Ottawa-Outaouais IWW

The General Membership Branch of the Ottawa-Outaouais region

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Book Review: Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian

August 7th, 2019 by Deska Voussanaki

The Inconvenient Indian

Let’s mention some facts:

In 1598 Juan de Onate and his troops killed over eight hundred Acoma in what is now New Mexico. By 1630 the Puritan settlers were launching attacks against the Pequot tribe in 1637, massacring six to seven hundred men, women and children. For two hundred years, merciless wars frequently broke out throughout North America. In 1832 one hundred and fifty Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox tribe) in Wisconsin were killed. In 1863 there was the Bear River massacre where two hundred and fifty Shoshoni were killed. In 1864 there was the Sand Creek massacre and in 1890 the infamous Wounded Knee, where over two hundred Lakota were slaughtered.

Michael Parenti, in his book Profit Pathology and Other Indecencies, describes the sobering devastation: “Estimates of the native population of America prior to the European conquest vary from 12 million to 18 million… but after four centuries of warfare, massacre, disease and dispossession, the original population was reduced by over 90 percent…whole tribes were completely exterminated or whittled down to scattered numbers.”

Why did this unmatched and largely unrecognized holocaust happen? Thomas King is clear: “Native history in North America as writ has never really been about Native people. It’s about Whites and their needs and desires… the Lakota didn’t want Europeans in the Black Hill, but Whites wanted the gold that was there. The Cherokee didn’t want to move from Georgia to Oklahoma, but Whites wanted the land. The Cree of Quebec weren’t at all keen on vacating their homes to make way for the Great Whale project, but there’s excellent money in hydroelectric power”. Native people were in the way of what the Whites coveted, and so the Whites needed them to disappear. In other words, the native peoples were slaughtered with merciless deliberation so that their land might be taken for the use of Whites.

Colonialism and its consequences in the lives of North America’s native peoples is the core of this astonishing book. Policies, treaties, agreements, government’s decisions and tribal reactions comprise the rest. The Inconvenient Indian is a book we all must read.   


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