Letters to the Editor

Letter: Real injustice

December 11, 2013


To the editor:

Recently, perimeter construction on the South Lawrence Trafficway was mentioned in this paper. I’ve heard that 50 or so acres are going to be affected by this road in the wetlands. Over 100 years ago, Haskell students built the channels and canals that will be destroyed here. These students had been taken by coercion away from their reservations, families, cultures and religions to have these parts of their identity destroyed by the assimilation policies of this country and its Christian denominations. That canal area was a reminder of the forced assimilation actions of this country.

And yet the beneficiaries of past anti-Indian policy have no problem destroying the reminder of forced labor for the purpose of assimilation. It’s akin to destroying a building at Auschwitz as if nothing happened there either.

In Washington, D.C., clergy of all denominations can stand together to speak of the injustice of having a racist NFL mascot. In Douglas County, Kansas, a United Methodist College can act as if native concerns are invisible when remembering what was done in the recent past and some can wrongly repeat the “Win-Win” mantra for their own conscience. Those with no memory sin over and over.


Bob Hechlor 4 years, 6 months ago

Think baby, think. Oh sorry, that would be asking too much.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 6 months ago

The real injustice is the fact that road was not built once approved. Look at millions of dollars it has cost taxpayers with useless court cases.

Mike Riner 4 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps we should dismantle everything built since that evil Columbus arrived...would that make everything okay then? This topic has been debated and debated. Build it already, before the costs go up yet again.

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 6 months ago

I remember hiking, fishing, and hunting all over that area in the late 60s and early 70s. Naismith Creek/Drainage emerged about 31st st and meandered, roughly, parallel to 31st to Haskell Ave. where if followed the road bed to the Wakarusa River. There was nothing else there but blacktop and farmland. There were no canals or channels. Once in a while we would get tired of fishing at Mary's Lake and hike due south to the "Waky" to fish. It was a long trek but, back then, the bullhead were worth the excursion. I was the first paperboy in the Indian Hills development and I grew up on Belle Crest Dr. There is not an inch of ground I have not covered on foot from Hwy 59 to Haskell Ave and 27th st (before there was a 27th st) to the Wakarusa River. This letter is revisionist history. If there were canals and channels there, they were long gone before about 1966.

Brock Masters 4 years, 6 months ago

I recall hearing about this on my trips to Oklahoma. Stopping in gun shops I found racist people with anti-Obama posters on the wall. I challenged them about their hatred toward Obama and they said shut before we come up to Kansas and pave over your wetland.

Darn if they didn't.

Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

I heard the same anti Obama people at Cabelas today.....what's your point?

Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 6 months ago

Ignorance proves nothing. Yours or theirs.

William Enick 4 years, 6 months ago

Well... lets have a exit ramp that goes to the wet lands. Now that it's going to happen. Lets have a historical commemoration area. Lets have improved hiking & nature trails. My wife & I would love another spot to take our binoculars & the dog & go birding. Lets have Indian tacos & original Native American art & jewelry...proceeds go to the University. I hear the construction will be as nature friendly as possible & the noise pollution kept to the very highest standards. Hundreds more people a week will show up. Now that it's going to happen...I just do not see it not happening unfortunately.

Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

this project has been a white wash and denial since the get go. Haskell Institute in it's original form was a assimilation by force school with compulsory attendance through parents having their children ripped from their hands and their treaty monies for lands stolen by White people and the US Government and withheld until they handed over the children to be turned into culturally white people by any means possible. Carlisle Institute which was the model for Haskell and other boarding schools had a sign at the entrance stating "Killing the Indian To save the Man". the goal was to disconnect Indians from their lands, culture, religion, family, and language. Children were kept from their parents for years at a time until adulthood. A ninety year old Munsee elder whom I know was taken from her parents at age nine and ran away from Haskell after stints at Genoa and Wyandotte Indian Schools in the late 1930's. Your road is disrespecting this memory as is much of your comments and actions. The furthering desire to erase and ignore this memory and history will only cause you all to be reminded more. Example #1....The Cornplanter Tract named for the Seneca leader who had the land granted in northern Pennsylvania in the late 1790's was flooded by the Kinzua Dam Project in the early 1960's after the Seneca people fought for twenty or more years to stop it. The dam was erected and the Cornplanter land tract was flooded in violation of the Canandaigua Treaty of 1793 and those Seneca people were moved a couple of hundred miles north to the Allegheny Seneca Reservation near Salamanca, NY. Their community was dismantled and burned along with their communal Longhouse buildings which were an integral part of their community. This happened fifty years ago before I was born and I'm still talking about it. You all stepped in an offensive mess that you will be reminded about over and over. I guess if you aren't from this land is doesn't bother you to destroy it does it?

