Yesterday, video emerged of Spain's foreign minister, Josep Borrell, saying that, before independence, the United States of America had "practically no history, the only thing they'd done was kill a handful of Indians", thereby minimising both the thousands of years of history of the indigenous peoples before European colonisation and the millions of deaths caused by disease from and conflict with colonists.
The comments have drawn fire from various groups, including the American Indian Movement, which fights against racism and for the rights of indigenous people. On Twitter, they quote the minister's comments and explicitly call him "racist".
Racist Spanish Foreign Minister @JosepBorrellF says this about US pre-independence history: "The only thing that they had done was kill 4 Indians".— AIndianMovement (@AIndianMovement) 27 de noviembre de 2018
What a supremacist, denialist, and pathetic way to describe a genocide.
Long live Free @CataloniaHelp2 pic.twitter.com/0M4Y0unu3o
The Sioux author Ruth H Hopkins also commented on the minister's remarks, reminding him that the victims numbered in the millions "due to starvation, disease, extreme poverty, war and murder".
“All they did was kill a couple Indians.” More like millions- due to starvation, disease, extreme poverty, war and murder. 😠 And any rights marginalized peoples in the US have were hard won. https://t.co/LF7u2S5Uni— Ruth H. Hopkins (@RuthHHopkins) 27 de noviembre de 2018
Some five million people in the US currently identify as fully or partially Native American, 1.6% of the total population. Note that this term as used by the US Census Bureau does not include Native Hawaiians. Even since 1776, indigenous peoples have found themselves marginalised in terms of political and social rights.
Historically present in all the territory that comprises the modern contiguous United States as well as Alaska, Native American tribes have been regularly evicted from their traditional lands, for example through the Trail of Tears with saw thousands die. As a result, they now mainly live west of the Mississippi. Their interests are represented by a large number of organisations as well as a number of dedicated media outlets.