When people think about the word “slavery” in the United States of America, they automatically think about Africans who were brought to the Americas by Europeans, and then were enslaved, simply because in every school if/when they teach about U.S. History, they skim through the slavery-epoch and only mention African slaves, but never do you read and/or are told by teachers that indigenous people of the Americas were already being enslaved by Europeans before the first slave-ship filled with Africans arrived to the shores of the Americas. And just as African-descendants who would later be known as African-Americans were stripped from their identity, African languages & African cultures, the Natives of the Americas were too affected the exact same way.
The goal of Europeans was to confuse their slaves, and detach them from their root as far as possible until finally the slaves would not know who they are, which allowed the European slavers to then label and/or give their slaves a new identity, which resulted in the misplacement, ethnic cleansing, and acculturation of both Africans & Native Americans.
The aftermath of these episodes that lasted many centuries is today seen everywhere in the Americas; Natives & African-descendants accepting and/or labeling themselves after the terminologies given by their once slavers, conquerors, and colonizers.
A large percentage of Native Americans, more so the ones in Central & South America do not know they are indigenous Americans, but instead are confused, labeling themselves Latinos (Italians), and Hispanics (descendants of Spain).
By the 1800s, after most Natives of North America had surrendered to the U.S. Army, the U.S. Government/Army promised them their own “reservations”, which was truly to toss the surviving Natives in wasteland regions, where the Natives would be forced to become farmers. The agenda was meant to keep the Natives starving & barely surviving, but somehow the Natives survived, and out of wasteland, they created a living environment, which was not part of the U.S. Government’s plan. So when the Government saw that many of these regions that were considered to be wasteland, were now places where even White people could live, then a new plans emerged!
In the late 1800s, Abraham Lincoln had broken the promise of allowing Natives to have White people’s leftovers (AKA reservations) to themselves, and then he signed a new law titled the “Homestead Bill”, in the year 1862, which was to open up the reservations, and allow masses of White population to enter, and settle in the reservations, which resulted in pushing Natives to the side once again.
Lincoln could not see Natives as humans, and he believed that allowing Natives to live amongst Whites would “dirty” the Whiteman’s lifestyle, which is why the idea of “reservations” came about; to keep the Natives in an area where they would be controlled & policed by Whites, and also away from Whites. Lincoln justified the injustice and the murder of Natives by Whites, simply by claiming that Natives could no way be human.
Lincoln gave the order to the U.S. Army to hang any Native who refused to surrender to the army, which in one instance he signed/approved the largest mass execution in U.S. History, year 1862.
Many protect Abraham Lincoln’s image, naively and ignorantly believing he was a man who believed in equality, due to “setting the slaves free”. But fact is, he was very racist, and he actually idolized people like Henry Clay.
“During my whole political life, I have loved and revered Henry Clay as a teacher and leader.” Lincoln delivered the eulogy at the funeral for Clay.
Henry Clay once made this statement; “The Indians’ disappearance from the human family will be no great loss to the world. I do not think them, as a race, worth preserving.”
Who was Henry Clay? He was responsible for the “Trail of Tears”: in 1838, under Clay’s command, 20,000 Cherokees were dragged out of their homes, which were plundered & burned, and afterwards forced them all to walk barefoot for thousands of miles, causing thousands of them to freeze & starve to death.
Another one of Lincoln’s idol, was General William T. Sherman, who in 1862 wrote to his wife, "My goal is to exterminate, not of soldiers alone, that is the least of the trouble, but the people of the South.”
Shortly before dying, Sherman lamented to his son, “I was unable to kill all of them red sons-of-bitches.”
Lincoln even asked for the Pope of Rome’s advice, as to how to treat Natives. The Pope had this to say: "It is my purpose utterly to exterminate the Sioux if I have the power to do so! They are to be treated as maniacs and wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom treaties or compromise can be made.”
After European-settlers’ constant attempts to eradicate the indigenous Americans, (more so the leadership, elders, teachers, and only leave the women and children alive to become slaves & maids) the Europeans realized that Natives kept resisting, and still managed to practice their cultures and speak their Native languages.
See, the problem for Europeans was not the fact that Native Americans survived the holocaust (A genocide which wiped out over 100 million Natives in North America, and over 150 million in South America) that Europeans committed against the Natives, but the fact that the Native identity, culture, tongue & lifestyle had survived.
Europeans didn’t want to erase every Native from the land, no! They needed slaves, servants, maids, and eventually people to exploit, so they wanted plenty of Natives alive, otherwise if they truly wanted to erase all Natives, they would have!
So the problem wasn’t the fact that there were still millions of Natives alive by the 1800s, but the problem was simply the fact that Natives still managed to hold on to their culture, their tongues, their traditions, and identities. Europeans didn’t want the Natives to have a single trace of what their root was, and it angered them to see that although they had wiped out every single Native Elder, teacher, and even burned every trace of codex/book containing Native-guidelines, science, ceremony, astronomy, math, architecture, etc., Natives still managed to pass it down to their youth verbally, which then lead the Europeans to come up with a new plan to eradicate the Native-root. This plan is today known as (quoting Richard H. Pratt) “Kill the Indian, Save the man”, meaning, “Let’s kill the Native identity, and then after they no longer know who they are, then we will convert them into what we say they are, and they’ll have no choice but to accept it!”, the genocide of a culture.
