I have, at best, been vaguely aware of Fort Abraham, having gone past it often enough. That vague awareness has now been shattered, and not in a good way.
Fort Abraham State Park in North Dakota offers a Saturday morning kids’ program called “Becoming a Soldier of Fort Abraham Lincoln”. The free program states that “children will learn about soldier life at Fort Abraham Lincoln and what it takes to be part of Custer’s 7th Cavalry.”
Fort Abraham is located just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, home of Tatanka Iyotake (Sitting Bull).
The program, which runs from late May to early September, says it will “introduce kids to military life on the Dakota frontier as a solider living at Fort Abraham Lincoln in 1875.” Kids will also take the ‘official oath of enlistment’ into the U.S. 7th Cavalry.
Custer’s surprise attack happened at dawn. He ordered his men to destroy “everything of value to the Indians,” and in a few hours over 100 Cheyenne’s had been killed including Black Kettle, his wife, and over 800 horses. Custer also took over 50 women and children into captivity.
While originally labelled as a “Battle” the slaughter at Washita River was later called a “massacre of innocent Indians” by the Indian Bureau.
In 1890, a blood thirsty and revenge driven 7th Calvary rounded up a peaceful band of Lakota, primarily Ghost Dancers, under Chief Big Foot and slaughtered over 300 women, men, and children known as the Wounded Knee massacre.
It is incomprehensible that the Fort Abraham State Park would find it appropriate to encourage children to find out what it takes to be a part of a legacy soaked in genocide.
I agree, it’s incomprehensible. When there’s a tacit refusal to teach children actual history, warts and all, they can hardly be blamed for developing untruthful and biased views. (There was a recent discussion about Custer here.) It’s not surprising that white attitudes towards indigenous people remains so negative when this whitewashing is taking place in the heart of Indian country. It’s sad and burdensome to see that lying about Custer is still so very important to some people. “History comes to life”. Yes, a very whitewashed, colonial version, which celebrates the largest mass murder in U.S. history, the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
Full Story at Last Real Indians.
Moving on to a Christian camp in Arkansas called Camp War Eagle. You already know it’s bad from the name alone. You just don’t know how bad. Yet.
However, this is a much bigger issue than just posting a picture of a nonnative in a headdress.
The source of the photo was from a Christian camp in Arkansas called “Camp War Eagle”. I decided to look further into it. I found their Instagram, which has several photos of white children dressed in “native regalia”. I went to their Instagram and Facebook page in attempts to point out what they’re doing is wrong. Camp War Eagle has deleted those comments and blocked me on their social media websites.
Here’s a little bit about Camp War Eagle based on their about us section from their website:
“Camp War Eagle is a Christian, sports, adventure and recreation summer camp for boys and girls ages 7 to 17 from Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties in northwest Arkansas. Located on the shores of beautiful Beaver Lake, Camp War Eagle is the place for children from Northwest Arkansas to have the time of their lives and gain a greater appreciation for God, themselves and others. The children returning home will then positively affect their families and the communities of Northwest Arkansas.”
With that being said, why would a Christian camp decide to promote themselves in such a manner? It’s incredibly ironic considering our ancestors history with Christian people.
There are more images at the Last Real Indians article. Photos of children playing soccer, with large captions reading “Today’s tribal competition is Caddo Day!” and “Today’s tribal competition is Osage Day!” I’m pretty sure it would be utterly futile to ask whether or not these children have been taught one truthful fact about any of the people they have co-opted to be mascots. It’s blindingly obvious that they don’t give a shit about the history of painting, or the why, how, and when of it, nor the fact that it is not something done by all nations. Face painting is deeply personal, spiritual, and ceremonial. To do it for no reason would be unthinkable for an indigenous person.
Then there’s the regalia. The same profound ignorance is on display here, too. It’s much more than ignorance, though. It’s a blatant disregard for indigenous peoples, for their history, for their traditions. Things which have deep meaning and significance are treated as nothing more than cheap costumes that white kids can wear while they see which ‘tribe’ will slaughter the other ‘tribe’. What is clear here is a profound disrespect for indigenous peoples, that we are nothing more than a good story, old legends which can be twisted about to suit the Christian colonial mind. This is beyond appropriation, it’s beyond disgusting. The people behind Camp War Eagle need to feel some serious pressure, and be made to answer for their open, hostile bigotry.
Full article is at Last Real Indians.