By David Pego

They’re really getting close to finally saying the two words we American Indians have long wanted to hear.

The important two words: “We’re sorry.”

So, let me make my own gesture first. I’m bowing forward in a gesture of grace and acceptance. And what is more important: I’m bowing to let the damned chip slide off my shoulder.

It’s time to get over it – all of it.

Words that need a vote

The U.S. Senate is close to voting on a motion that would issue an apology to American Indians for what has been done to us.

You know the list – and the length of it. I don’t have to go through it. However, Tex Hall, the president of the National Congress of American Indians gave the short list in a press conference:

“I think America clearly knows the atrocities – the holocaust, the land theft, the boarding school experience completely wiping out the language and cultures of our Native brothers and sisters.”

Bill being Bush-whacked?

South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson said the Bush administration is seeking more time to look over the bill before taking a stance on it.

Yes, President Bush has a lot of other things on his mind, but he should only turn the pages back about four or five years. President Clinton already has issued a formal apology on behalf of our nation to the Hawaiian Islanders about the loss of their land and other damage done. And if the current president needs to do more research, he has the perfect place to go right inside his own household – a talented and cute librarian who helps feed his pets.

“Hey, Laura, did we really do this to these Indians?”

The official wording of the bill introduced by Senator Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican from Kansas, says the United States was guilty of “official depredations and ill-conceived policies.”

What does that mean? Well, some of us older folk can tell you it means we had older relatives who were sent to boarding schools and never came home. It recalls the open season on American Indians decades ago, just like they hunt for deer and buffalo now. Ooops. Forget that. They slaughtered so many buffalo they can’t hunt them anymore. Maybe buffalo should get an apology, too. (But I’m only kidding. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m taking this too lightly.)

Here is where you can read the measure:|

I hope they really will say they’re sorry.

And I hope some of us American Indians who have been so angry about things done to our great grandfathers can finally say, “You are forgiven.”

Enemies no longer

We are sorry. You are forgiven.

What powerful words. Do we forget that in many tribes, we would take the injured warriors from another tribe into our homes and nurse them back to health and then adopt them as our own sons? Things were so much more honorable then. Imagine battle where you win glory by just touching someone.

I just hope that we can finally end this confusing period in our nation’s history and officially acknowledge that a lot of folks (us) were killed, injured and otherwise torn from our tranquil existence by outsiders who thought our land looked like a pretty good place to build a church and school someday.

And even if we don’t get this acknowledgement, I still forgive them. I have brushed all the chips off my shoulder. I was always scared someone would start a fire up there anyway.

Contributing editor and director of writer development David Pego is a Saginaw Chippewa tribal member. He was the first native journalist to be named a McCormick Tribune Fellow.  David was a delegate to the historic White House Conference on Indian Education and was the 2000 winner of the Innovators In Education Award. He also serves as National Chair for the new Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society national writing competition for young students. is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.