Sunday, 4 January 2004

ETHNIC CLEANSING (Andrew Jackson Style)


"A little night music" (sorry Amadeus); my compilation of Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls"; was just the bit of emotional escape I needed THIS SAT night in particular. I was born in the tiny scrap (a few counties) of NE Oklahoma left to Cherokee after U.S. President Andrew Jackson's inglorious statement that "The only good Indian is a dead Indian"; and his order of the forced march in the harsh mid-winter of 1838 of the only N.A. indigenous tribe with a written constitution and extremely literate population. My ancestors there (in a good fraction of what now makes up the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee); had the misfortune of being in a position to embarrass the US image of the "savage" and worse to stand in the path of some vainglorious notion they call "manifest destiny". The truth of that 19th century "ethnic cleansing" is as shamefull as it is "whitewashed" in the historical record. Men, women and children were forced by the might of the US Army to abandon their homeland of thousands of years standing and hearded into pens like cattle or sheep for preparation for their forced march to the section of Indian Territory assigned them. More than 30% of those that walked the "The Trail Where They Cried" died on the way. As accorded by Cherokee tradition, those who died on the path could not be buried in an unknown and unmarked place so their bodies were carried in the arms of their mother, fathers, brothers, and sisters. It is tradition that nobody can take from you what you do not allow them access to. The Cherokee along that path refused to look the armed soldiers in the eye and thus allow them to take anything of their immortal spirit. Also inconvenient to historical US record is the fact that within 20 years of that monstrous and criminal "ethnic cleansing"; the Cherokee were generally agreed to be among the most literate of peoples on earth and regained some affluence in what many considered worthless land. Taking nothing away from the sensible claim of multi-ethnic origins of modern Quebec; Cherokee government and all public periodicals were published in both Cherokee and English simultaneously and a large fraction of the people were literate in both.

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