Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Fate Worse Than Death

Many Americans seem to have bought into a story in which our 19th century ancestors were heartless, brutal imperialists while American Indians were the peaceful victims of American atrocities.

There were certainly some atrocities committed by some American soldiers and settlers. And there were certainly some peaceful Indian tribes, like the Tonkawas or Delawares. But the idea of peaceful, innocent American Indians being regularly slaughtered by American soldiers and settlers for no reason is quite frankly,  mythology.

The following examples come from the book, A Fate Wore Than Death; Indian Captivities in the West; 1830-1885 by Gregory and Sussan Michno. The book is often gruelingly gruesome, but is hard to put down.

The book provides a fair treatment. For example, although the authors discuss the horrors of being captured by Chief Shakopee in Minnesota, they also write about the courageous warrior, Chaska. Chaska had been educated by Christian missionaries. He risked his life to get the woman and her child to freedom. In spite of his charity and the woman’s testimony in his favor, he was “rewarded” with five years in prison before being hung when he was mistaken for someone else.

The authors also tell the story of a warrior named Wakinyantawa who grabbed a double barrel shotgun and stood between a white man and the Indians who wanted to kill him. Wakinyantawa reportedly said “Shoot if you like, kill him if you will, but two of you will come out of your saddle if you do.”

In another act of kindness—in a story reminiscent of Rahab in the Old Testament—an Indian woman hid a white captive under buffalo robes and told fellow Indians that the captive had escaped.

One woman was enslaved to a warrior with two wives. One of the wives was kind and was able to save the woman from many a beating. Some women and children were apparently accepted and treated well enough that they chose to stay with the Indian tribes that had captured them

Some modern apologists for Indians, wanting to justify or excuse Indian atrocities, will point to the atrocities white Americans committed against Indians and black slaves. They are right that such atrocities were horrendous and inexcusable!

But what rich white businessmen did to African-Americans is not really analogous to what Indians did to the settlers. If the two were analogous, most of the black men in the south would have been slaughtered in Africa while their wives and children were enslaved, beaten (often daily) and often tortured--not for resisting or for failing to work, but for no reason at all!

If African and African-American slaves were treated like white settlers, the men wold have been killed and the women would have been starved and gang raped by every man in town—often repeatedly. As horrible as slavery was—and it was—most of those enslaved on plantations were practically in heaven compared to the fate of many of those—blacks and whites—captured by Indians. If you doubt this, read on (this is not in any way intended to justify or lessen the horrors and abomination of the enslavement of Africans by rich white businessmen. It is only intended just to put things in perspective).

Undetoured, politically correct apologists often take stories out of context or just flat out ignore or lie about primary sources. They will, for example point to the 1864 atrocities like the Sand Creek incident in which about 700 Colorado soldiers attacked a village of about 500 Indians in a massacre and mutilation. It was horrendous! But it was also an isolated incident and occurred only after about three decades of Indian atrocities on settlers.

Some examples of such atrocities follow (warning: if you are sensitive to graphic descriptions of torture, please stop reading now.

When Indians attacked a farm or small settlement, fathers and husbands were usually slaughtered and scalped (not always in that order). They were sometimes mutilated and disemboweled. Sometimes their own genitals were cut off and stuffed in their mouths—sometimes in front of their wives and children!

Women were often taken captive, though not always. Mrs. Lee was shot in the back with an arrow. Her children watched as warriors scalped her, cut off her ears and chopped off her arms.

Indians would sometimes pretend to be friendly in order to get food—and then after they had eaten they would turn on the settlers and slaughter them, or slaughter the men and kidnap their wives and children.

Some of the tortures to which women and children captives were subjected include dripping sizzling fat on captives bare legs, repeatedly sticking a flaming stick up a captive’s nose, being beaten with sticks and whips, women being stripped naked, knocked down, repeatedly beaten (regularly for days, weeks and months on end), stoned, or stamped on.

Some women and children were forced to walk nearly naked and barefoot through briars and cacti. They were often given little or nothing to eat. Some who were finally rescued were just skin and bones. The women were often (usually?) sexually assaulted, often gang raped, sometimes by every man in the tribe and sometimes repeatedly for months or years on end.

There was a case in which a woman was dragged by the hair for about 200 yards before being stripped and raped. Then an arrow was shoved up under her shoulder blade and she was scalped alive. She lived for about four days.

