Genocide of indigenous peoples

genocide of native inhabitants of a region

The genocide of Indigenous peoples, colonial genocide, or settler genocide is the intentional elimination of Indigenous peoples as a part of the process of colonialism. The expansion of various Western European colonial powers such as the British and Spanish empires and the subsequent establishment of colonies on Indigenous territories frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against Indigenous groups in Ireland, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The designation of specific events as genocidal is frequently controversial.

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  • The physical and cultural genocide of American Indian tribes is and was mostly about patriarchal fear of gynocracy. The Puritans particularly, but also the Catholic, Quaker, and other Christian missionaries, like their secular counterparts, could not tolerate peoples who allowed women to occupy prominent positions and decision-making capacity at every level of society. Wives telling husbands and brothers whether to buy or sell an item, daughters telling fathers whom they could and could not murder, empresses attending parleys with colonizers and being treated with deference by male leaders did not sit well with the invaders. The colonizers saw (and rightly) that as long as women held unquestioned power of such magnitude, attempts at total conquest of the continents were bound to fail. In the centuries since the first attempts at colonization in the early 1500s, the invaders have exerted every effort to remove Indian women from every position of authority, to obliterate all records pertaining to gynocratic social systems, and to ensure that no American and few American Indians would remember that gynocracy was the primary social order of Indian America prior to 1800.
  • The genocide practiced against the tribes is aimed systematically at the dissolution of ritual tradition. In the past this has included prohibition of ceremonial practices throughout North and Meso-America, Christianization, enforced loss of languages, reeducation of tribal peoples through government-supported and Christian mission schools that Indian children have been forced to attend, renaming of the traditional ritual days as Christian feast days, missionization (incarceration) of tribal people, deprivation of language, severe disruption of cultures and economic and resource bases of those cultures, and the degradation of the status of women as central to the spiritual and ritual life of the tribes.
  • Within one century after Columbus' arrival, the entire native American population of the Caribbean islands was exterminated, probably 8 million people. In continental Latin America, only 12 million people survived after a century of colonization - while the population in 1492 is estimated at up to 90 million. True, many died because of new diseases which the colonizers had involuntarily brought with them, and many died not by massacre but under the hardships of slavery (which also happened to many prisoners in the Nazi work camps), but the number of literally massacred people still amounted to millions. In North America too, the 2 million native inhabitants of Patagonia (southern Chile and Argentina) were gradually but systematically killed to the last, as were all the inhabitants of Tasmania in a single campaign, and most of the aboriginals of Australia: in these cases, the genocide was entirely intentional.
  • It is called a genocide. That's what it was... No other way to describe it and that's the way it needs to be described in the history books. And so I'm here to say the following: I'm sorry on behalf of the state of California... It's humbling for me, having believed I was educated, to have been so ignorant of our past, to have been so unaware of how ashamed I should be, as a Californian, 5th generation... I'm sorry that we've had generations of your kids and grandkids, your ancestors, that have had to suffer through indignities, lack of capacity, empathy and understanding...

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