American Indian Genocide

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American Indian Genocide or American Indian Holocaust are terms used by specialists in American Indian history, as well as American Indian activists,[1] to bring attention to what they contend is the deliberate mass destruction of American Indian populations following the European arrival in the Americas, a subject which they allege has hitherto received very limited mention in history, partially because some of the deaths happened before European chroniclers arrived to record them.[1] Many acts which American Indian activists view as genocide are sometimes brushed aside as wartime deaths by non-Indians.[1] Raphael Lemkin (you know the guy who LITERALLY CREATED THE WORD GENOCIDE[2][3]) thought what was done to various American Indian groups amounted to genocide, including massacres, "genocidal enslavement," sexual abuse, and assimilation into Christianity.[4][5]

Estimates of the pre-Columbian population vary widely, though uncontroversial studies place the figure for North, Central and South America at a combined 50 million to 100 million,[6] with scholarly estimates of 2 million[7] to 18 million[8] for North America alone. An estimated 80% to 90% of this population perished after the arrival of Europeans,[9] overwhelmingly from factors which deniers of genocide argue were beyond most human control — e.g., smallpox epidemics[10] — except for all the deaths caused by Europeans, especially the Spanish conquistadors who killed 1.4 to over 2.3 million by forced labor, repression, and warfare not including the 44.1 to 45 million who perished from epidemics.[11]

Genocide in Columbus's voyages[edit]

Christopher Columbus came to the New World for King (well, also Queen), honor and God. His ships brought many priests to accomplish God's work. Both his own writings and those of Bartolomé de las Casas mention the thousands of murders done in the name of God, against a people who chose not to convert. Upon discovering the New World, Christopher Columbus:

...coaxed Queen Isabella to support his exploits in the Americas so that the queen "might eminently contribute to diffuse the light and truth of the Gospel" upon the Indians. On Nov 6, 1492, Columbus addressed the king and queen, as recorded in his log. Our intrepid captain opined "I am convinced... that if devout religious persons knew their language, they might be converted to Christ, and so hope in our Lord that your Highnesses will decide upon this course with much diligence." His purpose, Columbus proclaimed, was to "Christianize" the Indians.[12]

A conservative estimate by anthropologist Jack Wetheford suggests that in less than 10 years time, the population of the island of Hispaniola plunged from 500,000 to less than 100,000. According to Las Casas 50,000 natives were killed under Columbus's reign.[13] Sickness was not reported by De Las Casas or Columbus himself to be the largest factor.


Encomienda and other slavery[edit]

Encomienda (Spanish pronunciation: [eŋkoˈmjenda]) was a labor system in Spain and its empire. It rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of subject people. It was first established in Spain during the Roman period, but used also following the Christian conquest of Muslim territories. It was applied on a much larger scale during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Philippines. Conquered peoples were considered vassals of the Spanish monarch. The Crown awarded an encomienda as a grant to a particular individual. In the conquest era of the sixteenth century, the grants were considered to be a monopoly on the labor of particular groups of Indians, held in perpetuity by the grant holder, called the encomendero, and his descendants.[14]

With the ouster of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish crown sent a royal governor, Fray Nicolás de Ovando, who established the formal encomienda system.[15] In many cases natives were forced to do hard labor and subjected to extreme punishment and death if they resisted.[16] However, Queen Isabella of Castile forbade Indian slavery and deemed the indigenous to be "free vassals of the crown".[17] Various versions of the Leyes de Indias or Laws of the Indies from 1512 onwards attempted to regulate the interactions between the settlers and natives. Both natives and Spaniards appealed to the Real Audiencias for relief under the encomienda system.

The encomienda system brought many indigenous Taíno to work in the fields and mines in exchange for Spanish protection,[18] education, and a seasonal salary.[19] Under the pretense of searching for gold and other materials,[20] many Spaniards took advantage of the regions now under control of the anaborios and Spanish encomenderos to exploit the native population by seizing their land and wealth. It would take some time before the Taíno revolted against their oppressors — both Indian and Spanish alike — and many military campaigns before Emperor Charles V eradicated the encomienda system as a form of slavery.[21][22]

Raphael Lemkin (coiner of the term genocide) considers Spain's abuses of the Native population of the Americas to constitute cultural and even outright genocide including the abuses of the Encomienda system. He described slavery as "cultural genocide par excellence" noting "it is the most effective and thorough method of destroying culture, of desocializing human beings." He considers colonist guilty due to failing to halt the abuses of the system despite royal orders.[23]Recent research suggests that the spread of old-world disease appears to have been aggravated by the extreme climatic conditions of the time and by the poor living conditions and harsh treatment of the native people under the encomienda system of New Spain.[24] To get a feel for the conditions the natives were set through, the life expectancy of native laborers in Brazil (Not part of the Spanish Empire though they had a similar use of slavery at around the same period of time.) was only 19 years old.[25]

The worst catastrophe of Spanish slavery was in Nicaragua. The population of Nicaragua at the time of contact is estimated at approximately 825,000.[26] and of that 825,000 99% of the Native population of western Nicaragua perished over the course of 60 years. Note Nicaragua was a country in which 500,000 (over half the population) were enslaved.[27] One source estimates this resulted in 575,000 native deaths, [28]

Massacres by the Conquistadors[edit]

Hernán Cortés

Tecoac and Otomi[edit]

The conquistadors completely wiped out the Tecoac and Otomi tribes upon contact with them.[29][30][31]


When contacting them Hernán Cortés ordered the destruction of Tlaxcalan's villages, killing men, women and children. Afterard Cortés threatened to exterminate the Tlaxcalan if they did not help them in their campaign against the Aztecs.[30]

The Massacre of Cholula

Cholula Massacre[edit]

Aztec King Moctezuma ordered the leaders of Cholula to try to stop the Spanish. Cholula had a very small army, because as a sacred city they put their confidence in their prestige and their gods. According to the chronicles of the Tlaxcalteca, the priests of Cholula expected to use the power of Quetzalcoatl, their primary god, against the invaders.[32] Conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men entered Cholula without active resistance. However, they were not met by the city leaders and were not given food and drink on the third day.[33]

Cempoalans reported that fortifications were being constructed around the city and the Tlaxcalans were warning the Spaniards.[34] Finally, La Malinche informed Cortés, after talking to the wife of one of the lords of Cholula, that the locals planned to murder the Spanish in their sleep.[35] Cortés ordered a pre-emptive strike, urged by the Tlaxcalans, the enemies of the Cholulans. So the Spaniards seized and killed many of the local nobles to serve as a lesson.[36]

Cortés claimed that in three hours time his troops (helped by the Tlaxcalans) killed 3,000 people and had burned the city.[37]Another witness, Vázquez de Tapia, claimed the death toll was as high as 30,000.[38]

Tenochtitlan Massacres[edit]

Alvarado Massacre, was an event on May 22, 1520, in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan during Spanish conquest of Mexico, in which the celebration of the Feast of Toxcatl ended in a massacre of Aztec elites.[39][40] While Hernán Cortés was in Tenochtitlan, he heard about other Spaniards arriving on the coast – Pánfilo de Narváez had come from Cuba with orders to arrest him – and Cortés was forced to leave the city to fight them. During his absence, Moctezuma asked deputy governor Pedro de Alvarado for permission to celebrate Toxcatl (an Aztec festivity in honor of Tezcatlipoca, one of their main gods). But after the festivities had started, Alvarado interrupted the celebration, killing almost everyone present at the festival, men, women, and children alike. The few who managed to escape the massacre climbing over the walls proceeded to inform the community of the treacherous Spaniards' atrocity. During the massacre there were account of dismemberment and disembowelment. [41]

Painting that depicts the massacre.

