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Saturday, November 28, 2020


If you are white like me, this treaty probably never came up in your history lessons.

This is the treaty that the USA Federal Government signed with the Sioux Indians acknowledging that the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory would belong to the Sioux Indians in perpetuity as a critical part of the greater Sioux Indian reservation.

Thanks to this treaty, the Sioux Indians laid down their arms, respected the peace and stopped attacking white settlers.

The USA respected this treaty for a whopping four years at best. White settlers started to suspect that the Black Hills could be mined for gold. So, in 1874, in direct contradiction to the treaty signed by the USA government, General George A. CUSTER provided military protection as he led miners directly into the area formally reserved for the Sioux.

No surprise here, the USA never did anything to unwind Custer’s successful efforts to steal the Sioux land back for white settlers.

As if that was not enough injury or insult, America gave the Sioux the ultimate “Fuck You” message by turning MOUNT RUSHMORE into a monument to four presidents – presidents who never acknowledged the injustice of breaking the treaty with the Sioux during their time in office.

Yup, the great Mt. Rushmore tourist attraction was built right in the heart of the land that was formally set aside for the Sioux Indian Reservation.

And so it is the ugliest kind of poetic symbolism that Donald Trump would pick Mt. Rushmore to give a speech that announces his campaign for the 2020 election while pretending that it is a speech to celebrate Independence Day.

The aspirations of the USA are admirable but they are just aspirations. This nation is built on a foundation of slavery and genocide on a scale that is unimaginable today. We can never achieve our aspirations without truly coming to terms with our past.

We can no longer celebrate Independence Day unless we use this day to put a lot of intellectual and emotional effort into asking ourselves “Independence For Who?”

Mark McLaughlin (American Grind)
In my career with large corporations, they gave all the employees psychological profile tests. It turns out that I test over-the-top for something called “strategic.” I can assure you that this is not an indicator of a high IQ. Haha. My brain sees the connectedness between things that often seem disparate to other people. My rote memory for details is awful but my instincts for what the details imply is way above average. I’m no futurist but I anticipate outcomes. I’m not a mind reader but my empathy is intense. Tomorrow, I might not recall exactly what you said, but I will definitely remember your emotions when you said it. Combine “strategic” with my GAD (general anxiety disorder) and you’ve got a guy who is attuned to worst-case scenarios. I’m a pragmatic optimist. I’m a problem solver because I can’t relax if a problem is being ignored. My brain grinds hard when I am worried about the future. My brain grinds in the era of Donald Trump – not because of the man but because of what he tells us about ourselves. My brain grinds hard when the news media is not addressing something that seems critical to me. Writing about the stuff that is grinding helps me to quiet the chaos and organize my thoughts. So, I write. There you go. This op-ed column is the outpouring of a brain that grinds hard regarding national affairs today. Welcome to “American Grind” and thanks for reading.


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