June 21, 2012

Chicago councilman keeps stereotyping Indians

Chicago Councilman’s Stereotyping of Natives ContinuesThe first offense occurred June 5 when Burke suggested the descendants and the occupants of Fort Dearborn “smoke a peace pipe” as part of the anniversary celebrations. This happened even after Podlasek had warned Burke to not use the term.

“He went ahead and did it in a public meeting less than 12 hours later,” Podlasek said. “There’s this huge ignorance we [Native Americans] have to deal with.”

Burke’s initial resolution marking a “Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation” didn’t sit well with Podlasek either who said it didn’t include the Native perspective of events at Fort Dearborne, a battle that occurred during the War of 1812. Podlasek does give Burke credit for changing the resolution to be more inclusive of Natives though.

But Burke didn’t stop with the stereotypical remarks even knowing he had offended Podlasek and others. At a civic club meeting on June 18 Burke described details about how Indians scalped and tortured their enemies during the Battle of Fort Dearborn, which Podlasek says isn’t historically accurate.

He said the things Burke said were actually “worse than his first comment,” and that “we’re going backwards.”

Podlasek said it really boils down to one thing: “There’s a huge need for cultural education in this area.”
Comment:  Three things wrong with Burke's comments:

1) We don't know the scalping and torturing happened. Podlasek says they didn't.

2) Burke isn't saying what horrors the white men did or might've done to the Indians. Historians say they scalped their opponents too, among other things.

3) Most important, even if the Indians did these things, it was in defense of their homeland against foreign invaders. That explains a lot of the so-called crimes.

Besides, scalping people after they die doesn't hurt them. It's a form of psychological warfare, and arguably a legitimate one if it helps scare off the invaders.

So Burke's comments are one-sided. Enough so that you have to wonder how prejudiced he is against Indians.

For more on the subject, see "Peace Pipe" Comment Offends Indians.

Below:  "Joe Podlasek, executive director of the American Indian Center of Chicago, sees a need for cultural education in Illinois after the stereotypical comments made by City Councilman Edward Burke."

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