Massacres continued when the Spanish defeated the Aztecs in the siege of Tenochtitlan as Aztec warriors and civilians fled the city and the Spanish forces, primarily the Tlaxcalans, continued to attack even after the surrender, slaughtering thousands of the remaining civilians and looting the city. The Spanish and Tlaxcalans did not spare the innocent: they entered houses, stealing all precious things they found, raping and then killing women, stabbing children.[42]The survivors marched out of the city for the next three days.[43] The conquistadors also engaged in cultural genocide during the massacre burning old Aztec book and destroying monuments.[44] The survivors of the massacre were enslaved.

In terms of dead one source claims 100,000 Aztecs and their allies were killed with 40,000 bodies left to float through the canals.[45] Another source puts the number of dead from the siege between 220,450 to 240,860.[28][31] 6,000 residents were massacred in the town of Ixtapalapa alone.[44]

United States[edit]

Amerindians had a...complex relationship with the United States. In one view they were occupying land that Americans wanted for themselves. In another view a number of tribes had been raiding and robbing settlements (and each other), and were a threat to the US. In a third view, the natives were the physical embodiment of man in touch with nature, living an idealistic lifestyle of fishing and hunting (and hygiene), and were a threat as a number of indentured servants kept going native. In yet another view, the natives were welcoming to the immigrant Pilgrims and were relatively eager to have trade relations for things like iron tools, dyes, various animals, religion, intermarriage, etc. By the 19th century, the various native tribes of Georgia, Alabama and Florida were mostly integrated with the US. They intermarried with white people, spoke English, and had a plantation economy (including slavery). At the same time, they were states within a state, having quasi-independence and their own independent governments. Despite this many encounters between settlers and natives ended in catastrophe. Of these catastrophes historian Benjamin Madley points to 3 major periods/events in U.S. history that can broadly be seen as genocides, including the Mystic Massacre of Pequots, Indian Removal or the Trail of Tears, and the extermination of California Indians particularly the Yuki.[46]

Mystic Massacre[edit]

The Mystic massacre took place on May 26, 1637 during the Pequot War, when Connecticut colonists under Captain John Mason and their Narragansett and Mohegan allies set fire to a Pequot Fort near the Mystic River. They shot anyone who tried to escape the wooden palisade fortress and killed most of the village in retaliation for previous Pequot attacks.[47] The only Pequot survivors were warriors who had been with their sachem Sassacus in a raiding party outside the village.

Captain Mason recruited more than 200 Narragansett and Niantic warriors to join his force. On the night of May 26, 1637, the Colonial and Indian forces arrived outside the Pequot village near the Mystic River. The palisade surrounding the village had only two exits. The Colonial forces attempted a surprise attack but met stiff Pequot resistance. Mason gave the order to set the village on fire and block off the two exits, trapping the Pequots inside. Those who tried climbing over the palisade were shot; anyone who succeeded in getting over was killed by the Narragansett fighters.[48]

John Underhill described the scene and his participation: "Captaine Mason entring into a Wigwam, brought out a fire-brand, after hee had wounded many in the house, then he set fire on the West-side where he entred, my selfe set fire on the South end with a traine of Powder, the fires of both meeting in the center of the Fort blazed most terribly, and burnt all in the space of halfe an houre; many couragious fellowes were unwilling to come out, and fought most desperately through the Palisadoes, so as they were scorched and burnt with the very flame, and were deprived of their armes, in regard the fire burnt their very bowstrings, and so perished valiantly: mercy they did deserve for their valour, could we have had opportunitie to have bestowed it; many were burnt in the Fort, both men, women, and children, others forced out, and came in troopes to the Indians, twentie, and thirtie at a time, which our souldiers received and entertained with the point of the sword; downe fell men, women, and children, those that scaped us, fell into the hands of the Indians, that were in the reere of us; it is reported by themselves, that there were about foure hundred soules in this Fort, and not above five of them escaped out of our hands."[49]

Mason later declared that the attack against the Pequots was the act of a God who "laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot fort] as a fiery Oven. ... Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies."[50] Of the estimated 500 Pequots present at Mystic that day, only seven survived to be taken prisoner, while another seven escaped to the woods.[51]

Indian Removal and the "Trail of Tears"[edit]

Indian removal was a forced migration in the 19th century whereby Native Americans were forced by the United States government to leave their ancestral homelands in the eastern United States to lands west of the Mississippi River, specifically to a designated Indian Territory (roughly, modern Oklahoma). It has been called ethnic cleansing.[52] The National Museum of the American Indian refers to the policy as genocide.[53] The Indian Removal Act was signed by Andrew Jackson but it was put into effect primarily under the Martin van Buren administration.[54]

The "Indian Removal Act" of 1830 attempted to move roughly 50,000 Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and others from their home to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). The U.S. government did not provide any means of transportation, forcing them to walk the 2,200 miles. One can reasonably argue that the U.S. government did fully expect many of them to die on the way — especially children and the elderly. Historians such as David Stannard[55] and Barbara Mann[56] have noted that the army deliberately routed the march of the Cherokee to pass through areas of known cholera epidemic, such as Vicksburg. The U.S. government recorded 4,000 deaths on just one of many re-location marches among the Cherokee alone; estimates of the total death toll range from as low as 5,000 to as high as 25,000.[57] Ironically, missionaries traveled with the Indians of their own accord, to attempt to provide better provisions to the people. A few managed to stay behind, living in the remote areas of wilderness or among relatives in the various towns.

