Native American Reparations: Pro or Con?
The subject of paying some sort of reparations to Native Americans is a hot topic, and views range from the popular Fox News commentator Glen Beck who is very against reparations to the University of Colorado former Professor, Ward Churchill who is for reparations. President Obama himself has also put of his input on the topic with speeches both during the Presidential campaign and after his Inauguration. This paper seeks to present both sides of the argument and conclude with my own views of this issue. “It has been said that America will never be right until they right themselves with the American Indian. America must now seize this historic opportunity to deal honorably with the Native Peoples on the issue of Restitution, Reparations and Restoration of Lands that guarantees Indian people a future in America. “ Dennis J. Banks, Ojibwa Nation
Chairman of the Board
American Indian Movement
The Case “For” Reparations
In his book "A Little Matter of Genocide," (City Lights Books, 1997) Ward Churchill writes: "During the four centuries spanning the time between 1492, when Christopher Columbus first set foot on the "New World" of a Caribbean beach, and 1892, when the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that there were fewer than a quarter million indigenous people surviving within the country’s claimed boundaries, a hemispheric population estimated to have been as great as 125 million was reduced by something over 90 percent. The people had died in their millions by being hacked apart with axes and swords, burned alive and trampled under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed, scalped for bounty, hanged on meat hooks and thrown over the sides of ships at sea, worked to death as slave laborers, intentionally starved and frozen to death during a multitude of forced marches and internments, and, in an unknown number of instances, deliberately infected with epidemic diseases.” The stand for reparations for Native Americans rests on this very argument. A people who founded this nation long before its discovery by Europe, were essentially dismantled, dislocated, treated with less than civil rights, and considered beneath normal human beings…”savages” we called them. Should there not be some form of reparations paid to individuals who suffered that sort of end. What form should the reparations take? President Obama has offered his views:
"Few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans - our first Americans," President Obama said. "We know the history that we share. It's a history marked by violence and disease and deprivation. Treaties were violated. Promises were broken." The President went on to say that what we need to do now is: “figure out are we willing to make the investments to deal with that past history so we can move forward to a brighter future?” Reparation is compensation payable by a defeated nation for damages or loss caused during war. Since current Federally sees Indian tribes have the legal status of "defeated nations," and the Federal government has legal responsibility to protect and promote their welfare, there should be reparations. If one agrees that reparations for the Native Americans are in order, the question now becomes in what form those reparations should take. Should they be in the form of reparations for each Native American or something more all-encompassing, such as investments in each reservation to help them with infrastructure, job training, and education. To try give them the recourses that they need to be successful.
The argument “for” reparations means investing federal funds in a culture through providing equal opportunities, education and acceptance, much more than just a simple apology or some dollars and cents. Money can not make out for all the deaths and suffering that they endured over the past 400 years. It does not mean a simple check...