Native American Headress



PART IV The Media Weapon

"The whites told only one side. Told it to please themselves. Told much that is not true. Only his own best deeds, only the worst deeds of the Indians has the white man told." Yellow Wolf, Nez Perce.
"We had no friend who would plead our cause before the law council." Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.

    "They are a dissolute, vagabondish, brutal, and ungrateful race and ought to be wiped from the face of the earth." Rocky Mountain News editorial March 1863. In that same year out of twenty-seven articles dealing with Native Americans, twenty called for extermination. The populace was fully indoctrinated with death towards the Cheyennes and Arapahos. The Rocky Mountain News reported in August 1864 "go for them, their lodges, squaws and all." (18). The News inflamed the situation to the point where men had no conscience for indiscriminate killing.

    Looking forward to the Sand Creek massacre, Colonel John Chivington expressed the thought of many when he said, "Well, I long to be wading in gore." Chivington headed a 700-man, 5-battalion army who massacred the Cheyennes and Arapahos at Sand Creek November, 1864. The report Chivington gave of the senseless slaughter of the Native Americans as reported in the Rocky Mountain News stated it was, "one of the most bloody Indian battles ever fought." The News went on to elaborate that, "Cheyenne scalps are getting as thick here now as toads in Egypt. Everybody has got one and is anxious to get another to send east." The battalion didn't meet with much resistance.

    One chief, Black Kettle, flew an American flag in front of his tepee, assuring his tribe of safety. Previously, the tribe had willingly disarmed themselves as a gesture of non-hostility. They only kept those weapons essential for hunting. When Black Kettle saw the firing begin, he raised a white flag on the same pole as the American flag and told his people to gather under the flags. Of the 600 tribal members present only 35 were estimated to be braves. The other braves had been sent off to hunt being assured of the protection of Fort Lyon. The rest were old men, women and children. Only a few escaped alive. Black Kettle's wife was shot several times but lived.

    One senator who visited the horrible scene, walked among carnage more terrible than words can portray. Soldiers who saw the battle ground the following days described it in the following language: "All manner of depredations were inflicted on their persons," "women and children mutilated in the most horrible manner," "all cut to pieces", "nearly all, men women and children were scalped," "worse mutilated [sic] than any I ever saw before." The senator who saw and heard these atrocities assembled an investigational debate about the slaughter. Chivington, the Colorado Governor and the general public were invited. During the debate the question was asked, "Would it be best henceforward, to try to 'civilize' the Indians or simply exterminate them?" "Exterminate them! Exterminate them!" the crowd roared. Some said the roar was like a battlefield cry loud enough to raise the Denver Opera House roof. (18). The congressional committee did nothing.

    Almost four years later another congressional committee, composed of generals from the U.S. Army and other officials met for seventy-two days. The final report stated: "It scarcely has its parallel in the records of Indian barbarity -- men, women and infants were tortured and mutilated in a way which would put to shame the savages of interior Africa." But the Rocky Mountain News won the day for the bloodthirsty colonel. Nothing was done to Chivington for the slaughter, that he termed, "the most bloody Indian battle ever fought." He took his notoriety on the road as an after-dinner speaker.

    Later, Theodore Roosevelt's comment on the Sand Creek massacre was, "a righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier." (18). Another comment of Roosevelt's concerning the Native American plight was, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe 9 out of 10 are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth." (7). Despite congressional evidence to the contrary, the Rocky Mountain News reports still held the feeling to Roosevelt's day and, as we shall see, far beyond.

    The Sand Creek massacre had, as Big Mouth, a Sioux chief said, "set the prairies on fire." The U.S. Army was now at constant war to defend the untiring, relentless white invasion onto reservation lands. "The west blazed with warfare and death." The 300 who died cost the government 30 million dollars and hundreds more in lives. (14).

