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An Open Letter to Barack Obama in Reference to Reparations, from an American Indian Woman

Many of you I know have read this, but I see people on here that I do not know so thought I would post it on this site, too. It is a letter I posted to BO.

Dear Mr. Obama,

You have said, “I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native American or African American issues or reparations the most important thing for the United States Government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”

The definition of reparations is: Something done or paid to compensate or make amends.

How ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that? We don’t.

It is true that money can buy anything these days. So how much are our children worth? Justice will not be served by silenced voices, and money cannot buy or return dignity or self-respect. Taking money of any kind from the Federal government would weaken what self-respect we have been able to successfully maintain.

Wouldn’t accepting compensation be saying that the debt has been paid? Wouldn’t accepting compensation cost the taxpayers billions of dollars? We are taxpayers, too. Is the plan to exempt us? I doubt it. You would just break another treaty to us, by giving it to us and then taking it back. You would take from people who are already stretched to the limit, to give it to someone else just to ease the conscience of the Federal government and then hope that we would just go away.

Mr. Obama, money will not bring back our dead or our homes. Money will not return out lost languages or our heritage. It will never bring back our children. No price is enough to repay the debt owed. Therefore, we do not want your money or your empty promises. Accepting a mere handout to be silent makes the suffering of our ancestors, meaningless. This would tell future generations that it is okay for there to be a set price to compensate for wrongful actions and deeds. That is not the lesson that we want our children to learn. It will also create a chain reaction for everyone in the world who feels society has in some way wronged them, to demand money.

In the past the government gave some of our people blankets. We did not know that the blankets were infected with smallpox and intended to annihilate us. So, I have to ask you, how much is that worth? How much are your wife and children worth? How much would you take for them? Do you really believe that money can buy anything?

We, American Indians, believe money is not the answer. We believe another Trail of Tears is inevitable and will include all races of people, if a consumerist society believes it is okay to consume humans as long as some predecessor receives monetary compensation. It is not okay with us.

Do not give us reparations, Mr. Obama, give us a nation where men can be free to live their own lives, honor their own God, raise their own children as they see fit. Give us a nation where education is again important and revisionist history does not prevail. Tell all children what has happened to us, and that every government attempt at killing us has failed. That is what America is about, and that is what patriots believe today. We will persevere. Tell them that all children can be strong, can overcome any disadvantage and maybe even like you grow up to be president. Give the children of America, today, the chance that we, the American Indians, were not given. Do not work to take away more from the people who have, to give to those who have not. It has already been proven with us that it does not work. We once had everything, self sufficiency, the ability to care for ourselves, land, a heritage we were proud of, healthy children and healthy people. It was taken from us to give to others, and now we suffer like no ethnic group in the USA has ever suffered. We suffer poverty, alcoholism, hunger, lack of basic necessities. The experiment in socialism of Andrew Jackson did not work. Give all of the people freedom. That is the most important thing that you can give us, not money. Money will do nothing. Freedom is everything. We know from experience.


A Cherokee Indian Woman

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Ten Commandments of Human Relations

The fundamental issue in human ethical behavior is summarized by Jesus in what we have come to call "The Golden Rule." Jesus put it this way:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12 TNIV).

It asks us to test our treatment of others by putting ourselves in their place. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you in the same or similar circumstance.

Somebody took that principle and translated it into Ten Commandments of Human Relations. You may have seen this anonymous piece, for it circulates in a variety of settings. In case you have missed it, I am reproducing it here.

Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.

Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown, only 14 to smile.

Call people by name. It is music to anyone’s ears to hear the sound of his or her name.

Be friendly and helpful.

Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is genuinely a pleasure. If it isn’t, learn to make it so.

Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost anyone, if you try.

Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.

Be considerate of the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy — yours, the other fellow’s, and the correct one.

Be alert to serve. What counts most in life is what you do for others.

Live with a good sense of humor, a generous dose of patience, and a dash of humility appropriate to being human.

Made in God’s image, all of us have something to be valued!

The great challenge in human experience is not work skills, but people skills. That is, research has shown that the majority of people who fail in their vocation do so because they cannot get along with people.

You might think through the meaning of these ten common-sense ideas for your own workplace and personal activity. But what about the larger setting for your daily life? These principles work everywhere you go, for they are about showing respect to the people you meet in all those places.

Made in God’s image, all of us have something to be valued, affirmed, and acknowledged by others. But let it begin with us to acknowledge it in them. As the cycle of giving and receiving enlarges, the human community comes alive.

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