May 19, 2010

Brownback reads US apology

Kansas senator reads apology to American Indians

By Murray EvansWith the leaders of five tribes in attendance, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas read a congressional resolution Wednesday apologizing for "ill-conceived policies" and acts of violence against American Indians by the U.S. government.

Brownback spoke during an event at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where he and Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, Lois Capps of California and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii joined representatives from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Pawnee nations, Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith said.

All those tribes are based in Oklahoma, except for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, which is based in South Dakota.

Smith said that while most tribes had not specifically asked for a formal apology from the U.S. government, the gesture was appreciated.

"It's difficult to issue an apology and sometimes it's difficult to accept one," Smith said by phone from Washington. "Once you put those differences of the past aside, perhaps the next step is, can you do any better in this round? That's where our greatest challenge is. The history of the U.S. (toward American Indians) is not a bright record. The real question is, what happens from this day forward?"
Some comments on this event on Facebook:I'm in England & I say about bloody time!

About bloody time indeed!

If they are so sorry they should fork over the money on the Cobell settlement. I will believe an apology when it is backed by action.

Well, it's a start.

Now they can return all our lands.

OK, now let's put you heart where you mouth is. It's easy to read an apology, it's all together different to actually change your mindset.

Oh, all 5 eh? Hmmm, how's that for a vote of confidence?

Only 5 Nations present out of over 500! That says everything to me about how important this particular apology is to Native People....

It's not like we're dead...over 560 Nations...not just the "leaders of five tribes"...and plenty alive....Upholding treaties would be an interesting start....

I found this interesting, however my thoughts go to how many times we have heard words and promises by the American government only to have those words shown to be lies and the promises broken. I agree with Chief Chad Smith..."The history of the U.S. (toward American Indians) is not a bright record. The real question is, what happens from this day forward?"
Comment:  I presume Brownback chose to read the apologize himself after he asked Obama to hold a public ceremony. I presume Obama ignored him. Obama's commitment to Indian country continues to look shaky to me.

So one of 100 senators, three of 435 representatives, and five of 564 tribes...not exactly an impressive showing. I guess we should be thankful that Brownback held the ceremony at all. At least it got the apology into the news--no thanks to Obama.

But that's about it. A start? Politicians apologize to try to end a conflict, not to start one. When asked why they didn't do anything substantive, they can point to the apology as their response. "We apologized to you. Isn't that enough? What else to you want of us?"

When Obama, Brownback, or someone proposes legislation with teeth in it--legislation that'll force people to acknowledge Indian rights and issues--then I'll be impressed. Until then, no.

For more on the subject, see Brownback Urges Public Apology and Obama's Invisible Apology.


dmarks said...

That awful conservative!

gaZelbe said...

An apology, while obviously symbolic is an important step because its an admission of wrongdoing.

The steps that follow will be able to build upon that initial concession.

Dealing with legal issues requires that larger efforts be made by steps like this, i.e. the UN's Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.