The United States also set up concentration camps for Cherokee and other Native Americans in the 1830s.[58] In 1864, the U.S. government forced 8,000 Navajos to walk more than 300 miles at gunpoint from their ancestral homelands in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico to an internment camp in Bosque Redondo, a desolate tract on the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico. From 1863 to 1868, the U.S. Military persecuted and imprisoned 9,500 Navajo and 500 Mescalero Apache. Living under armed guards, more than 3,500 Navajo and Mescalero Apache men, women, and children died from starvation and disease.[59]

California Gold Rush and the "Extermination of the Indians"[edit]

That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected.
—From California governors Peter Hardeman Burnett's Second Annual Message to the Legislature, January 7, 1851:[60]

The most conclusive case of genocide against American Indians was committed during the California Gold Rush.[61][62][63] Orthodox historian Hubert Bancroft referred to the event as an "Extermination of the Indians" as early as the late 19th century.[64] Henry David Thoreau called the slaughter “the greatest disgrace to mankind.”[65]

Between 1851 and 1852, the federal government appointed three Indian commissioners - Redick McKee,[66] George W. Barbour, and O. M. Wozencraft - to negotiate treaties with the California Indians because Native American tribes were recognized as foreign nations, making treaties the legal form of negotiation. The commissioners knew nothing about the California Indians or their cultures, making the process very difficult. Eventually, 18 treaties were drafted, allocating 7.5% of the state of California to Indians in reservations, but forcing them to give up the rest of their land. In June 1852, however, all of the treaties were rejected by the Senate and then put into secret files; they were not to be seen again until 1905. Military campaigns against these Indians often led to the indiscriminate murders of Indians; their goals were to essentially exterminate the Indians. Monetary rewards were often offered for the heads and scalps of Indian people.[67]

The Yahi were among the first tribes to suffer from the Californian Gold Rush, as their lands were the closest to the gold mines. They suffered great population losses from the loss of their traditional food supplies and fought with the settlers over territory. Lacking firearms, they were destroyed by armed white settlers in multiple raids.The settlers were led by Indian hunter Robert Anderson, whose men launched two raids in 1865 which killed about seventy people combined. The massacre reduced the Yahi, who were already suffering from starvation, to a population of less than 100. On August 6, 1866, seventeen settlers raided a Yahi village at dawn. In the same year, more Yahis were massacred when they were caught by surprise in a ravine. Around 1867, thirty-three Yahis were killed after being tracked to a cave north of Mill Creek. Finally around 1871, four cowboys trapped and killed about thirty Yahis in Kingsley cave.[68][69]

In regard to genocide even Guenter Lewy who stated

"In the end, the sad fate of America's Indians represents not a crime but a tragedy, involving an irreconcilable collision of cultures and values"


"The crucial role played by intentionality in the Genocide Convention means that under its terms the huge number of Indian deaths from epidemics cannot be considered genocide. The lethal diseases were introduced inadvertently, and the Europeans cannot be blamed for their ignorance of what medical science would discover only centuries later. Similarly, military engagements that led to the death of noncombatants, like the battle of the Washita, cannot be seen as genocidal acts, for the loss of innocent life was not intended and the soldiers did not aim at the destruction of the Indians as a defined group. By contrast, some ("sooooome") of the massacres in California, where both the perpetrators and their supporters openly acknowledged a desire to destroy the Indians as an ethnic entity, might ("miiiight") indeed be regarded under the terms of the convention as exhibiting genocidal ("genociDAL oh goodness not GENOCIDE but genocidDAL DAL!") intent."[70]

(Lets reiterate the top quote "a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct" you see this MIGHT be SOMEwhat GenociDAL but not Genocide, I mean aghast mate, I'm aghast you'd go that far geez mane geez.) Anyway back to the mass murder...


Lewis himself estimates that the tribe of the Yuki whose population was targeted during the Gold Rush declined by 4,700 (94% of their population).[70] Other estimates are lower at 3,400 (over 97% of the population).[71] The decline of the Yuki happened within the context of the so called Medocino War and the Round Valley Settler Massacres.

The Mendocino War and Round Valley war were violent conflict from 1856 to January 18, 1860, between white settlers and local natives (mainly Yuki tribes) in Mendocino County and Round Valley, California. They were caused by settler intrusion and slave raids on native lands and subsequent native retaliation, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of natives. In 1859, a band of locally sponsored rangers led by Walter S. Jarboe, called the Eel River Rangers, raided the countryside in an effort to remove natives from settler territory and move them onto the Nome Cult Farm, an area near the Mendocino Indian Reservation. By the time the Eel River Rangers were disbanded in 1860, Jarboe and his men had killed 283 warriors, captured 292, killed countless women and children, and only suffered 5 casualties themselves in just 23 engagements. The bill to the state for the rangers’ services amounted to $11,143.43. Scholars, however, state that the damage to the area and natives in particular was even higher than reported, especially given the vast number of raiding parties formed outside of the Eel River Rangers. Frustrated with the inadequacy of federal protection, settlers formed their own raiding parties against the natives, joining Jarboe in his mission to rid Round Valley of its native population. Those that survived were moved to the Nome Cult Farm, where they experienced hardships typical of the reservation system of the day.

A band of 20-30 men, a significant portion of the several dozen White settlers occupying the valley at that time, committed a series of attacks against the Yuki Indians between 1856 and the summer of 1859. These massacres were so frequent as to be uncountable.

One Round Valley settler, Dryden Lacock, testified to the California State Legislature that he regularly took part in expeditions that would kill 50-60 Indians in a trip, as often as two to three a week at times, from 1856 to 1860.[72] Settler William Scott testified before the legislature that H.L. Hall was a leader of vigilantes, killing all the Indians he could find whenever he encountered them and even poisoning their food and supplies.[73] Hall’s culpability was verified by Army Lieutenant Edward Dillon, who referred to Hall as a “monster” who killed men, women, and children, regardless of any crimes committed[74] and lamented that he had basically depopulated the county of Indians.[75][76] Hall, despite remaining silent as to the number of Indians he had killed, did admit under oath to executing Indian women, children, and even infants.[77]

Special Treasury Agent J. Ross Browne’s account of the attacks is vivid:

“At [Round Valley], during the winter of 1858–‘59, more than a hundred and fifty peaceable Indians, including women and children, were cruelly slaughtered by the whites who had settled there under official authority... Armed parties went into the rancherias in open day, when no evil was apprehended, and shot the Indians down — weak, harmless, and defenseless as they were — without distinction of age or sex; shot down women with sucking babes at their breasts; killed or crippled the naked children that were running about.”[78]

As early as September 1857, Superintendent Henley had stated that the campaign against the Yuki would continue until they were either exterminated or driven from the area entirely.[79] Special Treasury agent J. Ross Browne in September 1858 called it a “war of extermination” against the Yuki with 20-30 armed White men engaging in months of constant attacks.[80] By August 1859, after three years of a sustained campaign of atrocities, the Sacramento Union wrote that the local Indians appeared doomed to extirpation.[81]

A few specific attacks of which there is witness testimony are:

A local paper reported 55 Indians killed in Clinton Valley on October 8, 1856.[82] A White farmer, John Lawson, admitted an attack killing 8 Indians, 3 by shooting and 5 by hanging, after some of his hogs were stolen. He stated that these killings were a common practice.[83] A White farmer, Isaac Shanon, testified to killing 14 Indians in a revenge attack after a White man was killed in early 1858.[84] White persons from the Sacramento Valley came into Round Valley and killed 4 Yuki Indians with the help of locals in June 1858, despite having been warned against it by Indian Agents.[85] White settlers attacked and killed 9 Indians in the mountains edging the valley on November 1858.[86] Former Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Thomas Henley (fired two months earlier for embezzling funds), led a massacre of 11 Yuki Indians in August 1959.[87]

Due to the overwhelming number of killings, an exact death toll is unknowable. The following estimates were made by government agents and newspapers at the time:

1856: 300 total killed over the course of the year.[88]

Winter 1856-57: About 75 Yuki Indians killed over the course of the winter.[89]

