By Yuram Abdullah Weiler
"One of the greatest crimes against humanity occurred right here in the United States of America. Support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is a start to right this great wrong," declared the American Indian Movement in a press release on 24 September 2009.
Perhaps my natural sense of outrage and revulsion at the injustices and atrocities inflicted upon indigenous peoples by the U.S., Zionists and other colonizing powers is inherited from my mother. Before she died, she told me that ancestors on her father’s side of the family traced their roots back to the Iroquois nation.
The United States of America, of course, voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only a country that denies the rights of its own Native Indians could object to the right of self-determination for other indigenous peoples.
Likewise, only a country that had itself executed genocide on its own native peoples on a massive scale could be such an ardent supporter of the Zionist regime, which is currently engaged in a native Palestinian genocide.
How massive was the Native Indian genocide committed by the Euroamerican colonizers? According to the late Professor Howard Zinn, of the 10 million Native Indians who lived north of present-day Mexico when Columbus arrived, less than a million remain. Other scholars put the indigenous population in 1492 as high as 18 million. Based on a nadir population of 250,000 around 1900, the American Indian holocaust perpetrated by Euroamerican colonizers claimed at least 9 million lives.
“That there was tragedy, deception, barbarity, and virtually every other vice known to man in the 300-year history of the expansion of the original 13 Colonies into a Nation which now embraces more than three million square miles and 50 States cannot be denied,” grudgingly conceded a U.S. Senate committee on Indian Affairs.
How did the U.S. colonizers usurp Native Indian lands? The pattern was already in place by 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht, which established a “buffer” zone of Native Indian land between French and British colonial powers. Caught between the two, Native Indians defended their homes, families and lands with understandable ferocity against an invasion by Euroamerican colonizers who ignored the treaty and settled in the buffer zone. Characterizing Native Indian resistance as unprovoked attacks on peaceful settlers, the invaders demanded U.S. Army protection from the “uncivilized savages.”
Forced eviction, relocation and starvation were among the atrocities committed by the U.S. government to carry out its genocide. Native Indians were removed at gunpoint from their homes and forced to resettle on reservations whose total area was only a small fraction of their ancestral lands. Some Indian nations were deliberately divided, such as the Cheyenne and the Seminole, separating relatives and extended families from one another by great distances. The viscously cruel tactic of destroying food crops and slaughtering buffalo led to the starvation and near extinction of many American Indian nations.
And if forced eviction, relocation and starvation proved insufficient to break the Native Indian will to resist, then the U.S. Cavalry supplemented by settler militias were called in with Howitzers to execute a massacre. One such bloodbath occurred in November of 1864, when 700 militiamen, many of them drunk, surrounded and attacked a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho village at Sand Creek, Colorado. At the end of the one-sided battle, 200 Native Indians had been killed and mutilated, over half women and children.
Looking at the methods employed by the Zionist colonizers against Palestinians, one immediately sees parallels to those used by the U.S. government to exterminate Native Indian peoples. The same methods of massacres, forced eviction, relocation and starvation used to colonize native lands in the U.S. have been employed in Palestine.
In March of 1948, Zionist forces launched a systematic plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population. Heavily armed Zionist militias seized control of numerous multiethnic cities such as Jaffa, Haifa Safat and Tiberias, and ruthlessly drove out native Palestinian inhabitants. Massacres took place in Deir Yasin, where 100 men women and children were killed, Tantura, where 200 men were murdered and in 368 other Palestinian villages and cities. By the winter of 1948, 90 percent of the native population–some 750,000 Palestinians–had been turned into refugees.
Ethnic cleansing continued and by 1952, Palestinians had been forcibly evicted from another 40 villages. Settlements were built on top of the rubble of the 370 villages destroyed in 1948 to obliterate all evidence of the former Palestinian residents. Not satisfied with the Palestinian territory it occupied, “Israel” attacked Egypt and Jordan in 1967, seizing Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza, creating another 275,000 Palestinian refugees.
Currently, “Israel” is tightening its grip on the Occupied West Bank aided by U.S. and E.U.-trained security forces, and is starving out Gazans, denying them desperately-needed food and medical supplies, with its ongoing blockade helped by Egypt’s new steel wall. Like the American Indians of the 18th century caught between French and British colonizers, Gazans today find themselves caught between the U.S.-supported Israeli-Zionist regime and the U.S.-controlled Egyptian dictatorship, while Palestinians in the West Bank are squeezed between U.S. “ally” Jordan and the apartheid wall.
Great Lakota Nation leader Russell Means, speaking to American Indian students in 1995, reminded them, “At Wounded Knee in 1973, we were surrounded by the armed might of the United States of America, the most militarily powerful country in the world, but we were free.” Similarly, Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank may be surrounded by the armed might of the U.S.-financed Zionists, but they too will be free.
“The white man knows that he is alien and he knows that North America is Indian,” observes Native American scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. Similarly, the Eurozionist colonizer knows that he is alien and that “Israel” is Palestinian.
Someday, Palestine will be free of Eurozionist colonizers, the Americas will be free of Euroamerican colonizers and indigenous people everywhere will be free to exercise their right of self-determination.
Someday, the United States, Britain, Israel, France and all who are complicit in colonizing lands belonging to Native American Indians, Palestinians and other indigenous peoples around the world will be held accountable for their crimes.
– Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a freelance writer and political critic who has written many articles on the Middle East and U.S. policy. Yuram resides in Denver, Colorado USA with his wife. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.