Mother Teresa was known for her work with the "poorest of the poor" She taught that we must defend the poorest of our brothers and sisters. In America, who does that define? It certainly does not produce a unified voice for the Native American people, despite the extreme poverty that exists on reservations, and the continual governmental forced use of their land for mining. For reasons not understood, the Federal Government decided at the founding of this country that "freedom of religion" was not to include the American Indians. Today, that still stands. Unless they are willing to become "one of us" their oppression will continue. When will they learn??
If this cannot be accomplished by simply shooting them, as was seen so obviously at Wounded Knee, both in 1890 and 1973-1975, they are doing it insidiously, through continuous exposure to poisonous chemicals and pollution on many reservations. Do not be fooled, it is no accident that uranium (and gold) was discovered on Reservation land. Mining dangerously radioactive minerals on land that belongs to the poorest people is way easier than poisoning our richer neighborhoods where people will hire lawyers, and fight.
Sioux Reservations, Spokane Tribal Reservation, Navajo Reservations, to name a few, all struggle to continue to live with uranium mining and the long-lasting poisonous effects to the citizens of the Reservation and those living in the nearby areas. But these areas do not get cleaned up. Why? One might ask. We all know the answer: because the Federal Government has been involved in a continued desperate annihilation of our indigenous people. Is it because they remind us of so much of what we do not understand? Is it because of their great spiritual understanding of the land? Is it because they worship something other than money?
The fact that the white race, as a nation, in America, credits itself with founding this country on "Christian" principles is actually the worst form of slander towards the theory of Christianity I have ever seen since the Crusades: conversion or death. I would not want any part of a religion or "God" that participates in mass slaughter, for any reason. I do not believe that is a Spirit of Love. It is the belief of an insecure greedy ruling power that has backed itself into a corner and is violently protecting their wrongful deeds by blaming various scapegoats, such as Leonard Peltier, who we know is dying in prison, years after he was due to be released. The list is long of the various "fall guys" who attempt to stand up and protect their rights to be Indians under the Constitution and are either shot, imprisoned, or poisoned slowly while the American public turns a blind eye, certainly those in government and religion. The simple truth is that the federal government refuses to allow these people to stand up as Native American Indians. They are allowed to live, sort of, as assimilated American Indians, as long as they forget their culture, and especially, their spirituality. But their unified spirit somehow enables them to endure the endless torture and disproportionate oppression. Their spirit would seem unbreakable.
The main reason that the Government does not want to allow the Indian people to "reclaim their heritage" is because their spirituality is deeply connected to the land. There are other religions with the same claims: the Jews. How can we defend the Jews, as a unified nation, but not the people in our own country? Oh, that's right, they're not Christians, or Jews. They don't believe in God. What?? Are you sure about what they believe? Have you asked them? Have you taken time to learn what they believe? Is it even relevant? Do we only save people who believe what we believe? What happened to unity? Can we defend them because they are human, or because they are Americans? Can we defend them at all?
The deal is, that the Government takes what they want, especially if it has to do with money: land, gold, uranium, they feel they have the right to renege on their own Treaties, throw them out and take the land back. This has been done over and over again without any regard for the devastating effects on the spirituality or health of the Native Americans. What I don't understand is why it isn't offensive to every person who calls themselves a Christian, Jew, or any other religion that speaks out as the defenders of the poor?
Here is some background information. The Black Hills of South Dakota is considered the place all creation came from. It is the most sacred place on the entire planet for Native people. But, who cares, we need uranium, gold, and anything else we find out there. Now the people there are sick from the uranium mining that still goes on. How would many of you feel if the government started mining your family cemetery? Or blew up your church? It is the birth place, resting place, and spiritual center for Native peoples. But, that doesn't matter, why can't they just become like us and worship buildings and money? Therein lays the problem. All reservation land is important to their culture. It is their home. We don't let people come onto our property once we have signed a deed. We consider it ours. By the Constitution, we can protect our property with guns. Well, if this is the pattern of the Federal government, do not be surprised when they decide they need your property either. Because greed knows no color, and it simply is never full.
This is a wakeup call. The eradication of our Native American people is happening on your watch, without your vote. Chronic and deadly illnesses are prevalent on all these reservations that are being mined for uranium and there is no sign of responsibility from our government. The pollution is leaking into lakes and rivers and affecting wildlife where we hunt and fish.
