There is a Palestine in America. You are probably wondering where. It is all around. It is in the North, South, East, and West. There is actually more than one Palestine, around 500 plus. These Palestines are not in plain site. You have to work to find these locations but they do exist. They are Indian Reservations.
The conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is all over the news these days and the civilian death toll is shattering the lives of those on each side of the conflict. However, Palestinians have been hit the hardest and the disproportion in civilian casualties is staggering. But as I take a step back, figuratively speaking, I witness a conflict that is much like the conflict Indian people faced after the arrival of Europeans; that continued between Indian Nations and Colonial Powers; and eventually between Indian People and American Military. For those that do not learn about American Indian History the conflict is barely touched upon and a subscript to America’s manifest destiny. For Indian People it is something that is a part of them and visible everyday of their lives. After 500 years Palestine, USA still goes unrecognized.
The stories may change but the main plot remains the same. Indian People at one time or another were subjugated to harsh treatment. Some tribes have persevered to the 21st century and for others their fate was not so fortunate. To make the comparison to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict one does not have to look to far. Tribes were forcibly removed (at gunpoint) from their homes to make room for new settlers in the American Southeast around the 1830s. The tribes that once populated Alabama, Georgia, and Florida like the Cherokee, Creek, and Miccosukee lost a quarter (1/4) of their population as they trekked across America under harsh winter conditions. Their new territory would not be safe for long. Encroachment into Indian Territory was promoted with the Dawes Act (1887) and the “discovery” of oil (1896). Years later the tribes in Oklahoma proposed a two-state solution when Oklahoma was set to become a state in the early 1900s. The Indian State (called “Sequoyah”) composed of the Five “Civilized” Tribes never came to pass and instead Oklahoma was formed as the all encompassing governing structure. After stripping nearly everything away the US government’s last major mission was taking Indian children away from homes and placing them in boarding schools (1880s to the early 1940s). There the children would lose everything they knew about who they were and where they came from.
Although many of the major conflicts have passed much internal conflict remains. The residue of war and encroachment does not easily clean off. This is what is known as historical trauma and it is what many Indian people have to endure for the rest of their lives. Therefore, as I witness and watch the conflict unfold in Israel and Gaza I see an eerily similar situation. Both sides are playing characters in a movie that I have seen once before. Peace it not what is being sought, power is. For one side it is about maintaining a life in one’s homeland, for the other side it is about asserting one’s righteous claim. No side is exempt from judgement for the travesties they have caused. What I hope for though is that people not forget about what is happening there the way that is has been forgotten about here, in Palestine, USA.
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