Reparations for past deeds?
edited: Saturday, February 05, 2005
By Jake George
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, February 05, 2005
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Article on Black American's struggle for slave payment
Reparations for past deeds?
I have read with interest the discussion on reparations for the ancestors of African slaves. I am well aware of the lure of reparations to a person. You see I am Native American. We have been fighting for "payment" if you will from the Government for hundreds of years. We have learned to wait
Reparations is a good idea if it is done within one generation of the misdeed. Or if you have a good legal claim (as the Native Americans with treaties ratified by congress) Once you get past one generation it all becomes a muddled mess. How do you pay those who did not directly suffer? Unfair question I know because most people will not even begin to understand that statement. The children of repressed people for generations to follow carry a stigma. You do not see it by looking at them. It is like a stain on their soul. Others with the same stain recognize it almost immediately.
Trouble is as generations go by and the USA brings in more immigrants into our great melting pot we bring in more of those who were oppressed. It happened to the Native Americans, the African Slaves, the Chinese coolies, the Jews, the, the, the… They all came here for a better life. To leave a country that was not treating their people well, where they were being killed or cheated out of their lands and ways of life. They were being starved, killed, beaten. Told they could not believe in their God, or their way of life. Sounds very familiar doesn’t it.
I wake up ever day thankful that I am alive. I take each day to try to teach those who do not know about Native Americans. I try to show them by example. I am a good citizen. I pay my taxes, I work and I talk to people. Every day I am alive my people have won a victory. We have not been silenced. Our religions have not been stopped. Peoples of other nations have done the same thing. They come to America (some were willing some were not) and they learn to fit in. Many also keep their older cultures alive. Bravo to them.
It becomes hard to ask for reparations from the new generations of Americans. You see they too, fled much of the same things that people are asking for money for now. They think why should I pay for something that happened hundreds of years ago, when my people have had that happen this generation? The other problem is ethnic purity (for lack of a better word). We as a people have interbred now for generations. I am not pure Native American. But I consider myself such. Just as people consider themselves black, Jewish, Italian etc.. DNA wise there are many blacks that have more white DNA than I. But yet they call themselves black. As they have every right to do so same as me to claim Native American.
You see, we are still a people. We still contribute. We still provide for our families. We still follow our family’s history. NO ONE can take that away for you. We have valid treaties with the US Government. They have not been honored. To ask for something that happened to your people hundreds of years ago with no legal backing is probably not a good case.
I hope and pray that people around the world look at what was done for them. Yes people were enslaved. But other people tried their best to stop it (and succeeded). Millions died in this country to free the slaves (not just African but also Chinese). That was not payment in money. That was payment in lives. They died for you and your future freedom. The world stepped up to stop the mass killings in Germany and Asia. Millions died there too to free an oppressed people. You cannot put a dollar figure on a lost life, slave or protector. No one died to save the Native Americans. Yet we still survive.