The Declaration of Independence refers to Native people as "merciless Indian savages." Image from Wikimedia Commons with annotation by Mark Charles
Opinion

Adrian Jawort: The 'Indian savages' in the Declaration of Independence





Mark Charles has talked about it before but it bears repeating: the Declaration of Independence refers to indigenous peoples as "merciless Indian savages." As the United States observes the July 4 holiday, writer Adrian Jawort, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, addresses the "hypocrisy" within America's document of freedom:
After a brief introduction, the Declaration of Independence states in the eloquent prose of the Thomas Jefferson,“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Powerful words, indeed, and ones we should hold dear no matter where we are from or live. But if one reads through the document completely – as it’s done annually and publicly in countless U.S. locations – it lists “repeated injuries and usurpations” and “tyranny” acts against the colonialists on behalf of King George III of Great Britain.The second paragraph concludes, “To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world,” before a list of 27 sentences listing various trangressions from tax complaints to forced military conscription.

The last of these complaints, however, is one that reads: He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Pause right there. Does the most famous document in American history really state “all Men are created equal,” then hypocritically proclaim right afterward its first inhabitants are “merciless Indian savages”?

Read More on the Story:
Adrian Jawort: The Declaration of Independence — Except for ‘Indian Savages’ (Indian Country Media Network 7/3)

Related Stories:
Mark Charles: Native people dehumanized in Declaration of Independence (July 4, 2016)
Mark Charles: All men are created equal except 'Indian savages' (June 15, 2015)