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Category Archives: environmental
New drive to privatize Indian reservations has much in common with past efforts to steal Native land
While its advocates say protections would be built in, previous efforts—the allotment system begun near the end of the Indian wars, and the termination of reservations and tribes from 1953 to 1964—show how such promises supposedly designed to help Indians were a snare and delusion quickly taken advantage of by non-Indians eager to grab Native land and devour its resources. This outcome was not an unintended byproduct of well-meaning reformers. It was the inevitable consequence of laws that Indians were not asked their opinions of in advance.
The 21st-century privatization scheme makes it imperative to revisit past such efforts.
In fact, 2017 marks the 130th anniversary of President Grover Cleveland’s signing of the Dawes Act. That single piece of legislation had a more devastating impact on Native Americans than anything other than the century-long Indian wars themselves. And it was initiated by people who claimed, and some who actually believed, that they had Indians’ best interests at heart.
It was all part of forced assimilation, a profoundly racist policy dedicated to “killing the Indian to save the man” in the notorious terminology of Captain Richard Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. The school was designed along prison lines. There, and at dozens of militaristic boarding schools across the nation, Indian children—many forcibly taken from their parents—had their names changed, their hair cut, their languages forbidden, their culture and customs denigrated, and their tribal ties destroyed, only to be sneered at by the dominant society when they actually tried to adopt white ways once they left the schools.
There is a name for this: cultural genocide. This isn’t just ancient history. Modern American Indians, whether they live on reservations, on private agricultural land, or in urban centers, still suffer from the consequences of these policies.
Before the Dawes Act and follow-up acts were effectively repealed after 47 years by the Indian Reorganization Act, 90 million acres had been wrenched from communally-owned Indian lands held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, leaving just one-third of what the tribes had held in 1886, the year Geronimo (Goyaałé), the Chiricahua Apache, surrendered and was shipped off to prison.
Named after Sen. Henry L. Dawes, who headed the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at the time, the law was the culmination of practices toward Indians that had begun within a decade of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth in 1620. Boiled down to their essence, those policies said to Indians: Get out of our way, or else. However, getting out of the way often wasn’t enough to prevent the “or else.”
The intent was assimilation. Killing the Indian and saving the man meant turning Indians into farmers of acreage they held individually, altering gender roles, shattering kinship connections, breaking up communal land and tribal government, and, ultimately, wiping out reservations altogether. Officials thought this would be better for everyone as Indians adopted norms of the dominant culture. It would certainly prove valuable for transferring prime real estate out of Native hands.
The allotted land was meant to be held in federal trust for 25 years, after which ownership and citizenship would go to Indians still working their allotment. To take full possession of any land, a woman had to be officially married. All inherited land passed through the male head of household. This broke the custom of the many tribes with matrilineal heritages.
The “surplus” land, that is, what was left after allotments, was flung open to white settlement and ownership. This was the provision’s most likable quality for congressmen and businessmen who would just have soon have slaughtered or starved every Indian still alive. Half the Great Sioux Reservation was sold to outsiders after Native allotments were distributed.
The dispossession was wildly successful. Partly as a consequence of the act, by 1900 the American Indian population had fallen to its lowest point in U.S. history, about 237,000.
The allotment period was ended under President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934. But within a few years, a new effort was begun to create additional “surplus” land for non-Indian settlement: Termination.
Starting in 1940, moves were made by several states to take over jurisdiction of the reservations within their boundaries, and in 1953, the federal government enacted a law that immediately terminated the Flathead, Klamath, Menominee, Potawatomi, and Turtle Mountain Chippewa, as well as all tribes in the states of California, New York, Florida, and Texas. In the process, 109 tribes were terminated, and 1.4 million acres of Indian land were added to the 90 million acres taken under Dawes and other allotment acts.
In 1968, however, President Johnson proposed ending the termination acts, a move formally declared by President Nixon and followed until 1988 when Congress rescinded the House resolution that had begun federal termination. Eventually, the majority of the terminated tribes were restored, along with some of their land. But 11 tribes continue to fight for restoration of tribal sovereignty and their land.
Resistance to the new potential for another brand of termination has yet to gather steam, but if the Trump regime decides to move ahead with the privatization scheme, that resistance will rise. And this time around, thanks to organizations that didn’t exist in the past like the Native American Rights Fund, the American Indian Movement, Idle No More, as well as young tribal leaders and Native attorneys and their non-Indian allies in and out of Congress, advocates of this latest rip-off shouldn’t expect an easy path to their goals.
Emphasis added. The world is watching. #Native #America #theresistance
“Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey cafe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”
The Universe normally does an overview of ‘space news’ each month. But after the events of last week, we thought it would be a good idea to re-cap!
This is a selection of breaking news stories, all covered by The Universe, from February 11-17, 2013.
Meteor explodes over Russia – Image: AP (Nasha Gazeta Newspaper http://www.ng.kz/AP)
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=475602839171560&set=a.433415610056950.106382.334816523250193&type=1&theater
2012 DA14 Flyby – Image: Dave Herald, Murrumbateman, Australia
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=475124325886078&set=a.433415610056950.106382.334816523250193&type=1&relevant_count=1
Landsat Data Continuity Mission Launch –
Image: United Launch Alliance
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=473579899373854&set=a.371203752944803.89148.334816523250193&type=1&relevant_count=1
Hubble Images Interacting Galaxies:
Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA
More Information: http://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=476314879100356&set=a.455520841179760.110988.334816523250193&type=1&relevant_count=1
Image: Peter Ward, Barden Ridge Observatory
IT’S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to.
This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.
The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.
The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.
In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons.
And though critics of this path can be predictably counted on to say it’s moving backward, the increased yields, markedly decreased input of chemicals, reduced energy costs and stable profits tell another story, one of serious progress.