I may not have pulled the trigger in our country's war against First American people, but my ancestors did. My relatives helped displace and relocate First Americans from South Carolina. We took native lands by force so we could profit off slave labor growing tobacco for the English Crown. The attempted genocide of First Americans by my ancestors can no longer be pushed under the rug. I continue to benefit from my inherited economic stability just as Native people have inherited poverty and systematic neglect.
Facing my ancestor's participation in killing and pillaging Native peoples is more important than ever. White folks must learn from the indigenous cultures we tried to obliterate. A war waged with muskets against native people may be over, but rubber bullets and water hoses, systematic oppression, flailing education systems, and a strangling of native people's natural resources are still underway; and are still normalized within the racist system that built reservations.
Indigenous values of honoring and protecting water, land, and air is the only way to heal our poisoned planet. My people have much to learn about how to behave in a respectful way towards the earth. Profit and greed are not sustainable. If we continue to embrace the capitalism-based values that slaughtered native people and enslaved others with regards to nature, we will continue to pillage the earth. "The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land."
Here's to an uncomfortable but necessary first step as modeled by our veterans. Thank you. May my people finally look to learn from those we have tried so hard to kill.