March 14, 2009

Chief Joseph on good intentions

A quote from André P. Cramblit on Facebook:Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father's grave. They do not pay for all my horses and cattle. Good words cannot give my back my children. Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk. It does not require many words to speak the truth.

Chief Joseph
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Apology Is Meaningless and Apologies Aren't Enough.

2 comments:

Stephen said...

Not necessarily apologies are a way of recognizing genocide, however some are quite silly or stupid, a tribe for example once issued an apology for the fact that some of their warriors killed a few missionaries (in the 18th century). Apologizing for that is just a bit much, don't ya think?

Rob said...

A common position on the apology issue is that people must match words with deeds. Apologies are empty and meaningless without corresponding actions.

In the US, apologies tend to be decoupled from legal or monetary claims. In fact, I think the proposed Congressional apology had language stating the apology wasn't an admission of guilt--if that makes any sense.

Most Americans acknowledge that "bad things" happened to Indians. Even if they don't acknowledge who did these bad things or how bad they really were.

More acknowledgment of "bad things" won't necessarily help anyone. What will help is concrete action: favorable court decisions, services with sufficient funding, cultural and language initiatives, elimination of racism and stereotyping, etc.

P.S. Yes, apologizing for killing a few missionaries is a bit silly. Especially since it may have been a justifiable case of self-defense. <g>