Thursday, April 19, 2007


Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, and Virginia Tech

Here’s a little more perspective on the shootings at Virginia Tech. For what it’s worth, 300 died at Wounded Knee when the army opened fire on a camp of peaceful Sioux. Three hundred: the vast majority were women and children. It’s one of the more disgraceful episodes in our glorious history. Sort of like Sand Creek, the Long March, Trail of Tears, Abu Graib and Haditha.

A Native Perspective on Virginia Tech Headlines
Thursday, April 19, 2007
By Kat Teraji
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee, Deep in the Earth, Cover me with pretty lies - bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Didn't we learn to crawl, and still our history gets written in a liar's scrawl. They tell 'ya "Honey, you can still be an Indian d-d-down at the 'Y' on Saturday nights." - lyrics to "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," written by Buffy St. Marie

"The worst shooting rampage in American history…" "Massacre and Mourning, 33 die in worst shooting in U.S. History," and "Rampage called worst mass shooting in U.S. history." "What first appeared to be a single shooting death unfolded into the worst gun massacre in the nation's history." You've seen and heard these headlines and reports all week as the media provided non-stop coverage of the tragic shooting of 33 people at Virginia Tech University on Monday.
"The worst in U.S. history…" Really? It is certainly the worst shooting on a college campus in modern U.S. history. But if we think it is the worst shooting rampage in U.S. history, then we are a singularly uneducated nation.
"I can't take one more of these headlines," said Joan Redfern, a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe who lives in Hollister. We met at First Street Coffee to talk while we scanned Internet stories. "Haven't any of these people ever heard of the Massacre at Sand Creek in Colorado, where Methodist minister Col. Chivington massacred between 200 and 400 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, most of them women, children, and elderly men?"

Chivington specifically ordered the killing of children, and when he was asked why, he said, "Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice."

At Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, the U.S. 7th Cavalry attacked 350 unarmed Lakota Sioux on December 29, 1890. While engaged in a spiritual practice known as the "Ghost Dance," approximately 90 warriors and 200 women and children were killed. Although the attack was officially reported as an "unjustifiable massacre" by Field Commander General Nelson A. Miles, 23 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for the slaughter. The unarmed Lakota men fought back with bare hands. The elderly men and women stood and sang their death songs while falling under the hail of bullets. Soldiers stripped the bodies of the dead Lakota, keeping their ceremonial religious clothing as souvenirs.

"To say the Virginia shooting is the worst in all of U.S. history is to pour salt on old wounds-it means erasing and forgetting all of our ancestors who were killed in the past," Redfern said.
"The use of hyperbole and lack of historical perspective seems all too ubiquitous in much of the current mainstream media," Redfern said. "My intention is not to downplay the horror of what has happened this week in any way. But we have a 500-year history of mass shootings on American soil, and let's not forget it."

This is only the most recent mass shooting massacre in a long history of mass shootings in a country engaged in a long love affair with firearms and very little interest in gun control.
Let's not forget our history and the richness of our Native roots. While spending time on the 1.5 million acre Hopi Reservation in Arizona, I met families living in homes they have occupied for over 900 years. On the surface, it looks like a third world country: you will observe many homes without running water, travel unpaved roads, and notice that there are no building codes. But sitting in a Hopi home being served a delicious lunch cooked by a proud Hopi working mother, I experienced so much more: the continuity of a long and deep heritage, a sense of the sacred, an artistic expertise, and wisdom about many things that remain a mystery to my culture.

Most of all, may we never forget all those innocent civilian men, women, and children who lost their lives simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as the students happened to be this week in Virginia. May we always remember the precious humanity of these students, but may we also never forget the humanity of those who lost their lives simply for being born people Native to this country. ..

As they migrated from the Great Lakes to the Black Hills, the Lakoata Sioux massacred 400 Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa men women and children at one village alongside the Missouri. However, the body count was even worse at the Fort Mims Massacre of 1813 where Creek Indians massacred 500 men, women and children. The bodies at both sites were scalped and multilated.
Yeah, the Creek War—which involved the Americans, the Brits, and the Spanish, all with designs on the Creek Nation. The traditionalists tried to return the people to the old ways, which would have shorted out the Euros' plans...Quite often, and correctly seen as part of the "War of 1812."

