Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

This post is an appeal on behalf of all the missing American Indians, particularly the women.

Before I explain in more detail, let’s have a brief summary of why the plight of American Indians, or Native Americans if you prefer, deserves special attention.

In Europe, it’s often said that Jews are the canaries in the coal mine, meaning of course that if Jews are once again subjected to suspicion, discrimination, and abuse then it’s a sign that our collective moral integrity has declined to the point where we have to take urgent action to restore basic standards of decency.

You could say the same about Jews in the USA but I think a more accurate measure is the way in which American Indians are treated.

The Indian Wars

The history of the United States of America is widely known, but what is less well known is the fate American Indians after the massacre at Wounded Knee in the winter of 1890 which marked the end of the Indian Wars. The events that occurred between the arrival of Columbus in 1492 and Wounded Knee in 1890 (and 1973) are long and complex, involving hundreds of tribes, many of whom have been wiped out completely.

The Indian Wars of the 19th Century

You might have seen films like Dances With Wolves and while saddened by the story and its outcomes you might assume that there is nothing more to be said. You may have heard of broken treaties, like the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. This was drafted after an alliance of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Northern Arapaho under the leadership of the Oglala Lakota leader Red Cloud, successfully forced the US Army to abandon its forts along the Bozeman Trail.

The forts had been built illegally on Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho land to protect settlers travelling through Indian territory to the gold fields of Montana. Eventually, through sheer weight of numbers and pressure to protect settlers as opposed to treaty rights, more land was seized by force.

The Indian Wars continued, and eight years later a certain general by the name of George Armstrong Custer discovered that the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were as strong as ever. He met his fate at the Battle of the Greasy Grass, more commonly known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, or simply Custer’s Last Stand, in June of 1876.

This military defeat and humiliation of the US Army was the catalyst for a chain of events that ultimately lead to the abandonment of all treaties and the total, and merciless subjugation of all native tribes. The wars came to an end but the genocide turned into ethnocide.

For example, in the early 20th Century children on reservations were forcibly taken from their parents and put through a brutal boarding school system in which they were beaten for speaking their own language, wearing any sign of traditional clothing, or showing any sign of the culture of their ancestors and relations.

How ironic then that the Navajo language saved the lives of so many U.S service personnel in World War II by virtue of its complexity and code.

Reservation Life in the 20th Century

During the 20th Century, on the reservations, poverty, unemployment, and the inevitable consequences of social deprivation set in and took root. The Indian days of long ago are gone and the few indigenous tribes that exist today are those whose ancestors survived the wars, introduced diseases, murder, and deliberate starvation.

Native American Woman Reservation Life

Today, many American Indians exist in a state of limbo on reservations that are a small percentage of the land they were promised in perpetuity by treaties signed and subsequently dishonoured by those who saw themselves as the upholders of civilised Christian values.

As if all this injustice and ongoing suffering was not enough American Indians, both men and women, are subjected to an alarmingly disproportionate amount of kidnapping and murder.

Native women are subjected to far higher instances of sexual assault and rape than non-native women. So many young Native American women have disappeared in Canada and the USA that it has been described as an epidemic, with the title: MMIW – Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

This has resulted in the launch in 2016 of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by the Canadian government.

In November 2019, President Trump signed an executive order to establish a task force to investigate the plight of all these women and men who have disappeared.

While these may be signs of hope, critics have pointed out that they are inadequately funded to make any significant difference.

When will things improve?

So when then?

The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens from harm, both from foreign invaders but also from internal violence and crime.

When can we expect to see American Indian women able to live in safety, with the respect and cooperation of their fellow citizens?

When will the self-styled Leader of the Free World ensure justice is done in his own backyard?

When will the USA honour human and treaty rights?

When will Thanksgiving become a real celebration of the people who kept the early settlers alive, demonstrated by not building pipelines through reservations, and contaminating or simply stealing the water supply?

How you can help Native Americans

Please visit these sites for more information:

Ways to help include;

  • Donating money to supporting charities and programs.
  • Visiting, or volunteering to help on a reservation.
  • Learn about the history of the American Indian Tribes.
  • Talking about Native American issues and helping to spread awareness.
  • Lobbying your local politicians to make positive changes on their behalf.

We can’t change the past, but we can create a future in which Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are the fundamental rights of all Americans, Native or otherwise.

Thanks for reading this far. Please share this post with others.

Cold Moon December 2019

The 2019 UK General Election

The 2019 UK General Election is at last over and the country has breathed a sigh of relief (or despair, depending on how you voted). At least the tension has evaporated and decisions have been made.

When I awoke to the results of the 2016 EU referendum I discovered, as someone who voted to leave the EU, that I had earned the badge of being a thick, xenophobic, little Englander who had helped doom the UK to economic ruin and isolation on the world’s stage.

Come to think of it, as I’m a straight, white, middle-aged Englishman who votes Conservative I guess I qualify for the gammon badge too (although I tend not to get so worked up that I take on the qualifying shade of pink).

I suppose I qualify as a boomer too so OK boomer – that’s three badges! #winningatlife

Differences of opinion haves made politics a prickly subject with friends and family but we’ve managed to get this far without pulling up the drawbridges and building walls around our hearts.

