July 4, 2021

Today the United States celebrates its Independence Day.

245 years ago, a group made up of mainly white men, that were lawyers, merchants, scientists, plantation owners, and farmers representing their newly formed states signed a declaration of independence from the British rule.  The document and the subsequent constitution were put in place to establish what is now known as the United States of America.

The only problem is the misconception and belief that they established this so called “civil” society free from tyranny.

Within that same document it states “He… has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions…”

This is what they thought of us.

Merciless, Indian savages.

Yet these merciless indigenous peoples were here long before the colonizers came for thousands of years. They had their own systems of government, own religious belief systems, and were bartering with the people from the European continent well before this “civilized” independent country was established.

It was greed and overpopulation of this newly formed nation that pushed their expansion throughout the land known by some indigenous nations as “Turtle Island”.

This was not the United States of America, it already had a name but that did not matter.

To these immigrants we were expendable and in the way.

The Indian wars came and went.

The forced removal of indigenous populations from their native lands, hunting grounds, and territories became known as the Trail of Tears.

We as a people were being forced to assimilate into a belief system and form of government that was not our own.  The United States government was just one of many that forced the removal of Indigenous children from their family, friends, homes, and communities. 

These forced removals were to “Kill the Indian in him and save the man.” As it was known then.

It started in 1860 and continued until 1996 when a majority of the federally run Residential and Indian boarding schools were finally closed.  

That was only 25 years ago.  

That is half my age.

I grew up hearing the stories of the “Boarding” schools. 

To say it was harsh does not convey what happened.

Children were beaten and others were starved for refusing to learn the Christian ways.  

They cut their hair. Took their language, culture, and customs. Some supposedly ran away and were never to be seen or heard from again.  Their families never knowing what happened to them.  

This happened. It is never talked about. Even family that I knew who went to these schools never talked about it much.

This past week a total of 1,505 bodies were found in unmarked graves at 7 residential school locations in Canada. 

1,505, children.  There will be more.

There were 130 residential schools built in Canada from 1831 to 1998.

There were 350 Indian Boarding Schools in United States from 1860 to 1996

Those children were 1,505 future mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers.  That is generations of families that never got to exist.

All for what?  The color of their skin, belief systems, and culture did not match so-called European norms at that time.

They were merciless, Indian savages.

Therefore, I do not celebrate Independence Day here in the United States.

Our independence was taken away from us long ago. We hold on to what we have due to treaties signed with the federal government and our recognized sovereignty. 

It is a constant battle challenged by corporations, communities, government agencies, capitalism, and the ignorance of people unwilling to recognize or even acknowledge the atrocities committed against the indigenous population.

We have been told many times to just get over it.

They want us to forget.

They want us to not exist.

They tried to rewrite our history in their books.

We are still here.

We will never forget.

The truth will always see the light.