Reparation for Native Americans: Another Trail of Tears

by Tammy Tillotson

Native Americans were here first. We took their land while generously doling out reservations for their people who survived to live on. Considering a moral sense of fairness, perhaps we now owe them some other form of reparation in order to exemplify a more universal concept of reciprocity. After all, the Native Americans were the ones who did us a favor. Shouldn’t we feel morally obligated to return the favor?

Reparation and Reciprocity
Reparation is compensation payable by a defeated nation for damages or loss caused during war. Federally recognized Indian tribes have the legal status of “defeated nations,” and the Federal government has legal responsibility to protect and promote their welfare. Since the Indian tribes classify as “defeated nations,” the issue arises whether or not they should be financially compensated for the great losses their people have suffered as a result of colonization.

The idea of monetary reparation is not a new concept, yet it partially stems from the notion that America is divided and is in need of healing. In an attempt to turn suffering into healing, money is the solution, which yields the reciprocity of fairness. Money can buy anything these days, and the notion is beyond absurd and appalling. Justice is not served by silencing voices, and money cannot buy or return dignity and self-respect.

If Native Americans were to accept any form of monetary reparation from the Federal government, it would simply undermine what self-respect they have suffered to successfully maintain. Accepting compensation would yield the idea that the debt has been paid in full, when, in fact, there is no possible way to repay Native Americans. It will simply make the Federal government happy in knowing that the Native Americans have been pacified, and they should have nothing else to complain about, when indeed they do.

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