Call it guilt by association. From Pundit Press comes word of a petition at Change.org calling upon “the Mayor and City Council of Buffalo, New York, and Berkshire Hathaway, owner of Buffalo News, to change the racist titles of the municipality and the news outlets, respectively, to no longer include the word ‘Buffalo.'”
The petition was organized by Mark Beasley, an “enrolled member” of the Navajo Nation, who claims to speaks for his “Native American colleagues.” What is Beasley’s beef? Here is his argument:
Buffalo is the name of the animal that was driven almost to extinction by the non-Native forces in order to annihilate and drive out my ancestors from the American landscape. Within only a few years from the beginning of the campaign, all Native nations were driven off their lands and into reservations, where we have prior and since been unduly subjugated and and exposed to genocidal horrors unimaginable to the rest of the world and throughout history. End the use of racist and genocidal imagery and symbols toward Native Americans today. End the pain and denigration these symbols and images incite and the damage to the psyches of Native Americans everywhere. Drop “Buffalo” from the New York city and its main news source and restore Native people’s dignity.
The prevailing narrative here is that buffalo, with which the Indians supposedly lived in harmonious bliss, were abundant until the Europeans arrived and killed off the herds to make way for western railroad expansion. By this accounting, so-called buffalo jumps — in which stampeding herds were driven to their deaths over the edge of a cliff by tribe members — were both humane and frugal.
One primary source from the turn of the nineteenth century paints a very different picture of these mass killings and their aftermath. In his journal, Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, recorded the following on May 29, 1805 [original spelling preserved]:
today we passed, on the star.d [starboard] side, the remains of a vast many mangled carcases of Buffalow which had been driven over a precipice of 120 feet by the Indians and perished; the water appeared to have washed away a part of this immence pile of slaughter and still their remained the fragments of at least a hundred carcases [and these] created a most horrid stench. in this manner, the Indians of the Missouri distroy vast herds of buffaloe at a stroke;…
But apart from that reality, how far are the aggrieved will to reach in their redress of wrongs visited on their ancestors?
As of this writing, the petition had garnered a compelling 100 signatures, but the real story is in the reasons signatories give for signing. Laura Love, of Atlanta, writes, “Mark needs to change his last name. I’m allergic to Bees and hearing his name offends me.”
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