March–April 1858: 300-400 male Yukis killed in three weeks.[90]

November 1858 - January 1859: 150+[91] or 170[92] Yuki Indians killed between November and January

March–May 1859: 240 Yuki killed in assaults led by H.L. Hall in revenge for the slaughter of Judge Hasting’s horse[93][94] and a total of 600 men, women, and children killed within the previous year.[95]

These estimates suggest well over 1000 Yuki deaths at the hands of White settlers. (See Cook, Sherburne; “The California Indian and White Civilization” Part III, pg 7, for an argument in favor of the approximate reliability of figures of Indians killed at this time.) The White settler John Burgess testified that 10-15 Indians were killed for every beef that had been killed.[96] Lieutenant Edward Dillon stated that many crimes were unknown as settlers “will not testify against each other, and in most cases of this nature, Indians are the only witnesses.”[97] Yuki Indian depositions were taken during the investigation of the murders by the California legislature in 1860, but all of these depositions have either been lost or destroyed.[98]

California legislators supported the slaughter. On 12 April 1860, legislators appropriated $9,347.39 for “payment of the indebtedness incurred by the expedition against the Indians in the county of Mendocino.”[99] They also passed a law expanding the age and condition of Indians available for forced slavery. A Sacramento Daily Union article of the time accused high-pressure lobbyists interested in profiting off enslaved Indians of pushing the law through, gave examples of how wealthy individuals had abused the law to acquire Indian slaves from the reservations, and stated, "The Act authorizes as complete a system of slavery, without any of the checks and whole some restraints of slavery, as ever was devised."[100]

(Again this MIGHT be SOMEwhat genociDAL)

Little retaliation or defense was possible from the Yuki. On 24 September 1857, over three years after the first massacre of Indians in Round Valley, Indian Agent Geiger reported that a White man had been killed by a Yuki for the first time.[101] Another White man was killed in early 1858,[102] and by the end of 1858 a total of four White men had been killed.[103] Reports from the US Army suggest that at least two of the men killed were well known for grievous crimes against the Indians and that the Indians had been provoked in both instances.[104]

In addition to massacre the Yuki were also subject to sex slavery as 1/4 of all Yuki women contracted venereal disease from the abuse. This was mainly due to over 90% of California's population at the time being male-convicts chasing the Gold Rush for prosperity. They were disappointed by the low turn out of the Gold Rush and instead earned money by taking up California statehood's Indian bounties.[105]

The natives were left facing major challenges. Working against them were hunger, unequal weapons, repeated and surprise attacks, their vulnerable position on reservations, and their lack of ability to speak on their own behalf. Jarboe's forces also alienated some white settlers, slaughtering their livestock if they refused to give them food or the necessary supplies.[106] However, most of the damage was done to the natives and was especially deadly given the timing. With winter around the corner, the natives had spent months preparing and harvesting crops. Now, with raids, the men who farmed and hunted and the women who gathered and made the food were killed, and native stores of winter supplies were plundered and lost.[107] Jarboe and his men meanwhile continued their raiding and killing through the winter with the goal of removing the natives completely from Round Valley.[108] Some settlers also decided to assist in this cause, with ranchers leading attacks and raiding parties of their own. In one 22-day period, 40 ranchers killed at least 150 natives.[109] Finally, on January 3, 1860, Governor Weller disbanded Jarboe's group.[110] The public swiftly opposed this decision, petitioning Governor Weller to reinstate the Eel River Rangers, but the protest was unsuccessful.

The Yuki and Yahi were not the only victims of killings. By one estimate, at least 4,500 California Indians of all groups were killed between 1849 and 1870.[111] Historian Benjamin Madley recorded the numbers of killings of California Indians between 1846 and 1873 and estimated that during this period at least 9,400 to over 16,000 California Indians were killed by non-Indians, mostly occurring in more than 370 massacres (defined as the "intentional killing of five or more disarmed combatants or largely unarmed noncombatants, including women, children, and prisoners, whether in the context of a battle or otherwise").[112] These massacres were sometimes committed in perverse brutality ripping the hearts of young girls out and throwing them into the bushes in which their sister was hiding.[113]

(Again this MIGHT be SOMEwhat genociDAL)

As aforementioned; that in addition to killing California statehood also practice rampant native enslavement. On the April 22, 1850, to "craft its own code of compulsory labor",[114] an "Act for the Government and Protection of Indians" was passed which legally curtailed rights of Indians. It provided that:

"White persons or proprietors could apply to the Justice of Peace for the removal of Indians from lands in the white person's possession"[115] "Any person could go before a Justice of Peace to obtain Indian children for indenture. The Justice determined whether or not compulsory means were used to obtain the child. If the Justice was satisfied that no coercion occurred, the person obtain a certificate that authorized him to have the care, custody, control and earnings of an Indian until their age of majority (for males, eighteen years, for females, fifteen years)."[116] In actual practice this section lead to a trade system of kidnapped Indian children, either stolen from their parents or taken from the results of militia attacks during the 1850s and 1860s. Frontier whites often eagerly paid $50–$100 for Indian children to apprentice and so groups of kidnappers would often raid isolated Indian villages, snatching up children in the chaos of battle. "If a convicted Indian was punished by paying a fine, any white person, with the consent of the Justice, could give bond for the Indian's fine and costs. In return, the Indian was "compelled to work until his fine was discharged or cancelled." The person bailing was supposed to "treat the Indian humanely, and clothe and feed him properly." The Court decided "the allowance given for such labor.""[117] Local authorities were often required to hire out the "convicts" within the next 24 hours to the highest bidder essentially creating a system of selling slaves out of jail. Indians could not testify for or against whites. It was illegal to sell or administer alcohol to Indians and if Indians were convicted of stealing any valuable or livestock, they could receive any number of lashes (as long as it was less than 25) and a fine of up to $200. [118]

In general, Californians interpreted these 1850 laws in a way that all Indians could face indentured servitude through arrests and "hiring out". Once the Indians had entered into this servitude, the term limit was often ignored, thus resulting in slavery; this was what Californians used to "satisfy the states high demand for domestic servants and agricultural laborers". Acting Governor Richard B. Mason reported that, "over half the miners in California were Indians". The enforcement of the Act of 1850 was left with the local justices of peace, meaning they became crucial links in all interracial interactions. Many justices took advantage of the vague language and the power bestowed upon them to continue the kidnapping of Indian children through 1860.[119] Since the implementation of the Act of 1850 was left with the local justices of peace, the application of the law and the extent of exploitation was extremely uneven throughout the state of California.

There has been a campaign to cover up the atrocities such as descendants of perpetrators of the Yuki massacres buying out copies of the book "Genocide and Vendetta: The Round Valley Wars in Northern California" by Lynwood Carranco and destroying them.[120] Denial is the last stage of genocide.[121] The destruction of Yuki was incredibly successful as up to the modern day (2010) their population was only 568 of which only 255 were of full blood[122] down from their original 3,500 to 5,000 aforementioned. The destruction of the Yahi tribe was even worse being completely exterminated except for this one guy named Ishi.