As the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland comes to terms with the 2019 General Election results there are several sensations floating around in the atmosphere; reflief, reflection, regret, anger, frustration, hope, optimism, and many more.

Things have certainly been stirred up but there’s also a sense of a milestone passed, a corner turned. We came to a decision and made it. The alternative reality has been rejected.

The Angry & Intolerant Far Left

Naturally, some cannot accept the result and they were out on the streets of London last night protesting against the democratic result.

The march, which appeared to be organised by the Socialist Workers’ Party, was lead by a group holding a banner which read, “NO TO ISLAMOPHOBIA”, presumably alluding to the article written by Boris Johnson in The Daily Telegraph published in August 2018, “Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that’s still no reason to ban it“.

The irony is that, as the title makes clear, banning the burka isn’t necessary and women should be free to wear one, even though some Islamic organisations openly campaign for a ban (see the Anti Burqah-Niqab Initiative), citing the “Wahabi-Salafi distortion of Islam” and wishing to “restore Qur’anic Islam by jettisoning cultural Islam“.

At least one member of Labour’s shadow cabinet share this view. In 2013, Emily Thornberry, who was at the time Shadow Care Minister under Ed Milliband’s leadership, said on Question Time that she wouldn’t want her 4 year old child or elderly mother looked after by someone wearing a burqa.

But the strongest irony is the fact that Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell MAMA, the organisation that “supports victims of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate“, was one of the signatories of the letter to The Guardian saying they couldn’t vote for Labour because of its antisemitism.

What Happens Now?

The vast majority of people want the same things; an end to human and animal suffering, cleaning up the planet, peace and prosperity, a safe and secure environment for their children, good education and healthcare, and a bright and joyful future, justice, freedom etc.

Politics is just arguing about how to bring all that about.

Few voters are political scientists or experts in economics. People vote for all sorts of reasons, some of them vague and shallow, or they don’t vote at all. However, you can be certain that among the 1.7 million people working for the NHS and the many European and other nationals working and living in the UK are many who voted to leave the EU and who voted Conservative.

The NHS doesn’t need saving from the Tories or from Trump. It just needs a thorough enema to cleanse it of the mismanagement, waste, inefficiency, and outright fraud.

A tweet from 2016

Leaving The EU

Democracy means that sometimes you have to accept the decisions that people make, even if you are convinced they’ve made not only the wrong choice but a choice that you imagine will cause pain and hardship.

Over the last three and a half years of confusion and deadlock we’ve seen Parliament trying to block the path to leaving the EU but it seems even our European friends and neighbours have now accepted the result. Britain must do so too, if we’re too move forward.

Obviously the heated debates will go on. No one realistically expects the process of leaving the EU to be free of obstacles, or that there won’t be problems generated by the outcome. You can be sure that as we are met with each obstacle there will be cries of, “We told you so! See what you’ve done?” from those who voted to remain.

But jobs were lost and created before the recent election and 2016 referendum and no doubt we’ll continue to travel on a bumpy economic road, but at least now the world can see where they stand with the UK. The indecision and delay are over, and it was the uncertainty that dismayed so many UK businesses and which prevented them from investing further, as well as foreign firms that might now step forward to invest.

One immediate result of the election was a £30bn boost to the value of British firms and the Pound soared for a day before settling down to about two dollars above where it was before the election.

2019 UK General Election - effect on the Pound

6 Lessons From 2019 General Election

  1. Ignoring the will of millions isn’t a good strategy (Labour Party, Jo Swinson)
  2. Celebrities know no more or less than the rest of us about politics and their endorsements mean nothing (Hugh Grant, Lilly Allen, Stormzy et al)
  3. Twitter is not reality
  4. Fake news is employed by all sides in the debate
  5. Listening to people is a far better strategy than preaching to them or insulting them
  6. Complacency about your assumed core supporters can lead to disaster

Look To The Future

I’ve always been a glass half-full sort of person (I’m just grateful when someone hands me some wine) so I think we should choose optimism and hope over despair and regret.

We have to deal with the situation in front of us whichever way we voted in both the referendum and the elections. We tend to work better and produce more positive results when we are united.

I don’t know what’s ahead but that’s always been part of what keeps us going. I’m just glad that the Jeremy Corbyn brand of Labour didn’t get in and I’m encouraged by the fact that many traditional Labour voters rejected his ideas.

Listening to the fears expressed by Britain’s Jews should be enough to convince you that Britain has made the right choice.

Antisemitism, islamophobia, and xenophobia – all these fears stem from a fear of the other, of those who are different, who are not like us. If allowed to fester this fear pushes individuals far to the right or to the left, eventually leading to the abyss of genocide and ethnicide, whether by fascists on the right. the pogroms of Jews and re-education camps for Muslims of the hard left.

So the UK voters rejected Labour’s antisemitism, its wild and unrealistic spending plans, and its dithering over Brexit. The electorate reaffirmed the 2016 decision and that’s what we now have to accept and digest.

The challenge now is to finalise Brexit, clean up the planet, improve living standards, fix the NHS, and all other other domestic and international tasks that have been sitting around unresolved for so long.

Looking forward to 2020