By Wiley K. March
Throughout history, tragic incidents have occurred, leaving an indelible mark on our collective consciousness. One such event, often cited as the first recorded shooting on a school property, took place in the 1700s. The incident involved the death of a schoolmaster in Pennsylvania, with Lenape tribesmen allegedly blamed for the act, and several children losing their lives in the process.
Let us be unequivocal in stating that there can never be any justification for harming a child. The protection and well-being of our children should be paramount in any society. However, when we delve into the deeper layers of historical context, we begin to question the narrative presented by European colonists regarding the Lenape tribesmen's involvement in the incident.
Exploring the true history of the Lenape tribe reveals a different perspective, casting doubt on the accounts provided by European colonists. Eyewitness testimonies, which claimed that two elderly gray-haired men were involved in the attack, seem implausible, as elderly individuals were typically not partaking in battles or skirmishes during that era.
The Lenape were a peaceful hunter-gatherer tribe, their social structure centered on tracing bloodlines through the mother and cherishing children as valued members of the community. Initially, when Europeans arrived, the Lenape welcomed them peacefully, fostering friendship, trade, and shared resources. However, as is often the case with colonizers, peace and trade were not enough—they sought to exert complete control.
With the encroachment of European settlers on Lenape territory, the tribe faced devastation from European diseases and a relentless series of bloody massacres. Tens of thousands of new invaders, self-proclaimed colonists, subjected the Lenape to starvation, decimated their lands and resources, and introduced the reprehensible practice of Bounty Scalping—a monetary reward for every indigenous person killed—perpetrated by the Dutch and English, not the Lenape.
The pattern that unfolded was sadly familiar—a deceptive façade of friendship followed by the pillaging of resources and the merciless destruction of the native population. Humiliated and defeated, the Lenape had no choice but to sign treaties in hopes of ending the genocide they were subjected to. Threatened with further violence and murder, they were coerced into converting to Christianity and forced to comply with treaties that the European colonizers had no rightful authority to demand, establish, or enforce. Regrettably, the invaders proved untrustworthy and dishonorable, failing to honor their promises and continuing their merciless slaughter of innocent indigenous people.
The truth regarding the alleged attack on Enoch Brown and the school children may forever remain obscured, as history is invariably written by the victors. While we cannot undo the injustices of the past, it is crucial to recognize that falsehoods and misrepresentations about indigenous peoples persist to this day, perpetuated by government entities and revered American institutions. These distortions contribute to profiling, stereotyping, and racially motivated attacks against indigenous communities. Tragically, the indigenous people of this land are now faced with the specter of extinction, as genocide continues to be perpetrated by the governments of the United States and Canada against many tribes.
Moreover, it is disheartening to acknowledge that the same societal structures that have historically brutalized indigenous populations have taken insufficient action to address the scourge of school shootings or combat the violence inflicted upon our children. If we are to envision a future free from violence, it is imperative that we confront the truth, challenge the narratives that perpetuate harm, and prioritize the pursuit of justice.
Only through the power of truth can we hope to dismantle the cycles of violence and oppression that persist. By delving into the complexities of history and embracing a multifaceted understanding of events, we can begin to dismantle the false narratives that have perpetuated harm and injustice. It is our collective responsibility to listen to the voices of the marginalized, to acknowledge the truths that have been suppressed, and to take concrete steps towards a more equitable and just society. Only then can we hope to create a future where violence is replaced by understanding, where children are protected, and where the wounds of the past can begin to heal.
Note: The Enoch Brown incident mentioned in the text refers to a historical event, and the details and interpretations presented here are intended to promote critical thinking and a nuanced understanding of history.