Restitution or retribution for the first “Indians”?

Who needs federal recognition?  Why should we beg like dogs for the privledge of being able to be called “Native American” when this title is rightfully ours by virtue of birth?

Why not take the conquerors to the world courts for crimes against humanity?  Why not take Spain, Portugal,  France and England to court for the damage done to our people?  We have all necessary documentation written by their very scribes, in our very own history books and museums… The only problem I forsee with this is probably proving it… This is the crap Guatemala was going (is still going?) through and their stuff is a lot more recent.

Hmmm… it is a thought, though.

According to Article 1 of the “Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity” as per the High Commissioner of Human Rights, there is no statue of limitation.  Here are the laws on genocide if anyone is interested….

I recognize that the sins of the father “should not be visited upon the sons”, but what of the inherited genocidal attitudes that permeate our present lives?  And on a more materialistic level, what of the stolen goods that are then inherited by the sons?  It seems that if the sons don’t need to be accountable for the sins, neither should they be benefiting from them.

What we indigenous people are presently living through is a direct result from the actions of the fathers…  The “innocents” may have been lied to as well, but they still enjoy the goods and perpetuate the lies.  The “innocents” are perpetuating the damage and refuse to acknowledge the truth.  Llevan gringolas!

The gringolas, the blinds, are tied on by habit, by pride, by guilt, by shame; it doesn’t force the eyes closed, but keeps them covered… and eyes are covered on both sides!

I am all for the re-education of all of society- most importantly, our own.  The blame has to stop and our stance of victim has to be set aside, yes this is true.  But for this to happen, there has to be an acknowledgement of the atrocities done.  This is a shared history, a common background; the conquerors have been stuffing the the truth in the closet and it’s been festering there. The denial, the rot, is damaging to us all and its a huge source of indigenous rage!

An apology would be nice- but only to start with.  Just saying the words and writing them into the constitution is not enough…  It’s because the colonizers decendants believe it is enough, that formal apologies are all in vogue!  Just google “apology+indigenous” and you’ll see “I’m sorrys” from around the world!  Indigenous peoples across the globe have received many apologies from their respective countries, but they all come with a clause: “this doesn’t mean you can sue for damages”.  The Indian Health Bill that just passed last year had an apology in it, and it covered everything! But it has a disclaimer that reads: “Nothing in this section- 1)authorizes or supports any claim against the United States or 2) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States”.

That’s a pretty shitty apology! Especially when you factor in the abuses that are allowed to continue to date.   Just look at the Black Hills and Sacred Lands issue.

And if we turn our eyes to the Taino, we can then discuss the propagation of genocide through mental extinction.  This is pretty much the inherited legacy of the fathers and what we are presently up against.  The people of conquering countries may not have held the sword of yesterday, but they are still wielding the pen!  Our own people are brainwashed into non-existence!

How many of us do not recognize ourselves as native?  Or even native decent?  How many of us still struggle with our identity?  I grew up in PR and they told me in school that the Taino were extinct due to laziness and poor constitution.

But getting back to the apology… there have been monies paid to the particular groups apologized to, sometimes; most of the times not, and this is another source of anger.  Ultimately, we are seeking to be treated as equals but to do so, we need to put aside the sense of entitlement, that we are owed to.  To be owed to means that I have been abused, again I am a victim and I loose my equality.  But the sense of entitlement doesn’t just vanish….

Apologies, in my opinion, mean nothing without two things: stopping the action and some form of amends.

If I damage something that belongs to you, I am going to stop what I am doing and apologize, but then I will also try to repair or replace it- especially if you caught me lying about it!  If that works for individuals, why not for countries? Country is short for “a whole bunch of individuals in one place” and the feelings of these individuals are something we need to deal with because it is the feelings that are making the final decisions!

By the same token, I also recognize my responsibility when it comes to my own feelings.  Accountability has to be on both sides. If you damage me, apologize, stop your action and repair or replace, when do I stop being angry and hurt?  When do I come back to live in the now as opposed to re-living the past?

And when do I start my self-healing, that of my own anger, pain and resentment?  When does accountability for my own peace of mind kick in?  When do I stop feeding the fires of hatred?  Is it dependent on the actions of others?  Am I to wait for them to go first?

There is a lot to it, ennit?  There are just no easy answers…

(c) February 2009, Anita Pagan

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