Genocide and mass murder: then and now:
We maintain a list of current civil conflicts, wars
and genocides which have a significant religious component. However, there are
many smaller conflicts that go largely unnoticed: those between aboriginal
cultures and their more highly developed neighbors.
In many ways, these current struggles have many points of similarity
with the genocide against American Aboriginals. That was perhaps the most
massive and longest lasting genocidal program in human history.
"For his second voyage to the Americas, Columbus took the title Admiral of the Ocean
Sea and proceeded to unleash a reign of terror unlike anything seen before or since. When he was finished, eight
million Arawaks -- virtually the entire native population of Hispaniola -- had been exterminated by torture, murder,
forced labor, starvation, disease and despair." 1 Later European Christian invaders systematically murdered
additional tens of millions of
Aboriginal people, from the Canadian Arctic to South America. The exact
number is unknown. Natives were murdered by warfare, forced death marches,
forced relocation to barren lands, intentional and accidental spread of
disease, poisoning, and the promotion of suicide through the destruction of their cultural and religious
heritage. More info.
The difference between the plight of the American Natives after the
European invasion, and other tribal people today is mainly that of scale.
Some of the same techniques are still in use: murder, theft of land,
forcible relocation, destruction of culture, and spread of disease.
Survival International is a British non-profit charitable
organization which has been active since 1969. They monitor the interaction between the 150 million tribal
peoples in the world, and their more highly developed neighbors. "...Almost
all [aboriginals] are persecuted relentlessly." Some are listed
below. We recommend that you visit Survival International's web
site for additional information. 2,3
The Innu, formerly called the
Montagnais-Naskapi Indians, are the only threatened aboriginal culture
in North America which is listed among the 80 tribes that Survival
is actively working with. They live in vast area of sub-arctic spruce and fir
forest, lakes, rivers and rocky 'barrens' which they call Nitassinan.
This encompasses most of the Labrador - Quebec peninsula in Eastern
Canada. They currently number about 15 to 20 thousand.
During the 1950's and 1960's, the Canadian
federal government and Roman Catholic church pressured the Innu to
move into settled communities. This made the Innu easier to control: it
facilitated the delivery of education, medical and other services; It
allowed the government to steal their land and divide it among mining
companies and hydro-electric generating projects. It also resulted in an
almost total incompatibility between the nomadic Innu culture and their
present settled living arrangement. Innu communities experience "extremely
high levels of alcoholism, petrol-sniffing amongst children, violence, and
record levels of suicides." 3
The Canadian government's policy is to only
recognize Innu land rights if the Innu first agree to give up most of the
land that they have traditionally occupied. "In April 1999, the UN
Human Rights Committee described the situation of tribal peoples as 'the
most pressing issue facing Canadians', and condemned Canada for
'extinguishing' aboriginal peoples' rights." 3 Few
Canadians are aware of the situation among the Innu. Occasionally the
massive glue-sniffing and massive suicide rate will be featured in the
press. There is a flurry of interest, which quickly dies down.
In their 2002-JUN-18 report, Survival International briefly
mentioned the following tribes: