Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A Free Country....My Ass

The Smithsonian Institution is opening a new museum today. The National Museum of the American Indian will tell about the histories of the native peoples of America. In some ways I am pleased to see this. It is about time that the stories were told. More important that they be told from a different perspective than what I learned growing up.

In other ways I am saddened by the opening of this museum. Not because it will change the way white America sees it's history, but because so much more needs to be done.
I remember the American Indian Movement of the '60s and '70s. Their suppression by white America and the establishment. I remember seeing The Wounded Knee Occupation on the evening news. At the time I was young and uninformed. I didn't know what was going on. It led me on a journey as a young adult to find out what 'the other side' said. That journey also opened my eyes to the injustices of the American dream.

I make no apologies for what the government has done to the native peoples of this land. That is not my place. I do empathize with the people burdened by an attitude of indifference and a policy of discrimination.

White Americans have been, at the very least, degrading native peoples since they arrived in this land. We killed them like cattle, and when we weren't content with this, herded them hundreds of miles to, what was to them, foreign lands. Since then we have not cared for our brothers and sisters.

Eighty-three percent of Native Americans living on reservations, subsist in substandard housing. This is on top of a high unemployment rate. There is little if any chance of getting a decent education while living on this government controlled lands. This is, and always has been, unacceptable.

These people, our sisters and brothers, need to be given the chance that white America gets. Living conditions of the third world should not be tolerated in this country. The living conditions of the inner city slums are like heaven to these people. Electricity should be abundantly available. The worse discrimination in this country is economic discrimination. With it, nothing is possible. Yet this is what we bestow on our own people.

We are spending billions of dollars to destroy a country in the mid-east. We will spend billions, maybe even trillions, more on rebuilding it. Why, in gods name, can't we spend that money on our own people? We destroyed their culture, murdered their people, raped their women. Why can't we do something decent for a change? Why do we always destroy the one thing that matters most, life?

The National Museum of the American Indian can be a start to undoing the wrongs of the past. That is what it must be though, a start. If things stay as they are, it is just a waste of time and money. If attitudes don't change, and government sponsored discrimination doesn't stop, then it does nothing to ease the burden of a very proud people. Nobody is asking for a handout. What they need is a handup. What they deserve is a very big hand.

If, so called, christians had the honor that these peoples have shown time and time again, the world would be a better place. God bless you all.


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