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The Aftermath of Native American Genocide and the Legacy it Has Left Behind

The Aftermath of Native American Genocide and the Legacy it Has Left Behind



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Published by Mimi Jimmy

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Published by: Mimi Jimmy on Jun 04, 2007
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Mimi JimmyResearch Paper June 6, 2006
The allegation of Native American genocide and the current definition of genocide issuch a controversial issue that is highly debated today. The attempt of “civilizing the savage” andassimilation of Native Americans in early America is the issue at hand that has left behindintergenerational emotional scars and impacts that contemporary Native American communitiesare still struggling to overcome. Even though Native Americans are on the path of healing, thehealing of whole communities is slow to come. A greater understanding of the complexitieswithin Native American communities is needed to create a healthier living environment as wellas a greater awareness by mainstream society of the American history that the United States was built upon.
The Aftermath of Native American Genocide and the Legacy it Has Left Behind
The history of the United States was not built on freedom, but on the genocide of NativeAmericans. Today, the definition and parameters of the word genocide is highly debatedthroughout the world and it is such an unsettled issue that it has become an academic field of study. One of the questionable issues noted is the allegation of Native American genocide in theUnited States. While is ever important to come upon an agreed definition of genocide to protectand liberate human rights and to clarify such controversial issues of past and present, it is alsoimportant to look at how the harmful actions have led to negative intergenerational impacts thathas filtered into the shaping Native American individuals within families and culture. With Native Americans experiencing a reign of terror under the conquest of another during earlycolonization, many people have not recognized the Native outcry of genocide but it has lead tofurther crises of emotional wounds and scars that have become so internalized that it has broughtabout a self-destruction within Native American communities.According to William D. Rubinstein (2004), the word genocide was introduced in 1944 by a Polish Jew, Raphael Lemkin. By 1948, Raphael Lemkin convinced the United Nations (UN)to implement the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UN
JimmyConvention). Rubinstein gave the UN definition, “according to the UN Convention, genocidemeans any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,ethnical [sic], racial or religious group, such as:a) Killing members of the groupb) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the groupc) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life designed to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in partd) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the groupe) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.Rubinstein also acknowledged the UN definition is different than how the general publicunderstands the word genocide and is likely to mean the purposeful killing of the entire or part of a specific group of people simply because they are part of that group and with no other reason(para.5).Rubinstein pointed out that the two definitions do not fully agree with each other becausethe general public’s view of the meaning of genocide is limited to intentional killings. Hereported a segment of the genocide outline of the UN definition is happening today with theforced removal of children of “criminal or mentally impaired parents” (para. 6) Lisa M. Poupart(2003) claimed a similar situation of the child removal policies in Native American communitieswhich is not considered by Rubinstein but falls under the same part of the definition of genocide.The child removal polices occurred during the time of the residential schools and manygenerations of school age children were removed from families and transported to schools withmeans to assimilate the children into civilized society.2
JimmyIn a recent paper I had written I had researched the effects of some of the genocidalactions that the U.S. government had applied to the Native Americans in trying to assimilate Native Americans into early civilization. I talked about how the implementation of residentialschools was a plan to “civilize” the Indian and to tear away the traditional culture and traditionallanguages from Native Americans. With the required attendance of Native American children,the children were forcefully removed from families and taken away to residential schools for most of their lives that were sometimes hundreds of miles away. During the stay at the residentialschools, the children were sexually and physically abused as means of discipline. There were babies born to Native girls fathered by school staff and near some of the schools there areunmarked cemeteries full of Native American students and newborn babies. Some of the schools performed experimental surgery on the children and some female students were sterilized. Whileattending the schools, the students would be segregated into grade levels, sex and age thereforeseparated all brothers and sisters and sibling contact was tightly controlled. With generations of  Native peoples spending most of their young lives away from family and growing up in asegregated, destructive environment; the children grew up with no experience of human love or the family unit. These generations of residential school survivors did not learn the ability of  parenting skills and abuses into native communities have brought on the struggles that wecontinue to face today. (Jimmy M., 2006).The residential schools are only one aspect of the argument of the genocide allegation.Rubinstein regards the colonization of North America as an instance of “depopulation,” which iswithout the purpose to kill (para. 14) but many Native Americans implicate these acts asgenocide. The European introduction of unknown diseases to Native Americans was not withintentional thought of termination and cannot be considered an act of genocide claimed3

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