Mamook Closhe--Using art to make good
The American Genocide
of the First Nations People of Turtle Island
Native people call North America Turtle Island.
I have spent most of my life living in a white bubble. The bubble has protected me from learning the truth of the history of North America. I was brought into the Native community in a wonderful way with a vision that was given to me to use art as a way to bring healing for historical wrongs. (Read about this vision—Link to Vision)
What I have since learned has shed much light on my ignorance of the genocide. Our genocide is one that has lasted longer than any other in the history of the world, but we white folks haven’t called it genocide.
The following examples are taken from, “We Are Not the Savages” by Dr. Daniel N. Paul Elder in the Mi’Kmaq-Maliseet First Nation’s tribes. http://www.danielnpaul.com/index.html. Used by permission.):
" ‘No state can achieve proper culture, civilization, and progress ... as long as Indians are permitted to remain.’ This view, articulated by U.S. President Martin Van Buren in 1837, lays bare the predominate White supremacist genocidal mentality that the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have had to contend with since Columbus landed in 1492.
“In April 1850, the California legislature passed a law that stated "In no case shall a white man be convicted of any offense upon the testimony of an Indian " Thus, if any case brought to trial any white men who raped, killed, enslaved Indians or illegally took their lands, they were not found guilty simply because no Indian would or could testify". In this case it was a written law, but realistically, across the Americas the same law prevailed, albeit mostly unwritten.
“I used the before mentioned examples to describe the White supremacist mentality that the Indigenous peoples of the Americas have had to contend with for survival for the better part of five centuries simply because I had them readily available. However, one should not believe for one second that it was only the Caucasians of the United States of America that indulged in such uncivilized behavior towards American Indians, several works of encyclopedic proportions could be filled with similar activities taken from the archives of other countries of the Americas. For instance, Canada had on its books until 1951 a law that prevented Indians from taking legal action against the federal government. Also, up until the 1990s, all programs it enacted to meet its Constitutional responsibilities for Indians were begot to realize the eventual resolving of its "Indian Problem" by the extermination of its American Indian population by assimilation.”
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