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The first people who lived on the northern plains of what today is the US called themselves "Lakota", meaning "the people", a word which provides the semantic basis for Dakota. The first European people to meet the Lakota called them "Sioux", a contraction of "Nadowessioux", a now-archaic French-Canadian word meaning "snake", or enemy.
The Lakota also used a metaphor to describe the newcomers. It was "Wasi'chu", which means "takes the fat", or "greedy person". Within the modern Indian movement, "wasi'chu" has come to mean those corporations and individuals, with their governmental accomplices, that continue to covet Indian lives, land, and resources for private profit. "Wasi'chu" does not describe a race; it describes a state of mind.
This book is about resistance to that state of mind and to the economic system that rewards it.
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Manifest Destiny = Lebensraum
That's one of the the main takeaways from this book. It's more than just an idle observation. The history of settler colonialism in North America should be regarded as an atrocity at least on par with the Holocaust. It's long been understood that Hitler modeled concentration camps on the British camps in the Boer War, and the American reservation system for Native peoples. (Not to mention that the in the formation of the 1935 Nuremberg Race Laws, many American miscegenation laws were considered too racist for consideration.) Too racist for nazis, let that sink in.
All that being said, the book, even thirty plus years after it was published, this is an important book for people to understand history. It contains damning truths that require reconciliation. This country needs to face the ugly truth of its past, and present. The irony of it all will be, however, that while it's clearly stated that "Wasi'chu" indicates no ethnic or racial identity, but merely an ethos of greed and apathy to fellow human beings, those people who've benefitted most will cry victim and bemoan 'you know they mean us'. And there is no denying that within that cohort, white supremacy is a driving factor. But not only that. There is also Christianity, which has attempted to strip Native people of their souls, and capitalism which has sought to destroy their livelihood and economic well-being. The Wasi'chu have a lot to answer for, and what we can do do start, whatever your ethnic heritage, is just don't be wasi'chu.
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