prize money...but all for the love of family, the annishinaanabe (Ojibwe) culture and the respect and admiration for all veterans. This is a time when members of LCO and other tribes can come together and see family, and celebrate a very rich and vibrant heritage, without the eyes of the white world criticising them.

My children received their enrollment numbers one year ago from LCO and I am very proud of that fact.

On the reservation I saw the impressive new administration building, which houses among other things, the tribal offices and construction on a new addition to the LCO Community College. These new developments show progress is being made for the tribal members and their future generations.

Famous Dave's founder is a enrolled member of LCO and so is Edward Benton Banai, author of the book "Mishomis" and co-founder of the Little Red School House in St. Paul, Minnesota. .

In addition, none of the people I know living on the LCO reservation are receiving government assistance. They all have jobs on the reservation.