US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Indians

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US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Indians

Postby NoGodsNoMasters » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:26 pm

An article for Presidents' Day on Native News Network
US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Indians

I'll just post some high-and-low- lights

Yay,the guy on quarters and dollar bills!
"Indian's and wolves are both beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."
George Washington


Yay, the guy on $20 bills!
"My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes cannot exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear."
Andrew Jackson


Yay, the guy on more money who is mythologised like whoa because he was a hero!
"Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit… " Text from President Lincoln to General Sibley ordering the execution of American Indians in Minnesota.
Abraham Lincoln


Okay, see the jump in time between ^that and \/ that one? About 100 years? While there are quotes from other presidents on the article, this is the first one that I could possibly say has the slightest glimmer of positivity about it.

"For a subject worked and reworked so often in novels, motion pictures, and television, American Indians remain probably the least understood and most misunderstood Americans of us all."
John Kennedy


"The American Indian, once proud and free, is torn now between White and tribal values; between the politics and language of the White man and his own historic culture. His problems, sharpened by years of defeat and exploitation, neglect and inadequate effort, will take many years to overcome."
Lyndon Johnson


I always fucking knew that R. Regan was fucking evil.
"Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations - or reservations, I should say. They, from the beginning, announced that they wanted to maintain their way of life, as they had always lived there in the desert and the plains and so forth. And we set up these reservations so they could, and have a Bureau of Indian Affairs to help take care of them. At the same time, we provide education for them - schools on the reservations. And they're free also to leave the reservations and be American citizens among the rest of us, and many do. Some still prefer, however, that way - that early way of life. And we've done everything we can to meet their demands as to how they want to live. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe we should not have humored them in that wanting to stay in that kind of primitive lifestyle. Maybe we should have said, no, come join us; be citizens along with the rest of us." Ronald Reagan

A derail on Ronnie [ Show ]
I was only very young when Regan was ending his terms as president. I learned years later that my mom was totally taken in by him and registered as a Republican when he was up for election. I don't hold it against her, she is very politically naive. But she is much more aligned with me when it comes to politics, and she is Native American. I wonder if she would regret all of that now, after seeing this. He was fucking evil. And I had to take time out of a beach vacation with my family to watch his fucking funeral service on TV. Fuck him and everything he ever fucking said.


Alright, so I'm guilty of a bit of Bush-Baiting... I'm not sorry about it
"Tribal sovereignty means that. It's sovereign. You're a… you're a… you've been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereign entity."
George W. Bush


"We also recommit to supporting tribal self-determination, security, and prosperity for all Native Americans. While we cannot erase the scourges or broken promises of our past, we will move ahead together in writing a new, brighter chapter in our joint history."
Barack Obama
"Justice is not a flexible tool. Unless we all do our part to ensure that justice is applied equally to all human beings, we are a party to its abuse. We must stand together to protect the rights of others." — Leonard Peltier
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby thunk » Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:05 pm

Notably, the positivity only started after the cessation of "western expansion" and the acute phase of European conquest. Do a crime, then once you're done, say you're terribly sorry about it (and not before).
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Cipher » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:09 pm

Those quotes up to Lincoln are about as depressing and horrifying as I'd expect :(

But this! In the fucking 80s! What are you DOING, Reagan?
Let me tell you just a little something about the American Indian in our land. We have provided millions of acres of land for what are called preservations - or reservations, I should say... We provide education for them.

Ughhhh. I mean, I knew in sort of an intellectual way that Ronald Reagan was an asshole (I wasn't old enough to be aware of him while he was President either), but fuck, how ridiculously oblivious and ignorant.

At least Obama's mouthing positive sentiments. Do you have any thoughts about his comment that you'd be comfortable talking about, NGNM? Is it what you'd want him to say? Compared with the overt racist hideousness that preceded it, it looks pretty great to me, but there's a lesser-evil situation going on here and I could be missing dogwhistles and things.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby NoGodsNoMasters » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:40 pm

I can appreciate the positive sentiment, but like always, it feels pretty hollow. Where's the actual initiative? He might as well have come up and said "you're all just lovely sweetie-pies and I want you all to come over for tea", because that invitation is almost as likely to actually manifest in the mail as a sincere, well thought out and well funded initiative to improve the lives of Natives. At least he isn't calling for our deaths. That's... a thing.

"We also recommit to supporting tribal self-determination, security, and prosperity for all Native Americans.

Well that's nice, where was the first committment? And I would like to know how he commits this to Natives who don't live on reservations. Does this extend to scholarships, which are heavily contested and bitterly sought after? Does it extend to help with housing when huge numbers of Native Americans have trouble with retaining theirs? Does it extend to help for veterans, because a large proportion of Natives are veterans and the state of veteran aftercare is abominable? Probably not. Because it's a short-sighted comment.
While we cannot erase the scourges or broken promises of our past, we will move ahead together in writing a new, brighter chapter in our joint history."

