It is estimated that before the “discovery” of the Americas there were approximately over 5 million Native Americans inhabiting the areas that now make up the United States (Thornton, 1987). By the year 1800 the population had been reduced to 600,000, and by 1900 it had been reduced to 250,000 (Thornton, 1987). The means of this devastation are well documented and include disease, biological warfare, warfare, and starvation.
Given that the vast majority of these deaths were intentional, as European decedents believed “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” this meets the criteria for a genocide or holocaust (Mieder, 1995). The definition of genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group,” and the definition of a holocaust is “a mass slaughter of people, especially through genocide” (Merriam-Webster, 2013).
The survivors of the Native American Holocaust are still experiencing the effects of the historical trauma as evidenced by the impoverished conditions of most reservations in America. As a nation we cannot begin to heal the wounds of the past until we recognize their existence. The creation of a Smithsonian Native American Holocaust Museum is one of the first steps toward this end. Please sign this petition to let the U.S. Congress know that you support the creation of a Smithsonian Native American Holocaust Museum.
Merriam-Webster. (2013). Genocide. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/genocide
Merriam-Webster. (2013). Holocaust. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holocaust
Mieder, Wolfgang. (1995). The Only Good Indian is a Dead Indian: History and Meaning of a Proverbial Stereotype" De Proverbio, An Electronic Journal of International Proverb Studies, 1(1). http://www.dickshovel.com/ind.html
Thornton, Russell. (1987). American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A population history since 1492. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.