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Native Americans Confront Challenges, Seek To Forge A Different Future

Native Americans Confront Challenges, Seek To Forge A Different Future

read in: 8 min

(FinalCall.com) “Let’s be honest here. Every generation has had its ugly reaction to refugees. Whether they were the Irish, the Vietnamese, the Cubans or the Haitians. And those fears were largely unfounded. In fact there was only one time in American history when the fear of refugees wiping out everyone actually came true and we’ll be sitting around a table celebrating it on Thursday” – Comedian and Activist John Oliver

On Thanksgiving this year, as they have for decades, millions of Americans will gather with family and friends around turkeys and an assortment of other delicacies, break bread, drink liberally, eat too much and enjoy a holiday that recalls the first European contact with Native Americans.

But what is a source of celebration for most in this country, is the exact opposite for Native Americans for whom Thanksgiving is a sober and sorrowful reminder of genocide, mistreatment, theft of their land, broken treaties and lives often marked with struggle and deprivation.

Yet Native Americans continue to demonstrate a resiliency that belies the varied challenges they face.

A longtime activist detailed what she and other Native American and Indigenous people have endured since Europeans came to the United States.

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America teaches young people of a harmonious feast where the pilgrims showed thanks to the Native American people for helping them survive in a harsh new environment. Today, many scholars are presenting a much different picture of how Native Americans were lied to, robbed and murdered. Captions to images on right read; ‘Hunting Indians with bloodhounds’ and ‘Bloodhounds tearing an Indian to pieces’.

“It’s been 500 years and no change. We were the first people forced into concentration camps since the Europeans came,” said Warrior Woman, a member of the Dakota tribe. “In 1978, we walked across the country to Washington, D. C. to fight 11 bills in Congress. It took six months. They found that the land they put us on have mineral resources on 75 percent to 90 percent of the land.”

Warrior Woman, a mother and a grandmother, said the Native American nation has been under sustained assault from all directions.

“We’re a nation within a nation but they’ve never respected our sovereignty,” said Warrior Woman of the U.S. federal government. “We have no banks, few businesses, no license plates unless they match those of the states (the reservation is in),” she added.

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“There really is no Thanksgiving. They were invited in and massacred their hosts.” The activist acknowledged the importance of young people, but explained that they are being steeped in European education and foreign religions, as well as being seduced by the lure of material things and promises of a better life.

“Young people are born and raised in the system and are acting just like them. It’s a long process” said Warrior Woman softly. “They’re trying to get to the youth so they lose their minds. They just want to learn. It’s hard. The youth are committing suicide in mass numbers.”

The reservations are slums, Warrior Woman said, with inadequate housing, overcrowding, some quarters lacking running water and other issues. And the conditions men, women and children have endured has led to alcoholism, domestic violence and internecine conflicts.

She said the tribal councils and tribal police are too often controlled by the feds. There’s infighting over casino revenues and politics. And people are being poisoned by the food.

 

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