More than 20 million dead. Over 1.5 billion acres of land taken. Less than 7 million left across the country.
Driven by racist sentiments and the glorious ideals of “liberty, liberty and equality”, Native Americans have been stripped of their land, culture and history.
But more than any other ethnic minority in the United States, the greatest oppressor of native people comes from invisibility. Time and time again, schools follow the comfortable narrative that the arrival of Europeans was an unfortunate and unfortunate moment in Aboriginal history. Too quickly, the genocide can be summed up in one page of a history textbook, and centuries of trauma are coated in sugar.
While our program describes the Indigenous struggle, many forget about the remaining Indigenous groups and the abuse they have faced over the past century goes unnoticed.
For example, in the 1900s, a largely unknown cultural genocide occurred when thousands of Indigenous children were forced into residential schools. In a government-funded attempt to erase indigenous culture, these schools hoped to assimilate them into “white society.”
Children were forcibly removed from reservations, taken from their parents and transferred to schools miles from their tribal lands. Once there, the children would cut their hair, wear traditionally European names, and leave their tribal clothes behind.
In 1925, there were over 60,000 Aboriginal children in residential schools, and it was not until the 1970s that the government banned the practice. But even then the indigenous groups continued to struggle.
Although laws like the Indian Child Welfare Act have been passed to protect Indigenous children from further harm, many groups face federal backlash in other ways. For example, Indigenous women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other ethnic group. In addition, according to CNN, Indigenous women made 5,712 reports of people killed or missing in 2016 alone..
However, the lack of support from local law enforcement or the US government prevents the tribes from overcoming these problems. In a New York Times article, Jack Healy wrote of how callous government has become a norm for many tribes. When a person goes missing, some groups have even resorted to neighborhood search teams after police repeatedly refused to help.
Overall, Native Americans are also 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than whites. According to USNews, this is the greatest disparity for a racial or ethnic group, even though native people make up less than 3% of the American population.
Despite these setbacks, Native Americans continued to forge ahead. Nationally, people are celebrating November as Indigenous Peoples Month, and after the 2020 election, six Native American candidates were elected to the US Congress. For the first time in our history, Indigenous culture is continually celebrated and represented.
The future of Native Americans must not be what it was in the past. Understanding the depths of Indigenous struggle is the first step; giving them the resources they need to build themselves is the next step.
It’s time we honor our differences and celebrate our diversity.
* This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop Editorial Board and was written by Kaylene Lin.