Your Heroes Our Enemies

5 12 2009

Some of you may have seen this printed on t-shirts like the one below, but may not have never understood what was meant by it.  I remember having a shirt like this in college and some white dude being all pissed off about it.  If he would learn U.S. History accurately, he would have understood. (so the shirt I owned, which has since gone out of print, said “Our Heroes, Your Enemies” and had pictures of Geronomino, Quanah Parker and other native leaders and on the back it said “Your Heroes Our Enemies” and had pictures of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, etc.)

Similiar to a shirt I owned

Many Native Nations and Black Slaves fought on the side of the British, because the British offered freedom to slaves who fought with them and because the Natives wanted to defeat those “Americans” that were after their land

The winners of this war against the British now turned all of their efforts towards the Natives who were blocking their progress of expanding their newly formed nation and empire.  Here is a quote from our first president and militarily leader:

“The gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage as the wolf to retire; both being beasts of prey though they differ in shape” George Washington

This attitude would continue to this day as the U.S. seeks to gain control over resources in the middle east like in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Here are two other pieces that are important as we look to our past to guide our understanding of our present:

The prewar white population buildup, which had caused worsening economic conditions in many older communities along the coastal plain, was relieved as thousands of settlers spilled across the mountains after 1783, frequently in violation of treaties contracted by their own elected governments.  Aiding these frontiersmen, many of them war veterans were state and national governments that understood that the Western lands, once the native inhabitants had been driven away, were the new nations’s most valuable resource.” (Nash, 284)

“The white Americans’ revolution was fought in the East for release from the British Empire but was also fought in the West to create an empire of their own” (Nash, 285)

Nash, Gary. Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America.