Mass Killings, Native Erasure by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)

Our behavior must change, we must relearn to value life, all life.

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)

 

Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7

Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7

Upon his arrival into the “New World” Columbus and his crew unleashed a vicious and relentless wave of violence against the Indigenous populations. From enslavement, to mass rapes, to mass killings Columbus and his men inflicted grotesque levels of violence never before seen in the Western hemisphere. By 1508, an estimated three to five million Indigenous peoples from the Island Nations had died since the time of Columbus’s arrival.

The genocide had begun, one driven, and backed, by an ideology under the Doctrine of Discovery that claimed European Christians had a God given right to set forth and colonize any lands not occupied by European Christians.

Throughout the Western hemisphere, colonization and genocide followed from the eastern shores to the Pacific Ocean. By the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, an estimated 100 million Indigenous peoples had perished.

Violence throughout the Western hemisphere was not limited to Indigenous populations. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade, followed by the Jim Crow era, saw millions of people of African descent perish at the hands of slavers to later white mobs. From 1890 to 1920, an estimated 3,000-5,000 Black people were lynched primarily in the Southern United States.

The colonization of the Western hemisphere is built upon the blood of millions.

Mass shootings, defined as single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, continue to be all too common occurrences throughout the United States. According to the organization Mass Shooter Tracker, there were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870. There were 64 school shootings in 2015. All total an estimated 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015.

In 2016, gun violence continues to plague communities across the country. According to the Chicago Tribune, from January 1st – June 19th there have been 1,709 shootings resulting in 141 people killed in Chicago. And most recently, 49 people were killed at a LGBTQ night club in Orlando, Florida.

With each mass shooting a barrage of media sensationalism tends to follow. Headlines like “Worse Mass Shooting in US History” not only bury the very real trauma faced by survivors of mass shootings and the families of those who lost loved ones in those shootings, but such headlines tend to enrage communities, in particular Native communities, whose genocide typically gets erased.

This same narrative plays out yearly on 9/11, when pundits and politicians alike speak of the “worst terrorist attack ever” while forgetting that man Columbus, and his actions, that they celebrate with a Federal holiday on the second Monday in October every year and the mass act of terror he committed.

Our challenge is to not buy into media sensationalism and to not participate the ongoing erasure of the genocide of Native peoples, nor neglect to address and combat the loss of life in communities of color from police violence to street violence.

It is also upon us to understand that there is a difference between a state sanctioned ideology rooted in the Doctrine of Discovery that called for the extermination of Native peoples to clear our lands for occupation and the violence that stems from inadequate mental health services, poverty and other causes of mass shootings.

It is also upon us to value all life and mourn for those who’ve been lost to acts of violence regardless of where, to whom, and for what reasons it was inflicted. The loss of life of refugees fleeing civil wars is no less than the loss of life of those in the Pulse night club attack, in 2016 an estimated 2,500 refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean alone, nor are their lives any less than those who are killed in the streets of Paris, Iraq, Palestine, Chicago, Mexico, etc.

What is needed is a return to an understanding of our inter-relatedness to each other, to earth, to all creation. Our inability to understand our inter-connectedness has led to globe state of conflict and disaster. Human activity and our lack of concern for the consequences of our actions drives our current state of global affairs. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an estimated 200-2000 species go extinct yearly due to human activity.

Our behavior must change, we must relearn to value life, all life.

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)

Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7

Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7

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