native-american-history

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There was a “Bowling Green massacre” — in 1643, white settlers slaughtered 110 Native Americans

  • Last week on MSNBC, Kellyanne Conway invented a massacre that never happened in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 
  • But here’s one that’s real: In 1643, white settlers massacred 30 indigenous people in what is now Bowling Green Park, one of the oldest sections of New York City, Indian Country Media Network reported.
  • Back then, New York City was known as New Amsterdam and was a struggling colonial outpost under Dutch rule. 
  • The then-governor of New Netherlands, Willem Kieft, sent groups of European soldiers to an area at the tip of Manhattan island, which was then home to Lenape tribe. 
  • The soldiers killed 80 members of the tribe in what is now Pavonia, New Jersey, and massacred another 30 in Manhattan. Read more

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They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.
—  Lakota chief Red Cloud (1822 - 1909). He was a widely respected Lakota Sioux warrior who led a successful campaign in 1866–1868 known as Red Cloud’s War over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. Red Cloud also led his people in the transition to reservation life after the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. He continued to advocate for his people’s interests, including traveling to DC to meet with President Grant and negotiating strongly with various Indian Agents.
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Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte;

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree. She attended the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, graduating in 1889. La Flesche Picotte grew up on the Omaha Reservation and returned there after completing her studies, opening a hospital for its residents in 1913 which was the first privately funded hospital in Omaha.

The hospital building still remains today and has been converted into a museum in her honour, featuring her work as a doctor and preserving the legacy of Omaha and the Ho-Chunk tribes that resided their. It also has a centre for the care of children named in Susan’s honour and has been designated as a National Historical Landmark.

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“Sent the boys and girls to school winter” 1879-1880, one of the last entries for Battiste Good’s Winter Count.

From the Smithsonian: “A boy with a pen in his hand is represented in the picture”.

In an effort to “kill the Indian and save the man” Native American children were removed from their families and placed them in residential schools that prohibited native clothing, language, and culture. Sioux Charles Eastman/Ohiyesa later reflected on his father’s words to him when he departed to attend school. “We have now entered upon this life, and there is no going back… It is the same as if I sent you on your first warpath. I shall expect you to conquer.” Eastman/Ohiyesa graduated from Dartmouth College in 1887, and earned a medical degree from Boston University. He returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1890 as an agency physician. Eastman/Ohiyesa would provide medical care to the survivors of the Wounded Knee Massacre in December of 1890. (Calloway, First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History)

The two images below shows the Chiricahua Apache Children before and after arriving at the Carlisle Indian School.

The first image depicts the Chiricahua Apache children upon arrival at Carlisle Indian School from Fort Marion, Florida, November 4, 1886. Front row (L to R): Clement Seanilzay, Beatrice Kiahtel, Janette Pahgostatum (Pahgostatun), Margaret Y. Nadasthilah, Frederick Eskelsejah (Fred’ k Eskelsijah). Middle row (L to R): Humphrey Eseharzay (Escharzay), Samson Noran, Basil Ekarden. Back row (L to R): Hugh Chee, Bishop Eatennah, Ernest Hogee. 

The second image depicts the Chiricahua Apache children four months after arrival at Carlisle Indian School from Fort Marion, Florida, March 1887. Back row (L to R): Hugh Chee, Frederick Eskelsejah (Fred’ k Eskelsijah), Clement Seanilzay, Samson Noran, Ernest Hogee. Middle row: Margaret Y. Nadasthilah. Front row (L to R): Humphrey Escharzay, Beatrice Kiahtel, Janette Pahgostatum, Bishop Eatennah, Basil Ekarden. 

(Smithsonian Institution/National Museum of the American Indian/anthropology_nerd)

Although they are presented as harmless, goofy explorations of inane historical side-notes, cable TV specials such as Ancient Aliens and The Lost History of Ancient America normalise expressions of racist intellectual attitudes towards native peoples.

Their basic premise remains: ‘These primitive brown people couldn’t possibly have contributed to our cultural history! It must have been [aliens / giants / prehistorical Europeans]’. Indigenous peoples in North America, Latin America and Africa were practical metallurgists, experimental chemists, civil engineers and urban planners - restoring native peoples to their factual place in human developmental history reveals a dazzlingly beautiful archaeological narrative which throws grubby crypto-fascist conspiracy loons into the shade. 

Busting these absurd, revisionist ahistories is an anti-racist duty.

“The medicine, the pills, the shots, the vaccines and all that—it’s all good, you know.  But there’s that other piece it doesn’t touch… your soul, your heart, your mind, your feelings.” 

- Dr. Lucy Reifel (Lakota)

Portrait by her son, Charles Her Many Horses

Learn more about Native American women healers of today & America’s first Native doctor

Sam Kills Two works on the Big Missouri Winter Count

Plains Native Americans (like the Lakota, Kiowa, Mandan, and Dakota) maintained written histories in the form of Winter Counts. Winter Counts were a historical record, a visual list of year names representing a significant event in the life of the band from one winter to the next. Pictorial representations of that event served as a reminder, a kind of mnemonic device, for the Keeper of the Count to retell their history. We know of 53 Winter Counts that together provide a historical record of the Northern Plains from 1682 to 1920. 

(Nebraska State Historical Society/anthropology_nerd)

As the wars and relocations of the later 19th century devastated the indigenous population of the Great Plains, many whites became interested in documenting American Indian life. The photographer William Henry Jackson, famous for his images of the western landscape, likely produced this portrait of a Crow man and woman while working on a federal geological survey. 

William Henry Jackson. Kam ne but se or “Blackfoot”. circa 1880. New-York Historical Society.

Bird mask of the Tsimshian people, used in initiation ceremonies.  Artist unknown; 19th century.  Collected in Nisga’a territory at the mouth of the Nass River, British Columbia, Canada; now in the Louvre.

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December 15th 1890: Sitting Bull killed

On this day in 1890, the Native American Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, was killed at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Formal peaceful relations between the Sioux and the United States government began in 1868 upon the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty. However, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills - which were in Sioux territory - in the 1870s led to a torrent of white prospectors invading the Sioux lands. The numerous Sioux tribes united under Sitting Bull’s leadership, and initially secured some major military victories over American forces. The most famous battle of the Great Sioux War of 1876 was the Battle of Little Bighorn, where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors defeated the famed General Custer. Sitting Bull then led his people to Canada, only to come back to America in 1881. It was around this time that he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, but he soon returned to his people to protect the rights of indigenous Americans. Sitting Bull was killed on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 1890 by U.S. troops, who were trying to arrest him under fears he would join the Ghost Dance movement.

“I would rather die an Indian than live a white man”