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Have the US government officially apologized for Indian Removal Act and Native American Indian genocide?
If yes, could you provide more information when did it happen and who (which president or other high US authority) did apologize?
Yes, albeit in a fairly weaselly way (it was tucked into the middle of an unrelated spending bill).
I'm guessing that there are legal issues here; a government-issued apology could potentially open the government up to lawsuits (which, of course, they could decline to entertain because they are the government, but that would potentially be a bad PR move).
For what it's worth, the US did apologize to Japanese-Americans interred during World War II and even provided survivors with a small amount of money in reparations in 1988.
Indian Removal Act
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Indian Removal Act, (May 28, 1830), first major legislative departure from the U.S. policy of officially respecting the legal and political rights of the American Indians. The act authorized the president to grant Indian tribes unsettled western prairie land in exchange for their desirable territories within state borders (especially in the Southeast), from which the tribes would be removed. The rapid settlement of land east of the Mississippi River made it clear by the mid-1820s that the white man would not tolerate the presence of even peaceful Indians there. Pres. Andrew Jackson (1829–37) vigorously promoted this new policy, which became incorporated in the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Although the bill provided only for the negotiation with tribes east of the Mississippi on the basis of payment for their lands, trouble arose when the United States resorted to force to gain the Indians’ compliance with its demand that they accept the land exchange and move west.
A number of northern tribes were peacefully resettled in western lands considered undesirable for the white man. The problem lay in the Southeast, where members of what were known as the Five Civilized Tribes ( Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Cherokee, and Creek) refused to trade their cultivated farms for the promise of strange land in the Indian Territory with a so-called permanent title to that land. Many of these Indians had homes, representative government, children in missionary schools, and trades other than farming. Some 100,000 tribesmen were forced to march westward under U.S. military coercion in the 1830s up to 25 percent of the Indians, many in manacles, perished en route. The trek of the Cherokee in 1838–39 became known as the infamous “ Trail of Tears.” Even more reluctant to leave their native lands were the Florida Indians, who fought resettlement for seven years (1835–42) in the second of the Seminole Wars.
The frontier began to be pushed aggressively westward in the years that followed, upsetting the “guaranteed” titles of the displaced tribes and further reducing their relocated holdings.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.
When Will U.S. Apologize for Genocide of Indian Boarding Schools?
The cultural genocide perpetrated by Canada's Indian residential school system was heavily influenced by the United States.
When the Canadian government first sought solutions to the country's "Indian problem," back in the 19th century, it turned to the cruel yet expedient example set by its neighbor to the south. A member of Parliament, Nicholas Flood Davin suggested that Canadians model their efforts after those established by U.S. Army Lt. Richard Pratt, who founded the Carlisle Indian School in 1879. Pratt coined the infamous phrase,"Kill the Indian to Save the Man," as a motto for the systematic destruction of Native culture, language and family as an alternative to warring against tribal nations.
The U.S. model, however, does not figure highly in Canada's recent reconciliation efforts. On June 11, Canada marked the eighth anniversary of its formal apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples for the travesty that was Canada's boarding schools. The apology, financial compensation, a framework for healing and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) were all components of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2007. (In the largest class-action suit in Canadian history, former students of Indian residential schools settled out of court with the federal government and four national Christian churches.) The commission's mandate since then has been to gather written and oral history of residential schools and survivors and work toward reconciliation between survivors and Canada. The TRC concluded its work in June.
In the Canadian Agreement, survivors specified that part of their settlement go toward funding programs aimed at healing and helping survivors and their families recover from the trauma inflicted upon them by the residential schools. Medical research in Canada and the United States link the boarding school traumas of abuse, neglect and separation from family and culture with high rates of suicide, substance and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and violence and other health disparities such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Canadian health professionals note that reducing these disparities requires more than narrow concerns directly related to drug and alcohol abuse it requires understanding and addressing the historical and cultural impact of trauma on aboriginal peoples.
Despite similar disparities in health for Native peoples in the U.S., the government has never formally addressed its role in the forced assimilation of generations of Native children at government and church run boarding schools. Although President Obama signed an Apology to Native Peoples of the United States on December 19, 2009 into law as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010, the law has received scant media coverage, and Obama signed the bill in private without ceremony or announcement.
