Doug Cuthand, a Cree, links today's suicide epidemic among young Native Americans in the U.S. and Canada to Colonial influences. He has a strong point. Interestingly, among NICWA's research documents that are available online is one that includes a good anecdotal example of Colonial arrogance and predjudice toward "aboriginals."
In that document, under "Policies Regarding the Assimilation of Native Children," is this bit of historical context:
The crusade to assimilate Native people has periodically focused on the indoctrination of Indian children. As early as the 1560s, the Spanish established a school for Indian children on the island of Cuba. Early in the 1600s, the Virginia Company was encouraging White settlers to adopt and tutor young Indians. Many Native people resisted. The Iroquois, for example, when urged in the 1700s to turn over their sons to be taught “in the best manner,” responded that they had tried this already, “but the youngsters had come home ‘absolutely good for nothing, being neither acquainted with the true methods of killing deer, catching beaver, or surprising an enemy.’ However, they would be willing to rear some English lads ‘in what really was the best manner and make men of them.’ The colonists declined.”
Those colonists probably could have never imagined -- or perhaps could have never accepted -- that Thomas Jefferson would integrate the Iroquois Great Law of Peace into the supreme document we know as the U.S. Constitution. Of course, as much as Jefferson respected the Iroquois, he had his own brand of prejudice toward Native Americans. He was among those who felt that all Indians should be moved west of the Mississippi to clear the way for peaceful and prosperous colonization of everything east of the Mississippi.
What do you think? Are we seeing Colonial influences at work in Native American societies today?