FROM CANADIAN JEWISH NEWS: http://www.cjnews.com/node/112614
Genocide designation challenged at human rights museum
Myron Love, Prairies Correspondent, Friday, August 16, 2013
WINNIPEG — Canada’s First Nations are challenging the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) over its use of the term “genocide,” and it’s generating a welcome discussion, says Maureen Fitzhenry, the soon-to-be-opened museum’s media relations’ manager.
“This is the whole point of the museum: to raise awareness and promote discussion of human rights issues such as genocide,” Fitzhenry said. “It may be that a lot of people haven’t given much thought as to what genocide is.”
She was responding to a controversy sparked by a letter last month from a prominent Manitoba Aboriginal organization that criticized the Winnipeg museum for not using the term “genocide” to refer to Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal People.
The letter came from Grand Chief Murray Clearsky of the Southern Chiefs Organization. It also noted that the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs pledged $1 million toward the construction of the $310-million facility, which is officially a federal museum but is being funded by donations and grants from all three levels of government.
Clearsky said the donation was made “with the understanding that a true treatment of First Nations would be on exhibit.”
In a statement, CEO Stuart Murray said that the museum “will examine the gross and systemic human rights violation of Indigenous peoples,” but he added: “We have chosen, at present, not to use the word ‘genocide’ in the title for one of the exhibits about this experience, but will be using the term in the exhibit itself when describing community efforts for this recognition.”
Currently, the museum is officially only applying the term “genocide” to five specific events – the Holocaust, the World War I Armenian genocide committed by the Turks, the 1930s Ukrainian Holodomyr, the mass murders in Rwanda in the mid-1990s and the killing in 1995 of an estimated 8,000 or more Bosnian Muslims from the town of Srebenica by Serb irregular forces in that area’s civil war.
Aboriginal activists often use the term genocide to describe the mass deaths of native peoples in the Americas from foreign diseases and at the hands of European colonists, as well as efforts to herd Aboriginal Peoples onto reserves and erase their identities in places such as Canada’s residential school system.
What has made the CMHR a lightning rod for criticism from ethnic communities such as First Nations people, Fitzhenry said, is that “it is a difficult thing for most people to wrap their heads around the idea that the CMHR is not a museum built around displays of collections or photos and what should and shouldn’t be included in the collection. This museum is based on the idea of human rights and telling the stories of peoples’ struggles.
“We are sensitive to the concerns of our stakeholders,” she added. “We welcome the opportunity to continue our dialogue with the Aboriginal community. We appreciate how media coverage of this issue has captured the attention of the public at large and focused peoples’ thoughts on how Canada has treated its Aboriginal People over the years.”
On the other hand, Fitzhenry said the federal government doesn’t officially recognize that treatment as genocide, and since the CMHR is federally funded, it’s not in a position to determine what constitutes genocide and doesn’t plan to use the term in the title of the exhibit.
“We are not happy that people are upset about this issue, but we hope that value will come out of this,” Fitzhenry said.
The museum is slated to open in the fall of 2014. The physical structure has been completed, but the programming is still being worked out, she said.
First Nations groups haven’t been the only ones raising concerns lately about the museum’s content.
Earlier this month, B’nai Brith Canada criticized the decision to exclude material on the establishment of the State of Israel in the museum’s Holocaust exhibits, saying that the Shoah teaches crucial lessons about human rights.
“The question is not whether the establishment of the State of Israel is part of the historical aspect of the Holocaust, rather whether the human rights lessons which flow from the Holocaust include the creation of the State of Israel,” said David Matas, B’nai Brith’s senior legal counsel.
“The answer to that question is clearly yes, since to come to grips with the human rights lessons of the Holocaust means addressing the establishment of the State of Israel.”
