Rethinking Genocide

Dominant cultures share common threads. They forcibly and systematically destroy cultures and peoples who are different. They do this by killing and torturing, separating children from families, forcing indoctrination on the young, and by the rape and murder of women and girls. They do it with swift first strikes and then gradually through police tactics, court injustice, social crimes and environmental destruction. The governments of these dominant cultures carry on the atrocities for generations. Education and religion are used to maintain the status quo and to create an illusion that “all is as it should be.”

Since WWII we have termed this cultural and human destruction as genocide. In 1948, the Untied Nations created the legal definition of what was then coined the “crime of crimes”.

Ideas take time to take hold. This week dominant culture took a blow with the release of Canada’s National Inquiry into the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.  Exhaustive studies and final conclusions prepared by professional Indigenous women were presented to the Canadian government.

Within the findings is the declaration that the Canadian government by omission and commission engaged in the genocide of Indigenous people.

As one survivor put it, “You can’t un-hear the truth.”

Here are a few words from the final damning report: “These violations amount to nothing less than the deliberate, often covert campaign of genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual] people.”

Humankind must find a way to end the perpetuation of violence on Indigenous peoples.  Dominant cultures everywhere must grapple with the racist and sexist attitudes that are upheld throughout their systems and policies. The United States has developed an institutionalized apathy that needs to be challenged.

Kudos to all who are fighting this inhuman disease however you are called to do so.


For more on the report and its findings and to give credit for the photo used visit Eagle Feather News.

On Soundcloud. Thanks to WDRT for airing “Consider This.”

Kiss Patriarchy Good-by

Traditionally February 14th has been set aside for love. The history of Valentine’s Day is uncertain, originating with pagan fertility rites and morphing into a celebration of Valentine, the Christian saint of romance.

Since 1992, this day has been held in commemoration of indigenous murdered and missing women and children. Beginning in Vancouver, marches to honor and remember lost sisters, mothers, friends and aunts now happen throughout Canada, Minnesota, Colorado and North and South Dakota.

In past years, I have participated in these walks. The heartbreak of loss juxtaposed with the resilience to end this nightmare is powerful. The attempt to un-silence an epidemic that has endured since the coming of Columbus has largely been lost to the dominant culture. Our inability to hear and respond has added to the tragedy.

Yet as the cries for justice, protection, and awareness have multiplied, so too have the accounts of rape, sex trafficking, child abuse and femicide in our society and throughout the world.

Recent admissions by Pope Francis on the sexual abuse of nuns by priests, and the most recent study of child abuse within the ranks of the Southern Baptist Convention is ripping the scab off the silenced truth. The abuse of women and children is a direct result of patriarchy. And unless and until we acknowledge that truth, we will be incapable of changing it.

We have been quietly secretive, allowing the systematic and intentional degradation of women and children. We have refused to stop the spread of the cancer within our culture. It has been upheld in our courts, our churches and temples, our military, our medicine, our politics and our schools.

We have taught our sons to cover their tracks and we have taught our daughters to hide their shame. It is beyond time to end this grotesque relationship. Kiss the abusive nature of patriarchy good-by. It hurts everyone.

#MeToo Tenfold

It appears that the #MeToo movement is on course to end gender-based violence. Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, pushed the button that began the ball drop on New Year’s Eve at Times Square. Irony aside, we are witnessing an unprecedented coalescing of women in support of one another.

700,000 women farmworkers of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas wrote an open letter in support of the women of Hollywood and helped spark the launch of Times Up.

Times Up is a Hollywood based initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment. It includes a $13 million dollar legal defense fund to support women who might not have the resources to fight back.

And here I must acknowledge the tireless local effort to end human trafficking by La Crosse’s Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Their Task Force to End Modern Slavery partnered with Breaking Free, to create a video series entitled, “The Faces of Human Trafficking”. That series will premiere throughout this month.

And we must never forget the ongoing assault on indigenous women due in large part to extreme extraction of resources. Man camps are on the rise with every pipeline, construction site and refinery. Mainstream media and voices of the status quo have long ignored the plight of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. Sometimes we must work very hard to learn the truth.

And so it was with great surprise that on a recent visit to my birthplace, Beaver County Pennsylvania, I learned of the effort by police to prepare for the onslaught of construction workers entering the county making way for Shell’s new ethanol plant there. And to what end are the preparations?

Police concerns are not merely the increase in traffic or the drain on social services –but it is an awareness that with transient workers comes an increase in human trafficking…

Yes, #MeToo has been needed for a long time – and while it is too late for far too many, let us pray that we can continue this courageous effort to end gender and power based violence once and for all.


This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This” on Thursday, January 11. You can listen to a recording here.

For more information listen to Democracy Now’s coverage of from January 12.