You only need to read the Native American Apology Resolution to know it’s not sincere. Before you even get to the completely disrespectful disclaimer at the end which undoes any potential good the Apology could have done, there is this snippet:
“Whereas Native Peoples and non-Native settlers engaged in
numerous armed conflicts in which unfortunately, both
took innocent lives, including those of women and children;” (Congress)
This is putting both sides on equal grounds, as if both sides did equal harm. Yes, white families were murdered, but Native People were decimated culturally, spiritually, and physically. It is not the same.
Layli Long Soldier writes a response to this “Apology” in the form of a book of poetry published in 2017. Long Soldier is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and currently lives in the Navajo Nation. She earned her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and her MFA from Bard College (Poetry Foundation). She titles her piece “Whereas” after the excess use of the word in Congress’s document. She mirrors the format, but contrasts with it in that Long Soldier uses scene whereas the official document is vague and generic — mostly avoiding pointing out specific cases.
Throughout the poem are specific scenes where the speaker is reacting to the Apology Resolution and the actions and ignorance of those around them. “Whereas I drive down the road replaying the get-together how the man and his beer bottle stated / their piece and I reel at what I could have said or done better;” (Long Soldier 14-15). The concreteness of the poem makes for a very real reaction. It draws attention to the people affected by not only the Resolution, but still by the genocide and destruction wreaked upon their ancestors not so long ago.
Long Soldier brings a human to the inanimate table set by Congress in their Resolution.
“Layli Long Soldier.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,
Soldier, Layli Long. “WHEREAS.” January 2017.
United States , Congress. “Text – S.J.Res.14 – Native American
Apology Resolution.”Congress.gov, 6 Aug. 2009,
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