Councilman: Stop Apologizing to American Indians

I filed my first story today for Watching the Watchers -- a Republican city councilman in Texas thinks its time to stop apologizing to American Indians:

A Houston city council member said on his radio talk show that the U.S. should "stop the continuous apology for what was done to the American Indians" and drop federal programs and treaties that provide casino rights, educational support and welfare.

Michael Berry, a Republican councilman in his third term and mayor pro tempore who hosts a morning show on KPRC, said on the air March 27 that he opposes such benefits for the same reason he opposes paying slavery reparations. "If you're against apologizing for slavery, then you gotta be against giving welfare to the American Indians because of the fact that 200 years ago they were whipped in a war. ... We conquered them. That's history. Hello!"

I'm the new publisher of Watching the Watchers, which began in 2004 as a media watchdog and liberal news site. I'm looking for 700 to 1,000 word articles and opinion pieces, particular if they shed some light on a current story that's being botched by the national media.

That's not the case here. I got an email tip about Berry's remarks, which have been bouncing around American Indian sites but haven't attracted mainstream media attention yet, and thought they were newsworthy.

Comments

You could start with the real reason Dianne Feinstein resigned from the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee.

It's not looking too good, and is only being covered by a couple of the local papers in San Francisco...

Actually, it's probably time to stop apologizing, but for an entirely different reason. I'd recommend this book:

1491

Europeans brought disease (which they barely understood at the time) to North and South America - and between Measles, Smallpox, Malaria (and others), possibly as many as 97% of the Indians were wiped out - many before they even saw a European.

The population that was left as we moved West was a remnant one, with much of their own knowledge and history shattered (imagine a US with only 9 million people left, and you'll have an idea as to what the Indians were dealing with).

What Chad said. Something about how the UN hasn't been worth a shit for decades would be nice too.

Do we have to call Rogers Rorschach now, or is it Horseshack??

Why bother writing anything for *you*, Rogers?

You'll just refuse to publish it if you disagree -- your site will represent bias and one-sided propaganda; another stumbling block for the advance of individual liberty and freedom around the world. Hopes that need cooperation and solidarity to achieve for our fellow man.

Instead, I envision a site where partisan paranoia reigns supreme and where the murmerers flock to spew their hatred for fellow Americans -- while any dissent is removed as "politically incorrect."

That's the "style" you've demonstrated over-and-over again with bans and censorship of any dissent that wasn't your idea of "acceptable."

I suppose next the Councilman will be telling us that Germany should stop apologizing to the Jews.

We've already had this discussion when you were posting under another username, Misterian. You are wasting your time by commenting here. I don't want to host it.

Thank you, thank you Rogers Cadenhead! Your article was well worded and very much appreciated.

I'm at a loss for words, other than, thank you for seeing this as noteworthy.

:)
Most sincerely,
Tashna Whirlwindhorse,
www.lakhota.com

I'm not registered, but my great grandmother was Cherokee and I have some Cheyenne heritage (although more distant) too.

I'm not responsible for the Indian Wars and the invasion of native American territory. I regret that such things happened in the past, but I don't feel any need to apologize or make reparations to the various tribes for such actions.

Indeed, how about the Sioux displacing the Kiowa? If apologies are due -- how about the effort to drive the Cheyenne out of the Central Plains ... the Crow and Blackfoot and the wars for hegemony prior to Europe's discovery of the Americas?

Hey! I'll bet that France wants an apology for forcing them to sell the Louisianna Territory! Reparations, too! Spain? How about them and their claims to injustice in the American sale of all our Western Territories ...???

They need recompensation, and along with the invasion of England by the Norman French -- France needs to apologise and make reparations!

ITALY!!! They need to apologise and make reparations for stealing Europe from its indigenous peoples!!!

Trough, snort, slurp!

Rogers,

Dave Winer is headed to court again with the ex-Userlan lawyers suing for a share of the weblogs.com money. And... wait for it... he has posted the most recent legal document on his blog is asking lawyers for some advice. Blogging is a great way to handle legal problems and get free advice. Right?

McD

How! You Smok'em peacepipe with Horseonovich!

Love,

Horseonovich III : The UberHorse (1/4 Iroquois)

What was said is factual!

They lost..we won!

I am from Texas and support him 100%. We need never apologize for anyting. We are Americans and Texans!

If you do not like it, then get the hell out!

