This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Indian Island Massacre.
While I know this anniversary is being recognized by tribal members and others , I think it is most important to remember that that those killed were people, and not just “Indians”.
John Grisham wrote the book, A Time to Kill, about a black father in the deep south who kills two white men that raped his daughter.
Through much of the book, race is the overarching issue. The death of two white men at the hands of a negro. Two of “us” killed by one of “them”, and it is only when the jurors are urged to imagine the victim as a little white girl and her father as a father, instead of a black man, that they are able to sympathize. They are finally able to recognize a family who suffered a great injustice they simply could not abide.
If one hundred and fifty school children and their mothers were brutally murdered during a school event, everyone in the community would recognize the loss years later. This massacre, one of too many that happened in this area during the settlement period, should be no different.
If you have to, picture a school gym full of parents and children. Imagine a basketball game or school play, everyone joyous, the community together. Then imagine five or six men coming in and locking the doors behind them. They are carrying hatchets and knives and you watch from the stands as cheerleaders with ponytails and boys with long legs and hair in their eyes are struck down, their skulls split with axes, screaming as they fall bleeding and dying to the floor. Imagine toddlers, who moments earlier, were crawling on the stands, stabbed and cast aside. Imagine watching as parents are beaten and killed as they run to protect their children. Imagine the community’s pain. Imagine the loss of so much potential. The loss of so many people…
This happened. Here. And it makes no difference that they were “Indian”. Please take a moment to honor the victims and their families.