    Four years later General Armstrong Custer finished the job that Chivington started. During another unprovoked attack on Chief Black Kettle's band, 103 more Cheyennes were killed including Black Kettle. Custer called the outrageous slaughter against a group of Cheyenne Indians, that he had been told prior to the attack were friendly, "a great and gallant victory for our beloved country." Custer, in turn, leading five companies of the Seventh Calvary would give the Sioux, Cheyenne and the Arapaho Indians at the Battle of Little Big Horn their equally "gallant victory." However, the short moment of triumph at the Little Big Horn in 1876 spelled the doom of all Native Americans. It would end forever even a slight trace of freedom. Custer's last stand as immortalized by the press, made it sound as if Custer was in a defensive position. He was, but only because he provoked a fight that he could not win.

    "The Utes are actual, practical Communists and the government should be ashamed to foster and encourage them in their idleness and wanton waste of property. Living off the bounty of a paternal but idiotic Indian Bureau, they actually become too lazy to draw their rations in the regular way but insist on taking what they want wherever they find it. Removed to Indian territory, the Utes could be fed and clothed for about one half of what it now costs the government." Denver Tribune, 1877 written by William B.Vickers, secretary to Frederick Pitkin, governor of Colorado.

    Governor Pitkin was formerly a miner who plundered the Colorado San Juan mountains of silver stolen from the Utes' reservation. After making his fortune, he amassed a group of miners who persuaded the Indian Bureau to get the Utes to cede 1/4 of their land to the Colorado territory. He used his pirated wealth to become governor of Colorado. He capitalized his position, with his plundered money from the Utes, to force them entirely out of Colorado, by carefully worded reports. No one ever questioned or put into print where he got his wealth or how he became governor.

    After a few skirmishes with the Utes over more trumped-up charges by the Indian Bureau agent Nathan Meeker who wanted to convert the Utes into his superior image as he believed he was in the image of God and they were not, the governor issued an announcement to the press. "My idea is that, unless removed by the government, they must necessarily be exterminated. I could raise 25,000 men to protect the settlers in twenty-four hours. Governor Pitkin goes on to state the cost and the benefits of killing the natives, "The state would be willing to settle the Indian trouble at its own expense. The advantages that would accrue from the throwing open of 12,000,000 acres of land to miners and settlers would more than compensate all the expenses incurred."(8). As a result, the Utes were forced from Colorado to Utah in 1881. Colorado got its coveted land. The Utes received as payment a forced march of 350 miles to a barren land near Roosevelt, Utah not wanted by the Mormons. The press, as a mighty weapon of destruction, succeeded in convincing a greedy nation of the atrocities of the Native American. The economic gain from 12,000,000 acres of land had proven more valuable than the lives of the inhabitants.

    The news media these days continues on in its historic path of the perversion of information and the facts. The drums of the daily news still beat the population into a frenzy over some far-off leader who threatens the world with mass destruction. The ignorant mob rushes off to save the world for democracy while killing off millions of innocents. Such is the nature of man and his media.

Taxes as a Weapon

    The first recorded instance of tax, though it is not thought of as a tax, is forced labor to support the invaders. Columbus thought it his decided lot from God to force the natives to work as part of their "conversion" process. Columbus forced the Hispaniolas to work the gold and silver mines and sugarcane plantations. The average life expectancy of a mine worker when this practice moved to the interior of Mexico was three to four months. The American natives were not exempt from this cruel practice. (1)

    When the Conquistadors had decimated the natives on the islands, they came to the North American continent for fresh supplies. Pulling into a harbor and under the pretense of trade, the Native Americans were lured aboard ships with promises of Spanish trinkets in exchange for local wares. When the boats were sufficiently full of the real "merchandise," they simply pulled anchor and sailed away with their living freight. The American colonists continued slavery for many years and as late as 1730 one-fourth of all slaves were American Indians. No one was exempt. Men, women, children, old and young, were all forced to work long, hard endless hours with little sustenance given them in return.

    The once prolific people now abstained from marital relations so no more children would be born. When the Spanish noted this, the men were beaten in order to force them into sexual relations so more slaves would be born. Many of the women, who were strong enough from the hardships to bear children, would be seen killing their own offspring at birth to spare them the lot they had to endure. Very young girls who were captured and sent to Europe arrived robbed of their purity, giving their new masters an additional slave by the children conceived during the voyage.

