Norton: Gwich'in culture v. American children
JUNE 21, 2001
During a speech in Anchorage, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton on Wednesday said the Gwich'in Nation has a "choice" when it comes to continuing their subsistence lifestyle, a tradition that has been passed down for thousands of years.
"If the group's goal is to continue their subsistence lifestyle for generations, that is certainly their choice. But that choice also impacts others," she said. "The children throughout America, their lives will be affected by these decisions as well whether they will have heat for their homes, whether they will have jobs in a prosperous economy."
Norton on Monday visited the Gwich'in community of Arctic Village. Residents and Gwich'in leaders told her drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would destroy their entire way of life because it would affect the Porcupine caribou herd on which they subsist.
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Norton's statements are just a polite way of saying the Gwich'in are primitive and uncivilized and should assimilate into the mainstream culture if they want to be Americans. It's an age-old message that Indians have heard for about 400 years. (The message was to assimiliate into New Spain for 100 years before that.)
But laying a guilt trip on them about America's children is a new one. Just think of all the oil wells and mines we could dig, the housing tracts and shopping malls we could build, if only Indians would give up all their reservations. How can Native people be so selfish when Americans still want and need their land?
Note the heavy sarcasm. Actually, as several hundred pundits have informed the three stooges (Bush*, Cheney, and Norton), Arctic drilling would do nothing to solve our present energy crisis and little to address our long-term energy needs. Instead, Norton should try advocating alternative energy sources and conservation. Ratcheting down America's gluttonous lifestyle a few notches would do much to secure our energy future.
*Not the legitimate president.
Indians as welfare recipients
The "outdated" reservation system
. . .
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