Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Trail of Tears: should the U.S. Gov't start a program of returning ALL tribal homelands?

History provides some harsh lessons that are unacceptable even to this day.

...such as the story of the eradication of the Cherokee and the Five Civilized Tribes from their homelands in what was to become the deep south
, to that of modern-day Oklahoma.

History has its harsh moments...and Native American history, in particular, has too many to count.

In addition to slavery, the treatment of Native Americans and the atrocities committed by settlers and the U.S. Government to this very day ~ issues that will eclipse four centuries when we celebrate the 400th Thanksgiving in 2022 ~ are utterly despicable and beyond shameful.

As Americans ~ Native, black, white, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern or otherwise ~ WE ARE A POORER COUNTRY FOR WHAT WE DID TO OUR TRIBES.

Any way you slice it, the ancestors in the U.S. Government who called the shots on the destiny of tribal America were too drunk with power and greed to do the right thing; to have the vision to care about cultivating a culturally rich and harmonious tapestry of cohabitation and fairly negotiated sharing of the land rights pie between Native Americans and white America.

It's a far cry from the makeup of the United States we should have inherited.

Some of you out there may have heard of the "Trail of Tears."

This is the question that nobody seems to be able to answer: what exactly gave the United States the right, and entitlement, to remove these tribes from their homelands?

...and more importantly, what is the U.S. Government obligated to do to restore homeland rights to these tribes?


Tricky answer, huh? ...makes you squirm in your chair a bit there, huh?

Yes it does indeed...and you BETTER fucking squirm. That's THE LEAST you can do, is ponder the question.

The truth is that the relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes was never going to happen.

That is, until Andrew Jackson became President in 1829, when he made the removal of the tribes from their homeland his first order of business upon entering office. Those efforts resulted in the Indian Removal Act of 1830...which was passed in the Senate, but then determined to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.

Then Jackson did something that no other President in U.S. history has ever managed to pull off.


Yep, he went ahead with his plans to remove the tribes anyway...which led to the Trail of Tears, which was akin to ethnic cleansing.

Why Jackson appears on the $20 bill is anyone's guess...we should burn one of those reserve notes everytime it passes through our hands, or at least remove the asshole from the bill altogether. More on that issue another time.

What remains of a Cherokee and Five Civilized Nations homeland is now in modern-day NE Oklahoma.

For me, this is a tough history pill to swallow...and while I'm not Native American, I am working from some extensive personal experience with tribal matters.

However, I can't begin to imagine how descendants of those tribal folks involved in those atrocities and accounts of ethnic cleansing feel...or Native American folks in general, as everything is connected in the Indian World.

Maybe the U.S. Government should try asking them...and doing a bit more than simply apologizing and relegating them to the consolation prize of reservation lands.

Just a thought.

I have a few ideas on how such issues might be resolved in a peaceable, fair, and equitable manner...through some sort of negotiated and gradual land swap program spanning literally decades. Part of this involves the American government, State governments, and the American people redefining, in part, the concept of what land ownership is.

More on that another time.

The point of this post was to beg the question.

A visit to this website,
History of the Cherokee, provides more information.