Race, Social Justice

America is still killing Native Americans, and nobody’s saying anything

I repeat. America is still killing Native Americans.

Native American Paul Castaway, 35, was killed by police in the city of Denver after his mother phoned in for help saying that he was threatening her with a knife, but was mentally ill. While police claim that Castaway charged at them with the knife, witnesses and surveillance video show Castaway holding a knife to his own neck before he was shot four times. His story is one of many Native Americans facing this kind of treatment.

A Lakota Sioux, his mother Lynn Eagle Feather insists the killing was racially motivated. She told Indian Country Today, “I want justice for my son. I want those cops to be reprimanded. These Denver cops love to kill Natives. They love to kill people of color here.”

The death of her son should bring attention to the much-needed topic of the intersections of police brutality and Ingenious bodies. Namely, Native Americans are more likely than any racial group to be killed by police, according to The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. The study showed that Native Americans, who make up  .8 percent of the population, are the victims of an overwhelming 1.9 percent of police killings.

Chase Iron Eyes — an attorney with the Lakota People’s Law Project in South Dakota — says, “You can tell they’re shooting out of fear,” he continues. “If it’s not out of hate, for some reason they’re pulling the trigger before determining what the situation actually is. Something does need to happen. Somebody does need to take a look and we need help.”

And it’s no surprise. If anything, the plight of our Ingenious people is a genocide that’s happening right under our feet. From the struggle for land, for money, and for spirit, Native Americans are taken advantage of or are faced with death. It’s been a choking, gasping-for-air kind of death that never lets up and never skips a beat. Any middle schooler with a textbook and a teacher knows that we horribly mistreated them, but nobody ever stops to talk about how we never stopped doing that. We consistently violate treatise, cull their people, and make their lives hellish. Now this comes up. There is no excuse for cops to not only shoot and kill a schizophrenic, mentally ill Ingenious man but to fabricate a story about his actions.

This story comes about a month after the viral uproar over the killing of Jessie Hernandez, also killed by Denver Police (who were eventually cleared). This story shows up on twitter simultaneously with #SandraBlandIt’s almost too much to take. Not only was an Ingenious man’s right to life stolen from him, he was far more powerless towards what they did as a mentally ill man.

This is just another example of police beating the damn dead horse, and for what? To put a helpless man in his place? The power trip needs to end. This is a call for national recognition of mental health issues and Indigenous resistance.