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Rick Santorum says ‘there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture’

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum drew criticism for feedback final week that “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

In remarks to conservative group the Young America’s Foundation on Friday, Santorum argued that the culture of the United States is essentially unchanged because it was birthed by “Judeo-Christian” values.

Santorum, 62, a Republican from Pennsylvania who served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and is now a CNN commentator, mentioned there was “nothing here” earlier than European settlers arrived.

“We came here and created a blank slate,” Santorum mentioned. “We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

The response to Santorum’s feedback, which have been first transcribed and publicized by Media Matters for America, was swift.

Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, referred to as Santorum’s feedback “hot garbage.”

“Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust,” Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, mentioned in an announcement. “Any mainstream media organization should fire him or face a boycott from more than 500 Tribal Nations and our allies from across the country and worldwide.”

Sharp mentioned European colonizers discovered “thousands of complex, sophisticated, and sovereign Tribal Nations, each with millennia of distinct cultural, spiritual and technological development.”

“Over millennia, they bred, cultivated and showed the world how to utilize such plants as cotton, rubber, chocolate, corn, potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco. Imagine the history of the United States without the economic contributions of cotton and tobacco alone. It’s inconceivable,” Sharp mentioned.

Some identified that Santorum’s feedback merely weren’t traditionally correct.

Robert P. Jones, a scholar of history and culture with the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute, referred to as Santorum’s historical past an “ex nihilo myth” that “is straight up white supremacy.”

In truth, Indigenous cities and settlements unfold throughout the American continent earlier than the arrival of Europeans.

Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire till it was conquered and destroyed by Spanish explorers in 1521 and renamed Mexico City, is estimated to have contained over 100,000 residents at its peak.

One settlement generally known as Cahokia, in what’s as we speak southern Illinois, is assumed to have been the most important metropolis earlier than Tenochtitlan, with over 10,000 residents across the yr 1100, which then rivaled the inhabitants of a few of Europe’s largest cities.

The St. Louis skyline is seen on the horizon past Monks Mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Ill. on July 11, 2019.Daniel Acker / The Washington Post through Getty Images

“We have proof positive of massive Thanksgiving festivals at Cahokia with lots of the same ingredients that the pilgrims were treated to centuries later,” Timothy Pauketat, professor of anthropology on the University of Illinois and a scholar of Cohokia, wrote in an e mail.

“I wonder if Santorum doesn’t appreciate that the absence of certain kinds of native culture in certain parts of the United States — say Pennsylvania — is because the native people there were exterminated.”

Historians have identified the hyperlinks between America’s early founding interval and one of many largest organized native authorities at the moment, which coexisted alongside varied European settlements: the Iroquois Confederacy or the “Six Nations.”

A House decision passed on the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in 1988 explicitly acknowledged this hyperlink between that Native authorities and America’s personal founding paperwork.

Charles C. Mann, creator of 1491, which chronicled native cultures previous to the arrival of European settlers, mentioned in an e mail that “the contributions of Native Americans to US society and culture today are so various and comprehensive that it’s hard to know where to begin.”

“Up till the late 19th century, European visitors (especially rich ones) complained about how Americans were disrespectful to their social betters, American women didn’t know their place, and the society as a whole was governed by the mob,” Mann wrote.

“They frequently blamed this on the pernicious social influence of the Indians. In my view, this is quite accurate. Much of what we think of today as the ‘American spirit of freedom’ owes its inspiration to this nation’s original inhabitants,” Mann mentioned.



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