Indians are more than "special interest" group

  Dear HCN,

In "This land holds a story the church won't tell," (HCN, 9/30/02: The Royal Squeeze) your editor, Ray Ring, writes that "historic preservation advocates and environmental groups ... fear the giveaway (that is, the sale of 940 publicly owned acres of the Mormon Trail to the Mormon Church) would set a precedent for transferring more public lands to special interests." Ring then goes on to say that "American Indians, in particular, would like to take over public treasures such as Devil's Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming."

Following Ring's line of thinking, an entire indigenous race is to be understood as a special interest. Yet these American Indians do not seek some commercial and private pursuit, but instead a token repatriation to a conquered land.

Such thinking represents not only a gross insensitivity but a confusion of public and private. Substantive steps towards reconciliation with American Indians, for what can be termed nothing other than genocide, are the least that we, the descendants of the perpetrators, can do.

This, I would argue, is in the public interest.

Don Smith

Boise, Idaho

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