Jan. 06, 2005

Indians have borne centuries of suffering 

By Richard Boyden

L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, wrote in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, on Dec. 20, 1890, “The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation?”

This statement represents the bulk of the genocidal history of the treatment of American Indian nations by the European founded United States Government and peoples. 

I call it the 400-year White Man Made Tsunami that murdered human beings, destroyed homes, stole land, and left the people to die in a sea of lies called broken treaties.

In spite of proposed “apologies” by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and romantic movies exploiting Indian culture such as “Dances With Wolves” starring Kevin
Costner (who did not invest any of the $275 + million made among those he exploited) Third World conditions of living continue to be the norm on American Indian reservations, not the exception.

The three poorest counties in the United States are in South Dakota. They are reservations. Average income per family ranges from $240 to $480 per month. Children are deprived of heat, showers and toilets. Needs for food are weighed against utility costs with three or four families living in one house. Beds are bare floors.

Yet many of the “WHITE masters of the American continent” openly provide better living conditions for their dogs and cats than those facing Indian children. This I call American Indian Child Abuse in the greatest degree! 

Hypocritical Christians and Jews conveniently focus on other cultures and nations for relief. Yet here in America, their say-nothing-do-nothing attitudes and policies have both helped initiate as well as exacerbate conditions found in Indian Country.

Indians are not on the bottom of their list for justice; they are not even on the list. One should contemplate whether the spending of billions on exorbitant salaries and buildings of worship will be justified on Judgment Day when condemned houses and empty stomachs fill reservations.

We struggle to deliver and provide basic needs of healthy food with no offers of assistance from the Oprah's, Bill Gates, corporations or foundations. There is a need to start a vocational training school for Indian youth so they can build cost-effective, energy-efficient homes for their elders and homeless. Because there is no economic development or investment on reservations, unemployment reaches up to 90 percent.

Of course, Indian children know no different since having less than the basic needs of life is their daily reality from birth. With the continued “Red-Out” by the media
and those capable of making a difference living guiltless Hollywood lifestyles on stolen land stained with Indian blood, L. Frank Baum's proposed policy of “annihilation,” continues unabated in much of Indian Country.

Thus, the victims of America's “400 year tsunami” will remain out of sight and out of mind by design so that we as a nation can outwardly appear and pretend that we are benevolent and good hearted, while festering within the bowels of America's soul, the continued suffering of her First Citizens exposes our inexcusable hypocrisy before God and man.

Richard Boyden is the founder and president of Operation Morning Star, a nonprofit organization that collects food and supplies for American Indians living in extreme poverty. He lives in Independence.