Obama Doesn't Understand American Indian History

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tags: Obama, American Indian History, Indigenous Peoples



Peter d’Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. He was Staff attorney in Dinebeiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970, in Shiprock. He taught Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. He is a consulting attorney on indigenous issues.

President Obama doesn't understand America's history with Indigenous Peoples. A careful reading of his recent conversation with author Marilynne Robinson on September 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa, shows he has serious misconceptions.

In the midst of the conversation, Robinson referred to hearing people in America saying, "The system is failing." Obama responded: "That's part of what makes America wonderful, is we always had this nagging dissatisfaction that spurs us on. That’s how we ended up going west, that’s how we—'I’m tired of all these people back east; if I go west, there’s going to be my own land and I’m not going to have to put up with this nonsense, and I’m going to start my own thing, and I’ve got my homestead.'"

That's pretty amazing. President Obama, so attuned to the "fault line of race," has it in his head that the Indian wars resulted from dissatisfied non-Indians, who, in order to feel better about their lives, "went west"!

I guess the same explanation might apply all the way back: The Puritans were dissatisfied with their lot in England and Holland, so they went west to Massachusetts, and rounded up the Indians into "praying town" reservations. Other colonizers found their "own land" named "Virginia," where they became rich from tobacco plantations worked by indentured servants and slaves.

And so on back even further: The conquistadors, "tired of all those people" back in Spain, went west to the "new world" and made it their "own land," and made the Indigenous peoples their "own slaves." ...






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