“Our people were forcefully removed from their homes and families, placed into the boarding school system, and stripped of their identity as Navajo people to assimilate them,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “https://wisconsinexaminer.com/2021/07/12/a-federal-investigation-seeks-to-uncover-the-painful-history-of-native-american-boarding-schools/
The looting and orgy of violence in South Africa goes on unabated and it is like South Africa is in the vice grip of a suicide madness. We are, for the first time, facing food security issues and wanton crime that has left us economically naked because businesses have been destroyed and burnt to the ground. The ashes lay as unmarked graves of a thriving economy that once was. My mind rushed back and forth between tragedies of the people across the world and it stuck with the native American because of their suffering at the hands of the white American as we know them today.
I could not fathom why this connection became so stark and real when the land I am living in is burning and on the knife’s edge of tyranny. Perhaps it was that the Apartheid system that linked with the American oppressive psychosis and made it their cry to be, ‘Kill the black, save the man.’ These strange connections were ringing in my head when these real pictures of the native American surfaced and today, are the shame of the American dream just like how the disgraceful pictures of American soldiers in Iraq’s Abu Ghuraib Prison. In all of this I wonder how ordinary people can become so evil.
“The evil that men do lives after them;― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
The good is oft interred with their bones.”
So here I am in South Africa witnessing the ‘crime and punishment’ we are experiencing and after four days of violence and an orgy of looting I am perplexed at the behaviour of people. It is the third day that I am sitting down and writing this article and the more I ponder of the condition of the Native American because I was in awe of them from the age of eight. Back then, there were these ‘sticker mini encyclopaedia books’ that you purchased from the shops. Stickers for the particular ‘encyclopaedia’ sold for One ZAR, if my memory serves me correct. I saved up my allowance and bought two sets of stickers every week. The one was for the history of the Red Indian and the there was on Mammal’s world. The RED INDIAN ‘encyclopaedia’ was hugely popular and we had these groups that shared, exchanged and battered stickers. In a few months my RED INDIAN ‘encyclopaedia’ was full. I vividly recall some of the stickers. The most fascinating was the bravery and captivating lives they had and how they were brutalised. South Africa in the early eighties was in the height of Apartheid and back then already, I sensed then already that there is something evil in the oppression of people. Back then for me, apartheid was the only word I knew to mean and concretely symbolise oppression.
These are the looters at Protea Glen shopping area this week. I wonder where this behaviour comes from. Kill greed, save the man!
I am sure that you are living my thinking and stream of consciousness because the aftermath of evil leaves huge traces on where man went wrong. The wrong lay awake like a rattle snake in a sleeping bag, ready to strike on the first surprise jolt. The surprise jolt of finding the graves in Canada and now the resurgence of the Native Indian dehumanisation is USA boarding schools made me sit with mixed emotions of despair, hope, sadness, anger, love, worry and care. I sat for 24 minutes and soaked this in with deep reflective intent and the outcome, produced this article. The article in every way began to address my heart, my conscience and it gave me that genuine feeling of goodness to every member of the first nations of the Americas. The feeling for me was like touching each of those stickers that had the name and brief character sketch of the first nations’ finest warriors and telling them, ‘Today, I spoke on your behalf and the totem poles will now have your legacy rise again.’ Here was my 24 minutes that was enmeshed with the mayhem in South Africa and I knew it all started with the greed of man.
The greed of man is like Cenogensis. Cenogensis is the introduction during embryonic development of characters or structure not present in earlier evolutionary history. I used the word here only because it illustrates that greed is introduced into man and within context of mankind’s social evolution, greed is intently fed or, it is subdued as an evil trait. The fact that it is interred in the bones, it means we will never get rid of it but, do have the power to kill it. Even the acolyte has to subdue his lust for power and greed for fame even if he feels his superior is lacking. The First Nations were never greedy or had an evil lust for power even though their various tribes fought each other. What you would find in the revisionist history of the First Nations is that they lived in harmony with nature and all the people they knew that inhabited earth. Not until the ‘Dances with the wolves’ did we begin to realise that there is another history to the First Nations that we were never told. Never told because the white man was greedy for their land and they had to make the First Nations look evil so that their occupation had a kind of moral high ground.
The moral high ground for establishing the boarding schools for the children of the First Nations was to Christianise them and kill whatever ‘Indian’ culture, religion and traditions they had. It was a systematic stultification of the Native Indian’s values by a people who have a proclivity to oppression, human right abuse, human right violation and usurping land with the bible in one hand and; the gun in the other. Schools by their very nature are designed to indoctrinate and to subvert the natural order of all who will come into it and those who establish it. So when the First Nation’s children were forced to attend these boarding schools they were fodder for an indoctrination program. They learnt that the schools were just another form of detribalisation and social dislocation and when they tried to fight it, the reservations became a horror that enforced a neo-capitalist agenda. This translated into laws that ensured that the First Nations rights over their own land would be limited if not abandoned. The similitude is that of the oil for food program in Iraq following the USA invasion and in a broader sense how the Middle East thinks it truly controls the world oil economy but, it does not. Their rights too, in a remarkable way of indoctrination, led to believe otherwise of Muslim unity. Schools divided the mind and the secularist agenda established nation states and an Arab superiority over another. The First Nations stood no chance because the onslaught was prodigious. Their brave resistance was broken when their children became less ‘Indian’ and more ‘Christian’. In this way teaching became the aggression.