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 6 months ago

I guess my question is if the land were still being farmed as it was 40 years ago, would that be disrespect? Driving equipment over it season after season? The wrongs of the past have been freely acknowledged. Nothing will undo the way the indigenous people of North America were robbed, killed, raped, and kidnapped. No one is trying to convince the world that these atrocities didn't happen. They did. Providing a corridor around the city does not show any disrespect for the American Indian. It is a much needed improvement that will benefit so many people in so many ways. Where your argument falls apart is this land is not any more sacred than the land where others want the corridor to be moved. Other opponents point to the "delicate" ecosystem that the wetlands develop. Studies have shown time and time again that the wetlands will recover. If they wouldn't, how is it we have a delicate ecosystem now? The time has come to embrace the suck.

Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

firstly I sincerely apologize to the moderator. I will take the high road. The two previous comments do nothing to acknowledge the patronizing and destructive nature of this country towards it's indigenous peoples. I remember when non Indians claimed that Haskell and the wetlands didn't belong to the tribes. Then I discovered the Civilization Act of 1819 where the US Congress offered the education of Indian children in return for the cession of land. Then I went to Kappler's Treaties online from Oklahoma State University and found close to one hundred treaties between 1820 and 1880 where education was offered in return for the cession of Indian lands. The hundreds of millions of acres of Indian land taken for immigrants to live on also created funds that were initially used on the reservations themselves by paternalistic protestant and catholic religious figures to undermine indigenous knowledge, eradicate indigenous languages, and undermine the governmental and family structure of indigenous peoples on their own lands with the blessings of the US Government. After US Colonel Richard Pratt concocted the boarding school model in the late 1870's and the beginnings of this idea with Carlisle and later Haskell amongst many others these funds went to the boarding schools that were used to rip children from the families, their relatives, their language, their religion, and their lands. When one brings up farming forty years ago they obviously know nothing of the period between 1884 and 1934 when the farming project was at Haskell before being moved to the Chilocco Indian School near Newkirk, Oklahoma. They know nothing of how US Public laws 47 and 87 were perverted and end runned around for the land acquisition of wetlands that exists now. It speak volumes when a Native elder can come up to my wife at her place of employment and tell her to thank me for my words in the LJWorld in this letter. In the end there's the truth and there's the whitewash (no offense) of history. I will never see the Haskell wetlands again. I haven't seen them since October of 2012. I will remember them as they were the same way I remember my grandparent's Pascagoula, Mississippi neighborhood before Hurricane Katrina obliterated it on August 29, 2005. Another local lesson of destruction.....the stone between the cannons by the Kansas River bridge in downtown Lawrence once set near the mouth of Shunga Creek near Tecumseh, Kansas. It was one of many Kansa tribal sites in Northeast Kansas pre America. Once it was removed to downtown Lawrence it was misappropriated just as the wetlands with a road through it has been. If one culture appropriates and destroys with no regard who makes the excuses and avoids the direct question?

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 6 months ago

Mike, I empathize with your passion and commitment to keeping the memory of those that came before. Everything you just posted is true. No argument. My last post acknowledged this. It is time for the wounds to heal. The past is just that. The past. The bottom line is nothing you have said about the atrocities makes the land that this highway will pass over, sacred. My only point is that if this highway passes over sacred ground, so do all of the other highways across the country.

Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

ask the many of the Native people whom you ignore in Lawrence with your comments if this land is sacred? was it sacred when their great grand parents and great great grand parents were forced to work that land? you sound like just another unapologetic non Indian who knows no history and as such is doomed to repeat it. look at the abandoned railroad to the east of the wetlands that forced the removal of the Ottawa, Sac and Fox, and Osage peoples in the 1860's as the Lawrence, Leavenworth, and Galveston Railroad. that was needed also right?

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