You might also consider the way the Indian Nations were used in both the French-Indian War and the American Revolution. There were some ugly scenes among Indian people during the American Civil War, too.

And, of course, the Anish' and the Sioux fought it out, as did the Navajo and the Hopi, and so on. We're talking post-conquest here.

The point being?
I hate anonymous posters.

Anyway, to point this out is excusing the genocide against the Natives of this nation. These were often wars created by white folks, kinda like the Iran Iraq war. And like Henry Kissinger said of Iran Iraq "I hope the kill each other off." Makes stealing everything they have much easier.

Nope, Indians weren't innocent folks, still doesn't excuse the genocide Mr. Anonymous.

Let's not forget the razing of Fallujah. Real good work there, America. Let's not forget Mi Lai, one of numerous massacres by the U.S. in its illegal war with Vietnam.

And smallpox blankets...WOO-HOO! Did you know the U.S. government is working on a smallpox virus that is close to %100 percent effective. They are trying to get a strain of mouse pox and want to transfer their work there to smallpox. The only problem thus far is that the time of being contagious is very short and the strain usually dies right off.

Oh, shooting deaths. I was told by Darrell Anderson, IVAW member, that his group was called into the fort in Baghdad one day. They walked by a large number of Iraqi protesters, unarmed and carrying signs. As they got to the fort, a marine tank group went out. There was a large amount of gunfire. His group was sent back out and the unarmed protesters had been slaughtered. It came out in the press that these folks were "insurgents."
Sure, you're right, Eugene—like in that earlier comment about immigrants, it's just a way to justify genocide. Like the folks who want to blame Indians for the extinctions of the mega-fauna.

I hear Paul Watson said the Makah want to "resume" commercial whaling...Know anything about that?
My name is Blair. I am posting anonymously because my Google password doesn't seem to be working.

Genocide is a crime of intent. No mainstream historian agrees that Europeans intentionally used smallpox as a biological weapon against Native Americans. Smallpox was a global contagion that orginated in Africa and killed up to 500 million people around the world. The smallpox pandemic that did the most damage to Native Americans orginated in the Valley of Mexico around 1780 and spread north along traded routes to the Pueblo villages along the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Plains Indians trading with the Pueblos took the virus home with them. From the plains, the virus spread west over the Rockies and east across the Mississippi. Most Native Americans who died of smallpox never encountered a white man.

All the smallpox blanket myths but one have been debunked. Still at issue is a letter written by a British colonial official in which he suggested British soldiers might give smallpox infected blankets to a New England tribe. The letter exists, but there is no evidence that the British soldiers followed up on the suggestion. Even if all the smallpox blanket myths were true, they would have had little impact on the spread of a virus as infectous as smallpox.

The Euopeans settlers were also deathly afraid of smallpox, which decimated towns and wiped out entire families. Smallpox vaccinations were not available in the United States until June 1800, but the public was almost as afraid of the vaccination as they were of the disease. By 1830, the federal government established a smallpox vaccination program for Native Americans, something it would not have done had it been intent on genocide.

Combat between Native Americans and whites produce far few casualties than most American assume. From 1511, when colonists first arrived in what is now the United States, to the closing of the frontier in 1890, about 16,349 people died from atrocities committed by Native Americans against European Americans or by European Americans against Native Americans. About 9,156 people died from atrocities perpetrated by Native Americans while 7,193 people died from atrocities perpetrated by whites. This works out to just over 29 whites a year and just over 22 Native Americans. These figures are hardly genocidal. (By comparison, about 200,000 died in four years of fighting during the American Civil War.)

Some people compare Native American reservations to Nazi death camps, but the Native American population on reservations grew dramatically while the population of Nazi concentration camps shrank dramatically. For example, the Navajo grew from about 8,000 in the 1860s, when they were first forced onto a reservation, to about 250,000 today.

