Friday, March 14, 2008

A Tribal Member from North Dakota on Apologizing to Native Americans

A few days ago I posted news about Congress' proposal to apologize for the United States' historic mistreatment of Native Americans.

A friend in North Dakota pointed me to this editorial by Cheryl Long Feather (Hunkuotawin) of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She comments on what a verbal apology might (or might not) mean to American Indians.

An excerpt:

The wording of the act is actually quite elegant in affirming the perspective of Native peoples. The act "recognizes the special legal and political relationship" between the U.S. and tribes; commends and honors Native peoples for their stewardship of the land; recognizes the "years of official depredations, ill conceived policies and the breaking of covenants" by the U.S.; apologizes on behalf of the people of the U.S. for instances of "violence, maltreatment, and neglect"; expresses "regret for the ramifications of former wrongs"; urges the president to "acknowledge the wrong of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land"; commends "state governments that have begun reconciliation efforts"; and "encourages all state governments to work toward reconciling relationships with Indian tribes." As far as apologies go, this is a good one.

But the nearly universal response from American Indian people has been skepticism. Like a battered spouse, the American Indian collective knows that an apology - even a heartfelt one - doesn't necessarily mean the abuse will end.

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

Repentance alone brings an end to abuse. Apologies are the secular man's substitute for repentance.