Aggression you will argue is violence. However, in the case of the boarding school it was an aggressive onslaught to reshape the mind, heart and soul to a world view that did not fit with the people of the First Nation. Neil Postman’s, Teaching as Subversive Activity, has something important for us to reflect on in light of these boarding schools. Whilst his views are on mainstream, post Industrial revolution, it is still very instructive. He says:
There can be no significant innovation in education that does not have at its center the attitudes of teachers, and it is an illusion to think otherwise. The beliefs, feelings and assumptions of teachers are the air of a learning environment; they determine the quality of life within it.Neil Postman. Teaching as a Subversive Activity. 1969. pg.33
The book as I said is still instructive because the fact that teachers frame the school’s ethos and culture, I am certain that the teachers in these boarding school were not inveigled to subvert the culture of the First Nation’s children. They were innately prejudiced and believed in the supremacy of white over non-white. Therefore, it is clearly understandable that the children hated the school and actually felt alienated from their own kind and even stranger to white people. Today, the restorative justice they seek is not monetary, it is the right to reclaim their history, live their culture without prejudice, equality before the law and amongst others, to be taken out of the reservations or that it must be dramatically improved. What they seek is that the remaining boarding schools that still operate with that history as its legacy, must shift away from it. It must be clear that the history of dehumanisation must be revealed because it will heal the present.
The present moment is vital because we need to ask what will the investigation on the boarding schools really uncover and how will it be dealt with. This is serious question because it means that the current contextual situation must be a means to heal divisions and not exacerbate racial issues. One cannot imagine the disparity between the First Nations and the American people because today, the inherent prejudice has become ingrained in the psyche of people. The long road to restorative justice is to address these ingrained prejudices and to map a concrete way forward so that the children and adults of today, do not remain with long standing stereotypes and generalisations of the First Nations and visa-versa. The marker for this journey is too see how many First Nations are given positions in government on merit and will there be an affirmative action to redress the injustices of the past in a fair and just way.
Fairness and justice are the cornerstones to the establishment of peace and I believe it can happen in the USA. The current trends in the USA with its troops scheduled to be out of Afghanistan by 9/11/2021 as an example is making history come alive amongst the people in the USA. There is a growing number of influential people who are making a serious effort in lobbying for justice and accountability. Incredible events of oppressive boarding schools as above and more are coming out of the woodwork and it is scaring people. This fearful reality is permeating the hearts and minds of people who are seeking justice. It is through social media and related platforms that all this is coming to the fore and people like us, in South Africa, are becoming aware of atrocities we never knew of.
Students were physically punished for speaking their Native languages. Contact with family and community members was discouraged or forbidden altogether. Survivors have described a culture of pervasive physical and sexual abuse at the schools. Food and medical attention were often scarce; many students died.08 Mar 2019
What we never knew will surface and it is necessary to keep account of new developments so that it can be analysed. I am dumbstruck at this moment because I heard over the news that our President, Mr,Cyril Ramaphosa, admitted that the South African government was ill prepared for this mayhem. It is this moment of feeling shocked and dismal that I also connect with the people of the First Nations because their oppressors knew and did not admit it then, that they were deliberately committing crimes against humanity. They thought it would die, rot and biodegrade like corpses buried six feet under. Nay! It did not and as I live in disbelief of my President’s statement I read the following on the First Nations in disbelief as well:
The schools were part of a broader push to erase Indigenous cultures, a step in the colonization of North America. The United Nations definition of genocide includes “forcibly transferring” the children of one group to another group.July 15, 2021, 10:30 AM SAST. By Graham Lee Brewer
South Africa bleeds and I wonder if amongst the looters were teachers because a CEO was caught with loot including South Africans who in the main looked very wealthy and well off. The frightening reality is that more than 30 schools have faced the brunt of violence and what if teachers were in it as well. This has opened up Pandora’s box and with what mindset are these professionals going into the workspace leaves me perplexed. In the same vein I am certain that those teachers, headmasters and governing bodies that established these oppressive boarding schools were part of a system of systematic dehumanisation of everyone non-white. They refused to stand up against it and that is why it persisted for decades. Today, the dawn breaks and it will be a new horizon for those who seek justice whether it’s in South Africa currently or in USA.
In a fitting conclusion to this article the following is best said and it is a chilling reminder of just how revisionists will record the present.
Native Americans weren’t thought of as humans. We weren’t considered citizens of this country until 1924. We didn’t have the right to vote in many, many communities, some as late as 1960 or ’62. We weren’t thought of as valuable contributors to this country.And yet, today, we see that Native Americans have the highest rate of military service. The ratio is higher than any other groups of people. We step up to defend our country. And, of course, today, we defied all the odds. Many of us, many of our families, our ancestors persevered.My grandparents actually were part of the assimilation era. After boarding school, they went and worked on the railroad in Winslow, Arizona. My grandfather was a diesel train mechanic for 45 years. That’s what they wanted to do, was get Native Americans off of their lands, out of their communities.And my grandparents did that. But, instead, my grandfather protected our traditions, even in a place that wasn’t his homeland, so that I could know and learn what it means to be a Pueblo woman. And I’m so grateful that they persevered through all of that history.Sec. Haaland on healing from the indoctrination, dehumanization at Indian boarding schools.
Jul 16, 2021 6:40 PM EDT