"When they laid down their arms, we murdered them, we lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fradulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did.
For them, We do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreement, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues."
The text above is an excerpt from the Unfinished Oscar Speech Marlon Brando asked Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American Actress to read at the 1973 Academy Awards. Unfortunately, Mr Brando's indictment of shame and outrage was lost on most Americans, especially by those who were in a position to do something about it.
12 years after that Oscar Ceremony, on a road tour through Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico I was struck by this thought: "God! They put Indians on land nobody else wanted!" 14 years after that, on another road tour through New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, I was overwhelmed by the sight of barren, hostile, and what was unmistakenly corporate raped and plundered land that was on or near "Indian Reservations", I was haunted by the thought: "God! Nothing could grow out here!"
In 2013, looking at photos taken by Robert Johnson at the Wyoming Wind River Indian Reservation, I was again reminded of the brutal abject desolation and pollution of the the lives of men, women, children, and land of the people this hypocritical nation call Indians.
Indian Reservations are pockets of landscapes across America that kill dreams and breed alcoholism, poverty, and hopelessness. The existence of profitable casinos on some reservations notwithstanding, what the United States Of America has done to its American Indians is an assault against every principle of America as the land of freedom, opportunity, and equality.
America has a well documented history of injustice and inequality. It is fill with the lynching of Black African American men and American Indian men often on false accusations and sometimes at church socials and picnics. It is a history marked by slavery, rape, and molestation of Black American Women and American Indian Women as well as the rape and molestation of Black African American Children and American Indian Children.
Perhaps American really isn't the land of equal opportunity. Perhaps it never was intended to be--at least not for everyone--not even for those Americans who thought and think they are included under the equal opportunity rule because they are white.
To be sure, things have changed. And the equality banner flies a lot higher and a lot less hypocritical than it ever did since that shameful time when Native Americans were called dirty Indians, murdered, lied to, cheated out of their lands, and starved into signing fradulent agreements called treaties that were never kept.
Nevertheless, an America that really believes in democracy and an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness cannot possibly be content with seeing a people forced to live on reservations--lands that has been raped and plundered of all its natural resource--and relegated to an existence that kills dreams before they are imagined and breeds alcoholism, poverty, and hopelessness.