In the year 1890, the 1st Indian Boarding School was finally built in the region of the Lakota people of South Dakota. The Schools were run/founded by Christian/Catholic Organizations and funded by the Federal Government.
In that region alone, as many as 30,000 Native children were forcefully snatched away from their Native mothers, often resulting in brutally murdering the Native parents in the attempts to take the children away from them.
The goal was to simply detach the Native children from their root, cut the boys’ long hair, forbid them from speaking the Lakota language, and only speak English, forcing them to forget their Native beliefs, and begin to adopt Catholicism/Christianity.
Many children refused to stop speaking the Lakota language and as punishment, many children were handcuffed, tossed in cold rooms where they would be molested, raped, tortured, and if they continued to speak their Native language, their tongues would be cut out, and often times the children who resisted were beaten to death, thousands of them, including the boys were tortured, mutilated, and raped to death. Many of the children who attempted to escape, but were captured, they were thrown in a room with no windows, and then left to freeze or/and starve to death.
Many of the Native children who resisted, they were tortured, and beaten by the nuns & priests in front of the other children, making examples out of them, to strike fear in the minds of the other children, resulting in many becoming obedient to the nuns & priests’ rules.
Native girls, as young as preschoolers were raped to death by the priests, and many of the boys were forced to perform oral sex on both nuns & priests. Many times the children were also forced to perform oral sex, and to penetrate each other.
Most deaths faced by young Natives was due to rape, torture, starvation, and some even froze to death in the winter. The conditions these children were placed under, was as if they were all meant to die.
By the end of the “Indian Boarding School” epoch, over 100,000 Natives were already assimilated (no longer speaking their Native language, but only English) due to the Indian Boarding School program, in South Dakota alone.
The misconception of the “Indian Boarding School” is that if/when taught, it is said that these programs were only pushed in North America, specifically parts of Canada, and South Dakota, but the truth is that these School programs were pushed in every region of the Americas, from Canada, to United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Chile, Honduras, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Argentina, and every other part of the Americas, and every one of these programs attempted the same exact agenda against the indigenous people of the regions: “Kill the Indian, Save the man”; detach the Natives from their cultures, original identities, languages, and then leave them confused, lost, and permanently without a sense of root, because a tree without a root is a dead tree!
The result of these episodes of forced assimilation still affects the indigenous people today, and not just in being detached & confused about who they are, but the psychological traumas of being raped & tortured still haunts them, and has lead many to become depressed drug addicts, and alcoholics, and often times committing suicide.
In every single region/country of the Americas, the high percentage of Native population do not know they are Natives, due to not speaking their Natives tongues, and also due to being assimilated, which obviously was a result of their parents or grandparents facing the “Indian Boarding School” epoch.
There are Natives today who do have a sense of identity, all thanks to their parents/grandparents who held on tight to their identity, culture, and language, despite the fact that nuns & priests tried to beat it out of them. But unfortunately a very large percentage of Native people do not speak their Native tongue, neither have a sense of identity, nor culture, due to their parents/grandparents not being able to hold to it, while nuns & priests beat it out of them.
How does this affect the Native people of the Americas, and how is this piece of history relevant today? Due to the traumas of being tortured, molested & beaten, those who survived these episodes eventually had a family of their own, and unfortunately unleashed all of the anger, frustration unto their own children, and even mistreated their own children in the same ways that nuns & priests mistreated them while in Indian Boarding Schools. Many children who were raised by parents/grandparents who survived “Indian Boarding Schools” also experienced similar mistreatment in their own household, which lead the children to grow up self-destructive, turning to drugs & alcohol, being hopeless, and ending up in prison, and also having children of their own, and the cycle repeats. The psychological traumas never ended, and the horrors faced in Indian Boarding Schools are now horrors faced by the youth today, passed down by their own parents.
Aside from these horrors, the way it affects Natives today is in the form of misplacement. Many Natives today claim the identities that belong to Europeans, such as Latinos & Hispanics. And even if you tell Natives that they aren’t European-descendnats, but rather indigenous Americans, they will refuse to accept and/or acquire their true root, simply because part of the “Kill the Indian, save the man” agenda was to teach the Natives that they are “inferior”, meanwhile the Europeans “superior", which results in Natives being ashamed to have descended from such “ugly" & “primitive” people, and instead take-on the identities that belong to the “beautiful” & “superior" Europeans. Even in households of assimilated Natives, you’ll heard them say to each other in Spanish, “Indio ignorante, feo mugroso!”.
Even after 1970s, in public U.S. schools, White teachers had the “right” to beat & punish the students if they didn’t speak English.
Internalized racism, self-hatred, and assimilation is the outcome of these episodes of being taught to hate yourself, hate your reflection, and also having your root beaten out of you century after century. And also having the same people who hate you to also be the ones who teach you about your worth, value & your place in society.- credit to Ricardo Ignacio
Since I’m fully aware that people will leave me messages like, “Get over it!”, “Stop living in the past!”, well, it’s NOT about living in the past, but about getting to the root of where today’s internalized racism & self-hatred is found. There is NO WAY that a problem can ever be solved if you do NOT know where the root of this problem is.
In order for a people to begin to “get over it”, is simply by starting over AFTER the episodes of what they’re supposed to “get over” are actually over, but colonialism isn’t over, so we’re actually still trying to solve the problem, so that AFTERWARDS we can start over, or as you love to chant: “GET OVER IT”.