1864, Colonel John Chivington surveyed his troops with pride
as they galloped into
a Colorado town. The locals cheered these "brave" cavalry
men who were returning from their recent massacre of the "savages" at
Sand Creek. The mounted soldiers waved more than a few newly
harvested scalps of elderly Indian men. But more than a few of
these soldiers had very special trophies in the form of Indian
female genitalia that they had carved from their "enemies" and
attached to their hats.
In this Thanksgiving
season, we are asked to be grateful that European settlers extended
the hand of friendship to their Native brethren, and lived alongside
them in harmony and in the spirit of brotherhood. Thanks to the
research of brilliant scholar Ward
Churchill, we know that this "love" for indigenous
nations is evidenced by a series of massacres, including an 1833
incident when men, women and children of the Sauk Nation were
slaughtered near the Mississippi River after having been driven
from their homes in Illinois. In 1854, 150 Lakotas were massacred
in Nebraska. In 1863, 500 Shoshones were killed in Idaho. In
1868, 300 Cheyenne were massacred in Oklahoma. Scores of other
Cheyenne were killed in Kansas, Nebraska and Wounded Knee, South
Dakota in 1875, 1878 and 1890 respectively.
Between 1778 and 1871,
the U.S. government entered into approximately 400 treaties with
indigenous nations. The government violated the terms of every
last treaty. Countless numbers of children from indigenous nations
were taken from their homes and shipped off to boarding schools
where every ounce of their culture was forced out of them.
We Africans also know
of genocide. We too have been the targets of efforts to strip
us of our culture. Perhaps most importantly our land, Africa
(like the land of the indigenous nations of the Americas), has
been stolen by western capitalists. Our determination to regain
control of every square inch of Africa for the benefit of the
African masses worldwide is matched only by the determination
of other indigenous nations everywhere to do the same with respect
to their respective homelands.
In our quest for control
of Africa, we Africans are driven by the knowledge that control
of land translates into power that can ultimately be manifested
in the form of diplomatic, military and economic advantage for
all who are part of the African Nation regardless of their country
of residence. On a more basic level, we understand that by any
moral yardstick, the injustice of settler colonialism can be
corrected only by a return of stolen land to indigenous populations.
If we demand Africa for the Africans, and Palestine for the Palestinians,
we simply cannot deny that same right to the indigenous nations
of the Americas.
Thus, those among us
who harbor bourgeois dreams of integrating ourselves into the
American institutions and structures that maintain dominance
of stolen territory for the descendants of European invaders
must come to understand that we are instead morally obligated
to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are indigenous to
the western hemisphere, and to do everything in our power to
help them reclaim their land from the U.S. empire. Progressive
and revolutionary Africans are not exempt from this admonition.
Dozens of leftist organizations have a detailed vision of a new
socialist North American society. Unless these organizations
have consulted first with the indigenous nations and obtained
their consent, any plans for a new, revolutionary state on North
American soil are both presumptuous and arrogant.
we consider that countless enslaved Africans who escaped from
given refuge by indigenous nations, we have an even greater obligation
to engage in serious, ongoing discussions with America’s first
nations about how we can help them take back their stolen continent.
P. Fancher is the author of "The Splintering of Global
Africa: Capitalism’s War Against Pan-Africanism."