Death to Health
Many more Native children were harmed in the U.S. than in Canada by boarding schools. According to the TRC, there were over 130 Indian residential schools in Canada, and more than 150,000 aboriginal children passed through this system. In the U.S., the Boarding School Healing Coalition, estimates that there were over 500 such schools. According to Denise Lajimodiere Ph.D at North Dakota State University School of Education and president of the Boarding School Healing Coalition, there were 153 federal Indian boarding schools and many more religious schools run by Christian denominations through contracts with the U.S.
According to the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) 2013 Legal Review, there were still 60,000 Native children enrolled in boarding schools in 1973, when the boarding school era was coming to a close."We need more researchers to verify data here in the U.S. Canada is so far ahead of us," says Lajimodiere, (of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa). She points out that this data is crucial because unresolved trauma from boarding schools has contributed to maladaptive behaviors and social patterns such as suicide, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Health care professionals working in Indian Country say there is a direct relation between the trauma experienced in boarding schools and high rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol use and suicide among boarding school survivors and their families. According to Teresa Brockie, researcher with the National Institute of Health historical trauma - including the boarding school experience - contributes to high rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) among Native people, that in turn give rise to mental health problems.
The ACES study by the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente found a connection between adverse childhood experiences and poor health.
Lajimodiere and other volunteers with the Boarding School Healing Coalition are working to bring the U.S. side of the boarding school story to the public, and help bring healing and justice to survivors and their families. The Coalition has recommended that the U.S. create a Commission on Boarding School Policy, with full participation of Native peoples who were affected. It also says the Commission should provide accurate information to the government and public about boarding school abuses, gather documentation from survivors and their families, receive recommendations for programs to help and support healing for families and communities and document healing programs that work.
Not Allowed to Sue
Statutes of limitations in the U.S. courts regarding lawsuits against individuals or institutions prohibit legal actions like the residential school class action lawsuit in Canada."There is no meaningful access to justice in the courts for survivors or communities, therefore the Coalition's main work is focused on healing," according to Donald Wharton, an attorney with NARF who works with the Coalition."We are not saying that individuals are not entitled to financial reparations but we are choosing to put our energies towards healing."
He adds that presentations to Congress about the legacy of boarding schools should include a solution and specify a role that government can play in helping Indian Country to heal.
U.S. leaders appear to already have some understanding of boarding school history. In her remarks for the White House convening on Creating Opportunity for Native Youth in April, 2015, Michelle Obama said,"Folks in Indian Country didn't just wake up one day with addiction problems.Poverty and violence didn't just randomly happen to this community. These issues are the result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse. We began separating children from their families and sending them to boarding schools designed to strip them of all traces of their culture, language and history. We should never forget that we played a role in this." Obama further promised,"Make no mistake about it - we own this. We can't just invest a million here and a million there and think we're going to make a real impact. This is about nation-building, and it will require fresh thinking and a massive infusion of resources over generations."
Wharton says Coalition members and tribal communities are working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to secure a grant to create a healing model that communities can craft to suit their needs.
Lajimodiere found in her research that survivors and their families want, in addition to a formal acknowledgement of the apology already signed by President Obama, help and support in the form of mainstream therapy and traditional Native medicine."We need to get Congress to understand that this is a wrong that needs to be righted. The trauma, not only from boarding schools but also from disease, loss of land, just goes on and on in Indian Country," Wharton says."Any infrastructure for healing also needs to be ongoing and sustainable. It's not like we'll just have one event and everyone will be healed overnight."
Many churches also played a significant role in the boarding school era therefore they will need to be involved in the healing process, according to Wharton.
Indeed, the Christian denominations, especially Catholics, fought hard to gain and maintain their schools in Indian Country. ICTMN visited Marquette University in Milwaukee where all Catholic Indian boarding school records are kept.
Each of the boarding schools was required to submit a complete list of all Native children enrolled to the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions in Washington D.C, the administrative organization that managed government funding to the schools. The archive at Marquette is filled with boxes and boxes of yellowing forms listing Native children's names written in distinctive Catholic school cursive handwriting. The schools received funding based upon the number of pupils it had.
Beginning in the early 20th century, that funding came directly from Native trust funds after the Supreme Court found that public monies could no longer be used to pay tuition at religious boarding schools. In Quickbear v. Leupp, the court declared that Native peoples could choose to pay for religious education directly out of their trust funds.
