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The American Holocaust: the One They Don't Tell You About In School

Updated on July 10, 2012

Manifest Destiny

This ugly chapter in U.S. history has a tendency to get glossed over as a little bump in our usual moral and ethical tactics. Kind of like slavery is nothing more than an unsightly blemish on our perfect complexion. The sad truth is, the United States has done some really horrible things. Pretending they didn't happen, or justifying them is beyond immoral and unethical.

Manifest Destiny is a 19th century doctrine that states that U.S. westward expansion was sanctioned by the Christian god and was part of his plan for this country. It was used as justification for the acquisition of territory all throughout the the Southwest, the Northwest, the Caribbean, and Latin America. It was also used as justification for the genocide of over one million Native Americans.

Just for comparison, it is estimated that the Jewish Holocaust had anywhere from 6-9 million casualties and deaths. In history books, this is known as the world's worst holocaust. People still look back at this time in history with horror. Why isn't anyone just as horrified about the holocaust the United States inflicted on Native Americans?


The U.S.-Mexican War

The Native Americans weren't the only ones standing in the way of the Westward Expansion. Up until the mid 1800's Mexico owned most of what we now know as the Southwest United States. Mexicans, like Native Americans, were seen as inferior to the white man--let me clarify, the free American white man. So, it only made sense that their demise would fall under the justification of Manifest Destiny.

I don't think I have to give a history lesson here. I'm sure we all know how this war turned out. Needless to say, the outcome did not bode well for Mexico, but it also didn't turn out too good for all the Tejanos (Mexicans that were born in what we now know as Texas who fought with the Americans in hopes of being recognized as Americans and being able to keep their land). They were cast out along with any Native Americans.

Ulysses S. Grant, who participated in this ugly venture, even wrote in his memoirs: "I do not think there ever was a more wicked war than that waged by the United States in Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign."


Black Elk and the Massacre at Wounded Knee

Black Elk, the man on the left, was a Sioux medicine man who lived through many of the horrors of Manifest Destiny. He witnessed the Battle at Wounded Knee and saw first hand how the American white man slaughtered his people. Upon returning to his camp and seeing women and children dying or dead everywhere, he had this to say: "I was not sorry about the women and children because I was figuring on dying and then I would join them somewhere. I just thought I would probably die before this thing was over and I just figured that there would be a day when I could either take revenge or die."

He never realized a revenge before his death many decades later. He did, however, publish a book in 1932 titled Black Elk Speaks. His testament can be added to countless others of this ugly period in U.S. history.

Longstanding U.S. Policy

It seems to me that the U.S. does not have a long standing policy of being fair or just, like they would have you believe. On the contrary, it is quite evident, even today, that the U.S. has a long standing policy of greed, manipulation, and genocide. We are quite proud to vocalize our fearlessness to other countries. Could that fearlessness be translated into winning at any cost?

What little is taught in public schools about this time in history leads to the conclusion that we all know today--Native Americans have all but died out. They have been pushed into the tiniest and quite possibly the worst parts of the United States, yet the U.S. government will make it seem like we have done a great thing by setting up Indian Reservations. This entire country once belonged to the Indians, and we stole it from them. We played dirty and we offered no apologies. This would be a sickening display would it have happened in any other country. But since it happened here, we sweep it under the rug.

I see a similarity in what is happening today in Palestine. Israel is slowly but surely pushing the Palestinians out of their homeland with the U.S.'s aide, of course. The U.S. sees nothing wrong with this. Well, it's no wonder since we coined the phrase. We wrote the book on this. Sadly, it only makes sense that we would be behind the most horrific and tragic episodes of modern history.


Davis, Paul. The Bedford Anthology of World Literature the Twentieth Century, 1900-the Present. Boston: the University of New Mexico. 2003. pp. 158-180.

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    • Christopher Jay T profile image

      Christopher Jay Thompson 2 years ago from Fort Worth, TX

      Also Texas was started because American slave owners living in what was at the time Mexico, didn't want to give up their slaves. Mexico had outlawed slavery. The civil war wasn't the only American war fought over slavery.

    • profile image

      Ryan 4 years ago

      "Why isn't anyone just as horrified about the holocaust the United States inflicted on Native Americans?" - Because most of them died naturally from disease and the red skins killed the white skins. The killing wasn't all one way.

      "This entire country once belonged to the Indians, and we stole it from them." - There wasn't a country because a country is a European concept. The word you're looking for is "conquered," not "stole." History is rife with conquest by all races but it is only called stealing when the white man does it.

      I won't go into the discussion that there may have been Europeans in North America about the time of the Ice Age before the Amerindians or how there has never been any evidence for the 6 million Jews figure.

    • emmaspeaks profile image

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you! I usually get really into this topic around the fall, what with Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. People usually don't like that I ruin their holiday for them, but I think it is pretty disgusting that we still celebrate these days. In all fairness, most people don't know or don't care to know. They're content believing the story of the first thanksgiving diner and leaving it at that.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      Wonderful hub! This country is still guilty of turning a blind eye on the plight of the American Indian. I appreciate anyone who is willing to initiate a dialogue on the topic.

    • emmaspeaks profile image

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you for your wonderful comments. Galleryofgrace, I agree. Shifting the spotlight on something else is the American way.

    • nicred profile image

      nicred 5 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      I said a little prayer to the universe last night - this hub has been niggling in the back of my mind since yesterday. It got me thinking about how uncivil we sometimes are as a human race.

      My heart goes out :)

    • galleryofgrace profile image

      galleryofgrace 5 years ago from Virginia

      The Jewish Holocuast was perpetrated by someone else so the U.S. played it up so people would not learn that the US did things more horrible than Hitler or anyone else to the Native Americans.

      Thank you Emmaspeaks for your enlightening article.

      I would love to make a yard flag that says"Taking Back What They Took From Me !" Cherokee Proud

    • emmaspeaks profile image

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Well, I com your time stamp that you are from South Africa. If that is the case, then it is perfectly fine that this was unknown to you, however, can you believe that it is unknown, or better yet, ignored by most Americans? That is the reason for this hub. Thank you for your comment!

    • nicred profile image

      nicred 5 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      Wow-I never knew that. How sad :'(