Please watch the following TED Talk in which Aaron Huey discusses treaty history and its impact on the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota, USA. Following it will be some commentary on it.
The theme of this blog is history, and this entry harks back to the first piece of writing within it. Much like the work Zinn did in his book entitled A People’s History of the United States, Huey plots historical dates on which the US government waged so-called “battles” against the Sioux. Huey criticizes the notion of these massacres being called battles, and suggests that the US government is guilty of genocide against Native American prisoners of war.
Huey’s use of photographs taken in recent years that depict the standard of life the Sioux people now live go a long way to highlight what was taken from them in the early years of US sovereignty. Huey carefully juxtaposes his historical talk with images of today to illustrate the impact of history on peoples’ lives.
Although Zinn’s work and Huey’s talk are indictments of US governmental corruption, we in Canada must not forget our government acted in ways very similar. In 1877, Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Sioux lead hundreds of his people to Canada to take refuge from the brutality of General George Armstrong Custer and his army. After a few months camped at Fort Walsh, the only RCMP barracks in Western Canada, James Walsh was instructed by John A. McDonald to send Sitting Bull and his people back to the US where they would meet certain death. Although Walsh was conflicted about this decision and debated it for some time, eventually he bowed to the US pressure that McDonald was facing and sent the Hunkpapa Sioux over the border. The result was yet another massacre killing many before Sitting Bull surrendered and was made to live the remainder of his life in the Wild West Show – a puppet for a way of life that once was.
Huey’s talk highlights how land was taken, food resources were wiped out and people were killed all because treaty agreements were not upheld. But Huey does not stop there, he goes on to discuss the disproportionate rate that Native Americans currently suffer from disease, incarceration, and low life expectancy.
Huey ends his talk by indicating that something can still be done about the manner in which Native Americans have been treated. He suggests that we honor the treaties that have been made. He finishes by saying: “Give back the Black Hills. It’s not your business what they do with them.”
We here in Canada should be ashamed of our government and the manner in which it has treated not only First Nations people but also immigrants from all parts of the world. There is little difference between our history and the one Huey outlines. Become informed of the injustice people have suffered in this country. It’s the only way to defeat the ignorance millions of people suffer from.
Thanks for reading.