November is Native American Heritage Month
“Kill the Indian, and Save the Man!” Capt. Richard H. Pratt
Imagine being told that your culture and customs are animalistic. The indigenous population of what is now the Americas was treated like savages and called uncivilized, but the reality is that the population had customs and cultures. There were many different tribes, and they inhabited this space that we now claim and stand upon. The ideology of many Europeans upon arriving on this inhabited space was that the natives were uneducated and not worthy of the land that they occupied thus not requiring them to learn their culture and ways. The standard treaties that were customary when dealing with other European nations was not followed when addressing land expansion in the Americas. When Natives would not give up their land often, they were massacred. If they did sign treaties more often than not the Europeans did not abide by the rules established in the treaty and the Natives were cheated out of what was rightfully theirs. Natives did not draw boundaries on land as they believe that all the land belong to Mother Earth and is not to be owned by anyone, what an amazing idea. Reality is that we do not own this land and Mother Earth has been showing us for some time now that she is in control as we have seen more floods, hurricanes, fires, etc.
As we embark on Native American Heritage Month, I would like to share with you just one story about how poorly the indigenous population was treated. How many of you have heard about American Indian Residential Schools? The quote at the beginning of this post was from Captain Pratt, who helped establish what was to be known as Indian Residential schools or Native American boarding schools, which were established during the late 19th and 20th century. The main point of the schools was to strip the Natives of their culture and customs and make them assimilate to European ways. Children were separated from their families, forced to learn English, beaten if they spoke in their native tongue and had their hair cut off. Many children died due to starvation, neglect, and disease. Molestation was frequent. Some schools were on reservations, but many were not. Religion was thought to extend civilization to “the ignorant race and show them the way to heaven (Fr. Andrew White).” A great way to learn more about the history of education forced upon the indigenous population is to watch “Native American Boarding Schools” at https://youtu.be/Yo1bYj-R7F0.
As we all prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families it is imperative that we remember the past crimes committed against the people who help to feed the pilgrims when they did not know how to grow food for themselves. Happy Native American Heritage Month!