"Choice was a fraught issue in the early 20th century for Native people," according to K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Ph.D Professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Lomawaima, of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation, has written extensively about the boarding school including the books, "They Called it Prairie Fire" and "To Remain an Indian." Although all Native children were not legally required by the early 1900's to attend boarding schools, education was mandatory."Entrenched racism kept many Native children out of public schools. Extreme poverty, especially during the Depression years forced many Native people to send their children to Christian boarding schools," she notes. Unlike federal boarding schools, religious mission schools were often located closer to reservations, this may also have played a role.
Native parents may have simply succumbed to internalized oppression and resignation to the government's role in their lives according to Lajimodiere and David Wilkins Ph.D. professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota."This is important and horrific. We were paying for our own forced assimilation," Wilkins says.
Assimilation and Death
"There has been a resounding silence across Indian Country regarding boarding schools," Lajimodiere says. She believes many survivors are stuck in a secondary trauma and are unable to discuss what happened to them at the schools.
TRC Commissioners estimate that over 6,000 aboriginal children died in Canada's residential schools. The long-forgotten U.S. schools all had cemeteries, many containing unmarked graves, notes Lajimodiere."We don't know how many children died in the schools," she says.
Lajimodiere has spent the last several years interviewing boarding school survivors, many of whom state they were sexually abused at the schools. She has gathered 10 of the most powerful stories and plans to include them in her upcoming book.
She reported that upon hearing she was going to write a book on boarding schools, a non-Native man complained about the large number of publications about them."I asked him, how many books are there about General Custer?" she says."There can never be too many books about the boarding schools, not until we have national attention focused on what happened to our people."
This project is made possible by support from The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism.
Government Boarding Schools Once Separated Native American Children From Families
In 1879, U.S. cavalry captain Richard Henry Pratt opened a boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t the kind of boarding school that rich parents send their children to. Rather, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was a government-backed institution that forcibly separated Native American children from their parents in order to, as Pratt put it, “kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”
Over the next several decades, Carlisle served as a model for nearly 150 such schools that opened around the country. Like the 1887 Dawes Act that reallotted Native American land, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 1902 “haircut order” specifying that men with long hair couldn’t receive rations, Native American boarding schools were a method of forced assimilation. The end goal of these measures was to make Native people more like the white Anglo-Americans who had taken over their land.
At boarding schools, staff forced Indigenous students to cut their hair and use new, Anglo-American names. They forbid children from speaking their Native language and observing their religious and cultural practices. And by removing them from their homes, the schools disrupted students’ relationships with their families and other members of their tribe. Once they returned home, children struggled to relate to their families after being taught that it was wrong to speak their language or practice their religion.
How the US stole thousands of Native American children
For decades, the US took thousands of Native American children and enrolled them in off-reservation boarding schools. Students were systematically stripped of their languages, customs, and culture. And even though there were accounts of neglect, abuse, and death at these schools, they became a blueprint for how the US government could forcibly assimilate native people into white America.
At the peak of this era, there were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Native American boarding schools across the US.
A rough map of 357 Native American boarding schools. Alvin Chang/Ranjani Chakraborty
The schools weren’t just a tool for cultural genocide. They were also a way to separate native children from their land. During the same era in which thousands of children were sent away, the US encroached on tribal lands through war, broken treaties, and new policies.
Native land loss from 1776 to 1930. Ranjani Chakraborty
As years of indigenous activism led the US to begin phasing out the schools, the government found a new way to assimilate Native American children: adoption. Native children were funneled into the child welfare system. And programs, like the little-known government “Indian Adoption Project” intentionally placed them with white adoptive families.
In our latest episode of Missing Chapter, we explore this long legacy of the forced assimilation of Native American children. And how native families are still fighting back against the impacts today.
Watch the video above, and if you want more on the history of child separation in Native American communities, check out the in-depth documentary Dawnland.
This is the third installment in Missing Chapter, where we revisit underreported and often overlooked moments of the past to give context to the present. Our first season covers stories of racial injustice, political conflicts, even the hidden history of US medical experimentation. If you have an idea for a topic we should investigate in the series, send it to me via this form!
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This has always seemed odd to me that US states (Illinois, Wyoming, Dakota, etc.) were named after the people the government was committing an act of genocide on. What is the reason for that?
