Churchill, Ward. A LITTLE MATTER OF GENOCIDE: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present 1997. City Lights Books, USA.

Churchill, an enrolled Cherokee, is an activist in the American Indian Movement, a professor and a prolific author of many books and articles on the aboriginal peoples of the Americas. This book is well documented and has exhaustive references and bibliography.

His main thesis is clear and unequivocally stated: the crime of genocide does not belong to any one group, that is has been perpetrated on many groups from Armenians to Romas and that the longest enduring genocide has been against the native peoples of the Americas. This genocide is denied in official history – both in the USA and Canada. Native peoples are still the poorest and unhealthiest groups in both countries. In South America as well, the Mayan civilization is only now being recognized as a contemporary culture and in Bolivia in 2006, an indigenous person just became the first native President of a country.

Yet the genocide continues in the USA, as Churchill documents in detail. The government of the USA refuses to sign the International Convention on Genocide and still officially denies ‘this most horrible of crimes’ in its settled territory. Churchill states that since the bombing of Hiroshima, the start of the nuclear era of human history, the cold war up to the present, the resources, lands and health of the native peoples have been sacrificed for USA global imperialism. (In Canada also: see my review of the film, “Village of Widows”) Impoverished bands are bribed or ignored as the USA uses native land to mine and dump radioactive materials.  In November 2-8, 2005, the Guardian Weekly of the UK carried a story about the massive toxic storage dump on Shoshone land in Nevada.

This book is placed not only in the Americas but in a context of genocides in Europe and Asia; the scholarship is impressive and comprehensive. It is an excellent reference for anyone needing a matrix for hemispheric history as well as the history of killing and oppressing whole groups of people.

Missing is any analysis or awareness of the gendered genocide of aboriginal women – now reaching massive proportions in the USA, Mexico and Canada where only  a women’s movement is responding to the genocide of the poorest and most vulnerable of native society. The fate of “Stolen Sisters” is still only whispered about.

Genocide in all it forms must be acknowledged and although history cannot be undone, we need to act with awareness and understanding so that it does not continue in new military and economic forms.

Filed under Book Reviews, Ward Churchill