    When the red slave market began to dry up, crippling the mine and plantation work, the insatiable demonic desire for cheap labor turned its blood-stained hands to foreign soil. Now the black man would plow soil fertilized by the red man's blood. The natives had been taxed to death by forced labor to survive on his "own" land.

    Many are outraged at the twelve to fifteen million blacks recorded as dead from this continuing slaughter, but, historians note that for every one that made it to North America, another three or four died during the forced march across the continent of Africa, and the Atlantic crossing. So, the actual death count estimates for this death toll to Africans is between thirty and sixty million souls.(18). The red blood of the black slave would mingle with the Native Americans to grow crops for the landholder.

    Negro slaves were imported as early as 1502 to the West Indies because the Native Americans did not make good slaves and died early. By 1518, 4,000 black slaves were put into slavery yearly due to the population decline from forced labor. The landowners hoped to find a hardier race of slaves with the black man. Now two continents were crushed under the heel of slavery.

    Another form of tax, not thought of as tax, is created debt that lays a heavy burden upon the "landowner." If the Native Americans could be put into debt by forced methods, then they would readily sell the lands in order to free themselves from this fearful tyrant. Thomas Jefferson understood debt as a means of "acquiring" Native American lands when he said, ". . . to promote this disposition to exchange lands be glad to see the good and influential [Native American] individuals among them run into debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands." (6). The avenues of successful degradation driving the Native American into debt came from placing them on lands that were uninhabitable, thereby, requiring them to "need" assistance. After they were on government assistance (read welfare), the funds would be withheld because of other needs or delayed. Oftentimes the intermediary would charge exorbitant prices for small favors. One trader charged $7,500 for a $100 debt. This reduced the small fee that they did receive to as low as 5% of what was given. Afterwards, they became responsible to pay back these "loans" with loss of property.

    Congress understood the results of debt very well with the passage of the General Allotment Act in 1887. The purpose of the Act, also known as the Dawes Act that came as a result of the meeting with Sitting Bull in 1883, was the abolishing of Native American reservations, breaking of tribal governments and forcing the Native Americans to merge into white society. To accomplish this, Congress would divide the reservations into individual parcels for each member and sell the "surplus" to white farmers.(15). Why they didn't just divide the land equally among the Native Americans can be seen from the outcome.

    Since the land was not even fit for grazing or small-scale agricultural endeavors, thousands of impoverished Native Americans were forced into foreclosures because they couldn't pay their taxes. Many lands that were not lost in foreclosures were sold for the same purpose. The weapon of forced debt caused by land division and taxation did its job well. The Native American lands between 1887 and 1934 when the General Allotment Act was abolished, with the passage of the Wheeler-Howard Act, had been reduced from one-hundred and forty million collective acres to fifty million.

    The new deal which passed the Wheeler-Howard Act was not a gift horse. It provided a ten million dollar revolving credit fund from which "loans" could be made to incorporated tribes. Between 1935 and 1953 landholdings increased by two million acres but it came with a terrible price. Federal "loans" (read land grabs) were set up for health facilities, irrigation works, roads, homes and schools. The land had just been reduced by debt again because the lands became "security" for the loans.

    "In 1953 Congress adopted the House Concurrent Resolution No.108, which declared that federal benefits and services to Indian tribes would be ended at, 'the earliest possible time.'" (15). Once again, the Native Americans had to repeat the same outcome that the General Allotment Act brought. Lands were to be divided among the members and they were to dissolve the tribal governments. The difference now was the debt created by the Wheeler-Howard Act which brought the tribes to economic collapse. The 1953 act under Eisenhower was aptly named "termination". To give teeth to the new law, Public Law 830280 was passed. This gave certain states full criminal and civil jurisdiction over reservations. The cycle was complete. The state was their new master and they were broke without any of the aid or land that was promised for, "as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow."

