Saturday, October 28, 2006


Appalling Tradition

In the preface to the thirtieth anniversary edition of his acclaimed book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: an Indian history of the American west, renowned author Dee Brown observes that, "During the past generation, some tribal reservations have prospered, others have not...And the county with the deepest poverty in the United States is still a tribal reservation." Since these words were published in 2000, the government of the United States of America has embarked on the largest swindle of Indian tribes since the initial internment to reservations under treaties that guaranteed perpetual health care, education, and environmental stewardship to the indigenous peoples in exchange for these liens on the landscape they were coerced into ceding.

The obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the tribes that led to a federal judge finding the Secretary of the Department of the Interior in contempt is now in its fifth year, and as Congress and the White House attempt to conceal the $200 billion of tribal oil and gas royalties stolen by energy companies with Interior's collusion, it is hard not to recall the endless string of broken promises detailed in Brown's classic account of deception, avarice, and savagery by our federal government toward the Indian people.

As he notes in the introduction to his remarkable book, "history has a way of intruding upon the present, and perhaps those who read it will have a clearer understanding of what the American Indian is, by knowing what he was...They may learn something about their own relationship to the earth from a people who were true conservationists...[who] could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself."


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