In another case, warriors shoved a woman into an icy river, laughing as they made a game of beating her back with clubs and poles when she tried to reach the shore. When they tired of the game, they shot and killed her.

There was a case in which a warrior got upset at a captive baby’s crying so he ripped the baby from its mother’s arms, threw the baby on the ground and speared it as the mother was forced to watch.

In another case a mother’s baby was tossed up in the air and let fall the ground repeatedly until the baby died—and the mother was forced to watch. There were cases in which mothers were forced to watch their babies starve to death. Children were sometimes forced to watch their mothers and fathers beaten to death.

In one attack a young girl witnessed her father being slaughtered (that was common). Then her pregnant mother was ripped open and the baby torn out. The warriors then took turns raping the girl before finally burning her to death.

It was not uncommon for family members to be raped, burned, scalped or otherwise tortured and killed in front of other family members. Sometimes the bloody scalps of dead family members would be smeared in the faces of other family members. Imagine being forced to watch your father be tortured to death, your mother raped and tortured, and then have their bloody scalps smeared in your face! For example, a boy watched as Indians sliced open his sister to remove her unborn baby, which they then nailed to a tree. 

In another case, a woman was physically unable to work as hard as her Apache captors required so she was tortured to death while her daughter was forced to watch.

In another case when a family was attacked, their oldest daughter was raped in front of the family. Then one of her breasts was cut off (while she was still alive) and she was scalped alive before they finally killed her by slitting her throat.

In another case, a woman was forced to watch as her female friend was beaten to death with fire wood. The woman was also forced to watch as the Indians used her friend's corpse for target practice. Finally, the corpse was scalped and the friend was repeatedly whipped in the face with her dead friend’s bloody scalp.

Some of the things these poor people were forced to endure were unbelievably, heartwrenchingly, cruel one would think they were demonically inspired. For example, warriors laughed as they made a game of throwing a two year old captive up in the air, allowing the child to smash into the ground until the child finally died. In another case, warriors dragged a baby and toddler from their mother’s arms and beat them with stove wood in front of the mother, leaving them for dead. In  another case, a warrior held a baby upside down, hacked it to bits with his tomahawk and then threw the body parts in the face of the mother. The mother was then burned alive on her bed.

In yet another case, a mother was forced to watch as an Indian women (sometimes Indian women were worse than the men) whipped her five year old daughter in the face with rawhide and then grabbed her arm and leg and slammed her to the ground repeatedly. Still alive, the Indian tied the little girl up and used her as a knife throwing target until the child finally died. And her mother had to watch it all.

When a 13 year old boy became too sick to travel the Indians threw the boy into a fire and forced his grandmother watch while he burned to death

When a captive child would not stop crying and clinging to his mother, an Indian chief smashed him to the ground and stomped on him.

When a three year old child cried, she was tortured by being cut with arrowheads. She survived and was eventually freed but, not surprisingly, suffered serious emotional problems for the rest of her life.

When Indians found a baby hidden in a box under a bed, they smashed him against the wall. Two other children had their brains bashed out on an oak tree  A 13 year old girl was starved and raped nightly by various warriors.

A seven year old girl was separated from her mother in the Indian camp. She cried uncontrollably until she finally happened to see her mother again. When she ran to her mother, the Indians punished her but burning her feet in a fire until she was unable to walk.

The warriors cut a baby’s throat and held it upside down by the heals before the eyes of its mother and laughed as she screamed and fainted.

After meeting some of the rescued captives and hearing what they had endured, General George Custer told his men that if his beloved wife were to ever fall into the hands of Indians, they were to shoot her dead rather than allow her to be taken.

There is a reason white settlers referred to Indian captivity as a fate worse than death. There is a reason settlers referred to Indians as "savages." One woman was actually happy when she learned that her Indian captors were planning to burn her at the stake because being burned alive at the stake was preferable to the tortures she had been forced to endure. 

These atrocities were not committed by one or two Indian tribes. They were committed by tribes like the Apaches, Sioux, Comanches, Araphaoes, Cheyennes, Blackfoot, Lakotas, Shoshones, Bannocks, Mojaves, Yavapais, Crow, Kiowas, Kickapoos, Utes, and Chiricahuas.

In one year--1862--about 300 settlers were enslaved by Indians in Minnesota alone. Thousands of Spanish and Mexicans were enslaved. Their crimes? They just wanted to build a little home and farm in the vast millions of square miles of wide open empty territory! (Modern Americans who have never traveled through places like North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico or Arizona really have no clue how vast and empty this space is--even with 300 million people living in America)!

