The fact that I chose the incorrect answer to half of the questions on the quiz shows that my knowledge of Native American history, culture and contemporary living conditions could be much better. This might reflect something of an ignorance about these issues in society generally.
The figures for suicide attempts among young people were shocking. However, perhaps more surprising still was the fact that within a century of Columbus’ landing in the Americas, over 95% of the Native American population had been wiped out, both through violence and infectious diseases.
The inhumane treatment of the existing American population by the first European settlers was quite obviously a terrible and dark period at the beginning of modern American history. That Columbus ordered all those on Haiti who failed to provide sufficient quantities of gold to be killed, and the enslavement of many Native Americans, demonstrates a perception on the part of those early settlers that the Native Americans were inferior beings – a perception which we, living in the 21st century, quite rightly find disturbing and incomprehensible.
Perhaps the main thing I learnt is that, while terrible injustices were committed against the Native American populations in past centuries, in many ways the deplorable living conditions in which many of their successors live today means that the period of oppression has not yet been brought to an end. It is sobering to consider that this painful era in our nation’s history continues in some sense.
Completing this quiz, and reading the historical and social information it provided, makes me consider myself fortunate to live in an America where all Americans really are citizens. While serious injustices remain, we can at least be confident that the modern US provides a better environment in which they can be resolved.
As a business person, I am struck by the inequality of opportunity in our country, with Native American young people