Tim Giago: Questioning the motto of GOP candidate Donald Trump

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with a "Make America Great Again" button. Photo from Facebook

Questioning the motto of Candidate Trump
Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giagp (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up For Them)

Donald Trump has built his bid to become President of the United States on the motto “Make America Great Again!”

Just what does he mean by that?

Does he mean America was great when innocent women were being burned at the stake because of accusations of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts?

Does he mean when slave traders were herding Africans aboard ships and placing them in chains to ship to American ports as human cargo? Or when African American men were being hanged for even looking sideways at a white woman?

How about when black children were segregated in America’s schools from white children or when black men and women were being beaten for trying to eat in a white restaurant?

Or when a United States Army officer ordered his troops to fire their rifles and Hotchkiss guns upon innocent Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee in the State of South Dakota thereby claiming the lives of nearly 300?

Indians were driven from their homes by the thousands to make room for the invaders who occupied their homelands, destroyed their burial sites, and destroyed all vestiges of their existence and their history.

Innocent Indian children were rounded up by the police and truant officers and shipped off to boarding schools far from home in an effort to destroy their culture, language, religion and traditions?

American Indians were rounded up and placed on reservations and became fair game for white hunters if they were caught “off the reservation.” It is a quote that is used still. How did that make America great?

There is an unwritten chapter of America that would have cataloged an overt history of racism, and religious and political discrimination that Trump will never mention. I heard guys from the South say, “Shaking like a (N-Word) on election day,” and it took that to mean that there was a great fear among African Americans to even dare to go out and vote in practice of one of their Constitutional rights.

White women won the right to vote in 1920 and American Indians, although indigenous to America, did not win the right to vote until 1924. That was only 92 years ago. It was only 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education that opened up America’s schools to people of all races and little black children had to be accompanied to schools under the protection of armed guards and it took the protection of the National Guard to get a black man and woman into the University of Mississippi.

There are men and women of all races that are truly trying to make America great and many of us are still proud to be Americans, but we must never pretend that America was always great and all of the bad things I mention here, and many I do not have the space to mention, did happen. As Americans we have to own up to our country’s dark past in order for us to envision America’s bright future.

When Trump proclaims he is going to “Make America Great Again” he needs to consider the America that was not so great to Indians, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics and all of the other Americans that were different.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991 and founder of the Native American Journalists Association. He can be reached at unitysodak1@vastbb.net

Join the Conversation