I like how it's "together", because Natives are obvs a monolith and we all want to work with the government. It's nice, but presumptive. At least we're being thought of and included. I can dig that.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby smhll » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:44 pm

Do kids these days even get taught about the broken promises? I graduated from high school before 1980, and it wasn't covered where I went to school back then. I read the first chapter of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which enumerates the broken treaties, as an adult and I was stunned and overwhelmed. I was a person who went to the library a lot, had read a lot about the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement, and I just knew nothing about this. My ignorance of the injustices was way too big.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby NoGodsNoMasters » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:11 pm

Well, I graduated high school in 2007, and I think the only reason I know so much (being as I was brought up in a mostly white society) is because when that obligatory time of year would come around, I was sort of a magnet for teaching the other kids. I was taught a lot by my mother and grandparents and I did a lot of research into these things because it's part of my history and culture. I did most of my choosen book reports, history projects, speeches etc. on things like Wounded Knee and the tribes that I belong to.
I went through the elementary, middle and high schools I was expected to go to by where I lived, so I stayed in school with some people all the way from k-12th grade. I would guess that right now even my best friends wouldn't be able to tell you very much if anything about the history of Native Americans. And that's spoken as someone who brought in show-and-tells, brought in music, did educational shows for a number of years, did speeches and major projects about my culture for these people.
It might be more likely that Honours and AP students would have been taught more, as I was part of those classes and I remember some more than passing remarks. However, I was an exploratory teacher in a regular level American history class and at least that teacher did little more than gloss over mostly the western expansion, and nothing about the eastern tribes, the Seminole wars, Trail of Tears etc., even their text book had less than a chapter total material.

I don't *totally* see it as though offense was intended in this gigantic oversight. I think there is a whole lot of ignorance. Those who don't know about it really don't know anything at all, and those who do are sort of left in embarrassed silence. Eg I did a major speech competition where I had to research a famous immigrant and their contributions to the US. It was specifically tailored to engage the children of immigrants, which was everyone except for me. I was young, really young, and I could even see it then. It was just a simple omission of my entire race and culture because we have been effectively erased from the American narrative.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby rickymooston » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:13 pm

Shouldnt dialog start with getting rid of the term "Indian"?

Its not like they came from India ... Columbus made a mistake
but we know better

Obama sucks as a Liberal in using that term. Given the struggles
he writes about in his own autobiography, you would expect
more from him.

I am unsure about how well they are treated in the US. In Canada,
1) there are out standing land claims
2) there is intense poverty
3) the issue of self governance is an issue
4) there are issues about ancesteal burial grounds being
disrespected
5) there are issues about hunting and fishing rights
6) there are outstanding grievances related to sexual
abuse at religious schools
7) there have been water quality safety issues
8) suicides on some reserves
9) polution concerns
10) ...

I am not knowledgible about the details but i dont brag
about the state of our "native peoples" here.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Cipher » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:40 am

Shouldnt dialog start with getting rid of the term "Indian"?

Uh, no. People from a lot of places in the US identify as "Indian."
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby NoGodsNoMasters » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:31 am

Rickymooston, you don't get to walk up in here and dictate what people wish to call themselves.

Really, that should be the end of the conversation but I'll elaborate;
I prefer the term "Native American" but I also respond to First Nations, Native, American Indian, indigenous... As long as its not "squaw" or some other terms I won't mention. In my own family we refer to others by the name of their tribe or clan, or a familiarised term of "hano" (hā-no). I think maybe Obama could have done a little better by using a term that didn't come from a centuries long misunderstanding and then blatant dismissal of thought or fact, but I don't get to choose what everyone is referred to as. Lots of people use it proudly and I begrudge no one that right. But I'll be damned if someone else, outside of our situation, decides what is right and proper for me or people like me.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Sylvia Sybil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:17 pm

Just checking in to say I am listening and thinking.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Eowyn Entwife » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:39 pm

Sylvia Sybil wrote:Just checking in to say I am listening and thinking.

ditto
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby scenario » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:41 pm

I'm pleading ignorance here. I read the Abraham Lincoln quote as an execution order. The only thing I see in it that is wrong is the word halfbreed. Any use of that word today is very insulting. What was the proper term or way to phrase it 150 years ago? I really don't know much about what was proper etiquette in the 1860's. Was it as much of an insult in the 1860's as it is today? If it wasn't considered insulting back then it would be like saying, I authorize the execution of the 10 Texans. There are a many words today that are insults that were considered the proper way to say it many years ago.

I just read the history behind the quote and the history is truly evil. But the quote in itself may or may not be. I also read that many people in the U.S. at that time considered half breed to be an insult but in parts of Canada at that time people used it as an ordinary label for themselves, the same as they would use French or Sioux. If Lincoln was using it in the common U.S. sense, he was wrong. If he was using it to descibe people as they described themselves, it's more of a grey area. None of this justifies the biggest mass execution in U.S. history.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Cipher » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:23 pm

I read the Abraham Lincoln quote as an execution order. The only thing I see in it that is wrong is the word halfbreed.