This post is not intended to vilify Indians and it is certainly not intended to create hatred against modern Indians. It is no more valid to hate modern Indians for what some of their forefathers did than it is to hate modern white people for what our forefathers did--or for that matter, to hate Norwegians for what my Viking forefathers did)!

The point is only to provide some balance. To be sure, some white settlers committed terrible crimes and atrocities against Indians, Africans and others, but the idea of the imperialistic white Americans regularly slaughtering innocent, peace-loving Indians for no reason, is mythology pure and simple. It is not legitimate to white-wash history just because what actually happened is no longer politically correct.

If you want to cut through all the politically correct nonsense—and if you can handle the depressing gruesomness—please purchase and read A Fate Wore Than Death; Indian Captivities in the West; 1830-1885 by Gregory and Sussan Michno. It is an outstanding book which is very well documented.


Maury Beaulier said...

Citing "cases" without any citation to your source(s) certainly renders the premise questionable.

Dennis said...

I'm puzzled by your comment, Maury. I did cite my source--and that source is extensively documented. I was hoping to get people to read the book.

Unknown said...

Everything you describe here is normal practice when a civilian population becomes a strategic target during a war. The goal is to make an enemy abandon a territory through acts of terror. The downward spiral of brutality and payback is rapid, but the damage to military discipline and individuals is disastrous. You will find ample examples of this in every war in recorded history, from Ancient Rome to CIA Black Operations today.

In all your attempts to come across as unbiased, you made two errors. the first was to claim that wounded knee was an 'isolated' incident. It was not. The second error was to sate in your summery that the western frontier territories were 'empty' and largely uninhabited. They were not. The American Indians had learned to live with land sustainably, the white settlers and miners plundered the land unsustainably to feed the cities. The white settlers wiped out the vast herds of native animals that supported the Indian nations, and replaced them with western farms and cash crops. In doing so the settlers destroyed the Indian's entire way of life. Destroying the animals was akin to nuking our modern cities or wiping out the entire power grid. The brutality of the frontier wars were also the desperate acts of defeated people who had nothing to live for but vengeance.

Dennis said...

Yes, "Unknown" the American West WAS largely uninhabited--unless you think that there were many more than 300 million Indians' back in the 1800's. Even today, with 300 million people in the U.S., the West and Midwest have vast spaces that are virtually empty (I know this because I've driven trough every state in the American West and Mid-West).

Second, what you describe as normal practice in war is an over generalization. Some nations are certainly worse than others. In the Viet Nam war, when Mai Lai came to light, American soldiers went to prison for it. In most countries throughout history, no one was punished for atrocities committed during war.

When some terrorists were humiliated by American soldiers in Iraq, or went 3 terrorists were water-boarded in Gitmo, the country reacted with outrage and again, Americans went to prison for it. I've never heard of a country (other than America) that sent their own people to prison simply for humiliating enemy combatants.

I had a distant relative who was an identical twin. He was held as a prisoner of war in Japan. He was tortured so badly that when he was finally released after the war, he no longer looked like his identical twin brother. I've never heard any story like this of Japanese held in American internment camps (I am certainly not justifying the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent! But generally speaking, we treated our captives much better than captive American soldiers were treated in Japan or Germany).

But as horrible as the atrocities were that were committed by the Japanese and Nazi's in WWII, in no case did you have the entire male populations of German or Japanese towns raping and torturing enemy civilians women and children as was the case with SOME (not all) Indian villages.

I don't know if the following applies to you or not, but I find it interesting (troubling) that many Americans who are so quick to condemn (often rightly) what American soldiers have done in war, will then justify the most unbelievable, horrendous atrocities imaginable committed by some (certainly not all) Indian tribes against civilian women and children.

rod rammer said...

No wonder so many said "The only good Indian is a dead Indian".

rod rammer said...
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Dennis said...

Yes, many people have said that-- and they were racist, bigoted and wrong! Stalin is responsible for the deaths of 100 million people. Hitler was responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews. Americans enslaved millions of innocent Africans. The list could go on and on. One thing the monsters responsible for all this carnage had in common is that they were all white. Would you say that the only good white person is a dead white person? "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Dennis said...

We could also mention the fact that there were peaceful Indian tribes and that some individual Indians actually risked their lives to save settlers.

John Flanagan said...

