There seems to me something disingenuous about all these towns, streets, and rivers named with the Native Americans’ language, names which the natives once used, in these places they once called home. Words which are foreign to us, and were foreign to our ancestors who pulled there boats up on these shores, but which fell from the mouths of the natives like apples fall from an apple tree, or the way an oak tree arises from an acorn.

Here we came and murdered them in droves, swindled and stole their land from them every time there was something on it or under it that we wanted, pushed them from one place to the next, and finally once we had roamed and despoiled the land from coast to coast we bestowed to them a few swatches of it on which they might reside. And yet their language we kept for our own! In short, everything that was possible to take from them was. Their rivers were taken—the rivers that sustained them, that they fished from, that they paddled in their canoes, that they swam and bathed in, that they named in their language which was the language of this Earth—we took the rivers for ourselves but left their language hovering ethereally—a specter from the past. We took the land from them—the land that they roamed far and wide on, the land that they farmed peaceably, sustainably, and with great love of, the land that they hunted on, the land that they built their homes on, the land they named in their tongue—we took it from them, and kept those names too.

The image, and if not the image, a name or word, of the Native American is emblazoned on everything from banks, to sport teams, to motor vehicles. One can find it on clothing, cups, bowls, keychains, shot glasses, toasters, tooth brushes, bracelets, any bloody knick-knack that can be sold so that these honest, American corporations can turn a profit. And if that isn’t bad enough, there are still oil and mining companies today trying to remove protections on the Natives’ lands in order that they may exploit them.

In short, we’ve transformed this proud race of humans into ghosts, and we pay false homage to them by naming our towns, rivers and roads after them, and by marketing junk in their name.

Fine consolation.


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