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Opinion: New York Indians born into racist system

"Michael [Niman, author of On Racism: Will our Indian Wars Ever End?] categorizes racists as good ones and bad ones. The “good ones”, by his definition, are college educated and born into this class. But many New York tribal Indians get free college tuition and are born into this class. He MUST be referring to the tribes, for no others in New York are born into this privilege.

He claims that race is not biological, but political. This is another of his racist building blocks that don’t hold water. Race is biological. Tribalism, of which most Indians aren’t a part of, is political. Therefore, tribalism, is about power and constructs and supports privilege - and of course, where there is privilege there is oppression since nobody can enjoy privilege without someone else suffering a lack of privilege. With tribalism, one group gains and maintains power over another group.

Niman’s ranting about century old racism is an ugly reality that has been dealt with in part with civil rights acts. He relates to an age when slavery was legal and women were considered property, let alone be able to own property or have the right to vote.

As for insinuating words - those such as “First” or “Native” American implying a right or privilege should increasingly come under scrutiny. First, because the implication is bogus and secondly because evidence has shown that Indians weren’t necessarily “First” or “Native”. In New York State the Iroquois merely assimilated and exterminated the tribes that were here before them. Niman’s relationship of politics to racism would, therefore, make them racist. I don’t mean to imply they are."

Get the Story:
Richard E. Tallcot: UCE Replies to Niman Article (WNY Media Network 7/30)

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