I have researched this topic myself and believe the article is truthful. Unfortunately, some liberal and progressive educators, lacking an independent and dispassionate approach to history, will focus entirely on a warped and dishonest philosophy. They start out with a theory of blaming white people for atrocities, while overlooking the misdeeds of nomadic and ruthless Native American tribes.
Violence and murder are part of all cultures by degree. Hunter gatherer tribes like the Apaches and others were warlike and murderous by upbringing and tradition long before the first pair of white or Mexican feet set down in America. These hunter societies preyed on Pueblo and agrarian tribes and showed as little pity as they did for the hapless white family crossing the western frontier with no animosity toward anyone....It was the rule that murdering victims was not enough, but the Apache and Commanche excelled at slow torture, mutilation, and terror. However, most liberal academics from the eastern establishment, having no personal knowledge of reality, preferred to paint the "noble savage" idea as truth. Thousands of plain ordinary white travelers, farmers, ranchers, and townspeople living in the southwest in the 1800's were brutally massacred, including women and children, cruelly tortured to death. Does anyone wonder why most, if not all of the Arizona whites in that time frame hated Indians, referred to them as "savages" and prayed for relief from their terror. Travel was dangerous, as renegades ambushed, stole horses and property, and killed. Of course, as in any conflict, whites and Hispanics committed atrocities. But sometimes peaceful agrarian tribes, also victims of Apache justice, joined with whites and Mexicans in Arizona to hunt them down. Eventually, many Apaches settled down and abandoned the nomadic plundering life, while some refused and needed to be destroyed.
The lesson for me is to be objective about history, and look for the truth, separating myths and stupid liberal ideologues which cloud facts and reality.

Pacer Gamst said...

Good they should have left and gone back to where they came from

Dennis said...

Pacer Gamst,

Am I to understand that you think it was appropriate for some American Indian tribes to rape and torture innocent women and children to prevent the immigration of the settlers? Do you think that would be an appropriate way to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants coming up from Central America?

Custermess said...

Sir, I just now stumbled across your blog entry about Greg & Susan Michno's "A fate worse than death", and, although this blog is already three years old, I would like to take the liberty to comment on a few things.
Many fine articles and books have been written about the "captivity narrative", the first truly American genre of literature. These narratives served several purposes, one of them being to help define what is "American" by way of graphic "us vs. them" juxtapositions. Michno's book has met with some severe criticism from people who are well familiar with the source material on the vast range of occurrences the book covers. As a rule of thumb, the Michnos have almost always picked the version which is most unfavorable to the Indians, regardless of its credibility issues. Have a look at the detailed points of criticism in the various 1-star reviews and you will get an inkling of what I'm talking about.
Michno also routinely describes Indian attitudes, decision-making-processes and overall course of action in a decidedly malicious light. The overall image his book creates is one of Western Indian tribes as gang-mobs of clinical sadists and rapists. The default reaction of the reader is to conclude that the Whites simply just "did bad things to bad people". And that's the chief function and the main appeal to most readers of this type of literature. The Indian Wars were, undeniably, ethnic cleansing wars, often waged by Whites with openly communicated exterminatory aims. This type of atrocity literature serves chiefly to make ethnic cleansing apologists feel good about their history.
When you claim that Sand Creek was "an isolated incident and occurred only after about three decades of Indian atrocities on settlers", you illustrate amply that the Indian Wars are obviously not among your main fields of interest and knowledge. Sand Creek was by no means an isolated "incident", and Cheyenne-White relations had been peaceful (despite the fact that the settler invasion brought terrible diseases and abject starvation upon the Cheyennes as early as 1860) until a series of Army attacks on Cheyenne villages in April 1864. If you want to disagree with me on this, which may be your probable impulse of reaction, be my guest and name me but one case of Cheyenne atrocities on settlers prior to 1864!
You seem to believe that sexual violence during the Indian wars was a specific feature which would set the Indian tribes apart. That is wrong. Although the source material situation is overwhelmingly in favor of the White perspective (Indians usually couldn't read or write, hence didn't write after-action reports, newspaper articles, books, dime novels etc.), we do have enough eyewitness reports to balance at least in some way any overly slanted perspective. Just a few examples:
- Ash Hollow (September 3rd, 1855): 600 soldiers attack 250 Sioux, killing 86 people. After the battle many of the killed women are found to have been raped before being murdered - with their skirts pulled up and over their faces.
- Bear River Massacre (January 29th, 1863): About 450, possibly even more than 490 Northwestern Shoshone are killed along the Bear River, near present day Preston, Idaho, in perhaps the largest massacre in United States history. California Volunteer Cavalry take the time to torture a and rape many of the villagers before killing them. Women who resist being raped amongst the dead and the dying are murdered right away; those who don't resist are murdered when the rapes are done with. (continued)

Custermess said...

