I recently finished reading James Wilson’s excellent book The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America with a deep sense of shame. Whether we call it genocide, genocidal, or unimaginably monstrous, the despicable treatment of the Native American Indian populations by the white settlers in North America and then the US government decimated the great native civilizations with malicious intent and despicable cruelty. Although this treatment has improved significantly over recent decades, we Americans live in a country still defined by this horrendous crime.
I am an extremely proud American who believes deeply in what this country, at its best, stands for and am very proud of all we have done for the world, particularly over the past century. But America will never realize its potential if we do not educate ourselves about, come to terms with, and take responsibility for the crimes committed against our native populations (as well as the crime of slavery). With this in mind, I would like to ask you to consider taking the following steps:
1) read at least one comprehensive book on the history of our native American Indian populations;
2) learn the name of the Native American Indian population that lived where you now live and place a marker recognizing that history somewhere in or around your home;
3) incorporate a recognition of the terrible crime committed against our Native American populations in your Thanksgiving celebrations; and
4) forward this message, if you think it appropriate, to your friends.
These steps alone are minuscule compared to the terrible tragedy of this history, but the least we can all do is be honest about our collective past, learn its lessons, work to right historical wrongs, and treat the native American Indian population with the love, respect, and dignity they deserve.