Civilizing the Savages
It is a shame that often it takes a lifetime to gain vision into the meaning of human events. One of the most baffling puzzles has been the treatment by European immigrants of the native tribal human beings of the Western Hemisphere, particularly the Indigenous Natives of North America in the United States.
There has to be some reason for the history of our behavior toward what most everyone calls "Indians", though these unique peoples did not come from India, nor did they live in the "West Indies". Stated in the simplest terms a thoughtful conclusion, after a life time of relishing American History, has raised its ugly head: the "fever", the passion, the "gold rush" for "free land" and the riches produced by that land. Nothing else could make human beings more brutal than the insanity of quick riches. Actually "free land" doesn't describe what happened because of the unspeakable and heavy costs paid by the original inhabitants.
Gradually ingesting the truth of what our ancestors did to get us to where we are as a people steals the pride in America we were taught when young, replacing it with shame. When one visualizes the flag of the United States flying above the Native American village at Sand Creek, Colorado, symbolizing their commitment to the peace treaty they had signed... visualizing the attack by the Colorado Militia on November 29, 1864 resulting in the death of more than 100 natives, two thirds of whom were women and children... makes our proud flag fade, drip in innocent blood, and dissolve into shame. It was only one of many such events. The Cherokee "trail of tears" was the direct results of greed for gold in Georgia, North and South Carolina. The Cherokee had succeeded in mimicking white culture better than any native tribe. They had a written language, a Constitution...they wore white mans clothes, tilled the soil, had fences. But gold was discovered on their land. They resisted. They even won their lawsuit in the United States Supreme Court to no avail. Then Old Hickory, "Indian fighter" Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. They were moved in winter from their ancestral lands in the east to Indian Territory. Ten thousand perished in the move.
The Western Hemisphere had more than 800 nations when the Europeans came. The native population numbered easily as many as Europe at the time. It was not an uninhabited wilderness. Where we live now belonged to those nations for at least 15,000 years. Our ancestors took it, murdered the majority of its inhabitants because they were "savages"? No, because they wanted "free land", gold and silver. This sort of activity is central to the meaning of "Colonialism". Colonialism was where Europeans exploited land and the indigenous people around the world by means of a superior technology. They marched into countries with superior weapons, took the land, installed European style governments, and called it "civilizing the savages". But the American government was supposed to be different...our documents say it clearly, that all are created equal and have universal rights, number one of which is life itself. Alas.
It seems now impossible to "relish" American History as once was the case, because we have never really rejected the ideas of colonialism. The things which we have been taught and which we believed about America were in themselves momentous. They were events and documents which advance above all else human rights and populous government in place of "the divine right of kings". These events brought a recognition of the fact that the collective wisdom of the common people is superior.
But once again it appears that we are today gripped by a "fever"...the quest for riches, because government is no longer controlled by the population but by wholly commercial interests. The question now arises, who is being trampled and abused by our present "fever"? Who is loosing everything including their lives because of our greed?