RESPONSE Jim Craven/Omahkohkiaaiipooyii:
“Sir Jeffrey Amherst noted for his deliberate use of smallpox-infected blankets as a weapon against Indians. Amherst and his British lieutenants were a marked change from the French commanders at the forts throughout the Old Northwest and Canada. He made no effort to build goodwill with Indian peoples. He had no respect for Indian leaders, treated them contemptuously, and frequently described them as ‘wretched people’. He put an immediate end to the traditional French practice of giving Indians ball and powder when they ran short; he also prohibited emergency provisions if game was scarce, and clothing or gifts of goodwill. Lord Amherst (for whom Amherst College is named) initiated a genocidal new policy: ‘Could it not be contrived’ he wrote to one of his officers, ‘to send the smallpox among the disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every strategem in our power to reduce them’. Blankets were taken from the crest of the Appalachian Mountains. It delineated Indian country as west of the line; colonists lands as east of the line.” [Judith Nies “Native American History: A Chronology of a Culture’s Vast Achievements and Their Links to World Events”, Ballantine Books, N.Y., 1996, pp. 190-192]
“The Seneca invaded forts in Pennsylvania. Delaware Indians attacking Fort Pitt (formerly Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburg) were presented with ‘gifts’ of blankets taken from the smallpox ward of the fort’s hospital. It started an epidemic that would rage through the Delaware villages and Shawnee towns of Ohio, decimating their populations. Still, by the end of 1763, eight out of 12 British posts had been captured and their garrisons ‘massacred’… Pontiac’s War became a major topic of debate in Britain. The English enlarged Sir Jeffrey Amherst’s powers to subdue the rebellion. (The smallpox blankets of Fort Pitt had been Lord Amherst’s inspiration).” [Judith Nies, Ibid, p. 195]
Genocide is a Beast With Many Masks, Sugar-coated Bullets and Names
First of all, genocidal denial is both an effect and cause of genocide. This is not only to cover-up mass crimes in order to do more, but because genocide has always required mass acceptance and buy-in from the populace in whose name the genocide is being done. Genocide has to be packaged, sold, swallowed and rationalized to handle any cognitive dissonance angst on the part of a public in whose name the genocide is often being conducted. Julius Streicher, editor of the racist and anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper Der Stuermer was hanged at Nuremberg not for ordering even the death of one person, but for use of racist caricatures and polemics in art and film to marginalize and demonize targeted groups so as to make genocide more easier to accept, cover-up, participate in and rationalize on the part of the general populace.
Secondly, genocide is a matter of law and facts on the ground not opinion especially from those engaging in it and profiting from it. For example, at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, they have certainly concluded that the only word for U.S. and Canadian policies and actions with respect to Indigenous Peoples and nations is genocide on the basis of law and facts of history as well as on the ground in the present. The documents there present the evidence for more than a mere assertion of the only proper term being genocide.
So the only genocides in history recognized by the Canadian Government and this new proposed museum will be the Nazi Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide by the Turks (that Israel denies was genocide at the request of the Turkish Government and was a major inspiration for Hitler, the Rwandan Genocide (which the U.s. and world community stood by and watched and even facilitated) and the Ukrainian “Holodomyr” and Bosnia.
But where did the “inspiration” for Hitler (from his own mouth and writings) come from? Imagine that no one could ever argue that the Nazi Holocaust was genocide (even if not fully completed with the death of every last member of the groups–plural–targeted) per se. But that which was the inspiration for Hitler, that which provided the texts and “science” for the “race-hygiene” laws, policies and practices of the Nazis–the American and Canadian Genocides against Indigenous Peoples–would not be called what it was–and is today–GENOCIDE? Here is some of the evidence not rhetoric (Please Follow the links down the Rabbit Hole into the World of Genocide Cover-up AND ITS METHODS AND INTENTIONS)
IF THE NAZI HOLOCAUST WAS GENOCIDE PER SE AND IT WAS, THEN WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT WHICH CLEARLY “INSPIRED” IT?
“Set the blood quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indians, let intermarriage proceed, and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. When that happens, the federal government will be finally freed from its persistent Indian problem.” (FROM A LEAKED BIA DOCUMENT)
“Having been a devoted reader of Karl May’s (sp?) books on the American West as a youth, Hitler frequently referred to the Russians as ‘Redskins.’ He saw a parallel between his effort to conquer and colonize land in Russia with the conquest of the American West by the white man and the subjugation of Indians or Redskins. ‘I don’t see why,’ he said, ‘a German who eats a piece of bread should torment himself with the idea that the soil that produces this bread has been won by the sword. When we eat wheat from Canada, we don’t think about the despoiled Indians.’ [James Pool, Hitler and His Secret Partners: Contributions, Loot and Rewards, 1933-1945; Pocket Books, N.Y. 1997 pp. 272-75]
He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government’s forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land was a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations his hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large ‘reservation’ in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease.” ( James Pool op cit. p. 273-274).
