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A disgraceful past

Incredible! Our Congress wishes to censure Turkey for the mass killing of Armenians 90 years ago. This was only a few years after the U.S. Congress was busy approving of the annihilation of Native Americans in an attempt to solve the Indian ''problem'' once and for all. Witness the words of General Sherman: ''We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men women and children''; and newspaper publisher L. Frank Baum, later the famous author of ''The Wizard of Oz'': ''We had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow up and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.''

The European Holocaust is dwarfed by the magnitude of the holocaust the United States committed against Native Americans between the start of the 18th century and the end of the 19th century. A population of roughly 15 million Native Americans was reduced to less than 250,000, almost entirely by abuse, brutality, starvation, imprisonment and outright killing. ''The Trail of Tears,'' ''The Long Walk,'' ''Washita,'' ''Wounded Knee'' and ''Sand Creek'' are but a few of a long string of atrocities too numerous to list.

That these abuses happened in our past is disgraceful. That they continue today is outrageous. The list of broken treaties and trashed contracts extends from coast to coast, from Georgia to Washington state, from seized land to revoked fishing rights to grazing rights to illegal mining. Read ''In the Spirit of Crazy Horse'' by Peter Matthiessen and ''Where White Men Fear to Tread'' by Russell Means. I am angered that as a white man I was not taught true history as a child and only learned it by my own research late in my life. Justice for Native Americans is difficult to come by even today, and our hands, as a nation, are far too dirty to be pointing at another country about past abuses.

- James. R. Jones

Shawnee Mission, Kan.