Manataka American Indian Council

 

 

FEATURE STORY

 

 

 

 

 

LIVING WITH TERROR

 

By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji), Notes from Indian Country

© 2010 Lakota Media, Inc.

 

Indians have Lived with Terrorism for 500 Years

 

There is a terrible fear sweeping across America. Since 9/11 the American people have had to face their own vulnerability.

 

The threat of terrorism hangs in the air. Sudden death can strike anywhere at anytime. There is no timetable nor is there a country America can strike in the event of another horrible attack by the terrorists.

 

After 9/11 the question was asked; why do they hate us? Perhaps that question should be rephrased to ask, "What have we done to them to make them hate us?"

 

America is now experiencing the fear American Indians have felt for more than 500 years. Our ancestors never knew what act of violence or terror would befall them from the American invaders. But death did come. It came in the form of biological warfare when small pox tainted blankets were distributed to the unsuspecting victims.

 

It came to them from the muzzles of guns that did not distinguish between warriors, women, elders or children. It came to them in the ruthless name of Manifest Destiny, the American edict that proclaimed God as the purveyor of expansion Westward.

 

Indian people were often slaughtered like animals often under a flag of truce and often while waving the American flag in pitiful efforts to convince their killers that they were not bad people.

 

At Wounded Knee in 1890, a slaughter took place that the white man often called the last great battle between Indians and the United States Army. It was not a battle. It was the last heinous action against innocent men, women and children. Their bodies were strewn across the valley known as Wounded Knee under the barrage set down by the Seventh Cavalry.

 

They died not knowing why. They died in fear. They died in the frozen snow of that bitterly cold December day while fleeing to find safe harbor amongst the Oglala Lakota. These Lakota experienced terrorism heaped upon them by a government that did not consider them to be human beings.

 

When human beings can be publicly acknowledged as less than human, their deaths become meaningless. By portraying all Indians as murdering savages, rapists, kidnappers and worse, the national media of the day laid the groundwork for Wounded Knee. The media laid the groundwork for the expansion West that would claim thousands of lives. Horace Greeley wrote, "Go West, Young Man, Go West."

 

And they did. By the thousands they came seeking land, gold and all of the natural resources that were out there for the taking. The only thing standing in their way was the Indian people. It was their land and it was their natural resources.

 

Just as the Christian Crusaders believed it was their Manifest Destiny to conquer and kill those Arabs they considered as sub-humans and heathens, so did the American Army duplicate their horrible actions. The difference is the Arabs defeated the Crusading invaders.

 

Oftentimes Missionaries were sent out to soften up the resistance of the Indians by converting them to Christianity. Many of the Indians slaughtered in the massacres that followed were converted Christians.

 

And right behind the missionaries followed the treaty makers. They used the treaties as temporary documents of appeasement. A treaty would gain them a firm foothold on Indian land and more control over the people. The treaties were quickly broken and the United States then took total control over the land and the people. The people were herded on to small reservations and treated like caged animals.

 

The Indian people fought back as best they could, but having been portrayed as savages without human thought or feelings, they were slaughtered by the thousands. Mercenaries such as the infamous African American Buffalo Soldiers were even used to kill, rape and pillage.

 

Just as many books and later movies about Arabs portrayed them as less than human, so to do the media treat the American Indian.

 

The fear and anxiety felt by the Indian people did not end at Wounded Knee. In many ways that was just the beginning. For the Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne it started in 1876.

 

When the warriors of the Great Sioux Nation and their allies stood up against George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Greasy Grass, they were punished by having their beloved He’ Sapa (Black Hills) confiscated from them without compensation. In 1981 a pitiful monetary award was made to the people of the Great Sioux Nation. Compared to the billions of dollars in timber and gold that had been extracted from the He’ Sapa, the award was pathetic.

 

And in this year of 2003, the Sioux people, amongst the poorest people on this planet, have refused to accept this token payment for their Sacred He’ Sapa. And guess what; America just doesn’t give a damn. It like, "Hey, we offered them the money and therefore it’s settled." It is a long way from settled and maybe someday someone in a position of power will come along who will recognize this fact. And maybe someday, America may actually recognize that it spread a path of fear and terror amongst the Indian people that is still not resolved.

 

With each passing day, there is still fear and anxiety in Indian country. We never know when or if the United States will take away what little we have remaining. Our language, our culture, our traditions, and our spirituality have all been under constant attack for 500 years.

 

The American Indian knows what it is to live in the shadow of terrorism. And now the rest of America is learning.

 


 

(Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper Lakota Journal. He is the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association. He can be reached at editor@lakotajournal.com or P.O. Box 3080, Rapid City, SD, 57709)

 

Submitted by Andre Cramblit, Native News Network

 

 

 


 

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