Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm indigenous peoples

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Photo: Craig Bennett

A physical symbols of white supremacy come down in New Orleans, Louisiana, Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute wonders what will happen to the court rulings, policies and "paper monuments" that continue to hold indigenous peoples back:
A May 9, 2017 editorial in The New York Times, Monuments of White Supremacy, took note of voices in the American South that want to preserve monuments erected in honor of the Southern Confederacy. Such monuments, said the NY Times, represent the “Confederate ideology” of white racial supremacy and racial terrorism. Typically, such monuments are made of bronze, such as a statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy during the Civil War, a statue which was recently taken down from its pedestals in New Orleans.

The editorial did not mention other monuments to white supremacy that are being ignored and left standing, such as Mount Rushmore, which was carved into the Sacred Lakota Black Hills by Gutzon Borglum, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and the statue erected in honor of the Indian killer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, at the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, California.

Monuments in the form of statues are obvious. Other monuments to white supremacy, however, are made of words on paper and are found in books of court rulings published by the United States government, and in the institutions these rulings support. The rulings and institutions are “paper monuments,” made of concepts, institutional practices, and policies based on notions and doctrines of white Christian supremacy. This was the subject of my 1993 law review article, The Evidence of Christion Nationalism in Federal Indian Law, published in the Review of Law & Social Change at New York University School of Law.

Today, 24 years later, the religiously racist concepts and practices of United States federal Indian law used against Native nations have not changed at all. The present-day descendants of white Christian colonizers are perfectly happy to uphold the ideas of domination and dehumanization used by their ancestors and bequeathed to those who would be living in the future, which is today.

Read More on the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Johnson v. M’Intosh: A Paper Monument of White Christian Supremacy (Indian Country Media Network 5/23)

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