Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Native Americans misrepresented
Issue date: 2/13/07 Section: Commentary
To the Editor,
My recent visit to the US Post Office in downtown Durham left me outraged by the blatant misrepresentation of our early pioneer settlers. Displayed upon the walls above the service counters is a mural that pays tribute to the numerous positive traits our ancestors possessed that enabled them to create a new life for us in America. But displayed among them is a falsehood so great that it offends me and strikes sadness in my heart. Depicted beside representations of our ingenuity and strength is a painting of a Native American Indian preparing to torch the home of the newly settled Europeans with the inscription "Cruel Adversity" below. The insinuation that early European Americans suffered cruel adversity at the hands of the native inhabitants is a tragic lie that perpetuates the American historical myth of the friendly whites against the merciless Indian savages.
While in fact, American pioneers were responsible for committing the largest act of genocide in the history of the world, slaughtering and enslaving 100 million Native Americans (compared to 6 million Jews in the WWII Holocaust) within a century of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. In has been well documented that our young government systematically removed the native people from their homes and tortured or killed those who refused to cooperate. Government bounties were advertised to encourage settlers to kill the native inhabitants and, in one of our first acts of biological warfare, blankets infected with small-pox were intentionally gifted to the Indians.
It is bad enough that we attempt to minimize these atrocities in our history books. It is shameful and inexcusable to take any pride in the actions of our white settlers that resulted in the murder of 95 percent of the original Native American population.
Scalping, torture, and mutilation by Indians
. . .
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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
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