Recognizing Genocide Denial Against American Indians

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

The extent to which a Nation denies the genocide it has committed is a measure of that Nation’s social conscience. The social conscience of the United States is infected with numerous rationalizations that keep the dark light from shining. Federal and state institutions are named after mass murderers, and the land tells a story of massacres and atrocities that occurred. But the truth is not forgotten, it is denied.


8. DENIAL is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile.

Genocide is not just denied in the United States, it is celebrated.


The term “redskins” actually refers to the Indian skins and body parts that bounty hunters had to show in order to receive payment for killing Indians, the National Congress of American Indians argued in a brief filed before the high court.

What we shall see, is that denying the genocide of the American Indian is for ideological or economic reasons. What we need to know, is how specifically people deny the genocide of the American Indian.

Crossposted at Native American Netroots

Leonard Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes. “Crow Dog.” pp. 6-7.

Only when we saw them building roads through our land, wagons at first, and then the railroad, when we watched them building forts, killing off all the game, committing buffalo genocide, and we saw them ripping up our Black Hills for gold, our sacred Paha Sapa, the home of the wakinyan, the thunderbirds, only then did we realize what they wanted was our land. Then we began to fight. For our earth. For our children. That started what the whites call the Great Indian Wars of the West. I call it the Great Indian Holocaust.

Ideological reasons are a motive for denying genocide. For example, “A nation ashamed of its past will fear its future;” and, “Such attitudes, which dominate the councils of the elite, are the single greatest threat to our survival.” Does the dominant culture’s survival really depend on denying that “battles” were massacres and Hitler was inspired by “actual U.S. examples?”


And…quoting from Chapter 5 – The Earth Is Our Mother from the book The State of Native America, Genocide, Colonization and Resistance, edited by Annette Jaimes, ISBN 0-89608-424-9:

– snip –

..Even the the nazi tactic of concentrating ‘undesireables’ prior to their forced ‘relocation or reduction’ was drawn from actual U.S. examples, including internment of the Cherokees and other ‘Civilized Tribes’ during the 1830’s before the devastatingly lethal Trail of Tears was forced upon them, and the comparable experience of the Navajo people at the Bosque Redondo during the period 1864-68.

Of course the dominant culture’s survival does not really depend on denying that “battles” were massacres and Hitler was inspired by “actual U.S. examples.” Remembering the dominant culture is a mindset, at least one author and possibly his readers do feel some sort of survival instinct in connection with their genocide denial.  We’ll see those specific examples shortly. But we also know there are economic considerations, namely being held accountable, that motivate some to deny genocide.…

Newspapers of the day publicized bounty notices on current “uprisings.” A 1922 article in the Rocky Mountain News reported a $25 reward for those who defeated “efforts to sign the roads into the Navajo reservation … The redskins are said to tear out or carry away all sign-boards.”

The Rocky Mountain News had political and proprietary interests in the Colorado gold and in clearing the territory of Indians to get at it. The newspaper started a drumbeat against Cheyenne Dog Soldiers and other “hostiles” that culminated in the Sand Creek Massacre of a peace camp of Cheyenne elders, pregnant women and children on Nov. 29, 1864.

The News celebrated the “Battle” of Sand Creek, lauding the Colorado Volunteers’ “Bloody Thirdsters” as having “covered themselves with glory.” By contrast, the U.S. Army officers on site reported it as the Sand Creek “Massacre” and described the soldiers as “barbaric” and “covered with gore.”  

Until now, we have discussed some “whys,” which can be simplified into ideological or economic reasons.

Denials Of The Genocide Of Native Americans

There are many other examples of denial by perpetrators who wish to escape negative reactions to their deeds. More troubling are the later denials by people not directly involved in the genocidal events but who appear to have ideological reasons for their denials.

But Michael Medved and Don Feder and give us some clear examples of genocide denial, in addition to labeling massacres as battles. Medved “Claim(s) that the deaths were inadvertent,”  while expressing ideological reasons.…

By Michael Medved

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Moreover, the real decimation of Indian populations had nothing to do with massacres or military actions, but rather stemmed from infectious diseases that white settlers brought with them at the time they first arrived in the New World.

– snip –

A nation ashamed of its past will fear its future.

