June 27, 2011

Natives suffer the most violence

Natives Targeted Most for Hate Crimes

By Valerie Taliman“We know from hearings in Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota that hate crimes are continuing to happen against Native Americans, mostly in border towns near our reservations,” he said, citing a soon-to-be released report developed by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that compiled testimony in 2009 about hate crimes from hundreds of Americans Indians.

The report follows up on the 2005 Department of Justice report that showed the overall violent crime rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 100 per 1,000 persons, meaning that one out of 10 American Indians has been a victim of violence.

The study also found that “American Indians are more likely than people of other races to experience violence at the hands of someone of a different race,” with 70 percent of reported violent attacks committed by non-Indians.

“Nevada was always known as the ‘Mississippi of the West’ for its rampant racism. Up until the late 1950s, Indians had to be off the streets by sundown or face arrest,” said Melendez. “Reno was a very racist place, but over the years it’s become more diversified as more Hispanic people moved into the area. Sadly, that’s not the case in many rural communities where there’s still a lot of good ‘ole boy attitudes.”
Comment:  As usual, it's difficult to disentangle factors such as poverty, crime, and substance abuse. But I maintain that racism and stereotyping are a huge part of this problem. Non-Native see Natives as inferior--as bums, drunks, whores, losers. I.e., as remnants of a race of primitive savages and squaws.

We've spent 500 years stoking a righteous, "civilized" hatred of Natives. This happened before many Indians became alcoholics, were herded onto reservations, grew dependent on government handouts. So I don't think we can point to any particular social cause such as poverty.

No, white Christian Euro-Americans have hated Indians since the beginning. Indians reminded them that their lives were controlled by monarchs, lords, popes, bishops, and other wealthy aristocrats. I.e., that they weren't free to believe and act as they wished. Indians were the "other" who revealed the lies and hypocrisies of Western civilization, so they had to go.

For more on violence against Natives, see Hip-Hop Culture in Alaska and Reviews of The Silence.

Below:  An inviting target for "good ol' boys" bent on proving their manhood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It got worse. South Dakota passed a hate crimes law, but for all intents and purposes, it's a law to keep Indians from committing any crimes against whites. Muggings have been prosecuted as hate crimes, while murders of Indians with a spraypainted swastika to mark the site have not.