An 1899 chromolithograph of U.S. cavalry pursuing American Indians, artist unknown. Source: Werner Company, Akron, Ohio. Published before 1923. In the public domain.

An 1899 chromolithograph of U.S. cavalry pursuing American Indians, artist unknown. Source: Werner Company, Akron, Ohio. Published before 1923. In the public domain.

by Anthony J. Marsella


I do not know what actions the Trump presidential administration will take regarding the energy-genocide-ecocide tradeoff in which “Oil” always seems to win. I do know, however, what actions the existing Obama administration has taken! Oil trumps people! Oil trumps pollution! Oil trumps reason! It is ecocide! All aspects of nature are at risk: water, air, land, animals, and people. It is genocide! Do we forget the man-made disasters associated with oil production? Imagine the consequences of a pipeline rupture for the upper Missouri River! Remember! It is lawys after fact apologies and inadequate compensations. Too late!

Standing Rock now is symbolic with “cide.” It is ecocide, genocide, suicide, and nationcide. (See, for a list of hundreds of words ending in “cide.”) In all instances, “cide” refers to the act of killing.

Yes, it is Genocide! This traumatic frightening term has been commandeered by so many others across the world, justified in all instances, but now reluctantly assigned to the destruction, violence, and war characterizing centuries of abuse against the Native American Indians. It is a final battle, apocryphal in proportion.

Genocide is a term coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin to describe the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. It is defined in Article 2 of the  Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948 as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the groups conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Note: “ethnical”, although unusual, is found in several dictionaries) (Wikipedia Website).

The pathways to Genocide are many; each pathway carries with it the potential for destruction of a people and a way-of-life. The push is always the same! “You are either with us or against us,” demonic leaders cry as they seek total control. Homogenization is sought; a world of total agreement and conformity to a catastrophic vision in which protests must be subdued, even if it requires the destruction of lives and ways-of-living.

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at



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  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a very nice essay on the Standing Rock protest that echoes Dr, Marsella’s characterization of the treatment of indigenous people by White Americans as a genocide.
    There is also a good article on Truthout:

    We all need to wake up to the fact that the country’s government and militarized groups within the government have been conducting genocide. We must not remain silent.
    For too many generations people in power–White men in power–have been mistreating minorities and women. Who will be next?

    • LB says:

      While I don’t disagree with the spirit of your comment or that our country has a long, established history of inhumanity toward Native Americans, it’s worth pointing out our current president is black, as are other influential people in power. Also, and though their numbers are fewer, women and minorities are as capable of mistreating and exploiting the oppressed as are their white male counterparts. It’s frequently the nature of power, the nature of politics.

      Our moral arguments are stronger when we come together in recognition of our shared humanity and of our connection to one another and the earth we walk upon, when we recognize the suffering of *all* poor, oppressed and forgotten peoples (black, white, red, yellow and brown).

      One of the most striking aspects of the DAPL water protectors has been their message of inclusion, and of their defense of sacred ground, water and life on behalf of *all*.

      It’s good to speak truth to power about the injustices Native Americans have faced and continue to face. Also good to remember our voices and causes carry more weight when we invite people in, without engaging in divisive, exclusionary language which, however unintentionally, can have the effect of pitting one oppressed group against another.

      • kathiemm says:

        Dear LB. What a great comment. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and rejoinders. I think your words encourage a sense of hope, optimism, and renewed resolve to Gold Dust Twin, to me, and to all of the blog’s readers. I am going to include it as the selected comment in the Engaging Peace November newsletter. Kathie MM

        • LB says:

          Thanks, Kathie ~ I’m glad you were encouraged by my message, which in turn, encourages me. Your response also reminded me to sign up to receive your newsletter.

  2. Barbara says:

    It is horrifying to realize that all-powerful Oil is a bane that can affect our nation like a ravaging disease. We must innoculate ourselves! Judiciousness must trump Trump, and I’m not stammering. I’m exhorting fellow Americans to unite against the long unfettered power of the Oil industry and all those who bow down to or profit from the industry’s wanton destruction of the environment and its inhabitants.

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