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Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00

Genocide in the United States

by Albert Bender

Attacks on Native American people aren't confined to the history books - they're happening in South Dakota every day

Recently, after South Dakota's genocidal snatching of Native American children received wide publicity, one of the state's newspapers saddled up and charged out in the best cavalry style of the Old West cinemas to protect the circled wagons of the Department of Social Services.

The Mitchell Daily Republic editorially asserted: "State wrongly demonised in ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act] debate."

However, demon is as demon does.

"If the shoe fits ..." or "if it quacks like a duck ..."

But enough old-time maxims.

There is no getting around the abominable illegal actions of the state in flagrant violation of the ICWA or the fact that said state gets $70,000 (£45,000) for each abducted native child.

This journalist took particular offence at the paper's statement that "this controversy has become a glorified shouting match between adults."

What? This canard trivialises a matter that is deadly serious - the genocidal forced assimilation of thousands of native children into white culture.

This is no "glorified shouting match."

As I've written before, over 700 Native American children are removed by South Dakota state officials every year and 87 per cent are placed in non-native homes while native foster homes go empty.

American Indian children make up 56.3 per cent of the foster child population of the state - even though they only constitute 13.8 per cent of the children in South Dakota.

Removed children are generally forbidden from seeing their parents for 60 days. If later on visits become "emotional," they are warned, the visits will be discontinued.

Is genocide too strong a word? The process seems to fit the UN General Assembly's Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which lists among "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" point e): "Forcibly transferring the children of a group to another group."

Moreover, let's look at how native people are treated in other respects in South Dakota.

A good start is the state's reputation among Native American people nationally.

In my conversations with other Native Americans, South Dakota is referred to as the most "redneck" state in the entire country because of its treatment of natives.

It is the 1960s Mississippi of the Native American world.

Native Americans from there relate stories of how they are followed inside corner shops by employees because it is thought they are going to "steal a pack of meat."

The pervasive racism is exhibited at basketball games when it's native teams vs white players. White cheerleaders gyrate with signs saying that Native American students graduate "from high school to go to prison."

Reports are regularly issued concerning unequal treatment by law enforcement officers, and even murder.

In 2010, a young Oglala Lakota college student, Christopher Capps, was killed in a hail of bullets in Rapid City by local police.

A native drink-driving offender is given a five-year jail sentence while a white man similarly charged is given probation.

Years ago young Native American men were arrested for alleged vagrancy in the winter so they could be made to shovel snow in the small towns.

Native people are still racially profiled for alleged driving offences or suspicion of drug use.

South Dakota's overall population is 14-15 per cent Native American, but the state's prison population is over 50 per cent Native American, according to Albert Pooley, who heads the Native American Fatherhood and Families Association.

This is the atmosphere of a police state, a demonic police state, directed against Native American residents.

In Rapid City native media report that there is a pervasive fear of law enforcement among Indian families.

Many tell of experiences of being pulled over by police, allegedly for suspicion of drug abuse.

Families coming from the grocery are required to put all their food along the side of the road. Next, they are handcuffed and their vehicles are searched by police and drug-sniffing dogs.

No drugs are found, no arrests are made. This happens most often with licence plates bearing the number 65 - the Pine Ridge Reservation on state plates.

Some families reportedly declined to talk with the media for fear of reprisals.

Native unemployment consistently averages between 85 per cent and 90 per cent. State employment programmes regularly pass over tribal members, the Rapid-City-based Native Sun Times reports.

Last year the state's Labour and Regulation Department teamed up with Manpower, a national recruiting firm based in Milwaukee, to attract 1,000 out-of-state workers to fill positions in manufacturing, engineering, financial services and information technology.

This was done despite the fact that Oglala Lakota College, an accredited higher education institution on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation, has graduates in at least two of those fields.

There were many young educated Native Americans qualified and eager for employment in those areas, but the state decided to look elsewhere.

The governor's office says that it looks for workers in other states if it cannot find South Dakotans to fill job openings. Obviously, the governor meant white South Dakotans.

A friend of mine from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation has said it is the policy of the state government to "keep the natives naked and starving."

This is all part and parcel of the imposition of genocidal living conditions.

Again, the state acts the demon.

The state even goes so far as to exclude reservation populations from employment data, according to a Native Sun Times report.

The jobless rates on the state's nine reservations are stunning, to say the least, with Pine Ridge's at 89 per cent.

This exclusion is just another despicable example of how, in South Dakota, Native Americans literally don't count.

South Dakota is a hotbed of virulent racism, perhaps without parallel anywhere else in the US.

Yet the Daily Republic feels South Dakota is being wrongly demonised.

Imagine that.

This article appeared in People's World

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