Mimi Jimmy Research Paper June 6, 2006 Abstract: The allegation of Native American genocide and the current

definition of genocide is such a controversial issue that is highly debated today. The attempt of “civilizing the savage” and assimilation of Native Americans in early America is the issue at hand that has left behind intergenerational emotional scars and impacts that contemporary Native American communities are still struggling to overcome. Even though Native Americans are on the path of healing, the healing of whole communities is slow to come. A greater understanding of the complexities within Native American communities is needed to create a healthier living environment as well as 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 Native Americans. Today, the definition and parameters of the word genocide is highly debated throughout 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 the United States. While is ever important to come upon an agreed definition of genocide to protect and liberate human rights and to clarify such controversial issues of past and present, it is also important to look at how the harmful actions have led to negative intergenerational impacts that has 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 early colonization, many people have not recognized the Native outcry of genocide but it has lead to further crises of emotional wounds and scars that have become so internalized that it has brought about 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

Jimmy 2 Convention). Rubinstein gave the UN definition, “according to the UN Convention, genocide means 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 group b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life designed to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Rubinstein also acknowledged the UN definition is different than how the general public understands 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 because the general public’s view of the meaning of genocide is limited to intentional killings. He reported a segment of the genocide outline of the UN definition is happening today with the forced 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 communities which 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 many generations of school age children were removed from families and transported to schools with means to assimilate the children into civilized society.

Jimmy 3 In a recent paper I had written I had researched the effects of some of the genocidal actions 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 residential schools was a plan to “civilize” the Indian and to tear away the traditional culture and traditional languages 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 residential schools, 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 are unmarked 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. While attending the schools, the students would be segregated into grade levels, sex and age therefore separated 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 a segregated, 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 we continue 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 is without the purpose to kill (para. 14) but many Native Americans implicate these acts as genocide. The European introduction of unknown diseases to Native Americans was not with intentional thought of termination and cannot be considered an act of genocide claimed

Jimmy 4 Rubinstein but Lillian Friedberg (2000) refuted this point by providing a cited 1763 letter from Lord Jeffrey Amherst to Colonel Henry Bouquet that read, “You will do well to [infect] the Indians by means of blankets as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this [execrable] race” (para. 18). Rubinstein does recognize the killings during the removal and relocation of Native Americans to reservations in the West and considers these acts close to the intention of murderous acts but not genocide. Residential schools and the spread of disease are only a few aspects that are considered acts of genocide on the Native American people and there have been more actions of “civilization” that have led to the normalization of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and alcoholism with the lack of love and parenting skills in Native American communities. It has brought about intergenerational impacts that Native American peoples are continually dealing with by trying to break the cycle of abuse. Many have internalized the Western practices that had forced past and present abuses upon them (Poupart, para. 4). Native identity includes the internalized oppression, towards oneself and others, which stems from physical situations and personal experiences as well as their distinctive past experience of colonization. Poupart also claimed that although Native Americans have internalized, live in and with contemporary Western society, a part of their identities are still linked to traditional beliefs of Native ancestry which is also incorporated in their daily lives. There is agreement between Friedberg and Poupart on severe loss of culture and internalized oppression and this has become part of Native American identities which lead to self destruction of the individual and family alike. Poupart suggested that even though Native American people are not practicing traditional culture there is still a close connection between the traditional values and beliefs in their everyday lives.

