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New World Holocaust

July 4, 2020

Holocaust – from the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”. Most are familiar with the Holocaust of of the Nazi regime from 1941 to 1945 when six million Jews met their deaths. It is a tragedy almost beyond belief that still scars the world and its diverse cultures.

Lets turn our attention to another holocaust: The extermination of the Native American people along with their language and culture. From the time that the first explorers and colonists set foot on the American continent to the end of the 19th century, conservatively 50 million Native Americans were systematically slaughtered as Europe arrived in droves. Many put the number at 100 million. The colonization of the American continent resulted in at least eight times more deaths than the Nazi’s heinous crimes. But unlike the Holocaust of World War II, there were no war crime trials and in fact very little empathy from a newly formed American government and public.

History books tend to skip over the brutal details. Instead, they almost always focus on the “good guys” like George Armstrong Custer. There have been many good books that have spoken strongly to this subject including, “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”, “The Trail Of Tears” and even oddly, “The Last Of The Mohicans.” A reading of any of these is bound to leave you feeling uneasy and perhaps even a little angry. Aside from these narratives, there are a handful of Native Americans that earnestly try to keep their cultures alive. But in today’s world of cell phone mania, their small voices are often lost.

What has been lost has been chiefly lost forever. Yes, we have some written histories, a few names and the recollections by some of the very people who did the butchery. And yes, there were a few people like Lewis and Clark who tried to help preserve the cultures that are now in shambles. Even this author took a college course in the Lakota language and is still conversant in that tongue. However, what is left of the great horse culture of the American plains is left to the imagination. The only Native Americans you are most likely to meet today are selling blankets on reservations or selling you drinks at a casino. Adding insult to injury, almost all treaties that were forged between the American government and the indigenous people of the continent were broken by the Americans within months of their signing. The once proud and accomplished culture of various Native Americans was reduced to cigar selling “wooden Indians” and a brief portrait on the nickle from 1913 to 1938. Reservations? That would be an entire subject onto its own. Suffice it to say, reservations probably served as models for modern jails and Nazi work camps.

I am an American and I am proud to be one. Yet, I feel my government and many of its people have been way less than honest in dealing with our inexcusable history of genocide throughout many decades. čhaŋtéšilyA is the only Lakota word that comes to my mind. These are my thoughts; do you have some to share on this subject?

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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15 Comments
  1. Well stated, Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bravo Allen. I recently wrote about Andrew Jackson and the removal of the Cherokee.

    https://toritto.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/on-empathy-and-andrew-jackson/

    Best from Florida

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My thoughts as well ….the world we live in…the past and present.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post – agreed. A huge loss…

    Like

  5. This is definitely something a lot of people need to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Allen,
    I live within the bounds of the Southern Ute Reservation and not far fro the Navajo and Pueblo lands. Though I speak none of their languages, I am well aware of the consequences of conquest. A vivid look at the path of degradation can be found in William Least Heat-Moon’s book Prairy Erth in the chapter titled “Toward a Kaw Hornbrook.” It’s a real eye-opener.

    Liked by 1 person

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