International Sorry Day – Alaskan Children

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May 26th is National Sorry Day in Australia. As I’ve stated before, the forcible removal of children from their families in an effort to destroy languages, cultures and religions is a human rights violation that has occurred world wide. In honor of International Sorry Day (an unofficial holiday), I am posting this quote is from a book about an Inuit child who suffered this violation. Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867 and the last residential school closed in 1996, so the residential schools program is a history shared by Canada and the United States.

Quote:

“Olemaun,” he whispered. I had not heard my Inuit name in so long I thought it might shatter like an eggshell with the weight of my father’s voice. At the school I was known only by my Christian name, Margaret. I buried my head in my father’s smoky parka, turning it wet with tears. I felt a touch much gentler than my father’s strong grasp as my mother’s arms joined his. Together they sheltered me in that safe place between them.

Not My Girl, written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

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James Madison and Benevolent Assimilation

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November is Native American Heritage month. The following is one of a series of historic Presidential quotes on Native American rights and the political relations between the United States government and the first nations of this continent.

Fair warning: Most of these statements are not nice and, at times, can be difficult to read. They also make excellent starting points for a research paper.

The following is the list of objectives James Madison gives for his time in office – note the contrast.

JAMES MADISON FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1809

Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality. If there be candor in the world, the truth of these assertions will not be questioned; posterity at least will do justice to them.”

To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality toward belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences…”

“…to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look down upon them in others…”

“…debts; to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics—that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe…”

“…to carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state….”

United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches by United States. Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson and Forced Assimilation

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November is Native American Heritage month. The following is one of a series of historic Presidential quotes on Native American rights and the political relations between the United States government and the first nations of this continent.

Fair warning: Most of these statements are not nice and, at times, can be difficult to read. (They also make excellent starting points for a research paper.)

THOMAS JEFFERSON SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS IN WASHINGTON D.C., MONDAY, MARCH 4, 1805

The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have regarded with the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with the faculties and the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left them no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing population from other regions directed itself on these shores; without power to divert or habits to contend against it, they have been overwhelmed by the current or driven before it; now reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter’s state, humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts; to encourage them to that industry which alone can enable them to maintain their place in existence and to prepare them in time for that state of society which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind and morals. We have therefore liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry and household use; we have placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity, and they are covered with the aegis of the law against aggressors from among ourselves.”

But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with the change of circumstances have powerful obstacles to encounter; they are combated by the habits of their bodies, prejudices of their minds, ignorance, pride, and the influence of interested and crafty individuals among them who feel themselves something in the present order of things and fear to become nothing in any other. These persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel in their physical, moral, or political condition is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being safety and knowledge full of danger; in short, my friends, among them also is seen the action and counteraction of good sense and of bigotry; they too have their antiphilosophists who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of improving our reason and obeying its mandates.

United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches by United States. Presidents.

John Adams Encourages Equity

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November is Native American Heritage month. This post is the first in a series of historic Presidential quotes on Native American rights and the political relations between the United States government and the first nations of this continent.

Fair warning: Most of these statements are not nice and, at times, can be difficult to read. (They also make excellent starting points for a research paper.)

The following quote is the first mention of Native peoples within the context of a presidential inaugural speech. It is also part of a very long list of objectives for the upcoming years in office, so I have included a few additional examples from that list, for purposes of context and comparison.

JOHN ADAMS INAUGURAL ADDRESS IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1797

“…if a love of equal laws, of justice, and humanity in the interior administration; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufacturers for necessity, convenience, and defense;…”

“…if a spirit of equity and humanity toward the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them;…”

“…if a resolution to do justice as far as may depend upon me, at all times and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world; …”

“…can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.

United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches by United States. Presidents.