Regards,
Ames

Ah... I see there are a few intellectuals on this site - such strong, moving comments... I almost couldn't understand your very verbose posts. Anyway, here is the update on Michael Berry's "mistake" --

"Official apologizes for offending American Indians 05:25 PM CDT on Thursday, April 5, 2007 Associated Press

HOUSTON A Houston city councilman and conservative talk radio host apologized Wednesday for saying taxpayers were paying large amounts of welfare to American Indians because the Indians were "whining" about having been "whipped in a war."
Michael Berry, the city's mayor pro-tem and a three-term councilman, said on his talk show on March 27 that Indians don't deserve the "incredible" amount of federal assistance they receive.
"We conquered them," he said. "That's history."

Berry posted an apology on his radio station's Web site late Wednesday.

"The reason I issued that apology is not because I offended people, but because I was wrong," Berry told The Associated Press on Thursday. "My facts were wrong, and the basis of my facts was wrong."
Berry said that among the "several hundred" e-mails he had received about his remarks were several that pointed out "intellectually and politely" that American Indians did not receive a disproportionate share of federal assistance and were not singled out for scholarships and other federal programs.

"It's not true," he said. "I've done my homework and learned that I was wrong. I'm big enough to admit when my facts are wrong."
Berry made his original remarks while speaking against a proposal in the Texas Legislature for the state to apologize for slavery.
"If we're not going to apologize for slavery," he said, "then we need to stop the continuous apology for what was done to the American Indians." He said the federal government in effect apologized to American Indians every day by expending "incredible resources from our treasury."

Jacquelyn Battise, a member of both the Coushatta and Alabama tribes and host of her own radio show on Indian culture, said Berry's apology "looks real, and it has the feel that he put a lot of real thought into it," but that she was surprised by it.
"It sure is quite a turnabout, an overnight transformation," she said. "The way he spoke about it on his radio show, he sure was very passionate and very strong in his statements. I guess I get tired of getting hit on the head by somebody and then they say 'I'm sorry' and the apology is supposed to make everything OK."

Statement made by Michael Berry on the Talk Radio 950 KPRC - here is the direct link:

www.950kprc.com

---------------

Here is a copy of his post:

"From Michael Berry;
Regarding my recent comments on American Indians
Wednesday 04-04-2007 9:15pm

The reason I love hosting a talk radio show is that it gives me an opportunity to share ideas that I have, and to hear from listeners from all walks of life. That exchange, sometimes confrontational, sometimes comical, often informative, and hopefully entertaining, can be magical. While I hope listeners learn from hearing my perspective, I know for sure that I learn from them.

In the course of three hours every morning, I hope that listeners will look at issues in new ways, from different angles. Often I intentionally provoke, in an effort to push listeners to challenge ideas that may be held more by habit than reason.

In so doing, I may say something to a disembodied audience of listeners that I wouldn't say to a person in a face-to-face meeting. I want to make people react, to pierce that veil that prevents our true thoughts from surfacing. Likewise, in the fast-paced spontaneous moment that is radio, I did not consider the full effects of my words.

When I'm wrong, I'm big enough to admit it.

I received quite a few emails from listeners of American Indian descent regarding some comments I made recently. Those comments were intended to spark a discussion on how we view past transgressions against American Indians as compared to those against Blacks in America. I intended to challenge policies, and not to demean or insult any group of people.

I read every email I received on the matter, and considered each in turn. Some were threatening, some were insulting, some were angry, some simply politely disagreed. Those, I consider, come with the turf of being a talk show host. I expect that.

What bothered me was that my comments were construed as insulting and demeaning to American Indians. That was not my intention. However, I went back and re-read my comments several times, and I can see how someone might come away with that idea.

Some of the emails, though, pricked my conscience and forced me to think deeply about a number of matters. Most troubling were those I received from veterans of foreign wars who spoke of their love for our country, and their sacrifice and service to America.

I also began learning more about the lives of those who consider themselves Native Americans in modern America. Most don't receive any governmental assistance of any kind, much less welfare. Almost none of them get any special scholarships from the government for their education. What I believed was "governmental" assistance and scholarships is in fact tribal programs from a sovereign Indian nation. I do have two law degrees, but I lacked a good understanding of the Constitutional law on Indian treaties and Congressional action on the matter.

I was simply wrong.

I've decided to make the occasion a learning experience for me, and hopefully others as well. I'll have an American Indian expert guest on the show within the next week to discuss American Indians and answer questions on the matter. If I had misconceptions, perhaps others do, too.

I don't back down from my desire to challenge others to think outside their personal prejudices, habits, misconceptions, and tired ideas. But I apply the same standard to myself as well. Here, I was wrong and I learned from it.

I'm not making this statement because I received heat from people who were offended. I can handle that. I'm making this statement because my method of framing the discussion seemed to attack people rather than policies, and my facts regarding those policies were wrong.

