On the riverside of Wichita, Kansas, a seemingly unremarkable city, looms a landmark known as the Keeper of the Plains. Although the Native built statue proudly stands over the downtown area of Wichita and is often surrounded by a ring of fire, people often forget what it stands for. In a previous post, I mentioned Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge and his impossible rescue by Shenandoah, an Oneida Chief. The Native American situation has been a dire one for centuries, kick-started when Europeans began to settle and conquer the land.
Even though the Dakota Pipeline and Bears Ears conflicts have been drawing attention towards the Native American front and sparking protests, I write to say that it’s not enough. Even though the nation is starting to accept those who have been previously oppressed in the dark historical scope of the United States, I write to say that it’s not enough. Even though the tenets of the Nation promise equality, fair treatment, justice, and liberty, I write to say that it’s not enough. But I also write to say that it can be.
The government has failed the Native Americans countless times, and instead of acknowledging their sins, they have brushed their shoulders of accountability and operated on the hope that people would forget the past. They weren’t entirely wrong to see ignorance as a viable option — many have forgotten the past and are apathetic to the present and future. This cycle of apathy and blissful ignorance needs to be broken.
I do not propose that we are responsible for the crimes of generations before us, nor do I propose that true history paints Native Americans as absolute victims. However, it was their land and their people that we usurped upon, reducing them to enemies, pawns, and impurities. Our past legislature cast a dark shadow upon their civilizations, granting monetary rewards for the scalps of their men, women, and children. Our past leaders committed systematic genocide by urging doctors to forcefully sterilize their women without their knowing consent, hoping to purge the nation of these alleged savages.
I propose two things: one, we acknowledge the past wrongs of our forefathers, and two, we take these failures and infractions, these misdeeds and twisted acts of self-righteousness and false supremacy, and use them to shape the present and future.
I will be posting regularly in a series known as the Shenandoah Papers. In each post, I will dissect a certain issue and provide insight into the unlit discord of the Native American situation with the hope of rekindling the same mindsets of kindness, love and passion that drove the founding of the nation.
Next post — Chapter 1: Systematic Genocide