Just Sayin’ …‘Trail of Tears’ a timeless must-see (Ulish Carter Column April 19, 2017)


“Trail of Tears,” a Native American documentary, was an award-winning documentary back in 2008 that has reappeared at video stores recently. I discovered it at Target in my search for old movies.
Much like Black History, the facts in this documentary will never get old and should be known by all Americans.
Even though I’ve studied Native American History and have watched several movies that document their history with “Cheyenne Autumn” (1964) starring Richard Widmark being the best, I was very impressed with the documentary and still upset that this occurred in America and the government not only gave support to it, but was part of it.
During the late 1830s the Cherokee Nation and other tribes were uprooted from their homes throughout the Southeastern part of the U.S., mostly Georgia, but also including parts of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and sent to Oklahoma.
We are not talking about what we normally see on TV or the movies, but thousands of people who were uprooted from their farms, plantations, and businesses by U.S. troops by order of President Andrew Jackson. Men, women and children had to walk, ride in wagons, and eat spoiled food from Georgia to Oklahoma. There were no trains, buses, or cars. Thousands died, mostly the elderly and children, on their way.
The reason given for this move was simple. Whites wanted the land the Native Americans had farmed, the homes they built, the wealth they accumulated. Jackson said he was protecting the Indians because if he didn’t force them to move, Whites would kill them and take their land. So instead of doing the right thing and protecting the Native Americans as they would White Americans if a force threatened them, they used the U.S. military to force these people out of their homes and marched them halfway across this country to a total foreign land that no one wanted at the time to settle.
They weren’t given anything for their homes; many were beautiful homes. Nothing for their farms, or livestock. Yes, I know that when we think of Indians or Native Americans we see teepees or tents on TV, but these people had wood and brick-built homes much to the envy of White Americans, because they were told that if they adopted the White man’s lifestyle they would be accepted by White America. So, they dressed like Whites, spoke English, and accepted Christianity thinking this would lead to acceptance by White America.
They were forced out, most penniless, after years of fighting through the court system to keep their homes. And even after a favorable Supreme Court decision, President Jackson chose to ignore the court order.
And we talk about President Donald Trump.
There have been worse days for people of color.
If you can purchase or get it from your library please check out “Trails of Tears,” a truly great and timeless documentary that tells the true history of America that we all should know about Native Americans.
It also deals in detail about Black Indians, as well as the overall relationship between Blacks and Native Americans.
The past two weeks have been flooded with President Trump’s bombing of Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and others as well as his threat to do the same to North Korea if they don’t stop testing weapons of mass destruction.
He has asked Congress for a $54 billion increase in the military budget which would lead to massive reductions in Social Security, Medicare and all other domestic social programs.
With these military strikes, he has moved the country and the media attention from domestic failures such as health care, to war. Have these strikes made America safer? Has it improved our living conditions? No.
I know most of the people killed in these attacks were terrorists, but both sides in Syria can be called terrorists. On one side is President Assad and the other, Isis. Which is worse? I’ve said it many times and I will say it again; when it comes to the Middle East there are very few clear cut good guys, so our best bet is to arm everyone and let them decide who represents them. Because right now there’s no real threat to America from any of the countries we are bombing. I know the politicians are saying Iran and North Korea, but are they really threats? If they ever get a nuclear bomb and launch it at the U.S. with all the nuclear bombs we have, we can wipe theirs from the sky then wipe out the country that fired it. Now after all this, we would have to deal with the nuclear fallout.
Hopefully with all this going on the media will stay focused on what really matters to the American people and that is, what are the president and the “Do Nothing Congress” doing for the masses of people in affordable housing, employment as a whole, and livable wages, health care, and affordable education?
(Ulish Carter is the former managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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