Genocide & Settler Colonialism
Genocide is the most heinous of crimes and it connects to settler colonialism. Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz says, “Settler colonialism requires genocidal violence to attain its goal” of acquiring land. In North America and elsewhere this meant the Indigenous population was targeted for mass murder. North America’s huge landmass and resources drove the policy. In Germany, there was the Nazi desire for lebensraum, living space, in Eastern Europe. It’s interesting to see the parallels. The U.S. General William Sherman said in 1873, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children.” Seventy years later in 1943, Heinrich Himmler, the notorious SS commander, said, “I want to mention a very difficult subject with complete candor. I am talking about the extermination of the Jewish people.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. A distinguished scholar, she has been active in the international Indigenous movement for many years and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. She is the recipient of the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first UN conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans and Not a Nation of Immigrants.