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Pope Francis and When Genocide Isn't Genocide

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The Pope came to the New World but his spin doctors say he doesn’t have to rescind those outdated, lethal and racist Papal Bulls that led to the enslavement of New World inhabitants, since all subsequent Papal Bulls rescinded the previous ones. The Church did tell those gold-seekers to “Stop Doing That” (meaning killing Indians for no good reason) and besides the current Pope Frank did apologize to the indigenous in-general, yet he still canonized the Priest Junipero Serra of California, who is termed an “American Saint”. Those who argue it’s all a hundred years too late are not cognizant of decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court that affect our peoples and territories.

The priest Serra and the state California represent genocidal events in American history. Serra’s contribution was to save the souls of the Indians by abusing them and gather them into some kind of Christian Credit Account while wrangling all the labor needed to run the missions as plantations. The California Gold Rush was a series of “genocidal events” that some state officials promoted, leading to local murder conspiracies and individual gold-seekers wantonly killing Native families. This gets us to Sacramento State and Chiitaanibah Johnson and the viral flaming arrow attack unleashed by upset Native Americans (and allies) over the non-call of official genocide by adjunct professor Maury Wiseman in his history class. Ms. Johnson opted out of the class and an “investigation” continues. The Walk for the Ancestors (650 miles San Francisco to Los Angeles to visit the 21 California Missions) should take a detour to Sacramento and audit his history class.

Don’t get me wrong, Pope Frank’s OK as Pope’s go, he apparently practices what he and his boss, Jesus Christ, preached. And he gets to annoy, confound and piss off Republicans, who can’t comprehend a religious leader doing his actual job (unlike their county clerks). My Mom would’ve like this Pope, even if she was Methodist and when she married my Dad, a Catholic, it caused a minor scandal. 100 years ago some Mohawks would burn each other’s houses down over this inane European religious nonsense, but they were just trying to be compliant Christians.

According to the Geneva Convention, we can’t call what happened in the Americas, “Genocide”. Technically, what occurred here was “only” a series of unconnected and uncoordinated genocidal events, some regional ethnic cleansing and finished with the cultural genocide of boarding schools, forced sterilization, etc. The politics that go on at the UN (and Washington DC) allow lawyers to edit the language so that any ethnic cleansing can’t be “legally” compared to wholescale, pre-arranged and dutifully engineered, actual Genocide. A disturbing article at History News Network presents the professional attitude that although “tragic”, what happened to Natives in the Americas, can’t be considered genocide, and the commentary from other “professionals” is even more startling. This attitude reminds me of the way Energy Resource Corporations get controversial projects approved. They hold a series of environmental impact studies that are opposed by citizen grassroots organizations along the way. Each step gets authorized by government regulators and the corporations continue on to the next part of the project. This series of unconnected and connected events ends up with corporate profits, environmental degradation, and all government sanctioned. The EPA becomes the BIA trying to fix “The Indian Problem”.

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Even now as we all witness and testify to the uncovering of the dirty little secrets that underlie the Christian Doctrine of Discovery as the philosophy that guided both Slavery and Manifest Destiny, and that this can now all be discarded into “the dustbin of history”… why are Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanic Americans still determined to hang on to the bloody religions, martyrs and saints of their oppressors? People can and do question their religions but they need their God, like my Mom did. People will still hold on to their beliefs and anything to comfort them in these times that do try the souls of real human beings. Bob Dylan said, “All the truths in the world amount to one big lie”. John Prine said, “Some humans ain’t human.”

It is SO corporate to say, “We didn’t mean it, there was lack of communication from the top down, market trends point to cultural relativism, that superior forces will inevitably do nasty things to the inferior populations who happen to be in the way or occupying the lands in dispute. It was all just tragic and yet so typical of human behavior.” These seeds were planted by their religion and the perpetrators used that religion to justify all manner of dehumanization. That old religion was the cover for exploitation and the new religion is capitalism and corporatism, which is akin to fascism.

George Washington ordered “the complete and utter extermination” of the Iroquois Confederacy with the Sullivan-Clinton scorched earth campaign during the American Revolution. Ever since, his name and the title of all U.S. presidents is known as Kanatakarias, Town--Burner (Destroyer, Eater). It’s said he cried upon learning the name, so that’s something. Part of the debate among scholars who say there was “No American Holocaust or Genocide” is their professional and educated stance of the inevitability of it all since Native Americans had inherent cultural defects, and we produced no Great Minds that would forestall our destruction or cause our oppressors to re-consider their deadly campaigns.

My Mom was a great political barometer, and I learned from her watching political debates on TV and how many times she said, That Man’s Crazy! She predicted Reagan getting shot, laughed at Billy Bob Clinton, she wanted to vote for a woman to be president, turned off the Bush Regime soap operas and started praying a lot more to God to save her loved ones. If there’s a heaven, then my Mom definitely told God to tell Pope Frank to just do something, do your job, and piss off those Republicans.

Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.