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Opinion
Tim Giago: Religion invaded Native America


"A letter from an angry reader from Oklahoma chastised me for attempting to explain why the Iraqi people hate America. She wrote, �Tim Giago should realize that America is a Christian nation. Jesus Christ appeared to Black Elk, not to the Muslims.�

I wonder how many Indian nations consider themselves to be �Christian nations.� The two most potent weapons brought to the Western Hemisphere by the European invaders were disease and the Church. While the diseases unknown to the indigenous population destroyed millions of lives, the Church destroyed cultures, religions, traditions, languages and customs. The early demise of the Indian people can be equally attributed to both.

The letter writer, an Indian woman, continued, �We as Americans are crusaders. We bring democracy to a dark and ignorant country.� Is that what the �crusaders� brought to the Indian people? Native Americans did not become included in America�s form of �democracy� until 1924, nearly 150 years after America�s settlers signed the Declaration of Independence. The �independence� and �democracy� was for white Americans only. It was not until 1946 when Arizona and New Mexico finally ratified the Constitutional Amendment that made Native Americans United States citizens. For the first 30 years of his life, my father, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, a fluent Lakota speaker, was not a citizen of the United States.

The settlers who came to America in pursuit of religious freedom outlawed most religious rites of the Indian people. The Sacred Sun Dance of the Great Plains Indians was banned and its practitioners subject to arrest and incarceration.

The Church created the myth that Jesus appeared to Black Elk in order to convince other Lakota that Black Elk had seen the light and had become a Christian in the end. His own family members dispute this outlandish claim. As a matter of fact, Black Elk faced prosecution for practicing the traditional spirituality of his ancestors. He had to perform some of the sacred rites of the Lakota in secret."

Get the Story:
Tim Giago: Debunking the myth of Christianity (The Native American Times 7/24)

More Tim Giago:
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Tim Giago: Congratulations to the class of '06 (5/16)
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Tim Giago: Brainwashing on Pine Ridge Reservation (4/18)
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Tim Giago: Indians most affected by immigration (4/4)
Tim Giago: Little attention for Native American Day (3/28)
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Tim Giago: The road to true tribal sovereignty (3/14)
Tim Giago: The basketball miracle of 1936 (3/7)
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Tim Giago: Yes, Virginia, Indians do pay taxes (2/14)
Tim Giago: Gas-guzzlers, Indian cars and the Big Three (2/7)
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Tim Giago: Christians and Muslims still at war (1/24)
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Tim Giago: Fire Thunder out of limbo after 66 days (1/10)
Tim Giago: The Olympics of Indian basketball (12/20)
Tim Giago: BIA schools turned abused into abusers (12/13)
Tim Giago: Fire Thunder shakes up establishment (12/6)
Tim Giago: Della Warrior steps down from IAIA (11/29)
Tim Giago: Deloria gave Indian people a voice (11/22)
Tim Giago: Indians never forced religion on others (11/15)
Tim Giago: Exposing false medicine men (11/8)
Tim Giago: Government ignores Indian health problems (11/1)
Tim Giago: Indian newspapers revise history (10/25)
Tim Giago: Two friends make journey to spirit world (10/18)
Tim Giago: Politicians need to know Indian law (10/11)
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Tim Giago: 'Indian' myths and misconceptions (9/27)
Tim Giago: Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina (9/20)
Tim Giago: NCAA loses its spine on mascot policy (9/13)
Tim Giago: The Indian 'scandal sheet' phenomenon (08/30)
Tim Giago: Indians became refugees in own land (8/23)
Tim Giago: Censor tribes for supporting mascots (8/17)
Tim Giago: New addiction takes over in Indian Country (08/02)
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Tim Giago: South Dakota press censors Indian writers (05/10)
Tim Giago: White lawyers growing fat off tribes (04/26)
Tim Giago: Gay marriage debate killed Democrats (4/19)
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Tim Giago now plans to run for Senate as independent (03/31)
Tim Giago: Indians pay no taxes, and other myths (01/26)
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Tim Giago: I'm a fully recovered Catholic (09/11)
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