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This is an interesting question, and I was really hoping to see someone answer it fully. Being a mod, I have the unfortunate privilege of being able to see the removed comments, and while there are attempts to explain 'This is the origin of X state's name', it is unfortunate that no one really made an attempt to engage with what is being asked, that is to say, not simply "Why is Massachusetts called Massachusetts?" (and for which there are thousands of answers out there for the various locales from state level on down in this country) but more specifically "What does calling it Massachusetts say about the relationship between the white colonizers and the Massachusett people whose name is used?" I was hesitant to provide any response, because I don't have a direct answer, and was hoping someone would be able to talk specifically about place names in the United States in such terms. Thus I didn't post anything yesterday since I didn't want to dissuade someone from giving a deeper answer specifically about the physical geography and the legacy of indigenous place names in the American lexicon.
But being the next day and the question dropping off soon still unanswered, I can speak on the next level up about the connection between white American culture and "The Idea of the Indian", as it can be termed, which is in brief sum about how Americans adopted the symbolism of the original peoples and gave it its own meaning, often in a rather perverse way where it quite explicitly is found in ways that are intended to reflect a white nativist doctrine which of course entirely separates who is really reflected in those images from how they are being used. This is not an uncommon thing to find when looking at the culture of colonizers, something which I've written about before with New Zealand for instance, although of course it is a phenomenon which manifests itself in different ways in different places.
In the United States specifically I've written about this a few times previously, which I'll link here and provide some brief annotation on. I would again note that I don't talk about place names, and for that I really hope someone is still able to weigh in.
But in this first answer I talk extensively about how in colonial period and the early United States indigenous imagery was co-opted into symbols of American liberty. We can see this most famously in the Boston Tea Party, as well as reflected in American coinage which is a large focus of the answer. This trend elevated the image of the "Indian" into the heights of the American Idea, but entirely for white purposes. It leaned into certain, specific stereotypes about the native cultures while at the same time decrying them as savages and working to wipe them out. Importantly, and perhaps the best direct parallel to this question, is that while doing so, they used these concepts taken from the actual native peoples to craft a nativist identity for white Americans, an implicit absolving of their crimes to boot. It was now their symbols and their identity because they were "Native".
I also pivot to the late 19th and early 20th centuries by which point the native peoples had been subjugated and forced into reservation life, and for most white Americans were an amorphous concept from the history books, or dime-store novels, resulting in a shifting 'Idea of the Indian' which reflected an idealized vision of masculinity, martial prowess, and rugged outdoorsmanship.
I build off of that in this second answer which specifically focuses on how those values came to be reflected in white society through the lens of the Scouting movement, and how while there was a veneer of respect, it was one which was entirely on white terms, and a respect for a specific stereotype that was in many ways simply a construction of the white imagination, and which saw the ultimate achievement as being the white man who was more "Indian" than the "Indian", the highest pantheon being figures like Davey Crocket or Daniel Boone, who could take those skills and perform them even better due to their supposed superior whiteness.
So again, I would caution that I've only offered a partial view here. It speaks to the place that the "Idea of the Indian" held within white American society, and hopefully goes a long way to helping you understand how that society was able to bridge the cognitive dissonance of using indigenous symbolism so extensively while at the same time practicing sustained campaigns of genocide against them for centuries, but there is absolutely more to this story which is beyond by ken, so I would leave it to others to build off that and specifically tie in discussion of that discourse with the physical geography itself.
U.S. Apology To Native Americans: Unnecessary Or Not Enough?
The U.S. Senate last week issued a resolution last week that calls on President Obama to formally apologize for historic violence and injustices inflicted upon Native Americans by the federal government. Some think such an apology is unnecessary, while others say it's not enough. Rob Capriccioso, Washington Staff reporter for the newspaper Indian Country Today, is joined by Sen. John McCoy, a state representative from Washington, to discuss the measure and whether it has the ability to reconcile.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.
Coming up, 11 years ago today, Matthew Shepard, the young Laramie Wyoming college student died after he was attacked and robbed by two men in part because he was gay. In a moment, we'll talk about Laramie 10 years later and the efforts to make sense of it all then and now, that conversation in just a few minutes.
