Deb Haaland, President-Elect Joe Biden’s pick as Secretary of the Interior, the first Native Inhabitant to hold a position in a presidential cabinet will be a welcomed sight for many.
While listening to him describe her background, I was moved to the past, a past before America was America and struggled not to be angry over the treatment and massacre of so many human beings. I have always had an affinity towards the “Indians” in movies and hated watching them being accused of something they didn’t do and then being killed. My stepfather loved watching cowboy movies and unfortunately, the cowboys always won. The depiction portrayed was that Indians were evil and the cowboys were the good guys except for the fact that some of the cowboys were just downright evil.
All the cowboys portrayed in the television shows of old were white. All the bad or evil people were either black or Indian. And this is what generations of people grew up believing, until now. Until now, most chose to ignore the history of this land. How the Europeans came to this land, were helped by the Native Inhabitants to survive the elements and to grow food they did not know. Then, after surviving tenuous situations, the Europeans repaid the Native Inhabitants by stealing their land, killing off entire tribes, and relegating them to dry arid lands (reservations) where they were expected to just die off. They did not just die off and Deb Haaland is proof that no matter how terrible her ancestors were treated, the Native Inhabitants of the land knew how to survive, all the torture and mistreatment they have endured.
And they will survive to tell the story, a better story than the Europeans would ever tell because of the history in the making. What is shameful is the fact that there are still people (of European descent) who still think Native Inhabitants are inferior to them and they publicly treat them abominably. But then again, we have a segment of our society who treats everyone who does not “look like them or think like them or worships like them” abominably, still.
Now, there are number of people who might be reading this who might be wondering why a black woman is so outraged at the treatment of Native Inhabitants. Perhaps, the outrage is because they are human beings, just as I am, and I understand how hateful it is to be treated with disdain because that’s exactly how my ancestors were treated. The Native Inhabitants were already here, my ancestors were brought to this land in chains and forced to forego their native languages and customs to assimilate themselves to the white European ways. Or maybe the outrage stems from the blood flowing through my veins that aligns with tribes of the land.
There is so much that I can say about ill-will and faux superiority of white Europeans that it would take volumes to say it all. The true (unabridged) history books tell the story, how elected leaders ordered others killed, and no one cared, how faux negotiations were made for land and then the white man stole the land, breaching the negotiations made in good faith, forcing the Native Inhabitants to be on the move, giving up their way of life, just to survive the atrocities lodged against them.
America could have learned so much from the Native Inhabitants, had they been able to put their robe of superiority in a closet and donned a robe of humility for a few hundred years. Had there been an ounce of humility in any of those who came across the pond to this land, slavery would not have been an issue that has kept human beings in bondage for hundreds of years and in a state that many would like to see that particular position continue. Like the Native Inhabitants, black descendants of slaves learned survival and because of their inherent innovative skills, are responsible for multiple creations that have helped make life easier for all, though they were not always given credit for their contribution to this society.
What is country needs, is a microscopic look into the history that has brought us to this place and understand that if change, real change is not initiated, America will cease to exist as we have known it and the planet will die without the bold, creative genius employed by descendants of slaves that has so often been ignored. The Native Inhabitants knew how to take care of the land to keep a supply of food and resources available and the descendants of slaves, knew how to create what was needed from the resources sustained. If anyone should be wearing a robe of superiority it should be the Native Inhabitants, who had it not been for them, white Europeans would never have survived living in this land.
But all things being equal — at least that is the fight of the 21st Century, that we are all treated equally, and no one suffers injustice — watching this step up for Deb Haaland and a host of ancestors will be the beginning of something wonderful and I sincerely hope, those who insist onto holding to their bigotry will move out the way or be moved out of the way so freedom and justice can be enjoyed by all.