Finally, I don't think that challenging policies of our shared government as they relate to any group of people is insulting to that group or any way racist or hateful. It is a healthy part of making good public policy. What is not healthy, or productive, is hateful speech toward others. I didn't intend to engage in that, but my actions left some American Indians feeling that I did, and I should have been more careful in how I expressed myself. I regret that.

I look forward to hearing from more of you on this, and other, matters, and I'll continue to be open to considering your opinions, as I hope you will be with mine."

when do I get an apology from Rome for keeping Gauls and Britons as slaves (my ancestors) and when does my French side get an apology from my English side for the early invasions of France...and when will Spain apologise to my Indian side for the invasion of Central America....oh ...chit....I'm Spanish, too...

Wait! I'm so confused.......................

duh

Those Europeans that came here bringing their disease, greed, religious dogma, and arrogance 300 years ago haven't changed a bit have they ?

They remind me of the Kudzu plants they imported here and now it is consuming & destroying everything in it's path of infestation.

Hello Global warming ! And the greediest of them refuse to acknowledge it's exhistence cause fixing it might cost them their bottom line ... meanwhile it's killing them & everyone else.

Honoring their Treaties with us for the taking away from us what we belonged to and interning us for many decades on land that can't support us ... now they want to forget their treaty contracts with us ... say that the Government should stop Apologizing to us as if their Legal Obligations were nothing more than an undeserved handout and apologies.

WEll atleast Edwards is - Talking about American Families - While Clinton Worshipers are out using Bhutto - Even before she's cold in her grave - as there great experiance in forgien policy .....

Some kind of destorted manifest destiny democracy - Where only the so-called rich-greedy rule the world ....

In the millions of years of this world - The rich-greedy came along and trashed it out - look at how the rich-greedy care's less for there fellow humans and trashed out America - in a mear 500 years ...

Now just wait till the water war's start - the only problem - exactly where you worshipers of greed will find your clean pure water ...

and just recall one thing - A sewer rat doesn't get as sick as a lab rat ...

So all you free traders of human life - and out-sourcing of American Family Job's - To rule the world - with your warphed dreams of so-called-democray for the rich-greedy ...

So if your so-called great forgien policy was to send Bhutto back to DIE for another LIE - then your forgien policy is very warphed ...

Another sound bite from a little bush - We will bring them to justice - when the fact remains bush-clinton should have brought binny-boy to justice a long time ago - both let him go to do what he has done to date - Just so they could invade IRAQ - for there distorted view of being world Dom's !!!

So let me leave you with this question - How many million's of barrels of oil with you trade me for one simple glass of clean water ???

WE shall find out - Just as soon as the thirst begins ....

I love a system - That has a built in failsafe - of it's own self destrution ....

...

Smallpox blankets
Despite his fame, Jeffrey Amherst's name became tarnished by stories of smallpox-infected blankets used as germ warfare against American Indians. These stories are reported, for example, in Carl Waldman's Atlas of the North American Indian [NY: Facts on File, 1985]. Waldman writes, in reference to a siege of Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) by Chief Pontiac's forces during the summer of 1763:

... Captain Simeon Ecuyer had bought time by sending smallpox-infected blankets and handkerchiefs to the Indians surrounding the fort -- an early example of biological warfare -- which started an epidemic among them. Amherst himself had encouraged this tactic in a letter to Ecuyer. [p. 108]

Colonel Henry Bouquet to General Amherst, dated 13 July 1763, [262k] suggests in a postscript the distribution of blankets to "inocculate the Indians";
Amherst to Bouquet, dated 16 July 1763, [128k] approves this plan in a postscript and suggests as well as "to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race." (This postcript spans two pages.)
These letters also discuss the use of dogs to hunt the Indians, the so-called "Spaniard's Method," which Amherst approves in principle, but says he cannot implement because there are not enough dogs. In a letter dated 26 July 1763, Bouquet acknowledges Amherst's approval [125k] and writes, "all your Directions will be observed."

Historian Francis Parkman, in his book The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War after the Conquest of Canada [Boston: Little, Brown, 1886] refers to a postscript in an earlier letter from Amherst to Bouquet wondering whether smallpox could not be spread among the Indians:

Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them. [Vol. II, p. 39 (6th edition)]
I have not found this letter, but there is a letter from Bouquet to Amherst, dated 23 June 1763, [189k] three weeks before the discussion of blankets to the Indians, stating that Captain Ecuyer at Fort Pitt (to which Bouquet would be heading with reinforcements) has reported smallpox in the Fort. This indicates at least that the writers knew the plan could be carried out.

