Long before Adolph Hitler committed the atrocity and the Jewish during the holocaust, the European settlers, British garrisons and later the United States Army had drastically reduced the numbers of Native American by committing the same actions. Was genocide committed against the Native Americans? Many may argue the decline of the Native American population was caused by new diseases being introduced by the Europeans to which the native tribes had no immunity. Others argue forcing the Native Americans from their homes was a necessity for the development of this new land. However, the thousands of Native Americans killed during the Indian Removal Act can be compared to the thousands of Jewish people killed during the holocaust. In order to determine if the Native Americans were victims of genocide, we must first understand what the definition of genocide is. According to the Genocide Convention, any of the following actions, when committed with the intent to eliminate a particular national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, constitutes genocide: (1) killing members of the group, (2) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, (3) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to kill, (4) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and (5) forcibly transferring children out of a group. (Encarta 2009) In addition, there are four categories of genocide. Ideological genocide is used in effort to create a society which members hold the same beliefs or are alike much like the Jewish Holocaust. Next is Retributive genocide used to eliminate the risk of a potential threat. The 1994 Rwanda riot demonstrates this type of genocide. The Hutu group wanted to maintain control of the Rwanda government by destroying the Tutsi rebels. Developmental genocide is one used against people in the area for economic gain. In the late 1960s Paraguay government forced the relocation and execution of the native Indian population to expand cattle ranching and logging enterprises. The fourth category is Despotic genocide intended to spreads terror among potential or real enemies. Ugandan President Idi Amin ordered the deaths to groups who opposed his tyrannical rule during the 1970s. (Encarta, 2009). While the Jewish Holocaust falls under the Ideology category and the Native American loss was developmental, there are many parallels between these two events. The first comparison is the large loss of life both of these groups suffered. Nearly six million Jews out of a total population of 10 million were lost according to a senior SS official Adolf Eichmann. (Holocaust, 2009). The Native Americans were estimated to be about 18 million with a loss of 12 million. (Lewy, 2004) With percentages of a 60% loss in the holocaust and a 75% loss of the Native Americans, loss of life for both groups are close in resemblance as well as astounding. As shown on the chart below, these comparisons alone exemplify acts of genocide.
The similarities continue with the ghettos and concentration camps that were created to separate the Jews from the rest of Germany and the enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Jewish suffered many hardships in the ghettos and the concentration camps. Thousands were forced to march many miles under poor conditions. There were many camps and many marches with the largest, most notable one being Auschwitz. The Native Americans were considered to be hindering progress and in the way of the colonist’s expansion therefore, with the Indian Removal Act; President Andrew Jackson had the authority to remove the Indians to unsettled land in the west on reservations. As many as 15,000 Cherokee were forced from their homes in Mississippi. During this journey to present day Oklahoma, known as the Trail of Tears, over 4000 Cherokee people lost their lives. The four remaining Indian nations consisting of the Seminoles, the Choctaw, the Creeks and the Chickasaws, soon...
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