Genocides of Indigenous Peoples
Rhetoric of Human Rights
Perhaps in time the whites will suffer in the knowledge of what they have done. But they cannot expect forgiveness.
Peter Read, A Rape of the Soul So Profound
Indigenous peoples the world over have suffered various forms of extermination ever since they were “discovered” by Europeans. This is particularly true with regard to the “New World” and the Pacific Islands. Africans too have suffered, if in different ways. The extensive calamities of colonialism and imperialism have been second to no other calamities. In many places populations have been totally and purposefully exterminated, in others they have “died out” and disappeared, and in still other sites only a few remain as a memory, anexhibit, of a lost world. Many of the victims, such as the Caribs or the Arawak of the Caribbean Islands have not only been exterminated but have also largely been erased from memory. When Hitler reputedly dismissed the Armenian genocide, he did not even mention the Herero of South West Africa who were the victims of Germany's first genocide of the century. These are the victims that few even remember. The actual horrors of the colonial wars are too often overlooked. Indigenous peoples have only recently become candidates to be considered victims of genocide, rather than merely vanishing peoples. Perhaps one of the most recent cases to capture Western attention was of the Yanomami, whose destruction began in the 1960s and 1970s.1
The magnitude of colonial and imperial destruction, with its multiple manifestations, poses special difficulties in understanding or even studying these historical and, in different ways, ongoing contemporary events. Far____________________