The issue of reconciliation is new and unfamiliar to most Americans. Reconciliation is about clearing the air and finding a mutually agreeable resolution. The concept requires opposing sides of an issue together looking objectively at all the facts, listening to everything the other side has to say without accusations or denial, establishing a MUTUAL plan to make restitution and settle the matter(s) once and for all. This is no quick or easy process. Although a handful of churches and individuals in various parts of the U.S. have made efforts to work toward reconciliation with local NDNs, the concept remains largely unheard-of nationally for several reasons. First, it requires an acknowledgement that something is/was wrong. Today, most Americans only have vague ideas about how the Indians were "mistreated" in the past, but they have little factual knowledge, largely because America's educational institutions, Boards of Education, textbooks, and academic publications rarely include the larger narrative of conquest nor its unpleasant details. Connected to this is the rarely discussed reality that the U.S. as we know it, evolved directly from conquest in all its bloody, murderous aspects, and Euro-Americans remain reluctant to think of their ancestors as other than "brave" pioneers, the raw truths of conquest are topics most Americans avoid. Second, conquering cultures do not acknowledge how they achieved conquest until forced to. For example, in the early days after Germany’s defeat in World War II, the average German citizen was in complete denial about the holocaust until the Allies forced all able bodied Germans to physically go into and cleanup the concentration and extermination camps themselves. The Allies FORCED them to get their hands dirty up close and personal, so they could no longer deny it. That is the ONLY reason the German public finally acknowledged that holocaust – had Germans won WW II, today, the world would probably never have heard of that holocaust. Americans have yet to acknowledge there was a holocaust or anything like it on this continent. Third, the practical reality is that conquest is all about economic and material gain, and as long as those gains remain in place for the conquerors - they have no real regrets nor incentives to change, nor to examine how they “won”. In the U.S. and all "successful" conquering nations the legal, economic, educational, religious, and political systems, have been structured to reinforce and affirm the righteousness of conquest and to keep any associated unpleasantness vague and distant. Until the U.S. loses control and until American Indians or our allies win or regain a firm "seat at the table" of U.S. politics, to Euro-Americans true reconciliation with NDN country will remain a non-issue - “unnecessary” not even worth mentioning, and for NDN Country the desire for some kind of reconciliation will, except in a few local isolated instances, remain wishful thinking.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 22:01