Lindsay Glauner excerpted from: Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. Instead, the United States government, its agencies, and those involved with carrying out the measures designed to inflict genocidal acts against the Native American population must be held in violation of customary international law, as well as conventional international law, as proscribed in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Genocide Convention. The term "genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin in and was derived from the Greek word genos, which means tribe or race, and the Latin word cide, which is commonly found in words such as homicide, infanticide, and fratricide.
Other writers, however, contend that European and U. To a significant extent, disagreements about the pervasiveness of genocide in the history of the post-Columbian Western Hemisphere, in general, and U. Conservative definitions emphasize intentional actions and policies of governments that result in very large population losses, usually from direct killing.
More liberal definitions call for less stringent criteria for intent, focusing more on outcomes. They do not necessarily require direct sanction by state authorities; rather, they identify societal forces and actors. They also allow for several intersecting forces of destruction, including dispossession and disease.
Because debates about genocide easily devolve into quarrels about definitions, an open-ended approach to the question of genocide that explores several phases and events provides the possibility of moving beyond the present stalemate.
However one resolves the question of genocide in American Indian history, it is important to recognize that European and U. These include violence resulting directly from settler expansion, intertribal violence frequently aggravated by colonial intrusionsenslavement, disease, alcohol, loss of land and resources, forced removals, and assaults on tribal religion, culture, and language.
The configuration and impact of these forces varied considerably in different times and places according to the goals of particular colonial projects and the capacities of colonial societies and institutions to pursue them. The capacity of Native people and communities to directly resist, blunt, or evade colonial invasions proved equally important.
Did the actions and policies of Europeans and U. Americans toward Indians qualify as genocide or not? Academics, students, citizens, in short, almost everyone has an opinion on the subject.
Some are certain that the answer to the question is yes, that the massive depopulation of indigenous America after was a clear-cut case of genocide. Others, however, are equally certain that the answer is no, namely that European and U.
American actions and policies toward Indians were at least sometimes deplorable but cannot be labeled as genocidal. This essay begins with the premise that the issue of genocide in American Indian history is far too complex to yield a simple yes-or-no answer.
The relevant history, after all, is a long one more than five hundred years involving hundreds of indigenous nations and several European and neo-European empires and imperial nation-states.
While it would be absurd to reduce this history to any single category, genocide included, it would be reasonable to predict that genocide was a part of this history. With this in mind, the essay invites readers to resist a tendency toward a quick or easy resolution of the question of genocide in American Indian history and to engage in an open-ended exploration.
The object is not a definitive answer but a clarification of the issues. More than many debates, those about genocide often center on definitions. Because of this fact, readers might expect an essay on genocide to begin by discussing various definitions of the term and related terms such as ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide and proceed either to argue for one definition as authoritative or to propose a new one.
This approach, however, would work against my objective of facilitating an open-ended exploration of the issue, and so a formal discussion of definitions will be deferred to the historiographical section at the end of this essay, though, as the essay develops, it will pause periodically to consider how specific events or phases might or might not be regarded as genocidal depending on definitions that have been or could be applied to them.
As will become apparent, debates about whether or not specific cases and phases qualify as genocide typically center on these issues: Virgin Soil Epidemics and Native Depopulation Discussions about genocide in the Americas often begin with the moment of initial contact between Europeans and Native people and emphasize the catastrophic impact of European diseases especially smallpox and measles for which Indians had no acquired immunity.
A standard estimate was 8 million for the entire hemisphere and 1 million north of the Rio Grande. In the s, however, the anthropologist Henry Dobyns took account of disease to provide much higher estimates of 75 million for the hemisphere and 10—12 million north of Mexico.
If 75 million people lived in in the Western Hemisphere in and the death toll from epidemic disease was 70, 80, or even 90 percent as was sometimes the casethe sheer numbers 50—60 million are overwhelming and compel recognition as genocide when measured against the numbers for commonly accepted cases of genocide in the twentieth century.
Good reason exists, however, to challenge the premise that the extent and intentionality of initial depopulation from disease is crucial to the question of genocide and American Indian history. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that European and European American actions toward the Indians of eastern North America during the eighteenth century long after the first epidemics were consistently genocidal according to the most conservative definition of the successful execution of a societal or governmental intention to physically kill all Indians.
An arithmetic approach assigning the majority of total deaths to disease would argue against regarding the last phase in depopulation as genocide, yet why should the number of Indians in that region who had died earlier from disease have any bearing on an assessment of whether the annihilation of the survivors would qualify as genocide or not?A group of Native Americans look at a sailing ship in the bay below them.
acts of genocide taken against indigenous Americans: The Gnadenhutten Massacre, more than 21 million acres. AN AMERICAN GENOCIDE The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, – Members of the History Department and Native American Studies Program founded the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
but one which has application to the story of California’s Native Americans.
“Genocide is a term of awful significance. Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west.
The history of Native Americans in the United States began in ancient times tens of thousands of years ago with the settlement of the Americas by the Paleo-Indians. Anthropologists and archeologists have identified and studied a wide variety of cultures that existed during this era. excerpted from: Lindsay Glauner, The Need for Accountability and Reparation: the United States Government's Role in the Promotion, Implementation, and Execution of the Crime of Genocide Against Native Americans, 51 DePaul Law Review , (Spring )( Footnotes) The.
The issue of genocide and American Indian history has been contentious. But these events are generally treated as precursors to a more extended consideration of genocide in the history of the United States. “Native Americans and the Trauma of History,” in Russell Thornton, ed., Studying Native America: Problems and Prospects.