How about, THE EXECUTION ORDER?!
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Sylvia Sybil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:50 pm

scenario wrote:I'm pleading ignorance here. I read the Abraham Lincoln quote as an execution order.


Yes. It is an execution order. That is what is wrong with it: ordering the execution of "Indians and halfbreeds". Ordering people to be killed by a government because of their race is a Bad Thing.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby qmartindale » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:01 pm

That's the execution order from the Dakota Conflict, right? He ordered the execution of 39 out of 303 prisoners who were sentenced to death by kangaroo court military commissions.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby scenario » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:30 am

How many execution orders did Lincoln sign during his term in office? He was President during wartime. Looking at only the quote it said that he ordered a group of indian and half breeds executed. If someone caught a rebel group from Virginia killing a group of civilian women and children while wearing union uniforms and he wrote back I authorize you to execute the Virginians,would that read the same?

After I looked up the facts behind the executions and put the letter in context, it changed meanings completely. It's the context that makes it so horrible. If the facts were totally different and these people were justly caught and convicted of a terrible crime, he would only be guilty of a very badly wording the document.

I'm not defending what he did or said. It's just that if you take one or two sentences out of context its easy to make things look better or worse than they really are. Change the context of the letter can change its meaning completely. After the Nurenburg trials many Germans were executed, but they were not executed for being Germans, they were executed for being criminals. I'd bet that some papers around the world said something like, 10 Germans were executed today at some point.

I'm surprised that I never heard of this before. I'm a history buff and while the Civil War is not my favorite time period, I've read a lot about it.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Sylvia Sybil » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:40 am

scenario wrote:How many execution orders did Lincoln sign during his term in office? He was President during wartime.

...and you don't think the USA being at war with Native Americans is symptomatic of racism and white supremacy?
scenario wrote:If the facts were totally different and these people were justly caught and convicted of a terrible crime, he would only be guilty of a very badly wording the document.

1) Capital punishment is not race neutral, it is applied to disproportionately to people of color 2) very bad wording is sort of the point? Like, the thread title is "presidents in their own words".
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:51 am

scenario, have you read James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong"? Because you really, really, really need to read it.

I think everybody who lives in the United States needs to read it, actually. But given the subject matter, I think you need to read this book very very soon.

Like, before you post on the subject again, at least read some of its chapter about Native Americans and their relations with European settlers.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby ApostateltsopA » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:02 am

My early education in the 80's included a unit in history about the trail of tears and some of the details. It was not a public school though, and not nearly the depth that was given to the endless repitition of the revolutionary war.

Having said that like others I'm reading and thinking.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby scenario » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:27 am

"Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit… " Text from President Lincoln to General Sibley ordering the execution of American Indians in Minnesota.
Abraham Lincoln


I have read quite a bit about how the American Government treated and still treats Native Americans. It is a giant stain on the American government and people.

My post was refering only to this quote without any knowledge of the context. Using only this order without any furthur context, the president of the United States ordered the execution of a group of indians and half breeds. Since he refers to a group of military officers and Lincoln was President during the civil war, without knowing anything more than this quote, I assumed that the executions had something to do with the war. Without knowing the context, it is possible that they were executed for just cause. If you replaced Indians and Half-breeds with Virginians and Georgians, would it change the meaning?

Now I have read up on the context of these words. Within the context, these people were executed simply because they were Indians. It is also clear that Lincoln shared the prejudice of many of the people of his time. He was not the saint that he has been painted as. The context is what makes this quote so horrible. Standing alone, it could theoretically be something taken out of context to make Lincoln look bad.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby Cipher » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:42 am

My post was refering only to this quote without any knowledge of the context. Using only this order without any furthur context, the president of the United States ordered the execution of a group of indians and half breeds. Since he refers to a group of military officers and Lincoln was President during the civil war, without knowing anything more than this quote, I assumed that the executions had something to do with the war. Without knowing the context, it is possible that they were executed for just cause. If you replaced Indians and Half-breeds with Virginians and Georgians, would it change the meaning?

Now I have read up on the context of these words. Within the context, these people were executed simply because they were Indians. It is also clear that Lincoln shared the prejudice of many of the people of his time. He was not the saint that he has been painted as. The context is what makes this quote so horrible. Standing alone, it could theoretically be something taken out of context to make Lincoln look bad.

I'm sorry, I don't have any patience left for this. The fuck is your problem, that you feel the need to engage in oblivious insensitive fuckery like this, scenario, for three fucking posts now? What the fuck purpose are you TRYING to achieve with this bullshit? Because what you're actually doing is being incredibly, ridiculously dismissive of the actual historical reality here by making trivial-ass remarks like "If everything was different, this letter wouldn't be bad" as though they're fucking pertinent.

Sit. Your. Ass. Down.
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Re: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Ind

Postby scenario » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:20 am

Your right.
[ Show ]
I made my point on the first post, I should have let it drop. Once I read the context of the quote, I agreed with everything everyone on the post said. I've just seen to many quotes taken out of context to make people look bad.
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