Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Prejudice. Where does it come from?

I once did a paper at Haskell Jr. College about racism on or near Indian reservations. I came to the conclusion that is was a result in a large part by generational prejudice. Handed down from grandfather to father to son to grandson. Conversly on the Indians side it too is handed down with preconceived ideas about the white man, his motives and what he has done to our people, this perpetuates negative stereotypes from both perspectives.

I have seen records from the late 1800's that reflect time after time, misinformation, prevarications and outright lies when it came to the mineral resources, the land, its jurisdictional boundries or more importantly who owned it. The FBI and its first case was on Oklahoma Indian land investigating why so many Osage Indian children were being murdered or were missing. It was for their Osage headrights to the Indian allottments, they owned the land and there was oil under that land. Many Osage children where taken from their homes and placed in foster Boarding Homes which were run by a board of trustees who took guardianship over the Indian children, thus giving them legal right as stewards and legal guardians to handle the mineral resources. Many a white man's family today are quite wealthy because of incredulous acts of this nature. During the Indian wars even before that murders, and deceptions were all justified by whites for the killing of Indians and the swindling of their lands. In Minnesota there was the hanging of the 38 Santee Sioux Indians which is today the largest mass execution ever authorized by a President of the United States, Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota, Sand Creek and others, story after story of justified killings and out right murders, abductions and rapes.

My grandmother told of a time that her grandmother remembered along the banks of the Missouri river. The early French would entice the young Ponca girls to get into the small bull boats and take them back to the keel boat. The parents would be at the banks crying while their daughters were being defiled and raped. The same sort of thing happened when they were forced to relocate to Oklahoma from Nebraska, the women were seperated from the men and the young girls from the women. Being that the Indians were so conservative back then, these types of stories were seldom told to anyone outside the tribe. It was view as a shameful secret. Those sort of things were common all over Indian country and are still being told today, perpetuating the resentment and suspicion towards any whites coming onto the reservations and/or Indian communities.

With that concept in mind think of the white man today on or near an Indian reservation. If this sort of thing was true, of course the old grandpa would most likely say, in reference to the Indians, "They are liars and thieves and cannot be trusted, we bought this land far & square and we worked hard to get what we have." My dad said when he was young man right after the depressions, when he went to the Indian school and every year they would put red stuff in his hair to kill the lice and bugs. He said some people lived in tents year round and being outdoors all the time bugs would make there way into your hair. And in my generation there has been the obvious long term effects of the plague of alcohol and drugs. So, if a young white boy whose is ten years old today inquires about Indians because he is playing with one at school. His father could easily say, "They are drunks, liars and thieves, who are a violent, dirty & filty people that cannot be trusted nor should you play with them." Thus handing down that generational prejudice and keeping suspicion, resentment and fear alive for another generation.