Steven Newcomb: US still treats Indian people like terrorists

"What the hell were they thinking? Why would the first African American President of the United States, as U.S. Commander in Chief, think nothing of U.S. military forces applying the code name “Geronimo” to Osama bin Laden during the reported assault against that long-sought enemy of the United States? Apparently, having an African American President in the White House is not enough to overturn the more than 200-year American tradition of treating and thinking of Indians as enemies of the United States.

Question: Did President Barack Obama point out to his military brass that such a disrespectful use of Geronimo’s name was inappropriate? Probably not.

In my book Pagans in the Promised Land (Fulcrum, 2008) I use the theory of the human mind (cognitive theory) to explain the “cognitive unconscious” of the United States. Certain ingrained traditions of thought, both conscious and unconscious, have been used for generations by U.S. government officials. Such thinking has resulted in the development of predominantly anti-Indian U.S. federal Indian laws and policies. The result has been laws and policies that have proven detrimental to Indian nations and peoples.

George Washington, in 1784, used the analogy “the savage as the wolf” to refer to our Indian ancestors as less-than-human “beasts.” As Henry Wheaton said in his Elements of International Law, “The heathen nations of the other quarters of the globe were the lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors.” Thus, one of the normative American metaphors throughout the history of the United States has been “Indians Are Enemies.” We’re talking about a U.S. tradition of dehumanization and dominance used against our nations and peoples."

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Geronimo Again? The Indian Wars Continue Ad Nauseam (Indian Country Today 5/3)

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