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Healing the trauma of America’s past: Restorative justice, honest patriotism, and the legacy of ethnic cleansing.

Vogel, Howard J.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Buffalo Law Review. 55(3): 981-1046.

That is what brings me to my task – to speak of how storytelling might offer hope in healing the trauma of America’s
past through the practices of restorative justice as a response to the legacy of what Michael Mann calls the “murderous
ethnic cleansing” practiced against the Indigenous people of this land. … If restorative justice is to offer a constructive
response to the disastrous legacy of the ethnic cleansing conducted against the Dakota people in Minnesota in
1862-63, it must embrace its transformative potential through courageous remembrance of the truth of the past as a first
step in order to foster dialogic acts of hope that manifest respect in its deepest sense, including reparations, so that life
may be lived beyond the burden of the past. … Thus, even in the face of “unforgivable wrongs” there may be a sense in
which the victim needs to come to some level of acceptance that might be called “forgiveness” without “forgiving the
wrongdoer” so as to open up new possibilities of living life rather than to be psychologically imprisoned by the harm
that has occurred. … The true test of any restorative dialogue that we might engage in about the truth of the past in an
effort to heal the trauma of America’s past, will ultimately require that we take the past seriously by thinking and acting
imaginatively in a way that repairs the harm and saves us from being ravaged by it in the future. (Abstract).


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