Mass killings, forced assimilation, modern racism: US crimes against indigenous people most horrifying in human history
Published: Mar 04, 2022 03:23 PM
A Native American cries for the crimes against her people, and then in physical pain, as she is handled roughly by United States Secret Service when arrested on October 11, 2021.

A Native American cries for the crimes against her people, and then in physical pain, as she is handled roughly by United States Secret Service when arrested on October 11, 2021.

Since its founding, the US has systematically deprived American Indians of their right to life and basic political, economic, and cultural rights through massacres, displacements, and forced assimilation, in an attempt to physically and spiritually eradicate the group. Even today, American Indians face a serious crisis of survival. As the Foreign Policy magazine commented, the crimes against Native Americans are fully consistent with the definition of genocide under current international law, making it one of the most horrifying tragedies in human history, and one that should never be forgotten. 

Mass killings: "the only good Indians are dead Indians"
As soon as colonists set foot on North America, they began systematically hunting American bison on a large scale, cutting off native people's food and basic sources of livelihood, causing them to pass away in droves from starvation. Since its independence in 1776, the US government has launched more than 1,500 raids on American Indian tribes, massacring the people and occupying their lands, committing countless crimes in the process. In 1814, the US government decreed that it would award $50 to 100 for each American Indian skull surrendered. 
The California Gold Rush gave rise to one of the most appalling massacres of American Indians in modern American history. The first governor of California Peter Burnett initiated a war of extermination against Native Americans. Later, calls for the extermination of Indians in the state rose. On November 29, 1864, pastor John Chivington massacred Indians at Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado, due to the opposition of a few Indians to the signing of a land grant agreement, which remains one of the most notorious massacres of Native Americans. In the 1850s and 1860s, an Indian head or scalp could be exchanged for $5 in California. From 1846 to 1873, the Indian population in California fell from 150,000 to 30,000. 

Forced assimilation: "kill the Indian, save the man"
To justify the inhumane treatment of Indians, American scholars in the 19th century fermented the dichotomy of "civilization versus barbarism" and portrayed Native Americans as a savage, evil, and inferior group. Francis Parkman, a 19th century American historian, even claimed that American Indians "will not learn the arts of civilization, and he and his forest must perish together."
Since the 19th century, guided by the need to "kill the Indian in him, save the man," the US forced Native American children to attend government-funded boarding schools, with the aim to impose English and Christian education on American Indian children and assimilate them into white society. "Their braids were cut and they were sometimes abused, as part of a deliberate policy to 'get rid of the Indian in the child,'" said Susan Henry-Crowe, staff member of the World Council of Churches. 215 bodies of American Indian children were discovered last May in unmarked graves close to a residential school on Turtle Island, a traditional Native territory. However, the truth about the US Indian boarding school policy has largely been written out of US history books.

Survival in invisibility: "the modern form of racism"
Cultural assimilation and systemic injustice against American Indians continues to plague the offspring of American Indians till this day. A huge chasm between Native Americans and other people exists in terms of educational attainment, political participation, and socioeconomic status. Statistics indicate that only 60 percent of Native Americans complete high school in the Wind River Indian Reservation, compared to 80 percent of white students. In the current US Congress, only four members are American Indians. The poverty rate of Native Americans is twice the national average and the poor sanitary conditions and lack of medical resources in Indian-populated areas lead to a much higher COVID-19 infection rate, which is 3.5 times that of white people. 
However, the plight of Native Americans has been ruthlessly ignored. Due to ignorance by US politicians and little attention paid by the public, Native rights can hardly be brought to the table, let alone be guaranteed. "Invisibility is the modern form of racism against Native Americans," as indicated Rebecca Nagle, an American activist and writer who rightly summarized the predicament facing American Indians today.
Till today the US federal government has never formally recognized or apologized for the systematic crimes committed against Native Americans. 
Killing the American Indian would never save the man, let alone save the US. Without humble remorse or honest compensation, the US government's indebtedness to Indians can never be shirked off and the darkest chapter in US history can never be turned over. 

The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for the Global Times, China Daily, etc. He can be reached at xinping604@gmail.com