The #Psychopath’s Logic of #NativeAmerican Erasure & the Need for #Decolonization

Yesterday I was browsing through a literary portal, casually perusing magazines and  journals open for submissions, some of which I pass along if they sound interesting or unique. I came across Reed Magazine, which proudly bills itself as the oldest such “west of the Mississippi”. After I read more about their “history”, the inevitable appeared, although I’d been hoping it wouldn’t. This all reminded me of a meme that’s been heavily circulated the past week, and what Decolonization movements are about:

dismantle
Mr. Reed, a survivor of the Donner party, had “made a Gold Rush fortune”, a key reason hundreds of thousands of Native Americans were slaughtered in California other areas of the west, but it was particularly vicious and systematic in Cali. He later “donated” land to the city of San Jose, a comment made with especial pride and though factual, ignored pertinent additional facts that any land “owned” (then and now) was stolen, and during that era the slaughter of indigenous peoples was still actively on-going. Genocide due to the greater presence of gold and prime land craved by Europeans and new Americans at any cost. This is just another way natives are erased from “American” history under the guise of Anglo accomplishments.

*
How are people so ignorant or unwilling to consider the reality of the USA, which is founded on genocide and slave? They first deliberately ignore how gains were made then teach whitewashed, rose-colored glasses wearing history, and in this case, couched in purple prose to make themselves look like heroes and lucky businessmen. But no, I do not believe current editors/operators at this magazine had the direct intention to misinform but they did give a romanticized “fun” version of an ugly, bloody time that spelled the extinction of many tribes of California, while others are still recovering to this very day. Not a single acknowledgement that what they achieved was on convenient death.
*
This attitude, this propensity is widespread. It’s everywhere. From the textbooks they use to lie to generation after generation, to virtually every Hollywood film with natives (and the whitewashing of other POC roles & stories, too), to the flyers handed out in shops and stores about the missions of California.  For the indigenous, the missions were enslavement, forcible conversion, rape, abuse and death all day long. There is still a battle by survivors for the truth to be told, as even in children’s songs they, if not outright lie, skew history to their favor and many teachers keep teaching it without question. Indoctrination, and they start it early, yet the US has long used the logic of a psychopath.
*
This reasoning has created generations in denial that police brutality towards POC, the “judicial system”, the constitution, housing practices, banking, and business, that every system in the US is carefully maintained, based on and intended for European privilege. In turn, the indigenous of what is now called North America are still struggling to overcome historical trauma that is still on-going both because of these systems and the peoples benefiting from them. As Dr. Miranda said in her article on missions mentioned above, ” This story has not just killed us, it has also taught us to kill ourselves and kill each other with alcohol, domestic violence, horizontal racism, internalized hatred.”
*

Thus, the US has achieved parts of the original plan to eliminate or assimilate any remaining “Indians”, and this is just one more example that since they can’t or don’t publicly make statements like Roosevelt, Plecker, Lincoln and Jackson anymore, entities like Reed Magazine reinforce though ignorance and erasure. That probably didn’t even cross their minds when they wrote their “About” page, but the “built-in” systematic privilege they’ve had since birth is what allows such to be created.

*

Such privilege has and continues to support those who says things like: “Get over it!” “That was hundreds of years ago” in response to any presentation of information outside the warped narratives they prefer. A rather: “Why can’t you be like us,” mentality, “we all have the same opportunities, the same chance to achieve ‘the American Dream!'” It’s how they even treat indigenous remains and sacred items with disrespect. Whether its at sites such as San Nicholas Island, the contemporary auction/selling of items collected after killing natives  in the US, or selling sacred items and/or refusing repatriation of human remains in Europe.

*

Erasure is also how so many European people on both sides of the Atlantic concoct profit making schemes off fascination with natives (principally based on past tense stereotypes), using and taking from native cultures and identities with the same mentality Europeans of the past used to invade indigenous lands around the world. They may condemn the methods used, but they still have the same mentality now: take whatever they want irregardless of indigenous objections, and rationalize it away.

*

Get over what ? History is in the past, no doubt about that, but you tell me what we need to Get Over since you’re still benefiting today from what your ancestors did and we’re still suffering from. We’re not asking for an apology, which is a Band-aid to a stomach wound, yet a psychologically crucial first step for some. In my opinion apologies are worthless without definite steps to change the society wide psychopath’s reasoning that allows for blithely ignoring contrary facts or aggressive defense of their version of “American history”.

*

We must not only fight our inherited and/or individual trauma but also these acts of erasure, casually benign or derisively yelled. If we do not, it is only more cultural and spiritual death for us, and their “Mission complete.” Don’t be surprised or annoyed when some of us, native and non-native alike, won’t let that happen. We’re going to break the cycle of genocide, and erasure is one of its components.

cycle of genocide

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s