(Again this MIGHT be SOMEwhat genociDAL but you can't condemn a nation mate come'on come-maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan...COUGH COUGH!)


Some massacres and policies don't fill out the concept of genocide in the overt systematic sense as the aforementioned example, but can be broadly construed as genocidal massacres, cultural genocide (sometimes called ethnocide), or at least genocidal.

Notable massacres[edit]

Pontiac's Rebellion[edit]

The letters of British commander Jeffery Amherst indicated genocidal intent when he authorized the deliberate use of disease-infected blankets as a biological weapon against indigenous populations during the 1763 Pontiac's Rebellion, saying, "You will Do well to try to Inoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execreble Race", and instructing his subordinates, "I need only Add, I Wish to Hear of no prisoners should any of the villains be met with arms."[123]

Gnadenhutten Massacre[edit]

Colonial militia slaughtered 96 Lenape Native Americans whose only crime was being the wrong skin color on March 8, 1782.[124] Despite being singled out as a neutral Native American tribe by Colonel Broadhead, they were still rounded up and placed into two killing homes by American miltiamen, who scalped men, women and children. When confronted by their killers and told they would die, the Christian Lenape prayed to Jesus before being killed by their fellow Christians.

Mandan Smallpox Epidemic[edit]

When smallpox swept the northern plains of the U.S. in 1837, the U.S. Secretary of War Lewis Cass ordered that no Mandan (along with the Arikara, the Cree, and the Blackfeet) be given smallpox vaccinations, which were provided to other tribes in other areas.[125] While the responsibility for the 1836-40 smallpox epidemic remains in question, scholars have asserted that the Great Plains epidemic was "started among the tribes of the upper Missouri River by failure to quarantine steam boats on the river",[126] and Captain Pratt of the St. Peter "was guilty of contributing to the deaths of thousands of innocent people."

Sand Creek Massacre[edit]
Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians... Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.
—Col. John Chivington, Sand Creek massacre, 11-29-1864

On November 29, 1864, 700 militia from Colorado and the surrounding territories surrounded a peaceful encampment of so-called "Peace Chiefs," predominantly from the Cheyenne and Arapahoe, who had been invited to end the "Indian Wars." Without warning or cause, they opened fire and slaughtered some approximately 150 Native Americans from various "western" tribes. Only 24 soldiers were killed, mostly from friendly fire Colonel Chivington and his men cut fetuses out of the women, slaughtered infants by stepping on their heads with their boots, cut the genitals off men and women, and decorated their horses and wagons with scalps, genitalia, and other body parts, before displaying them in Denver.[127] Not one soldier was prosecuted, despite a commission which investigated the matter harshly condemning the massacre. Two companies commanders refused to join in, and kept their soldiers out of it.

Wounded Knee Massacre[edit]

As the U.S. government were herding Sioux onto reservations, a Paiute shaman among them named Wovoka came up with the syncretic "Ghost Dance" religion, mixing numerous indigenous beliefs and Christianity. Wovoka taught that the dance, along with loving each other, living in peace, working hard and refraining from stealing, fighting amongst each other or with the whites and traditional self-mutilation practices would hasten the reunion of the living and the deceased. This reunion would coincide with the sweeping away of the evil in the world and renewing the earth with love, faith and prosperity. Many Sioux though interpreted this sweeping away of evil and renewing the earth as meaning the cleansing of the white Americans from their lands. This interpretation spread rapidly among the Sioux, causing alarm with the U.S. authorities, who sought to quell the movement by arresting the Sioux's chiefs-most notoriously Sitting Bull, who was shot to death when he fought back.

Sitting Bull's death caused a number of his tribesmen to flee the reservation. Later when journeying to another reservation they were intercepted by a regiment of cavalry, which attempted to disarm them. One deaf-mute man did not understand the order, so he failed to put down his rifle. It went off as soldiers took it from him, resulting in their comrades opening fire, believing they were under attack. 150 Sioux were killed in all. This massacre was committed by the Seventh US Cavalry, a unit formerly under command of General George A. Custer, who perished in battle against the Sioux 14 years earlier along with all of his men.

Bison Hunting[edit]

In the 16th century, North America contained 25–30 million buffalo. Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century. Less than 100 remained in the wild by the late 1880s.[128] They were hunted for their skins and tongues with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. After the animals rotted, their bones were collected and shipped back east in large quantities.[129] Due to the roaming behavior of bison, their mass destruction came with relative ease to hunters. When one bison in a herd is killed, the other bison gather around the buffalo. Due to this pattern, the ability of a hunter to kill one bison often led to the destruction of a large herd of them.[130]

Pile of bison skulls

Following the Civil War, the U.S. had ratified roughly 400 treaties with the Plains Indians, but went on to break many of these as the Westward Movement ensued. The bison population crash represented a loss of spirit, land, and autonomy for most Indigenous People at this time.[131] Plains Indians adopted a nomadic lifestyle, one which depended on bison location for their food source. Bison is high in protein levels and low in fat content, and contributed to the wholesome diet of Native Americans. Additionally, they used every edible part of the bison—organs, brains, fetuses, and placental membranes included.[132] The U.S. military strategically exterminated bison in masses for this reason; by ridding the Plains Indians of their primary food source, they would become further dependent on reservations for subsistence. Bison meat also supplemented the army rations, and commanders issued hunting passes freely to their troops to obtain fresh meat. Oftentimes military men would kill the bison and not take any of the meat from it. As Kiowa chief Santanta complained at the Medicine Lodge Treaty Council of 1867: "has the white man become a child, that he should recklessly kill and not eat? When the red men slay game, they do so that they may live and not starve."[133]

Assimilation policies[edit]

Apache children in an American boarding school.

The U.S. government for many years followed a policy of assimilation, attempting to wipe out the Indians as an ethnic group and integrate them into European-American culture. Practice of tribal religion was outlawed, and children were required to attend boarding schools, modeled on the "industrial schools" of Europe, in which they were forced to give up their old languages and customs. These boarding schools were often deadly, in the school of Carlisle 200 bodies of dead children perished from abuse and disease were exhumed.[134][135] Canada had very similar schools in which 3,201 to 32,010 died.[136]

In many Latin American countries, Indians have been virtually wiped out as a separate group through a process of assimilation known as mestizaje.

