The left-wing media outlet said it started the tradition as “a way of marking Independence Day”:
But after last summer's protests and our national reckoning on race, the words in the document land differently. It famously declares “that all men are created equal” even though women, enslaved people and indigenous Americans were not held as equal at the time. What then follows is a long list of grievances and charges against King George III that outline the 13 North American British colonies' intentions to separate from Great Britain.
The list, originally written largely by Thomas Jefferson, was edited by the Continental Congress. Among the Congress's changes: it deleted a reference to “Scotch & foreign mercenaries.” It turns out there were members of Congress who were of Scottish descent. To win support from southerners, the Congress removed criticism of the African slave trade.
But a racist slur about Native Americans stayed in. The passage charges that King George III “excited domestic insurrections” among the colonists by Native Americans, who the founding document called “merciless Indian Savages.”
The unedited Declaration of Independence actually states:
[King George] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured[sic] to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
NPR included remarks from author David Treuer, who is Ojibwe from Leech Lake Reservation.
“But a deeper look at history also shows that one of the reasons why the colonists wanted to rise up against the British — and wage the Revolutionary War — was over the question of who would try to colonize Native lands west of the colonies,” Treuer told Morning Edition.
It boiled down to power and money, Treuer argued.
“The crown wanted that money for themselves,” he said. “The colonists, understandably, would have preferred to have it for themselves. So the whole revolution was in large part fought over who got to take our stuff.”
“On one hand we are keenly aware of the ways in which this country has attempted to both take our homelands and to eradicate us,” Treuer said. “And yet a huge number of Native people are deeply patriotic. Native American people have fought in every war America has fought up until today.
“We remain committed to forcing this country to live up to its own stated ideals.” he said.
As for NPR, which regularly maligns the United States in its reporting, concluded by criticized the founding document and laid out it is foundation not for the most free and prosperous country in the world but “for what America could be.”
“The Declaration is a document with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies,” NPR concluded. It also laid the foundation for our collective aspirations, our hopes for what America could be. So in that spirit, here again is the Declaration of Independence as read by NPR staff.”
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