Native Americans need reparations even more than African Americans do

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tags: Native Americans, reparations



Daniel R. Wildcat, a Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation, is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University.

In this month’s Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a strong case for reparations for black Americans. But what about payment for the injustices endured by American Indians?

Both groups have suffered centuries of severe damage, courtesy of the U.S. political and economic systems. There’s the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregated housing nationwide. Similarly, the establishment of the reservation system, the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”-inspired Indian boarding schools, and the Dawes Act of 1887 (the largest “legal” colonial dispossession of Native American lands in U.S. history) contribute to the social dysfunctions many American Indians experience daily.

Still, reparations have never figured prominently into American Indian calls for justice. Why?

The greatest harm done to us was the theft of land – our homeland – often accompanied by forced removals and under the cover of law. To American Indians, land is not simply a property value or a piece of real estate. It is a source of traditions and identities, ones that have emerged from centuries and millenia of relationships with landscapes and seascapes.

That territory is irreplaceable...




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