Forced Sterilization[edit]

Sterilization of Native American women was a procedure that began to surface in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States.[137] Native American women were subject to involuntary surgical sterilization caused by a policy by the federally funded Indian Health Service (IHS).[138] The U.S. General Accounting Office showed that the Indian Health Service sterilized 3,406 American Indian women between 1973 and 1976. The study showed that 36 women under age 21 were forcibly sterilized regardless of a court-ordered moratorium on sterilizations of women younger than 21.[139] One out of four Native American women were involuntarily sterilized through tubal ligation or hysterectomy.[140] The procedure was often done under the pretense of a check up or abortion, most of the victims were not aware they had been sterilized, even after the procedure. The forced sterilizations had an appreciable effect on the fertility rates of Native American women. In the 1970s, the average birth rate of Native American women was 3.79, in 1980 it fell to 1.8.[141]

The belief of racial inferiority and stereotypes of the Native American population were factors that made the Native American women targets of sterilization. The media represented the Native American Woman by employing terms such as 'Squaw' defined as a "dirty, subservient, abused, alcoholic and ugly woman who loves to torture white men." Racial stereotypes propagated the belief that Native American women were unfit to raise or to have children in comparison to white women.[142] In the 1970s, Native American women believed that sterilization was mandatory and were coerced into giving consent.[143] Not agreeing to the sterilization procedure would result in the withdrawal of welfare benefits. Consent forms presented to them failed to indicate that the decision would not affect their benefits.[144] Studies by the Health Research Group in 1973 and Doctor Bernard Rosenfeld's interviews in 1974 and 1975 show that this action was driven by social and economic factors.[145]

Most physicians performing this procedure viewed sterilization as the best alternative for these women. They claimed it would improve their financial situation and their family's quality of life.[146] The physicians were paid more for performing hysterectomies and tubal ligations than for prescribing other forms of birth control.[145] The influx of surgical procedures was seen as a training for physicians and as a practice for resident physicians. In 1971 Dr. James Ryan responded to the question of why favoring hysterectomies over tubal ligations that "it's more of a challenge...and it's good experience for the junior resident".[147] With fewer people applying for Medicaid and welfare, the federal government could decrease spending on welfare programs.[145]

In the 1970s the negative stereotypes of Native American women and beliefs of racial superiority contributed to the belief amongst physicians that these women would not be able to limit the number of children or use birth control effectively, thus imposing the sterilization policy.[145]

The U.N. defines genocide as: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (Article 2 CPPCG)

By this definition U.S. sterilization policies were genocide under acts 3 and 4.

Genocide against "non-Indian" natives[edit]

Filipino genocide[edit]

We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag. And so, by these providences of god — and the phrase is the government’s, not mine — we are a World Power.”
—Mark Twain On 15th of October 1900 in the New York Times.[148]
After the United States' welcoming party
Cartoon depicting the genocide

U.S. mass killings in the Philippines are sometimes considered part of the "Native American genocide."[149][150] The U.S.'s campaign in the Philippines has been called the “the bloodiest colonial war (in proportion to population) ever fought by a white power in Asia"[151] The death toll of the "war" is estimated to be at least 200,000 to as high as 3,000,000.[148] The lower figures are challenged by claims by Brigadier General J. Franklin Bell's comment that 600,000 perished on the island of Luzon alone, Howard Zinn suggests 300,000 perished on the island of Batangas.[152]

Writers at the time mate note of the atrocities:

The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog…

...Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.”
—Philadelphia Ledger November 1901 Manila correspondent[148]

All Filipinos were seen as an enemy to the U.S:

“With a very few exceptions, practically the entire population has been hostile to us at heart,”
—Brigadier General J. Franklin Bell[148]

Commanders openly advocated wholesale slaughter of civilians:

Kill all persons capable of bearing arms, Smith commanded. Waller was stunned. From what he knew of Samar, even children carried​ bolo knives. Were they to be killed?

"I would like to know the limit of age," he pressed. Ten years of age, came the cold reply.

"I wish you to kill and burn, "Smith said. "The more you kill and the more you burn, the better you ​will please me."
—Brigadier General Jacob Hurd Smith[149]

William McKinley decided to invade the whole of the Philippines after praying to God believing the U.S. should Christianize the natives, however Spain had already done this.[148] The killings in the Philipines continued years after the initial war began as the conflict with Moro rebels continued. Due to the scale of the killing and the wholesale slaughter of Filipinos the "war" has been characterized as a genocide.[153]

Denationalization of Hawaii[edit]

Like other native groups the Hawaiians were also decimated by foriegn disease reducing their population by 90%.[154] Sources have characterized the "denationalization" of Hawaii during U.S. annexation as a genocide.[155]

20th century Latin America and beyond[edit]

Understated it is how genocides of indigenous people of the Americans continued well into the 20 and even 21st centuries particularly in various (some by U.S. backed dictatorships[156])

Putamyo Rubber Boom[edit]

With the power of the Peruvian government ceded to the Peruvian Amazon Company the power to represent it in the Amazonian territories north of Loreto , the founder Julio César Arana began a policy of payment for land control, the private hosts of Aranda-brought from Barbados[157] which consisted in forcing the Amerindian to work for him in exchange for "favors and protection", the place could not refuse because it ended up being kidnapped by mercenaries paid by the company, already within the company the Amerindians were subjected to Isolation process in remote areas to collect rubber in inhuman conditions and if it did not meet the required amount were punished until death or were disappeared by the punishers in the so-called far fields where 90% of the Amazonian populations would be annihilated.[158]

Roger Casement with some Amazon Indians.

In 1906 the abuses were denounced by the Irishman Roger Casement before the western governments on the excesses abuses of the Arana tribe obtaining only a judgment of "poor conditions" towards the Peruvian Amazon Company , at the end in 1913 an order would be given to close this company; without obtaining a trial for crimes against humanity against Arana, which was the main goal of Casement.[159]

In 1933 the governments of the Peruvian Republic and Colombia signed the Salomón-Lozano Treaty where the former ceded the area between the Putumayo and the Caquetá to the latter, as a result of which the Peruvian Amazon Company forcibly displaced several Amerindians to the river areas. Napo and the Amazon River not to compete with Colombian rubber companies , despite this the company continued to manage several branches in Puerto Arica , La Chorrera, La Victoria among others. In this process, reports of mass murders carried out by rubber tappers decreased.

However after the Colombian-Peruvian war of 1933 during the Colombianization of the Putumayo and Caquetá regions , new incidents of torture committed by the Colombian government authorities were reported to assimilate the populations that resisted changing their nationality, causing an exodus of Amerindians and mestizos to Peru .

Selk'nam in Tierra del Fuego[edit]

The Selk'nam genocide was the genocide of the Selk'nam people, one of three indigenous tribes populating the Tierra del Fuego in South America, from the second half of the 19th to the early 20th century. Spanning a period of between ten and fifteen years the Selk'nam, which had an estimated population of some three thousand, saw their numbers reduced to 500.[160]

About 4,000 Selk'nam were alive in the mid-nineteenth century; by 1930 this had been reduced to about 100. Cattle breeders, farmers and gold-prospectors from Argentina, Chile, the UK and the USA had entered the region, and were joined by adventurers and other fortune seekers. The natives were plied with alcohol, deported and exterminated, with bounties paid to the most ruthless hunters.[161] The large ranchers tried to run off the Selk'nam, then began a campaign of extermination against them, with the compliance of the Argentine and Chilean governments. Large companies paid sheep farmers or militia a bounty for each Selk'nam dead, which was confirmed on presentation of a pair of hands or ears, or later a complete skull. They were given more for the death of a woman than a man. In addition, missionaries disrupted their livelihood through forcible relocation and brought with them deadly epidemics.

Repression against the Selk'nam persisted into the early twentieth century.[162] Chile moved some Selk'nam to Dawson Island, confining them in an internment or concentration camp. Argentina finally allowed Salesian missionaries to aid the Selk'nam and attempt to assimilate them, but their culture and people were largely destroyed. The Selk'nam were even put into human zoos.[163]

Porfiriato Mexico[edit]

1/3 of Mexico's population was enslaved under Porfirio Diaz's Hacienda system most of them indigenous peoples. Of these 825,000 indiginous peoples in Mexico are estimated to of been worked to death in what has been called an "uncompleted genocide."[164]

Yaqui genocide[edit]

The title "first genocide of the 20th century" is often given to the Herero or Armenian Genocides however one campaign that may beat them out is Porfirio Diaz's repression of Yaqui and other Indian groups. Over 20,000 Yaqui (2/3 their population) were killed in a campaign of deportation and enslavement after the Battle of Mazocoba in 1900.[165][166]

The genocide began in Sonora Mexico when the Yaquis were classified by having their citizenship revoked.[166] The thought of removing the Yaquis from northern Mexico had been brought up as early as the 1860s but it wasn't until 1902 that Porfirio Díaz (The then dictator of Mexico) put the ideas into action.

Though the army ceased their campaign in August 1901, it wasn't until January 1909 that the majority of the Yaquis in the Sierra del Bacatete surrendered. The Mexican government allowed some to settle on vacant land in the Rio Yaqui valley but the rest were apparently deported. Between 1902 and 1908, between 8,000 and 15,000 Yaquis, out of an estimated population of 30,000, were deported.[167][168][169]

A group of more than 30 women and children Yaqui Indian prisoners under guard.

The Yaqui were the main target for deportation but Opata, Pimas and Mayos were also removed. Most of the natives were rounded up by Colonel Emilio Kosterlitsky (A Cossack-Mexican spy of the the United States[170]-The U.S. also gave him asylum[171]), sent to San Blas, in Nayarit, and then from there to the henequen Hacienda plantations in the Yucatan or to the sugarcane plantations in Oaxaca. Rudolph Rummel estimates 300,000 were deported of which 15,000 to 60,000 perished in this process among all deported groups (preferring a figure of 30,000)[172]

The Mexican government established large concentration camps at San Marcos, where the remaining Yaqui families were broken up and segregated. Individuals were then sold into slavery inside the station and packed into train cars which took them to Veracruz, where they were embarked yet again for the port town of Progreso in the Yucatán. There they were transported to their final destination, the nearby henequen plantations.[173]

By 1908, at least 5,000 Yaqui had been sold into slavery.[173][174] At Valle Nacional, the enslaved Yaquis were worked until they died. While there were occasional escapes, the escapees were far from home and, without support or assistance, most died of hunger while begging for food on the road out of the valley toward Córdoba. At Guaymas, thousands more Yaquis were put on boats and shipped to San Blas, where they were forced to walk more than 200 miles to San Marcos and its train station. Many women and children could not withstand the three-week journey over the mountains, and their bodies were left by the side of the road.[173] Yaquis (particularly children) were rattled off in Train cars to be sold as slaves in this process having 1/3 die simply in the process of deportation. The deaths were mostly caused by unfettered smallpox epidemics.[166]

Native Brazilians[edit]

In 1967 public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, submitted the Figueiredo Report to the dictatorship which was then ruling Brazil. The report, which ran seven thousand pages, remained hidden for over forty years. Its release caused an international furore. The rediscovered documents are being examined by the National Truth Commission which has been tasked with the investigations of human rights violations which occurred in the periods 1947 through to 1988. The report reveals that the IPS had enslaved indigenous people, tortured children and stolen land. The Truth Commission is of the opinion that entire tribes in Maranhão were completely eradicated and in Mato Grosso, an attack on thirty Cinturão Largo left only two survivors. The report also states that landowners and members of the IPS had entered isolated villages and deliberately introduced smallpox. Of the one hundred and thirty four people accused in the report the state has as yet not tried a single one.[175] The report also detailed instances of mass killings, rapes, and torture. Figueiredo stated that the actions of the IPS had left the indigenous peoples near extinction. The state abolished the IPS following the release of the report. The Red Cross launched an investigation after further allegations of ethnic cleansing were made after the IPS had been replaced.[176][177] It is estimated that 30,000 to 100,000 native Brazilians were victims of genocidal killings during the military dictatorship. Killings of native Brazilians were preceded by their former dictator Getúlio Vargas who is responsible for the deaths of 60,000 to 110,000 natives. Out of 230 tribes 87 went extinct between 1900 and 1957[178]

Aché of Paraguay[edit]

Paraguay was a leading participant in Operation Condor, a campaign of state terror and security operations officially implemented in 1975 which were jointly conducted by the military governments of six South American countries (Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil) with the support of the United States.[179][180][181] During the 1960s and 1970s Paraguay engaged in a campaign of mass murder in which 85 percent of the Aché tribe died, with many hacked to death with machetes to make room for the timber industry, mining, farming and ranchers.[182]One estimate posits this amounts to 900 deaths.[183] According to Jérémie Gilbert, the situation in Paraguay has proven that it is difficult to provide the proof required to show "specific intent", in support of a claim that genocide had occurred. The Aché, whose cultural group is now seen as extinct, fell victim to the development by the state, who had promoted the exploration of Aché territory by transnational companies for natural resources. Gilbert concludes that though planned and voluntary destruction had occurred, it is argued by the state that there was no intent to destroy the Aché, as what had happened was due to development. (The development of mass graves of course) The allegation of genocide by the state was brought before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission which has jurisdiction on allegations of genocide carried out by a state. The commission gave a provisional ruling that Paraguay had not carried out a genocide, but stated it had concerns over "possible abuses by private persons in remote areas of the territory of Paraguay"[184]

In other words the government didn't intentionally murder members of the Aché tribe to the point they became virtually extinct with the intention murdering them to the point their tribe became virtually extinct. This is a completely rational and effective use of international law.

Guatemalan Mayans[edit]

Massacres, forced disappearances, torture and summary executions of guerrillas and especially civilian collaborators at the hands of US-backed security forces in Guatemala had been widespread since 1965 and was a longstanding policy of the military regime, which US officials were aware of.[185] A report from 1984 discussed "the murder of thousands by a military government that maintains its authority by terror."[186]

The repression reached genocidal levels in the predominantly indigenous northern provinces where the EGP guerrillas operated. There, the Guatemalan military viewed the Maya – traditionally seen as subhumans – as being supportive of the guerillas and began a campaign of wholesale killings and disappearances of Mayan peasants. While massacres of Indigenous peasants had occurred earlier in the war, the systematic use of terror against the Indigenous population began around 1975 and peaked during the first half of the 1980s.[187]The military had carried out 626 massacres against the Maya during the conflict.[188] The Guatemalan army itself acknowledged destroying 440 Mayan villages between 1981 and 1983, during the most intense phase of the repression. In some municipalities such as Rabinal and Nebaj, at least one third of the villages were evacuated or destroyed. A study by the Juvenile Division of the Supreme Court sanctioned in March 1985 revealed that over 200,000 children had lost at least one parent in the killings, of whom 25% had lost both since 1980, meaning that between 45,000 and 60,000 adult Guatemalans were killed during the period from 1980 and 1985.[189]