Jimmy 5 The country of United States was not built on freedom and the American dream, but on the attempted eradication of Native Americans. It is considerable to argue that the actions against Native Americans can be labeled genocide and the suffering of Native Americans lasted centuries and still continues today. It is not right to ask for acknowledgement when in Canada, the government has taken responsibility and set in motion the steps to support Native Americans in healing? Rubinstein ended his argument with the new area of “genocide studies” as either being perceived as extending human rights and the ability to provide reparation for past mistakes or as a section of “the culture of complaint” which lies in “guilt-ridden white middle-class liberals and minority activists” (para. 19). In Canada, the justification seems to be the latter and in the U.S., the Native genocide outcry seems to be dismissed with a wave of the hand. Regarding Native Americans, the government has denied the right of “justice for all” of the original inhabitants of the land and survivors of destruction. Today, the U.S. government does not have to implement destructive actions towards Native American people because the internalized oppression has created self-destructive actions within individuals and families. Residential schools have left their mark on survivors and several of the following generations. Throughout the U.S. and Canada contemporary Native communities, whether they are reservations or urban communities, many people face similar struggles that were not part of the traditional lifestyle. Some of the struggles within communities are high rates of divorce and poverty, low rates of education and employment, alcoholism, family violence, sexual and physical abuse, incest, fetal alcohol syndrome, homicide and suicide. In the Onion article they stated the findings of a study done by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and they said, “Our research revealed that most Native Americans view ‘the white man’ as a deceitful, avaricious, exploitive mass murderer, just as their ancestors did” (para. 1). With a

Jimmy 6 united view of the white man the Native communities have become so closely knitted that any outsiders are viewed with skepticism. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe located in Auburn, Washington is a great example of a community who has overcame many obstacles and became a self-sustaining tribe. The Muckleshoot Tribe is a self-governing body with many self-supporting and self-care facilities. They own and operate the Muckleshoot Indian Casino, Muckleshoot Indian Bingo, White River Amphitheater, and the Muckleshoot Market & Deli. All tribal owned facilities have preferred tribal affiliation hiring practices. The Casino and Bingo bring in much income for the tribe as a whole and as well is put back into not only the tribal community but into Auburn as well. Muckleshoot also has implemented programs and facilities to care for its tribal members. There is the Elder’s building which has senior activities and health care. They have just had a grand opening of the Health and Wellness Center last spring. The Health and Wellness center has a pharmacy, Doctor and Dentist offices, counseling services and physical therapy available. It also has a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, daycare and weight lifting facilities with available personal trainers and on-going health-related workshops. They have provided their own education system with a Head Start program, a tribal school from K-12, and a Tribal College and are currently reclaiming and revitalizing their tribal language. Muckleshoot has provided low-income housing opportunities as well as assistance of tribal members owning their own home. Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is a great example of a tribe with a mission to not only care for their members but to offer support in all areas with the importance on education. Many reservations do not have the additional opportunities of employment and support services and with Muckleshoot Indian Tribe included, there are still underlying situations at hand.

Jimmy 7 As a child, I have been raised and lived on a reservation for most of my life and have seen the way other people have been labeled as they try to infiltrate such a tight-knit community and I also have become aware of the community conflicts within. There are the urban Indians who have been raised most of their lives in the cities and they are considered not to be “Indian enough” to be fully accepted into the community. There are the “drunk Indians” who struggle to stay drunk by begging for change and sleeping on the streets and even if they are from the local reservation they aren’t accepted within the community. There is the “apple” or in other words, the sell-out, who has moved away and become educated which usually goes along with the assumed notion of trying to be “white.” Usually somewhere in there, there is always an actual white man who has been adopted into a group of natives in the community but is still not fully accepted on a community level. There is the Native from another reservation who is always viewed as an outsider and never really becomes part of the community. There are family politics that hand down inter-family conflicts so it is an ongoing dislike passed down through generations. With the internal conflicts in reservation life as well as all the negative obstacles of just trying to survive, Native Americans are constantly negotiating the conflicts within themselves, conflicts with others as in friends and families, conflicts within their own communities whether it is urban or reservations and then face the conflicts of surviving within the greater society. With the past and present distinctive experiences that Native Americans have been through, it has created an “us and them,“ “insider/outsider” complex. Whoever is not with us is against us and it used as a self-protection and survival tactic. The strong family ties within communities are sometimes a great aspect but can be negative as well. With the alcoholism and sexual and physical abuse introduced and normalized in Native American communities, it can