But first, another chapter in the American story on this Columbus Day. For many people, Columbus Day is just another day off from work. For others, a day to celebrate Italian-American pride and American history but for others, it is a day of grief, the beginning of the end of a way of life for this country's original people.
For most of us, the troubled history that followed that encounter of cultures is known, but for many it is not reconciled. And last week, the Senate attempted to take a step toward reconciliation by passing a resolution that calls for an official apology to Native Americans.
Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who co-sponsored the bill said it is difficult to know the history of the first Americans and the destructive policies our government has too often followed regarding them, and not be filled both with sadness and regret. Some, of course, find an apology absurd at this point in our history, but others say it does not go far enough.
Joining us to talk more about this is Rob Capriccioso. He's Washington staff reporter for the nation's largest Native American newspaper, Indian Country Today. He's also enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians. Also with us on the phone is Democratic State Representative John McCoy of Washington. He's part of the Tulalip tribe, and he's also chairman of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators. I thank you both for speaking with us.
Mr. ROB CAPRICCIOSO (Reporter, Indian Country Today, Washington): Hi, Michel, great to be here.
Representative JOHN MCCOY (Democrat, Washington): Yes, great to be on the show.
MARTIN: Rob, I'm going to start with you. The resolution passed the Senate last year, and then died in the House. What are the dynamics of the bill? Why is the opposition to the bill in the House so strong?
Mr. CAPRICCIOSO: Well, it's not necessarily that there are many House members who are clamoring against the bill. It's just the matter that there is so much on the plate of the House of Representatives as we all know with health care and all these other issues that people are looking at that an apology for Native Americans, while so many tribal members would want that to be the top priority, it just hasn't been.
And people in the Senate have taken the opportunity to really make that part of their agenda. And Senator Byron Dorgan, as you mentioned, he's the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. So he looks for ways to put these kinds of bills into other bills. And so, this was attached to a Defense Appropriation Bill. And so, by doing that, they all want to get the military spending in, he's kind of being smart about attaching that and then it becomes part of the Senate's passed bills.
MARTIN: Is there any sense of gravity around the opposition? And have we an indication that if the bill reaches the president's desk whether he'll sign it?
Mr. CAPRICCIOSO: If it moves in the House, I think this will be a bipartisan issue. If it comes to the president, you know, he's in an interesting situation because part of the language of the bill does urge him to make this apology, to make amends on these historical injustices.
MARTIN: But it doesn't call for reparations?
Mr. CAPRICCIOSO: It does not call for reparations. That's one thing that the Senators were very cognizant that they weren't putting in their reparation language, they weren't putting in that this is going to help settle any long ongoing lawsuits. This is meant to be a meaningful good gesture towards Native Americans.
And I should mention here too that I mentioned a lot about Senator Dorgan, but Senator Brownback in the Senate, he's a Republican from Kansas, has really shepherded this through. Since 2004, he started bringing this up with his colleagues. He's introduced other bills about this. And then last year was the first time that his bill got the attention, and then this year it passed the Senate.
MARTIN: Rob's covering this bill as a journalist, so I'm not going to ask him his personal opinion of the legislation. So, Delegate McCoy, I'd like to turn to you for that. What is your feeling about this apology? Is this important to you? Does this matter?
Rep. MCCOY: Yes, it's a long time in coming, if you stop and think about it, the African-Americans have been apologized to, the Japanese-Americans, and some form of the Hispanics have been apologized to. So it only makes sense because we are the indigenous groups of the United States.
So, although, there is no money tied to this, but the apology is important. The only thing that disappoints me is that if it gets to the president, I'm sure he'll sign it and he'll make the apology. It just, I'm disappointed it's an African-American making the apology and not a Caucasian.
Rep. MCCOY: Well, it's the symbolism of it. The African-Americans and the Native Americans, we were treated the same, very harshly.
MARTIN: Can I ask you about this whole question of moving forward? There are those who in - particularly when previous apologies have been advanced have said this is exactly the kind of thing that does not move us forward. What is the point of looking back to a chapter in American History before there even was an American government, which is when many of the things which we now consider atrocities began?
This was the same argument that was made during last year's discussion around the apologies for slavery or expressions of regret, which some states have chosen to adopt instead. What do you say to that?