    During the next thirty years several laws were passed that seemingly restored the previous laws abrogated by the termination policy. Many of these came with more "loans" to "help" the Native American. Can the Native Americans trust a government that has been swayed by every wind of change to its own advantage? Can anyone who accepts a "handout" expect differently? Scripture says, "the borrower is servant to the lender." The slavery continued under a heavy debt structure guised as "help."


    When Christopher Columbus landed, the prevailing religious sentiment of the day was summed up by Peter Martyr. "National right and that of the Church concede personal liberty to man. State policy, however demurs. Custom repels the idea. Long experience shows that slavery is necessary to prevent those returning to their idolatry and error whom the Church has once gained." It seems that Christopher Columbus felt it was his destiny to convert the Native Americans from their idolatrous ways. Columbus did not see himself as an adventurer, but as a messenger of God sent to convert the world to Catholicism. His modus operandi was forced labor and the sword if they did not submit to the church cheerfully. He says of himself, "God made me, the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth . . . he showed me the spot where to find it." (1). The first settlers had the same visionary goal. The domination of this new world included the subjugation of the natives. They must bow the knee to the white man's God and if he didn't -- well, he was just a devil in red skin anyway.

    When the people of Powhatan contracted smallpox leaving them nearly all dead, Plymouth's Governor William Bradford penned this account, "for the native, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess."(1). The colonists felt that God had willed the land to them and that the death of the Native Americans was regarded not as a horror that they had brought, but their destiny. It seems that God was not quick enough for the colonists, for some Native Americans still remained alive.

    Other accounts during this time attributing their death to God's goodness rang out, "God's will, which will at last give us cause to say, How Great is his Goodness! and how great is his Beauty!" Another contemporary author stated, "thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust."

    The Native Americans had another view, though, for Chief Deleware said, "They told us a great many things which they said was written in their book; and wanted us to believe it. We would likely have done so if we had seen them practice what they pretended to believe and acted according to the good words which they told us. But No! While they held the big book in one hand, in the other they held murderous weapons - guns and swords - wherewith to kill us poor Indians. Ah! and they did so too! They killed those who believe in their book as well." Those Native Americans that he spoke of who were slain, were Christian Indians. They were killed in retaliation because two white men had been hurt by Indians not of their group." (5)

Economic Sanctions Bring Lasting Peace.
(death is very peaceful)

    "For the sake of a lasting peace, let them [buffalo hunters] kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated." General Sheridan to a joint session of the Texas legislature. (18). The unstated purpose behind this senseless slaughter was the eradication of the Native Americans' source of food, clothing and income for trade. Reduced to begging for food and clothes, they thought they would be easier to manage, but more stringent economic methods were still required. And all for good purpose it was thought.

    "At its roots, we find the subterfuge of the ambitious, aggressive politicians , the liquor sellers, the grafters, the land grabbers and the crooked lawyers. Each wanted their share of what rightfully belonged to the Indians, and they did not care how they got it. When the Indians resisted, it was the military that fought the battles for the grafting white men who wanted Indian lands." (14). At the heart of all the killing of the buffalo, the bloody battles, the broken treaties, the starvings, forced education, forced religion and the miserly lands on which they were forced to eke out an existence, lay a dragon who knew no stopping. At that time it was called the Doctrine of Discovery; today we call it democracy and multi-national corporations. It has different faces and names, but the outcome is the same.

    The slaughter of the bison brought great gain to the victors. The North American buffalo had been in the way of the progress of the train lines, so that barrier was removed. Now the flow of train traffic could flow unimpeded as it moved men and materials in both directions. The buffalo supported the Native Americans and, in turn, they were in the way of progress as it plundered to death the natural resources. That barrier was eliminated. Now the land could yield its thousand sweets to the miners, loggers, pelt gatherers and other business ventures. In this way, the "new world" could be more easily conquered.

Continued:  The Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee Part V

Written 03/19/98

Pattern for the New Order Part I
Manifest Destiny Part II
Educating the Indians Part III


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