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Mon, Jan 21st - 5:09PM

Citing Sources: Native Genocide
Someone commented on the issue of Native genocide, expressing disbelief at the number of Native Canadians/Americans who were killed during the "settling of North America" by Europeans and complaining that we did not cite sources.

It is a reasonably well-known fact that Natives were systematically massacred. I didn't feel it was necessary to cite specific sources of that info. Frankly, if you don't see us citing sources it is because we are stating things that are obvious FACTS. Don't like it or don't remember your history? Go research the topic yourself next time.

If you do a Google search for the words native genocide there is 491,000 websites on the topic. The number of 100 million is somewhat debated, including the causes of death, but according to anthropologists who have tracked numbers in Native burial grounds the estimate of 100 million is a relatively accurate and agreed upon number.

Quite a few Natives were killed by disease (Europeans deliberately traded Natives plague infested blankets). Whether it was disease or gunfire or gas chamber that killed them, I don't see a difference. It was still a deliberate act of mass murder.

Trying to deny that this was definitively genocide, in our opinion, is comparable to denying the holocaust or trying to claim the holocaust was not genocide.

EXAMPLE: When the British settled Newfoundland for example they placed a reward on Native Beothuk (Newfoundland's sole tribe) and their ears. The Beothuk were quite literally hunted to extinction for their ears. Their only remaining descendants is people with a small amount of Beothuk blood in them. Their culture was completely wiped out by 1829 when the last remaining Beothuk died.

Frankly, we question the morality of anyone who would attempt to deny a holocaust or a genocide. Historians and anthropologists do their field work and do it well. There is very little room for error. In the example of the Jewish Holocaust we can determine numbers quite easily because the Germans kept very detailed logs and records of all the people they killed (although it should be noted they killed other non-Jewish minorities and dissenters as well).

European settlers may not have kept records of all the Natives they killed, but large massacres are well-recorded in history books. It should be noted also that this genocide occurred over a period of many years as more and more settlers encroached on Native lands, with the systematic removal or murder of Native numbers.

And why were so many killed? Fear of the unknown. Safety and security. Racism and religious extremism. The same arguments governments today still make when they make preemptive attacks on other Nations for fear of WMD. We haven't changed much in the last few centuries. We may kill people with gas chambers/bombs and rifles, but how is that any different from using disease and muskets?

I fear we have barely tapped the barrel of destruction that humanity has the potential to unleash. Biological and chemical warfare/terrorism is becoming far too readily usable, and I have little doubt that this coming century will misuse such technology widely to destroy or decimate whole minority cultures.

Don't think for an instant that modern society has evolved beyond genocide. As creatures humans are still violent and afraid of their own shadow.

Suzanne MacNevin
Editor of the Lilith eZine

Comment (1)

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