One example of the brutality can be seen in the massacre of the Río Negro community:[190]

Corpse Exhumation of genocide victims

March 13, 1982, at six o'clock, 12 members of the army patrol accompanied by 15 patrols of the Xococ village, entered the community of Río Negro. They went to every house asking for the men, but they were not in their homes because they used to spend the nights in the mountain citing security reasons. The soldiers claimed that they were with the guerrillas. Then they demanded people to leave their homes to participate in a meeting. Meanwhile, soldiers and patrol had breakfast, eating food they found in the houses. When they finished eating, they looted the village. A person who witnessed the events said: "It took shovels, tools and tape recorders and stole everything that was in the houses". Then they gathered the women. They played marimba music and forced them to dance, in the words of the soldiers, as they danced with the guerrillas. A number of young women were taken apart and raped. Then, they forced the people gathered to walk about three miles up the mountain. "Throughout the walk, they beat the women a lot, they called them cows. They beat the children a lot calling them sons of guerrillas". When they got to the top of the hill Pacoxom, a member of the Army said, "right now I find it not kill a few guerrillas". Thus, they proceeded to torture and kill unarmed victims. A few hung from the trees, others were killed by machetes and others were shot. "A child like the one I carry now [said one survivor carrying an infant at the time of the interview] was carried by the hair and threw once and again against the stones". In a trench they put the corpses. "One who was still agonizing was left there as firewood; some over the others, not in order because they were thrown in there". The pit was covered with stones and branches. Around five in the afternoon the slaughter ended and they headed towards Xococ. Eighteen surviving children were taken away by the attackers towards the community. Reports agree that 177 people -70 women and 107 children -, defenseless civilian population of the community of Río Negro, were killed in this action. The diligence of exhumation of corpses, practiced 12 years later, established the existence, in three graves, skeletons of 143, 85 of which belonged to children, and the rest to women.

Colombian Wayuu[edit]

Since 2011 and over the course of 5 years 14,000 children of the Wayuu tribe in Colombia have died from thirst due damming projects by the Colombian government. Their population is now only 100,000.[191] [192]


David E. Stannard of the University of Hawaii is a proponent of this term, having written a book on the subject entitled American Holocaust: Conquest of the New World, in which he labels the actions of Europeans as a deliberate genocide comparable to the Holocaust. Holocaust expert David Cesarani said, "Stannard was angered by what he perceived as a double standard in the United States towards 'worthy' and 'unworthy' victims. While Americans readily acknowledge the Nazi crimes against the Jews, he wrote, they continued to 'turn their backs on the even more massive genocide that for four grisly centuries... was perpetrated against the "unworthy" natives of the Americas.'"[193] Others agreeing with this hypothesis include Russell Thornton, Arthur Grenke, Ralph Reed, and the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide studies.[194] The Smithsonian presented a program on the "American Indian Genocide."

Politically, the charge has been taken up by activists in the American Indian Movement, including Russell Means, Leonard Peltier, Ward Churchill,[195] the poet Joy Harjo,[196] and Vine Deloria amongst others. The term "Holocaust" is specifically used to bring attention to the stark reality of the total decimation of the indigenous peoples after the "discovery" of the "New World" by Europeans.

As with most loaded language, there is strong resistance to using the term "American Indian Holocaust" in textbooks. American Indian activists contend that their history is rarely even addressed as a "genocide," since American historiography tends not to emphasize episodes such as slavery, and the outright slaughter of the indigenous Americans. These activists contend that they have the same right to say they were victims of genocide as the Jewish people of Europe.


When discussing the indigenous population of the United States, rightist tend to deny most of the deliberate atrocities wrought by the Europeans. They focus instead on the role of smallpox and other diseases, and argue that no more American Indians died than would occur in the course of warfare and other types of conflict.[197][198][199]

Such denial often goes hand-in-hand with a whitewashing of the realities of late 19th century reservation life as well as the present-day situation of the American Indians, who still live under the control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs with only limited self-government in many areas.[citation needed]

More moderate criticisms of the term would not go into denialism, but would simply question the application of the term "genocide" (deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic group) to the long and disorderly course of history in the Americas after 1492.[70]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Russell Thornton (1987). American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8061-2220-5. 
  2. Hyde, Jennifer (2008-12-02), Polish Jew gave his life defining, fighting genocide, CNN, retrieved 2008-12-02
  3. "What is Genocide?". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,. Retrieved 7 February 2017. "In 1944, Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined the term "genocide" in a book documenting Nazi policies of systematically destroying national and ethnic groups, including the mass murder of European Jews"
  4. Raphael Lemkin’s History of Genocide and Colonialism
  5. Raphael Lemkin as historian of genocide in the Americas MICHAEL A. MCDONNELL and A. DIRK MOSES
  6. Alan Taylor (2002). American colonies; Volume 1 of The Penguin history of the United States, History of the United States Series. Penguin. p. 40. ISBN 9780142002100.
  7. Ubelaker, Douglas R. (1976) "The sources and methodology for Mooney's estimates of North American Indian populations"
  8. Thornton, Russell (1990). American Indian holocaust and survival: a population history since 1492. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 26–32. ISBN 0-8061-2220-X.
  9. "La catastrophe démographique" (The Demographical Catastrophe"), L'Histoire n°322, July–August 2007, p. 17.
  10. Loewen, 2007
  11. Victimario Histórico Militar Capítulo IX De las 16 mayores Guerras y Genocidios del siglo XVI de 60.000 a 3.000.000 de muertos
  12. Paulkovich, Michael (2012). No Meek Messiah (1st ed.). Spillix Publishing. pp. 114. ISBN 0988216116. 
  13. Stannard, David E. (18 November 1993). American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. Oxford University Press. p. 70. ISBN 0-19-508557-4. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  14. James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press 138.
  15. Ida Altman, et al., The Early History of Greater Mexico, Pearson, 2003, p. 47
  16. Rodriguez, Junius P. (2007). Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion. 1. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-313-33272-2.
  17. Ida Altman, et al., The Early History of Greater Mexico, Pearson, 2003, 143
  18. Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (2009-07). De Orbe Novo, the Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. p. 112. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  19. Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (2009-07). De Orbe Novo, the Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. p. 182. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010
  20. Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (2009-07). De Orbe Novo, the Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. p. 111. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010
  21. Anghiera Pietro Martire D' (2009-07). De Orbe Novo, the Eight Decades of Peter Martyr D'Anghera. p. 143. ISBN 9781113147608. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  22. David M. Traboulay (1994). Columbus and Las Casas: the conquest and Christianization of America, 1492–1566. p. 44. ISBN 9780819196422. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  23. Raphael Lemkin's History of Genocide and Colonialism Holocaust Memorial Museum
  24. Rodolfo Acuna-Soto, David W. Stahle, Malcolm K. Cleaveland, and Matthew D. Therrell (April 2002). "Megadrought and Megadeath in 16th Century Mexico", Emerg Infect Dis., 8(4), pp. 360–362. doi: 10.3201/eid0804.010175. Retrieved 16 Jan. 2018.
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