Courtesy Trager and Kuhn, photographer/Northwestern Photo Co., Chadron, Nebraska. (Denver Public Library; Western History Collection)
Chief Spotted Elk lies dead in the snow following the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890. For hundreds of years, marginalized people in the United States have been victims of mass shootings simply because they were different.

Moya-Smith: For Hundreds of Years, People Have Been Slaughtered in the U.S.

Simon Moya-Smith

Too many families and too many friends in this country have had to mourn the death of too many loved ones far too often.

For hundreds of years, people have been slaughtered in the United States because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, belief, or simply because they were different – they looked differently, spoke differently, prayed differently … loved differently, all of them struggling for their lives, their rights, their dignity.

There is a long trench in South Dakota filled with the remains of slaughtered innocent men, women, and children who longed for their life and liberty and peace.

“American Indians encountered Western science in its most deadly technological expression in the Gatling Guns at Wounded Knee,” wrote Vine Deloria Jr., the late Native American scholar, in his book, “Red Earth, White Lies.”

White men stand over the trench at Wounded Knee following the massacre on December 29, 1890. White volunteers were paid $2 for ever corpse dropped into the trench.

Yet, 125 years after the carnage at the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890, the madness and the mass shootings and the hate continue.

And they continue.

And continue.

And continue.

And continue. …

In this country, we have as many monuments and days to remember the murdered, and nights to remember their lives and warmth and love, as we do questions and tears.

We are running out of candles. We are running out of patience.

Following the murder of 49 people early Sunday at a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Republican congressmen were sending only their “prayers and condolences” via Twitter to the families of the victims instead of whipping together stricter gun legislation, lending their immediate support to ban easy access to assault rifles like the AR-15 used during Sunday’s early morning massacre.

Yet here we are again, having the same tired conversation, pleading for common sense on the part of our elected officials at Congress.

We know as a global community that we can’t stop bigotry or racism or sexism or homophobia or hate or violence or vengeance, but at least here in the U.S., we can limit, if not entirely end, the access to high-power assault rifles. These things are built for mass killings, and they should not be available for purchase to just anyone with a fist full of money.

And yes, it IS that basic.

So many countries across the world have already instituted such bans. Why can’t we?

Is it because of this nation’s longtime gun addiction? It is a desire for power? Compensation for something? (Most of these mass shootings are executed by men, you see.) Or maybe it is as adolescent and petty and simple as stubbornness.

Maybe all of the above. Maybe none of the above. But one thing is for certain: if we are to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, then we mustn’t arm ourselves with high-power weapons, we must do away with them, lest they fall into the hands of the mass murderer.

Such hands and twisted heads are undoubtedly out there. Orlando is proof. Sandy Hook is proof. Aurora is proof. Virginia Tech is proof. So on and so on.

This country must no longer be the equivalent of an unlocked arsenal inviting anyone – even the deranged and demented, the opportunity to take these assault rifles, and later, scores of innocent lives.

How many people – even children – will have to die before right wing conservatives realize there is no utility in having assault rifles available to the public?

By the inaction of the conservative congressmen and women, by their intransigence, stubbornness and irresponsibility, it would appear not enough have perished to shake them from their grip on a distorted reality.

And the reality they miss is that these assault rifles are too easily accessible at a time when the threat of mass murder is too great.

Still, whether the murdered is one person or two, or 49 of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando, or 300 Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, such brutal attacks are acts of hate and terror, and they need to stop.

We can rely on the Creator for comfort. We cannot rely on the Creator for action. That is up to us.

Simon Moya-Smith

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter @simonmoyasmith.

