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December 15, 2003

Emotional Genocide

Lately I have been rereading two accounts of Native American History: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown, and Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Ogalala Sioux as told to John Neihardt.

Reading these accounts again has both inspired me and saddened me. It is inspiring to have a glimpse of the power and beauty of a natural life. It is more than saddening to see how these entire cultures were destroyed. It feels shameful that I sit here now, squatting on First Nations land.

Most people who live in North America at this time believe that the destruction of Native American life in the previous centuries was a tragedy. Most people believe that they would never let that happen now.

Think again.

Every baby born here is a Native American. Every one of them is as wild as wild can be. And just like the natives were broken and forced to submit to a stiff, "civilized" way of life, our modern culture breaks and forces millions of children to do the same. It is emotional genocide all over again, every day, year after year, right under our noses - and often by our own hands.

This is not a metaphorical trick. This is reality. But this can be changed.

Children can be brought up with love, respect, and the freedom to be who they are. In a restrictive society it is a challenge, but to me there is no other real choice.

In every maternity wing, every delivery room, every nursery, every school, and every family, it's the wild west all over again. What's your choice?

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