I like to read the declaration of Independence on every fourth. It is inspiring to read about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all even though we know it only applied to white anglo saxon protestant men at the time There is one passage that I have always found to be very disturbing which many of our people know about but the general public may not. They are: “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 an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” He is this instance refers to King George of England.
We are called savages in this passage even though we provided food to the pilgrims and taught them how to farm crops like corn which allowed them to avoid starvation during their early days on the continent. There may never have been any colonizers if not for our literally saving the day. Does this sound like the act of savages?
And then there was the revolution itself. Many Tribes fought with the colonials in their quest for freedom from the English empire. Yes some Tribes fought on the side of the English but still those who fought for the independence of this country were viewed as savages. How do the founding fathers justify this contradiction in terms.
And then there is the very definition of savage itself. One of the misnomers about this term is that we were called “bloodthirsty savages” It is important to remember that the barbaric act of taking scalps was first taken by the oppressors or what my former friend Harold Belmont used to call the intruders. We took up this practice only as a way to fight fire with fire. In war there are no winners as they say. In our Tribe and among many Tribes it was far more noble to count coup or touch the enemy than to harm them or kill them. Once again does that sound like what a savage would do?
In terms of our priorities spirituality came first and then our families second. Domestic violence was almost nonexistent, child abuse was unheard of and there was no poverty among our people as everyone was taken care of. This is not some romantic perspective on our people as any basic research will verify the facts about our way of life. Now compare this with the Christian nations who called us savages. Can they make the same claims? It is not even a fair comparison. Among the colonizers they could not even come close to having the stable family life that Tribal nations had. And yet they called us savages.
We are no longer called savages but they are other terms which are still in use which continue to demean our people. Exhibit number one is the use of the word “redskin” which is still in use and even used as a mascot for a certain pro football team. This must be eliminated from our nations vocabulary and reference to our people as savages must be removed from any sector of our society. We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity that we deserve along with all our brother and sisters of color and women who were not when they declaration of independence was first signed on July 4th. Let us all finally live up to our ideals of pursuing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Mitakuye Oyasin-All my relations