The smallpox pandemic and epidemics killed between one to two thirds of the Native American population, about the same percentage of the European popluation that perish during the “Black Death.” It took the European population nearly four centuries to recover from the bubonic plague; the Native American population of North America rebounded to about its pre-Columbian level in less than two centuries.

The Native American tribes waged genocidal warfare against each other prior to and after the arrival of the Europeans. The purpose of this warfare was to exterminate or drive rival tribes for their lands. As a percentage of population, casualites were higher than during the European wars of the 20th century. To offset their combat lossess, Native Americans tribes practiced polgyamy and raised children captured from other tribes as their own. Today, the Native American population is much larger than it was prior to European contact, in part because the Europeans stopped inter-tribal warfare.
"Genocide is a crime of intent. No mainstream historian agrees that Europeans intentionally used smallpox as a biological weapon against Native Americans."

Haven't read your whole post, Blair, but here indeed is one HELLUVA wrong answer. The most famous one of the Smallpox biological crimes is documented by Jeffrey Amhurst (Amherst University; Amherst, Maryland).

It is also in Blackfoot oral tradition that all but one of the 5 plagues suffered by their people was deliberately set. Of course, oral tradition is looked down upon by "superior" folks, but there you go.

I also read in a science magazine a few years back that some scientists are trying to develop a 100% effective strain of smallpox. They are working through mouse pox. They had it close to 100% lethal when I read the article, but the contagious phase is so brief that it dies off quickly. They are trying to elongate the contagious phase, and once they do that, they want to try and copy that work onto smallpox to do you think, Blair?
From Blair:

I think you might be referring to the Amherst incident. In a letters to one of his subordinate, Jeffery Amherst, a British commander during the French and Indian Warm, discussed the possibility of infecting Indians with smallpox-infected blanketd during Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763. There is no evidence anyone followed through on the suggestion. Smallpox was already present among the Native American in the region before the letter was written, so it would have made little difference. The Amherst letter is famous because it’s the closest anyone has come to documenting an incident. All that it proves is that a single Britsh officer mentioned the possiblity of using smallpox-infected blankets in a letter.

Smallpox was not a "European disease." It spread throughout Africa and Asia before reaching Europe. The Europeans had no defense against it until the
1720s when the British began to practice inoculation techniques they had learned from the Turks, who had learned it from the Hindus. This involved
purposely infecting people with the live smallpox virus via incisions in hopes they would develop a mild case and develop immunity. It was risky, but
but the mortality rate was much lower than a full-scale infection. Nevertheless, the procedure was slow to catch on. Smallpox was still killing from 20 to 40 percent of the population in English towns in the mid-1700s. Inoculation did not become routine until around 1750. A safe vaccination was not available until the 1800s, when the British learned that infecting people with cowpox would protect them from smallpox. The U.S.
government funded a vaccination program for Native Americans shortly afterward the cowpox vaccination was developed. It would not have done this if its policy toward Native Americans been genocidal.

Indian oral tradition also alleges tribes gave smallpox blankets to one another, but this is considered unlikely.

The military has never been very interested in bilogical weapons. Tactically, they are useless because they take too long to take effect and give the enemy too much time to retaliate. Strategically, there is no way to control the spread of the viruses or bacteria. Chemical weapons work much better. (In Medieval times, the Mongols did catalpult the bodies of victims of the bubonic plague over city walls, but this probably had no effect because the lice that transmit plague quickly leave dead bodies. The United States Center for Disease Control and the Russian Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Siberia keep small samples of the smallpox virus for medical researchers. They are not trying to prefect a more lethal strain. They are trying to learn how to combat similar virues.

The exchange of diseases between continents continues today. During WW II, a lethal strand of influenza killed 200,000 American in less than two years. Around the world, it killed tens of millions. The HIV virus arrived recently from Africa, but Africans are not waging bilogical warfare against the rest of the world, even though some AIDS victims have intentionally try to infect other.
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