On the Spokane Indian Reservation, for example, chronic illnesses are killing the people. Elders have already died. Chronic illnesses are high in the entire Spokane and outlying areas. Is it connected to uranium mining? Who knows? But something is not right, and nobody will talk about it, and if they do, that's all it is, talk. No action. Meanwhile, people keep getting sicker, and more Indian people are dying.
Despite the fact that the Spokane reservation was put on the Superfund list in 2000, 11 years later, the Reservation still contains 2 open uranium pits filled with contaminated water which the deer, moose, elk, and other wildlife drink each day. The animals feed on the polluted plant life. Piles of high grade ore is sitting open on the reservation where it was left when the price of uranium fell. Waste ore was used to pave people's driveways. No safety warnings were issued to the 1200 Indian workers that uranium was dangerously high in radioactivity. Many worked double shifts and fell asleep with their clothes on. Workers reported picking up their mattresses and yellow powder falling out, uranium powder. A myriad of cancers, kidney problems, lung problems, and other chronic illnesses affect many tribal members because the mine is so close to homes, local creeks, hunting areas and the Spokane River. In fact, seepage from this mine drains into Lake Roosevelt which is been an important salmon fishing spot for centuries, and part of the Spokane River. It eventually flows into the Columbia River, which falls within one of America's biggest wheat growing areas. With the Hanford Nuclear Plant, the Columbia basin doesn't need any more help with radioactive pollutants in the water.
We in Spokane joke about why the upper part of the Spokane River glows green. However, many people swim in the Spokane River. No one who wants to live, eats the fish from the Spokane River because of known and unknown pollution. In nearby areas, one cannot eat the fish from many lakes due to pollution. The area is rife with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Yet there seems to be no connecting these dots. No doubt the Spokane Tribe has connected them because there is an abundance of information on the internet by Tribal members on the Midnite Mine and Dawn Mining, and the EPA on how this uranium issue is affecting their tribal lands, and some believe, indirectly, our outlying areas.
Nothing is being done. Is it because they are Native Americans? Of course it is. The Federal Government, in their determination to drive these people to extinction is in opposition to everything we supposedly stand for. Actions speak louder than words. We may say we believe in Constitutional rights and freedom of religion, but our actions say we do not. What we believe in, at least in our Government, is greed. Taking whatever we think we need from whoever may have it, regardless of former treaties or agreements. Our imagined need outweighs our word, no one can deny that. In truth, it is stealing.
Even after 1973 and the second Wounded Knee incident (also known as the "reign of terror") which resulted in the subsequent deaths of over 60 American Indian Movement activists (Indians who tried to stand up) in only two years. Frontline covered this. Still, none of the murders have been solved, one would think that the American Government might step up to the plate and admit that they are wrong. They have been wrong. Their gross insecurities, greed and fear concerning these people should not be tolerated by the people of this nation. The slow eradication of these people has got to stop.
The land that belongs to the original people is deeply connected to their religious beliefs. We are blowing up their spirituality every single day across this country. They need to be heard and respected. The continual disregard of their spiritual rights in this country has destroyed our own. You cannot make sense of a religion that flagrantly bulldozes over a large native population's religion unless you have no conscience. How does one justify destroying a whole race of people in order to spread our own? Clearly, that is America's definition of Christianity, and I am grieved and sickened.
This is not a Government I can get behind. It is certainly no representation of a God I would consider serving that would promote both blatant and insidious racism and murder of our brothers and sisters. For whatever reason that I do not care to understand, the Federal government has made the decision that the American Indians will be assimilated or they will die. There is no religious freedom for them. They are still being forced to assimilate, part of which includes Christianity. This is because Christianity does not put any sacred value on land. Its value is otherworldly. It is a convenient way to pry Indian people away from their religious value of the land. It is simply a tool being used by the government to license them to continue to steal, poison, and eradicate the entire Native American race.
America is supposed to be the land of freedom of speech and religion. Just not for American Indians. But Muslims have more freedom than Indians, and we are in a war that has given us license (the Patriot Act) to terrorize every Muslim in this country. American Indians have been living with that for 500 years, who cares?