Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trail of Tears

Barry CarterPublished: March 18, 2008

Most of the people we see as Hispanics, Latinos, immigrants and illegal aliens are, in fact, Americans native to the Americas. They are Native Americans. Since 1492, borders and laws have been used to control indigenous people, our land and wealth. This happened right here in Virginia.

I am Occoneechee-Saponi Native American, indigenous to what is now called Virginia. Though our people have been living here for over 10,000 years, in 1714 I would have been an illegal alien standing in Richmond. Our “border” was the James River. By 1830, the border had shifted to the Mississippi River. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and subsequent Trail of Tears was a mass deportation of “illegal alien Indians” from our own homelands resulting in thousands of deaths. And then there were reservations and borders. Eventually the border was moved to the Rio Grande River.

With each of these borders we have been illegal aliens whenever we crossed them. Since 1492, there have been many artificial borders put in place to control our land, our wealth and us. Deportation from our own homeland is nothing new. What we are witnessing today by the Virginia General Assembly is the Indian Removal Acts of 2008 and the 2008 Trail of Tears. It is a continuation of a 500-year genocidal process. Many of the indigenous Native Americans being deported speak neither Spanish nor English, but speak their indigenous Native languages. In 2008, the government has the nerve to deport us out of our own homeland America and call us illegal aliens. In fact, we are the only people here who are not immigrants.

Seventy million of our people have been killed in the invasion and occupation and the count continues to climb today because of the anti-indigenous perspective that we see and the actions that derive from it. Our people have suffered enough. We cannot undo what has been done in the past, but we can today choose to end the systemic disenfranchisement and discrimination against brown indigenous Native Americans. We are asking Governor Tim Kaine to veto the anti-indigenous and discriminatory bills before him, especially SB113, SB 623 and HB440 and stop the persecution of indigenous Native Americans. Please call the governor’s office at (804) 786-2211.

Occoneechee-Saponi Tribe of Virginia Buffalo Junction

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