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Restitution ≠ Retribution

The Indigenous population has faced atrocity and apathetic reconciliation in perennial succession since the first settler boat found its way to the shores of what is now called America.

The sentinel of liberty stands tall in the people's capital to remind us of the legacy of manifest destiny; the “God given” right for colonialists to expand influence from east to west coast; the God that sent waves of conquistadores to burn the books and bloody the soil of, not only this land, but any nation outside of Europe that has visible aftermath of the ‘long gone’ white man's antics.

Earth has become a post-settlement colony in the harshest terms, and in the most delicate terms, a playground for anyone still around to enjoy the spoils. Think back to the 5 minutes of freshman year history (when we bothered to pay attention) when Britain was once regarded as “The Empire that never saw the sun set”, referencing the expansive reach of a singular nation; there was never a moment in that period of time where the sun was not shining on a British flag planted somewhere in the world.

This entitled territorialism thrusted the world into many revolutions that brought us into the modern day of medicine, scientific advancements, conflicting ideas, politically run civilian lives, racial and religious intolerance, and so many more new-fangled facets of human society.

But how can we ever have the comfort of smartphones AND deal with the taxing angst of people who exercise free speech?

Possibly, using the nigh infinite hub of information-like, but no where near limited to, the internet, historical records, old trade maps, local legends, and oral retellings-for the purpose teaching history properly may be a good start.

Statue of Christopher Columbus

Finally ousting Christopher Columbus as a terrible navigator and even worse human being by removing his credit as the “discoverer” of the America’s circa 2010- when it had been known since they arrived on land that it was already heavily populated with human life- was as good a place to start as any. But why would we stop with discrediting a man who has already cemented a legacy?

Files, contracts, and treaties dating back to 1776, the establishment of colonial independence from Britain, hold precedent over ethical/ humanitarian concerns. Despite America not yet having an official congress, all legally binding documents are still held to their absolute value to this day. However, issues like abortion and gun control seem to be the prominent examples of “loose interpretation” laws when all issues addressed in the Supreme Court center around the senseless loss of safety or life.

All while the Indian Removal Act (1830), The Dawes Commission land buyouts (1893), and the World War 2 Aleut relocation (1942) heavily disintegrate and decay the culture to this day. The grievances of those people and their next of kin have not been anywhere close to being met.

Land disputes have only highlighted two things; that reservations are still functioning for their intended purpose of side-lining natives in unsavory, inhumane conditions, and that most doctrines are still adamant on referring to the descendants of the indigenous nations as “Indian” despite India already being confirmed to not be on U.S. soil.

Renovation only seems to be important when all the dust is swept under the rug.

The U.S. government fails to reassess documents signed by Natives who were forced into tight corners, hunted, lied to, given impairing substances under false pretenses, and still pressured into more submissive positions after the fires had been put out.

Enough time has passed to consider these lives as human, and these acts heinous. Especially if we are to continue to solidify the legitimacy of the Indian Appropriations Act (1871) which no longer recognizes the whole of the indigenous population as a singular sovereign nation, which makes them unable to sign treaties.

But wait, wouldn’t that make void any documents signed, considering the signature would no longer speak for the whole of what was once a ‘nation’?

Well, if only for the purpose of considering them privatized citizens/ tribes to make them easier to subject.

We stand in the face of the disrespect of centuries of lies and attempted swindling, and also the lifestyle-impacting ramifications of the Indian Removal Act, which serves as its ignorant and inaccurate name suggests - ravaging lands that would serve as vast and vital stomping grounds providing earth grown sanctuary for the native people. Colonials destroyed crops and essential fauna such as buffalo and wild birds that provided pivotal links in the ecosystem’s food chain.

Many animal corpses were shot, skinned, and left to rot by colonial hunters, dishonoring the native methodology/ religious sanctity of using every part of the animal to respect its right as once living.

The conventional way we treat animals today to avoid being subject to animal cruelty violations, which may not ring as important for some, but in a country that is currently approaching a food shortage, I would like to take this moment to reflect on a familiar-to-some concept called the “domino effect".

Maybe trying to starve the people who you were taking land from by making sure the land was completely inhospitable wasn’t the best long-running plan for a settlement. If only terms like “livestock sustainability” and “soil rejuvenation” rolled off the tongue like “ample parking”.

We live in a melting pot of oppression and aggression that transcends every nationality. Dissatisfaction is indiscriminate, but the attacks to erase these cultures were anything but random. The deliberate falsification of records and history, the tasteless slaughter of flora and fauna, the constant relocation dating from the age of expansion all the way up to the second world war, and the attempt to scatter the culture after dwindling the population to controllable numbers is only a fraction of the egregious offenses committed against the Indigenous tribes of America and the land they once called home.

In my failure to retain my personal feeling from this passage, I would be remiss to say that I am a Black-Native who was raised in a mixed economy city. Having gone to public schools all my life, I have been failed by the school system time and time again to learn about either of my inherited cultures, apart from colonial involvement, and the same Dr. King speech they played every February. Every time I do independent research, I am almost brought to shame for not having done an in-depth analysis sooner. The richness of the religion, the beauty of the dances, the significance of the banquets, the sanctity of the community are all things that I have never seen in my thirteen years of being a fully enrolled B average student.

I expect no perfection.

I expect honesty.

I expect effort.

I expect representation.

I expect admiration.

I expect turmoil.

I expect community.

I expect civility.

I expect amendment.

And America,

Frankly, as a part of my God given right, I expect better.

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