- Summit Springs, Colorado, 10th October 1864: In the only of altogether 6 Army attacks on Cheyenne villages this year before Sand Creek which manages to catch the villagers by surprise, the soldiers finally have their way and kill all villagers despite attempts of surrender and cries for mercy. Three men, one teenager, four women and two infants are all killed and then scalped, at least one of them before death.
- Sand Creek, 29th November 1864: Orgy of indiscriminate slaughter, torture, gang rape, mutilation. Better known due to three investigations. No perpetrator was ever brought to justice. Conscientious objector and witness Silas Soule was murdered on the streets of Denver.
- August 29th 1865, "Battle of the Tongue River", Sheridan Country, Wyoming: Patrick Edward Connor, promoted to Brigadier general after the Bear River Massacre, attacks an unsuspecting village of hitherto friendly Arapahoes, killing 63 villagers, mostly women and children and destroys all their possessions.
- November 27th 1868, Washita massacre: Lt-Col. G.A. Custer annihilates Black Kettle's community (survivors of Sand Creek, 4 years before), claiming 103 killed warriors (women and children killed are acknowledged but fail to appear in this body count). The Indians know of about 38 of their people killed. 51 Women and children are taken hostage and kept until summer. Chief of scouts Ben Clark and Col. Benteen both leave independent accounts, not meant to be published ever, which have Custer and his officers take young female hostages for sex every night into their quarters. Custer later writes glowingly about "Monaseetah" (Meotzi) who he , after just having her father and many of her relatives and friends killed, allegedly hires as an interpreter - a remarkable career move for the 20 year old hostage who can't speak English. When Libbie Custer gets wind of the rumors she travels out west and Custer passes Meotzi on to his brother Tom. Despite very effective gentleman's agreements to keep such things under the lid, reports on numerous Army officers have survived who suddenly had an Indian "girlfriend" from among Indian survivors taken hostage.

Sexual abuse is a part of warfare since the beginning of our species. Both sides engaged in it.
For an insightful read on this subject matter read:
"Reimagining transitional Kansas landscapes -Environment and Violence" by John H. Monnett, http://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/2011winter_monnett.pdf

Dennis said...


Thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful response.

First, you are right--this is not my area of expertise.

Second, having said that, however, this is not the only book I've read in this topic. Even allowing for inevitable bias in such material, and even if only a small percentage of the horror stories were true--it would still show many Indian tribes to be sadistically brutal. There was apparently good reason settlers spoke of being captured by some Indians as a "fate worse than death."

Unfortunately, many of the atrocities--on both sides--were committed against innocent non-combatants. We don't excuse such atrocities today. We shouldn't excuse them back then either.

Third, while I still do not believe that vast majority of settlers were as bad as some of the cases you describe, if you thought my intention was to portray the "white man" as good and the Indian as bad, you have badly misunderstood me. I began my quotes pointing you some of the positive stories the book told about Indians--some Indians, Chaska, for example, were genuine heroes!

It is true, however, that I did want to combat the idea that white settlers were all genocidal monsters trying to exterminate innocent peace-loving,Indians. Multiple sources--however biased--convince me that this is politically correct nonsense (by the way, biased does not necessarily mean untrue--everyone is biased). As I wrote in my summary of the book, there were peaceful Indian tribes and there were hateful, violent Indian tribes. There were peaceful settlers and their were hateful and violent settlers.

Finally, I do appreciate your comments on how horribly some of the soldiers treated Indians. Their atrocities deserve the strongest condemnation--especially in light of the fact that they would have considered themselves to be "civilized."

We may disagree on some things but I appreciate the thoughtful and considerate nature of you response.

Ben Alexison said...

Unkown is full liberal biased brainwashed goop. She/ He wants to tout the same old mean white settlers excuse to explain the Indian atrocities that rival and even exceed todays Isis. "Unknown" is too ignorant to do any research before posting in fact I do not believe he/she read or if they did understood the article,and this is a good example of the common trait of liberals lack of knowledge regarding history. Dear "unknown" through either your intentional omission, fabrication, or incapability of an honest acceptance of history you have missed the point and your excuse for the atrocities by Indians is "BS". Before a European white man ever set foot on the American continent Indians were doing these things to each other, kind poo poos what you said. God I hope you are not a university proffeser

Ed said...

