Opinion

Jacqueline Keeler: Forgotten story of Russia's indigenous people





Jacqueline Keeler draws parallels between Native people in the U.S. and in Russia:
When I first saw P. N. Gruzinsky's 1872 painting, "The mountaineers leave the aul," I was immediately struck by the parallels to a well-known painting of the Trail of Tears depicting members of the Five Civilized Tribes being driven from their homelands to Oklahoma. For more than 150 years, the Circassian people, whose former capital was Sochi, Russia, have been pressing for recognition of the genocidal expulsion from their homelands.

“My mother was running, holding my hand she was terrified someone was after us like rabid dogs ...looking backward panting, afraid, I was afraid, too. She couldn't keep running anymore...she said I had to make it on my own so as not to be killed the way my father was ..You have to survive. Our homeland needs you alive...you have to come back don't let them capture you.

She said they fought for a hundred years...I didn't know who these people were and why they wanted us dead.”

This may sound like one of our own tribal stories here in North America, yet it comes from the short film, “A stain in Russian history The Circassian Genocide In 1864.”

In all the coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, you may have not have heard about the genocide of the Circassian people 150 years ago when 1.5 million were either killed or driven from their ancient homelands across the Black Sea to Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel.

Get the Story:
Jacqueline Keeler: Forgotten People of Sochi: Our Relatives in Spirit? (Indian Country Today 2/16)