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We Were Here First

When the first whites entered our lands, we had been here for unrecorded centuries. We welcomed these strange visitors, for the first ones were friendly and bore news of peoples and places far beyond our borders. But besides news and strange devices they brought to us the first real sicknesses we had ever experienced. We died in the hundreds from unexpected fevers that we had no natural immunity against. When we gathered in vigil with our stricken relatives and friends to comfort and strengthen them, which was our custom, we fell ill and died from the terrible sicknesses that had struck them down. We did not then have the knowledge to know what to do about it. We know that our visitors did not know what disaster their very presence had brought upon us, but despite their ignorance they destroyed us.

Our weakness after the epidemics brought by the whites made us unable to effectively resist when the yellow metal was discovered in our lands. The hordes of gold-hungry white men then completed our destruction. By the time they were done with us, and had forced us onto reservation land incapable of supporting us in the only lifestyles we had carried on for millenia, we were virtually powerless. We were so reduced in number and strength that not only could we not defend ourselves from those whites who preyed upon us, the United States Federal Government was able to effectively pretend that we no longer existed, and we were not accorded any form of recognition that could help us maintain our identity as a people.

But After All of This, We Are Still Here

And we are coming back. Not in any vindictiveness, for we forgive the whites for their depredations -- those who oppressed us are dead, just as our ancestors are, after all, and most of us now bear white blood, so how could we hate our own? -- but you will again know us, and know that we remember the old ways, even if the modern world has made them less relevant for our survival. So we drive cars, fly in airplanes, hunt game with rifles and shotguns (although some of us also use the old skills of hunting and gathering and train our children in this), obtain college degrees and serve in many different professions. Many of us have even served our country proudly in military service, both in war and peace.


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