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Sammy7's picture
Submitted by Sammy7 on
Simon, your points are well taken. What was and is being done to we First Peoples of Turtle Island in the name of Manifest Destiny, is now being done to the rest of the World in the name of American Exceptionalism. What we experienced, the loss of one hundred million of our brothers and sisters, is dwarfed by the potential killing of one billion people; or, possibly extinction. Christendom is recklessly threatening all of humanity. So, for the moment, let’s take a look at the big picture and the big guns. At this moment we are living in the most dangerous time in human history. We have entered a period where the social structures and mechanisms that have controlled power since the end of World War Two, are shifting radically and becoming deeply unstable. The transnational ruling class defined as the Deep State and characterized via the Group of 5, or the Group of 20, The international Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank, have been destabilized by the greed unleashed by the deregulation of Capitalism. The father of Capitalism, Adam Smith, stressed that Capitalism absolutely needed to be regulated by a moral code. With the deregulation of Capitalism, power came to transcend national governments and now rests in the hands of the transnational ruling class. Today national elections have become mostly useless in determining how people want to live. In recent years, the United States has become infected with neo-liberal (fundamentalist) capitalism and neo-con foreign policy. When capitalism failed in 2008 and was kept alive with massive infusions of cash unwillingly stolen from American citizens, estimated to be as high as twelve trillion dollars, it was also accompanied by the greatest effort to propagandize people in human history. People have been purposefully, strongly, and perpetually divided by social wedge issues such as gay rights, abortion, guns, and lately transgender facilities. The elevation of sports to near god like status has served to distract the population as well. While people have been distracted by these issues, a concerted attempt by the transnational elites to topple governments, enable the destruction of national sovereignty via secret trade deals, and establish one world government has been engendered under the guise of humanitarian wars, headed by the U.S. military. Now, at this moment, we are being prepared via propaganda to believe that the United States and its people can survive World War Three. At this very moment the United States is conducting the largest war games since World War Two on Russia’s doorstep. Beginning June 3, and Over the next three weeks BALTOPS 16 will draw together some 6,000 personnel, 45 warships, and 60 aircraft from 17 nations, including the United States, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, along with the littoral states of the Baltic States who are NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark) or NATO partners (Sweden and Finland). Washington’s move to place a new ground-based missile defense system in Romania with Poland’s recruitment drive to add 35,000 more troops to its army, and the BALTOPS 16 exercise will surely raise tensions with Russia which are at an all-time high since the Cold War. Russia views this move as a threat to its security, and with NATO’s encirclement of Russia, it is as reckless and as dangerous a time as you can get in terms of escalating the possibility of a disastrous war. The Rand Corporation admits that NATO cannot defeat Russian forces. In a series of war games conducted between summer 2014 and spring 2015, the RAND Corporation examined the shape and probable outcome of a near-term Russian invasion of the Baltic states. The games’ findings are unambiguous: As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants, in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Since both Russia and NATO have battlefield nukes, and since battlefield commanders, not the President, have the authority to use them as necessary, the idea of an expanded nuclear conflict becomes very real. An attack on Russia would be the end of NATO, literally. Russia has capabilities that are far more advanced than what the U.S. and NATO forces have in their arsenal as independent geopolitical analyst and writer Pepe Escobar explains: If push comes to nuclear shove, the S-400 and especially the S-500 anti-missile missiles would block all incoming US ICBMs, cruise missiles and stealth aircraft. Offensive drones would be blocked by drone defenses. The S-500 practically consigns to the dustbin stealth warplanes such as the F-22, F-35 and the B-2. The bottom line is that Russia – in terms of hypersonic missile development – is about four generations ahead of the US, if we measure it by the development of the S-300, S-400 and S-500 systems. As a working hypothesis, we could describe the next system – already in the drawing boards – as the S-600. It would take the US military at least ten years to develop and roll out a new weapons system, which in military terms represents a generation. The purpose of NATO today has changed from the defensive of Europe, to a policy of carrying out the American Empire’s policies which serves Washington’s strategy for dominating Eurasia. Unknowingly, soldiers are serving the interests of the transnational elite’s agenda of world dominion and one world government. Greed is a sickness, and those transnational elites infected with it see their efforts being stopped by only one state, Russia; therefore, those elites are the least capable of rational thought. They will stop at nothing as evidenced by BALTOPS 16. There is a messianic element in play as well, the elites strongly held belief in the myth of American Exceptionalism. The belief in American Exceptionalism has its roots in Christendom, the idea that God is on our side. The above mentioned facts should dispel thoughts of war in any rational person, yet they persist among the elites and therein lies the immediate danger of igniting World War Three. Purposeful or by accident, World War Three and the destruction of humanity is on our doorstep. One can boil this all down to one thing, life or death. Americans know that we are living in a death culture defined by greed, to change that we must support life, “all of life” both inside and outside the womb. Life cannot be cherry picked, it is all or nothing. Peace not war! In conclusion, while we abhor the gun culture in the United States, currently we have a much bigger fish to fry. The big guns are about to sound again.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Simon Sez, for Hundreds now, people, (including Native Indian people) have made tremendous progress including your namesake considering if they hadn't lived, you would not be here today. Part of your statement does not address the other gorilla in the room. If the "concern" is real over your LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando, then it needs to be said, brutal attacks and acts of hate and terror need to STOP in Muslim countries. The attitudes and beliefs need to be addressed and/or written about, i.e. by Simon Sez, and the religon of "peace" - Islam needs to be confronted regarding the treatment (killings, beatings, murders, rapes, burnings, abuses, and now shootings) of homosexuals. Why are murders of the 49 people being pushed aside (again) in light of "treatment" of Muslim belief and attitudes? Did you know that Saudi Arabia (the nation country) is a big foreign donator in politic funding to the HIllary Clinton campaign? Why can' you not write an article regarding this uneasy political relationship inlight of the the murders in Orlando. That is up to us……we cannot rely on Hillary Clinton to do that for us.