This Genocidal Process

An excerpt from Friday’s Democracy Now interview with Nick Estes,  author of the book Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance. The interview was conducted in the wake of the new Interior Dept report documenting the deaths of 500 Indigenous children at Indian boarding schools run or supported by the federal government in the United States.

…this is a very emotional experience for a lot of Indigenous people in this country. And it should be an emotional experience for non-Indigenous people in this country. This is quite a historic moment in time. Although it’s not new news to Indigenous people, it might be new news to those who are hearing this horrific genocidal process that has taken place.

I think, you know, there’s a reason why the forcibly transferring of children from one group to another group is an international legal definition of genocide. That’s what we’re talking about, because taking children, or the process of Indian child removal, has been one strategy for terrorizing Native families for centuries, from the mass removal of Native children from their communities into boarding schools, as this new report lays out, from their communities into their widespread adoption and fostering out to mostly white families, which happened primarily in the 20th century.

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Literally Being Unearthed

By Nick Estes, re-posted from his brilliant piece in The Guardian (June 30, 2021).

There is so much mourning Native people have yet to do. The full magnitude of Native suffering has yet to be entirely understood, especially when it comes to the nightmarish legacies of American Indian boarding schools. The purpose of the schools was “civilization”, but, as I have written elsewhere, boarding schools served to provide access to Native land, by breaking up Native families and holding children hostage so their nations would cede more territory. And one of the primary benefactors of the boarding school system is the Catholic church, which is today the world’s largest non-governmental landowner, with roughly 177 million acres of property throughout the globe. Part of the evidence of how exactly the church acquired its wealth in North America is literally being unearthed, and it exists in stories of the Native children whose lives it stole, which includes my own family. Click here to read the rest.