United States Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) read a congressional resoulution on Wednesday, May 19th, apologizing for “ill conceived policies” and acts of violence against American Indians. On December 19th of 2009 President Obama signed an apology into law but no one has heard much about it since then. Question. What kind of apology is issued that when no one really knows about it?
First nations people must be wondering, what kind of strange apologetics is at work here? From assisting Europeans in their first “Thanksgiving” to being “discovered” in a land where one already exist. From degrading images of the noble savage to reservations. From the The Trail of Tears, to Wounded knee, and broken treaties . From becoming sports mascots and having one’s spiritually co-opted and commercialized, to genocide. And now, over 5 centuries later an apology is now finally being offered, and that coming from a few. Human evolution is indeed slow and at times the wheels of justice appear to be like flat tires in the dust bin of history.
At times it appears that some are listening but the acknowledgement is sorely lacking. No Nobel Prizes or Academy Award Nominations were given to indigenous prophets. Al Gore and James Cameron of “Avatar’ fame, receive accolades for what aboriginal peoples always knew and have been trying to convey to us centuries. The earth is a living being. What we do to others and to the earth we do to ourselves. We belong to the earth, not the other way around. These are inconvenient truths indeed.
Representatives from the Cherokee, Pawnee, Choctaw, Muscogee and (Creek) nations were in attendance. Apologies can be painful. Many of us rush to reconciliation in order not to feel the pain. Yet the time for healing is at hand.
An apology has been extended. For some it may be too little too late. For others their may remain rancor and resentment for the way it was handled. The simple fact remains that actions now will speak louder than words. We shall see.
Some First Nations people refer to the land we call America as Turtle Island. This is because of the shape of the continent on our maps. The Danish philosopher Kirkegaard reminds us that life is lived forward but only understood backwards. As citizens and residents of Turtle Island dare to look back, let the healing begin.