The Pitfalls of an Ethnic Holiday

January 14, 2011
By Ryan Williams BRONZE, Lititz, Pennsylvania
Ryan Williams BRONZE, Lititz, Pennsylvania
2 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Should an ethnic group that makes up only 1 percent of our population have a holiday? (Native Americans and Native Alaskans combined.) Disregarding the fact that there are few true Native Americans left, they do not deserve a holiday because their ancestors suffered under the fulfillment of the U.S.’s Manifest Destiny. A second reason for not creating a holiday for the Native Americans is that it is counter-productive to their assimilation into modern American culture. A third reason is the bias behind creating a holiday for an ethnicity that the U.S. is to blame for their downfall.

Native Americans fought with the U.S. because of their need for the land in the West. Admittedly, Americans could have taken the land in a less cruel way than slaughtering women and children, but the outcome would have been the same. The cultural differences in the sense of land ownership and religion barred any chance for a symbiotic relationship to survive. The destruction of the Native Americans in the sense of their original way of life was inevitable, so we should not praise the loser of a mutually caused battle.

In order for America to become a melting pot of ethnicities, we need to put all groups on equal grounds. Treating everyone as Americans, not by what their ancestors may have been. No group should have a holiday for any reason. There should be no Martin Luther King Day, no St. Patrick’s Day, and no celebration for Christopher Columbus. It may honor them and create an excuse for celebration, but ultimately it tears away the progress we have made in accepting other cultures and religions. In modern America it is socially unacceptable to mistreat based on race, but if we separate a group with a holiday, it would give one more reason for racism to thrive.

Finally, there is no valid benefit to creating a holiday for the Native Americans. A holiday should not be created on the premise that it would make up for wrongs that a past generation have committed. Almost all cultures have been mistreated, oppressed, or slaughtered by another culture. That does not mean that future generations cannot succeed. African Americans were enslaved, the Chinese are brutally oppressed even today, the Irish were denied jobs in the U.S., and the Jews were killed in great numbers. After this all of these cultures have bounced back. There are not enough days in the year to celebrate the sufferings of peoples who were mistreated, so why should we celebrate the Native Americans? Celebrating the failure of cultures that was primarily the U.S.’s fault not only degrades the victory that was ultimately beneficial for the country, but makes an excuse for the Native Americans lack of success even though they have had many opportunities provided by the government including a college education.

In conclusion, there should not be a holiday for Native Americans. The U.S. had divine right to inhabit the West, no matter what the repercussions may have been. Native Americans today live on reservations and have had a chance to acculturate with the modern U.S. Creating ethnic holidays only prevents the U.S. from accepting all people. All people have been mistreated at some point in their history, so we should not honor those that were mistreated by the U.S., but instead we should prevent such mistreatment from happening again.

The author's comments:
This piece was originally written as a writing assignment for my History class with the prompt, "Write for or against a National Holiday for the Native American ethnic group."

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This article has 6 comments.

on Feb. 6 2011 at 6:28 pm
NaTivE_BeAutiE GOLD, Ann Arbor, Michigan
10 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
~a woman looked at me and said, "You know, you really don't look Indian."So I smiled at her and responded: "Well you don't look stupid, but appearances can be awfully deceiving."~

Okay there must some problem with this site? It posted my comment 2 times..?? Or maybe it was silly ole me hehe

on Feb. 6 2011 at 6:24 pm
NaTivE_BeAutiE GOLD, Ann Arbor, Michigan
10 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
~a woman looked at me and said, "You know, you really don't look Indian."So I smiled at her and responded: "Well you don't look stupid, but appearances can be awfully deceiving."~

You say that the United States had a divine right to inhabit the west, and this is true. They also had the divine right to treat people with honesty, respect, and equality. I myself am Lakota, and I believe this country owes much more to the Native American people than just some worthless holiday. In fact, forget the holiday. Here are 6 things that I could only wish the U.S. Government would return us:

1. The homeland of our ancestors (which was stolen starting in the 1490's).

2. Our native languages that teachers at Indian boarding schools forbid children to speak, (punishment was to have your mouth "cleansed" with soap.).

3. 200,000 slaughtered buffalo (by settlers who purposely tried to rid my people of our life source as well as gain profit from the hides and tongues).

4. The lives of more than 150 men, women, and children whose lives were taken by soldiers during the slaughter at Wounded Knee, as well as the many tribes and clans who were attacked and murdered simply because the fact that they were thought to be a "heathen" or “savage”.

5. An accurate portrayal of being normal, modern, everyday people (blame the media), instead of the label that we still dress in feathers and loin cloths (The reason why so many people wonder why when they see Indians aren’t dressed today like this is the same reason one doesn’t see a caucasion person wearing petticoats and bonnets.). 

6. A sincere apology for 600 years of dishonesty, unfair treatment, displacement, racism, stereotypes, genocide, and ignorance.

So, go ahead. Keep preaching about the holiday that we do not need. I mean you’re absolutely right; I’d pass up that holiday and take back all those buffalo, my native tongue and the Black Hills without hesitating for a second. What my people really want is the homeland, rights, and respect we’ve been passionately fighting for since 1492.

Anyways, that is my opinion. I respect yours, and although we may not agree on some things, you are a very passionate and opinionated writer, and I respect you for that. All the best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...
on Feb. 5 2011 at 3:39 pm

I'm a little confused by your last paragraph's second sentence. The U.S. had the divine right to inhabit the West? By what grounds does anyone have the right to take land that someone else built with blood, sweat, and tears. That's like saying, you can sacrifice your time and hard work to build a house, and then me and my friends can kick you out because we like it. At least that's the way your comment seems.


reddad3 said...
on Jan. 31 2011 at 4:02 pm
First of all that equality is under that of the Caucasian American. Which it wasnt his right to call himself American in the first place becuse of how he took over. Also it was racist. Your first sentance was racist.

on Jan. 26 2011 at 9:22 pm
Ryan Williams BRONZE, Lititz, Pennsylvania
2 articles 0 photos 12 comments
First of all, this view was my assignment. Secondly, this is not racist. I have not said anything that ethnicities are inferior. If anything I supported their equality.

reddad3 said...
on Jan. 25 2011 at 2:19 pm
What the? Get your priorities in check and make sure you're not just some biased racist before you go and put something so out of line online, even if it is your point of view. Try to think of how the Indians and Black men and women feel being forced out of their homes and of their land.


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