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The Insipid “Prayer Vindicates Killing” Argument

No one is exonerated from the crime of murdering an animal by praying over the animal's body

Native American Indians of the Columbia Plateau on horses in front of tipis, 1908 • Photo by Benjamin A. Gifford • Public-domain photo from Wikimedia Commons •

Vegans often hear comments about some meat-eating Native Americans having a harmonious relationship with nature. However, eating animal products and harmony have about as much in common as Michael Vick and companion animal care.

Fortunately, according to Native American historian Rita Laws, the majority of Natives ate very little to no meat before whites invaded America. Choctaw, Mayan, Osage, Aztec, Pawnee, Zapotec, Mandans, Wichitas, Arikaras, Caddoans, Cherokee, Creek and Chicksaw lived largely vegan lifestyles. After all, Natives taught thievish Europeans how to crop the land that was eventually stolen from them, not how to kill animals.

Natives only began to hunt en masse after cattle-ranching cowboys displaced them from their land. Millions of Natives were murdered because cowboys needed Native land for cow-grazing so white people could have plenty of beef. What whites did to Native Americans is a perfect reason to become vegan, not to pick up a bow and arrow and kill an innocent creature.

Furthermore, horrifying stories of Lame Deer or Chief Seattle praying over murdered animals display a primitive understanding of compassion and decency. Praying over a murdered animal does not exonerate the killer from the crime. Many Natives (and others) refuse to accept this fact because they, too, eat animal products. They would rather blindly defend their people instead of acknowledging the occasional wrongful acts of their ancestors. There is no honor in defending cruelty. I was born Jewish and won't hesitate to condemn rich, pretentious Jewish women who own fur coats because they stupidly believe it's a status symbol. Compassion and decency are far more valuable than heritage.

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