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I’ve been asked why I’ve decided to take a stand for the people of Burma. I pondered this question for a moment then I explained exactly why.
A little over 150 years ago my people along with the rest of the Indigenous population of the United States of America were under siege. With the pseudo religious axiom of Manifest Destiny the US Government declared war on us allowing for the wholesale murder of our sovereign nations. From the land of the Lenapi, Lakota, Cheyenne, Apache and a multitude of other noble tribes we were hunted down like animals.
We were hunted down, tortured raped and murdered in the secret holocaust that killed millions of my brothers and sister in this hellish bloodbath. Children were raped and cut to ribbons while pregnant women had babies carved out of their bellies while U.S. Soldiers laughed and joked. Civilians were offered rewards for our scalps while soldiers paraded through their towns with human body parts ornamenting their ponies and uniforms. And the media pumped the papers full of lies to fostered support for the genocide of those “pesky savages”.
Lusting for the funny yellow medal that makes the white man crazy, soldiers under the stewardship of General George Armstrong Custer they invaded tribal land that was promised by treaties. The Black Hills became a killing field as well as the rest of Indian Country. Screams of agony echoed throughout the land while anyone who could carry a rifle shot innocent men women and children in their slept, as they ate or hunted. Even on territory promised to tribes in the waning years of the holocaust such as Oklahoma the land was opened up to settlers in the most criminal acts of land theft in U.S. history. People were murdered in clod blood by settlers who brought wagons and built farms and communities with no regard for treaties.
Rivers ran with the blood of my people as the land grab continued. Manifest Destiny was their divine right to take what they wanted even though the land was promised to us. Eventually many of our nations ceased to exist and their histories ripped from history books. They could not take away our oral tradition and we remember what they have done to us and the myriad of tribes that disappeared from the face of this Earth. All that remained of these tribes were names in a subdivision street or ally. The countryside was filled with mass graves where the Cavalry buried our slaughtered people, out of sight and out of mine. Many events were never recorded or the facts skewed to justify our demise.
The once bountiful buffalo was all but exterminated in part to destroy our food supply and to introduce their tasteless fat laden cow from English cattle barons. Herds used to span as far as the eye could see. Eye witness accounts told of trains stopped for over a day as herds many miles wild and untold miles long would cross the railroad track. Photos of these so called great buffalo hunters sitting on gigantic piles of carcasses adorn museums to this day. Speaking about the railroad, people would ride the train and take pot shots for sport at Indians who were simply watching the locomotive roll through they land. People would wager who would shoot the most “savages” on a trip killing fathers, mothers and children in their wake.
To add insult to injury we were victims of biological warfare with cholera infested blankets that were distributed to our people on the paltry reservations they finally gave us. The locations were wind driven with no game or a means to survive the cold bitter months. Rancid and putrefied food was distributed to us while greedy brokers kept the good. And the whole world looked on with ambivalence and distain as the media masters pumped out lies after lies with their tabloids raising even more negative press against us. Only after the advent of the 20th Century did the U.S. Government stop a program of rewarding people with $900 for Indian skulls robbed from our graves Government anthropologists were feverishly trying to prove we were sub human. This is only a tiny glimpse of the stories that abound with much more gruesome tales of genocide, betrayal and survival against all odds. All that remains is a fraction of the Indigenous populations who once lived on this land. The few buffalo that survived are relegated to ranches never to roam the plains again.
My uncle once told me that we are related to the coyote since no matter how hard the white man tried to kill us off we still returned. The shooting has stopped for the most part. We are relegated to reservations and in many cases still struggle to survive. But we are still here, witnesses to mans greed and the wholesale slaughter of innocent men women and children. It was one of the greatest acts of genocide in world history. From the tip of Alaska to the tip of South America untold millions of Natives were slaughtered in cold blood by Europeans hunting for gold, land and a multitude of natural resources. In the south the genocide continues throughout Central and South America for gold, oil and other natural resources. So I guess I should feel fortunate living in relative safety, but I’m not so inclined.
When I first met a Karen villager I was curious about their culture so I queried through my interpreter Madam Butterfly. I was taken back by what I heard because it was a carbon copy of what happened to our people in the Americas. The ghoulish and barbaric details brought tears to my eyes because I saw my own relations in these soft spoken tribal people. I was introduced to the political exiles that spent their young years in Insein prison. They were tortured and beaten to till they did not move on a daily basis for the crime of wanting freedom and democracy. An elder told me an ancient story about 7 fabled brothers within their Asian tradition. Then I was told that I and all the Natives of the Americas were descendants of the eldest brother, (Shaun htoi Gam). It was a very intriguing yet humbling story.
As I looked into the eyes of their children I could see my cousins, nieces and my beloved sister who I used to call the Chinaman because of her pronounced Asian features. That’s when I decided to take up this cause and make the world aware of the atrocities that befell these innocent and kind people. The eldest brother has come back home to help his people.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge of life and I’ve traveled many miles since that fateful day. With a wealth of resources including intelligence and advanced technology at my disposal I’ve taken up the cause with a vengeance. Whether they are Kachin, Mon, Karen, Wa, Rvwang or the multitude of tribes who face extinction they are my people. I will utilize my resources in both Asia and the free world to accomplish the common goal, freedom from bondage. I have many aces up my sleeve and some spooky little friends who are already in the trenches fighting for Burma’s democracy. One day I will be drinking tea at a quaint little café with my brother Myo Thein in Rangoon City. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be dedicating a new hospital down the street. I can smell the nga pi wafting in the air now.