Opinion: Upsetting the Internet with 'merciless Indian savages'

"It seemed like a simple point to make, and the right time to make it.

After spending nearly 10 years in Indian country researching and writing my new book, Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, I thought that I, a non-Native, was in as good a position as anyone to make mention of three distressing words in the Declaration of Independence.

The three words are “merciless Indian savages.”

It was my feeling that relatively few people realize those words are there, amid the glories of Thomas Jefferson’s often quoted prose. I thought, Okay, my fellow Americans, let’s acknowledge. Here’s the link to the essay: “The Damaging Three Words of the Declaration of Independence”.

I have to say that post is not own best prose and the last sentences I would have edited had I let them simmer a while, but I wanted to get the whole thing to a waiting editor at Huffington Post before the 4th of July weekend started.

Fast forward.

I mean really fast. When did I realize my post wouldn’t be lost in the Huff Post slog? When I saw it featured on page one, with a photo of the Declaration. When did I realize people were reading it? When I kept getting messages that various people were following me on Twitter. (@alisonowings, if you care to join them). And when the number of messages went from hundreds to, yes, thousands.

Mention of “merciless Indian savage” kicked up such a huge and ferocious storm that I have not read all the comments: 3,187 of them when I last checked."

Get the Story:
Alison Owings: The Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s “Merciless Indian Savages,” and Getting Flamed on Huffington Post (Indian Country Today 7/7)

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