Twelve Ways To Deny A Genocide

3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent.

As a result of famine, migration, or disease, not because of willful murder.

Yes, 90% to 95% of villages were already depopulated because of disease, but that does not excuse the killers who exterminated the indigenous survivors.

In a different tone but still denying genocide, Feder ” Rationalize(s) the deaths as the result of tribal conflict, coming to the victims out of the inevitability of their history of relationships.” But Feder substitutes white encroachment for another tribe. He minimizes the Great Indian Holocaust, as Crow Dog calls it, as merely “every nation includes its share of invasions, dispossessions and injustices.” Next, he supplies his own ideological reasons for denying the genocide as previously mentioned.

(My insertion)

Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth

Twelve Ways To Deny A Genocide

5. Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict, coming to the victims out of the inevitability of their history of relationships.

This was a witty rejoinder to my observation that the history of every nation includes its share of invasions, dispossessions and injustices.

– snip –

Plymouth protesters insist that America was a tragic mistake, our history is ignoble and the only valid reason for our continued existence is to provide racial reparations. Such attitudes, which dominate the councils of the elite, are the single greatest threat to our survival.

The extent to which a Nation denies the genocide it has committed is a measure of that Nation’s social conscience. The social conscience of the dominant culture does not want to lose its power, so it restrains its own humanity with ideologies and anything that points the finger the other way.…

Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide. It is what Elie Wiesel has called a “double killing.” Denial murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to destroy remembrance of the crime. In a century plagued by genocide, we affirm the moral necessity of remembering.

But the real power the dominant culture loses is the power to be caring human beings. Much more needs to be researched and written about this topic.


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  2. for reparations?

    Fine.  I feel this too.  Do you feel the demand for your land to be returned to you?  I feel this too.

    Do you feel that the white man has treated you like a child, that he has hidden behind his ideas of political reality, versus reality reality, his made up world, and made your people suffer for centuries, based on made up rules that serve imaginary institutions and not people?

    Do you feel like the white man’s idea of sovereignty is a dirty lie made to serve him and only him?

    I have one totally self serving question

    How do you let go of your hate?  

    And I don’t mean, you, your personal hate, whether it exists or not, whether you have made peace with it or not, I mean a larger, entire-people justifying, meta-hate.

    I am not trying to confront, I am trying to understand.

    Do you believe in karma?  Because I’m a white man.  

    I had no wish to lay claim to your land, to marginalize your people or deny you reparations.

    But, have I been cursed, with a generational curse?  And, is this, itself, fatuous, as I live on your ancestors’ land?

    I am a white gay man who dreams of a gay nation.  Sovereignty, for me, is not a denied idea from a world I don’t know, but a distant dream.  We have been cursed with a civil rights struggle that may last ten generations.

    I was born into your land.  By my very existence, I take from you what you rightfully own.

    How can I ever apologize to you?  What can I do for you?  How can I apologize, for my ancestors, and my birth, for the land and the nature denied to you, with my own struggles to contemplate?

  3. The simple truth is that genocide was the primary means by which Native American lands were stolen by the (now) dominant culture. Your diary beautifully documents the psychological gyrations by which genocide was justified and denied, and your words serve to educate and illustrate for us and for future generations.

    Thank you for sharing these words with us, and for showing the truth.

  4. We as a country seem unable to stop denying any of the atrocities or genocides we either commit or support. I have never in my life seen this culture is such a state of denial. We called what we did to Native Americans or Mexican’s or anyone who’s land or resources we want Manifest Destiny now days it’s national interest or security. Many do not want to see the reality of the crimes committed in our name and with our consent. What can I say except that many do see, many realize that without the denial the masters of war and death would not be able to implement their inhumanity and call it destiny, interest, threats, or security. These are the terms used by all who commit genocide.    

  5. seeing, smelling, hearing and touching the world: A kaleidoscope of human creativity. The human mind as part of the earth and her cycles. “The Americas”. The rest is postscript. The eradication of authentic diversity is fatal. The homogeneous, synthetic society cannot really live. What goes around…

    We’re still visitors. I laugh at our fee simple absolute.

    We poison ourselves with our own medicine. The denial of genocide is insanity, as nothing changes while the soul continues to rot.

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