ethel’s words

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REFUGEES REFUGEES REFUGEES

Native Americans are refugees in their own land, on their own continent, under their own skies.

But for some readily-understandable reason, they are not offered the glad-hand of help, welcoming, and encouragement so readily handed to political refugees, bad weather refugees, and just plain refugees from other continents, always seeking survival and safety.

In the streets, until recently, there was no place to sit. They know they are not welcomed to sit on a bench provided to riders of mass transportation. They know the cops will soon drive them away from the benches placed around public buildings for--whom? For anybody but Native Americans, though the benches are never friendly enough to be safe from the cops. (Of course, we’re talking about black hair.)

The culture gap between the European invaders and the Natives is enormous. The rigid, punitive affect of Industrial Age Protestantism was a baffling puzzle to Natives. And we expect them to do all the adjusting, all the learning, all the giving in--we had The Gun and we still have The Gun.

Because they have land (a tiny parcel or two from their huge stolen continent) they are “befriended” by religious exploiters. Their water is under ceaseless threat--the little bit not already taken. The story of North European conquest is a story titled “Broken”: broken treaties, broken promises, broken hope, broken hearts.

But perhaps the most horrifying aspect of Native contact with European American culture, is the customary, almost inevitable, physical attacks and terroristic treatment in the cities of the conqueror.

Ethel C. Hale