Trump & The Real Bowling Green Massacre

by Bronwyn Isaac
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The internet exploded with memes and jokes following Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway's reference to the "Bowling Green Massacre," an alleged terrorist attack by ISIS that never occurred, as an excuse for Donald Trump's immigration executive order. During an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews on Thursday, Conway made her already infamous comment about the fictional Bowling Green Massacre, an event she neither specified as occurring in Bowling Green in Manhattan, Ohio, or Kentucky.

I bet it's brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don't know that because it didn't get covered.

Almost instantly, Conway's comment were immortalized on the web through all manner of tongue-in-cheek Bowling Green Massacre jokes.

However, as a post on the Indian Country Media Network aptly pointed out, there actually was a real Bowling Green Massacre that occurred in 1643. The real Bowling Green Massacre, also known as Kieft's War, occurred when white Christian colonizers were instructed by the governor of the Dutch colony known as New Netherlands, Willem Kieft, to fight members from the Lenape tribes for claim of the Manhattan land.

It's natural to wonder, given Trump's documented history of clashes with Native Americans, if Conway and Trump would dare pay equal lip service and lamentations to the real Bowling Green Massacre? The unfortunate evidence point toward a glaring no.

Another post on the Indian Country Media Network, also documenting the inhumane and devastating Dutch massacre of Lenape tribe members, includes quotes from the Dutch witness David Pietersz de Vries, who reportedly unsuccessfully tried to talk Kiefts out of waging war on people from the Lenape tribe. The segments from DeVries' gruesome account were sourced from the book by Herbert C. Kraft, The Lenape: Archaeology, History, and Ethnography:

When it was day the soldiers returned to the fort, having massacred or murdered eighty Indians, and considering they had done a deed of Roman valor, in murdering so many in their sleep.

How different would it look if the Trump administration, or even Conway on her own, had commented on the actual massacre at Bowling Green?

Well, the co-chair of Trump's Native American Affairs Coalition, Rep. Markwayne Mullin told Reuters he hopes to privatize oil-rich Indian reservations on Monday. "We should take tribal land away from public treatment," he said in a Reuters article. "As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country."

In response to threats of privatization, Tom Goldtooth, a Navajo and Dakota tribe member who runs the Indigenous Environmental Network, told Reuters that Trump's plans echo America's history of colonialist violence:

Our spiritual leaders are opposed to the privatization of our lands, which means the commoditization of the nature, water, air we hold sacred. Privatization has been the goal since colonization — to strip Native Nations of their sovereignty.

In reality, if Conway had been referencing the real Bowling Green massacre during her interview on Hardball, the corresponding travel ban would ostensibly apply to all of us who aren't Native American. Until then, feel free to donate to the Indigenous Environment Network, the resistors at Standing Rock, and follow Indigenous Action Media.