It's funny how ideologues of whatever political persuasion can't tolerate the cognitive dissonance that comes with the reality of human evil-whether it comes from Nazis, Stalinist, or the Chiricahua Apaches. One other important historical aspect is that the Native Americans that practiced torture and slavery didn't invent it for Europeans -they simply applied practices that already been in use in their inter-tribal conflicts for hundreds of years before their encounters with Europeans. Often, such torture was both a sacrifice to a deity, and a test of an enemy warrior's character. Of course, this doesn't reflect on today's Native Americans anymore than 16th C witch hunts reflect on people of European descent today. But what is at risk is truth, vs. postmodernist and liberal political propaganda.

Dennis said...

Ben and Ed: Well said!

Lee Lungford said...

Oh yeah? If that's how you think innocent women and children even babies should be treated, I think you're in serious need of a little dose of the same to wake your stupid ass up.

Synorbs said...
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Synorbs said...
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Unknown said...

How old are you? This was common knowledge 50 years ago.

Dennis said...

I'm 61. It may have been common knowledge 50 years ago but it certainly is not anymore.

James Duvall said...

Even more interesting is what various Native Tribal groups did to each other. Every tribe felt that everyone else was less than human. They all felt vindicated in torturing each other. No surprise they treated US settlers the same.

Custermess said...

Dennis, it's funny, some google search sent me back to this little exchange we had a long time ago and had me reread it. ;)

You stated that you wanted to combat the idea that white settlers were all genocidal monsters trying to exterminate innocent peace-loving,Indians.

Why don't you then go ahead and discuss white attitudes towards Indians in action? You don't do that at all. But I think I get it: You avoid the subject matter of white attitudes in action and content yourself with anecdotal evidence that at least the generalising notions that Indians were supposedly all "innocent" and "peace-loving" are wrong (what kind of naive people say that anyway?) by piling up atrocity-filled captivity narratives.

The truth is that no halfway educated person would make these sweeping and naive statements about either side in the first place. Do we really need to waste our time on debunking New Age Kitsch?

No, settlers weren't "all genocidal monsters trying to exterminate Indians". But they were part of a society that kept convincing itself (and acted accordingly) that despite hundreds of solemn treaties, "supreme law of the land" as per Art VI clause 2 of the US constitution, flanked by various federal laws that made squatting on Indian land even a crime punishable with jail sentences, Indians actually had no rights land-hungry white Americans needed to respect. Indians were largely considered less than human and not really viewed as people but as a "problem" that needed to be done away with. The general attitude, from top to bottom, in US society towards Indians was eliminatory. The Republican lean state ideology didn't waste much money or energy on tackling problems of poverty, a lack of equal opportunities etc. The political solution to a lack of opportunities in the States back then was simply to say "Go West, Young Man" - to encourage people to leave the States and settle on Indian land - taking over and/or destroying resources in the process local Indian communities depended upon for their well-being and very survival. Ordinary people, for want of better opportunities, natuarlly took that avenue in droves. Indians? They were told that "problem" had been sorted out or would so shortly. Americans gladly became farmers or mine owners on land they essentially didn't have to pay for. Indians should be "persuaded" or forced to relinquish their title to land in exchange for ever shrinking reservations. More often than not such treaties were concluded with Indians who didn't represent the whole tribe or didn't understand the sweeping sellout stipulations they were induced to sign off with lots of presents. The lack of proper representaion or informed consent on the Indian side was time and again ignored by US representatives and politicians. Worse, these one-sided treaties were often unilaterally changed by the US or broken after short periods. And when Indians resisted, they were very quickly met with calls for extermination indeed. Back then the wish to view Indians as less than human and therefore not endowed with human rights generated new pseudo sciences like phrenology or outcrops of Darwinism that claimed that different races had been created separately and that superior races were destined to "replace" inferior races. Ethnic clensing was the general consensus, "chastizing" Indian communities with large scale kilings was a generally accepted and desired pattern of policy and overall extermination was called for by settler majorities on the frontier. Monstrous? Actually yes.

colin said...

Absolutely right dennis

Craig Jones said...

