As a respected citizen of the Leftosphere, the Nature Conservancy supports the rights of indigenous peoples. Their website proclaims:
Empowering Indigenous peoples throughout the world.
The natural world is central to the human rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as their economic, spiritual, physical and cultural well- being. Complex challenges including the development of natural resources and climate change are threatening the environments on which their livelihoods and cultures depend.
The Nature Conservancy recognizes the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples to conservation and collaborates with them to foster our shared commitment to environmental stewardship. Our human rights-based approach to conservation incorporates traditional knowledge and cultural values and results in tangible benefits. We work as a partner, making sure that community needs and local priorities are identified and addressed.
Our programs target urgent threats, secure land tenure and access, support Indigenous rights and improved governance, and strengthen livelihoods. Our initiatives support the rights of Indigenous peoples to participate more fully in making the decisions that will shape their futures.
Indeed. We would expect such an organization to show respect toward the indigenous peoples of the past, and we would not expect to see it glorifying those who perpetrated genocide upon them.
How, then, would we reconcile the above statement with the following one?
Buffalo Soldiers in the U.S. Army were some of the first defenders of our national parks, serving as rangers in Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. They were instrumental in fighting fires, cracking down on poachers and clearing roads. One of the most notable Buffalo Soldiers was Capt. Charles Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point and the first African-American superintendent of a national park. The legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers lives on through Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson, who created a website to tell their story.
These Buffalo soldiers took part in the dispossession of the indigenous peoples of North America. The fact that they later received government jobs as caretakers at national parks does not negate this fact. While the conflict between settlers and Native Americans was an exceedingly complex one, with atrocities committed on all sides, the Leftosphere invariably sympathizes with the Native Americans. Apparently, an exception is made when the settlers are “people of color” themselves. While one might argue that the Nature Conservancy is only trying to give credit where credit is due, without negating any lurid past these soldiers might have had, I find such hair-splitting to be disingenuous. The South African government did many positive things during the years of apartheid, yet we never find the Leftosphere giving them credit.
Others have pointed out this hypocrisy. For example, a neo-Confederate group made the point back in 2005:
On January 17th, Carrollton Georgia put on it’s Annual King Day parade. I attended this one with a special guest, as it took on a special meaning by some of the participants invited. I had read where a local amateur historian named Don North and his 6 member “Grierson’s Buffalo Soldiers Cavalry Association of Georgia” was invited to join, most likely at the behest of Carrollton’s only black councilman Gerald Byrd. Mr. Byrd had allowed Mr. North to speak to his youth class at Carrollton Middle School – and I read an article in the Carrollton paper about it…
Well I am not the most educated person, but I do know that that whole Custer/Cavalry/Western time period meant lots of innocent Indians were being slaughtered, and the Buffalo Soldiers happily did their share of butchery. I sent out a call for help to stand against this kind of glorification, and got probably the most qualified spokesman to accomplish the task. My special guest was none other than that Native American activist, Gary Spottedwolf… who is a Lakota Sioux (I love his “Custer Got Siouxed” poster) and whose ancestors were targets of the Buffalo Soldiers ‘Ethnic Cleansing’…
He wore his warrior outfit with US Cavalry jacket and 4 scalp swatches. He is one tough dude, as those outfits aren’t very warm, and it was about 30 with a strong wind. He also brought a picture that blew me away, but sent one of North’s boys into denial. It was a picture of a deep trench filled with dead Sioux, and a Buffalo Soldier standing next to them. When the young misled soldier wannabe was shown the picture, he said “naw, that ain’t no Buffalo Soldier”. North stayed in the distance playing with his historically inaccurate 10th Cavalry flag that didn’t include crossed sabers…
Initially some were heard to exclaim “he’s coming to be with us!”, but Spottedwolf cut that BS short. Another of the young actors walked up behind Gary and had the nerve to say “That sure is a nice jacket” and without missing a beat he retorted “It should be – I got it off a dead Buffalo Soldier. Spottedwolf then commenced to giving the group, approx 15 mounted riders that included North and 3 other actors (the others represented ???) a lecture about the real Buffalo Soldiers and their campaign of terrorism and genocide. Then a white woman started crying this was a day for unity, which came the reply that there can be no unity as long as his people were on reservations. I told Unity lady that the Confederate Govt. was the only ‘White man’s Govt. that accepted the Indians. She looked bewildered…
The Buffalo soldiers were not only guilty of slaughtering Native Americans, according to some, they also took part in the senseless slaughter of the buffalo. According to Roy Cook:
The Kiowa have no love for the historic ‘Buffalo Soldiers’. They have not forgotten that because in those ‘Indian War’ times there was war between the Kiowa people and their main source of commissary the buffalo and the white men. The white men built forts in the Kiowa country, and the Negro soldiers (the Tenth Cavalry, made up of Negro troops) shot the buffalo as fast as they could, but the buffalo still kept coming on, coming on, even into the post cemetery at Fort Sill. Soldiers were not enough to hold them back.
If those who massacred innocent people, and mowed down countless buffalo, can be considered “conservation heroes” by taking government jobs at national parks, then the term has very little meaning. I would urge the Nature Conservancy to be more selective in who they consider “heroes.”