Opinion

Doug George-Kanentiio: Native people bear terrible burden in U.S.






A marker at the site of the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado, where a militia attacked a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho village, killing upwards of 200 people, mostly women, children and the elderly. Photo by Carptrash

Mass Murder in the United States
Natives Carry The Burden of This Terrible Legacy
By Doug George-Kanentiio

The murder of 50 people onJ une 12 in Orlando, Florida where a single man armed with an assault rifle and pistol has become a tragic continuance of massacres in US history, most of which were directed at Native people.

Some say what happened in Orlando was the worst in American history but that is not so.

The first large, organized assault in the colonial era took place in May of 1637 when Captain John Mason directed a force of militia and Natives to surround and attack the main Pequot town in southeastern Connecticut, set it afire and killed every elder, child, woman or man who tried to escape. Over 700 died.

The practice of murdering Natives on a mass scale continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and was adopted by those who saw indigenous people as impediments to westward expansion during and after the American Revolution.

In 1782, US Captain David Williamson order the murder of 96 "praying Indians" (Lenapi Christians) at Gnadenhutten, Ohio. In 1814, US General Andrew Jackson oversaw the mutilation of 557 Creeks in what is now Alabama.

On August 2, 1832 an estimated 150 Sac and Fox were slaughtered at Bad Axe River in Wisconsin.

In 1838, US President Andrew Jackson ordered the eviction of 16,000 Cherokees from this ancestral lands to "Indian Territory" in what became Oklahoma. Over 1,500 die.

In 1850, California joins the Union then begins a practise of enslaving Natives and hunting them for sport. Tens of thousands die.

1855: Massacre of Ash Hollow, Nebraska. 86 Brule "butchered" by US soldiers.

1857: September; massacre of Mountain Meadows in Utah. 123 pioneers murdered by a force of Mormons and Paiutes.

1860: American settlers in Eureka, California murder 188 Wyots.

In 1861, Col.Chaves of Ft. WIngate, New Mexico orders killing of 30 Navajos.

1864: Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister, leads an attack of militia against the Cheyenne-Arapaho at Sand Creek, Colorado. Over 163 Natives are murdered and mutilated.

1863: US General Patrick Connor attacks Shoshone community at Bear River near Idaho. An estimated 400 Natives are killed, most are women and children.

1868: Washita River murders: 140 Natives die after attack by Lt. Col, George Custer.

1870: An estimated 173 Blackfeet killed by US soldiers at Maris River, Montana.

1871: 144 Apaches murdered by US soldiers at Camp Grant, Arizona.

And four days after Christmas in 1890 over 256 Lakotas were shot, bludgeoned and stabbed to death by American soldiers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

There are many more instances of mass murder of Natives by Americans, particularly in California, a most bloody ground. As with all criminal acts it is vital to gather as many facts as possible, to compose a narrative, to analyze the crime scene and bring to justice those responsible.

This is essential to promote healing but has not been done for Native victims.

The Orlando killer is dead. But for the Native victims who were also deprived of their lives in the most profound, horrible manner the murders escaped punishment and in many instances have had their acts of depravity sanctioned by having streets and towns named in their perverted honor.

Such is what passes as "history" in the US.

Doug George-Kanentiio is an Akwesasne Mohawk currently residing on Oneida Territory with his wife Joanne Shenandoah.

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