Listening to white people tell the history of the American colonial conquest reminds me of German propaganda of how they moved through poland. Oh wait, poles were entitled to their land so the atrocities committed against German soldiers by say Ukrainian partisans were gruesome , and they were. Ukrainian partisans were viscous when they had the chance against the Germans so the Germans simply wanted the poles and czechs and Ukrainians to just obey and everything would be OK. It sounds pretty much the same except in this case evil won and contorts history to that premise.

Dennis said...

Thank you for a well thought out response, Craig. You make a valid point if we are talking about armies like the Nazis or Custer's Seventh Cavalry. I am certainly not about to defend all the atrocities the American government and some citizens committed against Native Americans.

But what about peaceful immigrant families who moved to the wide open plains just searching to make a better life for themselves. Did they deserve to be gang raped, enslaved, tortured and slaughtered too?

And if so, then what about the tens of thousands of immigrants (most peaceful, some violent) now flooding up through Mexico. Do they deserve to be tortured and slaughtered?

Telecaster said...
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Telecaster said...

Have you heard the current narratives in relation to the opening statement of this e- article? I've talked to people who cannot give remotely close dates for the first gulf war. I've discussed horrendous conflatitations between the civil war and WW2 only to realize they actually thought the civil war began "sometime"'in the 1930's". Be thankful Dennis is a champion of respectful discourse and studies nuances of history because it isn't ever neat and as you elude history is penned in favor of the victor and I concur with your thoughts as well but looking around in today society im seeing the useless destruction of monuments to American history makes me glad that at least they have gatekeepers such as Dennis still alive and well because the youth today are completely devoid of any pursuit of knowledge and think broad stroke recompense is the acceptable action because "someone once told them a white man hurt somebody's feelings in the old testment". It's bizarre and I wish forums like these weren't just populated by older white men I see the sardonic iorny in this as well. But that probably is indirectly your fault too.. that's the current history we are living in now.

TheNitroG1 said...

"Yes, many people have said that-- and they were racist, bigoted and wrong! Stalin is responsible for the deaths of 100 million people. Hitler was responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews. Americans enslaved millions of innocent Africans. The list could go on and on. One thing the monsters responsible for all this carnage had in common is that they were all white. Would you say that the only good white person is a dead white person? "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Ok firstly 400,000 is the estimate for african slaves in american colonies, not "millions". the millions that WERE taken from africa largely went to south america and the middle east. more africans died during trasport in the slave trade then actually were slaves in america(1.5 million). Also just as many or more white slaves died during transport as black slaves because white slaves were considered less valuable and so given the most dangerous duties. around half of indentured servants didn't live till the end of their 7 years of servitude. Think about that for a second. a black slave could live 50 years as a slave. white slaves had a life expectancy of 14 years on average from the day they were enslaved, regardless of age. The slaves the native Americans took however...they didn't fare so well.

You want to bring up stalin and hitler, what about pol pot, idi amin, sadam hussain, kim jong ill, shaka zulu, emperor hirohito, ho chi minh, mao zedong. all killed millions and none of them white. so it's really not analogous to compare that to the settlers whom had first hand accounts of indians murdering their loved ones in front of them. sayings like "the only good indian is a dead indian." may sound harsh to us in modern day. but at the time it was healthy xenophobia. Foreign groups are the number one reason for tribal extinction. In those times if you were raided your defense was up to you. You couldn't get the law to come help you. They didn't have the kind of social support system we benefit from. murders weren't investigated they either caught you doing the murder or someone said they saw you do the murder and they have more respect in the community then you do or you got away with murder.

I'm just trying to provide some perspective here. Only a few native american tribes were peaceful. most tribes had wars with each other long before white men ever came to these shores.

locker said...

I love your thoughts.

Silvia John said...

Those are some extraordinary concept of keeping tracks of time. I am just blown away by that idea of yours. It is also really important to follow a family balancing plan besides that.

Nancy Mills said...

Interesting and shocking. This reinforces the point for me that humans are a nasty bunch, regardless of race.
I do take issue with your statement regarding the vast emptiness of the American west. This was an ecosystem the native peoples depended on, as well as the native plants and animals. Invaders really did have no right to come in and take over the land. Nevertheless this in no way excuses the torture of innocent individuals, particularly children. Killing is one thing (bad enough) but taking pleasure in these unimaginable tortures ... that is just demonic.

Bill Anthony said...

Stalin wasn't responsible for the deaths of a hundred million people. If you're going to LIE, at least lie creatively.