And from a speech by Heinrich Himmler (date not given):
“I consider that in dealing with members of a foreign country, especially some Slav nationality…in such a mixture of peoples there will always be some racially good types. Therefore I think that it is our duty to take their children with us, to remove them from their environment, if necessary, by robbing or stealing them…” (Telford Taylor “Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials”, Alfred A Knopf, N.Y. 1992, p. 203)
AND YES OF COURSE THE REAL NATURE AND INTENTIONS OF ZIONISM AND THE REAL LESSONS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL SHOULD ALSO BE DISCUSSED AS SHOULD THE FULL-DIMENSIONS OF THE NAZI HOLOCAUST (INCLUDING ZIONIST-NAZI COLLABORATIONS) THAT SHOULD ALSO BE DISCUSSED:
Our dirty secret is in the attic no longer
BY PAUL HANLEY, THE STAR PHOENIX AUGUST 20, 2013
Let’s say you find a diary in the attic that reveals your father was a killer. His fortune, which you inherited, was stolen from his victims, whose children are still alive.
For a lifelong Saskatchewanian whose ancestors immigrated to this province in its early days, reading James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life is like finding that diary. We knew in a general way that the indigenous people of this province were mistreated; now Daschuk’s painstaking research fills in the province’s ugly backstory with awful detail, down to the level of communities and families we may know.
Essentially, the book is an account of the diseases that swept the Canadian plains from the point of European contact at the end of the 17th century to the imposition of the reserve system at the end of the 19th.
The early fur trade connected the indigenous plains people to the modern world system and for some time the First Nations maintained a lucrative position on the periphery of the world economy. But the fur trade also brought waves of “virgin soil epidemics” that decimated whole communities. The environmental impact resulting from the trade – all to supply Europeans with fur hats – was similarly destructive, progressively wiping out the fur-bearers in whole regions in a matter of decades. The heavy demand for meat from both the trappers and traders also wiped out the big game, leaving people hungry and more susceptible to disease.
By the early 1800s, the fur trade had soured to the point that, as one participant put it, it “almost totally abolished every humane sentiment in both Christian and Indian breast.” Still, the switch from furs to agriculture in the 19th century effectively cut the indigenous people from the world economy just as European settlers arrived to farm the West. Meanwhile, the collapse of the bison population due to overhunting, largely to supply leather for industries in the East, destroyed the traditional economy of the plains people and ushered in the near elimination of native prairie ecosystems.
Here the story becomes extremely disturbing. The Hudson’s Bay Company, though hardly benevolent, at least made sporadic efforts to control diseases through quarantine and vaccination, enacted conservation policies and controlled the trade in alcohol.
Canada, which took control of the North West in 1870, was overtly hostile to the First Nations and enacted what can only be called a policy of genocide. The government made a mockery of treaties that promised food and other supports to help in the transition from bison hunting to agriculture. John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government starved the people and thousands died. Thousands more suffered from TB brought on by malnutrition. Corrupt and malicious government agents held back food meant for the First Nations until it spoiled, sickening and killing hundreds more. Top officials were in the pay of unethical American companies that profited from government food contracts. The prime minister described the government’s position on the cost of relief: “We cannot allow them to die for want of food … We are doing all we can, by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”
After first beggaring the people, government blamed them for begging. Illness was attributed to weak constitutions, yet bone studies have found that, prior to colonization, the plains people were the tallest and healthiest in the world.
Daschuk points out that the Dakotas and northern bands did better without government “assistance.” For the Crees and Saulteaux living on reserves, the situation went from bad to worse. Attempts to feed themselves through farming were thwarted by draconian policies that effectively imprisoned band members on reserves and restricted sales of farm products. Brutal Indian agents were the norm and sexual predation was common.
In all this we see the roots of the problems facing First Nations even today.
As Candice Savage comments on the dust jacket, Clearing the Plains should be “required reading for all Canadians.”
But what do we do with the bitter truth it contains? We can’t undo what was done, but we can make sure the treaties to which we are still party are honoured today.
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