Rep. MCCOY: It's an acknowledgement of what happened during all those years. In essence, we're correcting history. Yes, now we're acknowledging it. As in the past U.S. history books and everything put Native Americans in a negative position. Consequently, because of the Indian boarding schools and how Native Americans were treated, and my father was a product of the Indian boarding schools, and he had scars from it. So now there is an acknowledgement from the federal government that these things happened, and now it's time to correct the record and to show exactly what happened.
MARTIN: Would you just briefly remind us of the Indian boarding schools? There are in some parts of the country who are not familiar. Will you tells us again about what you're talking about?
Rep. MCCOY: Well, Indian boarding schools were primarily set up as military boarding schools, so there's quite a structure. The students were punished if they spoke their own language. Their hair was cut. And they were beaten. They were abused. The girls were sexually abused. And it was just a horrible life. You got to remember grandparents and great grandparents that went through those boarding schools tell the stories of what happened to them. And so, the kids are saying why should I go there if I'm going to be beaten and harassed?
MARTIN: If you're just joining us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin and I'm speaking with Rob Capriccioso, Washington staff reporter for Indian Country Today, and State Representative John McCoy of Washington, chairman of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators. We're talking about a proposed apology to Native Americans, which is working its way through the Congress.
To that point Rob, what about the timing? Why now?
Mr. CAPRICCIOSO: It's kind of like all the stars have aligned I think, and I think that advocates in Congress do see President Obama as maybe a route, where they know that if it does get through Congress that he would be open to considering apologizing.
I think that many will say that if this had happened during the Bush administration, maybe it wouldn't have been signed into law. Maybe he would have made the apology, we don't know. But I think that Senator Brownback being a Republican himself, I think he was even a little - you know, I can't say for sure - but a little wondering if this happened previously would an apology be made. So maybe there's a little hope now that with President Obama that he would be open to this, although I would mention that a grassroots group of native Americans has asked him earlier this year about boarding schools and have noted all of the things that they representative, just brought up the atrocities and President Obama hasn't said whether he would apologize specifically for boarding school issues.
So calling the White House, they haven't said if he's open to that as well. And I've pushed them on that as a reporter. So, it remains to be seen if all these stars aligning are actually going to bring about something. But I think there is a lot of hope out there.
MARTIN: Finally, Delegate McCoy, you're saying let's do this and then let's move on. If this apology is passed and signed into law, what would you like to happen after that?
Rep. MCCOY: Well, in Washington State although we don't have the apology, we're moving on because I've been successful in getting the travel history, culture and language legislation passed that is starting to be taught in the Washington State common schools, so that is happening. So, this helps me get the ammunition to work with the various school districts to make it happen.
MARTIN: And for example, on a day like Columbus Day which, you know, some jurisdictions will take that as a holiday. As I've mentioned at the beginning, it's, for some, it's a big kind of a Italian American pride day. How would you like this day to be thought of, if you don't mind my asking that?
Rep. MCCOY: Well, among most of the tribes that I work with, we don't put any emphasis on today. It's kind of like just another day. Some of our more aggressive friends will start to say things like, you know, that was the beginning of the end. And I myself, you know, have said, you know, we have the immigration law debate going on right now. And I've said while if we tightened up the immigration laws in 1492, we'd be having a different conversation.
MARTIN: Rob, do you mind if I ask you, you represent the encounter of cultures, if you will. You are part-Italian and you are a Native American. And do you mind if I ask your thoughts about how you think about this day?
Mr. CAPRICCIOSO: Certainly, no problem. I've talked about this before. It's funny because my dad very much Italian, as you can tell from my last name and my mom very much Native American and always has been proud of that aspect of her and has made her children instilled with the beliefs of what our culture is.
So, we always joke that Columbus Day is an interesting day to celebrate in my family because obviously my dad is proud of who he is and my mom is very proud of who she is. So, it's kind of like a conflict within, in a way, but I think that for everyone it's different how they look at the day.
For us, you know, my dad has always looked at the historical atrocities that were committed to Native Americans. He's taken the time to understand it, especially being married to my mom, loving and falling in love with her was part of that learning about her life. And so, he used the day to really think about those kind of issues. So, he may have had the day off from work sometimes but he didn't just go to a football game or something. It was a day to reflect, a day to maybe think about an apology.
