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Rotten History - May 28th

On this day in 1830 – (186 years ago) — US President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, authorizing the forced relocation of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. Spurred in part by white settlers’ desire for farmland, it reversed a US government policy, advocated by Presidents Washington and Jefferson, of respecting Native Americans’ land rights and encouraging their assimilation into white European-based culture. Jackson, for his part, opposed the idea of treating Indian tribes as sovereign nations with whom treaties could be negotiated. The forced expulsion, which came to be known as the Trail of Tears, involved moving tens of thousands of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, and Muscogee people hundreds of miles from their ancestral homelands to areas west of the Mississippi River. Some tribes, such as the Seminoles, responded with armed resistance in battles with federal troops that claimed thousands of lives. Later, the series of forced journeys to the West under rugged and difficult conditions would prove deadly to many more thousands of Native American people.

On this day in 1934 – (82 years ago) — Oliva and Elzire Dionne, poor farmers living in rural Ontario, became parents of the first quintuplets ever to survive past infancy. News of the birth spread fast, and the Dionne quintuplets became a pop-culture sensation. The provincial government of Ontario declared the parents unfit, and took custody of the five infant girls, who soon became the stars of a tourist trap called “Quintland,” where thousands of paying spectators every day watched them eat, sleep, and play in a specially built observation center. The quintuplets also generated millions of dollars through commercial endorsements and appearances in Hollywood films. When they were nine years old, their parents regained custody, and in their teenage years they were treated with extreme discipline and allegedly were sexually abused by their father. When they turned eighteen, the Dionne quintuplets severed connections with their parents. One entered a Catholic convent and died there of a seizure in 1954; another died of a blood clot in 1970. After their marriages ended in divorce, the three remaining sisters chose to live together quietly in a house near Montreal, breaking their public silence in a open letter to the parents of septuplets in 1997. “Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario,” they wrote. “And to those who would seek to exploit the growing fame of these children, we say beware.” A year later, the three surviving Dionne quintuplets were awarded a $2.8-million- dollar settlement by the Ontario government.

On this day in 1998 – (18 years ago) — the government of Pakistan conducted its first nuclear explosions, an underground detonation of five fission bombs in the deserts of Balochistan province. Pakistan thus became the seventh nation to publicly test nuclear weapons. The test was quickly condemned around the world, and economic sanctions against Pakistan were imposed by several nations, including the United States, and by the International Monetary Fund. But inside Pakistan, where a recent series of nuclear tests in neighboring India had created a public mood of great anxiety, the success of the Pakistani bomb was greeted by celebrations in the national parliament, in the news media, and in the streets. The United States lifted its sanctions after 2001, when the Pakistani government signed on as an ally in the so-called War on Terror. And in Pakistan, the May 28 anniversary of the explosion is now observed as a national day of celebration called Youm-e- Takbir, or “the Day of Greatness.”

Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi.

Rotten History


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