Monday, April 23, 2012

the Plight of the Native Americans

The UN is to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans, led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples.

Many of the country's estimated 2.7 million Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas which are plagued with unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, and other social problems. Apart from social issues, US Native Americans are involved in near continuous disputes over sovereignty and land rights. Although they were given power over large areas, most of it in the west, their rights are repeatedly challenged by state governments. Most Americans have little contact with those living in the 500-plus tribal areas, except as tourists.

Anaya, a University of Arizona professor of human rights, is originally from New Mexico and is well versed in Native American issues.

1 comment:

Trevor Goodger-Hill said...

An excellent book on American history, as taught in their school system, includes fascinating information on the encounter and subjugation of North American aboriginals. It is available second hand. Title: "Lies My Teacher Taught Me". Author: James W. Loewen.

In comparing the way white occupiers described aboriginal society the author uses a equivalent method to describe how aboriginals could describe the invader society. Hence:

"These Native Americans [in the Sotheast] believed that nature was filled with spirits. Each form of life, such as plants and animals, had a spirit. Earth and air held spirits too. People were never alone. They shared their lives with the spirits of nature."

[The author points out that stated flatly like this,"the beliefs seem like make-believe, not the sophisticated theology of a higher civilisation. Let us try a similarly succinct summary of the beliefs of many Christians today."]

"These Americans believed that one great male god ruled the world. Sometimes they divided him into three parts, which they called father, son and holy ghost. They ate crackers and wine or grape juice, believing that they were eating the son's body and drinking his blood. If they believed strongly enough, they would live on forever after they died."

The book is a splendid documented description of the encounter of two civilisations.

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