The U.S. Empire Continues To Ethnically Cleanse and Steal Land Belonging To Indigenous American Indians Well Into the 21st Century

Pictured is Apache Chief James Garfield Velarde wearing the Presidential Peace Medal in 1897.
Pictured is Apache Chief James Garfield Velarde wearing the Presidential Peace Medal in 1897.

The latest Congressional Budget approved by the House and Senate for fiscal year 2015 being touted by the White House as a “compromise” contains essentially nothing within it which enables the American people to have confidence in their so-called “representative” government. It continues the mindless expansion of U.S. global military expansion with at least half-a-trillion dollars going to the massively bloated military budget, contains language that stops just short of declaring the start of a new Cold War with Russia, provides potentially lethal assistance to the pro-Western neo-Nazi affiliated government in Ukraine to serve as proxy in this new Cold War, continues to stifle the will of the congressionally unrepresented voters of Washington D.C., cuts much-needed assistance to the growing amount of impoverished citizens of America, erodes what little campaign finance laws remained intact, and all the while guts the few new regulations of Wall Street put in place as part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 conceived as a response to the collapse of the stock market in 2008 by the actions of Wall Street bankers and speculators. The specific language of the 2010 law was to prevent U.S. taxpayers from again being put on the line to come to the rescue of so-called “too big to fail” Wall Street banks after they engage in risky derivatives trading. The language in the 2015 law, which was actually written by corporate executives for Citigroup and intensely lobbied for by none other than JP-Morgan Chase Chairman Jamie Dimon, removes these stipulations and puts the American people once again in the position of potentially having to hand over trillions of dollars to corrupt greedy Wall Street executives. As bad as all this sounds, the moral corruption and legalized theft doesn’t stop there. As if to commemorate half a millennium of genocide and ethnic cleansing of the people who originally inhabited all of the lands the empire now claims as its own, buried deep within the 2015 National “Defense” Authorization budget is the unconscionable handover of an entire “2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest in Arizona to a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining giants Rio Tonto.”

The unbelievably depraved corporate capitalists who own the United States Congress attempted to slide the language into the “Defense” Act without anyone noticing, something that big corporate lobbyists often do at the end of every year with measures that were earlier voted down or failed to receive any significant measure of support. Notably, the NDAA attachment had a powerful congressional proponent in U.S. Senator John McCain, whose loyalties lie not with his state’s constituents, but with mining companies like Resolution Copper – ” a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tonto, which co-owns with Iran a uranium mine in Africa and which is 10-percent-owned by China.” Included as part of the 2,400 acres of Apache ancestral homelands is “territory where Apaches gather medicinal plants and acorns — a food source that [chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe Terry] Rambler said has sustained his people for as long as they know.” It also includes all of the areas surrounding the historic site known as the Apache Leap, where in 1870 more than eighty Apache warriors, cornered by European colonialists, chose to leap to their deaths rather than surrender to invaders.

The site of the Apache Leap in 2014
The site of the Apache Leap as it appears in 2014

According the language embedded within the NDAA, predictably signed into law by President Obama on December 19, Rio Tonto is allowed to start mining in the Apache Indian territory, including ancestral burial grounds, within just 30-90 days. The effects this mining will have on the land could potentially be catastrophic, as it will likely leave large cracks on the land’s surface before ultimately collapsing into the earth. And while the mining company claims that in certain key areas it would be required to comply with regulations covered under the National Environmental Policy Act, this assertion is highly doubtful. As Terry Rambler notes,

“This is what will happen – the law in one area says there will be consultation, but the law in another area of the bill says the land exchange will happen within one year of enactment of this bill. So no matter what we’re doing within that one year, the consultation part won’t mean anything after one year. Because then it’s really theirs after that.”

Also included in the very same legislation is another measure seizing indigenous lands, this one a “transfer of 1,600 acres from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State for industrial development”. Sadly all of this is nothing new to Indigenous Tribes just about everywhere across the Americas, whose lives, cultures and political sovereignty have been under constant attack ever since the colonialists first invaded over half a millennium ago. The United States government has been particularly egregious when it comes to violating the rights and dishonoring the Treaties it’s signed with the Original Peoples. As Helen Oliff writes on the National Relief Charities Blog,

Over 500 treaties were made with American Indian tribes, primarily for land cessations, but 500 treaties were also broken, changed or nullified when it served the [U.S.] government’s interests.

In other news, with Republicans set to increase their majority in Congress in the 2015-2017 session, the revival of the recently defeated legislation forcing approval of the construction of the XL Keystone Pipeline is all but inevitable. The construction of an additional 1,200 miles of a proposed 3,800 mile long pipeline network is in direct violation of Tribal sovereignty and Treaties the U.S. has with numerous Indian Tribes, notably the Sioux. As reported by the Indian Country Today Media Network,

The pipeline threatens many tribal lands, especially Sioux territory in South Dakota, given that the proposed route traverses the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. Last month tribal President Cyril Scott said that if the pipeline passes it would be considered “an act of war,” and promised to fight it all the way.

The Rosebud Sioux say the U.S. government has not met its treaty obligations to ask the tribe for approval of projects that cross their territory. This mattered little to the U.S. House of Representatives, prompting a strong rebuke from Rosebud Sioux President Cyril Scott after the House voted to force approval of the pipeline in November. In the words of the Rosewood Sioux President,

“The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren. . . We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation, and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.”

Further Reading:

18 thoughts

  1. Our government, ruled by the arch conservatives and corporations, is very quickly acquiring the disdain and disrespect of the rest of the world. Also acquired is the starvation and poor health of our citizens who have been deleted from the rolls of those needing assistance. All the legislation going through the new Congress will tear down the indigenous peoples’ way of life. It’s a total disgrace. This is going to be a very rough 2 years for too many people. Will our voters ever wake up? And will those who could, but didn’t, vote ever wake up?

    1. Thank you so much Sunshinebright for your thoughtful comment. Unfortunately I’m afraid that those in government who we vote for who are not arch conservatives end up supporting legislation that is similarly damaging and destructive. The corporate fascists in my view have both political parties by the leash and have instituted a corporatocracy instead of a democracy.

  2. I find the biggest scandal concerning US government treatment of Native Americans is their persistent claim that there were only 1-2 million Native Americans in North America prior to colonization. All historical records indicate the true number was closer to 15 million in 1500, reduced to 237,000 in 1900. This represent a massive holocaust unparalleled in history. Ward Churchill writes about this in his 2007 book A Little Matter of Genocide.

    1. They seriously claim there were only 1-2 million??! Wow, if that doesn’t count as Holocaust Denial as an official government policy, I don’t know what does. I mean, Ahmadinejad was endlessly derided by U.S. officials over his comments regarding the European Holocaust of the Jews which are perceived as being insensitive and have been used to paint all Iran as sharing his views. So what does it say that the official U.S. position is that there were just 1-2 million Indigenous people living in North America prior to European colonization? The Europeans killed more people than the U.S. says even existed!

    1. Thank you for re-blogging Dr. Rex! So nice to hear from you. I’ve been away from the blogosphere for some weeks but glad to see you are still here spreading the word. (-;

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