Native Americans - Fighting the Ongoing Fight
Race - a discussion that has swept not only the country, but globally heavily since March. While Black Americans are at the forefront of this conversation presently, there are other races that have experienced the cruelties of racism as well - specifically, Native Americans.
When Christopher Columbus arrived, him and his people raped, pillaged, and murdered Native Americans. Columbus had two goals; to find gold, and to make the indigenous people slaves. With orders to collect gold, and there being a meagre amount on the land, those who failed to gather a sufficient amount had their hands cut off. Additionally, those who weren’t killed, were sold back to Spain as slaves.
For those who survived, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 removed the five Native American tribes from their land, and forced them into what is now Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma (https://www.khanacademy.org). Additionally, the Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 spurred the creation of reservations for these indigenous people in hopes that they would keep off the land in which white Americans wished to reside.
While these atrocities may not still be happening in the 21st century, according to networkadvocates.org, “today, compared to the national population, Native Americans have significantly lower median incomes, lower homeownership, increasing health disparities, and twice the level of poverty” (networkadvocates.org). The culprit has been and continues to be systemic racism and white supremacy.
As Americans, we have taken everything from Native Americans for hundreds of years - supplies, land, LIVES. Not to mention, their identities. Boarding schools were created to strip away their culture, and designed to have Native children assimilate to white, Christian ways (networkadvocates.org). “Until 1978, Native children could legally be kidnapped from their families by the U.S. government and forced to attend these boarding schools” (networkadvocates.org). Legal kidnapping! A monstrosity that is hard for many of us to even fathom - and yet it happened, right here in America just a mere 40 years ago.
Additionally, Americans continue to inflict on their land, attempting to log, insert oil pipelines, and set up construction on some of our most precious forests, as well as a sacred summit. The indigenous people have protested in attempts to preserve this land, and its people, as an oil spill could contaminate their drinking water (www.businessinsider.com). While President Obama delayed this work, President Trump allowed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline after entering office (www.businessinsider.com).
While the fight continues, it is imperative that we, as Americans educate ourselves and pay closer attention to the harm we have caused historically to these people, and how we can help them today. Linked below are some resources to stay informed, and how you can help directly.