MARTIN: Rob Capriccioso, Washington staff reporter for Indian Country Today. He was here with me in our Washington, D.C. studio and also with us State Representative John McCoy of Washington. He's a Democrat and he's chairman of The National Caucus of Native American State Legislators. We were able to reach him at a conference in San Diego. Gentlemen, I thank you both so much for speaking with us.
Mr. CAPRICCIOSO: Thank you so much.
MARTIN: Just ahead, when Matthew Shepard, a gay college student was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, a theater company went to town to try to figure out what it all meant. A decade later, they went back. They and Laramie's residents are still finding meaning in the murder.
Father ROGER SCHMITTHE (University of Wyoming): It does teach a heinous prejudice against gay people is. How (unintelligible) it is and that we have to work as a society to stop that.
MARTIN: We'll tell you about "The Laramie Project: An Epilogue." That's coming up on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.
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The Disenfranchisement Of Native Americans
Library of Congress An illustration from an 1870 issue of Harper’s Weekly shows a police officer barring a Native man from the polling site.
To understand the history of Native American voting in the U.S., it’s important to take a step back and examine what was going on before they were recognized as citizens.
The first Pilgrims arrived on what we now know as Cape Cod in 1620. But the New World these Pilgrims had reached wasn’t empty. It was a rich land inhabited by thriving tribes of Indigenous people.
Before Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas in 1492, it’s estimated that the area boasted up to 60 million Indigenous people. Just a little over a century later, that number had dropped to about 6 million.
The colonization of North America, fueled by violence perpetrated by white settlers, wiped out scores of Native people. The spread of European diseases also played a role. The Native Americans who survived the onslaught of settler violence persisted in maintaining what little they had left.
But in the 18th century, a growing movement among the settlers — who were living in colonies under the British Empire — sought to form their own nation. Ironically, the settler struggle for independence went hand-in-hand with their marginalization of Native Americans.
After the U.S. gained its independence, the government continued its expansion across America. By the time that the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, the Native American population had largely been decimated.
Library of Congress The Indian Citizenship Act under President Calvin Coolidge did little to protect the rights of Native Americans.
When the United States was first founded, white men with property were the only ones allowed to vote. But by 1860, most white men — even those without property — were enfranchised. And following the abolition of slavery in 1865, Black men were granted the right to vote with the 15th Amendment five years later. Women’s suffrage was added to the Constitution in 1920.
And throughout all of these milestones, Native Americans remained left out as non-citizens. Even though Black Americans won citizenship with the 14th Amendment in 1868, the government specifically interpreted this law so that Indigenous people would be excluded.
“I am not yet prepared to pass a sweeping act of naturalization by which all the Indian savages, wild or tame, belonging to a tribal relation, are to become my fellow-citizens and go to the polls and vote with me,” argued Michigan Senator Jacob Howard.
So for a long time, Native Americans were left disenfranchised. Not only did this help the U.S. government as it seized more Native territory, it also prevented Indigenous people from assembling any political power. In a sense, surviving tribes were made foreigners in their own land.
Since they weren’t considered U.S. citizens, Native Americans had basically no rights in the eyes of the U.S. government.
How many Native Americans were killed by the US government?
Native Americans killed in service for the United States and killed defending their Indian country is listed below in rough estimated numbers. A likely total of 100,000-500,000 Native Americans in the U.S. have died since 1776. The high end would be around a million. Native Americans are the have the highest mortality rate of any U.S. minority because of U.S. action and policy.
Indians Conflicts & Removals 1776-1973
(1864) Sand Creek Massacre - 200
(1862) Dakota War of 1862 - 38 prisoners executed
(1876) Battle of Little Big Horn - 136 (high estimate)
(1838) Cherokee Removal - 4,000
(1817-58) Seminole Wars I,II, & III - 1475 (likely high as 10,000)
(1831) Choctaw Removal - 2,500
(1812) Red Stick War of the Muscogee or Creek- 3,000
(1791) Battle of the Wabash - 21
[Original answer truncated as it contained no useful data]
Two studies have been conducted that attempt to number the natives killed by the United States. The first of these was sponsored by the United States government, and while official does not stand up to scrutiny and is therefore discounted (generally) this estimate shows between 1 million to 4 million killed. The second study was not sponsored by the US Government but was done from independent researchers. This study estimated populations and population reductions using later census data. Two figures are given, both low and high, at: between 10 million and 114 million Indians as a direct result of US actions. Please note that Nazi Holocaust estimates are between 6 and 11 million thereby making the Nazi Holocaust the 2nd largest mass murder of a class of people in history.
