It's that time of year again, the season where even those who never see or interact with America's Indigenous people, have to at least acknowledge our existence. The disgusting practice of naming a holiday after a mass murdering slave trader continues in many states, as does the fantasy of the first all nations Thanksgiving celebration. I am not the first, and I trust I will not be the last, to demand freedom from these settler fantasies. In fact, we must be free.
If by now you are unaware of the crimes against humanity waged by Christopher Columbus, or the first Thanksgiving celebration of the massacre of several hundred unarmed Indian people, then you really need to sharpen your Google skills. I and others have written extensively about these historical facts for years, so much so that I really can't bring myself to go into detail yet again. Suffice to say the celebration of a Hitler day or of Americans being killed by terrorists on 9/11 is an appropriate comparison. After over five hundred years of genocide I often wonder, when is it enough? Is it so ingrained into your makeup that you must continue your assumptions of ownership? From this, we must be free.
Lest you allow yourself to think that the great sins against our people were all in the past, make no mistake, we are still mired in the Long Era of Taking. Only recently did the news break of repeated violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an act put in place in 1978 to stop the outrageous practices of stealing Indian children, often through so-called adoptions. I will forego the natural pondering of how shameful it was that such an act was even necessary to begin with. We now know the "Christian" adoption industry is nothing more than a cabal of human traffickers targeting Indian Country, and Indian Children. In broad daylight, with the sanction of American courts, First Nations children are being bought and sold as though they were human chattel in the days of old. I have often been told by non Indians that we have to stop living in the past. How can we, when the past is not the past? Our present is so much more painful than any past you can imagine. Again, we must be free.
American Indian sovereignty, enshrined in American and International law, is violated so often as to be considered routine. First it was the land that was taken, then our languages, then our children, then our spirituality, and even now our spiritual and cultural imagery and names are appropriated. In this nation's capital, a shrine of monuments to freedom seen by citizens the world over, a professional football team uses a name referring to a time where our people were hunted like animals, and bounties placed on our scalps. Anywhere else this would be seen as a crime against humanity, but not here. America so values its assumption of ownership of our people, that it allows even the most outrageous crimes against humanity to be celebrated openly, and for profit. We must be free.
I could go further, into the tedious practices of stealing the natural resources that lay on, or under American Indian land. I could discuss at length the toxification of Indian Country by dumping all manner of hazardous waste near our homes. Native women continue to disappear and be assaulted by non-Indians at astonishing rates. Out of sight and out of mind of most Americans, and our existence simply a nuisance to others, our long struggle against genocide seems to have no end. It seems America truly wants each of us to be the last living Indian, so the rest of this settler nation can go on about its business of romanticizing who you want to pretend we were. It is apparently far too much to ask of you to respect who we are. From this too, we must be free.
In closing I will simply state that it is time for the Long Era of Taking to end, for what is a man, woman, or child without freedom? It is time for Indian people to awake to a new dawning. An age of true sovereignty, and of true freedom. Until this American nation too passes into history-and even beyond, Indian people will demand our freedom. We must be free. Free from theft. Free from kidnapping. Free from poisoning. Free from imprisonment when we speak or act out against genocide. Free from racist imagery. Free from the fear of the wolf always being at our door. This could also be a new age for America. An age where a settler nation, like other settler nations turned away from its sins, and embraced the people who shaped the history of this hemisphere. And so, at long last, let us be free. We must....be free.