President Ruth Simmons has been doing a great deal to commemorate the history of slavery in Rhode Island (“Since Last Time,” Elms, July/August). My understanding is that Brown benefited financially due to early donations from a member of the Brown family that profited from the slave trade and that a Brown committee has recently studied how to set this right. Charles Mann’s scholarly researched book, 1491, makes it clear that there was a highly developed civilization of hundreds of thousands of Native Americans living very well along the Eastern seaboard in the fifteenth century. By the time the Europeans settled in and around Providence, these native people were in decline from diseases brought to them by the early settlers. The sometimes unwitting, sometimes willful, decimation of these people must rank among the largest humanitarian catastrophes in history. Brown rests comfortably on land once part of, and sacred to, people of America’s First Nations, land from which they were driven. In the name of justice, what should and can Brown be doing for them?
Robert H. Kahn
The Other Injustice
By Robert H. Kahn / November / December 2007
December 5th, 2007