|One man’s terrorist is not always another man’s freedom fighter. To be sure, there’s indisputable evidence that not only did Anglo-Europeans exterminate Native Americans with the conviction that there were classes of biological distinction, but did so with germ warfare. And since the legacy of the American Indian Genocide has always been tangled in the very nature of capitalism’s permanent war against the Earth and its rapacious usury of the soil, woven into the very fabric of the United States and its “homeland security,” isn’t it also obvious who the real terrorists and freedom fighters have always been?
Earth Is Sacred and On Loan, Not Meant to Be Terrorized
Consequently, the Oklahoma-based Council of Confederated Chilocco Tribes are again fighting bioterrorism. This time they’re opposing the U.S. Homeland Security’s plans to conduct bioterrorism drills on sacred land where 100 children are buried. Believing the Earth should be treated well, and that it was never given to them by their Ancestors but is borrowed from their Children, it evokes memories of genocide. They also want to protect what’s left of the former Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, a federally controlled boarding school that forcibly seized Native American children to utterly assimilate them.
Considering the land is the sacred blood of their ancestors, the tribes also concerned about the effects of toxins in the soil and water-and themselves. In fact, they discovered the bioterrorism substances Homeland Security plans to use are “potentially dangerous.” Also buried in the lengthy report was the likelihood of contaminating the ground and drinking water for years, the difficulties in cleanup, and causing adverse health problems for about 9,000 people from surrounding communities. For now, Homeland Security maintains the chemicals are harmless and the same found in common household goods.
Society Rooted in Racial Distinctions Instead of Soil Equals Genocide
The AP report unfortunately left out how Jeffrey Amherst, the commander in chief of the British forces in North America, was the first to use bioterrorism against the Indigenous Peoples. Indeed, and despite all the denial, the evidence implicating that he sent blankets infected with small pox is obvious. A 1763 letter to his colonel states: “Could it not be contrived to send the smallpox among these disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.” He wrote a similar letter to Sir William Johnson too, superintendent of the Northern Indian Department.
But Jeffrey Amherst wasn’t the only one to use germ warfare against Native Americans. The underlying knowledge of how Indians were susceptible to small pox and other diseases was well known. From the beginning of the New American Republic to the continental expansion of the United States, the U.S. government systematically contrived “to send small pox and other diseases to annihilate the Indian population.” They also viewed Indians “not as a generous enemy but as the vilest race of beings that ever infested the earth.” Knowing settlers were carriers of small pox, they encouraged settlement.
Ancestors Paid for the Land-And With Their Lives
Whether or not the Council of Confederated Chilocco Tribes are able to resist this latest bioterrorism attack remains to be seen. They have, however, started a petition and plan protests. In the meantime, and since they believe the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned them for their surroundings, they long to remain a part of the Earth and soil where they live. They also want Homeland Security to recognize that the Indian once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, that he belongs just as the buffalo belonged, and out of the Indian came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life.
Centuries after the first bioterrorism attacks, including the possibility of this current one, neither will they ever forget that their Ancestors paid for the land-with their lives.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.WN.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and www.WN.com//dallasdarling.)
(1) Loewen, James W. Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. New York, New York: New York Press, 1999., p. 416.
(2) Ibid., p. 417.