Land Back NDN Collective
Climbers atop Dakota Mills Grain in Rapid City, South Dakota, were arrested on July 4, 2021, as part of a “LANDBACK” protest calling for return of treaty territory to the Sioux Nation. Photo courtesy of NDN Collective
“… With liberty and justice for all…”
Friday, July 9, 2021
Native Sun News Today Columnist

America has never provided freedom and equality for all. Most of us has to pledge our allegiance to the flag of the United States daily in school. The aim of those government “Indian” schools was to erase Native cultures under the banner of “education” and to “civilize” the Natives. They did so, with some success, in ways that bordered on barbarous.

This coerced “pledging” proves there are huge inequities. It means this nation has not embraced the fact that it has not done enough to advance inclusion and diversity. It has fallen short of the traditions, institutions, and ideals of the U. S. Constitution. We had to either conform and forget our ancestral ways or endure exclusion, omission, and erasure of our culture.

As Natives, we have been led to believe we were pledging our alliance and support to the idea of loyalty and pride in the United States. At the same time, as Native people, we bore the unpleasantness of racial superiority. This pledging had often been defined as patriotism by the far-right nationalists. In other words, what may have been a customary American trait has now turned to coercing people to stand for the flag, which is fascism.

Ivan F. Star Comes Out. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

Realistically, we were forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every weekday morning during our time in school. I am one of those former students and I always felt uncomfortable about doing it. My pledge of loyalty to the flag never took root in my heart because the actual life or existence I and my Lakota relatives endured was mostly in the absence of “liberty and justice.”

For the majority of Natives in America, life has been on the outskirts of the mainstream. We have struggled with poverty, homelessness, joblessness, racism, and an anonymity like no other on earth. We have been badly stereotyped and hated as a result. Following are some examples of the mindset of not only U. S. citizens but of its political leaders.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union Army general during the Civil War (1861-1865) was outspoken in his belief that Indian policy should be set by the army and that the aim of Indian policy should be to place the various tribes on reservations and force them to stay there. His tactics, although bordering on the barbaric, were implemented.

There is South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore, a huge carving in the beautiful He Sapa (Black Mountain Range). Gutzon Borglum, creator of the monument, said the four presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, were chosen to “Commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development of the United States of America.

George Washington, an active slave holder for over 50 years, freed his slaves at the end of his life. He was also an “Indian fighter.” He was known as Conotocaurius (Town Destroyer) among the Iroquois, for killing the occupants of several Iroquois villages and destroying their crops. He was known as “Town Taker,” “Burner of Towns,” “Devourer of Towns,” “and “He Destroys the Town.”

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Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com.

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