The only way to heal is to clean out the wound, otherwise it festers and becomes infected. Native American Indian Nations (referred to as First Nation Indigenous Aboriginal Tribes in Canada) have been deeply injured by systematic cultural genocide. Establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the United States of America will be a profoundly intense effort because the wound is deep and intricate.
Native American Indians are Refugees; the United Nations would consider us to be Internally Displaced Persons. It doesn’t matter if you live on or off the Reservation, the terrible legacy of the American Holocaust continues. It was technically illegal to be a Native American until 1978. There was a palpable fear and hatred of outsiders and the “Feds.” Children were sent off to Boarding Schools to be “Americanized” until the 1980s. The list of atrocities is extensive and continues today with negative socio-economic indicators in Indian Country. Abject poverty, drug abuse, violence, physical and sexual abuse, hopelessness, and pain. Very few tribes (less than 5%) operate casinos and a lot of the profit is paid to non-Native casino management companies.
I am Dakota. My maternal grandfather was so terrified that his children or grandchildren could be taken away and placed in an Indian Boarding School that he destroyed all the enrollment paperwork. I remember visiting family on the Reservation. However, I was young and didn’t memorize names. I had to be snuck on because I am a “Red Velvet Cake,” caucasian on the outside and pink/red on the inside. I didn’t talk about my trip because my family could have been harmed. My beloved grandfather died when I was in middle school. I am a lost bird.
The tragic 150th Anniversary of the Dakota War and hanging of 38+2 in Mankato stirred my soul. I am related to Baptiste Campbell and his brother John Campbell. Baptiste was hung with the 38 and John was hung the following year. My dreams became filled with people crying but I didn’t understand the language. I began reading, researching, and talking to people about Native American Indian issues. It is terrific that there are many institutions dedicated to honoring the culture, language and arts.
I read about pain and healing. I tried to locate a Native American Holocaust or Genocide Museum. There are archives and a small museum but I could not find an institution dedicated to acknowledging of the cruelty committed against the First Nation Tribes. I thought that this might be my purpose. But the tear-filled dreams continued. I did more research and discovered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. That night my dreams changed. The tears turned to sighs. I’m still not sure what it means but I must be on the right track.
I am compelled to bring forth this cause. I don’t plan to be involved in the actual establishment of the USA’s Commission. It will be a long and complicated process but worth the effort. The Canadian Commission provides an excellent model. I hope that we will follow the same path of healing in the United States of America soon.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the USA will be established to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation between Native American Indian Nations and the United States of America.
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© 2013 Ima B. Musing