Today, I dedicate this space to the writing of Kahentinetha Horn from 2005. It offers a sobering summary of some of the darkest times in the history of this country.
Grace and peace
The North American Indian Holocaust
The “final solution” of the North American Indian problem was the model for the subsequent Jewish holocaust and South African apartheid.
Why is the biggest holocaust in all humanity being hidden from history? Is it because it lasted so long that it has become a habit? It’s been well documented that the killing of Indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere since the beginning of colonization has been estimated at 120 million. Yet nobody wants to speak about it.
Today historians, anthropologists and archaeologists are revealing that information on this holocaust is being deliberately eliminated from the knowledge base and consciousness of North Americans and the world. A completely false picture is being painted of our people as suffering from social ills of our own making.
It could be argued that the loss of 120 million from 1500 to 1800 isn’t the same as the loss of 6 million people during World War II. Can 6 million in 1945 be compared to 1 million in 1500?
School children are still being taught that large areas of North America are uninhabited as if this land belongs to no one and never did. The role of our ancestors as caretakers is constantly and habitually overlooked by colonial society.
Before the arrival of Europeans, cities and towns here were flourishing. Mexico City had a larger population than any city in Europe. The people were healthy and well-fed. The first Europeans were amazed. The agricultural products developed by the Indigenous people transformed human nutrition internationally.
The North American Indian holocaust was studied by South Africa for their apartheid program and by Hitler for his genocide of the Jews during World War II. Hitler commented that he admired the great job Americans had done in taking care of the Indian problem. The policies used to kill us off was so successful that people today generally assume that our population was low. Hitler told a past US President when he remarked about their maltreatment of the Jewish people, he mind your own business. You’re the worst.
Where are the monuments? Where are the memorial ceremonies? Why is it being concealed? The survivors of the WWII holocaust have not yet died and already there is a movement afoot to forget what happened.
Unlike post-war Germany, North Americans refuse to acknowledge this genocide. Almost one and a quarter million Kanien’ke:haka (Mohawk) were killed off leaving us only a few thousand survivors.
North Americans do not want to reveal that there was and still is a systematic plan to destroy most of the native people by outright murder by bounty hunters and land grabbers, disease through distributing small pox infested blankets, relocation, theft of children who were placed in concentration camps called “residential schools” and assimilation.
As with the Jews, they could not have accomplished this without their collaborators who they trained to serve their genocidal system through their “re-education camps”.
The policy changed from outright slaughter to killing the Indian inside. Governments, army, police, church, corporations, doctors, judges and common people were complicit in this killing machine. An elaborate campaign has covered up this genocide which was engineered at the highest levels of power in the United States and Canada. This cover up continues to this day. When they killed off all the Indians, they brought in Blacks to be their labourers.
In the residential schools many eye witnesses have recently come forward to describe the atrocities. They called these places “death camps” where, according to government records, nearly half of all these innocent Indigenous children died or disappeared as if they never existed. In the 1920’s when Dr. Bryce was alarmed by the high death rate of children in residential schools, his report was suppressed.
The term “Final Solution” was not coined by the Nazis. It was Indian Affairs Superintendent, Duncan Campbell Scott, Canada’s Adolph Eichmann, who in April 1910 plotted out the planned murder to take care of the “Indian problem”.
“It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem”. (DIA Archives, RG 10 series).
In the 1930’s he brought German doctors over here to do medical experiments on our children. According to the study the majority of the lives of these children was extinguished. School children are taught his poetry with no mention of his role as the butcher of the Indian people.
Those who carried out this annihilation of our people were protected so they could declare full-scale war on us. North Americans as heirs of the fruits of this murderous system have blood on their hands. If people are sincere about preventing holocausts they must remember it. History must be told as it really happened in all its tragic details.
It’s not good enough to just remember the holocaust that took place during the lifetime of some of the survivors. We have to remember the larger holocaust. Isn’t it time to uncover the truth and make the perpetrators face up to this?
In the west there are a whole series of Eichmanns. General Amherst ordered the distribution of small pox infested blankets to kill of our people. But his name is shamelessly preserved in the names of towns and streets. George Washington is called the “village burner” in Mohawk because of all the villages he ordered burnt. Villages would be surrounded. As the people came running out, they would be shot, stabbed, women, children and elders alike. In one campaign alone “hundreds of thousand died, from New York across Pennsylvania, West Virgina and into Ohio”. His name graces the capital of the United States.
The smell of death in their own backyard does not seem to bother North Americans. This is obscene.
By Kahentinetha Horn, MNN Mohawk Nation News, email@example.com
First published in Akwesasne Phoenix, Jan. 30, 2005 issue