It is curious that the specific plans to spread smallpox were relegated to postscripts. I leave it to the reader to ponder the significance of this.

Several other letters from the summer of 1763 show the smallpox idea was not an anomaly. The letters are filled with comments that indicate a genocidal intent, with phrases such as:
"...that Vermine ... have forfeited all claim to the rights of humanity" (Bouquet to Amherst, 25 June) [149k]
"I would rather chuse the liberty to kill any Savage...." (Bouquet to Amherst, 25 June) [121k]
"...Measures to be taken as would Bring about the Total Extirpation of those Indian Nations" (Amherst to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of the Northern Indian Department, 9 July) [229k]
"...their Total Extirpation is scarce sufficient Attonement...." (Amherst to George Croghan, Deputy Agent for Indian Affairs, 7 August) [145k]
"...put a most Effectual Stop to their very Being" (Amherst to Johnson, 27 August [292k]; emphasis in original).
Amherst's correspondence during this time includes many letters on routine matters, such as officers who are sick or want to be relieved of duty; accounts of provisions on hand, costs for supplies, number of people garrisoned; negotiations with provincial governors (the army is upset with the Pennsylvania assembly, for example, for refusing to draft men for service); and so on. None of these other letters show a deranged mind or an obsession with cruelty. Amherst's venom was strictly reserved for Indians.

While a majority of American Indian deaths were the direct result of diseases to which they had no immunity, the deaths weren't as innocent as has been portrayed. People knew that removing food and shelter predisposed humans to disease and death. General Amherst wrote, "You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of (Smallpox) blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race." Oklahoma expert Russell Thornton documents repeated burning of Indian crops and villages in what he calls the scorched-earth policy. General Sheridan ordered the extermination of 60 million buffalo for the stated purpose of denying subsistence to the Plains Indians. Tribes were continuously forced on long "removals" with resulting illness and death. Hitler studied and praised the model of genocide used on the Indians here in the US.

After the original physical genocide came the public policy known as cultural genocide, from the phrase, "Kill the Indian, save the man." Indian children were taken from their homes, forced to attend boarding schools, prevented from speaking their native languages, and forced to learn the ways of the dominant culture. A phrase that continued to be heard by Indians growing up in this century summarizes the U.S. policy in general, paraphrased from General Sheridan, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Indian children to this day experience harassment, shame and embarrassment in school experiences. This is demonstrated in the result that although statistically Indians' scores on achievement tests are in the higher numbers, Indians have the highest school dropout rate of any group.

So why have Indians often gone along with the offensive names given them? Any beginning psychology course teaches that oppressed people often come to identify with the enemy. Why have Indians remained silent? Post-traumatic stress studies show that the effects of genocide continue into later generations. At the age of 100, Holocaust survivor Irma Menkel wrote in 1997 of the extermination camp to which she was sent, "There were no ovens at Bergen-Belsen; instead the Nazis killed us with starvation and disease. You did not have feelings anymore. You became paralyzed. In all the years since, I almost never talked about Bergen-Belsen. I couldn't. It was too much." It is nearly too much for Indians to talk about their own genocide now.

First of all, I never want to give some average joe or jill the badly needed self-esteem they suck up like black hole vacuums by bringing up these sensitive subjects around them. How many damaged people out there are walking around needing their daily "I'm such a conqueror" fix everyday? If I "whine" to these kind of parasites in which I never do, but if I did they'd jump on this stuff like a fat starving pig on a fully replenished trough. The only people that I converse with are people that I selected as "emotionally stable" and can handle this type of information. The rest I just don't see them as the conquerors they bleat out on forums like this. They can't even conquer their own urges to beat and cheat on their wives and kids or let own their own challenges they face everyday of their lives. We,as Native People will need to set a good example to each other and stay united and sincerely give condolences about out past mistakes to each other first. Help each other! Don't feed the unstable average white person's ego! They can sit in front of a tv and watch themselves forever for all I care. I've observed these types at work and they actually try to create dissension around people of color just to argue. Usually, they end up unemployed real quick when they are discovered tho. Makes me laugh. I get along along with all races pretty well and I don't need to unlearn that behavior as I wear it like a badassed lady badge that I am.

By the way, I just had to vote for Obama. I'd rather look at his splendid dark looks than some ugly pasty white face,ewwww.

The councilman's remarks about apologizing to Indians only reveals his ignorance on the subject. People with this type of mentality come a dime a dozen! No need for me to defend the Native American Indians to him. History is on the side of Native people.

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