LIAR PARADOX: American Genocide


Whatever Bush says is a lie? That MUST be a truth!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

American Genocide


I'm not claiming to be the only one who witnessed the death of the last Chickasaw Mississippians in their family. In fact, I do know that there are still full-blood links in my own family, because they would cross the Big River, of which we have been divided for so many years, to come to the funerals of my full-blood elders, it's just that they are in Oklahoma and Texas, and they are strangers to me. I can't tell you how overwhelmingly sad it is to witness what I have witnessed with the passing of my great-grandmom's generation over the past 20 years. It's all over now.

When it finally came time to talk to various Indian tribes, Jackson promised that no force would be used to compel them to consent to removal. The decision was theirs alone. He said he understood fully their feeling about leaving the land of their birth. He knew how painful it would be to bid goodbye forever to the graves of their ancestors. But survival necessitated this move. Annihilation was the alternative.

"Old men!" he called, addressing the ancient chiefs. "Arouse to energy and lead your children to a land of promise and of peace before the Great Spirit shall call you to die." Then turning to the younger warriors, the President renewed his plea. "Young chiefs! Forget the prejudices you feel for the soil of your birth, and go to a land where you can preserve your people as a nation." It was a powerful appeal. It deeply affected the Indians.

The "great father" closed with a warning, thinly disguised: "Reject the opportunity which is now offered to obtain comfortable homes, and the time may soon pass away when such advantages as are now within your reach may again be presented." If you reject this opportunity, "call not upon your great father hereafter to relieve you of your troubles. . . ." If you choose to stay be advised that you are subject to state laws and state regulations. In a few years, he further warned, "by becoming amalgamated with the whites, your national character will be lost ... you must disappear and be forgotten."

The Indians cried out their dismay when they heard these crushing words. The President paused to let his words sink in. After a moment he began again. This calamity can be avoided, he concluded. If you are willing to remove, say so and state your terms, and my friends Major Eaton and General Coffee, who are authorized to talk to you, will "act candidly, fairly and liberally towards you."

Thus spake the "great father." After hearing him out the Chickasaws withdrew to council among themselves. His words left them shaken and morose. They needed time to talk out their concerns and fears. They needed time for reflection. Four days later they returned with their answer. They met the President, Eaton, and Coffee at the Masonic Hall. The President seated himself in the center of a square formed by the chiefs. One of the chiefs, the secretary of the delegation, approached Eaton with a sheet of paper in his hand. The chief extended his free, right hand which Eaton took and shook. Then the Major was asked to read the paper to the President. He took the sheet, turned to his superior and began:

Franklin, August 27, 1830

To our great father the president. Your red children, the chiefs and head men of the Chickasaws, have had under consideration the talk of our father. ... On the decision we this day make and declare to you and the world, depends our fate as a nation and as a people.

Father, you say that you have traveled a long way to talk to your red children. We have listened-and your words have sunk deep into our hearts. As you are about to set out for Washington city-before we shake our father's hand, perhaps with many of us for the last time-we have requested this meeting to tell you, that after sleeping upon the talk you sent us, and the talk delivered to us by our brothers, major Eaton and General. Coffee, we are now ready to enter into any treaty based upon the principles communicated to us by major Eaton and General. Coffee. Your friends and brothers.

The "great father" smiled with satisfaction. He told the chiefs how much they had gladdened his heart and how good it was to have this "talk" with them. Many of the chiefs, he said, had known him a long time, a friendship that would never be interrupted. He would remember them always. He hoped -and as he spoke the next words his voice choked with emotion-the "Great Spirit above would take care of, bless, and preserve them." Jackson was so moved by the sight of these "gentle children" that he rose from his chair and bade them all an affectionate farewell. The Chickasaws were deeply touched by this unexpected and genuine show of emotion. Suddenly, one of the principal chiefs rushed forward and grasped the President with both hands. "God bless you, my great father," he exclaimed. Then, overcome by the intensity of his feeling, the chief turned away. The President and all the other chiefs stood perfectly still, too affected to say or do anything.

The emotional level of the scene reached an excruciating pitch. The father casting out his children. Each knew his role and what was happening. The Chickasaws loved their father as dutiful children, and yet he was saying goodbye to them forever. He was, said one reporter, "by them so much beloved," still he was telling them they must leave "the land of their youth, where the bones of their fathers reposed." They were all choked dumb by their feelings.

Jackson immediately submitted the treaty to Congress when it reconvened in December, 1830, but the actual removal of the Choctaw Nation violated every principle for which Jackson stood. From start to finish the operation was a fraud. Corruption, theft, mismanagement, inefficiency--all contributed to the destruction of a once-great people. The Choctaws asked to be guided to their new country by General George Gibson, a man they trusted and with whom they had scouted their new home. Even this was denied them. The bureaucracy dictated another choice. So they left the "land of their fathers" filled with fear and anxiety. To make matters worse the winter of 1831-1832 was "living hell." The elements conspired to add to their misery. The suffering was stupefying. Those who watched the horror never forgot it. Many wept. The Indians themselves showed not a single sign of their agony.

Jackson tried to prevent this calamity but he was too far away to exercise any real control, and the temptations and opportunities for graft and corruption were too great for some agents to resist. When he learned of the Choctaw experience and the suffering involved. Jackson was deeply offended. He did what he could to prevent its recurrence. He proposed a new set of guidelines for future removals. He hoped they would reform the system and erase mismanagement and the opportunity for theft.

The experience of removal is one of the horror stories of the modern era. Beginning with the Choctaws it decimated whole tribes. An entire race of people suffered. What it did to their lives, their culture, their language, their customs is a tragedy of truly staggering proportions. The irony is that removal was intended to prevent this calamity.

Would it have been worse had the Indians remained in the East? Jackson thought so. He said they would "disappear and be forgotten." One thing does seem certain: the Indians would have been forced to yield to state laws and white society. Indian Nations per sue would have been obliterated and possibly Indian civilization with them.

The removal of the Chickasaw and the Choctaw tribes was just the beginning. On March 24, 1832, the destruction of the Creek Nation was completed when the chiefs signed an agreement to remove rather than fight it out in the courts. The Seminoles accepted a provisional treaty on May 9, 1832, pending approval of the site for relocation. Thus, by the close of Jackson's first administration the Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Seminoles had capitulated.


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