American Holocaust : D. Stannard (Oxford Press, 1992) - "over 100 million killed" "[Christopher] Columbus personally murdered half a million Natives"
God, Greed and Genocide: The Holocaust Through the Centuries : Grenke (New Academia Publishing 2006)
Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies : Cesarani, (Routledge 2004)
Thousands even as me being half native they mostly killed us because they owed us land and did't want to give it to us so they gave us beer even though they owe us millions in land .My great grand parents had to hide out from the government they had to move place to place they never got an education and they were on warfare because the government used them.
Thanks to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, it was illegal for Indians to live in Georgia. They could travel through Georgia, with proper papers. This law was not repealed until March, 1980.
Officially not 'many' in Indian Wars, but murdering Red Indians was daily practice for white Colonists. And this genocide was happily tolerated by American Government and US Army
almost 20 million Red Indians died, say 10 per day , which should be general American knowledge.
By far the biggest killers though were smallpox, measles, influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, Bubonic Plague, cholera, and scarlet fever. All imported by the Europeans
The Sobering History of Native American Education in the 19th Century
Early American history laid the foundations for today’s educational system. While much of that foundation was the groundwork for growth and change, not all of it has been so progressive. The history of the Native American population after the arrival of colonists has been one filled with conflict and force, and the treatment of the Native American people within the context of education has unfortunately not been much different.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was a policy of coercion that relocated the Cherokee from their native lands to reserve lands west of the Mississippi. Battles over the land and diseases brought by European settlers resulted in a tremendous decline in the Native American population. Many Native Americans also died as a result of the harsh conditions experienced on the Trail of Tears.
Beginning in the 19th century, there were a number of misguided attempts to educate Native American children. Residential schools, run by religious organizations, were set up, and Native American children were forced to attend. The primary focus of these schools was to assimilate Native children to dominant the American culture’s language, values, and behaviors through a process of deculturalization. Children were forbidden to use their language or engage in Native American customs, in an attempt to replace their culture with the dominant American culture. Unfortunately, residential schools were largely successful in this practice, and some were still in existence up to 1980.
A series of reforms were attempted by the U. S. government to correct the misguided policies of the Indian Act. The first, put into place in the 1900s, were instituted by John Collier, the Executive Secretary of the American Indian Defense Association. In his bulletin American Indian Life, Collier juxtaposed the extreme poverty of many Indians with the prosperity of most White Americans in the 1920s. The public outcry following the publication of the bulletin led the government to commission a report entitled Committee of One Hundred, which sought to assess the current state of Indian affairs.
The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 officially granted U.S. citizenship to Native Americans. In 1926, The Institute for Government Research formed the Committee of One Hundred and conducted an investigation into Indian affairs. A report published by this body in 1928 came to be known as the Meriam Report. The Meriam Report chronicled the operational problems of residential schools, and the poverty and poor health of Native Americans. It called for a broader curriculum, better facilities, and more qualified teachers.
Under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This act recognized the sovereignty of tribal self-government. The Johnson O’Malley Act was also passed, making states responsible for the education of Native American children.
However, the further coercion of these policies without consultation with Native American tribal governments resulted in little progress toward creating a viable solution to the Native American educational crisis, and the issue still persists to this day.
1 Public Law 503
President Franklin Roosevelt had already issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing military officials to detain anyone they felt would hinder the war effort. But he and his cabinet understood that they would need to codify it eventually. Thus began one of the most shameful periods of US history: the unlawful internment of over 127,000 innocent Japanese-American citizens in the 1940s.
Based on an erroneous belief that all Japanese Americans would flock to their ancestral country if the US was invaded and the fact that the majority of them lived on the West Coast, internment camps were set up in the middle of the country. In addition, nearly two-thirds of those interned had been born and raised in America. Many of them had never even been to Japan.
Though Public Law 503 was eventually challenged in the Supreme Court, it was upheld, with the Court justifying it as a wartime necessity. When the war was over, many former interns were unable to return home, with some cities even putting up signs declaring them unwelcome. It wasn&rsquot until 1988 that Congress tried to apologize in any way, offering surviving interns $20,000 each.