"If you have been following the national debate on the torture of prisoners then you know one side says it is OK to protect American lives while the other side says that it is above our ethical standards.
What you may not know is that US Dept of Justice lawyer John Yoo, based his argument for the legality of torture in no small part on the treatment of American Indian prisoners during the Indian wars of the 19th century.
If there ever was a case for the need to have Native American studies, the heretofore hidden aspects of the case for torture cries out for the need of all Americans to know American Indian history, especially the general background of exactly how the dispossession of Indians took place.
Torture of Indian people started not long after Columbus' second voyage. Sailors from ship Santa Maria, sunk off the coast of Hispanolia (modern day Haiti) and a small group were left behind as a temporary colony. When Columbus returned on the second voyage, he found that all members of the colony had died in a punitive raid. As retribution for the death of his men, and in attempt to exploit the small amounts of gold to be found on the island, Columbus required that all Indian males over a certain age had to produce some quantity of gold every month as tribute. Failure to produce the gold resulted in the Spanish severing the tendons in one or both feet of the Indians who did not comply."
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Johnny P. Flynn: Torture authorization based in part on Indian wars
(News From Indian Country May 2009)