Jimmy 8 create dangerous, enclosed atmospheres to live in and it is very difficult situation to get out of. Any person outside the family or community trying to intervene on a person’s behalf, who is in an unhealthy relationship, may be seen as an outsider therefore one of “them.” It can also create huge family differences when a family member tries to intervene. Because such self-destructive actions have become normalized in Native American communities, individuals who carry-out actions of violence or abuse are protected within the families sometimes through family denial or and people turning a blind eye and these actions are allowed to carry on. With the knowledge of the genocide and residential school legacies, Native Americans have taken the steps to the path of healing but the change is slow to come with people so resistant to any outsiders. Even though some tribes are on the path of healing and self-sufficiency, there needs to be further investigation to understand about the inner conflicts within communities as well as bring a greater awareness of the Native American history and the complexity of Native American communities to the mainstream society. Moving away from my home reservation, I have become an outsider. Relocating near Muckleshoot reservation and not being a tribal member, I have become an outsider. Attending Green River Community College and not being part of mainstream society, I am and always will be an outsider. Infiltrating Native communities or Native communities implementing further research the “us and them” and the “insider/outsider” complex would bring about an understanding to Native American communities and may give a solution, in whole or part, for Native Americans to come out the protective mode of survival and be less resistant to change. This research could also bring about new ideas to complement and further the healing processes already in effect. Bringing a greater understanding to the mainstream society about Native Americans communities, the history and how it has led to the complexities of Native life and survival may lessen the idea that Native Americans are getting to

Jimmy 9 many breaks and special treatment. It may also dissipate the common attitude or question of the mainstream society of the stereotypical lazy, uneducated Indians and their “choice” of lifestyle. While the Native American outcry of genocide is still unacknowledged and highly disputed, the country’s destructive actions of “civilization” and assimilation have left their toll on Native Americans as a whole.

Jimmy 10 References Friedberg, L. (2000, Summer). Dare to compare. American Indian Quarterly, 24(3), 353-503. Retrieved April 29, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A72733387). Hunter, J. (1996). Professor seeks to close the gap between the reservation and city. The Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective, 17(7), 20. Retrieved May 30, 2006, from Proquest database. Jimmy, M. (2006). Residential schools in the United States and Canada. Women and World Religion Essay Paper. p. 1-6. Kaufman, D. (2005, Fall). Measuring jewishness in America: some feminist concerns. Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues, 10, 84(15). Retrieved April 29, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A140142775). Layng, A. (2000, July). American Indians: trading old stereotypes for new. USA Today, 129(2662), 64. Retrieved May 30, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (103K0309). Many Native Americans still hold traditional beliefs about white men. (2006, May). the Onion, 42(21). Poupart, L.M. (2003, Spring). The familiar face of genocide: internalized oppression among American Indians. Hypatia, 18(2), 86(16). Retrieved May 3, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database. Robinson, R. (2000). Thoughts about restitution. In Colombo, G., Cullen, R., & Lisle, B. (Ed.), Rereading America: cultural contexts for critical thinking and writing (5th ed.) (p. 557 -577). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Jimmy 11 Rubinstein, W.D. (2004, April). Genocide and historical debate: William D. Rubinstein ascribes the bitterness of historians’ arguments to the lack of an agreed definition and to political agendas. History Today, 54(4), 36(3). Retrieved May 3, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database. Shepherd, K. (2006, May 17-June 6). It’s not immigration, but assimilation that’s important. Auburn Reporter, p. 22 Soetendorp, D. (2003, Spring). A generation confronting the loss of community. European Judaism, I36.1, 132 (9). Retrieved April 29, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A109568437).

Toope, S.J. (2000). Does international law impose a duty upon the United Nations to prevent genocide?. McGill Law Journal, 46(1), 187(8). Retrieved May 3, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database.

Williamson, D. (1992). ‘Ethnic cleansing,’ American style. Seattle Times, p. A.14. Retrieved May 30, 2006, from Proquest database (51529739).

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