This is one of the reasons I can’t stomach American Patriotism. Yes, there are some fantastic things about living in this country, but this is only one example of the way we acquired them. Not that I think we are so different from any other country in the world–we are all, as you have said in the past, a mixture of the good and bad. But I am not proud to be an American.
My first thought as I watched this was to mentally mock some of my acquaintances: So this country was founded on Christian principles? But let’s be honest—our history with the Native Americans isn’t so different from much of the Old Testament history of Israel with the people they conquered. We’ve only been more efficient.
So what do you think of his conclusion? If it is true that we broke the treaties and if the Black Hills legally (and morally) belong to the Lakota, what are the ramifications of returning the land at this point in time?
I haven’t researched this issue enough to form an opinion on his conclusion yet. I can say that my gut feeling is that he’s right, and also that I don’t want to “lose” the Black Hills. They have become our family’s favorite place. We took our children there when our daughter was four, and after that she kept talking about “the beautiful place” and asking when we could go back again. Truly, my people have taken and continue to enjoy “the best meat.”
I think Aaron is wise to include after “give back the Black Hills” the statement, “what they do with it is their business.” That would be really giving it back, handing over control. It’s hard to imagine our government ever agreeing to do such a thing (we tried to throw money at it but discovered that money doesn’t fix everything).
This is something we can actually DO, though it would only be a minute token of righting the injustices we have inflicted upon Native people.
How could we do it? That’s a difficult question which I have not the expertise to answer. I suggest we ask the Lakota. Maybe ask another nation to oversee peace talks between the U.S. and the Lakota, just as we have done with Israel and Palestine regarding the West Bank.
I, too, have a gut feeling that this land legally belongs to the Lakota. But I also keep thinking of the thousands of US citizens who now live there, have purchased land by following the rules as they knew them, have built lives and businesses…and then to be told that it’s being taken away. Of course, that’s no worse than confiscating it from the Native Americans in the first place. Sticky wicket all around.
Interesting idea, to have another nation oversee talks between the U.S. and the Lakota. I didn’t realize until you mentioned it the similarities between the two disputes. We certainly do enough poking our noses into the affairs of the rest of the world; it would seem wise to ask other countries to reciprocate. However, think of the outcry from some of our fellow citizens who believe our national sovereignty hinges on being free of accountability to any other nations.
These sorts of situations are especially challenging because you have two different cultures, complete with different value systems and rules of conduct, seeking to make an equitable transaction. The difference is highlighted in the US offer of millions of dollars and the Lakota demand for control of the land. I would guess that even “land ownership” would be a compromise on the part of the Lakota, whose traditions as I understand them hold no concept of owning land, but rather respectfully working with it. But, in the world as it is now, I suppose they recognize that “unowned” land never stays that way.