Andrew Johnson: Racist Determined to ‘Relocate’ Indians.
In his third annual message to Congress, in December 1867, Johnson spoke of the need to relocate Indians to “reservations remote from the traveled routes between the Mississippi and the Pacific.” Calling the Plains Indians “warlike” and “instigated by real or imaginary grievances,” Johnson said the territories should be exempt from Indian outbreaks and that hostile tribes should not be allowed to interrupt construction of the Pacific Railroad.
“These objects, as well as the material interests and the moral and intellectual improvement of the Indians, can be most effectually secured by concentrating them upon portions of country set apart for their exclusive use and located at points remote from our highways and encroaching white settlements,” he said.
Johnson also oversaw three treaties signed in the spring of 1868 at Fort Laramie, in the Dakota Territory. The Sioux, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho signed treaties calling for peace and friendship with the United States.
In June 1868, the U.S. signed a similar peace treaty with the Navajo at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The agreement ended the four-year forced exile of the Navajo and allowed them to return to their homeland.
By the fall of 1868, however, warfare again broke out as Gen. George Armstrong Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry in a surprise dawn attack of the Southern Cheyenne village of Washita. Hailed as one of the first substantial American victories against the Southern Plains Indians, the massacre left as many as 100 Cheyenne dead.
Johnson did not mention the massacre in his final message to Congress, in December 1868. Instead, he encouraged the “aboriginal population” to abandon their “nomadic habits” in favor of agriculture and industry.
Also of interest today is whether or not The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) will actually get around to doing a critique of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery issued at its 13th Session in May 2014: “Study on the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery on indigenous peoples, including mechanisms, processes and instruments of redress.” [UN Doc E/C.19/2014/3], instead of burying it once again.
The Permanent Forum—like most conventional bodies—avoided naming the religious basis of the Doctrine. But the Study itself took aim at the root: “the presumption of racial superiority of Christian Europeans.” The Doctrine “originated with the papal bulls issued during the so-called Age of Discovery in Europe. It was compounded by regulations, such as the Requerimiento, that emanated from royalty in Christian European States.”
The Study showed how the Christian presumption of superiority embodied by the Doctrine of Discovery fuels colonial land seizures and genocide of Native Peoples. “In all its manifestations, ‘discovery’ has been used as a framework for justification to dehumanize, exploit, enslave and subjugate indigenous peoples and dispossess them of their most basic rights, laws, spirituality, worldviews and governance and their lands and resources. Ultimately it was the very foundation of genocide.”
The Study concluded with a realistic appraisal and recommendation:
Peter D’Errico has the full story here.