Most of us who have had the opportunity to live or grow up in a Native community have become a little sheltered to the racism that not only exists outside the immediate area of our homes, but also of how open it is.
Most non-Native people who live near us have grown to know and, to some extent, understand us. They support our positions and are very encouraging in our battles for autonomy. For the Cayugas and even the Oneidas, who have either a new or very small presence in a given area, the intolerance and open racism is right at their doorstep.
Several hundred of us had the opportunity to show solidarity with the Cayuga people and get a harsh education at the same time. We witnessed more than 200 carloads of old, hateful, white people brandishing signs calling for the abolition of Native identity. They want “Seneca” to be name of a county or a waterfall. They want “Cayuga” to be just a lake and let “Mohawk” just be a haircut. Let the military name aircraft or squadrons and platoons after these warring savages. They want America to own the words and let the images be of something in the past except when used metaphorically or as mascots. We have no right to exist as a distinct people in their view.
We should be happy to be Americans and should be grateful for the history that has been so good to us. Our land should be available to all Americans, and all state and federal laws should be uniformly applied to our land and people. God and Manifest Destiny called for our eradication. It’s true: read the history books. Eliminating 98 percent of the Native population on the continent is not a holocaust; it was a necessary cost. Who knew that the remaining 2 percent would still manage to survive and not just fade into some other part of the American fabric.
Our people, for all the success and support we have had, cannot kid ourselves about the security of our future. Polls have suggested that most Americans support our view and position, but they won’t fight for us. The 30 or 40 percent of them who oppose us will fight us. Those carloads of old, bitter, white folks were also affluent. They represent the spheres of influence. We must stay active and continue to educate ourselves and those around us.
– John Kane-Karhiio