From the start of colonial intrusion, the free and original peoples of this hemisphere “have been treated as enemies and dealt with more harshly than any other enemy in any other war.”
While this in itself is not news, the source of this statement is. This quote comes not from an activist, a historian or a researcher squirreled away in an obscure academic corner, but from a high-profile commentator speaking on MSNBC.
“After all our other wars we signed treaties and lived by those treaties,” noted Lawrence O’Donnell at the segment at the end of the August 25 edition of his nightly news show The Last Word. “After World War 2 we then did everything we possibly could to help rebuild Germany.”
In other words, “no Native American tribe has ever been treated as well as we treated Germans after World War 2.”
O’Donnell issues this scathing indictment by way of explaining the peaceful protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. He talks of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s fear of foreign invaders “who want to change our way of life” and notes that it’s “a fear that Native Americans have lived with every day for over five hundred years.”
And he does not stop there.
“The original sin of this country is that we invaders shot and murdered our way across the land killing every Native American we could, and making treaties with the rest,” he says. “This country was founded on genocide before the word genocide was invented, before there was a war crimes tribunal in The Hague.”
Nor does he end there. He explains how “Every. Single. Treaty.” has been broken; how only a few generations have passed since the "business of killing Indians” has ceased. He cites the camps near Standing Rock as potent reminders of despicable acts most Americans would rather forget…and on and on. It’s a statement worth watching more than a few times, and he ends with a statement that resonates, a paying of respect to the resilience and strength of Natives: “The people who have always known what is truly sacred in this world.”
Watch the video here: