Noam Chomsky discusses mistreatment of indigenous people

The United States and Australia should apologize for their mistreatment of indigenous people, linguist, scholar and philosopher Noam Chomsky said in a recent speech.

Chomsky said the U.S. and Australia, among other nations, have benefited from the genocide of Native people and the taking of their land. Yet the world remains in "denial" of these crimes, he observed.

"Recognition of heinous crimes from which we benefit enormously would be a good start after centuries of denial, but we can go on from there," Chomsky said in the 2011 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, which he delivered on November 2.

Chomsky, who is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, singled out the language preservation efforts of Jessie Little Doe Baird, a member of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. She won a "genius grant" last year from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

"Revival of the Wampanoag language has revitalized the tribe," Chomsky said. "A language is more than just sounds and words. It is the repository of culture, history, traditions, the entire rich texture of human life and society."

"Similar achievements can be carried forward, a very partial but significant gesture towards repentance for heinous sins on which our wealth and power rests," he added.

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