In the declaration of Independence of the United States we can read: … “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
The authors, who surely had the best intentions, forgot at that time, that in fact there was already an American society existing on the continent, which had these rights a long time before. Democratic structures and a working judicial system were well known by the so named civilized tribes of the Native Americans, long before white settlers moved among the plains motivated by the greed for land and the rage for devastation. The American Natives found their selves in the position to defend these values against those people who are today revered as the fathers of American democracy. The originators forgot to include those, whose land they took.
The consequences are still burdening the relationship between the white American society and the Native Americans. This is going to become more and more difficult because the group of those white Americans who refuse the responsibility on the failures of their ancestors is increasing. I suppose for to find a solution in this conflict a new dialogue will be necessary as soon as possible and a lot of good will from both sides.
Let us have a look at the “other side”. How are the chances for such a dialogue if we suppose that Mr. Sellers’ opinions are representative for the Native society?
“Displaying respect: don’t lie, cheat, stab people in the back.” I agree with Mr. Sellers, from deep in my heart. It’s exactly what I learned from my parents and my grandparents and it may surprise him to hear that I’m white. I am European. We look back to a long and great history which wasn’t always prosperous and not always honourable. But one it has been very surely: instructive! To keep democracy as my highest good and that the dignity of a person is untouchable are the two facts I learned from my family from my first breath. And I believe there are a lot people feeling the same all around the world.
“The only good Indian is a dead one.” As a historian Mr. Sellers knows that this misanthropically sentence was used in numerous conflicts in history: “The only good communist…”, “The only good Jude…”, “The only good Russian…”, “The only good German…” and so on. What we (all of us) should learn from it is that words can hurt and destroy us more than every weapon could and we keep them much longer in our memory. But in the inversion it also means that a good willing person who chooses his words with circumspection can reach much more than a whole army.
“Indians had to change their ways or assimilate the rules and lifestyle of the white conquerors and settlers or die.” This is nothing than a declaration of an inveterate racist. Since 1776 we learned a lot and today we know that every culture that perishes makes us a little more poor. We have to protect and to support every single of them. The threat today possibly comes from inside the Indian society. They welcome with open hearts everyone who is disappointed at the American society and declares to be 1/8 or 3/16 Indian and to feel it deep inside. Those people join the Indian way of live like others join a sect and they are not helpful. On the other side good willing people with open minds are refused just because they are white and prefer Aspirin instead of natural medicine.
The ancestors of my father came from the part of Europe which is France today those of my mother have been Mongolian (Russia) in former times. I promise: As deep as I search inside me, I don’t feel them. I just find my inner voice that tells me what’s right and what’s wrong. And the decision to do what’s right I have to make myself.
“There’s no room for honour and dignity in this society.” In assumption that the whole white society all over the world is meant it sometimes seems to be so. But there is hope. In politic and society, at the universities and in the big enterprises we find more and more people demanding for new ethics. It will take a little time and this movement needs the support of every group and a little advance of trust of the society. Things will change.
Working with the Osage people in Oklahoma… As much as I know about the Osage people, they are the best example for the theory that the Indian way of live has a place in the American society. They always had a high developed culture and are famous because of their early military social order. When oil was found in the reservation they had for a short time the highest income standard of the world and I heard that every member of the Osage tribe has still income from oil contracts.
“Boarding school method” I don’t know so much about American boarder schools but my parents gave me to one in the early 70s because they wanted the best education for me. They gave me to a foreign border school together with young people from more than twenty different nations. There was never racism, fear, lying and manipulation and though it was a catholic school we were free to find our own religion. What I think and what I am today I am because of the international and multicultural exchange during my youth.
“He called an ‘honest white guy’ an oxymoron.” Let me answer with the words of an honest red man: “I heard what you said about me but I don’t take offence at it. You felt so in your heart and you are free to say and to think what ever you want. But take my hand because even if I say it’s not the truth, something made you thinking in this way. And that makes me to observe myself better.” (Bear Heart, The wind is my mother)
Coming back to the introducing question about the chances of a new dialogue I resume that the dialogue between social groups, nations, races and religions is today as necessary as it never was before. In face of the globalization the western world needs consistency and every internal social separation as well as every economically motivated aggression abroad would weaken all of us. The greatest and the only victory we can reach in every conflict is a compromise which is accepted by all sides.
To Mr. Sellers: Your hurtful words made me sad. But deep in my heart I believe that you are one of us, one of those people who want the world to be a little better when the leave it and work hard for it. All I’m asking for is to think over your point of view. May be there will be a little reconciliation. Actually I must say: “We could have been friends in mind but – what a pity – I am white.”
I won’t close these lines without asking everybody for patience with my faulty English; it’s not my native language. Forgive me if you find that I was talking about things that are not my business and if I perhaps did not find the right words. If there is any doubt in what I wanted to say may be the following words by a man I really revere can say it better:
Let us forgive the worst among us
because the worst is in ourselves,
the worst lives in each of us,
along with the best.
Let us forgive the worst
in each of us
and all of us
so that the best
in each of us
and all of us
may be free.
(Leonard Peltier, My Life is my sun dance, Page 214)
Sleep still Turtle Island – everything will be good!
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