“Did the government tell you to come here and drive us off the reservation?  Did the Big Father say, go and kill us all off, so you can have our land?  Did he tell you to pull our children’s ears off, and put handcuffs on them, and carry a pistol to shoot us with?  We want to know how the government came by this land.  Is the government mightier than our Spirit-Father, or is he our Spirit-Father?  Oh, what have we done that he is to take all from us that he has given us?  His white children have come and have taken all our mountains, and all our valleys, and all our rivers; and now, because he has given us this little place without our asking him for it, he sends you here to tell us to go away.  Do you see that high mountain away off there?  There is nothing but rocks there.  Is that where the Big Father wants me to go?  If you scattered your seed . . . there, it will not grow . . . Oh, what am I saying?  I know you will come and say:  Here, Indians, go away; I want these rocks to make me a beautiful home with.  Another thing, you know we cannot buy . . . We have no way to get money.” 

(Paiute Chief Egan addressing corrupt Indian Affairs Agent,   W.V. Rinehart) – from Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. (Reprint) Chalfant Press (Bishop, CA. 1969) pp. 133-34.

The great herds of buffalo (estimated at 5o million) were gone from the southern Plains in 1878 and from the northern Plains by 1884.  So thorough was the slaughter,  engineered by General William Tecumseh Sherman - the Civil War architect for starving the Southerners - that only a mere couple of hundred bison remained.  And in fact, the Indians were starving as well.  Unable to transition to the government's prescribed farming, some "lucky ones" were hired for a quarter a  day to skin out the carcasses left by white man's "sportsman trains"  - so that 33,000,000 pounds of bones could be forwarded to eastern factories for fertilizer, buttons, combs, knife handles and glue.  And where before there had been seemingly endless herds, now there were myriads of carcasses, and the vast plain which only a short while before teemed with animal life, was a dead putrid desert.
(see pile of skulls to the left)

President Ulysses S. Grant refused to sign a law to protect the buffalo, and the government even provided  white hunter/sportsmen with free ammunition.
To the Lakota, or Western Sioux, the Black Hills of South Dakota are the holiest place on earth.  When the Lakota agreed to the treaty of 1864 at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, the Black Hills were included in the Great Sioux Reservation.  However, after General George Armstrong Custer and the Army broke the treaty by escorting a group of prospectors into the area in 1874 and gold was discovered, the federal government attempted to buy the Black Hills back.  The idea of selling was inconceivable to the Sioux, though, so that in 1877, in typical fashion,  the Congress simply passed an act appropriating the land.  And the poisonous dispute lingers on to this day.

from "The Reservations,"  Time-LIfe Books
Reservations were the only alternative to extinction, or so the thinking went, because they would allow the Indians time to adopt farming, Christianity, the English language, and other ways of the white man.  Once the Indians had accomplished all this and given up their tribal identities, they would be ready for ultimate incorporation into the "great body of citizen population."  The reservation would vanish, allowing sale of surplus land to whites.  But the immediate goal was just to get the Indians out of the way, and so-called treaties became the government's principal instrument to that end.

from "The Reservation" by the Editors of Time-Life Books
President Andrew Jackson believed the Indians possessed "neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement" to live among the whites.  So that he became the architect of forced removal.  Under Jackson, removal became the official government policy and he refused to intervene when Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi passed laws to abolish tribal governments and violate Indian rights, such as the measure that enabled Georgia to confiscate Cherokee land after discovery of gold in1829.  Ultimately the poignant term "Trail of Tears" was applied to describe the terrible suffering of  Cherokees forced west by Jackson's cruelty. Cherokees were one of the so-called "five civilized tribes" - because of the extent to which they had adopted white men's ways, wearing white man's garb, living in houses,farming neatly tilled fields, raising livestock, sending their children to missionary schools;  But it was all to no avail,once whites decided they wanted their land.;
Carlisle Indian Industrial School was established in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1879 and became a prototype boarding school  for "Americanization."  All students had to speak English on pain of corporal punishment and no tribal language was allowed without permission.  Indian children were separated from kin and tribe, and students were kept for five years or more without being allowed to go home to visit families.  In some schools all belongings were confiscated and burned; students had their hair sheared and were required to renounce their Indian origins.  At many schools, young Indians suffered abnormally high mortality rates; and, when some Indian families refused to send their children to the schools, parents were jailed and rations withheld.
Students who endured the boarding schools often came home alienated from the old ways.  And while a few found places in the white world, the majority returned to reservations to find themselves in an in between world of red and white - where their new education had spoiled them for making a living in the old ways.  Not knowing who they were!
Native Americans - Our National Shame
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