The US genocide against native Americans and the continued injustice today

By Yin Jie Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/28 20:45:10

File photo:Xinhua

On August 25, Politico, a political media outlet, reported that the Trump administration is considering labeling China's so-called "repression" of ethnic Muslim minority Uighurs in Xinjiang a "genocide". And If there's not enough consensus to use the term genocide, the administration would instead accuse China of "crimes against humanity" or "ethnic cleansing". 

Despite the fact that Xinjiang is enjoying sustained economic development, social stability and unprecedented cultural vivacity, the Trump administration is still slandering and smearing China on Xinjiang-related issues and calling China's lawful counter-terrorism, anti-separatism and de-radicalization measures "genocide". Ironically, if we have a look at the history,it is what the United States has done to Native Americans that can be called a genocide.

After the independence of the United States was recognized by the Great Britain in 1783, American settlers began their century-long westward expansion, largely by exterminating Native Americans and conquesting their lands. The US government authorized more than 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on Indians, the most of any country in the world against its indigenous people. When Columbus arrived in 1492, it's estimated that 5 million to 15 million lived in North America. The number declined sharply to fewer than 238,000 by the late 19th century. 

Native Americans were expelled from the lands that they had lived for generations and deprived of the right to life. The 1830 Indian Relocation Act compelled southeastern Indian tribes to move from east of the Mississippi River to the west. The westward journey was overseen and controlled by army and militia patrols. Between 1830 and 1850, the government forced nearly 100,000 Native Americans to leave their homelands, thousands of whom died of disease, hunger and cold. This dangerous journey later became known as the "Trail of Tears".

What's more, Native Americans were seriously discriminated against and the killing of them was awarded. George Washington described Indians as being like the "Wild Beast of the Forest" and the "Wolf" because they were both beasts of prey. In 1862, on the orders of President Abraham Lincoln, thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, in the largest mass execution in US history. President Theodore Roosevelt famously asserted that, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are. And I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth." American settlers even got paid for each Native they killed --- 50 pounds for adult male scalps, 25 for adult female scalps, and 20 for scalps of boys and girls under the age of 12. 

The traditional agricultural and cultural practices of Native Americans were also ruined. For instance, buffalo, the main source of food and other essentials for Native Americans,were killed by the US army and railroad companies almost to the point of extinction. Government Boarding Schools once separated Native American children from their families and forbade them to speak their language or practice their religion. California was once the most diversely populated area for Native Americans, but the 1848 California gold rush brought 300,000 people there who enslaved Native Americans and used them as a free source of labor. California governor Gavin Newsom apologized to the state's native peoples in 2019. "It's called a genocide... [There's] no other way to describe it and that's the way it needs to be described in the history books," Newsom said.

The U.N.'s definition of genocide is as follows: "Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Given that the US government and American settlers waged wars, conducted mass killings and destroyed Native American cultural traditions to prevent Indian tribes from surviving, it's clear that the actions taken agianst Native Americans were genocidal. Even Adolf Hitler claimed that his concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much to his studies of English and United States history. He very much admired the camps for the Indians in the wild west.

Up until today, the discrimination and oppression against ethnic minorities goes on in the US. Racial discrimination is systemic in American society. Native Americans, African Americans and other minorities are still in dire straits. 

A report released on Nov. 18, 2019 by the National Public Radio shows that native Americans are more likely to have trouble accessing water than any other group. Fifty-eight out of every 1,000 Native American households lack plumbing, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white households. Native Americans experience more deaths, poverty and higher unemployment rates. The incidence of murders and disappearances against indigenous people is well above average. 

According to a Pew Research Center survey titled Race in America 2019, about 76 percent of African descendants and Asians and 58 percent of Hispanics say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity at least from time to time. Mr. Floyd was not the only one who died in the US because he couldn't breathe. Several days ago, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man was shot 7 times by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting has sparked nationwide rage and a wave of protests.

In stark contrast, the basic human rights of residents of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are effectively guaranteed. Over the past 60 years or so, since the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was established, its economic aggregate has grown by almost 200 times, and people's living standards have been constantly improving. From 2014 to the end of 2019, 2.92 million people of 730,000 households were lifted out of poverty, and the region's poverty rate dropped to 1.24 percent from 19.4 percent in 2013. Xinjiang residents' religious activities and freedom of religious belief are protected by law. There is one mosque for every 530 Muslims in Xinjiang, a number higher than that in many Islamic countries.

You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. The US turns a blind eye to its genocidal actions against Native Americans in the past and goes as far as to smear China based on goundless accusations. What the US really should do is to care for the life and happiness of American people, especially that of ethnic minorities. Just as Doc Rivers,NBA coach and a black American, said,"It's amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back." 

When will the US love its people back?

The author is an observer of international Affairs.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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