June 26, 2008

Killing Custer was patriotic

The patriots who killed Custer

Indians fought against the U.S., but they also show great loyalty to the nation.Consider this: The Lakota Sioux offered some of the most fierce resistance to the United States in the 1860s and 1870s, but in the decades that followed, Lakota artists regularly incorporated the design of the U.S. flag into their beadwork, painting and weaving. What those stars and stripes meant to the Lakota artists could vary widely: In their hands, the U.S. flag could be a gesture of their new allegiance, a plea for justice from the U.S., a symbol of the nation for which their young men were now fighting or simply a decorative motif they knew to be popular with collectors. It might have been all of these things at the same time.

The other insight is that genuine patriotism can still take place amid divided loyalties. Americans are capable of more nuanced thinking about what it means to be an American than we usually give ourselves credit for. Non-Indians who attend celebrations like the Little Bighorn anniversary are often surprised by the exhibitions of U.S. patriotism. But for more than a century, American Indians on the Plains have understood that their love of country can contain both their struggles to achieve tribal autonomy and their deeply felt attachments to the United States.

That is the kind of patriotism that was born at the Little Bighorn battlefield, and the kind that American Indian soldiers now take with them to Afghanistan and Iraq. It is the kind of patriotism that is too big to fit on a lapel pin.
Comment:  For many Americans, patriotism means blind loyalty. For Native Americans, it means something else: understanding and embracing the country's strengths and weaknesses.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
The essential verities in the matter are that the land still is here and we Natives still are here. No further explication should be necessitated...
All Best
Russ Bates