Peter d'Errico: US genocide of native peoples too often overlooked
To the editor:
Thanks to Amalia Fourhawks for her guest column about the American Holocaust, the history of genocide against the indigenous peoples of this continent. For those who want to learn more, two books are especially useful: “1491,” by Charles C. Mann; “and American Holocaust,” by David Stannard.
It is indeed strange and ironic that Washington, D.C., hosts a Holocaust Museum focused on what the Germans did to the Jews, gypsies and others in Europe, while the holocaust visited on American Indians by Washington and its colonial predecessors goes officially unmentioned, neither commemorated nor examined.
Worse yet, the fundamental legal policy underlying the American holocaust is still in force. The Doctrine of Christian Discovery (sometimes abbreviated as the doctrine of discovery, to avoid acknowledging the role of religion) was adopted into U.S. law by the Supreme Court in 1823 (Johnson v. McIntosh).
The Doctrine of Christian Discovery was reaffirmed in 1955, when the Supreme Court decided Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v. US. The U.S. brief explicitly relied on the doctrine.
The same Supreme Court that ruled against “separate but equal” in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), eliminating an insidious legal discrimination against blacks, decided to maintain an insidious discrimination against Indians that remains part of the law to this day.