How does history repeat itself? Let’s count some of the ways.
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy. During the fall and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."
In 1974 the U.S. Government legally endorsed genocide when Congress passed Public Law 93-531, which enabled Peabody Coal Company to strip mine Black Mesa by ripping the traditional Navajo and Hopi peoples from the land.
The debate continued and shifted to the controversial subject of what to do with the valuable coal deposits in the Choctaw Nation that had been segregated from allotment. Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin objected to the provision in the bill that authorized selling the deposits because he believed the railroads would gain control.
The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death.
And on and on, ad infinitum.
A public research website: http://www.cain2008.org has brought together diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain's was the key "point man" introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona. The McCain revised law relocated them to Church's Hill, Nevada (a Nuclear Waste Superfund Site, called "the New Lands" in PL 93-531). The Dineh-Navajo, a deeply spiritual and peaceful people, engaged in only peaceful resistance to being moved off lands they'd owned since 1500 A.D. Nonetheless, the Public Press and UN depicted brutalization, rights deprivation and forcible relocation.
Perhaps everyone’s hopes and prayers for peace should be,"Please don’t let them find natural resources on our land."
A couple people asked me for more information after posting this. I’m intentionally not linking to the diary where this comment is, but here’s what I said.
I’d be honored
Way back in my college days, a bunch of us took a road trip bringing supplies to the Navajo of Big Mountain who were resisting relocation. We drove three cars from San Diego to Big Mountain and stayed with the Navajo for a couple of days. We helped them clear some land for a Sun Dance ceremony (not usually their tradition, as I understand it, but they were doing it as a solidarity thing with other tribes I believe) and sat around with them talking in the evening. Was an interesting experience and we brought them supplies they had asked for. Have to admit I later forgot about the issue, though more recently wondered what had happened. I guess I always assumed Peabody would win in the end, though I did my little part to oppose them. Not surprising that McCain was helping them, I guess.
Response to the Environmental Crisis
In 1996, Congress passed a law endorsing a 75-year lease arrangement that would allow a few of the families to remain as tenants on the land. The law sanctions the relocation of families not eligible for these leases and forces the families who sign the leases to live without benefit of civil and religious rights exercised by other Americans. In April 1997, when all efforts to obtain justice in the U.S. judicial system failed, and in order to get the relocation laws repealed, the Dineh filed a formal request for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to conduct an investigation of human rights violations against them by the U.S. government. Several visits to New York by Dineh helped create an Inter-faith coalition of faith-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). A delegation of NGOs traveled to Black Mesa to witness the historic meeting between the traditional Dineh and Hopi people and Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Mr. Amor traveled to Black Mesa in early February 1998 to investigate charges of human rights violations by the U.S. government. This is the first time the U.S. is being formally investigated by the United Nations for violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It is the hope of the Dineh people that the UN will cite the U.S. for violations of International Human Rights law.
"The forcible relocation of over 10,000 Navajo people is a tragedy of genocide and injustice that will be a blot on the conscience of this country for many generations."
-- Leon Berger, Executive Director, Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission upon resignation.
"I feel that in relocating these elderly people, we are as bad as the Nazis that ran the concentration camps in World War II."
-- Roger Lewis, federally appointed Relocation Commissioner upon resignation
"I believe that the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi people that followed from the passage in 1974 of Public Law 93-531 is a major violation of these people's human rights. Indeed this forced relocation of over 12,000 Native Americans is one of the worst cases of involuntary community resettlement that I have studied throughout the world over the past 40 years."
-- Thayer Scudder, Professor of Anthropology, California Institute of Technology in a letter to Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance
Look for a couple things with treaties and "laws."
Look for the deceptive smile or handshake, overt or covert "laws," treaties (written documents), and so on that have no intent to benefit the American Indian in any way, and look for allowing it conveniently to happen by not doing anything about it (except of course, lip service), or the "Willingness to be unwilling" like I've put in this essay here.
Read up until "And while Congress remains reluctant to repeal" and you'll get my point.
...Jets fly low over the area on an almost daily basis, livestock is impounded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the pretense that resisters are "overgrazing" the land, and, due to the special Bennet Freeze clause of P.L.93-531 (which foresaw the possibility of a resistance) Dine people living on what is now Hopi Partitioned Land cannot legally upgrade their housing (i.e. repair a hole in their roof during the winter) without facing the threat of arrest because they no longer legally own the property their families have lived on for centuries. This type of regular harassment has been described as "low intensity psychological warfare" and it has become commonplace against families resisting relocation at Big Mountain.
These families continue to hope that public outcry will become so loud that Congress will no longer be able to ignore the damage which is done every day to people affected by relocation policies. In order to truly respect Native American self-determination, Congress must submit a full repeal of P.L.93-531 and use the money allocated for "relocation benefits" to repair the damage done to those people who have already been relocated (many of whom have yet to receive alternative housing). And while Congress remains reluctant to repeal...
Ask yourself why would congress be reluctant to repeal a law wherein "Dine people living on what is now Hopi Partitioned Land cannot legally upgrade their housing" and thus were forcibly relocated resulting in being "forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death." (from the UN website again)
It's very complex and it's very simple,
"Apartheid" is certainly a strong word. And certainly, there are recognized tribes in the U.S. that are now achieving certain levels of relative prosperity primarily due to federal law allowing them to operate casinos, But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect. By purpose or effect, their only option is forced assimilation, the abandonment of their land, families, language and cultures in search of a better life.
I think we have to answer "how" simply, and the "whys" can only start to be answered by recognizing that there's very good reason that
(It is worth noting also that the Fuhrer from time to time expressed admiration for the "efficiency" of the American genocide campaign against the Indians, viewing it as a forerunner for his own plans and programs.)
because that seems to give people a safer distance with which to look at what has happened here and what is still happening here "by purpose or effect."
I hope all that helps.
(Video from July of 2005)