Okay. I’ve been dwelling on the Unholy Lands article lately. Let me give you the gist of the article:
Let?s say that a couple of years from now, descendants of the dispossessed Cherokee ? members of a nationalist movement to return to their ancestral lands in Georgia ? managed to convince large numbers of people who have traces of Cherokee blood to move back to Georgia and take up residence.
Through lobbying, the new Cherokee get the president of the United States to issue a declaration that Western Georgia is the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee; but the president hedges his bets by also declaring it the homeland of the Georgians who live there now.
Later, the Cherokee win a U.S. Supreme Court victory restoring Georgian lands to them, including the city of Atlanta, as a sovereign Indian nation. The United Nations gets into the act and confirms the decision.
Fifty years later, a full-scale civil war is going on in Georgia between the Cherokee and the latter-day Georgians.
Obviously, I am trying to make an analogy to the current situation in Israel between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. If I were writing this as a science-fiction novel, I would fill it with analogic events including population movements, religious and cultural intolerance, terrorist bombings ? the whole business.
I’ve heard/read/seen several other comments relating the current Israeli-Palestinian situation to the plight of the American Indians in the U.S. Most of the comments suggest that, much like the Palestinians, the U.S. would never give up land to restore the Native American nations.
I’m here to suggest differently. I think it’s high time we DID restore Native Americans to the land that was their birthright for thousands of years before Europeans came to North America. Now, I don’t think we could restore ALL the tribal lands to all the tribes that are/were in the U.S. I am not suggesting that we even try. I am suggesting that we restore, arguably, the most “famous” of the Native American Peoples to their lands. That’s right. I’m suggesting that we give North and South Dakota back to the Great Sioux Nation.
Think about it. Who’d miss North and South Dakota? Nobody. OK, you ask, what about all the people that LIVE in those States?
Well, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, NOBODY really lives there! According to census figures, the population of South Dakota was approximately 756,600. There’s 75,885 square miles of South Dakota. That makes for roughly 9.9 people per square mile. It gets even better for North Dakota. In 2000, there were only 634,448 people in 68,976 square miles of State, making for 9.3 people per square mile. The population grew a measly 0.5 percent from 1990 to 2000, and was actually in decline in 2001. Compare this with our most populous state, California. 34,501,130 people, 155,959 square miles of land, and 217.2 people per square mile. Hell, if the folks in the Dakotas don’t want to live in Native American territory, relocate them to Montana (pop. 904,433, 145,552 square miles, 6.2 people/square mile).
So, what purpose would this serve? For one, wouldn’t you just love to see the return of the horse cultures of the plains to North America? Dances with Wolves and all that crap? Wouldn’t you love to restore the thundering herds of Bison? Alright, maybe it wouldn’t be like the Native American cultures of the past. For one thing, you’d have a hell of a lot of casinos, more than likely, but I bet tourism to those states would triple. And it’s not like we need those states anymore. The only reason American settlers drove the Sioux from their land in the Dakotas was for gold. It’s not like we really need those mineral rights any longer. Hell, we don’t even have to give up both states. The Sioux population is probably too small to occupy both states, so we’d just have to give up North Dakota.
For another, it would show the Palestians, the Israelis, and the Arab world that we’re willing to pony up to the table and admit that sometimes others might just have some claim to the land that we’ve occupied for a while. It would show that we’re big enough to give just a little bit, and maybe that would start a chain reaction in which the Palestinians and Israelis admit that maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to share the land you’ve lived on or lay claim to with another culture, a culture with a rich history and traditions not necessarily your own.
I, for one, am willing.