Harjo: Genocide the right word for treatment of Natives

"Michael Medved wants his audience to ''reject the lie of white 'genocide' against Native Americans'' and says this is one of the ''most urgent needs in culture and education.'' The neocon author blogged on Sept. 19 that ''the word 'genocide' in no way fits as a description of the treatment of Native Americans by British colonists or, later, American settlers.''

Colonial and American government ''never endorsed or practiced a policy of Indian extermination,'' wrote Medved. Rather, ''official leaders of white society tried to restrain some of their settlers and militias and paramilitary groups from unnecessary conflict and brutality.''

Medved rose to national prominence as guest-host for talk radio star Rush Limbaugh and as a movie critic who defended director Mel Gibson's ''The Passion of the Christ'' when many other Jewish-Americans denounced it as anti-Semitic.

Medved claims that the ''real decimation of Indian populations had nothing to do with massacres or military actions, but stemmed from infectious diseases that white settlers brought with them at the time they first arrived in the New World.'' Would that Medved were correct in his use of the word ''decimation.'' That would mean that only 10 percent, rather than 95 percent, of Native people actually died by 1900.

Medved is wrong about his main point, too. While many Native people died of foreign diseases, non-Natives killed and nearly killed entire nations and cultures, and meant to do so. Thus, genocide is the right word."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Reject genocide-denier's propaganda (Indian Country Today 9/28)

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