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The American Indian Holocaust is a term used by American Indian activists to bring attention to the destruction of Native American populations through the direct and intentional slaughter of hundreds of thousands of native people and the indirect causing of the death of upwards of 100 million others in the Americas.[1] This claim has been substantiated by Holocaust expert David Cesarani, who stated "Stannard was angered by what he perceived as a double standard in the United States towards 'worthy' and 'unworthy' victims. While Americans readily acknowledge the Nazi crimes against the Jews, he wrote, they continued to 'turn their backs on the even more massive genocide that for four grisly centuries... was perpetrated against the "unworthy" natives of the Americas.'" Other scholars agreeing with this hypothesis have included Russel Thornton, Arthur Grenke, Ralph Reed, and it has been backed by the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide studies.[2] The Smithsonian presented a program on the American Indian Genocide.

Politically, the charge has been taken up by native American activists in the American Indian Movement including Russel Means, Leonard Peltair, Ward Churchill, by the poet Joy Harjo,[3] and Vine Deloria amongst others. The term "Holocaust" is specifically used to bring attention to the stark reality of the total decimation of the indigenous peoples after the "discovery" of the "New World" by Europeans. Like most political terms, there is strong resistance to using "American Indian Holocaust" in textbooks. Native American activists contend that their history is rarely even addressed as a "genocide", since American historiography tends not to emphasize episodes such as slavery, and the outright slaughter of the indigenous Americans. These activists contend that they have the same right to say they were victims of genocide as the Jewish people of Europe.

Some sites categorically deny that anything but the must unavoidable of deaths happened to Indian people, and that the ravages of diseases which killed most Indians could not be avoided. Of course, these types of revisionists tend to ignore both the plight of the Indians when originally placed on reservations, and the modern plight of a people unable to take control of their affairs without permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Footnotes

  1. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World by David E. Stannard: ISBN 0195085574
  2. http://chgs.umn.edu/webBib/
  3. She Had Some Horses: ISBN 1560251190


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